As one of the largest and oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, should be high on the list of things to do for any visitor.
Wat Pho has a rich history and impressive achievements of housing the city’s largest reclining Buddha statue, the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, and being the country’s earliest center for public education. It is also listed on our Top Attractions in Bangkok
Wat Pho complex
The official name of Wat Pho is Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram. It is one of the six temples in Thailand that are qualified as the highest grade of the first class of Royal temples.
Wat Pho itself is a treasure of Thailand for its location at the heart of the country’s royal district. Situated in the old Rattanakosin area on the East bank of the Chao Phraya river, it’s not far from the Grand Palace of Bangkok so visitors can easily combine them for a day trip.
The grounds of Wat Pho cover 80,000 square meters. The complex is divided into 2 sections, separated by Chetuphon Road. The monastic facilities (the monk’s living section) are on the southern side. The langer northern zone contains the finest buildings, the Buddha statues, and the school of Thai massage. Each of the compounds is surrounded by walls and only the northern side is open to visitors.
Wat Pho contains more than one thousand Buddha statues which is more than any other temple in Thailand. It is also home to one of the largest single Buddha images with a length of 46 meters. By order of King Rama I, most of the statues were brought over from abandoned temples in the regions such as Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.
There are more than 400 temples in Bangkok, and each one is unique but few have the treasures that Wat Pho holds within its walls.
History of Wat Pho
As one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho has a long and rich history. Among other temples, it is regarded as the most important one during the reign of King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty. Furthermore, even before Bangkok was established as the capital by King Rama I, there was a temple in this land. But when King Rama founded Bangkok in 1782, the temple didn’t have the attractive appearance we see nowadays.
It is said in a stone inscription that, after moving to the Grand Palace, King Rama I recognized that there were 2 old temples from the Ayudhya period along both sides of the Grand Palace and one of them is the Wat Phodharam. He then ordered his noblemen to restore it in 1788. This first restoration took a long time, in 7 years 5 months, and 28 days. In 1801, the King named it “Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklavas”, which was later changed to “Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm” during the reign of King Rama IV. After the restoration was completed, Wat Pho became a bastion of the Buddhist faith and the main temple of Bangkok.
Afterward, successive kings added their marks, expanding and renovating different parts, especially King Rama III. During his reign, the great restoration had been taken for 16 years and 7 months. The ground of the temple was expanded and most of the structures now present in Wat Pho were either built or rebuilt during this period, including the Chapel of the Reclining Buddha. He also turned the temple complex into a public learning center, the first public school in Thailand.
Although there was another restoration before the Bangkok Bicentennial Celebration in 1982, no more other significant work has been done on the monastery, except for some minor repairs.
Famous Reclining Buddha statue
The reclining Buddha statue is one of the highlights of Wat Pho. The core of the finger is brick which then was modeled and shaped with plaster, then gilded. The size of the statue is impressive: 46 meters in length and 15 meters in height from the base to the topknot. The feet only are 5 meters in length, 3 meters in height, and exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl. The soles of the feet are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the 108 auspicious symbols of Buddhism.
The Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho is a large Buddha statue of perfection, acclaimed as the finest reclining Buddha of a large scale. It is revered by Thai Buddhists and foreigners as a significant object of worship.
Nowadays, Wat Pho is the national headquarters for the preservation and teaching of traditional Thai medicine and massage. Coming to Wat Pho, visitors can also experience a full session of authentic Thai massage.
Operating hours: 08:00 – 17:00
Thai massage 30 minutes for 260 Baht
Thai massage 1 hour for 420 Baht
Foot massage 30 minutes for 280 Baht
Foot massage 1 hour for 420 Baht
Tickets and other practicalities
The entrance ticket cost 200 Bath for each person. Free entrance for children under the height of 120 cm.
Wat Pho is open daily from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM.
Like most other destinations in Thailand, Wat Pho is a sacred temple so Tourists are appreciated to dress politely in culture-appropriate clothes. Trousers and dress are permitted if it is longer than the knee.
How to get there
Bus Numbers: 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 25, 32, 44, 47, 48, 53, 82
Air-conditioned bus Numbers: 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, 44, 48
Chao Phraya Express boat. Visitors can get off at Tha Chang pier, Tha Tien Pier, or Pak Klong Talad Pier, then walk through the Thai Wang Road entrance.
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