Wat Pho is Bangkok’s largest and oldest temple. Its enormous reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and is worshipped throughout Thailand. And yet we had never been to Wat Pho – until now! Allow us to take you along the temple grounds and give you some tips for your visit to Wat Pho!
Wat Pho in Bangkok
That was our first impression when we entered What Pho’s temple grounds – even though Wat Pho is so crowded!
We walked around the complex and admired the stupas (dome-shaped buildings erected as Buddhist shrines). The stupas are beautifully decorated with colorful flowers made from porcelain. The gardens are landscaped with perfectly trimmed bonsai trees, rippling waterfalls, statues of artisans, and orchids growing in the crevices. The entrances and exits are guarded by large statues that are carved out in great detail. Rustling trees surround the entire complex.
The Reclining Buddha: Phra Buddha Saiyas
Our peace of mind ended abruptly as we walked into the temple for the main attraction: Phra Buddha Saiys, aka the Reclining Buddha.
Hordes of tourists wiggle into the tiniest corners in attempt to capture the immense Buddha statue. Taking a good photo is hard because the statue is partially concealed by large pillars. We didn’t want to miss out either, so we gave it a shot.
The reclining posture of the statue symbolizes the transition to the nirvana (hereafter), which is the highest achievement of the Buddhist faith. The Thai believe that the worship of the statue brings good fortune, happiness and peace.
If you look past the eager crowd, you can see the amount of detail that has gone into this beautiful statue and the surrounding building. The statue is gold-plated, and the soles of the feet are decorated with mother-of-pearl and 108 auspicious signs. Around the temple you can admire detailed murals of the Buddha and his students.
Over 1,000 Buddha statues
On the premises of Wat Pho you can find over 1,000 other Buddhist statues, such as the sparkling rows of Buddha statues along the temple walls. There are also many chapels, pavilions and towers to explore.
Wat Pho: Good to know
Our number one tip is to visit Wat Pho as early as possible, preferably at opening hours at 8:00 AM. That’s the best way to avoid the crowds and the fierce midday sun.
- Opening hours: 8:00 AM – 6:30 PM every day
- Entrance fee: 100 baht per person
- Location: On the corner of Thai Wang Road / Sanam Chai Road
- Website: www.watpho.com
Only once you’re inside the temple walls you can hire an official guide that can tell you about the different statues, buildings and the temple origin.
Women should dress modestly and keep shoulders, knees and necklines covered. You can borrow a sarong free of charge in case you need to cover up. You must remove your shoes before entering a temple, so it’s a good idea to wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.
Wat Pho is regarded as the best massage school in Thailand. That’s why it’s a must to end your visit to Wat Pho with a foot massage or a traditional Thai massage. You can also participate in a variety of massage courses, or lessons in Thai herbs and medicine.
The massage pavilion is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. During high season (November to February, July-August) the wait can be a couple hours, so arrive early morning or call ahead to make a reservation: +66 2221 2974 or +66 2225 4771. For more information, visit www.watpomassage.com.
Wat Pho is located near the Chao Phraya River and is easily accessible by boat. Take the boat to pier N8 (Tha Tien) at 15 baht per person. After the exit you’ll reach a market, after which you can cross the road to reach the entrance. From Khao San Road you can take the boat from pier N13 (Khao San Road / Tha Phra Arthit).
Next to Wat Pho you’ll find Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. On the other side of the Tha Tien pier lies Wat Arun, so it’s easy to combine all three temples in a single visit. To get to Wat Phra Kaew, follow the road along the water (about a 10-minute walk). To get to Wat Arun take the ferry to the other side of the river for 3 baht.
Best Hotels Bangkok
Here Hostel - $Only a 10-minute walk from Khao San Road, Here Hostel is a backpacker’s paradise! It offers private, shared or female only rooms and is equipped with aircon, warm showers, clean towels, kitchen, lockers and a slide (!). Breakfast is included!
Chillax Resort - $$$The Chillax Resort is located in the backpacking district of Banglamphu (walking distance from KSR). It’s a perfect place for couples; it’s got a Jacuzzi in the middle of the room and a swimming pool on the roof with a view of the city. How romantic!
Have you ever visited Wat Pho?
Credit page header image: Thomas Ballandras