Despite Wat Pho is known for the famous reclining buddha and traditional massage. This complex also has many interesting sights to see, definitely not to be missed if you are in Bangkok.
The best part is, Wat Pho is next to The Grand Palace. You can visit both of them in about half a day.
History of Wat Pho Bangkok
Wat Pho’s official name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan. It is one of the 6 highest-class royal temples in Thailand ***.
This is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. In fact, it is older than Bangkok as it was built in Ayutthaya Kingdom, before Bangkok even existed.
We believe it was built in 1688-1703, but the exact date of the construction and its founder are unknown.
By the time King Rama I ascended the throne and established Bangkok, Wat Pho was dilapidated. So, he ordered the renovation of the temple.
During the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851) this temple was expanded and greatly renovated. Most of the structures in the complex, including the Chapel of the Reclining Buddha, were built during this period.
He also ordered the decoration of the walls in the complex to be diagrams and inscriptions on various subjects.
As a result, the temple turned to be the earliest center for public education in Thailand. Those inscriptions have been recognized by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme.
*** The highest-class royal temple always has “Rajwaramahawihan” at the end of their full name.
Attractions in Wat Pho Bangkok
The Reclining Buddha
The famous 15 meters high and 46 meters long reclining Buddha was built by King Rama III in 1832. The statue has a brick core, shaped with plaster and gilded with gold.
The posture of the image represents the Buddha entering Nirvana. The feet soles are decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl shell showing 108 auspicious symbols of The Buddha.
Inside the Chapel of the Reclining Buddha, you can walk along the corridor and there will be little corners that you can briefly stop and take photos (because there are other people waiting in line for their turn).
There are also 108 bowls behind the Buddha. They represent 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Donating coins into these bowls is believed to bring good luck and certainly supports the temple’s maintenance.
It is believed to be a sacred number. You may want to learn more about this number here.
A small Chinese style park behind the Chapel of the Reclining Buddha.
There is a bodhi tree that was propagated from the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, which is believed to have originated from the bodhi tree the Buddha sat before achieving enlightenment.
This building in colorful Chinese ceramic was built during the reign of King Rama III to store Buddhist scriptures that was wrote on palm leaves during the reign of King Rama I.
You can walk around Phra Mondop but the inside is not open to the public because they want to preserve the scriptures.
The entrance of the building is beautiful, especially in the late afternoon when the golden light hits it at a right angle. Making this to be another popular photo spot in the complex.
But the good news is, if you walk just a little further, you will see another entrance with an almost identical appearance and almost no people.
Wat Pho Giant
The entrance of Phra Mondop is guarded by two small Wat Pho’s Giants. According to the myth, they were fighting with Wat Arun’s giants and then Wat Phra Kaew’s giants helped stopping the fight.
Collection of Buddha Images
Wat Pho enshrines the largest collect of Buddha images. You can find them in cloisters around the temple.
Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn
“Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn” means four pagodas of four kings as they are dedicated to the first four kings in Chakri dynasty. It comprises 4 large pagodas, each of them is 42 meters high.
The first one is in the green tiles, represents King Rama I. it was built to cover the ruined 16 meters high standing Buddha stature that was brought from Ayutthaya, inside also enshrined lord Buddha relics.
The second one is in the white tiles, represents King Rama II, and was built by his son, King Rama III
The third one is in the yellow tiles, represents King Rama III and praising of Buddha. It was built by himself.
The fourth one is in the blue tiles, represents King Rama VI. He then ordered to enclose these four pagodas within a wall, leaving no space for more pagodas.
Phra Ubosot (the main chapel) was built by King Rama I in the Ayutthaya architecture and later King Rama III reconstructed it in the Rattanakosin architecture.
Inside “Phra Buddha Theva Patimakorn”, the main Buddha image in the posture of concentration is enshrined on a three-tiered pedestal.
Later King Rama VI placed some ashes of King Rama I under the pedestal, so the public may pay homage to both of the Buddha and King Rama I at the same time.
Phra Ubosot is normally used for performing Buddhist rituals and considered the most sacred hall in the complex.
Small Rock Gardens
Tiny rock gardens that are scattered around the complex. In those gardens, you may see hermit statues perform various yoga gestures.
The hermits are sculpted with clay during the reign of King Rama I and later King Rama III re-created them with alloy. Unfortunately, only 24 of 80 the hermits have remained to date.
Wat Pho Massage School
Wat Pho is the place of origin of traditional Thai massage, which is still practiced in the temple until these days.
The school is also open to the public. If you have legs, feet, shoulders, body aches, or want to experience the original, it may be a good idea to try it.
The service is quite popular and waiting time may be long. If you plan to get a massage, go reserve your slot at the school first and then you can walk around the complex while waiting.
Location, Opening Hours, Entrance Fee
Wat Pho Bangkok
• Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
How to Get to Wat Pho
By Chao Phraya Express Boat
• Get off the boat at Tah Tian pier, then walk about 100 meters to Wat Pho.
• Get off the train at Sanam Chai MRT station, then walk about 450 meters to Wat Pho.
• Temple complex: daily 08.00-18.00 hrs.
• Massage service: daily 09.00-18.00 hrs.
• Foreigners: 200 baht per person
• The price will be increased to 300 baht from 1, January 2024 onwards
• Thai people: free
• 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
- A Visit to Wat Pho Bangkok
- Fo Guang Shan Temple, a Taiwanese Temple in Bangkok
- Wat Ratchanatdaram Worawihan and Loha Prasat
- Wat Saket Rajwaramahawihan (Golden Mount)
- Wat Suthat Thepwararam Rajwaramahawihan
BearDuck, a couple of game designers and illustrators, is on a slow journey to explore the world. We are interested in improving ourselves as much as street food and photography.
We currently have over 160,000 followers on Facebook.