The Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, also known as Wat Pho. is the most ancient temple of the city and is one of the most beautiful temple complexes in Thailand. Also Wat Pho is the largest temple in Bangkok: its territory covers over 80 thousand square meters, and the length of the temple walls around the perimeter exceeds 1 km. Below on the page you will find useful information about visiting the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok – location, opening hours, ticket prices, interesting objects inside the temple and the time you need to visit the Wat Pho temple. In the article you will also find photos and videos about my visit to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok.
Location of Wat Pho in Bangkok, how to get there
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) is located on the island of Rattanakosin in the historical part of Bangkok, in close proximity to the Grand Royal Palace. Currently, the concept of “island” is very conditional, because only a small channel separates this part of the city from the others, which are also separated from each other by numerous clong (channels). If you live in Bangkok in the area of the most famous tourist street Khaosan (Khaosan Rd), you can get to Wat Pho on foot in 25-30 minutes with not very fast pace. This is a clean and beautiful area of the Thai capital, with normal sidewalks, so the walk is interesting and not tiring.
If you live in other parts of Bangkok, then getting to Wat Pho is a bit more difficult. You can not use the subway (overhead and underground) to quickly get to the temple of the Reclining Buddha, so you should use the river or road. With a taxi, everything is simple, it is not expensive in Bangkok, but due to traffic jams you can lose a lot of time. To use the river tram, the easiest way to get to the main pier is Sathorn near the Taksin Bridge. To do this, use the Silom branch of the Bangkok Skytrain and get off at Saphan Taksin station along the train. When you come down from the elevated platform of the metro, you will find a pier for river trams at the base of the bridge. Read more about this in a separate article “Bangkok River Transport – Routes and Prices”.
I advise you to use river trams with an orange flag – a compromise between speed and price (15 THB per person). You should get off at pier number 8 Tha Tien, which is the closest to the temple of Wat Pho. But if during your trip to Bangkok, this pier will still be under reconstruction (which has been going on for several years), then you should get off at the next pier No. 9 – Tha Chang. This pier is located near the Grand Palace, which tourists often visit at the same time as the temple of Wat Pho. Coming from the pier, you have to turn right and move along the palace wall to the Wat Pho temple (you can use the navigator on your smartphone). On the map, the temple of Wat Pho is indicated by a red arrow.
Statue of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) in Bangkok
Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn (this is the full name of the temple of Wat Pho) is called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. You can find information that it is in the temple of Wat Pho that the largest statue of the Reclining Buddha is located in the world. And when you see a huge golden statue 46 meters long and 15 meters high, it is easy to believe. However, in reality in Thailand there is a slightly larger (50 meters long) statue of the Reclining Buddha – in the province of Ang Thong. In addition, another statue of the Reclining Buddha is being erected in the Thai province of Saraburi, its length is 209 meters, which is 4.5 times more than the statue in the Wat Pho temple. It is this statue, comparable in height to the 9-storey building, will be the largest in the world.
The scheme of the temple of Wat Pho in Bangkok
Not everyone knows that the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is not only a beautiful building with white columns (viharn) with a golden statue of a waiting Nirvana Buddha inside. Below on the page is a diagram of the temple complex Wat Pho. In the lower right corner, the number 1 designates the temple directly with the Reclining Buddha (Viharn Phranorn), and you can see that in addition to this temple there are many other interesting buildings of various sizes and purposes in the complex. Therefore, you will need to spend at least 1 hour just to quickly get around all the open areas of the temple complex and visit the main buildings. For a more thorough study of the temple you may need much more time.
The main buildings of Wat Pho temple
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is that huge gilded statue, against which everyone wants to take a selfie photo and is forced to stand in line for this. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see the whole statue entirely because of the many columns and this can be done at the head and feet of the Buddha. I was a little unlucky and the access to the feet was closed due to reconstruction (end of 2017). But in any case, the statue is striking in its size. Be sure to pay attention to the feet – the pattern is made of nacre, which is poured on the light of various colors. I also noticed that few tourists pay attention to the design of the walls and columns, but they are very beautiful. On the outer walls you can see interesting scenes from the Ramayana and original gold ornaments.
All internal space is divided into two parts. As a rule, you enter the temple from the side of the head of the Buddha and move along his body towards the legs. Then you exit the temple and re-enter through the other doors, moving along the back of the Buddha. It is there that everyone understands where the constant sound of coins comes from. There are 108 bronze bowls along the entire aisle, into which visitors of the temple alternately throw small coins. You can exchange money right there, but you can’t get change from large banknotes; in advance, save yourself with small banknotes of 20 baht per person or coins. If you believe that this will improve your karma and help your wishes come true (which you need to make when you throw coins), then you can do it.
Phra Ubosot is the main building of the temple with a hall in which Buddhist services are held. There is also the main shrine of the temple – a large golden statue of Buddha under a golden umbrella. The walls in the building are also decorated with golden patterns and scenes from the ancient Indian epic Ramayana. During a visit to Phra Ubosot and Wat Pho, do not forget about the rules of conduct, which will be discussed below. In the scheme, Phra Ubosot is labeled with the number 18.
Around Phra Ubosot are galleries and 4 viharnas – the northern, southern, western and eastern (in the diagram marked with numbers 17,15,16 and 14). There are also small courtyards with Buddha statues and Chinese pagodas. At first glance it seems that all the buildings and statues are the same, but in reality it is not. In general, on the territory of the complex there are more than 1000 gilded Buddha statues, which are brought from different regions of the country. And in these galleries, you can see 400 statues. But if you have little time, you can not inspect all the courtyards, since in general they are made symmetrically and you can a cursory inspection of one of them.
Throughout the entire complex of Wat Pho, you can count 95 stupas (chedi), of which 4 are dedicated to kings and the rest to members of the royal family. The 4 highest stupas with the stepped base are those of the first kings of the Chakri dynasty – Rama I, Rama II, Rama III and Rama IV. All 4 stupas have a height of 42 meters, so they are visible from any part of the temple complex. The oldest of the big stupas is decorated with green mosaic, and the newest is blue. Around large stupas there are also galleries with gilded statues of a standing Buddha under the roof. Please note that the roofs are very low and you can accidentally hit your head (I did not avoid this).
Phra Mandop is another big stupa that I was not able to visit because of the reconstruction. There is a rich temple library with valuable ancient manuscripts. In the diagram of Wat Pho, you can see this building at number 13.
The school of Thai massage and traditional Thai medicine is indicated in the diagram at number 20. Not everyone knows, but traditional Thai massage originated in the territory of the temple of Wat Pho. By the way, that is why in the temple you will find sculptures dedicated to this massage. Nowadays, anyone can take a 5-day course and learn the basic principles of Thai massage. And if you are just tired of the temple excursion, then you can get Thai massage from professional masseurs directly at the temple. You will have to pay 420 THB for an hour-long classic Thai massage or foot massage, or 260 THB for half an hour.
Chinese statues. Walking through the grounds of the temple of Wat Pho, you will see many gray stone statues of various sizes. These statues are of Chinese origin and were previously used on ships for ballast. Currently, the statues look very harmonious in a Thai temple, and you probably want to take a couple of photos on their background.
In some ways, the territory of the temple of Wat Pho is a beautiful park. There are benches, ponds, artificial waterfall, beautifully trimmed trees and shrubs. Therefore, just walking in the park is very interesting. There is also a part of the temple, closed to tourists, in which the monks’ cells and some service temple rooms are located. Of course, on the territory there are toilets and souvenir shops.
Practical information about Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Opening hours of the temple Wat Pho: every day from 08:30 to 18:30 (8:30 am – 06:30 pm)
Entrance fee for foreigners: 100 THB. Before visiting the temple, I read on the Internet that the change at the box office is not issued and you need to have the necessary amount. But during my time, people received change from 500 THB banknotes without problems, so the information for 2018 was not confirmed.
The official address of the Wat Pho temple: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand. The entrance gate to the temple complex is located on the street Maha Rat Rd, so it is better to immediately go here. This is a long street that runs along the river past the walls of the Grand Royal Palace.
The official website of Wat Pho (link to the English version). The site has the opportunity to see 360-degree images of the entire temple and individual rooms.
The rules of visiting Wat Pho in Bangkok
– When you decide to go to the temple of Wat Pho, make sure in advance that your clothes comply with a strict dress code. Your clothes should cover your shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, legs above the knees. The rule applies to men and women. I visited the temple in denim shorts to the knees and a ordinary T-shirt, missed without any problems.
– On the territory of the temple complex, you can walk in shoes, but before entering the building with the Reclining Buddha you must take off your shoes. As a rule, before entering there are containers with free plastic bags in which you can put your shoes and carry them with you. You must also take off your shoes before entering Phra Ubozot. For this you can find special containers near the entrance.
– In all religious buildings, it is forbidden to speak loudly, laugh, behave provocatively. It is better to turn on the silent mode on the smartphone and not use the flash when photographing inside the temple buildings.
– According to Buddhist customs, women are not allowed to touch the statues of the Buddha, as well as Buddhist monks.
– When you sit, your legs should not be stretched towards the statue or image of the Buddha (according to the rules, the feet should be folded under your body). Also allowed to sit in the lotus position.
– Do not sit on the stupas and do not try to climb on them – this can cause serious problems for you!
– You can not step on the rapids during the passage of doorways. This is not officially prohibited, but according to Buddhist beliefs, can bring failure.
Tips before visiting Wat Pho
A cursory examination of the Wat Pho temple takes at least one hour, but many tourists spend several hours on the temple complex, even without visiting a Thai massage. Therefore, in advance, stock up on drinking water, because on the territory of the temple it can be hot even in the morning and evening, when there are a minimum of tourists in the temple. The entrance ticket to the temple includes two tear-off coupons. The first you give at the entrance, and the second allows you to get a small bottle of drinking water for free a little further into the temple. The bottle is small – 350 ml, so it will not last long.
The temple complex of Wat Pho is close to other sights of Bangkok – the Grand Royal Palace, Temple of the Morning Dawn (Wat Arun). Also nearby are the Giant Swings and the Wat Saket (Golden Mount Temple). Therefore, many tourists want to visit all these attractions in one day. Theoretically this is possible, but it is better to do it on different days. First, you may not have enough time, even if you started the tour in the morning. And secondly, you quickly get tired and can not see the beauty of these structures. Keep in mind that it takes an average of 1 hour to inspect each of the three temples named, plus the travel time. And to inspect the Grand Palace, you need to allocate at least 4-5 hours.
Should you go to Wat Pho in Bankgok at all? In my opinion, definitely worth it. After all, this is not just an ordinary temple complex in Thailand, but the main royal temple of the country. The most important historical events in the life of Thailand took place in the Wat Pho temple, including the coronation of Rama I, the founder of the ruling Chakri dynasty to this day. In addition, this is just a very beautiful place with a unique atmosphere. And the cost of admission is only 100 THB, or about 3 USD at the rate. For me personally, Wat Pho in Bangkok is the place that I want to visit again and see everything that I could not see earlier because of lack of time. Enjoy yiur visit!
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