Wat Pho located on Sanam Chai road and Maharai road next to the Grand Palace is actually much older than Bangkok. It was founded in the seventeenth century, making it the oldest temple in the capital. Wat Pho is home to thousands of impressive Buddhist artifacts including the famous Reclining Buddha statue.
Situated inside the temple on the northeastern area of the complex, the Reclining Buddha statue measures 45 meters in length and 15 meters in height, making it one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand. Next to the Reclining Buddha is an enclosure holding the four largest of the temple’s 95 pagodas. All of these are square, rather than the round bell shape generally preferred at the time. They are decorated with ceramic tiles which form intricate floral patterns. Phra Ubosot is the main hall used for performing Buddhist rituals and is considered to be the most sacred building on the Wat Pho grounds. There is a large Buddha that was made in gold and crystal inside.
Just outside the courtyard are a couple of pavilions displaying plaques and instruments involved in traditional medicine. Rubbings on these plaques used to be hawked relentlessly just outside the temple walls, but seem to have gone out of fashion. Each of those contains a Buddha image set up in a different style. Remember that you can’t get through any of these pavilions into the cloister which is a double-ringed affair housing nearly 400 Buddha images.
If you exit the cloister through the north side and turn right, you’ll find the massage pavilions at the far end of the compound. The temple is considered as the pre-eminent place of learning for the ancient Thai medicinal art. You can get a massage at the temple, or even sign up for courses to learn Thai massage yourself. Prices for a massage at the temple are 250 Baht (6.42 USD) for 30 minutes or 400 Baht (10.27 USD) for one- hour foot massage.
There are plenty of transportation options for getting to Wat Pho including tuk-tuks, taxis, public buses, boats and other options whereas the easiest way to get to Wat Pho is by boat. Take the Chao Phraya River Express to the Tha Thien pier then walk through the market and up the short street. Wat Pho is directly across the intersection, on your right. On the left is the rear wall of the Grand Palace. If you are on a tight budget, then you can get to the Wat Pho temple relatively cheaply via a combination of public transit options including the BTS Sky Trains, the MRT subway and Bangkok bus system. TransitBangkok.com is a great resource that will help you figure out how to get to and from anywhere in Bangkok via public transportation.
Visitors must pay an entrance fee of 100 Baht (2.57 USD) at booths just inside the entrances. Children who are under 120 cm receive admission to enter freely. The temple is open to visitors from 8 am to 6 pm on a daily basis. When visiting the temple, the traditional or polite dress is required, while shorts above the knees are prohibited for women. It is also worth mentioning that visitors should take off their shoes and leave them on the shelves outside before entering any of the religious buildings.
The breath-taking architecture of Wat Pho alone is persuasive enough to visit the complex – not to mention the historical significance of the temples and relics found inside. Moreover, its location near the Grand Palace, Wat Phraw Kaew, Wat Arun and many of Bangkok’s notable attractions makes a visit to Wat Pho an easy addition to any itinerary. Let’s hit the road!