Temple of the Giant Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho is not only among the most visited Buddhist temples in Bangkok but also it is the place where history, medical science and educational institute combined.

As one of the largest temple complexes in the city, it’s famed for its giant reclining Buddha.  Laid inside the main hall, the sacred 15-meter tall, 46-meter-long reclining Buddha is carved with holy signs and covered in gold leaf. Wat Pho is, among Thai people, also regarded as "the nation's first public university," due to 1,360 marble inscriptions about medical, historical and liberal sciences all around the temple where the people can read and learn at any time.

Marble inscriptions about medical sciences are the origins of Wat Pho Thai traditional massage, which has given Wat Pho a fame worldwide. The traditional service, nowadays, is also available at the nearby pavilion.


Wat Pho Bangkok


Basic Info.

  • Temple Hours: Daily from 8.30am to 6.30pm
  • Massage available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Admission Fee: 200 baht (about $6.60); children under 4 feet tall free of charge.

The History

Wat Pho predates the transferring of Siam’s capital to Bangkok. But no one exactly knows when the temple was constructed and who constructed it. With official name as Wat Prachetuphon Vimon Mangkararam, wat pho was believed to be founded during the 16th century and was later served as The Royal Temple of King Rama I (1736-1809) of Chakri Dynasty. King Rama III (1788-1851) improved Wat Pho and made the temple complex an important center for health and public education.


History of Wat Pho


How to Get to Wat Pho in Bangkok

Bangkok city is a rather big area, Wat Pho is situated on Maharat Road, close to the river (within a kilometre south of the Grand Palace) in the Old Town (Rattanakosin). The SkyTrain or subway is the best means of transport to get to the temple. The best way to get there (fastest and cheapest) is to take the SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin station. As you go out of the station, you will find yourself right on the banks of Chao Phraya River, and a boat station pier right in front of you. There are a lot of boats that pass by this area with different destinations marked by the colorful flags, but all of them are scheduled to arrive at the Tha Tien pier. The temple is just beyond the pier. The ride takes, around, 10 minutes, and the view is breathtaking.

Hail a taxicab

From any point in the city, you can always use a taxicab to get to Wat Pho. It's recommended you should be accompanied by someone who knows their way around the area. Otherwise, keep in mind the most convenient route in order to avoid heavy traffic. It is also helpful to write down the names of the temples in Thai characters to show the driver. This way, the driver can better understand where you want to go.

Dress Code

Generally speaking, all visitors are expected to dress modestly at temples and state buildings all over Thailand. Men should avoid shorts and sleeveless tops. Similarly, women should not wear shorts or skirts above the knee, sleeveless tops and any clothing that reveals the shoulders. Travelers often ignore, and enforcement is sometimes not so strict—but that isn’t the story at Wat Pho. You’ll not be allowed entrance if you disobey the rules.

The temple usually provides robes to women who are not properly dressed to enter the temple. It would still be best to turn up in appropriate dress as the robes are not always available during peak times.

Tips for Visiting Wat Pho

You’ll need to take your shoes off to enter, and if you’d like a little good luck, we recommend you should purchase a bowl of coins at the entrance of the hall which you can drop in the 108 bronze bowls lining the length of the walls. Dropping the small pennies in makes a nice ringing sound and even if your wishes don’t come true, the money goes towards helping the monks renovate and preserve Wat Pho.


Collection Bowls at Wat Pho


The Reclining Buddha Statue

The highlight for most people visiting Wat Pho is definitely the Reclining Buddha. The figures here are so impressive: 15 metres tall, 46 metres long that it feels like it’s been squeezed into the building. The Buddha's feet are 5 metres long and exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of auspicious laksanas (characteristics) of the Buddha. The number 108 is significant in Buddhism, referring to the 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to perfection.


Reclining Buddha


Getting a Massage at Wat Pho

Wat Pho was the first public university in Thailand, specializing in religion and science. It is now more well-known as a centre for traditional massage and medicine. After a walk around the temple, there’s nothing better than a relaxing foot or head and shoulder massage. If you've never tried a traditional Thai massage, Wat Pho is a good place to experience it.

It's quite different from most other forms of therapeutic massage and tends to be invigorating rather than relaxing, incorporating yoga style postures to relieve stress and improve blood circulation. This is a very popular activity at the temple, so we recommend you pop in before your treatment to book a spot, or you might end up with a long wait.


Wat Pho Thai Massage School


The best time to visit

While the temple is open daily all year round, it is probably best to go either in the morning or before closing, especially if you want to take pictures of the marvellous statue. This is because tourists often come in crowds around the statue and will, therefore, affect your view of the statue. This may not be much of a problem, but in regards to the Reclining Buddha, it really is a problem.

Also in the Area

Wat Pho is located across the street from the Grand Palace, and across the river from the Temple of Dawn. It is possible to discover all of these attractions in a combination of hours, why not hike on the less famous Khao San Road, the backpacker's paradise with the lowest prices in the city, all kinds of street stalls, cheap accommodation, and also the place where Leonardo Di Caprio's character used to live in Bangkok. The whole temple complex has been developed into a center for learning and eventually, is considered as Thailand's university.