Wat Po (also spelled ‘Wat Pho’) is one of the oldest and largest temple complexes in Bangkok. It situated next door to the more visited Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Less tourists visit and they are missing out. Wat Po isn’t on the Skytrain or Metro network, but you can get there on the Chao Phraya Express Boat from the Saphan Taksin Skytrain station. Wat Po is a short walk from Tha Tien Pier. Entry is 100 Thai baht (3.3 USD) and it is open from 8am to 5pm every day. Please don’t listen to the Thai men hanging outside trying to tell you the temple is closed – they are conmen who want to take you on a tour or to a gem shop.
Set in grounds of over 80,000 square meters, the temple is made up of two walled compounds with 91 chedi (stupas to use the Indian terminology) in the open spaces between. Large parts of the Temple complex are functioning places of worship and education. The Temple is considered to be Thailand’s first public university, with courses on traditional Thai massage and medicine. The massage school is considered the top place to study Thai massage and attracts large numbers of Thai and foreign students to take the rigorous and respected courses.
The main attraction is the reclining Buddha which is the largest in the world. Ornately decorated in gold leaf, this statute is a massive 46 meters long and 15 meters high. Very impressive, and worth the entrance fee in its own right. When you go be sure to buy a bucket of copper coins and carefully place one in each of the 108 brass bowls running the length of the statue. 108 is an important number in Buddhism, and it is believed to give you good luck.
Another feature to point out is the 150 or so depictions of the epic story of Ramakien on the outer walls. These are hand painted scenes from the Thai national epic, Ramakien, which is a version of the Hindu epic The Ramayana. This tells the story of Rama’s struggle to rescue his wife Sita who has been kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. The painted scenes are an artistic masterpiece and an important part of Thailand’s cultural heritage.
If you are interested in Thai history and culture and would like to get more out information while visiting Wat Pho a good option is the Isango City Temple Tour. For $23 the tour takes in Wat Pho as well as Wat Tramit and Wat Benjamaborpitr, some of the most important cultural sites in Bangkok. All entrance fees are included and you get a knowledgeable English speaking guide to explain about the places visited. The tour is from 8am to 12pm and includes all transfers. For more information click on the link below: