Visiting Wat Pho, Bangkok

Wat Pho (pronounced Wat-Poor) is one of the most famous temples in Bangkok. Located in the Phar Nakhon district, Wat Pho is walking distance to Kaho San Road and the Chayo Phraya River.

The wat is world famous for the huge image of the reclining Buddha inside the temple. The statue is 15 meters high and 43 meters long, with the foot of the Buddha scribed with pearls. The underside of the foot is split up into 108 unique sections, displaying lucky symbols.

Bangkok Wat Pho reclining Buddha” by Phillip Maiwald (Nikopol) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Next to the statue lie 108 bronze bowls that reflect each of the symbols on the Buddha’s foot. It is believed that you will bring luck upon yourselves if you place money into these bowls. The money collected is used to help maintain the temple.

The complex inlaid decoration of the smaller prangs in the complex include many real pearls
The complex inlaid decoration of the smaller prangs in the complex include many real pearls. Photographer: Jason Gong

History of Wat Pho

The temple was named after a monastery in India where it was believed that the Buddha once lived. Before the temple was founded, the complex was used as a school for locals to learn traditional Thai medicine, and showcased statues showing numerous yoga positions around the site.

From the 1800s onwards, the complex went under further changes but kept the same medical path. In 2008, Wat Pho won a Memory of the World award from UNESCO.

The temple's official name in Thai is "Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan" and houses over a thousand Buddha images
The temple’s official name in Thai is “Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan” and houses over a thousand Buddha images.  Photographer: Jason Gong

The complex was turned into a temple in 1778 to replace Wat Phodharam from another site that was burned due to the Burmese invasion. Wat Pho was then restored in 1982 under the reign of King Rama III and today stands as one of Bangkok’s biggest temple attractions.

Getting a traditional medicine massage at Wat Pho

Once being the homes of traditional Thai medicines, it is no surprise to see Thai massages being available at Wat Pho. The temple started one of the first ever Thai massage schools, and massages are priced as follows:

Traditional Thai massage – 30 minutes 260 baht, 1 hour 420 baht
Foot massage – 30 minutes 280 baht, 1 hour 420 baht

How to get there

The best way to get to Wat Pho is by taxi as there are no metro links nearby. Be sure to always use the meter and pronounce the temple as “Wat-poor” so your driver will understand.

Best time to visit

The temple is open daily from 8am until 5pm and is busy every single day. To avoid the crowds it is best to get there at 8am. Visiting any time of the year is great, the temple has plenty of things to see and take pictures of inside, the complex is also walking distance to many other temples and the Grand Palace.

Entry to the temple costs 100 baht and local guides are on hand to show you around at a fee. Please remember to wear appropriate clothing, no vests, or short skirts, sarongs can be rented for a fee outside the temple. Article text by: Harvie