Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, in Bangkok, Thailand, is the type of place that has to be seen to be believed. A magnificent complex of buildings situated in the heart of Bangkok—from which the Grand Palace is only a fifteen-minute walk—it features soaring stompas (temples), beautifully engraved statues, and, of course, the Reclining Buddha itself. Wat Pho in Bangkok is one of those attractions that inevitably make their way onto itineraries for the city.
Getting to Wat Pho should prove fairly simple given its central location in the district of Rattanakosin; the majority of Bangkok hotels are located within a short tuk-tuk (three-wheeled taxi) ride of here. The temple is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm, though it closes for lunch for one hour each day, and you only have to pay a small entrance fee to enter. Once inside, there are various guides available (not all strictly legitimate, mind you) for a price, though you may be tempted to just go it alone and wonder around the temple of your own accord. Both are quite valid means of exploring the Wat Pho in Bangkok.
And there really is much to explore here. Covering an area of 20 acres, Wat Pho is the largest of Bangkok’s many temples. Should you decide to traverse these acres methodically, it’s possible to see every one of the 1,000 images of Buddha that grace the wat. Many visitors decide to restrict themselves to the northern section of the grounds (there’s only so much you can do within a day, after all), where a temple hall contains 394 splendid images of Buddha made from bronze. A picturesque library is also located in this area.
Far and away the main attraction, however, has to be the Reclining Buddha. This massive gold-plated statue, which measures 150 feet (46 meters) in length and 50 feet (15 meters0 in height, is decorated with mother-of-pearl and illustrates Buddha’s ascension to nirvana. Quite simply, the Reclining Buddha is one of the most impressive sights you’ll likely see in the entirety of Thailand.
Once you’ve gazed at the various buildings of the Wat Pho for long enough, it’s worth indulging in a Thai massage here. Wat Pho in Bangkok is famous for being Thailand’s first university, and today it remains an important center for traditional Thai massage. Massages can be had for half an hour or an hour; foot reflexology messages are also available.
Having finished with the Wat Pho in Bangkok, there are many other nearby things to do and see that call for attention. The Grand Palace and its Emerald Buddha are an obvious example, while a boat ride on the river that runs adjacent to the wat is also well worth the expenditure. A little further a field within the city limits, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market proves a traveler’s favorite, as does Bangkok’s infamously seedy Red Light District.