This monastery is very popular because of the huge reclining Buddha housed in one of its rooms but it’s also worth taking some time to stroll around the grounds.
It has an extensive collection of Buddha figures and numerous stupas, Buddhist funeral monuments.
The Wat Pho is a magnificent example of a royal monastery and a renowned study and teaching centre of traditional Thai massage.
Operating hours: 08h00 – 17h00
Admission fee: 100 baht
The Wat Pho monastery is located in the Rattanakosin district, next to the Grand Palace and is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved monasteries in the whole of Thailand.
Its full name is WAT PHRA CHETTUPHON WIMON MANGKHLARAM RATCHAWORAMAHAWIHAN.
The oldest structures date back to the times of Ayutthaya, although it was during the Thonburi period in the late 18th century when the temple achieved the status of Royal Monastery.
In the last two centuries, it has been restored and extended on various occasions by kings of the Chakri dynasty. In fact, of the nearly 100 stupas that stand here, the four most famous ones are those dedicated to the first four kings.
In one vihan you will encounter the famous huge reclining Buddha, which occupies practically all the space in the hall. It is 46 m long by 15 m high.
Apart from the size, there are three other aspects to be highlighted: the position, the face, and the soles of the feet.
The position represents the time when the Buddha transits to death, lying on his right shoulder to finally reach Nirvana.
His face depicts a person, eyes half-closed, absolutely serene, free of fear, waiting peacefully for death after obtaining enlightenment.
The soles of the feet are adorned and inlaid with mother-of-pearl panels that display the 108 auspicious signs identifying the person who, once enlightened, will become the Buddha.
In the same hall, you will find a long line of 108 bronze bowls in which to deposit coins.
It is typical for monasteries to be sponsored by royalty or wealthy people but it is the community of believers that is expected to cover the upkeep of the facilities and the monks. For this reason, you will notice that they are permanently requesting donations from visitors to their temples.
Next to the vihan housing the reclining Buddha, there is a small garden with a Bodhi tree that may be a direct descendant of the one in India under which Buddha meditated to attain enlightenment about 2,500 years ago.
The site also has five vihans or assembly halls and a central usobot that guards the main image of the Buddha called Phra Tang Pha Thip. It is a depiction of a meditating figure designed in the artistic style of Ayutthaya.
A visit to Wat Pho will take you less than one hour and there is likely to be quite a crowd at the entrance to the vihan with the reclining Buddha.
There are plenty of areas within the site where you can shelter from the sun, as well as a number of amenities for tourists, like Thai massages or divination of the future by the palms of the hands.
Any time of day is suitable for a visit.