Bangkok – Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), formally known as Wat Phra Chettuphon, is known for housing a massive reclining Buddha. The Buddha statue itself is approximately 15 meters high and 43 meters long. It’s feet are decorated with mother-of-pearl and intricate designs including 108 panels displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified. There are also 108 bronze bowls lining the corridor in the temple representing the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. People often drop coins into these bowls in the belief that doing so will bring good fortune. The coins dropped into the bowls also help the monks maintain the temple.
The other main attraction of Wat Pho is that it is also known as a center for Traditional Thai Massage. The temple is considered to be the first public university of Thailand where students were taught religion, science and literature through the use of murals and sculptures. One of the earliest Thai massage schools was also established here. There is an open air hall outside of the temple, known as the Traditional Medical Practitioners Association Center, where Traditional Thai massage is taught. Inside of the temple, there are 60 plaques inscribed to describe the treatment of the human body by Thai massage therapists.
Wat Pho is located just south of the Grand Palace complex on Rattanakosin Island in the Phra Nakhon District of Bangkok, Thailand. You can take a taxi from anywhere in Bangkok to get to Wat Pho, but an easier way to get to Wat Pho is by boat. To get to Wat Pho by boat, take the Chao Phraya River Express to the Tha Thien pier. Once you reach the pier, walk up the street through the market and cross over the intersection. Wat Pho will be on your right hand side. On your left hand side will be the south wall of The Grand Palace. If you feel more comfortable with a tour, you can sign up for the Wat Pho Tour.
As of the time of this writing, the entrance fee for Wat Pho is 100 Baht and can be paid at booths just inside the north and south entrances. The price for Thai massages at the temple are 260 Baht for 30 minutes and 420 Baht for either a one hour massage or a one hour foot massage. A 30 minute foot massage costs 280 Baht. Normal operating hours for Wat Pho are from 08:00-18:30.
Just like most other temples and wats in Thailand, Wat Pho also has a dress code. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves. No shorts or tank tops are allowed. Women must be modestly dressed as well. No see through clothing or bare shoulders, etc. Shorts above the knees are prohibited for women as well. It is also required that you remove your shoes an place them on the shelf before entering the temple.
Here is a slideshow of pictures of Wat Pho: