Photo: The reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.

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Wat Pho

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If you only have time to visit one attraction in Bangkok, make it Wat Pho. The 80,000 square metre complex could break a record with all of its records: it’s the oldest and largest monastery in the Thai capital, birthed the city’s first university, houses the largest reclining Buddha, and contains more Buddha images than any Thai temple. Impressive is an understatement.





It began modestly as Wat Photharam (“Temple of the Bodhi Tree”) in the 1600s, well over a century before Bangkok became the Thai capital. While erecting the nearby Grand Palace in the 1780s, King Rama I also found time to incorporate the original “Wat Pho” into a far grander new complex: Wat Phra Chetuphon. While this remains the official name, the old shortened moniker has stuck.

Spires on a bright day at Wat Pho. Photo taken in or around Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand by David Luekens.

Spires on a bright day at Wat Pho. Photo: David Luekens

Wat Pho is now one of only six Thai temples classified under the highest royal grade, making it one of the kingdom’s most important treasures. It was also the official royal temple of Rama I, who in 1782 founded the Chakri lineage that has survived to this day. Of the 95 glazed ceramic chedis that grace the compound, the largest four are enshrined with ashes of the first four Chakri kings, each of whom contributed additions to the complex.

Wat Pho’s biggest draw, literally, is Phra Phuttha Saiyat, a 46-metre-long and 15-metre-tall reclining Buddha lying in a colossal hall that’s visible from the nearby Chao Phraya River. Created in the early 1800s, the image has a brick core encased in plaster and gilded for its signature golden glean. It’s so awe-inspiring that, in English, Wat Pho is known as Temple of the Reclining ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Wat Pho is south of the Grand Palace between Thai Wang Rd and a three-minute walk from Tha Tien (N8) Chao Phraya express boat pier. Buses 1, 3, 25, 44, 48, 91, 503, 508 and 512 also stop nearby. Beware of pickpockets and also of touts insisting the temple is closed before trying to whisk you off on a city tour of their own.

Wat Pho
Main entrance on Maharat Rd, just south of the Grand Palace, Bangkok
Daily 08:00-17:00
T: (02) 226 0335 
Admission: 100 baht per person. English-speaking guides can be hired on-site for a negotiable extra charge.

Location map for Wat Pho

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