Aside from the shopping and nightlife of Bangkok there is also a very spiritual side to the city and one can find over 500 temples or ‘wats’ spread throughout the City of Angels. The most famous of these is probably Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha located in the Grand Palace, but the largest of the temples in Bangkok is Wat Po or Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Wat Po is absolutely stunning. The reclining Buddha is a beautiful, huge and majestic reclining Buddha measuring 138 feet long and covered completely in gold leaf. The Buddha’s feet are 9 feet long and exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of auspicious ‘laksanas’ (characteristics) of the Buddha. In addition to the reclining Buddha there are other Buddha artifacts which by themselves would be quite beautiful. In addition, the grounds are like a sea of serenity within the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
You can easily reach Wat Po from the Grand Palace, it’s a short 10-15 minute walk and there is a small market across the street which has some interesting things and the typical tasty street food vendors. Beware however the touts on the sidewalks surrounding Wat Po. They will try to tell you that the temple is closed (for any variety of reasons) and will offer to get a taxi or tuk-tuk for you to see other sights around Bangkok. These guys are NOT really trying to help you and if you accept their offers you will end up who knows where. Most of them will send you off to various shops which are tourist traps selling dubious quality products at inflated prices.
Wat Po is also one of the best places in Bangkok to get a traditional Thai massage. In fact, the massage school at Wat Po is one of the oldest traditional Thai massage schools and the monks at Wat Po effectively wrote the book on Thai massage. The massage school isn’t all that obvious, but you can find it in the backyard area of Wat Po. The massages are 120 baht for a ½ hour and 200 baht for an hour which may be a bit expensive for Thailand, but still not expensive at all by western standards. And it’s a great way to both invigorate and relax at the same time!
Wat Po is open daily from 8:00am until 5:00pm and massages are available until 6:00pm
The entrance fee is 20 baht.
Please remember that Thai temples are sacred places and you should dress and behave accordingly. Do not come to the temple in shorts, sleeveless shirts or other revealing clothing. Think of it the same way as if you were visiting a church in the west and use your best judgment.
Also for you ladies…Monks are not permitted to touch or be touched by women. So if you want to give something to a monk you can either hand it to a male to give to them or you can place a cloth on the ground and then place the item on the cloth for the monk to pick up.
Wat Po really is quite amazing and if you only get to see a temple or a few while in Bangkok make sure that the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is one of them. Trust me you won’t be disappointed at all.
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