One of the oldest, largest and most revered temple complexes in Bangkok, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) is a must-see for all visitors to the Thai capital. The central attraction of the temple complex is its namesake statue, the gold-leaf-covered reclining Buddha, but don't let it distract you from the site's other treasures, including its 95 pagodas, carved narrative panels, and opulent main altar.
The gigantic golden Buddha statue is the largest in Thailand, measuring 151 feet (46 meters) long and 50 feet (15 meters) tall. The Buddha's feet alone are 16 feet (five meters) tall, both exquisitely decorated and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. A walk along the length of the entire statue is a treat in and of itself, but visitors would be remiss if they didn't enter the temple and explore the whole Wat Pho compound, which is full of artwork and Buddha images. The oldest temple in Thailand, the complex also remains a hub of knowledge for traditional Thai medicine and Thai massage, and travelers can even book a massage appointment here.
A key Bangkok attraction, the temple is included in most city and temple tours of the capital, frequently grouped with visits to Bangkok temples such as Wat Arun, Wat Traimit (home to a solid gold Buddha statue), the Gem Gallery, and Chinatown, among other combinations for half-day tours. For a memorable way to visit this and other important sights in the city, join a tour guide for a sunset or night bike tour; hop on a tuk tuk for a fun-filled sightseeing adventure; or board a longtail boat to arrive via the Chao Phraya River.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The temple is most often visited on half-day sightseeing tours of Bangkok.
- The site is not easily accessed by wheelchair.
- Dress conservatively—visitors shouldn't wear shorts or low-cut tops, and women must cover their arms.
How to Get to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha
The sprawling grounds of Wat Pho have two walled compounds divided by Soi Chetuphon. The reclining Buddha and famous Thai massage school can be found on the northern side, while the temple's monastic facilities are located in the southern compound. The easiest way to access the temple is by boat: take the Chao Phraya River Express to the Tha Thien pier. The temple is located next to the Grand Palace and behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew).
When to Get There
Visit during the morning or evening to beat the heat and crowds of the middle of the day.