There Is More To Wat Pho Than The Giant Reclining Buddha

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

The Golden Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho

The Reclining Buddha – To Visit Or Not?

There is always a danger of being disappointed in a place, especially if you have spent years hoping to visit.  But as I gaze up into his large thought-provoking eyes, I cancel out the boisterous tourists surrounding me whose only wish is to snap a quick selfie for a facebook update before moving on, I realise that this place in particular is the one reason I wanted to visit Bangkok.

The Golden Reclining Buddha has been an image that has stuck with me since I first opened a textbook at school and saw the gigantic statue in all its horizontal glory.  There was something about it that captivated me and led to my obsession with Wat Pho, one of the largest temple complexes in Bangkok.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

The large face of the Golden Reclining Buddha

This 46 metre mass of plaster bricks and golden leaf is encased within its own shrine with walls and a ceiling that have been intricately designed with beautiful painted murals and floral patterns and it has become a tourist haven.  It is on all of the ‘must see’ lists for Bangkok; it has become one of those iconic images used by travel agents and websites the world over to promote Thailand to the thousands of visitors that grace this wonderful city each month.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

And, I can’t deny it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, but how many people wandering around, snapping away realise that this is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple within Thailand’s capital.  How many tourists that shuffle past the reclining Buddha each day actually understand the importance of this site to the religious? 

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Now don’t get me wrong, during our visit, we too took many photos, but we were also considerate to the sacredness of the temple as a place of worship.  We covered up accordingly, making sure our shoulders were covered and that are backsides were not hanging out the bottom of our shorts (ladies take note – this is not an appropriate way to dress although many seem to this so!), Paul removed his hat as requested and when those that were there to worship appeared we gave them space to honour and pray accordingly.

So why is it people fail to remember this?  Has the popularity of taking a selfie at every location override the right to respect others and what they believe?

By all means, take your images, and your selfies, but do so without intruding on those that are actually there to show respect to the Buddha.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Why You Should Visit The Temple of Golden Reclining Buddha and Wat Pho?

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

The grounds of Wat Pho

Wat Pho is one of just six temples across Thailand to be awarded the distinctive honour of a first-class royal temple.  Built on the site of another temple (an Ayuttaya era temple named Wat Photharam), Wat Pho has been extended and renovated several times and is now recognised by UNESCO in its Memory of the World programme. 

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

The reclining Budhha, which depicts the Buddha’s pose at death when he entered Nirvana, and  its stunning mother of pearl soles is just one of 1,000 buddhas to be found at this site, more than any other temple in Thailand.  Many people however, simply pay the entrance fee to see the spectacular golden statue, not allowing enough time to enjoy the rest of the temple; but trust me when I say that this is a big mistake.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Some of the other buddha statues around Wat Pho

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

After spending time staring in wonderment at the huge effigy, don’t rush off, wander around and enjoy the other historical aspects of the site.  After all, it is home to the first, and still active, royal monastery, is home to the library of the 7th Holiness Prince, Krom Phra Paramanujit Jinoros, one of the most famous Thai poets who was honoured by UNESCO as the Great Poet Laureate, and contains several different assembly halls, where at varies times of day you will see monks mediating or communities coming together in pray. 

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

It is also home to four huge pagodas, each one standing at 42 metres and covered in alluring mosaic tiles, to symbolise the four Kings of the Chakri Dynasty.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Mosaic Artwork of the Pagodas

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Every time you turn a corner, something new will catch your eye – perhaps a Chinese statue will capture your imagination or a pavilion, intricately designed to  both compliment its surrounds and stand out in its own right, will give your reason to pause and reflect.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Maybe you will be amazed by one of the 91 stupas (also known as chedi), or you are an individual that can appreciate and enjoy the delicately designed gardens complete with yogi statues. Perhaps it will be the peaceful areas tucked away at the edge of the 8 hectares that will appeal to you or the fact that you can have a traditional massage in Wat Pho’s own Thai traditional medicinal and massage school.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie, yogi, yoga

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie, gardens of Wat Pho

Ultimately, this is a temple that regardless of religious belief will cause you to ponder and contemplate. 

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Whilst within its white walls, you begin to forget that the bustling and chaotic city lays just footsteps away.  Inside Wat Pho, apart from the crowds that move in an orderly fashion each day around the reclining Buddha, tranquillity reigns, monks in bright orange robes meditate and worshippers fill up the prayer rooms.  Offerings are made to the mighty Buddha, chants are performed and then everyone retreats, heading back into the crowds of people to continue with daily life.

Golden reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, Travelling, Travel, Travelling Book Junkie

Outside the walls of Wat Pho

 

Have you visited the Golden Reclining Buddha?  Did you take the time to wander around Wat Pho whilst you were there? We would love to hear your thoughts about this highly regarded temple in Bangkok.

Looking for a place to stay whilst in this area?  Then why not stay at Casa Nithra which is within walking distance of this famous site.

Wat Pho, reclining buddha, Thailand, Bangkok. Temple, Buddhism, Travel, Travelling, travelling Book junkie

27 Comments

  • Wow, It is beautiful, I will go travel here, love Buddhism.

  • Izzy says:

    Thank you for sharing one of my favorite temples in Bangkok, it never gets old for me to see the Reclining Buddha no matter how many times I’ve seen it before! Did you drop the coins as you made the prayers while walking past the Buddha? I love that its the home to traditional massages too!

    PS- your photo quality is seriously superb!!!

    • I do think it will be one of those places that I visit every time we go to Bangkok! We didn’t drop coins on this occasion simply because there was so many people that we could not get near them which is a shame – but it does mean we will need to return at some point in the future. Thank you for your kind words about our photos as well 🙂

  • Chiera says:

    such stunning architecture! I’ve actaully never heard of this statue before but it looks amazing!

  • Sutee says:

    Wow, I had no idea there was such a thing as “first-class, royal temple.” Now I have to check out the other 5.

  • Wat Pho looks incredible. I am visiting Bangkok next month so can’t wait to see this for myself. Absolutely love your pictures too. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips.

  • Winnie says:

    The photos are stunning! I agree with you regarding the need to respect other people’s cultures and traditions when traveling to new places. One should observe the local culture and act accordingly. Great job!

  • Janelle says:

    Your photographs are stunning. Honestly, I have never heard of the leaning Buddha until reading your blog, but it looks absolutely breathtaking. I can’t wait to plan a trip myself. Thanks for the read.

  • Gokul Raj says:

    That is a much needed info for me as I am visiting Thailand in the last week of Feb,

  • I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Wat Pho and that you for your kind comments about the photos. 🙂

  • Suze Cassis says:

    Hi Tam,

    What amazing photos! I completely agree with you, to enjoy this temple properly you do need to take time to wander around and explore all of the grounds. There are some beautiful corners without a selfie stick in sight! Taking time out for a Thai massage is bliss too.

    Also agree with you about being respectful during any temple visits too. Please do cover up.

    If you’ve become a “temple junkie” would definitely recommend a trip to Laos – the temples there are amazing and relatively untouristy.

    Happy travels.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Suze. funny you should mention Laos – we are thinking of heading there later this year. 🙂 We missed out on the Thai massage this time, but in my opinion gives me reason to return.

  • That temple is a very colorful place. I would love to visit places like these, its overflowing with history and culture. Love your photos.

    • Thanks Ricci. There are many beautiful temples around Thailand that we were lucky enough to explore. It also made me think about some of the wonderful buildings we have around us closer to home.

  • Brown Gal Trekker says:

    I’ve been to this place and I actually enjoyed it! So, yes there’s more to it than just a giant buddha! It’s a fascinating spiritual place and has its own charm as a place to visit.

  • Natalie says:

    What an incredible place! Whenever we’re traveling, I tend to seek out places like this–they allow me to learn about a new culture, their religious practice, history, and architecture. I with you on the hideous behavior of other tourists at these religious sites: we’ve seen people taking selfies inside cathedrals in Europe and talking so loudly. Even if you’re not part of the religion of the place you’re visiting, I cannot imagine what would make someone think that poor behavior or dress would be appropriate in a place like that. I haven’t made it to Thailand (YET!) but this will definitely be on the list whenever we get there. 🙂

    • If you love places like this you will really enjoy Thailand. When I read your comment about talking loudly I smiled, I frequently comment about the fact that as soon as we enter an auspicious building, library or any building of significance in a location we visit, we both tend to lower our voices however, I have noticed not everyone is the same. 🙂

  • Pete says:

    Regardless of faith.

    Very true. The great temples and cathedrals have their own serenity, their own light. One doesn’t need to be a practitioner of this religion or that to feel the grace.

    Perhaps all it needs is a moment to pause.

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