Ultimate Guide to Visiting Wat Pho in Bangkok – The Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho Temple (Wat Phra Chetuphon) is one of the many famous historical spots in Bangkok and I’m pretty sure it’s on your itinerary for the city as well. At least it should be! Thousands of people from all over the world come to visit this stunning temple in Bangkok each year, mostly to see its impressive Reclining Buddha statue and, if you’ll be one of them in the near future, this article is here to tell you everything you need to know!
Below you’ll find lots of precious info about visiting Wat Pho Temple – when and how to visit, the cost of entrance, which tours to take, how to dress and more. Plus my best tips to keep in mind before going to Wat Pho temple, which will help you save precious time and energy!
All right, let’s go:
First of all, why should you visit Wat Pho?
99% of people visit Wat Pho to see the Reclining Buddha, which is 100% a legit reason to visit because this IS the highlight of the temple! Aside from the impressive statue of the Reclining Buddha, the entire temple complex of Wat Pho is really pretty and it’s full of intricate decorations and golden Buddha images in the shapes of statues and paintings. If I think about it, this may just be my favourite temple in Bangkok, so a visit here is definitely worth it!
RELATED READ: Wat Pho, Wat Arun and the Grand Palace are said to be the three must-visit tourist sights in Bangkok, located very close to each other. If you want to read more about each of the other two, I recommend checking out my dedicated articles:
Everything you need to know about visiting Wat Pho, Bangkok
Quick info about Wat Pho
Wat Pho was once Thailand’s first public university with a focus on science, literature and, of course, religion. There are more than 1.300 inscriptions on marble talking about medical sciences around the temple complex (which is why visiting with a guide makes everything much easier to understand!). It is believed that Wat Pho was established in the 16th century and it was later used as a Royal Temple for King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty.
Nowadays, Wat Pho is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Bangkok and a famous traditional Thai massage and medicine centre. Moreover, Wat Pho has been a UNESCO Memory of the World (MOW) since 2008.
RELATED READ: For my complete list of unmissable highlights and cool activities in this city, I recommend checking my dedicated article: 5 Unmissable Tourist Places to See in Bangkok – A Complete City Guide
What to see at Wat Pho Temple complex
The Reclining Buddha
As I mentioned before, the most iconic site in the temple complex is the Reclining Buddha – a Buddha figure in the ‘Nirvana’ or enlightenment pose. Why is this so interesting, after all? That’s a legit question. First of all, the statue is massive – it’s 15 metres tall and 46 metres long. The Buddha’s feet are 5 metres long and they’re decorated with painted images and ‘laksanas’ (characteristics) of Buddha. Second of all, the statue is covered in gold leaf, so you can imagine how impressive it looks in person, right? It’s kind of interesting to see how big the Reclining Buddha is, really, it looks like someone squeezed it into the place!
NOTE: Before entering the Reclining Buddha room, you’ll have to take your shoes off.
For 20 baht (0.65 US$), you can purchase a small bowl that contains 108 coins. As a meditative practice, you walk along the wall on the backside of the reclining Buddha and drop a coin in each of the 108 buckets. Why 108? 108 is a holy number in Buddhism and the coins you provide as this meditation is used for the upkeep of the temple. And you can also make a wish!
The rest of the temple complex
Except for the famous Reclining Buddha, there are some other cool things to admire on the site. For example, there are 4 chapels with beautiful Buddha images, gold Buddha statues lined up, complex murals and some pretty cool and colourful stupas and Chinese statues in the courtyards. Visitors have access to all these with their entrance ticket and you can even book a guide on-site for 200 or 400 baht (6.40 or 12.80 US$).
Wat Pho massage - Traditional Thai Massage School
Wat Pho is considered the first public university for teaching Thai Massage. They also teach Thai medicine in this temple and you can get a variety of traditional Thai massages here. Although you can search and find a better rate out and about, the historical significance of this school seems to draw in the tourists.
- Thai massage 30 min: 260 Baht (8.30 US$)
- Thai massage 1hr: 420 Baht (13.40 US$)
- Foot massage 30min: 280 Baht (9 US$)
- Foot massage 1 hr: 420 Baht (13.40 US$)
How to get to Wat Pho Temple in Bangkok
Wat Pho Temple is located on the river banks, next to the riverboat pier, very close to the Grand Palace, across the river from Wat Arun and right behind Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Pho address: Maharat Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand. Find it on Google Maps here.
The closest MRT station to Wat Pho is Sanam Chai on the blue line. The temple is only a 7-minute walk away from the station. You can also get there by boat if you get on at Tha Tien pier. There are different ways to get to Wat Pho, depending on where you’re staying in the city. I’ll talk about the most popular options below:
GETTING TO WAT PHO FROM SIAM:
- Grab / Taxi: 20-minute ride (depending on traffic)
- BTS Skytrain and boat: 41min duration, BTS to Saphan Taksin station, Boat shuttle to Tha Chang
- Bus: 50min duration, 47 or 508 Bus from Siam Centre
GETTING TO WAT PHO FROM SUKHUMVIT:
- Grab / Taxi: 30-minute ride (depending on traffic)
- MRT: 47min duration, MRT blue line to Sanam Chai
GETTING TO WAT PHO FROM KHAO SAN ROAD:
- Grab / Taxi: 10min duration (depending on traffic)
- Public Transport: 25min duration, 404 or 59 Bus from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road
Grab is Southeast Asia’s version of Uber, where you can order on-demand taxis for cheaper and less hassle than regular taxis. When using Grab, the price of the fare will show before you order a taxi, you can pay in cash or card through the app, and the taxi picks you up and drops you off at a location of your choice.
TOP TIP #1: Use the Grab App to price check how much a trip should cost when you are getting a regular taxi. This way you’ll have a reference when haggling with Taxi drivers and will protect you from getting ripped off.
TOP TIP #2: If you’re visiting the Grand Palace first, it’s best to take a tuk-tuk ride to Wat Pho next. The entire ride is very short and also pretty fun! Another very good option is walking.
Wat Pho opening hours
Wat Pho temple is open every day from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM. The massage service is available until 6:00 PM.
Best time to visit Wat Pho Temple
AIM FOR: Getting to Wat Pho first thing in the morning when it opens. This way you will miss both the harsh midday heat and the overwhelming crowds that come hand in hand with so many of the popular temples in Bangkok (usually from 10:00 AM on). Personally, we arrived at Wat Pho at 7:30 AM and they let us into the temple complex early. It was so nice to get the site completely to ourselves. We stayed for 1h30’ before heading to Wat Arun (15min away), so we got to see both these sites while they were still uncrowded. An excellent tip if you want to avoid the long lines and it’s definitely worth it to wake up so early in the morning!
AVOID: Visiting on weekends or public holidays. It also gets pretty busy in the afternoons.
RELATED READ: To read more about visiting Wat Arun, read my dedicated blog post: A Complete Guide to Visiting Wat Arun Temple in Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Pho entrance fee
Entrance fee: 200 Baht (6.40 US$).
The fee includes a small water bottle as well. Your ticket allows you to visit everything in the temple complex without any extra fees. The massage is paid for separately (I mentioned the prices above). If you want to book a guide at the gates, the prices are 200 to 400 baht and they speak very good English.
You can purchase tickets on arrival at the gates or pre-book them online here with hotel pick-up included!
Best Wat Pho tours
In case you don’t want to waste precious vacation time trying to organise your itinerary around Bangkok, I wholeheartedly recommend booking an organised tour. This way you’ll have the entrance covered and a knowledgeable local guide will tell you all kinds of interesting information about the sights you’re visiting. If you ask me, the best idea would be to book a multi-temple tour (Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which will save you a lot of time. Here are the best ones I selected for you:
Wat Pho Temple dress code
Like most places of worship, the temples in Bangkok have a strict dress code for those wishing to visit. The most important thing to remember is to cover your knees and shoulders and to take off your shoes before entering the Reclining Buddha room. If you would like to check out the complete list of guidelines for visitors, you can find a breakdown on Wat Pho’s official website here.
The most important things to bring with you to Wat Pho
Of course, I couldn’t NOT share with you a useful packing list for Wat Pho (or any other temple or attraction in Bangkok, really):
BONUS #1: What to visit near Wat Pho in Bangkok
When planning your itinerary for the city, you’ll quickly realise that there are many other beautiful landmarks located within walking distance of the Grand Palace. Here are the best nearby attractions:
- Grand Palace – probably the most famous attraction around Bangkok. The Palace is only a short walk or tuk-tuk ride away from Wat Pho. You can read all my most precious tips for this attraction here.
- Wat Arun / The Temple of Dawn – another gorgeous Buddhist temple located across the river from Wat Pho and a must-see during your stay in Bangkok. You can take a water taxi to it.
- Wat Mahathat – a great place for Vipassana Meditation and buying cute souvenirs. It’s also among the oldest temples in Bangkok;
- Bangkok National Museum – one of the biggest museums in Southeast Asia and the best place to see some beautiful local art;
- Kao San Road – 20 minutes walk from Wat Pho.
BONUS #2: Recommended camera gear for visiting Bangkok
Here’s our camera gear that we take all around with us, perfect for Bangkok too. It has everything you’ll ever need!
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
EVERYDAY LENS: Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens
WIDE ANGLE LENS: Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC
PORTRAIT LENS: Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG
GOPRO: GoPro HERO8 Black
NV FILTER: Hoya 82mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter
HARD DRIVE: LaCie 4 TB
RELATED READ: If you want to read more about our photography gear, I recommend checking out my dedicated article: What’s in my Camera Bag – All My Travel Blogging Gear
This was my complete guide for everyone visiting the Reclining Buddha Temple in Bangkok! I have told you everything you need to know above, from ticket prices to the different ways of getting there – and much more!