To reach Wat Pho from Wat Arun, we took a short ferry ride across the river. This departed from a different dock (further north) than the water taxi, and was very reasonably priced. Wat Pho is situated close to the river, so it was only a a block or two to arrive at the gates from the ferry dock. Wat Pho is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Thailand- established before Bangkok was even the capital. Although we didn’t realize it, Wat Pho has the largest collection of Buddha figures in Thailand. It was a public university as well as the birthplace of Thai massage, which is still taught and practiced within the temple grounds.
As we entered the gates, there was a small Buddhist supply store and a gong- that we could hit for a donation. Of course, Landon wanted to try his hand at the gong. It had a lower, more melodious sound than I had expected!
The reason everyone goes to Wat Pho is to see the 46m long and 15m high golden reclining Buddha. It was built in 1832 to symbolize Buddha achieving Nirvana, and is in a restful pose. The core is made of brick, which was then covered in plaster before being gilded in gold. Because it is so large, and the building built around it long and narrow, it was hard to capture the scale of this sculpture in photographs- especially while trying to keep track of two small children in a crowd! My favorite part of this giant sculpture were the feet, unfortunately under construction but the bottoms were inlaid with mother-of-pearl! The flow of the path for visitors took us first to the front of the head, to the feet, and then around in a circle around the backside. Many were dropping coins in bowls situated around the walkway, as an offering to Buddha. This helps the monks maintain the wat.
I wish we could have spent more time here, but our kids were very hot and hangry for lunch. We took a quick peek around other areas of the temple- including these huge, gorgeously decorated stupas and hall of Buddha in various poses. Although probably not the most reverent thing to do in this setting, my boys liked running around and hiding behind these giant structures while we tried to corral them for lunch. With its proximity to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is a royal Buddhist temple and certainly had that vibe. Anyone in Bangkok should stop by to see the gigantic Buddha and take in some of the gorgeous architectural features. We’re glad we stopped by, even if it was for only a short time.