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If you visit one temple in Bangkok, make it this one!

  |   14 Comments

This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

As far as sights go in Bangkok, one of the most important is Wat Pho. The temple complex is one of the oldest and largest in the city and is worth including in any first-time visit to the Bangkok. To make it easy for the time-strapped, it’s right next to the Grand Palace – one of Bangkok’s other main heritage attractions. Why not combine the two? Or, even better, why not just choose one and go to the pub for the afternoon?

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wat pho, bangkok, temple, thailand, tourist sight, things to do in bangkok (11)

The temple complex is expansive and takes at least an hour to explore properly. The various structures hold artefacts and give the faithful opportunities to express their devotion. Although it is a working temple, it is overrun with tourists to the point where I can’t imagine locals finding much solitude.

“Dear Buddha, I would really like some guidance on…” Click! “…anyway, as I was saying, things at home have been a bit…” OMG, look at that massive statue of the sitting down guy “…oh, nevermind, I’ll just go to my therapist”.

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The highlight of Wat Pho is the gold reclining Buddha – 43 metres long and one of the largest in the world. It takes a whole building to hold it, resting in a peaceful pose. The feet of the Buddha have a whole lot of images on the soles inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

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Along the side of the Buddha are 108 metal bowls which people can walk alongside and drop 108 coins into. (Don’t worry – you can buy all the coins you need for about 20 baht, about 60 cents.)

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The fun thing about the Wat Pho complex is that you can really feel like you are exploring it for yourself. It’s not only large but has so many nooks and crannies. If you like stupas, you’d be stupad not to wander into some of the less-trafficked areas (sorry).

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The temple was first built about 250 years ago but was most recently restored in 1982. You can tell. Although it is certainly traditional, it is also clean and well-maintained. The throngs of visitors bring in a decent revenue, I’m sure, and it’s good to know that much of that is spent on the upkeep of Wat Pho. One woman was even injecting a mural in the reclining Buddha building with something. I’m not sure what it was but I’m sure Lance Armstrong has tried it.

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Bangkok has so much to offer – from the shopping, to the nightlife, to the food. But a bit of culture doesn’t go astray and this is an enjoyable way to see that side of the city.

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14 Comments
  • MarkmBha | Jan 18, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Good post!

  • Natalie | Jan 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    I hope the locals have not driven away by the huge amount of tourists. Be a shame if that was the case
    Natalie recently posted..Gaziantep Castle : Remembering the VeteransMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 5, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      There are plenty of temples for them in Bangkok, don’t you worry about that! But I’m sure lots of locals would avoid it because of the tourist crowds.

  • Vera | Jan 19, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Ah, this is the one we did not yet go to! “…one of the most important” – now there’s no way out of that, is there? Your writing seems to have changed a bit since you’ve been to Bangkok – sudden outbursts of unexpected humor catch me off-guard (and I’m not even going to mention any ejaculation-allegories) and make me wonder what Lance is gonna say to these latest accusations. Probably not much. What’s next, Michael? I’m intrigued!
    Vera recently posted..The street art of BarcelonaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      Well, maybe it’s not that important then… I’m sure you didn’t miss out on anything, really… ahem :)
      And thank you for noticing the writing. I wouldn’t say it’s a change… just a bit more variety. I don’t want you getting bored, Vera!

  • Jennifer | Jan 21, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Haha! Loved the pun in this! Jokes aside, the temple is beautiful and I’d love to see it one day. It’d be a shame if the locals have been driven away. I wonder if there are certain hours the temple is closed to visitors so that locals can worship in peace?
    Jennifer recently posted..Best Dozen Posts of 2012My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 6, 2013 at 12:04 am

      Glad you liked the joke. I have to amuse myself sometimes :)
      And good idea about certain hours just for worshippers… perhaps they do that?

  • Deb | Feb 7, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Always nice to revisit Wat Pho. We were back there last summer to shoot a commercial and it was so much fun. We were reenacting our first trip to Thailand that changed our lives and Wat Pho was one of the of the first places we visited way back in 2000. It holds a bit of a special place in our hearts. Great shots!
    Deb recently posted..Winterlude Delights, Canada’s Best Winter PartyMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Oh, fantastic! it’s beautiful enough on its own but I love how it’s so special for you. I remember seeing your commercial but hadn’t put two and two together until you reminded me just now. So glad you got to go back there!

  • alainsojourner | Feb 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Wat Pho and Wat Arun are actually my favorite temple in Bangkok. :))

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 16, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Excellent, another vote for me! :)

  • Apol of Wanderful Together | Jun 1, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    We went here during Songkran, oh it was flooded with locals and tourists!!
    I thought an hour was enough to explore here, I was wrong. I thought it was only the Reclining Buddha that’s there to see, I was wrong. Loved the line of buddhas there with the black one, did you see it? Definitely spent a lot of time just checking out the stupas!
    Apol of Wanderful Together recently posted..Stilts & Stairs: Traditional Houses in CambodiaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jun 4, 2013 at 3:51 am

      There’s so much more than just the reclining Buddha. That doesn’t take too long to see and then you spend much more time going through all the other areas. It was brave of you to do it during Songkran! That sounds packed!

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