On the same day that you visit the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, I also recommend visiting the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho). It is located right adjacent to the Grand Palace so it is within walking distance and it allows you to see some more of Bangkok. Although this temple is less spacious I like it because it offers less shade and it is somewhere one can spend a good amount of time just walking around and taking in the atmosphere. This is also supposedly one of Thailand’s oldest Buddhist temples and dates back to the time before Bangkok was our capital. The original temple on the site has long gone, but the current temple built in the 18th century is a restoration of the original.
For lovers of Thai Traditional Massage, you might also want to know that this temple is supposedly the birthplace of the Thai Traditional Massage. It is now also home to the school of traditional medicine and massage so if you’re feeling tired, you can have a nice massage at the temple in traditional temple ambiance. 🙂 If you want you can also take lessons there on how to give a massage. Some friends of mine have taken it and she seemed to enjoy it 🙂 Oh, there are also marble plaques throughout the temple with inscriptions on the traditional massage.
Other than the massage, of course what you must visit at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is….. the Reclining Buddha. Now I have photos of when I went there with Alex, but now in this modern world when we move from one old desktop to old laptop and now new netbook, I cannot find it. One day I will have to compile and combine all my photos in one external harddrive. (Therefore photos today are courtesy of Wiki)
The reclining buddha is amazing. It’s the largest reclining buddha image in Thailand and the 46 meters long 15 meters high gold plated image is enough to make you stand in awe. The gold shines out making it seem as if it were glowing from some internal force. As you walk from the head of the buddha towards the feet you will find that the buddha’s feet has engravings made of mother of pearl. These engravings are the 108 characteristcs of the true buddha.
However, if you have time I also recommend pausing a bit and take a look at the murals on the walls. They too are incredibly intricate and depict stories of the life of buddha in traditional thai painting style.
Outside, you will also find a little garden with a tree trunk. It’s decorated with plants and little statues, but t his tree trunk is no ordinary one. It is supposedly a cutting from the original tree in India where Buddha sat while awaiting enlightenment!!
Throughout the compound you will also find over 1000 buddha images dating back from the ancient capital of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. This temple is not only known for the reclining buddha, massage school, and bodhi tree, but it is also known for having the most buddha images. If you’ve never been, I recommend a visit….it took be awhile to get there, but I’m glad I finally did 🙂