Wat Pho or Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram is the first-class royal temple of King Rama I’s reign, was originally built in the Ayutthaya period, and the King had it restored in 1789. During King Rama III’s reign, the King ordered the inscription of knowledge from old textbooks into the marble plates, then, placed them in the buildings to be the source of knowledge for the public. These plates could be categorized into many disciplines, such as history, religion, medicine and literature. The Wat Pho; therefore, could be regarded as the first university of Thailand. Furthermore, the temple is the house of the most beautiful reclining Buddha in Thailand. In 2011, UNESCO registered 1,440 stone inscriptions of Wat Pho as Memory of the World. There are many fascinating cultural heritage points in Wat Pho; for instance,

Wat Pho attractions including

99 Chedis

Wat Pho is the temple with the most Chedis of Thailand. One of the remarkable is the Four Great Stupas or Phra Maha Chedi of four reigns, the Chinese-Thai style architecture.

Wat Pho, Reclining BuddhaPhoto credit by คุณวรวุฒิ หิรัญยไพศาลสกุล

Phra Vihara Buddhasaiyas

Also internationally known as the Reclining Buddha is the graceful reclining Buddha and the third largest and longest one of Thailand. The image is regarded as the most beautiful reclining Buddha image in the country. There are 108 pearl carvings of auspicious images on the Buddha’s soles, in the Chinese-Thai style.

Reclining buddha

Reclining BuddhaThe most beautiful Reclining Buddha in Thailand

Epigraphic Archives of Wat Pho

It’s the stone inscriptions containing old wisdom and various bodies of knowledge.

Wat PhoPhoto credit: mgronline.com

Wat Pho's stone incriptionPhoto credit: watpho.com

Khao Ruesi Dat Ton (The Mountain of Exercising Hermits)

This is the health garden where there are many hermit statues demonstrating Yoga, movements, and the Thai traditional Physical Therapy manual in the form of graphic poems.

Wat PhoPhoto credit by คุณวรวุฒิ หิรัญยไพศาลสกุล

Phra ra Bian (The Cloister)

The cloister displays Buddha images collected from different regions of the country at the beginning of the King Rama I’s reign. These images are ancients images casted in different periods such as Sukhothai, Ayutthaya or Lopburi.  It’s one of photo hot spots for travelers.

Wat PhoPhra ra Bian

Sala Karn Pa Rien (The Sermon Hall)

The building locally called “Ubosot” which was built in the Ayutthaya Period.

Kam Phang Kaew (The Glass Wall)

The bas-relief images depicting the story of Ramakien, modeled from the grand shadow play in Ayutthaya period.

Wat PhoKam Phang Kaew

Chinese Dolls and Yaksha Wat Pho

The dolls were created by Thai master craftsmen and placed in the temple harmoniously. Yaksha Wat Pho is the legendary creatures with many old tales around them, were cursed and became the stone guardians of the temple. There is also the famous booth embellished with tile depicting a bantam realistically.

Wat Pho, Giant Door GurdiansChinese doll door guardians. Photo credit by คุณวรวุฒิ หิรัญยไพศาลสกุล

Wat Pho, GiantYaksha. Photo credit by watpho.com

Massage pavilions

Wat Pho provides on-site massage service. The service pavilions are located at the east entrance and is rated around THB 450 / hour. The service is always busy but waiting for the service is not that long. However, there are also massage service outside the temple compound that you can use. This massage service is managed by Wat Pho as well. Therefore, you can be certain that you will receive the same quality service as the one offered on the temple ground. To get to the shop outside the temple, you just need to ask the receptions at the pavilion, they will walk you there.

Wat Pho, massageMassage Pavillions at Wat Pho

Opening hours

The temple is open everyday from 08.30-18.30. The admission fee is THB 200 / person with one free bottle of water.

Wat Pho by night

The temple is even more beautiful in the evening when it’s illuminated. This would be my best moment of the day to visit the temple when no tourists are around. Your experience will be totally different from day time visit. Below is what the temple looks like in the evening. If you would like to experience Wat Pho by night, this “Bangkok Tuk Tuk Sunset Long-tail Night Lights Tour” will take you there. You will experience the other side of the temple beauty with knowledgeable guides.

Wat Pho by night

Wat Pho by nightWat Pho by night

Bangkok Attractions

This blog is written to promote the hidden historic Bangkok attractions around the old town with the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Image as the center. These attractions in old Bangkok are scattered around the Grand Palace and are located off-the-beaten-track. They are easy to get to from the palace by walking, Tuk Tuk or other public transports such as motorbike taxi. The Bangkok attractions close to the Grand Palace that I would like to talk about are Sanam Luang, Bangkok city pillar shrine, Khlong Khu Mueang Doem, Wat Ratchabophit, Chao Pho Suea Shrine, Sam Phraeng, and Wat Ratchapradit.

Sanam Luang

In 1977, the Fine Art Department registered Sanam Luang as one of the important historic sites in Bangkok. As a public space, it has been bonded with Thais’ lives for more than two centuries. As the capital’s center, it is the space where people from every social class could interact with each other.

Sanam Luang has been utilized for many purposes: it was the place for the royal funeral, and the place for the royal Rice Fiedl ritual in King Rama III’s period. It was also the amusement park; the place for kite flying competitions, horse racing and golf. It was the weekend market where there are goods for sale from toothpaste to warships; the place for family picnics; the platform for delivering political speeches and election campaigns; the center of public transit.

Currently, Sanam Luang is rearranged, scenically cleaned, with open and close times for visitors and only available for royal rituals. Although there are less colorful activities than in its old days, Sanam Luang is still one of Bangkok’s most important sports, since it is the location many historical event of Thailand took place.

Bangkok City Pillar Shrine

One of the closest hidden Bangkok attractions to the Grand Palace is Bangkok City Pillar Shrine. The City Pillar Shrine was built at the same time of the founding of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, more than two centuries ago. It’s very important to perform the ritual of the city pillar in the center of the capital, which is regarded as the strategic location that would bring blessing upon the kingdom. The pillars then became the symbol of security, which people could depend upon spiritually.

For Bangkok, there are two city pillars, which is different from other provinces. Since the first city pillar, built in King Rama I’s period, was ruined in King Rama IV’s period. the King then ordered the new city pillar to be built, moved the old one and put them together in the same place.

There is an appropriate order to worship the pillars. It proceeds from: Buddha Hall, Model City Pillar Buddha, City Pillar Buddha, Hal of Five Guardian Angels and finally, ends by pouring oil for Buddha that corresponds to your birthday, and participating in the exorcising of misfortunes ritual. You would receive the same amount of merits as visiting nine temples. Bangkok City Pillar Shrine is located in the northeast of the Grand Palace.

Bangkok city pillar shrineBangkok City Pillar Shrine. Photo credit: bangkokcitypillarshrine.com

Khlong Khu Mueang Doem (Khlong Lhord)

The capital canal consisted of three canals which was named in King Rama V’s period as “Khlong Rong Mai’, “Khlong Lhord’ and ‘Khlong Tald’. It was built in King taksin’s and King rama I’s period. There are two hundred year old iron woods near the canla on the rear side of Wat Ratchabophit, reflection of the old tradition of planting iron woods in the inner area of the capital.

Khlong Khu Mueang Doem is the location of crafworks from King Rama VI’s period. For example, “Saphan Hok”, the drawbridges that were built in the same model as the bridges in Netherland, “Saphan Charoen Rat 31”, “Saphan Charoen Sri 34” and other bridges, whose names were prefixed with ‘Charoen’ and ended with numbers, are beautiful Western-style plaster-works, and furthermore, there is “Uthokatan”, the plaster shrine, where located the statue of Phra Mae Thorani with drinkable water coming from her hair, which was designed by the maser of the period.

Wat Ratchabophit

Not far from the Grand Palace, you will find another unique Bangkok attraction. One of a kind temple design in the city is secretly hidden, Wat Ratchabophit. The temple’s official name is Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Ratchawora Maha Vihara. The temple was the last one which was constructed in accordance with royal tradition during King Rama V’s reign. It was planned in the style of the Ayutthaya period, with the blended architectural trait that was nicknamed, ‘Exterior is Thai and interior is Foreigner’. The exterior of the ubosot was decorated with handmade Thai golden glazed tiles, while the interior is decorated with Gothic gold in the same design as the Palace of Versailles. The designs at the arc of gates and windows are regarded as master craftwork.  In the Royal Cemetery, there are chedi, prang and vihara (in Thai, Khmer and European style). One of the remarkable features of the temple is the image of ‘Nai Tawarabala’ (the watchman), which is clothed differently, at the entrances.

Wat RatchabophitWat Ratchabophit’s Ordination Hall 

Sam Phraeng

The three princes of King rama IV once lived in the area. A historic neighborhood in old town. This quarter was a prosperous commercial district during the reigns of Rama V and Rama VI. Taking a walk in this quarter and being immersed in the old town’s atmosphere, and sighting the early Bangkok colonial-influenced buildings are recommended. Walk from “Phraeng Phuthon”, you would find the open ground inside the community. The buildings on Khlong Lhord side are well known as the gathering of musical instruments shops. Beside is “Phraeng Nara” where once was the site of “Pridalai Theatre”, Thailand’s first musical theater and then was utilized as Talaphat Suksa School, the beautiful wooden and lime building,  deserted. The last one, “Phraeng Sapphasat”, which is located near the Tiger God Shrine, located graceful old European arch. There are also a number of good food vendors such as Nattaporn Ice-cream, Chotichit Potchana Restaurant, nodle and pork brain soup, glutinous rice with coconut milk, Thai crepes, roast pork and crispy pork with rice, pa-thong-ko (youtia), etc. Satisfaction is guaranteed.

Chao Pho Suea Shrine

Located in Sam Phraeng neighborhood another favorite attraction in old Bangkok for the locals is Chao Pho Suea Shrine. (Suea Godfather Shrine). The shrine is known as ‘Tua Lao Yia’ among Thai people of Chinese descent and is an ancient Teochiu shrine. The original shrine was constructed in the reign of Rama III on Thanon Bamrung Mueang and relocated to the current site on Thanon Tanao in the reign of Rama V. The shrine houses various Chinese icons such as Huangtian Shangdi, Chao Pho Suea, Guanyin, Guan Yu, and Chao Mae Taptim. These gods are venerated by Thai and Chinese alike. It is widely believed that whoever venerates gods at the shrine will be blessed with prosperity. The shrine is often crowded by believers, especially during Chinese New Year and the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.

Chao Pho Suea ShrineChao Pho Suea Shrine. Photo credit: Chao Pho Suea Shrine Facebook Page

Wat Ratchapradit

The royal temple of King Rama IV’s reign, even with its small capacity, contained many valuable Thai art and cultural heritage inside. There are the murals depicting the tales of ’12-month Royal Ceremonies’, the other depicting ‘Solar Eclipse’, and the wooden windows embellished with pearl in the style of Nagasaki craftwork, which is rarely seen even in Japan because the aftermath of WWII. Furthermore, there are Pasan Chedi, Tamnak Somdet, ho rakhang, sala rai, etc. Allo of which reflect the distinct architectural style of the period.

In old Bangkok, beside the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and other main attractions, Bangkok has many historic attractions that you can explore on your own. They are within walking distance from the main attractions. For those who are the travelers not tourists who have time to explore the other side of the city, this blog will help you go beyond the typical Bangkok experience and discover the different perspectives of this lovely city. But if you do not have much time and wish to see as much as possible, try our custom private guided tour. Our tour guides can help you navigate the city and make the most out of the time that you have.