Wat Pho and the Thai Massage Connection


One of Bangkok’s most visited attractions is Wat Pho temple, and for a good number of reasons. Home to a massive golden statue of Buddha reclining, it’s definitely something you need to see when you’re in the city.
Wat Pho ExteriorYou wouldn’t expect it, but Wat Pho is considered the first public university in Thailand, established as a training school for traditional Thai massage. While you’re there, you can pay 200 baht, or $6.80 USD for an entire hour of massage therapy. Be forewarned: Thai massage is not the soft, delicate massage you might be used to. Their unique style will likely have you poked, prodded, and twisted like a pretzel. But it’s incredibly effective. It can be likened to a sports massage in western countries: they’re going in deep.

Reclining Buddha 1CoinsThe Wat is also home to a marvel of the Buddhist world. A towering, 46 meter long golden statue of Buddha is housed in a special temple inside. The Buddha is found in a reclining position, one of several varieties of reclining Buddhas found scattered across southeast Asia. 108 bronze bowls surround the Buddha, in which worshippers place coins, each being representative of various symbols of the Buddha, which are all carved on the statue’s feet.

Be wary of anyone outside the temple telling you that it’s closed: it’s a common scam to try to divert tourists away from the temple to take them to “better temples”. In Bangkok, temples don’t get much better than Wat Pho.

Photos by Michael Johnstone.

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