Bangkok Sightseeing: Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew

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After arriving in Bangkok, I knew where to start my sightseeing: visiting temples!  Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew are the two most famous ones, located right next to each other in Ko Ratanakosin.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok.  And by temple, it’s actually several temples within one complex.

Wat Pho also has the largest collection of Buddha images in the country.

Of all the sights to see, the most stunning is the Reclining Buddha.  You’ll be blown away by its size – just under half the length of a football field!

The Reclining Buddha depicts as Buddha passed into nirvana for the final time.

Wat Pho is also home to a Thai massage school – and you can get a Thai massage or foot massage right on the temple grounds!  They’re not the cheapest ones in town, especially compared to what you can find on and near Khao San Rd., but still…Thai massages are very cheap.

Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew is the name of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, another incredible sight.  The Emerald Buddha is actually made out of jasper and quite small, but stunning.  Three times a year the king dresses it in a new gold outfit to usher in the new season: hot, rainy or cold.

You can’t photograph the Emerald Buddha, but sitting amongst devout Buddhists paying tribute to it was a wonderful experience.

Every bit of gold here is real.  Most of the gold stupas are covered with glass.

As a Leo, I’d be happy to drape myself in gold any day!

Monkey demons!

Gardens like these dotted both Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew.

The Grand Palace is also on the grounds of Wat Phra Kaew, and the architecture alone makes it worth visiting.  These are the images of Bangkok that you always see on postcards!

My one gripe was that both sites were filled with tourists who refused to respect the tradition of the sites with modesty.  Girls walked into temples with their bra straps hanging out.  People made goofy poses with the Buddha images.  Young couples pawed at each other.  Respect means more than just taking your shoes off, people!

Both Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew are well worth seeing, though Wat Phra Kaew is expensive at 350 baht ($11.50).  Wat Pho was 50 baht ($1.50).  If you’re staying in Banglamphu, you can walk there.  Most importantly, ignore the tuk-tuk drivers who tell you that you can’t go in because they’re having a special ceremony – but they’d be glad to drive you elsewhere!

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20 thoughts on “Bangkok Sightseeing: Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew”

  1. Wonderful pictures Kate! Absolutely agree that paying tribute extends further than the given. I guess we can’t expect everyone to experience and relate to culture as some others. There was one time we were at the Giant Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, China and upon the entrance to the temple at the foot of the pagoda, you would need to watch your step over the small block of wood at the bottom of the door as a sign of respect as it forced you to look down. The moment I had been told this, a large Japanese tour group had arrived and one of them had decided to sit straight down at the entrance of the door. The irony of travel. 🙂

  2. Great pictures. There are so many beautiful temples in Bangkok. Wat Pho is probably my favorite, followed by Wat Arun. Also worth seeing are Wat Benchamabophit (the Marble Temple) and the Golden Mount. Have a great stay in Bangkok Kate!

  3. Great photos Kate. You should try the massage at Wat Pho, they are excellent. But, I know it may kill the budget 🙂 I get so mad when tourists can’t respect local customs as well. Its really such an easy thing to do.
    Keep the Bangkok posts coming

  4. I’m salivating over your photos, Kate. Is that creepy? Haha, they’re so pretty though! Such vibrant colors. And so much gold!

    Sounds like you’re off to a fantastic start in Bangkok!

  5. Great pictures of some beautiful places. It is amazing how many people can be so disrepectful. If you did any research whatsoever about the places and culture you were visiting, you would have to know the customs at these temples. It amazes me how stupid or ignorant some people are.

    I do absolutely LOVE Bangkok though. It’s one of my favorite cities in the entire world. Keep having a great time, and I look forward to more posts about Thailand.

  6. That is one very big budda, we saw one yesterday that we thought was big but it’s got nothing on that. We’ll be in Bangkok on the 14th November!

  7. Great blog post, Kate! Oftentimes you can also donate a shingle for the roof of the temple. You just put a bill into the box, and then you can take a shingle and can write your name on the back of it. You can also write a wish on it. It’s a nice way of making merit, and when you come back one day in the future you will know that somewhere up there, one of these shingles carries your name 🙂

  8. hello,

    i just stumbled upon your page. i’m going to bangkok in a few days.. been there before and really liked a temple i visited but its name escapes me and i’d like to visit it again.. maybe you could help me? all i can remember is that it had a lot of open spaces and greenery.. :/


  9. Hello! I am traveling one month to thailand! I want to experience the most of it! how many days should I spend in Bangkok? thankyou 🙂

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