Asia Trip: Temples of Bangkok

The city of Bangkok is full of Buddhist temples and wats.  The wats are such peaceful, beautiful places that visiting them was one of the highlights of our trip – especially Wat Pho and Wat Arun.


But before I take you to the temples, let’s make sure we’re all dressed properly:


When visiting a temple, to be respectful, it’s best to wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and a shirt with sleeves for walking around the temple grounds.

Before entering a temple, it’s required to take your shoes off, so yes, I was in just socks while I took many of the photos you’ll see below.


Wat Pho is located right in the center of Old Bangkok, just steps away from the Royal Palace (which we decided to skip since we’d heard it’s over-crowded with tourists). Although it is right next to the city’s #1 tourist destination, Wat Pho is surprisingly quiet and calm.


We enjoyed our walk through the beautiful, sprawling grounds of the wat.


I was amazed at the intricacy of the ceramic motifs.


There was so much to discover throughout the complex.


There were actually several temples on the premises.


But finally, we found the one we were looking for: The Reclining Buddha


We were hushed in awe the moment we walked into the room.  Every inch of the wall was covered in detail, and even the toes of the Buddha stunned, with an inlay of Mother of Pearl.

Wat Pho stole my heart even further by also being the home of the Thai Traditional Medicine & Massage School.  For about $15/hour, this was one of the most expensive (yes, really) massages of our trip – but it was also the best!


I’ll admit, the massages at Wat Pho felt a little bit mass-produced – we were fully dressed, in a room of about 30 other people receiving massages at the same time – but it was a fabulous experience nonetheless.  They gave us each a special pair of loose pants to change into (keeping our own shirts on), then we each laid down on one of the mattresses on the floor.

In the Thai style, my masseuse climbed onto the mattress with me and used her entire body weight to simultaneously massage and stretch me, using techniques I’ve never experienced before. For example, she used her feet to stretch out my thighs and later dug her forearms into my shoulders.  It seemed a little unusual to me, but it sure worked out all of the kinks my back had accumulated from our overseas flight!


On another day, we visited Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of the Dawn.  Wat Arun was a little bit harder to get to because it was on the other side of the river, however the boat ride took just 2 minutes and only cost about 10 cents.


The price of entry into the temple?  Less than $2 USD.

The grounds of Wat Arun were stunning.

And like Wat Pho, there were a number of temples to visit on the site.


But what made Wat Arun such a memorable experience was the opportunity to climb up the central prang.

 The climb up was actually pretty scary.  The stairs were incredibly steep and narrow.


 But the scenery was fantastic.  The prangs are decorated with bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China, and it was so beautiful to get an up close look.




Beyond the wats, the entire city of Bangkok is a temple of sorts.  All over the city (in front of businesses, in parks, etc…) minature shrines were set up in which locals placed offerings to Buddha (such as a soda with a straw or a plate of fresh fruit).


Besides Buddha, there’s another VIP we saw all over town – including on billboards along the highway, and even outside of many of the wats we visted:  The King of Thailand.



Stay tuned for my next post: Eating my way around Bangkok

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of the most interesting buildings you’ve been inside?