Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan (“วัดพระเชตุพนวิมลมังคลารามราชวรมหาวิหาร”), or the former name Wat Pho ("วัดโพธิ์") also known as The Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The northern area contains the most important monuments, and the southern portion is where monks reside. The temple is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. It is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It is home to more than 1,000 Buddha images, more than any other temple in the country.

It also shelters the lartest Buddha image in Thailand: the Reclining Buddha (Phra Buddhasaiyas), created as part of Rama III's resotration, the Reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and is designed to illustrate the passing of the Buddha into nirvana. The feet and the eyes are engraved with mother-of-pearl decoration, and the feet also show the 108 auspicious characteristics of the true Buddha. Visitors still drop 1-satang coins in 108 bronze bowls -- corresponding to the 108 auspicious characteristics of the Buddha -- for good fortune, and to help the monks keep up the wat.

Don't listen to anyone on the street as you try to enter telling you it's closed, or asking if you want to see the 'Lucky Buddha' instead - it's all part of a sophisticated gem scam.

Prior to the temple's founding, the site was a centre of education for traditional Thai medicine, and statues were created showing yoga positions. During the Rama III restoration, plaques inscribed on stone in the walls of Wat Pho with medical texts were placed around the temple. These received recognition in the Memory of the World Programme on 21 February 2008, according to Thailand's Government Public Relations Department.

Adjacent to the building housing the Reclining Buddha is a small raised garden, the centrepiece being a bodhi tree which is a scion (cutting) of the original tree in India where Buddha sat while awaiting enlightenment. The temple was created as a restoration of an earlier temple on the same site, Wat Phodharam, with the work beginning in 1788. The temple was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III (1824-51), and was restored again in 1982. In 1962 a school for traditional medicine and massage was established.

   
   

LocationWat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan
Chetuphon Road, Bangkok, Thailand.

Tel: (662) 225-9595, 622-0100, 221-1375

Wat Pho is located on Sanam Chai Road and Maharaj Road next to the Grand Palace. Tourists must be in polite dress, no shorts, although trousers are permitted.

Buses 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 25, 32, 43, 44, 47, 48, 51, 53, 82, 103. Air-conditioned buses 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, 44. Chao phraya Express boat, get ogg at Tha Chang pier, Tha Ien Pier or Pak Klong Talad Pier, then walk through Thai Wang Road entrance.

Operating hours: 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Website: www.watpho.com

Admission: Baht 50.

Information correct as of January 2011.