Wat Pho was built by a king of Ayutthaya period and it was here before Bangkok was established as the capital. The Grand Palace was later built next to it in the reign of King Rama I who also ordered a complete restoration of the temple. The temple underwent another major renovation in the reign of King Rama 3 who wanted to turn it into a learning center for all. The temple’s full name is Wat Phrachetuphon Vimon Mangkararam Ratchaworamahawihan, but it’s commonly known among locals as Wat Pho (Temple of the Bhodi Tree).
The highlight here is the 46 meter long Reclining Buddha with intricate mother of pearl decorations on the soles of the feet. These symbols are reminder of actions that bring peace and happiness to one’s mind.
The temple ground has many pagodas including the famous four tall pagodas known in Thai as “Phra Maha Chedi Si Ratchakan”. Each of them contains the ashes of the first four kings of the Chakri Dynasty.
Before formal education began in Thailand, temples doubled as schools or training centers. Wat Pho has served as a school for traditional Thai medicine with statues demonstrating exercise and meditation, and stone inscriptions on various topics from medicine to literature. The temple gained international recognition as a center for meditation and a school for traditional Thai massage that also provides massage services to those interested.