The Lazy Buddha…a visit to Wat Po, Bangkok

Reclining Buddha at Wat Po

Reclining Buddha at Wat Po

OK, I may have misspoke……just because he is reclining does not make him lazy. Considering he has been keeping the wheel of life turning for about 2,600 years I suspect he deserves a bit of a rest.

And what better place could he find to recline than at Wat Po here in Bangkok!  I took the water bus up river and hopped off only a block from the temple. The Wat stands tall and proud with ornate tiled roofs and golden finials that is visible from both up & down the river. Its location next to the Royal Palace makes it impossible to miss and a great location to see several of Bangkok’s most important tourist sites all in one morning. It is one of the oldest and largest Wat’s in Bangkok with over 1,000 Buddha images and 21 stupa’s covered totally in porcelain mosaic’s and containing Buddha’s ashes. However, the big draw here is the enormous reclining Buddha….160 feet long, 50 feet tall and totally covered in gold leaf. Of course, just as you would expect, there is an admission charge of 100 baht (approx $3) to see this Buddha….religious experiences always seem to come with a price tag these days.

The spires of Wat Po Temple, Bangkok

The spires of Wat Po Temple, Bangkok

The hall that holds the Reclining Buddha is filled with lovely painted walls depicting scenes from the life of Buddha and along one wall there is a line of 108 bronze bowls representing the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. To earn merit one can buy a little cup of 108 coins and drop one in each bowl as one proceeds down the length of the hall.

108 Bowls in the hall of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Po, Bangkok

108 Bowls in the hall of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Po, Bangkok

Plan to take a few hours to wander the grounds especially if you like to take lots of photos. I would also suggest you take the time to sit in several of the temples to really take in all the details on the altars…they are very busy with a plethora of Buddha’s in all sizes. And if one is really lucky, they will have some floor fans going to help cool you off while you contemplate the Buddha.

Temple altar in Wat Po, Bankok

Temple altar in Wat Po, Bankok

I always seem to get lost in Wat Po…which is not necessarily a bad thing. It forces me to explore nooks and courtyards that I might otherwise overlook. When one looks at the map it seems that it should be simple but there are courtyards within courtyards and it so easy to get turned around and muddled.  Of course this could be due to my total lack of direction.

Gallery of seated Buddha's in Wat Po, Bangkok

Gallery of seated Buddha’s in Wat Po, Bangkok

On this visit I discovered three long galleries open to the Stupa filled courtyard and lined with either sitting or standing Buddha’s. All very serene…these silent sentinels lining the white walls in perfect order and harmony.

I should mention the stupa’s at this Wat as they are quite different from all the others I have seen in Thailand.  Most Stupa’s in Thailand are either brick or stucco and with a handful covered in gold. The stupa’s at Wat Po are covered in porcelain mosaics! The workmanship is very fine and the colors are very subtle…..dusty pastel colors that are so unlike the Easter egg colors that Thais find so appealing. They populate the courtyards and their spires peak over the walls that divide the temple grounds often with a backdrop of soaring temple roofs.

Tile covered  Stupa's containing Buddha's ashes at Wat Po, Bankok

Tile covered Stupa’s containing Buddha’s ashes at Wat Po, Bankok

Everywhere within the temple compound there are sights and sounds to tempt the curious. On the day of my visit a small group of students in what appeared to be a school band, grouped together in the shade of a large tree to practice the Kings Anthem. A conductor waved his arms in a vain attempt to move them in unison through the music but it was a hopeless cause! Such a caterwauling you have never heard!

Go to Wat Po and escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok…but try to go early to escape the tour bus crowd. And be sure to drop in your 108 coins into the bronze bowls….a little merit can’t hurt.

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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4 Responses to The Lazy Buddha…a visit to Wat Po, Bangkok

  1. Libby Voyles says:

    Very interesting! Lovely pictures, too. What is the daytime temperature?

    • Larry Bosco says:

      Libby, Thank you! In Bangkok it is in the 90’s I expect. Cambodia is currently hotter than the hinges of hell. You cannot imagine how hot it feels out in the temples of Angkor Wat by 10:00 AM.

  2. Claudia Hammer says:

    WOW! A Buddha that is that large is something to see! There is a person I noticed wearing a blue shirt standing at the end of the Buddha that shows the perspective and how tall 50′ really is. Those stupas are beautiful and I like the tree in front of them. You certainly are seeing and discovering some wonderful things, very different from what is around here.

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