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Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha)

Wat Pho located next to The Grand Palace and Wat Phrakaeo. Its official name is Wat Phrachetuphon Vimon Mangkararam Ratchaworamahawihan, although it is commonly called Wat Po. King Rama I rebuilt the original temple and enlarged the complex in 1780. In 1832 King Rama III built the chapel of the Reclining Buddha.

This is possibly the most interesting temple in Thailand as it combines history, medical science and is a center for meditaion and traditional massage training.

Founded during the 16th century, Wat Pho is most famous for the golden reclining Buddha that measues 46 metres and has feet inlaid with mother-of pearl. This is the main attraction that draws visitors to the temple. In more modern times, Wat Pho has gained international recognition as a meditation centre and for the traditional Thai massage that is both practiced and taught here.

Traditionally, temples were the schools as there was no formal education system, with monks providing basic lesson in both spiritual and secular subjects. King Rama III turned Wat Po into a major centre for learning in botany, geography and history.

Bas reliefs around one of the main buildings depict the story of the Ramakian which is the Thai adaption of the Indian Ramayana.

For those interested in traditional Thai medicine, there is a pavilion that serves to both impart knowledge and provide treatment. The walls have marble tablets describing basic anatomy and treatments. In the late afternoon, traditional medicine practitioners are there to dispense herbal mixtures. Nearby, there is a cloister where you can have a traditional Thai massage for a very small payment.

A massage school convenes in the afternoons at the eastern end of the compound, a message costs 180 baht per hour and 100 baht for a half-hour.You can also study massage in seven to 10-day courses. Wat Pho is open daily from 8am to 5pm and the entry fee is 20Baht.

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