Bangkok – Phra Buddhasaiyas In Perspective

The highlight of the 17th century Wat Pho, the temple adjacent to the royal palace, that is also a school of traditional Thai massage, is the golden reclining Buddha or Phra Buddhasaiyas. This 46 meter long gilded statue is also the most visited tourist attraction in Bangkok, so braving throngs is de rigueur. We passed by twice waiting for the crowd to thin before taking the plunge.

The Buddhasaiyas was commissioned by King Rama III around 1830, and crafted in situ with stuccoed bricks overlaid with gold leaf. It is 15 meters at its highest near the face and 3 meters high at the feet. The soles of the feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl in intricate patterns symbolising the 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha.
The Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

The Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

 Feet of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

The shrine – called the Viharn Phranorn  – was constructed around the finished Buddha, with giant columns obscuring a frontal view. Every inch of the wall surface is decorated with beautiful murals depicting the advent and propagation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and the lives of important disciples.

The Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

The Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

The silent – apart from the odd irreverent tourist – filing past, is accompanied by a curious, rhythmic clang of metal on metal, which turns out to be the sound of coins being dropped incessantly into the 108 metal containers along the front wall! (Yes, that’s R with his shoes in that plastic bag).

Coin offering - Wat Pho, Bangkok

Wat Pho or Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, is a royal monastery built by king Rama I over an existing ancient temple, when he moved his capital here from Ayutthaya. It was restored extensively over a period of 17 years by King Rama III. Its principal shrine houses an exquisite seated Buddha – Phra Buddha Deva Patimakorn – on an ornate three tier pedestal that holds the ashes of the founder king. 

Wat Pho, Bangkok

The extensive grounds are well worth a wander with a museum and the school of massage where you can get your aching body parts pummeled into submission for a reasonable fee. (We passed :-)) Look out for the rock sculptures in the garden that were originally ballasts, salvaged from grounded Chinese merchant vessels.

PS: Despite the throngs, this is a working temple, and visitors are expected to dress and behave respectfully and cover their shoulders and knees. And turn off their mobile phones.

Posted by

Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

65 thoughts on “Bangkok – Phra Buddhasaiyas In Perspective

  1. Simply stunning. I would join the masses to see this and I don’t have a cell phone so no worries on that end.

    1. Thanks TBM. I had half a mind to dedicate this to my daughter who has visited Bangkok 6 times and still not seen this!! 🙂

    1. The murals were wonderful Niranjan. Would have loved to spend some time studying them, but it is was far too crowded.

  2. Are you telling me I won’t be allowed in in an off-shoulder gown…. or shorts?! LOL

    Lovely pics. That Buddha looks resplendent here… can imagine how imposing he must look in real.

    1. You could try your luck 😀
      And yes, it is hard to capture in pictures how impressive the Buddha really is.

    1. Thank you Sally. The presence of those columns forces one to look at the statue from interesting angles. Perhaps that was the intention! Appreciate your stopping by to comment 🙂

  3. Great photos of this, Madhu. Funny, I just this week posted about the Reclining Buddha on my rice paddies and papayas blog. Sadly it was in 2008 when photography was not “my thing,” and my pictures show my poor abilities. Your photos, as always, are gorgeous. 🙂

  4. Gorgeous photos! I loved visiting this massive golden reclining Buddha or Phra Buddhasaiyas, loved the detail of the statue! It was in February so there werent many other people about, as it was a very hot day.

    1. Thanks Janaline. We went in October and every place was crowded. The reason why we enjoyed quiet sites like Loha Prasat and the flower market better.

  5. Such a great perspective selection of photo’s Madhu! I love it and thanks for the lovely tour and share. 🙂 *hugs*

  6. Madhu, you’ve outdone yourself with this album! Thanks for the detail that goes into your narrative.
    PS: What camera do you use?

    1. Thanks Colline. I chose that because of how tiny the feet look from that angle. And vice versa from the other end!

  7. Your photos captured the intricate designs quite well. Lovely shots.

    I love traditional Thai massage – the women, trained in temples – they can twist and click one’s back


    1. Thank you Eric.
      Have never tried a massage. Hubby tried a Hamam in the middle east and loved it, but I hate the idea somehow 🙂

  8. Wonderful photos and history you’ve given us, thanks. There is one photo in particular that I really like of the head of the Buddha between two pillars in the slide show set, just lovely detail and perspective.

    1. That is my favourite too Angeline. I didn’t put it up on the main post because i thought these worked better for ‘perspective’.

  9. These are stunning shots you have captured Madhu. I have added this temple to the list. I am not crazy about throngs of people but certainly would not want to miss this exquisite site. 🙂

  10. Madhu, these are the best photos I have seen of the Reclining Buddha. Perspective and detail. I remember the coins dropping and wondering what that sound was until we were leaving. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Mesmerizing images that have a feeling that transcends through the internet. I been looking at it for over 15 minutes. The photo’s look very peaceful. The idea of slience with only the sound of coins being dropped into metal containers is enthralling.
    This is a wonferully informative and extremely beuatiful photographic post. Love it …
    Namaste ….

Leave a Reply to Madhu Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s