Visit Rattanakosin island – the heart of Bangkok
Exploring Rattanakosin Island, visiting Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), and touring the Grand Palace
- Visit Wat Pho
- Visit Wat Phra Kaew
- Visit Grand Palace and grounds
Discover the heart of Bangkok on this half day tour of Rattanakosin Island, located in the centre of Bangkok. Begin your tour with a visit to Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple complex which holds the status of ‘Royal Monastery’ (Wat Luang), due to its proximity to the Grand Palace and its importance in Thai-Buddhist culture. Wat Pho has existed since the late 17th-century, prior to Bangkok becoming the capital of Thailand. Under the reign of King Rama I (1782-1809), rebuilt the temple to what we see today. The most famous resident of Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha, a 46-metre long reclining-positioned Buddha, a position representing Buddha’s entry in to Nirvana. The Buddha’s exposed feet are separated in to 108-panels depicting auspicious Buddhist symbols, including: elephants, flowers, traditional dancers and tigers. The Buddha is surrounded by 108 bronze bowl which, like the Buddha’s feet, represent the auspicious characters of Buddhism. During your visit, you can purchase coins to drop meditatively in to the bowls, said to bring good fortune and support the upkeep of the complex by the monks who reside here.
Wat Pho is also home to a number of chedis, scattered throughout the complex, a scripture hall, a library, guarded by the Wat Pho Giant’s statues and many other Buddhist shrines and halls. The complex is known for its connection with massage and has been a school for traditional massage since the 1950s. There is a massage service centre on site where there is opportunity to have a massage (at an additional cost).
Next, we will continue by foot to The Grand Palace, a complex of royal and religious buildings which has been the official residence of the Kings of Thailand since 1782. The King, his government and his court resided in The Grand Palace from 1782 until 1925. The palace today is used for ceremonial purposes and for state visits and has become a major architectural symbol of Thailand.
Begin your exploration of the complex with a visit to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). Regarded as the most important Buddhist sites in Thailand, the Emerald Buddha is 66cm in height and sits in a state of meditation. Depending on the season, the Emerald Buddha is ordained in three different outfits: one for the summer season, one for the rainy season and one for the winter season. Behind the Emerald Buddha, you will see a mural depicting Buddhist cosmology and in front of the Buddha, guests are welcomed to meditate, pray or contemplate in the shadow of the buddha.
Enjoy a visit to Chakri Maha Prasat Hall, the most striking of the buildings in the complex. This building was a royal residence and is known for its European architectural style, designed by British architect, John Clunish, mixed with its Thai-style roof. Within the building, guests can see a gallery for ancient weapons used in Thailand as well as see the many reception and living rooms of former Kings and Queens of Thailand. Also visit Dusit Maha Prasat Hall, a beautiful grand-spired hall where Kings, Queens and members of the Royal Family lie in state.
During your visit of The Grand Palace complex, there are myriad of other items to visit including: a number of Phra (temples), a model of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and a number of unique statues, including: The Demon Guardians who mainly guard the Emerald Buddha from demon spirits; and ‘the hermit figure’, a commemoration to traditional Thai medicine.
There are strict dress codes when visiting Wat Pho and The Grand Palace complexes. Guests are to be covered up and not wear tight or torn clothing. The complexes are also no-drone zones