One of the cheapest and easiest way to reach Wat Pho is via the boat ride on the Chao Phraya River. So on the morning of our third day in Bangkok, my friend and I took the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station. The Sathorn Pier is just 3 minutes walking distance from Saphan Taksin Station.
However, we did not immediately go to the pier as we wanted to check out the Bang Rak area. We ended up eating some really delicious volcanic fried mussels and Boonsap desserts and drinking mandarin orange juice before the boat ride.
Along the way to the Sathorn Pier (aka Central Pier), we passed by Shangri-la Hotel. If it's your first time traveling the river, you might be a bit confused with the boat services there. So let me make it easy for you.
Unless you want to pay higher 'tourist' fares, DO NOT buy any tickets at the counter there. Simply wait at the area near the signboard as shown above. You will see many locals as well as seasoned tourists waiting for the local boat there. You only pay when you are on the boat and it should not cost more than 25 baht (USD0.80).
Now there are 5 different boats operated by Chao Phraya River Express and they are differentiated by the colour of the flags placed on the boats. Your best bet is the Orange flag boat as it operates all day, comes every 20 minutes, and the fare is a flat 15 baht (USD0.50).
Here is a boat with a Yellow flag docking at the pier.
Here's another one with a blue flag. If not mistaken, the blue flag represents the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat which you should avoid. A one way ticket will cost at least 40 baht (USD1.30) or you can purchase a one-day river pass for 150 baht (USD4.80) which entitles you unlimited number of trips in a day.
Of course if you prefer to ride in the Tourist Boat, by all means do so. There is however, not much difference with the local cheaper boats except that there is a tour guide who talks about Bangkok attractions and landmarks during the ride and more empty spaces to sit since it's more expensive.
However, if you are like me, you will want to travel like the locals and that is to cram into the boat, possibly stand all the way but pay cheaper fares. LOL!
I took the above picture while standing inside the boat which was starting to fill with people! At one point, there were so many people on board there was hardly space to move around. But that did not stop the female conductor from walking around collecting fares!
What's more, beside collecting fares, she also had to shout out the destination name of the next stop to alert the passengers. Because of the crowds, you need to make your way to the exit one pier before your destination or else you might risk missing the station!
No matter how crowded, don't forget to enjoy the scenery along the river! That's the Millennium Hilton Hotel I caught on my camera.
There were many other interesting buildings along the Chao Phraya River but I did not manage to take many pictures.
Although my friend and I knew that we had to stop at Tha Tien Pier (also numbered as N8), we were not too sure if we got the right pier until the conducter shouted out the name Wat Pho. Thank goodness for her!
Opposite the Tha Tien Pier on the other side of the river is another famous temple called Wat Arun or Temple Of Dawn. There is a ferry service from Tha Tien Pier to get across to Wat Arun. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to visit Wat Arun during this trip, so next round maybe.
From the pier it was just a short walk through the market to Wat Pho. We were greeted by two stone giants near the entrance after the ticket booth.
Previously 50 baht (USD1.60), the entrance fee was increased to 100 baht (USD3.20) during our visit.
We walked into a building where we could see lots of golden Buddha statues.
Mini reclining Buddha statues
There seemed to be some renovation going on beside this building.
Took a picture of some locals and tourists praying.
A giant 'Welcome to Wat Po' on the green grass of the garden. Wat Po is named after a monastery in India where Buddha is believed to have lived. The temple is also known by the name Wat Phra Chetuphon.
Nice structure with a bell.
Beautiful stupa structures can be seen all around the temple compound.
Wat Po is also home to one of the earliest Thai massage schools. In fact, it is believed to be the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. There are proper massage services here but unfortunately, we did not have the time to go for one!
Soon, we were inside the building housing the world famous Reclining Buddha.
It was quite difficult taking pictures of this giant Buddha as there were a lot of pillars and tourists blocking the view!
Nevertheless, it was well worth my time visiting this temple even if it's just to see the Reclining Buddha.
At 15 metres high and 46 metres long, this giant Buddha statue is the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand.
It looks awesomely long from this angle.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the statue that caught my attention was his feet, measuring about 3 metres high and 5 metres long for each foot!
Although I did not take a very good picture of the feet, the soles of the feet are actually inlaid with mother-of-pearl showing 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories.
Really had a hard time taking the picture as many tourists were vying for the perfect photo-taking spot!
After taking photos in the front, I walked to the back and took a photo of the Reclining Buddha's head.
The Reclining Buddha has his right arm supporting his head, and his neck being supported by two blue box-pillows which were encrusted with glass mosaics.
Having seen enough, my friend and I briefly visited the rest of the temple compound. There were a lot stupas around.
There also seems to be a Buddhist monastery here, with monks in residence.
Near Wat Po is the Grand Palace, which is worth a visit for first time visitors to Bangkok. I did not go there as I had visited it during one of my previous trips.
Coming Up Next : Eating Boat Noodles Near Victory Monument