If you are visiting Thailand to discover some unusual and yet educational activities in Thailand, then you have come to the right place in Bangkok City. Thailand has long been known for its many spas and traditional massage techniques that are much sought after even around the world. With wellness and health consciousness among the new generation, massage has been seen as a proven therapy to unlock stress and relieve pain. Where would one go to learn such therapies in a short span of time rather than taking years to learn the art of traditional Thai massage? Fortunately for those who visit Bangkok, there is just such a place well within the city limits that is reputed to be the most famous in Thailand. This is the Phra Wat Chetaphon or better known as Wat Pho in Bangkok City. You can make an initial tour and sightseeing of Wat Pho while you are here. This temple is also one of the oldest and largest temples in Thailand and it is located next to the Grand Palace. There is a tree that sits in the centre courtyard said to be grown from the original Bodhi tree where Buddha sat as he was awaiting to achieve enlightenment.
In the temple is the largest gold reclining Buddha which coincidentally is the posture attributed to those born on a Tuesday. This gold statue is approximately 46 meters in length and 15 meters in height. The posture of the reclining Buddha illustrates the transition into enlightenment. Mother-of-pearl decorations are also found on the statue in engraved designs on the feet and eyes. The soles of the feet of the reclining Buddha demonstrate the 108 auspicious denotations of a true Buddha. Along the front of the Buddha statue you will notice a whole row of 108 alms bowls on pedestals. You can build some merit for yourself by donating a small amount into the charity box on a table next to the statue and picking up a bowl of coins. Place these points into the alms bowl as you walk the length of the statue!
Within the temple is also the largest collection of 1000 images of Buddha rescued from the ruins in Ayutthaya and Sukhotai. The temple grounds are large and holds a temple hall with 394 bronze Buddhas, 152 engraved marble slabs of the second part of the Ramakien epic, 4 chedis for the 3 Chakri monarchs, 71 chedis of various designs for ashes of the royal family and 21 for ashes of the Buddha as well as a library area and school for the monks. If you want your fortune read, this is also a good place to do so as they are located all around the temple grounds, however accuracy of their readings are not verified and it is up to your belief on what they tell you! Be prepared to shell out a small fortune for their reading.
Wat pho is also noted as the oldest school of massage in Thailand and can be considered an on-hand learning university reputed around the world for its traditional Thai massage courses. It also is a centre for learning in the disciplines of literature, religion and sciences. Those interested in learning about Thai massage can go for the 5 day General Massage course offered by the Traditional Medical Practitioners Association Centre within an open-aired hall just outside the temple courtyard. The first steps of understanding the Thai massage therapy is taught through inscribed plaques demonstrating the human anatomy, pressure points and energy routes within the human body. A massage therapist is known as a Maw Nuad and if you take the short course you will be awarded a certificate of beginner status for massage therapy. If you are concerned about the language barrier have no worries, there a plenty of interpreters around and some of the monks in attendance do speak English!
There are many discipline to Thai massage therapy, so depending on your interest you can learn anything from reflexology to even infant massage. It is advisable to make enquiries early on the courses offered to avoid disappointment and you can make prior arrangements with a tour company on courses offered for Thai massage in Wat Pho. It is better to have your course organized and arranged by a tour agent as they can see to all your accommodation and transfer requirements for the Wat Pho Massage Therapy courses. Though you can make these arrangements on your own and go on the same day as you make for the training arrangement it is much easier when you have them made in advance. Each training day lasts about 6 hours and depends on the length of the course you are planning to take.
On the other hand, if you are not interested to take the courses you can also indulge in a good massage session by the students of the school! That might be a very good idea after walking the large compound of the temple and just sit back to enjoy a therapeutic massage before going on your way to explore more places. The proximity of Wat Pho to all the other attraction sites in Bangkok means that while you are here you can also visit the Grand Palace, Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn and later in the evening head on down to Khaosan Road for the night entertainment and dining. You can actually plan your travel itinerary around this district ofPhra Nakhon with your travel agent. Most of the tours and sightseeing for Bangkok are also within this area with the exclusion of a shopping district as there are not many shopping complexes here.
So make your way here to visit one of the oldest temples in Thailand and learn a skill or better still enjoy the skills learned by others while you are on holiday in Thailand!