A Tour of Wat Pho And Getting A First Hand Education On Traditional Thai Massage in Bangkok


Wat Pho The Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho The Reclining Buddha

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.

Wat Pho The Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho The Reclining Buddha

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!

Wat Pho The Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho The Reclining Buddha

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!

Mysticism In The Garden Of The Gods


Ancient city tour Muang boranThailand is steeped in much mysticism and culture that relates to religion. This is significant in the many temples and places of worship in the country. Hinduism is a great influence in many of Thailand’s religious icons, traditions and culture. The Ramakien which is an epic story of the Gods and Deities was derived from the Ramayana and adapted to Thai beliefs. If you were to visit the temples in Bangkok City on a tour of Bangkok City Temples you will notice many statues and symbols of Hindu origin. Many of the religious personalities can be seen in the emblems of Government departments and company logos. There are also many shrines dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesh, which is the Elephant God or known in Thai as Papikanae and one of the oldest and most famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Ganesh is located in Silom in Bangkok.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

The Thai strongly believe that there is one God for each day of the week similarly there is one Buddha position for every day of the week. One great place to see an adaptation of these Gods in their full splendour is at Ancient City or better known as Muang Boran. Located in the district of Samut Prakan, half hours drive out of Bangkok city centre; it is the first creative project by the enterprising philanthropist Khun Lek Virayaphan. There are guided tours to Ancient City which is a half day tour that should not be missed while you are enjoying your holiday in Bangkok.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

This particular section in the Ancient City is known as Garden of The Gods. It might also interest you to know that there is an association between the names of the days in Thai to that of the names given to the Gods and the planets. The vast garden is beautifully maintained and the sculptures of the seven different Gods adorn various sections of the garden. One of the largest and most prominent sculptures is that of the God called Phra Athit the God of Light. He represents “Sunday” and is depicted sitting on an elaborate chariot drawn by seven sky horses and driven by Phra Arun. The name “Arun” means dawn and is similar to the famous Temple of Dawn called Wat Arun in Bangkok. Phra Athit is said to be influential, noble and distinguished. Another large sculpture is that of Phra Chan the God of the Moon who represents Monday. He can be seen astride a chariot driven by ten horses. One gets the impression that he is dignified, gentle and suave. Just to digress a little, it is believed that people born on various days are said to have these same characteristics of the Gods imparted to them. So make a note of which day you were born and see if the character of these Gods are similar to yours!

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

Tuesday is attributed to the God Phra Angkhan that is seen riding a huge water buffalo. His planet of influence is Mars and therefore is also known as the God of War. His characteristics are hot tempered, hard-working and controversial. You could adapt the saying of “blood, sweat and tears” to him. Many of these sculptures are very intricate in detail and provide a great insight into how the Thai people associate their lives with that of the prevailing Gods. Phra Budha (not the Buddha as we know it) rules over Wednesday. His dedicated planet is Mercury and is seated above a great elephant as his steed. He symbolizes wisdom, intellectual and communication. He is said to be wise and knowledgeable. In Thai culture, the elephant is also the symbol of wisdom and knowledge as well as bravery.

Garden of Gods
Garden of Gods

Moving on to Thursday, we have Pharutsabodhi. He can be seen riding a deer with huge antlers and carrying a writing slate. He also represents the planet Jupiter and is considered a heavenly seer and tutor to the Gods and Deities. It is also noted that Thursdays are dedicated to the teaching profession in Thailand. He represents knowledge, education and teaching.This next God is much sought after in terms of having children born on this particular day. This is the God Sukra who rides in on a hefty bull. Sukra is the ruler for Friday is a heavenly seer and also tutor of the Gods. However his atributes are wealth and a taste for the arts. The best of both worlds, money and talent!Last but not least is Phra Sao also known as Sani or in Hinduism as Shiva. His ruling planet is Saturn and he presides over Saturday. His steed is a tiger and people born under the influence of Saturn are known to be hot tempered as one of their traits! Phra Sao holds a trident in one hand and a bow in the other. Unfortunately he is also known as the God of Grief and those born on this day are also said to face a life of hardship, despair and grief. Enjoy the experience of a walking tour in Ancient City which comes highly recommended for the amazing things you can see that is not just the Garden of the Gods.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

It can be said that the belief of astrology and religion go hand in hand in Thailand. Sometimes parents of newborn babies try to have their children born on an auspicious day under a particular diety so that their future will be bright and easy. For the tourist this means a host of great and interesting things and places to see! The Ancient City, where all these sculptures are located was also the site where HRH Queen Elizabeth II was given a great reception by HRH The King of Thailand when she visited Thailand in the 1970s. This is a place that should be included in your itinerary for sightseeing and tours in Bangkok. The experience of walking in the Garden of the Gods can be both fascinating and yet intimidating when one thinks of these Gods presiding over man in the world.