I finally found it! Train station close to National Palace and Wat Pho

If you’ve been following my shenanigans in Bangkok, specifically how i ended up at the Grand Palace (that post is HERE) and how to get to Wat Pho via public transport (post is HERE) then you know that i had great difficulty, although worth it in the end, when it came to getting to the Wat Pho/Grand Palace area via public transport.

This “new” way, I’ve found does not include any boat rides for those of you who get sea sick, like me. It does include a change of train lines though. If you plan on visiting Wat Arun while you’re around the Grand Palace / Wat Pho area, you will still have to take the ferry across the river as this MRT station is on the same side of the river as Wat Pho and the Grand Palace.

This MRT station is about a 10 min walk from Wat Pho, basically in a straight line, so you wont have to navigate any side streets or anything like that. How I didn’t find this station in my visits to this area is beyond me even more baffling is why it didn’t come up (if it did, it was so obscure I missed it) in my Google searches.

Well, the reason, was because … drumroll …. it didn’t occur to me that there were two train lines/systems. The BTS (which i thought was the only one) and the MRT line. So I Googled ‘BTS’ stations. My daughter’s bf Googled ‘MRT’ stations (because he’s from Singapore and they call their train system ‘the MRT’). I can’t really tell you which way to go from Wat Pho since the complex is huge and with multiple entrances/exits but if you just use Google Maps with the “magic” search term you should have no problems finding the station and subsequently the path to it.

The “magic” search term is … Sanam Chai MRT Station. The photo above is the entrance to the station, which is underground. This explains why I couldn’t see the tracks when I was looking up and around for train tracks, hahaha. In case you’re wondering, Sanam Chai MRT is on the blue line.

Since the MRT station is not a BTS station, the Rabbit card (prepaid BTS card) is not accepted. Instead you have to use the machines at the station to buy a token. Once you get the token, you ‘tap’ it on the card reader at the gantry and only when you exit do you put the token in the slot of the gantry/turnstyle thing. Just like on the Airport line, if ypu’re interested in getting to Suvarnahbumi Airport or Don Mueang Airport from the Sukhumvit BTS line or vice versa then check out my post about that journey HERE.

To get to the Sukhumvit Line (light green line on the maps) from Sanam Chai MRT station, get on the train heading to Bang Sue Station. Ride this train to Sukhumvit Station which is about 7 stops away. When you alight at Sukhumvit Station you need to take a short walk to the connecting station on the light green Sukhumvit Line named, Asok station. There’s clear signage to guide you, so don’t worry. The ride will cost you $28 baht (from Sanam Chai Station to Sukhumvit Station). Just to be clear, there is a Sukhumvit Station which is an MRT station on the blue line and a Sukhumvit Line which is the light green BTS line.

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Taking Bangkok’s public transport to Wat Pho and Wat Arun

Following my fiasco of an attempt to get to Wat Pho, I decided to do some research and try to get there again. You can read about what I went through last time, if you want a chuckle, in my post HERE.

As you can see from the photo above, this trip includes a boat ride. So if you get seasick, take your motion sickness meds. I get motion sickness quite easily and I didn’t take any meds for this ferry ride (I didn’t have any and was too lazy to buy from the pharmacy). Luckily, the actual ride itself was ok, roughly 30 min. The boat goes fast enough that I didn’t feel sick. It’s only when the ferry is idling (waiting for for embarking/disembarking and waiting for boat traffic to clear when leaving/arriving at the piers) that I felt queasy.

I started this journey on the Sukhumvit Line (light green BTS line), making my way to Siam BTS station. Alight at this station and switch to the Silom line (dark green line) where you’ll be heading towards Bang Wa Station BUT alighting at Saphan Tak Sin station. The direct way is to go down the escalators to the platform with the train going the correct way. However, I found that the easiest (less crowded) way is to walk directly across the platform and take the train to National Stadium (it’s on the Silom Line). This will take you in the opposite direction to where you’re supposed to be heading BUT it’s only 1 stop away and the train terminates there. Just change trains and you’ll be headed in the correct directions, without having to mess with the crowds at Siam Station (which is almost always crowded) plus most likely you’ll get a seat for this roughly 6 station ride. Up to you which way you wanna take, I can’t wholeheartedly tell you which way is better because the crowds can differ greatly at both stations depending on the day of the week and time of day.

Alight at Saphan Tak Sin and follow the signs that lead you to the Chaophraya express boats. At exit 2, the pier is about 2 minutes walk from the station. You can pretty much see it once you get out of the station at  exit 2.

Once you reach the signage below, you’ll have to make a choice.

Here’s the differences:

“Ferry Boat” costs $100 Baht per person and that’s where most people will go because they’re unfamiliar with the other two options. Like us, we just followed the crowd, lol. These boats are slimmer than the express boats, carry less people and seated space only (as opposed to the larger ferries that may have standing room and some are bicycle friendly). These ferries have life jackets for you to wear as well (I didn’t notice anyone on the other ferries wearing life jackets but that doesn’t mean they’re not available. I just couldn’t see any). Luckily for us, the crowd all got into the previous boat, leaving us with a boat almost entirely to ourselves!

“chaopraya express Boat” may cost as little as $15 Baht depending on what color flag the boat is flying. Not all boats operate on the same days or even time/frequency, which accounts for the differences in price.

” chaopraya express Tourist Boat” costs around $40 Baht but has an English speaker on board to talk about stuff as you pass them. Next time I’ll take my seasick meds and take this boat,  it sounds more interesting.

There are little kiosks with an attendant at which you’ll pay your fare, if not you’ll have to pay as you get on the boat (less ideal option but if you know roughly how much your ride should be, you’d be fine, I guess). Some boats have an all day pass too, if you’re planning on taking the ferry multiple times. There’s very little splash so you don’t have to worry about getting wet. If it’s raining however…I can’t say as I didn’t notice any rain covers (but that could just be me not paying attention).

The pier names are a bit weird, some have numbers, some don’t. Wat Arun pier is called just that, “Wat Arun Pier” (no number). Wat Pho’s pier is number N8 and named “Tha Tien Pier.” N stands for North. The numbered piers are the older ones and the newer ones are the ones without numbers.

For Wat Pho, alight at Tha Tien Pier (N8) and walk towards the end of the alley. Once you reach the end, turn left and keep walking until you reach Wat Pho. You can’t miss it.

If you don’t go into Wat Pho but keep walking instead, the street ends and you can turn left here. Head down this alley and you’ll get to the pier that’ll take you to Wat Arun for a fee of $4 Baht. It’s a short trip, almost exactly on the opposite side of the river from Wat Pho.

When you alight at Wat Arun Pier, you’re basically on the premises already. Find the ticket booth and pay the $50 Baht entrance fee.

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Visiting Wat Pho, a top ranked royal temple.

I finally made it to Wat Pho! Although I took a huge detour (which was worth it), I did make it before they closed. If you want read about my “forced” detour to the Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew complex it’s in THIS POST, and how I ended up there is detailed in THIS POST. Anyways, back to the subject at hand . . .

Wat Pho is one of the oldest and largest wat complexes in Bangkok (it’s actually comprised of 2 walled compounds dissected by a road). One of the buildings houses one of the largest Reclining Buddha statues in Thailand. Wat Pho is also recognized by UNESCO, has chedi’s which contain Buddha relics and some that contain the ashes of the royal family. On top of all that, Wat Pho is recognized as the first public university in Thailand where the Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School was the first school of Thai medicine approved by the Education Ministry. If that’s not enough, Wat Pho still sells amulets within the temple grounds. I’m a huge fan of UNESCO recognized places and temples with Buddha Relics. If you’re so inclined to believe, it’s said that an amulet’s “power” comes from the temple and monk who made the amulet and the amount of prayer bestowed on the amulet. The higher the “power” of the monk and temple, the better the amulet will be. I’m not a scholar of these beliefs so if I can’t explain it well, my apologies. So to ensure I got an “authentic” amulet I chose Wat Pho’s “gift shop” as opposed to the shops on the streets or even right outside the temples. You’d be hard pressed to find a “better” temple in Bangkok than Wat Pho.

I’m so glad I was able to visit. When I first arrived at the entrance, the first thing I noticed was the line of tuk tuk’s parked on the street, then I noticed the street art vendors who had their goods out even in the drizzling rain. Goods which consisted of amulets, Buddha busts, statues, painting, posters, keychains etc. I thought that was a bit out of place since I’ve seen a lot of billboards trying to prevent the sale and export of such items. Anyways, I ignored the tuk tuk drivers’ touts and went straight into the Wat Pho Complex, found the easy to see ticket booth and paid my $200 Baht entrance fee, which came with a coupon for a free bottle of water. I didn’t immediately see where to redeem the water and stopped looking because I got distracted by the “gift shop” which was right at the ticket gantry a few steps away from the ticket booth. Just thought I’d mention this as there’s more than one entrance/exit. Right outside the gift shop, I think I saw the booth to redeem the water coupon but I got distracted by the entrance to the Reclining Buddha statue which is the main tourist attraction of Wat Pho.

 

The Reclining Buddha statue is by far the biggest reclining statue I’ve seen to date, measuring 150 feet (45m) long. Recline, in this sense context, is Buddha lying on his side with his head propped on one arm. The statue is surrounded by a wooden picket fence that’s far enough away to prevent even the tallest basketball player to reach out and touch the statue (yeah, I have no idea how far away the fence is from the statue) except the feet because the building isn’t long enough. Along the front side, there are little sections for prayer and some sections for viewing/picture taking between the pillars. Along the back are some other artifacts as well as some prayer bowls (a whole row of 108 of them) that you can toss coins into while praying/chanting. You can donate $20 Baht for a plate of coins to drop into the prayer bowls. I don’t know how many coins I was given but I had more than enough coins to put 2 in each bowl. I was fortunate that it wasn’t that crowded when I was there but there was enough people around which made getting pictures a bit of a challenge (plus the pillars were in the way a lot). I can’t imagine how packed it would be if a tour group or two came through, well I can and it’s not pleasant, haha.

I didn’t expect the complex to be as big as it was. I thought it was just he usual chedi, main hall, ubusot type of complex. Yes, I was wrong, there’s a lot more to see. I exit one area only to find myself at the start of another interesting area. I wouldn’t say I got lost but it just seemed like I maze where everywhere I went was something cool to look at or a place where I felt an image to be made, I just had to stop and find it. Unfortunately for me, time was what I didn’t have that day. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get to see 1/2 of the complex, by that I mean literally see it and not “seeing” it creatively. Although I wasn’t rushed by anyone, the closing of gates and such pushed a sense of urgency to find an exit, plus I had no exit strategy to get to my dinner appointment, which I ended up being almost 2 hours late for (transportation issues posted HERE if you wanna read about it, lol). I’m really wanting to go back in the evening just before closing, on a nice day to catch the sunset light on the chedi’s, I bet that would be an amazing picture.

Consider following me for updates and to find not only my other travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans but also photography related news/reviews and the occasional contest entry.

All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you’re interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!

Comments & Critiques are always welcome, as are upvotes and resteems.

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