One of the best temples in Koh Phangan is located in Baan Tai, a short distance from the 7-11 on the road to Thong Nai Pan. It has impressive architecture and set in a beautiful location. It is an oasis of calm that is pleasant to wander around. The temple also provides Thai massages. However, the highlight of a visit to Wat Pho is probably a decent sweat in the herbal sauna.
To get to Wat Pho take the turning to Thong Nai Pan and travel down the road for 1 km. The temple buildings are on the left. Opposite the temple is Koh Phangan’s biggest Yang Na Yai tree. It has a small fence around it and is usually covered with a few ribbons. The surrounding area has a few buildings but is mostly lush green jungle. It is an area remote from the noise of bars and resorts. It is not a commercial area. You get the feeling for how Koh Phangan was before tourism took hold on the island.
The architecture at Wat Pho is typical of Thai religious buildings with steep roofs, gold decoration and symbolic imagery. Not as impressive as the famous Wat Pho in Bangkok but worth a look for those who like temple-visiting.
Wat Pho is open 7 days a week from 3pm to 6pm. During this time they offer Thai massages for 150 Thai Baht per hour. They also have a sauna made in the traditional style. It holds about 6 people. It is heated by burning wood with herbs such as lemon grass. It is very hot and most people can only manage 10 minutes maximum in the steam. You do occasionally get 2 people trying to out-do each other in their ability to deal with the heat.
After a serious sweat you feel refreshed and detoxified. Don’t forget to re-hydrate afterwards. A Thai herbal sauna is the perfect antidote to all-night party lassitude.
The sauna is free but donations for the wood are appreciated. The issue of whether it should be compulsory to donate is a divisive one that brings out the tiresome stereotypes of Thais, farangs and Israelis. Do what your conscience dictates; just appreciate you are on a Buddhist site – remain respectful of the monks and keep modestly attired.