Bangkok is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities. Created the
Thai capital in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri
dynasty. Bangkok is a national treasure house and Thailand's
spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and
diplomatic center. Major tourism attractions included glittering
Buddhist temples, palaces, timeless 'Venice of the East' canal
and river scenes, classical dance extravaganzas, an almost
legendary nightlife, and numerous air-condition shopping centers
selling Thai silks, cottons, gemstones, bronze and pewter-ware,
and many, many more internationally admired handicrafts. Bangkok
exceeds 1,500 square kilometers in area. Its population of over
6 million means that approximately one in every ten Thais is a
Major Attractions in the city
The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaeo (Chapel of the
This inner-city riverine landmark contains
several buildings with highly detailed architectural features.
Wat Phra Kaeo, within the same compound, is a treasure house of
Thai arts, and houses the Emerald Buddha, the most revered
Buddha image in Thailand. Also contained with the Grand Palace
enclave is the Royal Thai Decorations & Coin Pavilion, which
features a permanent exhibition of royal regalia, decorations,
medals and coins and monetary units used in Thailand since the
early 11th century.
Sanam Luang (Phramen Ground)
public ground in front of the Grand Palace enclave is used for
various royal ceremonies, including the Royal Ploughing Ceremony
each May, and is edged by several noteworthy institutions. These
include the Fine Arts Department, Thammasat University, and the
National Museum, which houses a superb collection of artifacts
and objets d'art dating from the Bronze Age. The National
Theater regularly stages classical dance drama performances, the
National Gallery houses - a collection of traditional and
contemporary paintings by leading Thai artists. Lak Muang (City
Pillar Shrine) on the southeast corner of Sanam Luang contains a
stone pillar placed there by King Rama I as the foundation stone
for his new capital of Bangkok. Lak Muang is believed by many
people to have the power of granting wishes.
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
This large and extensive temple neighbors the Grand Palace
enclave and contains a gigantic gold plated Reclining Buddha
some 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and with inlaid
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
This famous Chao Phraya riverbank landmark, diagonally
opposite the Grand Palace, is best known for a porcelain
encrusted 79-meter central pagoda (phra prang), which sparkles
in the sun.
Vimanmek Palace (The Celestial Residence)
Located behind Bangkok's National Assembly, this is the
world's largest golden teak building. The 3-storey palace
contains 81 rooms, halls and antechambers containing fin de
siecle royal memorabilia.
Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha)
Located at the end of Chinatown's Yaowarat Road, near
Hualampong Railway Station, this temple houses an ancient solid
gold-seated Buddha image, three meters in height and weighing
five and a half tons.
Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)
Located in Si Ayutthaya Road, near Chitralada Palace, this
unique marble temple was constructed during the reign of King
Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), employs European ecclesiastic
details, such as stained glass windows, and contains a superb
cloister collection of bronze Buddha images.
Wat Suthat & The Giant Swing
Bamrung Muang Road, this temple is noted for its superb
19th-century murals in the main chapel. The distinctive Giant
Swing outside the temple was once used in Brahmanic ceremonial
long since discontinued.
Wat Saket (The Golden Mount)
Wat Saket's major feature is the Golden Mount, dating
from the 1800s, which overlooks Ratchadamnoen Avenue. The golden
chedi houses relics of Lord Buddha and offers a panoramic view
of historic Bangkok. Other inner-city temples that merit visits
include Wat Mahathat, a Buddhist university edging Sanam Luang,
Wat Ratchabophit on Ban Mo Road, Wat Intharawihan on Wisutkasat
Road, with its 32-meter-high standing Buddha image, and Wat
Ratchanatdaram, behind the Rama III Memorial Park on
Ratcha-damnoen Avenue, with its pink Loha Prasat.
Thailand's ornately carved and decorated Royal Barges are
displayed in boatsheds on Khlong (Canal) Bangkok Noi, just off
the Chao Phraya River near Phra Pin Klao Bridge.
Thai House This collection of traditional Thai-style
houses, fashioned into one dwelling, belongs to the man who
helped restore the Thai Silk industry after World War II, and,
today, preserved as a museum, contains a priceless collection of
Asian objets d'art. The canal side museum is located in Soi
Kasemsan 2 on Rama I Road, opposite the National Stadium.
Suan Pakkard Palace
Located on Si Ayutthaya Road, this complex of five
Thai-style houses occupies a beautiful garden and houses an
important collection of Asian antiques. A lacquer pavilion is
decorated with sumptuous late Ayutthayan period (1350-1767)
Pasteur Institute Snake Farm
Located near Chulalongkorn Hospital, on the corner of
Henri Dunant and Rama IV roads, the Snake Farm contains a
collection of poisonous snakes, which are 'milked' daily for
their venom in order to produce invaluable anti-snakebite serum.
Located beside the Royal Plaza, Bangkok's oldest zoo
contains a collection of popular African and Asian mammals and
birds in an ornamental garden.
Located in the garden of the Siam Society on Sukhumvit Soi
21 (Asoke), this 200-year-old northern Thai-style house contains
a collection of traditional implements used by Thai farmers and
Bangkok Doll Museum
Located on Soi
Ratchataphan, off Ratchaprarop Road, this exhibits dolls made by
the local factory.
King Rama IX Park
This 200-acre botanical
garden-cum-public park is located deep inside Sukhumvit Soi 103
(Udomsuk) and was opened in 1987 to commemorate the 60th
birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Siam City Park
Located in suburban Minburi, some 30-minutes east of the Lat
Phrao flyover, this water amusement park contains a man-made sea
with artificial surf, whirlpools, fountains, waterfalls and
towering sliders. Satellite attractions include children's
playground, aviaries, open zoo and botanical garden.
This 300-acre complex is also located in Minburi, via Km 9
on Raminthra Road. The complex is divided into four sections,
namely a Safari Park populated by African and Asian mammals, a
Bird Park, a Macaw Island, and a Games Corner.
The Chao Phraya River & Bangkok's Canals
Nineteenth-century Bangkok was laced with canals, giving the
capital the designation 'Venice of the East'. Surviving canals,
and the Chao Phraya River (River of Kings) provide memorable
vignettes of a traditional waterborne way-of-life that has
remained essentially unchanged over the centuries. The river and
canals may be conveniently explored by public transport.
Express Boat Trip/Bangkok-Nonthaburi
An express boat service on the Chao Phraya River connects
Bangkok with the northern neighboring province of Nonthaburi,
starting from the Wat Ratsingkhon Pier near Krung Thep Bridge.
The fare is 7 baht. Major sights include the Memorial Bridge,
Wat Arun, the riverine Grand Palace and Thammasat University.
The most convenient boarding points are Tha Chang Pier near the
Grand Palace, and Tha Phra Chan Pier near Thammasat University.
The express boat service operates daily from 6.00 AM until 8.00
Boats leave every 30 minutes,
daily, from 6.30 AM until 6.00 PM, from Tha Tian Pier behind Wat
Pho. Picturesque sights include canal side temples, orchards,
orchid farms and perpetually fascinating vignettes of waterborne
Khlong Bang Waek
Boats leave the Memorial
Bridge Pier every 15 minutes from 6.00 AM until 9.30 PM. Those
scenic attractions include canal side temples and orchid
farms.Khlongs Bang Khun Wiang &
Boats leave Tha Chang Pier near
the Grand Palace every 20 minutes between 6.15 AM and 8.00 PM.
Scenic attractions include canal side temples, the Royal Barge
Boatsheds, Thai style houses and the early morning Khu Wiang
Floating Market which operates between 4 and 7.00 AM.
Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruises
Bangkok offers some of the capital's most arresting sights,
particularly at night when the weather is cooler and light
reflections bestow the Chao Phraya River with flickering magic
and romance. An ideal way of combining dining with riverine
enchantment is to enjoy a river dinner cruise.
This unique martial art of
'Muay Thai' can be seen in its commercial form throughout the
week at two major boxing stadiums, Lumphini, on Sunday, Tuesday,
Friday and Saturday, and Ratchadamnoen, on Monday, Wednesday and
Thursday. Programs generally feature eight bouts, and commence
at 6.00 PM.
The headquarters of
the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) at 33 Sukhumvit Road,
between Soi 1 and Soi 3, is the most convenient place to learn
about Thai Buddhism and meditation in certain Bangkok temples.
The WFB conducts a meditation class in English each Wednesday
from 5.00 PM until 8.00 PM.
international cultural performances, including orchestral
performances, ballet, mime and jazz and pop concerts, are
frequently staged at the National Theater (Tel: 224-1342) at
Sanam Luang, the Thailand Cultural Center (Tel: 247-0028) on
Ratchadaphisek Road, and the Queen Sirikit National Convention
Center (Tel: 299-3000-9) on New Ratchadaphisek Road.
Traditional Thai Massage
This therapeutic and highly soothing form of massage
purportedly evolved from rishis (forest dwelling Brahmin hermit
ascetics) who relieved the physical stress of extended periods
of meditation by adopting certain postures. A school of
traditional Thai massage is located in Wat Pho (Tel: 221-2974),
where a two-week course costing 4,500 baht is taught for anyone
interested in mastering this arcane art.
The Thai cuisine gains
increasing international favor. Visitors wishing to learn how to
cook Thai food can contact the Thai Cooking School at the
Oriental Hotel (Tel: 437-6211, 437-3080), the Modern Housewife
Center (Tel: 279-2831-4), or the UFM Food Center Co. Ltd.
(259-0620-30) for full details.
Shopping is one of Bangkok's major attractions. There are
six clearly defined city shopping areas:Phatphong/Suriwong/Silom
Area.Major hotels include the Montian and Dusit Thani. Numerous
shops, and department stores, sell jewelry, gemstones, antiques,
ceramics, leather goods, men's and women's clothing,
handicrafts, Thai silks and cottons, electrical and photographic
goods. The area comprises Bangkok's major commercial and
Mahesak/Silom/New Road Area
hotels include the Shangri-la, Oriental and Sheraton Royal
Orchid. The area is a major gemstone dealing and jewelry
manufacturing area. Boutiques, art galleries, department stores
and shopping arcades, including the River City complex, sell a
wide range of items, with particular emphasis on antiques,
tailored clothing, and contemporary Thai and Asian paintings.
Phloenchit /Pathumwan Area
encompasses several department stores and shopping centers, such
as the World Trade Center, Siam Square, Siam Center and
Mahboonkrong. Almost everything the shopper needs may be found
within this area. Thailand's principal duty-free shopping outlet
is located on the 7th floor of the World Trade Center.
between Soi Nana (Soi 3) and Soi Asoke (Soi 21), several shops,
shopping centers and department stores offer a broad range of
Thai and imported items. The Nana Entertainment Complex on Soi 4
is one of Bangkok's favorite nightlife areas.
Pratunam/Petchaburi Road Area
The area is best known for its inexpensive readymade
clothing, which is sold partly in a street market, where
determined bargaining is required for best prices.
This riverine section of Bangkok is favored by back-packers
for its budget accommodation. The area offers inexpensive items,
especially readymade clothing, leather goods, footwear,
cosmetics and curios. Bargaining is recommended.
PRINCIPLE MARKETSChatuchak Weekend Market
An approximately 35-acre public park on Phaholyothin Road,
opposite the Northern Bus Terminal, and known locally as Suan
Chatuchak. This is the site of a popular weekend market which
sells at least one thousand different local products including
pets, handicrafts, plants, fresh fruit, antique reproductions,
shoes, toys, clothing and domestic utensils. The weekend market
is open on Saturday and Sunday from dawn to dusk, or
approximately 7.00 AM until 6.00 PM.
Bang Rak Market
Located on New Road, between Silom and Sathon roads, this
market offers a particularly large selection of cut blooms and
orchids. Lovely garlands made principally of jasmine are a
Lining the bank of Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem off Samsen
Road, this market is best known for potted plants.
Lang Krasuang Market
Facing Khlong Lot, on Atsadang Road, between the Royal Hotel
and Interior Ministry, a row of shop houses sell moderately
priced second-hand goods, including antique cameras and
typewriters, musical instruments, radios, and all manner of
electrical goods. Bargaining is essential.
Woeng Nakhon Kasem
Better known as 'Thieves Market', located between Yaowarat
Road and New Road, near Phahurat, this area sells antiques,
including Thai and Chinese objets d'art, porcelain, brassware,
copperware and furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Bargaining
DINING AND NIGHTLIFE
Simply stated, Bangkok is one of the best eating-places in
the world, for gourmet and gourmand alike. Almost every major
cuisine in the world is represented in specialty restaurants
located throughout the city. Quality Thai and Chinese food is
ubiquitous in outlets as diverse as coffee shops and street
front restaurants, markets and food centers found in shopping
arcades, department stores and hotels. Several complimentary
English-language tourism guides, available at hotel reception
desks, provide comprehensive listings of choice eating-places.
The classified advertisement pages of Bangkok's most popular
English-language newspapers are another reliable source of
information for good dining. Bangkok's nightlife is almost
legendary. Nightlife outlets are found citywide. Beyond hotels,
the most popular nightlife areas are the Phatphong area between
Silom and Surawong roads, the Soi Nana and Soi Cowboy areas on
Sukhumvit Road, and the New Phetchaburi Road area between
Sukhumvit Sois 21 and 71. Aforementioned complimentary
English-language tourism magazines list the most popular
outlets, such as bars, discotheques and restaurants featuring
Thai classical dance and cocktail lounges.
Besides nationally celebrated events on public holidays,
including Buddhist holy days and the traditional Thai New Year,
Songkran, celebrated each April, Bangkok hosts a number of
important annual events. They include:
New Year's Celebrations
Generally celebrated on January 1, located around Sanam
Luang, and marked by early morning Buddhist merit-making, and
afternoon and evening folk entertainment.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Staged every May at Sanam Luang, and presided over by H.M.
the King, to mark the official commencement of the rice-planting
H.M. the Queen's Birthday
August 12. Public buildings, particularly in the Ratchadamnoen
and Grand Palace areas are illuminated at night.
Celebrated each October 23, principally beside the
equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn (reign: 1868-1910), the
monarch generally credited with saving Thailand from western
colonialization, and who modernized his country, besides
Trooping of the Colors
December 3, preceding H.M. King Bhumibol's birthday, the elite
Royal Guards swear anew their allegiance to their monarch in a
colorful ceremony in the Royal Plaza.
H.M. the King's Birthday
Celebrated each December 5 with Buddhist merit-making,
spectacular evening illuminations in the Grand Palace and
Ratchadamnoen areas, and public entertainment principally in the
form of folk dramas and open-air film shows at Sanam Luang.
Attractions out of the city
Provinces neighboring Bangkok contain certain popular
attractions. These include:
This 'market garden' riverine province north of Bangkok was
formerly famous for its durian orchards. The province contains
several historic temples, including the provincial capital's
riverside. Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat features exquisite porcelain
decorated gables, a castellated enclosure and excellent mural
paintings and a traditional floating market at Khlong Ban Khu
Wiang where every morning farmers congregate in produce-laden
sampans to offer glimpses of a rapidly disappearing way of life.
PATHUM THANIWat Phailom
This riverside temple is a sanctuary for open-billed storks,
which, from December through June, nest in there thousands
within the temple complex.
SAMUT PRAKANThe Ancient City
Essentially an open-air museum - more than 200-acre complex
contains scale replicas of religious complexes, monuments and
buildings found throughout Thailand. The complex is located at
Km 33 on Sukhumvit Highway.
The complex contains some
30,000 freshwater and marine crocodiles and a mini-zoo. Daily
shows featuring crocodiles are staged at hourly intervals
between 9.00 and 11.00 AM, and 2.00 and 4.00 PM.
This coastal province is best known for its salt production,
the coastal fishing community of Mahachai where excellent
native-style seafood can be enjoyed, and for bird-watching
opportunities on coastal mudflats. A daily floating market is
featured at Khlong Pho Hak.
This petite coastal province is laced with canals that
irrigate fruit orchards and support traditional floating markets
at Bang Noi, Tha Kha and Amphawa.
NAKHON PATHOM (Phuttha Monthon)
This Buddha's Precinct & Botanical Garden is located
approximately 16 kilometers west of Bangkok. The more than
1,000-acre complex commemorates the Buddha's enlightenment more
than 2,500 years ago, and is dominated by a bronze walking
Buddha image some 15 meters high.
Human Imagery Museum
Located at Km 31 on the Pinklao-Nakhon Chaisi road, the
museum houses life-sized fiberglass sculptures of former
monarchs, ecclesiastics and rural folk.Rose Garden Country
Resort32 kilometers west of Bangkok, beside the Tachin River -
artfully landscaped resort complex. A Thai Cultural Village
within the complex presents a daily afternoon shows featuring
folk dances, martial arts demonstrations and the like.
Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo
just one kilometer from the Rose Garden, this 22-acre complex
features many different wild animals and thousands of
crocodiles, including the world's largest albino crocodile. Open
daily from 9.00 AM until 6.00 PM, the complex stages daily shows
featuring crocodiles and elephants.
Phra Pathom Chedi
orange-tiled chedi, located in Nakhon Pathom provincial capital,
some 56 kilometers west of Bangkok, is the tallest Buddhist
monument in the world, and marks the spot where Buddhism was
introduced to the Thailand-to-be some 2,300 years ago.