Best Tourist Attractions in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Not only it is a considerably big city with over 9 million inhabitants, but it is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia that impresses tourists with beautiful temples and palaces, magnificent canals, diverse shopping possibilities and a naughty nightlife. It is the type of city that has something for every visitor.

If you are traveling to Bangkok then let me present you the best tourist attractions in the city:

Khao San Road

This is a small street next to the Chao Phraya River. Khao san means “milled rice”, as a reminder of the old days when the road was an important rice market. Nowadays, Khao San Road is a well-known backpackers hangout area. It provides affordable accommodation, like hostels or cheap 3 stars hotels, restaurants, bars, internet cafes, convenience stores and travel agencies.

Bangkok Klongs

In Thai “Klong” means canal. Bangkok is also known as “The Venice of the East” as in the past, people used klongs for commerce and transportation. Now, these canals have been filled in to be used a streets. If you find this fascinating then you can visit Klong Damnoen Saduak in the Ratchaburi province to experience the tourist version of a traditional floating market or you can simply choose to avoid city traffic by taking a boat on Khlong Saen Saeb through central Bngkok.

Jim Thompson’s House

You may have probably heard of CIA operative Jim Thompson and about the way he restored the Thai silk industry after World War II, and used six traditional Thai-style houses to build his house. He has not just the founder of a silk company; he was also a significant collector of Southeast Asian art. His house is located on a klong on the other side of Bangkrua, this is where he had his weavers. Any tourist who wants to discover his story and its impressive buildings can choose to take a guide tour available in numerous languages.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun means “Temple of Dawn”and it is one of the most famous and oldest tourist attractions in Bangkok. The temple is located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River and it symbolizes Mount Meru, which in Buddhist cosmology is seen as the center of the universe. The moment of the day when you want to visit this beautiful building is in the evening with the sunset casting its red light over it.

CentralWorld

This is actually an eight-story middle class shopping center opened in 1990 which on the 19th of May 2010 was set on fire by anti-government protestors. The Zen department stores were destroyed by the fire that burned for two days. On the 28th of September 2010, CentralWorld was reopened after months of repair works and more of 80% of the shows were ready to sell their products to both locals and tourists.

Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)

Interesting about the Wat Pho temple is the fact that it became so famous due to its incredibly big Reclining Buddha statue.  Built nearly 200 years before Bangkok was named capital of Thailand, it is currently one of the biggest temples in the city. It is also known for the large number of Buddha images it houses. The very famous Reclining Buddha statue is gold plated and is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and honors the passing of the Buddha into Nirvana.

Grand Palace & Wat Prakeaw

The construction of the Grand Palace was initiated in 1782 when Bangkok became the capital of Thailand. Until the unexplained death of King Ananda Mahidol in 1946, the palace was used as home for the Kings of Thailand. His successor, King Bhumibol Adulyadej decided to move to the Chitralada Palace leaving the Grand Palace inhabited. Nowadays, this great historical building is one of the most important Bangkok tourist attractions. Wat Phra Kaew is a part of the palace compound and it is used as a royal temple. It is actually, one of the most secreted temples in Thailand. It has a jade statue named Emerald Buddha dressed in clothing made of gold.

The Bangkok Airoplane Museum Is A Must See

While it may not be as spectacular and diverse as air museums in the world’s big cultural capitals such as Paris, London or New York, The Royal Thai Air Force Museum offers a beautifully maintained collection of historical aircraft that will delight any tourist, particularly those who have a passion for flight.

The museum is located in the vicinity of Don Muang Airport. Its exhibits give a clear image of the whole aviation history of Thailand, starting with double-winged planes and ending with pretty complex flying machines.

The airplanes are displayed both outdoors as well as inside as numerous old hangars have been reconfigured and are now part of the museum, shielding the older or more fragile airplanes from the elements.

Experts might not be blown away by the collection as it boasts only 30 pieces, however, tourists will certainly love this interesting aspect of Thai engineering history. The airplanes displayed here are quite valuable even though their numbers might not be that impressive with some models being quite rare or even one of a kind. All of them have been carefully and faithfully restored with the jewel of the collection being the Curtiss Hawk III, the last one in existence. The Vought Corsair V-93s is also a rare and stunning piece, which holds high ranking at the museum.

The museum immediately surprises visitors with the rather large, two seat bomber called the Paribatra. It is the first airplane to be designed in Thailand, dating back to April, 1927. All these fascinating pieces have numerous technical and historical data and offer a unique story.

Be prepared to do some walking as the entire museum is pretty large due to the size of each individual piece.

Another amazing exhibit is the first generation jet fighter collection. Among these planes you will find the North American F 86L, the Republic F 84 Thunder-Jet and numerous rescue planes lie the Beechcraft model 18, the Fairchild C-123b or the Percival Prince IIIA

If you are looking for an unusual, off the beaten track museum that is quite interesting and offers a unique look into a less known aspect of Thai history then you should definitely check out The Royal Thai Air Force Museum. The museum is opened daily between 9 am and 4 pm with the exception of national holidays. Don’t worry about the price as there is no entry fee regardless if you’re a native or a tourist.

9 Interesting Facts About Bangkok

  1. Thai Cuisine is a real culinary adventure

If you are visiting Bangkok then you will surely be amazed by their rich cuisine able to satisfy all types of tourists. Starting with the unique and vibrant street food stalls and ending with their luxury restaurants you will experience the same symphony of delicious tastes, surprising spices and original textures. You simply must try the jasmine rice, the authentic Pad Thai, and if you really have an adventurous stomach then I dare you to taste some exotic fried cockroaches and caterpillars.

  1. The real name of Bangkok is the longest city name on Earth

Believe it or not, Bangkok is the short version of this city’s name. Currently, Bangkok has earned its place in the Guinness World Records book by being the city with the longest name on Earth. Its real name is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”.

  1. The hottest city in the world

A few years back, the World Meteorological Organization has declared Bangkok as the hottest city in the world. On a regular day, at 10 AM you can barely breathe due to the burning heat. When you are visiting the city, make sure you always have a large bottle of water with you and an umbrella.

  1. Buddhist temples in almost every street and corner

It has not been recorded yet, but Bangkok may very well be the city with the most temples in the world. You literally find a Buddhist temple at every turn you take. The greatest cultural symbols of Thailand are in fact these beautiful and intriguing temples.

  1. Candy-colored cabs everywhere

One of the most delightful and fun parts of this city consists of the colorfulness that the candy-colored cabs bring on the streets. Each taxi company uses a different candy hue to color its cars so when walking on the streets of Bangkok, expect to be surprised by baby pink, sky blue, bright green or vivid orange cabs.

  1. Not wearing underwear is illegal

Not wearing underwear in Bangkok then can land you in jail. Yes, that’s right! People in Thailand are very serious about their underwear and things like going bare-chested in public are seriously punished by law.

  1. They really love their king

In Bangkok you can observe the huge adoration the people has for their king. There are pictures and posters on the streets, and in cinemas a short clip about the royal power is played before every movie.  When this movie is played, everyone must stand up and pay respect. Also, it is illegal to laugh at a picture or clip of the king or to say something bad about him.

  1. Land of Smiles

Bangkok is one of the friendliest cities on Earth. It really deserves the name “Land of Smiles”. Thai people are a peaceful people, always ready to smile. They love harmony and this detail is what determines a lot of tourists to return to Bangkok seeking the same simple charm and warmth of its people.

  1. World’s Best City 2008

Bangkok has all the different qualities of a truly exotic and cultural city: it has amazing food, fantastic shopping possibilities, vibrant nightlife, colorful sceneries, and unique architecture. This is what made it win the thirteenth annual World’s Best Awards Readers’ Survey of globally leading travel magazine Travel + Leisure.

Bangkok's Creepy Museums

If you like to do more underground activities when you visit a city then you should definitely check out the Creepy Museums located in the Siriraj Hospital while you’re travelling to Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok.

The series of museums does not showcase your average artsy paintings and sculptures nor does it boast great classics. It does however offer six distinct museums that will undoubtedly satisfy even the most morbid of tourist curiosities. Out of the six museums the ones you want to check out for the creepiest exhibits are The Pathology and Forensics Museum and The Anatomic Museum.

The Pathology & Forensics Museum

Don’t expect a steady progression of sights as you will immediately see the pathology room which displays formaldehyde preserved babies which have been afflicted with some of the rarest genetic disorders known to man. The modern design and interesting setting makes this room less Carnie-show and more of a biology museum. The second room on the tour will be the parasite room where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about how our bodies are and have been affected by these parasites.

The Forensic Medicine Museum, named after Songkran Nyomsane takes things up a notch as the forensics room shows some truly macabre scenes. The bodies accident victims to series killer victims are displayed here, with the dried up body of a child murderer from the 1950s being the star attraction. The reasoning behind the exhibits, at least according to Thai officials is that they should have a deterring effect on any potential criminals. There is no sociological data to show if this approach actually worked or not.

The Anatomical Museum

The Anatomical Museum is located in the neighboring building and its historic interior décor will truly transport you back in time. The classic, wood based décor peaks in the anatomy room where numerous skeletons are displayed in wood and glass cabinets. You can also observe dissected or partially dissected bodies of adults as well as children and read some interesting information on the cause of death or any other health related data.

Formaldehyde jars contain numerous organs as well as any imaginable genetic mutation, all beautifully displayed in what is a less scary but rather interesting attraction.

All six museums are well managed and offer interesting exhibits however, some psychological preparation might be in order before entering, particularly for the more squeamish of tourists.

Royal Barges Museum

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one of the busiest cities in Southeast Asia and has a lot to offer for travellers coming here to have fun. From picturesque views upon the dynamic city to great places that serve delicious food, night clubs and of course the most interesting museums. One of these museums is the superb Royal Barges Museum, where you can discover the country’s most interesting vessels called the Royal Barges.

The Royal Barges were the most important vessels in Thailand’s history and they have an interesting story behind them. They were used in ceremonies and different state events. These events took place rarely so witnessing one of these boats was a unique experience. Actually, the barges have been out just 16 times in the 65 years making those who witnessed them extremely lucky.  But there’s more than their lack of public appearance that makes these boats so unique, it’s the way they are decorated and the materials that were used for their making. Every boat was carved with intricate decorations as well as engraved with mythical creatures. Gold was used to make these pieces even more precious and glass was used to create intricate details on the surface.

The boats were taken out during festival times and some even have to be rowed by 50 oarsmen and another 14 crewmembers.  Unfortunately, there are some of the vessels that were highly damaged during wars but photos of them still exist in the museum.

Seeing each of these lovely boats up close is definitely entertaining and guests at the museum can learn more details about every boat as things like the number of crewmembers and the year it was built are inscribed on them. The whole museum consists in 50 boats, all representing mythological creatures but one of them stands out with its imposing details and grandiose appearance.

If you find yourself wandering the streets of Bangkok, having this little history incursion can be a great way to go off the beaten path. Whether you are with your kids or as a couple, it can be a very fun activity. Make sure that you go on the banks of the canal that connect to the Chao Phraya River by getting a boat. The museum even has a small bar where you can get a cold drink during the hot days. It may be included in city itineraries as it is an often sought after location by visitors.

Chao Phraya River

Chao Phraya River is one of the biggest rivers in Thailand and also a major attraction in Bangkok. The picturesque river flows through the city and then into the Gulf of Thailand; it has become one of the main landmarks tourists come to visit in Thailand. The river is also known by another beautiful name, me nam, meaning mother river. You will usually find the latter name written on western maps when you are checking them out.

With a length of 365 kilometres, the Pharya River is one of the principal rivers in Thailand as it flows through the nation’s centre. An interesting fact about this particular river is that all past capitals of Thailand have always been situated nearby, always making it an important landmark.

Besides being a romantic place in Thailand, the Chao Phraya river is also one of the main transport means, a source of water and a great source of entertainment. The views are amazing and there are a few banks, river, headwaters as the Ping, Wang and Yom that are located in the north of Thailand which shouldn’t be missed.

A lot of the tourists coming to Thailand who want to have a unique experience usually use the ferry across to the Temple of Dawn.  This is a great way to experience Bangkok at its fullest and it’s also a great activity when it’s too warm outside. Another way to enjoy the lovely Chao Phraya river is to take one of the cruise packages that are so popular among tourists. There you can have lunch while admiring the city and the beautiful river. A good tip is to go when there are fewer tourists because it’s usually quite a crowd there.

Another interesting characteristic of this river is the fact that you can have a wonderful time and actually grab a bite to eat or something sweet while being out on a boat. There are several floating markets with a lot of people who are selling either food like snacks or sweets or, most of the time, selling souvenirs. Chao Phraya River will also be a wonderful adventure for your kids as the whole ride will definitely keep them engaged and interested.

So a cruise or at least a ferry ride on the legendary Chao Phraya River is definitely a must for those who want to experience Bangkok and do all the tourist activities.

Great Things to do in Bangkok

Bangkok is a city full of possibilities. As a first time visitor you might feel overwhelmed by its rapid pulse and in the intensity of its cultural richness you can very well miss out on a few of the most beautiful things you can do here. Bellow, you will find some of the things you simply must do when you are visiting Bangkok.

Ko Kret

Ko Kret is a relaxing river island inhabited by masseuses and potters. It is one of Bangkok’s hidden treasures.  It is located at only an hour from central Bangkok and you can travel here by boat trip up the Chao Phraya River.

Chatuchak

The Weekend Market known by the locals as “JJ” has over 15,000 stalls and stores and it has some of the most impressive dimensions. It is opened only during the weekends and you should really buy Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok before you visit it. This marked gets so crowded and hot that I highly advise you to serve regular meals and drinks to keep your strengths.

Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk Trip

The Tuk Tuk is a very loud three-wheel motorized taxi cycle. This hehicle can take you anywhere in Bangkok, but be careful as some drivers will try to take you to some stores for which they get a commission from the owner. If the driver is too persistent and talks about shopping places that sound too good to be true then you should really stay away from them.

Rooftop Bars

When you want to enjoy stunning city views with the comfort of an elegant restaurant then you can consider one of Bangkok’s unique open-air rooftop bars. This is not such an out of the ordinary tourist activity, but it gives you a pretty good view of the city. Simply relax and admire its beauties from above!

Lumphini Park

It is one of the best parks in Bangkok. It is such a good place to be calm and get away from the nosy concrete jungle. I love it in the morning and in the evening, when it is filled with people practicing aerobics, tai chi and jogging.

Muay Thai

If you are visiting Bangkok then you must go to a Kickboxing bout. This is Thai people’s quintessential spectator sport. There are many bouts held in many evenings of the week.

Spa treatment

In Bangkok you can get the best massage in the world. Thai massage is famous and this it’s your chance to try one! I recommend you to avoid the places with young women out front and choose a spa with strong-looking, older Thai women.

Chinatown

Some of Bangkok’s best street food can be found in the pulsing Chinatown. Here you will be mesmerized by the buzzing of gold vendors, street stalls, restaurants and centuries-old markets. If you’re visiting Bangkok’s Chinatown then you also need to take a tour of the Wat Trimit and the Golden Buddha. For enjoying one of the most beautiful afternoon landscapes over the district and Chao Phraya River then you should find the “thieves” market and the Sikh temple and climb it.

History of Bangkok

Four hundred years ago, Bangkok was only a small village. It was used as a harbor for ships that used to sail from here to the former capital of Siam, Ayuthaya. Also, at that time, the kingdom was called Siam. In time, larger and larger ships were docking at Bangkok so the village started to prosper.

In 1767, Ayuthaya was won by the Burmese armies and the kingdom’s capital was moved to Thonburi, another very important harbor.  Then, in 1782, the Burmese armies were also threatening the safety of Thonburi so King Rama relocated the capital across the river to Bangkok.

The Chakri dynasty has influenced the history of Bankok throughout the past 200 years. It was Phaya Chakri, crowned as King Rama I, the one who decided to move the Capital to Bangkok in 1782, but he did not actually founded the city. At that time it was a well-known port where both Indian and European merchants docked in their journey to Ayutthaya.

bangkok

As you may probably know, Bangkok is not the real name of the city. King Rama I was the one that gave to the city its true name: Krung Thep. The name means “City of Angels” .  It was a name carefully chosen, meant to inspire hope to the people.

When King Rama I started building Bangkok, the city was filled with customs inspectors and Chinese merchant who were forced to leave.  The constructions started with Wat Phra Kaew(Emerald Buddha). Also, defensive trenches and canals were dug and bricks from the wall of Ayuthaya were used to build a city wall for Bangkok. These construction works were completed in 1785.

At that time, Grand Palace Bangkok was a beautiful small village surrounded by wild plum trees, but due to its rapid expansion the plum orchard started becoming smaller and smaller until no plum tree was left.

The city was in 1850 an actual “Venice of the East” as the main transportation means were by canals and waterways. At that time, there were only a few small roads in Bangkok. The really fascinating detail is that many of its inhabitants lived in floating houses.

Modernization couldn’t be avoided so King Mongkut (Rama IV.) and then his son King Chulalongkorn (Rama V.) build new roads and railways. As a result, in the 19th and 20th century Bangkok continued to expand and it eventually outgrow Thonburi. In 1932 the first bridge over the Chao Phraya River was completed and it was named Memorial Bridge.

The Second World War brought only darkness over Bangkok as the Japanese occupied the city. Then, in the 1960s, due to the Vietnam War the economy of Thailand started to rise and only in the 90s it came to a stagnation point. Still, the social and economic conditions of Thailand are better than in other Southeastern countries.