Things to Do in Bangkok - page 2
This bustling local gem is the largest fresh food market in Bangkok, with stalls selling produce straight from rural farms, raw meat and seafood direct from the nearby fishing port. Khlong Toei Market (also written Khlong Toey Market) is particularly crowded in early mornings, when locals arrive in search of the best fare but despite long lines the vibe is still pretty relaxed.
While travelers can find random items like batteries and electronics, the real draw here is food. Come prepared to sample fruits and vegetables straight from market shelves, or to tuck into steaming hot plates of green curry at one of the mom and pop breakfast and lunch stalls.
Visit the Jim Thompson House for a deeper understanding of Thai history, architecture, and crafts. The collection of six teak houses and gardens belonged to an American expat who helped revive the country’s silk weaving industry and built this peaceful enclave in the mid-20th century before mysteriously disappearing in 1967.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Khao Yai National Park was Thailand’s first national park, located in the Panom Dongrak Mountains. It includes forests, grasslands, and a variety of animals and bird life. As it’s just a couple of hours from Bangkok, visiting the park is an easy way to experience Thailand’s natural side.
Phahurat Market (Little India) is an area of Bangkok in the Phra Nakhon district of the city, which has a large Sikh community. Just a stone’s throw from Chinatown, visiting the vibrant stalls and surrounding areas means a discovery of smells, sights, sounds, and tastes—a true feast for the senses.
The market is so named due to the main road that connects it, where stall and shop owners sell all manner of Indian-style clothing, jewelry, and food amid a labyrinth of narrow alleyways. These crowded lanes are mainly filled with swaths of fabrics, as well as ready-to-wear items of clothing. The area also extends along Chakrawat Road and further along Sampeng Lane, where neighboring restaurants offer a range of Indian cuisine to choose from.
Phahurat Market (sometimes written Pahurat Market) is a popular and often crowded place, where visitors can wander around and soak up the atmosphere, stopping to haggle for some fine silks or to nibble on a delicious Indian snack from a street cart. This area is also home to the second-largest Sikh temple outside of India, with its huge golden dome dominating the skyline.
While not the most famous of Bangkok’s many temples, Wat Ratchanatdaram Woravihara, also known as Loha Prasat (Metal Palace), is notable for its unique architecture; multiple concentric squares levels were built atop pillars to resemble the mythical castle of the gods of the same name. The 37 all-metal spires symbolize the 37 virtues that lead to enlightenment, and when illuminated at night, they resemble candles adorning a multi-tiered cake.
Wat Ratchanatdaram Woravihara was built in 1846 by order of Rama III, its architecture inspired by two similar temples in India and Sri Lanka. Bangkok’s version is the only one of the three remaining. Since 2005 the temple has been under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage status.
Outside the temple, a market teems with vendors selling amulets to protect against harm or to offer good fortune in love.
The Bang Pa-In Royal Palace is situated 60 kilometers from Bangkok and just a few kilometers from Ayutthaya. Originally built in the 17th century by King Prasat Thong of Ayutthaya, it was later destroyed by the Burmese and left abandoned for almost a century.
During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV) in the 1850s, part of the palace was restored, but most of the site seen today is down to his predecessor, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), who restored and expanded the entire grounds. Today the palace is still used by the Thai royal family as a summer residence.
The iconic buildings scattered across the complex each feature their own unique architectural style. For example, the Wehat Chamroon Palace was built using traditional Chinese materials and designs, while the Aisawan Tippaya Asna Pavilion, set in the middle of a lake, is typically Thai. Other buildings are clearly European in architectural style.
Wat SuthatThepwararam is one of the oldest and most revered temples in Bangkok. It is one of just six temples in Thailand classified as the “highest grade of the first class royal temples.” It houses an eight-meter tall bronze Buddha statue seated in the Mara position, as well as some intricate wall murals that depict the life of the Buddha.
However, Wat SuthatThepwararam is perhaps best known for the giant red swing (or Sao Ching Chaa) that sits in front of it. The huge 20-meter-tall swing, which is made from teak wood, was built at the end of the 18th century when it was used as part of an annual religious ceremony.
Inside the temple, magnificent wall murals portray the stories of the Buddha, while others depict scenes of daily life in the Rattanakosin era. Along with those found in Bangkok’s Grand Palace, these murals are considered some of the best and most extensive in the whole of Thailand.
Built in 1783 by King Rama I to help defend against naval invasions, Phra Sumen Fort sits on the banks of a river within Santi Chai Prakan park. The white, octagonal brick-and-stucco tower is one of only two of Bangkok’s original 14 city watchtowers still standing. The fort was named after Mt. Meru (Phra Sumen in Thai) from Hindu-Buddhist mythology.
Locals and visitors alike come to the park to enjoy cool breezes, river views and even the occasional riverside aerobics class in the early evening.
Wat Kalayanamit is an elaborate Bangkok temple that sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It’s located near the mouth of the Bangkok Yai Canal, although any time spent on this part of the river means you’re unlikely to miss it; the temple’s giant ochre-roofed viharn tends to stand out and demand attention.
While Kalayanamit’s viharn can be said to be traditionally Thai in architectural style, the temple’s other buildings and pavilions have a distinct Chinese influence. This is because Wat Kalayanamit was built in the first half of the 19th century when China was seen as the ideal counterbalance to the growing European influences in southeast Asia. As such, Chinese architecture, sculptures, and other decorative artefacts became increasingly popular.
Inside the huge viharn, an equally huge Buddha statue almost fills the entire prayer hall, while the walls are painted with scenes from the time of the temple's construction. Located next to the viharn, a bell tower houses the largest bronze bell in Thailand.
Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine is an important one, even though it is not the largest, oldest, or most grand. The small shrine dedicated to Than Tao Mahaprom—the god of creation, Brahma—sits on a busy central Bangkok street and is always surrounded by people and offerings. Visit to learn more about Thai culture.
More Things to Do in Bangkok
This politically significant monument located in the heart of Bangkok commemorates the nation’s transition to a constitutional monarchy. Some 75 cannonballs surround the base of the statue, which measures exactly 24 meters tall—a number that is particularly significant, since the new constitution was signed on June 24. And while relief work along the bottom or the monument depicts military, citizens and law enforcement responsible for birthing the current state, locals say the Democracy Monument continues to be a gathering place for demonstrations and for calls to action in times of political unrest or during threat of dictatorship.
The ruined island city-state of Ayutthaya—the once great capital of the Kingdom of Siam—is now a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lying at the confluence of three rivers north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya Historical Park protects magnificent crumbling stone temple spires, sun-worn Buddha statues, and other remnants of the three palaces, 400 temples, houses, and markets that thrived in Ayutthaya’s heyday.
Sukhumvit Road is the longest boulevard in Thailand (with the Skytrain running along most of its length), and the surrounding neighborhood has become the city’s makeshift international zone, with expats and well-off Thais living on the small side streets, called sois, that intersect it. It’s a neighborhood where choices are endless. Luxury hotels stand beside budget accommodations, and the food scene from five star to street stand is top notch.
What Sukhumvit lacks in tourist attractions it makes up for in its buzzing shopping and nightlife scene. By day air-conditioned shopping malls offer just about anything under the sun and sumptuous days spas promise relaxation. By night the neighborhood comes alive with some of Bangkok’s top nightclubs (and a few notorious red light districts).
Join other Thai culture and architecture enthusiasts at Suan Pakkad Palace, a museum complex of renovated houses from all over Thailand. See artifacts and antique objects representing the arts, crafts, and traditions of Thailand in each house. The palace was formerly home to Prince and Princess Chumbhot, who made it a museum in 1952.
This urban oasis in the heart of bustling Bangkok offers travelers and locals a 142-acre escape from the chaos of the city. Towering trees, well-designed playgrounds and an artificial lake where visitors can rent boats and float in peace are part of the draw to popular Lumpini Park (also written Lumphini Park or occasionally Lumpinee Park). Runners follow worn paths that wind through the grounds and cyclists loop through the park between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Lumpini Park is the perfect place to relax, unwind and recover before heading back into the street of Bangkok.
Tucked into the artist enclave of Khlong Bang Luang on the west side of the Chao Phraya River, Artist House at Klong Bang Luang is part gallery, part cafe and part performance venue. Occupying a hundred-year-old, two-floor teak building, the Artist House (Baan Silapin) features painting exhibitions upstairs and art in a variety of mediums — photos, drawings, prints and sculptures — throughout its first floor.
While it’s a great place to sip a cup of coffee canal-side, many visitors are attracted to Artist House by the daily Thai shadow puppet shows. These humorous performances are free to watch, but donations are appreciated and sometimes even earn a bit of interaction with the puppets.
Before and after performances, visitors can purchase wooden masks to paint and take home as a reminder of the trip or left as decor for the eclectic space.
A branch of the museum that first opened in Pattaya, Art in Paradise Bangkok (aka the Trickeye Museum and the 3D Museum) offers similar interactive exhibits in the Thai capital. Full of optical illusions that travelers use as photo backdrops, the family-friendly museum is a fun place to spend a few hours out of the heat or rain.
Stretching nearly 45 miles, Khlong Saen Saep is a canal that slices Bangkok from west to east. It begins in Old Town, near the Mahakan Fortress, and links more than 100 smaller canals before ending in Chachoengsao Province. Canal ferries offer front-row views of temples, markets, ornate bridges, and canal-side neighborhoods.
Travelers interested in Thai history and culture shouldn’t miss the Bangkok National Museum. Housed in the 18th-century Wang Na Palace, with its ornately decorated buildings, the museum is as beautiful as it is educational. There’s information in English, as well as guided tours in multiple languages.
Work began on the Princess Mother Memorial Park (Suan Somdet Ya) in 1993, after King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in remembrance of his mother Srinagarindra, began plans to renovate the area around her childhood home in Thonburi.
Known by the Thai people as the Princess Mother, a museum within the park depicts stories of her life and a reconstruction of her old home. Two exhibition halls within the park are dedicated to the Princess Mother’s memorabilia and mementos. The first hall displays photographs chronicling her life, while the second hall contains items relating to her various projects, and even some of her personal belongings.
However, the majority of the park is dedicated to wide-open spaces, including a number of well-maintained gardens. There’s also a pavilion featuring a statue of the princess sheltered under a gazebo.
Travelers in search of a true Muay Thai experience need look no further than Rajadamnern Stadium (occasionally spelled Rajadamnoen or Rajdamnoen). The indoor sporting arena located in the heart of Bangkok is one of two major venues in the city and a favorite among both travelers and locals. Prizefighters have been entering the ring here since 1945, and while things have certainly changed (the original stadium was open-air, but a concrete roof now protects spectators from the elements), the excitement of the fight remains the same. Fight cards include nine match-ups nightly. The seats are basic but the beers are cold, making it the perfect way to spend an exciting evening in Bangkok.
Dating from 1843, San Chao Pho Suea, or the Tiger God Shrine, is an important part of Bangkok’s rich Chinese heritage. One of the oldest and most famous temples in Bangkok, the shrine was originally constructed on Bamrung Muang Road during the reign of King Rama III but was later relocated to its current spot on Tanao Road by Rama IV.
In a city dotted with golden Buddhist temples, Bangkok’s Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple is a colorful exception. It was founded in 1827 by Tamil immigrants from South India, and these days it’s the heart of the city’s Hindu community. Visit the temple to experience a different side of Bangkok’s religion and culture.
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