Bangkok is everything you expect from the capital of Thailand: it is noisy, crowded, colorful, exciting, maddening and smiling. There are temples, ancient sites and other attractions to visit, as well as modern malls that have a kitschy but upscale vibe. Bangkok can be overwhelming, but it is also a fascinating city that represents the tension of Southeast Asia between the developed world and the developing world.
Bangkok also serves as a gateway to many other parts of Thailand. From there, you can take a short flight to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and other popular destinations. You can also get on a train or get on a bus for little money and visit national treasures such as Ayutthaya, Lopburi and many other gems across the country. Discover the best things to do in this vibrant city with our list of the best attractions in Bangkok.
1. Grand Palace
If you are only visiting one major historic tourist attraction in Bangkok, this should be it. The royal complex lives up to its name, with spectacular structures that would shame the most decadent modern monarchs. It is also the home of Wat Phra Kaeo, which houses the Jade (or Emerald) Buddha. Built in 1782, the grand palace has been the royal residence for generations and is still used for important ceremonies and to host heads of state. Dress modestly when you visit the Grand Palais, which basically means covering your arms and legs and avoiding any sloppy attire.
To avoid any hassle and make the most of your visit, take the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew Tour. It is a half-day, morning or afternoon sightseeing tour, with pick-up from your hotel and a local guide to put what you see in context. Without a guide, it’s easy to miss important features or not fully understand the relevance of what you see, and hotel pickup makes the experience easier.
2. Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat, adjacent to the big swing, is one of the oldest and most beautiful Buddhist temples in Bangkok. Three kings contributed to its construction: it began shortly after the coronation of Rama I (founder of the Chakri dynasty) in 1782, continued by Rama II, and completed 10 years later by Rama III.
Besides its charming architecture, the temple has exceptionally interesting murals. Wat Suthat is less popular than some of the other temple complexes in the city, so you’ll enjoy a more peaceful and intimate experience here.
3. Giant Swing
In the center of the lively square opposite Wat Suthat stands one of Bangkok’s most eye-catching sites: the 27-meter-high teak frame of the so-called giant swing. Built in the 1700s for use as part of traditional Brahmin (Hindu) ceremonies, the swing was then damaged by lightning and became simply decorative.
It was the center of a religious ceremony held each year in December after the rice harvest. Teams of three took turns balancing on a dangerously narrow board and being swung 25 meters or more from the ground “to paradise”, at that time, they were trying to grab a bag of coins money in their teeth. King Rama VII banned the competition in 1932, following a number of fatal accidents.
4. National Museum & Wang Na Palace
History buffs will want to spend at least half a day visiting the National Museum. Until the mid-1970s, it was the only museum in Thailand, which is why its collection is so large and diverse.
Fortunately, just about every exhibit is labeled in Thai and English, and guided tours are also offered in English, so you won’t miss any of the country’s fascinating ancient and contemporary stories. The Wang Na Palace of King Rama I, located inside the museum, remains essentially as it was and bears witness to Thai history. Visitors can see badges, religious and ceremonial artefacts, ceramics, games, weapons, musical instruments and the viceroy’s throne, as well as an impressive collection of Buddha figures arranged by period.
5. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
For an even more interesting market experience, you can organize a visit to Damnoen Saduak, a famous floating market located in Ratchaburi (about 1h30 from Bangkok). The popularity of floating markets has earned Bangkok the nickname “Venice of the East”.
Keep in mind that the floating markets are now very touristy businesses, so don’t expect an exclusive morning of boat shopping, but you can buy fresh and delicious food and interact with the locals in an authentic way. The best way to reach the market is to take part in an excursion such as the floating markets day cruise from Bangkok, which takes around six hours and includes pickup directly from your hotel and transportation to an air-conditioned coach.
6. Khao San Road
It is the famous backpacker district of Bangkok, a district crowded with guest houses, food vendors, clothing stalls and travelers from all over the world. You will have to be patient on your outings here, because although it is colorful and exciting in its own way, the crowd, the smell and the loud music can test even the most calm soul.
That said, Khao San Road is also a great place to buy a few pairs of baggy fisherman pants, the eternal staple of every hiker’s wardrobe while hiking through Thailand; browse treasures in a second-hand bookstore; and immerse yourself in delicious Indian dishes in a neighborhood restaurant
7. Jim Thompson House
The historic home of a “self-taught American entrepreneur” who disappeared during a trip to Malaysia is now a relic of an earlier time in Bangkok. Jim Thompson moved to Thailand after spending time there as a soldier near the end of World War II and quickly became a household name in the Thai silk industry.
Thompson received the Order of the White Elephant, an important honor bestowed on foreigners who have made significant contributions to Thailand. Thompson’s house has been turned into a museum providing insight into his life and business, as well as the history of the city and the Thai silk industry
8. Terminal 21
Don’t be fooled by the name of the airport: this mall is one of the best destinations in Bangkok to find a mix of local and international brands, as well as many unique purchases. Terminal 21 is unique in more ways than one, even according to Thailand’s purchasing standards. Each floor of the mall has a different international city as its theme. Enter at the BTS station and you will be in Paris; go up one floor and it’s Tokyo; another floor and you look at London’s iconic red phone boxes. The Caribbean, San Francisco and Istanbul also feature in the design theme.
Other highlights include the upscale Siam Paragon and the adjacent Siam Discovery, which has more affordable chains, fun cafes, and the super luxurious Virgin Active Siam Discovery, self-nicknamed “the largest gymnasium.” from Southeast Asia “- here visitors can go rock climbing, try anti-gravity yoga or visit the unique” Sleep Pod “rooms for ultimate relaxation.
9. Wat Traimit
Luck (or bad luck) makes this attraction special. During the 1950s, the East Asiatic Company purchased the land around the temple.
A condition of the sale was the removal of a plaster Buddha statue, but the statue was found to be too heavy for the crane used. The cable separated and the figure was abandoned, left overnight the night it fell. It turns out that it was during the rainy season, and when the next morning monks passed by, they noticed a gleam of gold shining through the plaster. The coating was removed, revealing a 3.5-meter Buddha cast from 5.5 tonnes of solid gold. All attempts to trace the origin of this priceless statue have so far failed, but it is believed to date from the Sukhothai period, when marauding invaders threatened the country and its treasures, and it has become commonplace. to hide precious Buddha figures under a covering of plaster. No one knows how he got to Bangkok, but here he is, available for the admiration of visitors from around the world.
10. Wat Arun
Wat Arun is something of a triumphant complex, dating back to the time of the ancient battles between ancient Siam and Burma. Having succumbed to the Burmese, Ayutthaya was reduced to rubble and ashes, but General Taksin and the remaining survivors vowed to walk “until the sun rises again” and build a temple here. Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, was that temple. It was there that the new king later built his royal palace and a private chapel.
If you climb to the top of the prang just before sunset, you will be rewarded with an unforgettable view at sunset over the Chao Praya river. Even if you don’t plan on rock climbing, the sunset is definitely the time to enjoy this place in all its splendor.
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