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The 49 Best Things To Do in Bangkok
Home to around 15,000 stalls, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is one Bangkok’s best markets and of the world’s largest, with an incredible array of goods for sale: tire-sized ammonite fossils, marmoset monkeys, male genitalia-shaped soaps, exquisite antiques, and tons more. Put on something light, slather sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes, and carry your backpack on the front. It’s good to get here early at around 10 am to beat the heat and the crowds. Enter via MRT Kamphaeng Phet (which opens out directly onto the market), turn right and walk for a short stretch until you reach entrance 1. Get a map from the tourist center here and then explore the sections that interest you, using the clock tower at the center for reference. If you see something you like, buy it – you’ll have so much ground to cover that it’s unlikely you’ll track back or even find the same stall again. If the heat gets to you, shop in air-conditioned comfort at JJ Plaza next door. Local food courts in the area include one at Bangkok’s best fresh market, the Or Tor Kor Market and the 100% vegetarian Chamlong’s Asoke food court. Tips: Negotiate bulk prices when buying a lot of souvenirs. This site becomes a plant market on specific weekdays and is worth a visit for the phenomenal variety of exotic plants and seeds available.
BTS Mo chit (Exit 1). MRT Kamphaeng Phet (Exit 2).
Saturdays and Sundays 9am – 6pm, Fridays 6pm – 12pm
Plant Market on Tuesdays 12am – 6pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 7am – 6p.
2. Scala Cinema
The single-screen Scala Cinema is one of Bangkok’s oldest cinemas, and (with tickets starting at THB 100) still one of the cheapest locations to see a movie. The beautifully preserved lobby, with its gigantic chandelier, cathedral-like ceiling studded with flower medallions, and art deco monuments doubling as ticket stands, is worth the trip in itself. The National Anthem is played right before the movie starts and everyone is required to stand in attendance. Movies are shown using the latest in digital technology at both Scala and Lido Cinemas; the latter belongs to the same Apex Theatre Group and is a great place to catch indie and art-house movies. For a luxury, high-tech movie watching experience, head over to Siam Paragon across the street, where there’s 4DX, IMAX, and sofa-beds with complimentary 15 minute foot massages. Tips: Movie tickets (excluding VIP tickets) are half-price on Wednesdays at all the major cinemas except Scala and Lido.
BTS Siam (Exit 2).
3. Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)
Contemporary works by Thai and international artists is featured at the BACC which also showcases documentaries, exhibitions and performances on a regular basis. Start at the top floor and work your way down the spiral walkway, taking in the exhibits on each floor. Hang out at artsy cafes, art and craft shops, bookshops and the library, or have your caricature or portrait drawn for a few hundred baht by the resident artists. Tips: Given its late closing time, the BACC is an excellent place to spend a few hours after shopping at nearby MBK or Siam Square. To view a more comprehensive collection of Thai fine art, check out the five-storied Museum of Contemporary Art, a 10 minute taxi ride away from BTS Mo Chit.
BTS National Stadium (Exit 3).
Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 9pm. Free entrance.
4. Bang Krachao
Bang Krachao gives visitors a glimpse of pre-modern Bangkok with its lush forests, meandering lanes, and farms – all scattered between temples and houses on stilts. This perfect city escape takes all of 15 minutes to get to; take a taxi from MRT Klong Toei to Wat Klong Toei, grab a boat at the pier behind it and cross over to the other side. Rent a cycle from the shop when you get off (THB 80 for the whole day) to explore Bang Krachao’s labyrinth of idyllic pathways. Go early to beat the heat, and go on a weekend if you want to visit the huge Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market (8 am to 4 pm). While there aren’t any floating boats in this market, it’s still a fantastic stop – allow a few hours to properly check out all the local crafts and delicious delicacies on offer, such as homemade red dragon fruit ice cream, piping hot hormok (steamed fish with veggies in banana leaf cups), fried scallops, and crab shells stuffed with chicken and crab meat.
MRT Khlong Toei (Exit 2).
Contended cats are the stars of the Caturday Cat Café, which offers visitors the chance to kick back and relax in a purr-filled heaven. Gorgeous felines paw at cat toys, investigate bags, snooze on cushions and generally provide excellent company as you nibble cake or sip coffee. You’ll need to wash your hands before you enter and from then on you’re free to play, pose with, and photograph all the felines prowling around. Unlike some of the others in the city, there’s no entrance charge at this cat café. It’s a great place to hang out on a lazy or rainy afternoon. Not a cat person? Dog lovers have options too, thanks to the TrueLove Café, where one can get cosy with more than a dozen Siberian Huskies.
BTS Ratchathewi (Exit 2).
11am – 9pm. Free Entrance.
The biggest mall in all of Thailand and among the top ten largest malls in the world, CentralWorld’s incredible size ensures you’ll get a little more fit while indulging in some retail therapy. Catering to the mid and high-end retail segment, CentralWorld features brand name stores, cool fashion, top restaurants, and new technologies. There’s plenty for kids, too: an ice-skating rink, the Genius Planet Zone learning & activity center on the sixth floor, and the Thailand Knowledge Park (a huge library for both kids and adults). Events and/or weekend pop-up markets can be found on the grounds outside, where hopeful singles offer up red roses to the God of Love at the famous Trimurti Shrine. Tips: Hardcore shoppers can combine this with shopping at Palladium, Pratunam Market, or IT shopping at Pantip Plaza. Finish up with drinks at the Red Sky Bar at Centara Grand Hotel next door. For more upscale shopping, check out Siam Paragon and the malls around Siam Square, which are a short walk away.
BTS Chitlom (Exit 1).
Daily, 10am – 10pm.
One of Bangkok’s most popular nightclubs, The Club at Koi is where Bangkok’s hippest denizens hang out, and a great place to party late into the night, grooving to funky music beats by big-name international DJs. Crowds tend to come in after 9pm; special nights include Wednesday Ladies’ Night (free drinks from 9 – 11pm), and ‘Canvas’ on Thursdays, with an artsy focus. Saturday is the night for dance hits. Pub hoppers can check out other cool venues in the Sathorn area, mostly along Soi 10-12; Smalls, Revolucion Cocktail, UNCLE, and WooBar are quite popular. For other nightlife haunts, check out clubs in Sukhumvit 11 (Onyx, Levels), Demo, and others along Soi 10 at Thong Lor.
BTS Chong Nonsi (Exit 1).
Tuesday-Saturday, 6pm – 2am. Free Entrance.
8. Thai Cooking Class
Bangkok’s many cooking schools offer full, half day, or express two hour cooking classes, featuring standard favorites such as Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup, Thai Green and Red Curry, Green Papaya Salad, Mango Sticky Rice and more. The May Kaidee Cooking School, in particular, caters to vegetarians and vegans – Be prepared for some fast-paced cooking action; your fellow cooks urging you on as you fry and season in record time makes these classes super fun. Tips: Take copious notes as there’s plenty to absorb, the chef may also share secret recipes that aren’t in the take-home cook book. Also, don’t eat beforehand as you’ll be eating what you prepare – 8 dishes or more depending on the class. Other class options include fruit carving, making tofu, sauces and paste, raw food with dehydrators, Thai cooking combined with massage or traditional Thai dressing lessons, etc. Three, five, and ten day cooking classes are also available.
9. Dinner Cruise
Beautifully illuminated temples are the highlight of a dinner cruise down the Chao Phraya river. Cruise options range from converted teakwood rice barges featuring traditional Thai dancers, soft music and four-course meals to disco boats with live bands and international buffets. Both types of cruises roughly follow the same route (taking in Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, and the Rama VIII bridge among other sights), but are miles apart in terms of the experience. Cruises on a rice barge are much more expensive (THB 2,200), but are totally worth it, with limited seating (roughly 60) around candle-lit tables and chefs willing to customize the menu to suit individual preferences. Luxury cruisers (200 passengers) will better suit party-goers and have cheaper fares (THB 1,500). Round off the evening with a visit to the waterfront mall, Asiatique, or get a ‘Hangovertini’ at the Sky Bar on top of the Lebua State Tower nearby, which offers absolutely spectacular views of both the city and the river. Tips: Opt for smart casuals as some cruises specify a dress code.
Multiple locations near BTS Saphan Taksin.
Average time: 2 hrs.
10. Escape Room
You’ll test your puzzle-solving skills and grace under pressure in Escape Room’s many thrilling (and sometimes scary) closed rooms, as players race to solve a mystery before time runs out. It’s more fun to go as a small group, and team participation will be critical – choose difficult mysteries like Crime Scene, The Overlook Hotel-Room 13, Prison Break and others. Single players can opt for easy games like The Mummy Return and Slaughter House. (Difficulty levels are indicated next to each game). It’s a fun way to spend 45 minutes and if you get stumped, you get three chances to buzz for help, summoning staff members who will give you a clue.
BTS National Stadium (Exit 4). MBK Center.
Open daily, 10am – 10pm. THB 550/person.
11. Khlong Toei Market
Bangkok’s biggest fresh market assaults the senses with a variety of sights, sounds and smells at every turn. Utterly chaotic, butchers chop meat, sellers unload vegetables, restaurant owners select food, and motorcycles and porters patiently weave their way through all the chaos of it all. Khlong Toei market is not for the squeamish; it can be disturbing to walk through the meat section, especially when you realize that what you’re seeing goes way beyond a bewildering array of pig parts – there are unsettling sights like stacks of folded pig’s heads sans skulls and trays of bloody frogs with still-beating hearts. It’s easy to spend a few hours taking one-of-a-kind snapshots of all the frenetic activity. Tips: This market is within walking distance of MRT Khlong Toei. Bear in mind that this is a wet market, so wear sensible footwear that can survive splashes.
MRT Khlong Toei (Exit 1).
Open daily, 24 hrs.
A ferry trip down the Chao Phraya is an excellent way to experience life on the river. The ‘River of Kings’ is the main artery of Bangkok and a hive of activity with river taxis, barges, Chinese style boats, long-tail boats, and tourist boats swiftly ferrying people and goods. Cutting right across the city, a ferry trip is also an easy way to visit many of the city’s major landmarks and attractions, like the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Asiatique, Khaosan Road, Wat Pho, the Amulet Market, and the Sriraj Medical Museum, just to name a few. The most enjoyable and cheapest way to watch life along the Chao Phraya river is to take the Orange Express Line (6am – 7pm), which the locals use, all the way to the last stop at Nonthaburi and travel back for the price of THB 14. (This flat fare applies whether you get off at one stop or the end of the line.) Alternatively, you can use this line to get on and off and explore attractions along the river at your leisure; look out for an orange flag on the boat before you board. For fewer crowds and a little more comfort, opt for the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, which offers a THB 150 day pass that takes in all the major attractions but has fewer stops. Tips: If you intend to use the Orange line, bypass the blue polo-shirted attendees at the ticket counter who might approach you to take the Tourist boat. Getting in and out of these boats can be a little alarming as they tend to bump forcefully into the pier, so hang on to the railing and be careful of your footing as you step or jump off. You can combine this with a visit to Wat Yannawa, and also hire long-tail boats or take tours from this pier to explore the smaller canal systems and other attractions along the river.
BTS Saphan Taksin (Exit 2). Sathorn Pier.
13. Lumpini Park
One of Bangkok’s most popular parks, Lumpini park is the best place to get some fresh air and connect with nature. Busy especially at dawn or dusk, there’s plenty to do here besides relax; work out on all the free fitness equipment, or participate in an aerobics class, free of charge. Other fun activities include taking a paddleboat across the lake or getting close to the indigenous population – namely the park’s many monitor lizards that seem to have no fear of people. Lumpini Park has the greatest visible population of these stately creatures and it’s quite a sight to watch them as they amble past people a mere stone’s throw away. While the monitor lizards can be seen all throughout the day, (mostly sleeping along the lake’s banks), the best time to see a lot of them is around 4 pm. Catching a glimpse of them at other parks can be a hit and miss affair. Tips: To catch free weekend concerts in the park, check the Bangkok Post’s events calendar. The Silom road next to MRT Silom becomes a night market every alternate weekend, and is worth checking out for its street food.
MRT Silom (Exit 1).
Open daily, 5am – 7pm. (Also accessible from MRT Lumpini & BTS Sala Daeng).
The basement of the Palladium World Shopping mall is a gem shopping paradise offering buyers an incredible variety of crystals and stones, most available for wholesale prices. A stroll through here is a bit like visiting a natural history museum – you’ll see immense amethyst geodes/towers, ammonite fossils, ancient roman glass, and an impressive range of both rough and polished stones and gems. It’s the best to place to pick up Lapis Lazuli, as many of the shop owners directly import them from mines in their respective countries. Tips: Get to Palladium around 11am on a weekday when all the shops will be open. (Many close at 6 pm). For more upscale gem shopping, hit the Jewelry Trade Center on Silom Road, which has a fine selection of high quality orange sapphires, or browse through shops along the Charoen Krung Road.
BTS Chitlom (Exit 1).
Open daily, 9am – 8pm.
15. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Situated right behind the Grand Palace, Wat Pho houses a majestic reclining Buddha that is 46 m (150 ft) long in a massive complex dotted with pavilions, shrines, halls and numerous stupas. Check out the spectacular soles of the Buddha’s feet, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which display auspicious symbols and chakras, and pay attention to the murals and stone inscriptions that contain ancient knowledge in the arts and sciences; it’s why this temple is considered to be Thailand’s first public university. Wat Pho is also famous for being the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage; courses courses are available from a school on the premises. Allow an hour or two to fully explore the complex’s multi-colored ceramic and mosaic tiled pagodas and 91 stupas/chedis. (The smaller ones supposedly contain ashes of the royal family while the larger ones have relics of the Buddha). Tips: Guide services are available starting at THB 200 for 1 person. The Yodpiman flower market is only a short walk away and is worth a quick look. Easily accessible from Bangkok, the biggest reclining Buddha 53 m (174 ft) in all of Thailand is at Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang; visitors can walk right up to the top chamber inside this hollow 4 storeyed Buddha to gaze at his huge gold-veined heart.
By Boat: Tha Tien Pier (N8). Entrance: THB 200.
Daily, 8am to 6pm.
The Ma Boon Khrong Center (MBK) is one of Bangkok’s most famous shopping malls, with 7 floors selling everything from fashion to furniture. Much more affordable than Siam Paragon or CentralWorld, it’s excellent for electronic shopping, and you can score some great bargains here with a little scouting. The third and fourth floors being are dedicated to mobile phones both new and old, tablets, DVDS, MP3 players, drones and what have you. It’s the place to browse through a mind-boggling range of mobile phone and tablet covers – or have customized ones made. Spend an hour or a day checking out MBK, eating at the food court, getting a massage, playing arcade games and more. Tips: The infamous Pantip Plaza is the go-to destination for buying electronics in Bangkok, however it does have a reputation for selling counterfeit goods. Whether shopping at MBK or Pantip Plaza do your due diligence – while you can pick up local brands of mobiles, speakers and other products fairly cheaply, as novelties they may or may not be long-lived. For quality electronics, head over to the Fortune Town IT Mall, which has a reputation for reliability, or stop by the branded store outlets that sell an equally wide range of products.
BTS National Stadium (Exit 4).
Daily, 10am – 10pm.
17. Yunomori Onsen
The Yunomori Onsen offers visitors total relaxation and the chance to soak away their troubles in a series of hot, cold, spring water-filled and jet-equipped public baths. Ladies and men bathe in separate areas; men go commando while ladies have the option of disposable black underwear. If you’re a first-timer just follow the recommended bathing sequence highlighted on the walls. Utterly rejuvenating, it can be tempting to spend the better part of the day here as there’s no limit to the amount of time you can spend bathing. Robes are provided for those who want to exit the bath and relax in the common areas to read or eat at the Japanese café on the premises, before heading back inside. Tips: Take a water bottle with you as it’s easy to get dehydrated. It’s not recommended to spend more than one hour in the bath at a time. If you’d like to try a sand bath/Onsen experience head over to One Sand Bath Therapy, and sink into a tub of heated, fine-grained volcanic sand.
BTS Phrom Phong (Exit 2).
Daily, 9am to 12pm. THB 450/person.
The unique mix of Thai and Chinese culture makes Bangkok’s Chinatown a fascinating destination to explore on foot for half a day or more. Check out Wat Chakrawat, where the monks keep a few pet crocodiles, shop for curios at Nakon Kasem (formerly called the Thieves market), or browse through quaint stalls at Old Siam Plaza. You can also catch a Khon Thai masked dance show at the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theater or putter about the 200 year old Talat Kao market. Don’t miss walking through the very narrow and busy Sampeng Lane Market (9 am – 6pm) which offers an unbelievable array of goods and wholesale shopping. Famous for its gold shops, Chinatown is also a culinary paradise for delicious street foods – gingko soup/dessert, unexpected ice cream flavors, duck and more duck, roasted chestnuts etc. Linger on until evening to sample some great seafood and a noisy street dining experience right by the road side, on tin tables and plastic chairs at the competing Lek & Rut and T & K Seafood restaurants. If you plan to eat there, go early as there can be long standing queues. Or have dinner or drinks at the very slow moving Sky View 360 restaurant at Grand China Hotel. Tips: Wear comfy shoes and be prepared for the heat. Combine this with a trip to nearby Little India and the flower market. The easiest way to get to Chinatown is to either walk or take a tuk-tuk (THB 50) from MRT Hua Lamphong.
MRT Hua Lamphong (Exit 1). Boat: Ratchawong Pier (N5).
19. Erawan Museum
Built by the same visionary responsible for the Ancient City of Muang Boran, this massive, three-headed, bronze elephant statue is actually a museum on the inside and features some surreal architecture reflective of Hindu cosmology; the basement represents the underworld, and the dome, the earth. Understandably, heaven, where the Buddha resides, is located in the elephant’s belly on the top floor, reached by a winding staircase. While there’s not a lot of actual museum artifacts, it’s definitely worth a visit for an hour or more for the psychedelic atmosphere – intricate fairies and dragons cavort everywhere under a breathtaking stained glass window in this fantasy land. Statues of mythological creatures grace the gardens outside. It’s free to take the bowls of lotus flowers and set them afloat in the lotus pond around the museum, presumably for good luck. Tips: It’s best to visit this museum on the tail end of a trip to the Ancient City, and if you time your arrival here at 5 or later, the entry ticket is half-price. Don’t forget to make use of the free audio guide. It can be tricky to find a taxi once you’re done – ask the security staff to flag one down.
20. Khlong Ride
The Khlong Saen Saeb canal route offers visitors the opportunity to view another side of Bangkok, sitting shoulder to shoulder with the locals on a khlong ride down the city’s narrow canals. One of the cheapest ways to do this, is to travel down the Khlong Saen Saeb canal route which cuts right across the center of Bangkok. Tickets are valid travel through the entire route; you’ll need to switch boats at Pratunam pier to change lines. You can take in some sights along the way, depending on the route you choose; the Golden Mount Line ends up near Wat Saket, while the Nida line passes through Pratunam, Chitlom, Asok and other main areas, with many temples and malls en route. While it’s fun, this khlong ride is more like taking a crowded bus through the thoroughfare to get from point A to point B. For a more scenic experience that takes in farmlands and sights like the National Barge Museum, opt go for khlong tours that start from the Sathorn pier. Tips: Don’t sit right by boat’s side or if you do, be prepared to shield your face from sprays of dirty canal water, with the aid of the provided screens. The khlong route is also a convenient alternative to the BTS sky train and MRT underground train systems for quick and easy travel through the city.
Weekdays 5:30am – 8:30am. Weekends 5:30am – 7pm.
21. Erawan Shrine
One of Bangkok’s holiest venues, the Erawan Shrine is the place to witness Thais fervently praying to the four-faced Brahma or Phra Phrom, the God of Creation. Constructed to alleviate bad luck, the shrine is usually busy with a potpourri of people offering candles, flowers, coconuts, teak elephants and more, punctuated by clouds of incense. Devotees come here to make a wish or thank the deity for their fulfillment by hiring the troupe of colorful classical dancers on the premises to sing and dance on their behalf. If you’re tempted, you’ll need to get in line and shell out between THB 260-710 to hire 2-8 dancers, who’ll perform as you offer up a prayer on bended knees. To pray by yourself, start by facing the front of the God, the Face of Peace and Health, and circle clockwise, to pay respects to his Face of Good Fortune, Face of Good Relationships, and Face of Protection against Evils, respectively. A visit to the shrine is a quick trip; pair it with shopping at CentralWorld (one of the world’s biggest malls) or the lively Pratunam area for cheap & wholesale clothes shopping. Caveats: Avoid getting ripped off by the garland-peddling vendors lined up on the pavement outside the shrine (they are available for prices starting at THB 50 inside), and resist the vendors who peddle cages of birds for you to release and gain ‘merit’ at the ungodly THB 500 per cage price.
BTS Chit Lom (Exit 6).
6am – 11pm. Free entrance.
No visit to the ‘City of Angels’ would be complete without a Thai massage, and there’s a wide range of options available across the city. If you’re pressed for time, Bangkok’s ubiquitous massage parlors offer speedy versions, like a quick basic 30 minute foot massage for prices starting at THB 150. For the ultimate in luxury massages, try the Oasis Spa‘s ‘Golden Lanna Massage,’ a pure gold-oil infused massage choreographed to music. Divana Spa’s range of signature massages (up to THB 11,500), are also worthy of mention – they involve spinning golden silk threads over your body or the application of champagne or heated amethyst crystals. Unusual in concept, Perception Blind Massage offers massages by blind or visually impaired masseurs. To sample a truly traditional Thai massage, head to the massage school within the premises of Wat Pho (THB 420 for 1 hr); massages here are given in a crowded communal area that is typically jam-packed with tourists and can involve long waiting times. One of the best value traditional Thai massages (THB 550 for 2 hrs) can be found at Health Land, a popular Spa & Massage chain, which is a firm favorite with both locals and tourists; make an appointment ahead of time as their spa centers get quite busy. Tips: Thai massages can leave you quite sore – it’s advisable to specify a ‘soft/gentle’ massage on arrival, as your assigned masseuse may or may not speak English. Avoid stepping into any massage parlor that advertises soapy massages as these are likely to have ‘happy endings’ and demands for tips.
BTS Asok (Exit 3). MRT Asok (Exit 1)/(Multiple Locations).
9am – 11pm.
Asiatique is a posh night market and mall combination that’s pricier than Chatuchak, but also better organized. It’s fun to pick up souvenirs from Asiatique’s small shops sequestered away in converted warehouses or take a leisurely stroll down the boardwalk, watching barges tow cargo up the river. Bangkok’s tallest Ferris wheel can be found here, and if you catch a ride around 6:30 pm, you can take stunning shots of the sunset over the Chao Phraya river. International dining options are plentiful at Asiatique, but for an entertaining Thai twist try the Joe Louis Thai restaurant where traditional Thai puppets (Hun Lakorn Lek), interact with the diners at 7:30pm and 9pm, every day except Mondays. Asiatique’s Calypso Ladyboy Cabaret and Muay Thai Live shows are also big entertainment draws. Tips: Avoid taking a taxi to Asiatique as the traffic leading to this area can be crazy. Can combine this trip with a visit to Wat Yannawa.
BTS Saphan Taksin (Exit 2). Free Shuttle every 15 minutes from 4:30 pm/last shuttle back 11:30 pm.
Daily, 5pm to 12am.
Kwan Riam Floating Market is one of Bangkok’s newest floating marketplaces (opened in 2012) and is a charming place to experience the lively vibe of a traditional floating market. Get here early (around 7am) to witness people waiting by the canal side to hand out alms to monks floating by on boats; this is one of the highlights of this particular floating market. To gain a little merit yourself and receive the monk’s blessings, buy some flowers or food and get in line early, as the alms-giving winds up by 8am. While this floating market doesn’t have the typical fruit and vegetable laden floating vendors, it has its own unique feature – many large wooden boats that double up as floating restaurants. Hop on to a boat to sample piping hot food from its on-board kitchen, and experience an atmospheric floating meal with views of the canal. There are also temples to explore, a wide variety of delicacies from various provinces to try, short THB 20 boat rides to take along the canal and even exotic Alpacas and Shetland ponies to admire at the market’s petting zoos. Tips: If the taxi route takes you through Ramkhamhaeng Road, keep an eye out for a bizarre aircraft graveyard, where rusted out Boeing 747 jets lie abandoned.
By Canal Boat: Nida line on Khlong San Saep to Minburi and Taxi.
Weekend 6am – 6pm.
25. Amulet Market
Bangkok’s amulet market along the Maha Rat Road is worth a visit, just to get a glimpse into Thai superstitions and beliefs. The selection of amulets here is incredibly diverse: ancient sand-colored ones starting at THB 10, elaborate ones featuring monks, holy cloth, and colorful Chinese-looking deities, and others that are truly astonishing. There’s plenty to catch the eye, like the Kuman Thong (golden baby boy) protection or good luck amulets that have tiny figures of two and three-headed babies, originating from the practice of dry-roasting unborn babies and lacquering them with gold leaf. Or wooden phalluses believed to increase male fertility. Artists working on concrete statues, reliquaries, and brass figures, and buyers examining amulets to spot valuable originals give this market plenty of atmosphere. Tips: If you approach it via the Maharaj pier, ignore the signs that lead you into touristy stalls inside the mall and walk straight ahead to directly enter the market. The amulet market is is one of the best locations place to buy inexpensive and life-like effigies of revered monks (THB 200 & above), as they sell for around THB 5000 at malls. Combine this trip with a visit to the Sriraj Medical Museum, the Grand Palace, or Wat Pho. There’s also a new amulet market which has a fantastic array of ultra-colorful small and life-size figurines (tiger-skinned monks, Buddhist and Hindu Gods and Goddesses), right behind Wat Ratchanadda and the Loha Prasat. If you’re going to visit just one amulet market, choose the new one.
By Boat: Tha Maharaj, Tha Chang (N9).
Daily, 9am to 5pm.
26. Papaya Design
A unique warehouse that’s filled with thousands of vintage doodads, Papaya Design has the feel of a mad collector’s snowglobe that’s been lost in time. It’s a treasure trove of old and quirky items that have been arranged together with no rhyme or reason. Headless mannequins perch above lighted owls, old globes share shelf space with skulls. There’s something interesting to see in every nook and corner, from old pin ball and arcade machines to army helmets, weird fans, gramophones and more. Tiny tots will especially enjoy the toy section with all the little cars and comic figures, dominated by a row of life-sized grinning Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. Worth spending a few hours here.
MRT Lat Phrao (Exit 4).
Daily, 10am – 7pm.
27. Khao San Road
A backpacker’s Mecca, the vibrant Khao San Road is a hub of activity with flashy neon lights, ladies sporting massage signs, tattoo parlors, loud bars with live bands and shops selling everything from souvenirs to beachwear. This is the place to buy beer or cocktails by the bucket (with a second bucket for free), get dreadlocks, or obtain your very own fake international driver’s license. Hawkers amble about selling fried scorpions and tarantulas on a stick, and for mixes of crunchy snakes, frogs, centipedes and assorted fried insects look no further than the bug carts. While Khao San road is busy most times, the crowd really picks up after 9 pm, and it’s fun to just sightsee or go pub crawling. Soi Rambuttri, parallel to Khao San road, is equally lively and definitely worth a stroll. Tips: You can also self-organize a Bangkok By Night trip around town with a tuk-tuk from here. If you’ve had enough of the din and the crowds, head over to Phra Athit road nearby, with its more relaxed Bohemian aura and eclectic cafes, bars and restaurants.
MRT Hua Lamphong (Exit 2) & Taxi. By Boat: Phra Athit Pier (N13).
28. Wholesale Shopping (Platinum Mall) & Pratunam Market
With more than 2500 shops spread out across 6 floors, the Platinum Fashion Mall is the destination for wholesale fashion shopping. Numerous small shops set in narrow lanes sell everything from niche fashion to evening dresses, costumes, imported clothes, wigs, handbags, cosmetics, and more. Given the size of this maze, buy what you like when you see it, as you may not find the shop again. Haggling is fine here and if you buy more than one you can negotiate a wholesale price. Be aware that almost all the shops have a ‘no-try’, no refund and no exchange policy, so you’ll have to be confident about sizes. While you can shop all day here in air-conditioned comfort, do set aside some time to visit the Pratunam Market just opposite the mall, which is another shopping labyrinth extending all the way to the Baiyoke Towers (both I and II). Jam-packed shops in narrow alleys, pushcarts selling food, and workers transporting trolleys makes for a very local and dynamic market experience. The Baiyoke Towers in particular, are great for neon clothes, crazy graphic-T shirts, tie dye, embroidery etc. Tips: It’s best to visit both the Platinum Mall and the Pratunam area on a weekday between 10 am until 6 pm when all the shops will be open. If you visit on the weekends, be prepared to shuffle down the super-crowded lanes at a snail’s pace. The Pratunam area also has some of the cheapest, hole-in-the-wall Indian eateries. Wind up the evening at the roof top bar or the revolving roof deck (Ticket price: THB 400) on the 83rd floor at Baiyoke Tower 2, Thailand’s tallest building. It takes 8 minutes for the revolving deck to complete one circle and delivers fabulous views of the city.
Wat Saket or the ‘Golden Mount’ is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, and features a shining golden chedi perched on top of a man-made hill. Reaching the chedi involves negotiating a 344-step winding staircase, but this is an easy climb with short steps and a few interesting sights along the way to pause and admire. While there’s not much to see in the chedi itself, which houses a Buddha relic, it does gives you a bird’s eye view of the city. Cool things to do here include writing your prayers on clay tiles or on a long red cloth. In November, Wat Saket is the site of a huge temple fair and is worth visiting for its candlelit processions and festive atmosphere. Pay a quick visit to Ban Bat or the Monk’s bowl village, located in a side street nearby, to witness the last community in Thailand that still practices the centuries-old tradition of hand-crafting monk bowls. Tips: The metal castle (Loha Prasat), Democracy Monument, Khao San Road and the Bamrung Muang Road are all within walking distance.
Khlong Ride: Phana Leelard Pier.
7:30am – 5:30pm (THB 20).
One of three structures of its type that have been constructed around the world, the Loha Prasat (Metal Castle) in Bangkok’s Wat Ratchanatdaram is the only one that has survived to this day. (It has been submitted to the UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage site). The most striking features of this stunning multi-tiered temple are its 37 black iron spires, which symbolize the 37 virtues on the path to enlightenment; these spires are currently being given a golden sheen. Loha Prasats differ from other temples in their unique construction – multiple levels are laid out on well-spaced columns, and wandering through this one’s many narrow corridors filled with history exhibits makes for interesting exploration. A spiral staircase takes you right to an enshrined relic at the top, and permits fantastic close-up shots of the spires. Tips: The colorful amulet market situated right at the back is not to be missed. Have lunch or an early dinner at the classic Thai Methavalai Sorndaeng restaurant nearby, with its 1960’s vibe and reputation for serving royalty. The Bamrung Muang road and the Giant Swing are a short walk away.
Daily, 9am – 5pm. Free Entrance.
31. Grand Palace
Bangkok’s top attraction, the stunning Grand Palace is not a single building but a sprawling complex of halls, buildings and pavilions set amidst vast courtyards and gardens. A mishmash of architecturally different styles greet the eye, a testament to the vision of various reigning kings who made their own additions. Take your time walking around the complex’s many courts, admiring the massive murals, the small scale model of the Angkor Wat, the throne halls, galleries and more. The 2000 year-old Buddha image carved from a single jade block at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is one of Thailand’s most revered images. The brochure and map that accompany the ticket provide sufficient direction for you to find your way, but guides can be hired too. Tips: As this is Thailand’s foremost sacred site, the dress code is extremely strict – no see-through clothes, no shawls, no sandals or flip-flops. Long sleeve shirts, long pants and full skirts (for women) are recommended. If you aren’t suitably attired, clothes are available at a booth near the entrance for a deposit, but this can be a hassle with long queues. Arrive early on a weekday at 8:30 to both beat the midday heat and the flag-bearing tour groups and huge weekend crowds. Nearby attractions include the City Pillar Shrine, opposite the Grand Palace, and the Bangkok National Museum, a short walk away. The 3-part entry ticket also includes access to the Ananta Samakom Throne Hall, and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, but needs to be used within a week.
By Boat: Tha Chang Pier (N9).
Daily, 8:30am to 3:30pm. THB 500.
32. Bangkok By Night
A night tour of Bangkok’s major attractions is an exciting way to see their architectural grandeur in all its illuminated glory, and experience a side of them that few tourists take the time out to see. Try one of the organized tours or arrange your own tour with a local tuk-tuk driver for approximately THB 200 & above, as the major attractions are fairly close together. The prominent sights to swing by are the Golden Mount, Grand Palace, the City Pillar Shrine, Wat Pho, the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, the Giant Swing, the old forts at Santi Chaiprakarn park, and Wat Ratchanatdaram. Tips: Make sure to walk right up to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall as there’s a beautiful pavilion that’s not easily seen from the grounds in front. Also make sure to go into the Wat Pho temple grounds and witness the splendor of all the lit-up pagodas close-up. If self-organized, end your trip at Chinatown or Khao San Road, to grab a bite and round off the evening.
33. Moon Bar
Perched on the top of the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree hotel at Sathorn, the Moon Bar offers outstanding 360 degree views of the city without any walls or structures to block the view. Along with the hotel’s sister restaurant, Vertigo, Moon Bar is situated on one end of an the elongated rooftop, giving visitors have the impression of being aboard the deck of a majestic floating ship way up in the sky. Come here around 6:30 pm and get a corner table to experience the sunset and glorious night time views – the only other rooftop bar that comes close is the State Tower’s Sky Bar (of Hangover movie fame), which overlooks the Chao Phraya river. However, Sky Bar gets insanely crowded, with long entry queues, and is also much more commercialized; visitors are shunted to a side area and only allowed on the Sky Bar proper after they buy a drink. The less crowded Moon Bar offers a more relaxed experience of having a drink on top of the world. Tips: Call head during the rainy season to see if the Moon Bar is open. It’s best accessed via the MRT to avoid getting stuck in traffic jams.
BTS Lumpini (Exit 2).
Daily, 5pm to 1am. Free Entrance.
34. Wat Traimit
Home to the world’s largest solid gold Buddha, Wat Traimit makes for an excellent stopover before entering the hustle and bustle of Chinatown’s Yaowarat road. Dating back to the 13th century, this five and half ton gold statue was believed to be made of plaster for centuries, until it was accidentally dropped when it was being hoisted, causing some of the plaster to crack open and reveal the a gleam of gold underneath. Beyond spending some time taking in all that gleaming shining majesty, there’s not a lot to do here – visit the museum on the third floor (THB 100) only if you have time to kill. Tips: Best visited en route to Chinatown, as this temple is literally a stone’s throw away from both the Hua Lamphong station and MRT Hua Lamphong.
MRT Hua Lamphong (Exit 2).
9am – 5pm. (THB 40)
35. Rod Fai Night Market II
The open-air Rod Fai Night Market II with its flea-market atmosphere has something for everyone – long avenues of shops selling fashion and Thai street foods, live bands belting out music, cool pubs and chilled out bars. Frequented mostly by locals, this market situated right behind the Esplanade shopping mall is very easily accessed via the MRT. It’s the place to get a vintage haircut, check out hipster clothes, toys, kitsch stuff and more. Instead of having dinner, walk through this foodie heaven sampling things like Thai DIY type barbecue, huge grilled salted fish, Cajun-style shrimp (eaten with your hands off a plastic tablecloth), Khao Soi curry noodles, fried insects and amazing smoking desserts. It’s the only night market to have bars overlooking the market, giving you the option to have a drink to awesome views. Tips: Get here after 7 pm as that’s when all the shops are open. The Rod Fai Night Market I is bigger with around 2000 stalls and many unique vintage and antique items, but it’s a bit far out and involves taking a taxi from BTS On Nut. If you can only visit one night market go for Rod Fai Night Market I, however either market is worth visiting for an entire evening.
MRT Thailand Cultural Centre (Exit 3).
Thursday – Sunday, 5pm – 12am.
36. Siam Niramit
Described as a ‘Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Siam,’The outstanding Siam Niramit show is one of those rare shows that actually lives up to the hype. The show portrays the historical, spiritual, and cultural beliefs of Thailand in a fantastic 3-act performance; ancient civilizations comprise the first act, the second explores karma and depicts both heaven and hell, and the third enacts many merit-making Thai festivals. Around a hundred performers dressed in traditional costumes dance about huge, over-the-top stage sets for 80 minutes, delivering an unforgettable performance. Some really cool moments include a performer diving into an on-stage lake for a bath, live elephants that amble about and a dozen levitating angels that dive and swoop gracefully. Unfortunately, there’s a strict no-photo policy and laser pointer equipped staff monitoring the audience. If you arrive early, you can catch some traditional performances in the area outside the show hall, feed the elephants cucumbers for a fee, and take photos with costumed dancers. As a one-time thing it’s worth springing for the pricier tickets up front. Tips: For all types of cultural performances at other locations, check out Thai Ticket Major. While there aren’t many events happening at the Aksra Theatre, it’s worth going to a show there, just for its stunning Thai-sculpture inspired interior.
MRT Thailand Cultural Center (Exit 1). Free Shuttle.
8 pm. THB 1500 & above.
37. Muay Thai boxing
Known as the ‘Art of Eight Limbs’ for its eight points of contact, traditional Muay Thai boxing combines elements of both martial arts and boxing. Witnessing a match is not only a fantastic way to experience a centuries old Thai combat form but also take in some heart pumping action. To see an authentic, live match for free, with locals cheering for their favorites and bookies yelling out bets, head over to Channel 7’s TV studio on a Sunday morning. Walking through the studio door puts you straight in front of the ring, but continue onwards as there’s seating at the back reserved for foreigners. The crowd gets quite loud, especially when the match starts and the fighters begin pummeling each other – if it gets to be too much, you can always step out and continue to watch the match on the TV screens outside. Tips: It can be tricky to locate the studio by yourself, so take a motorcycle taxi either from the MRT or BTS Station and ask for ‘Chang 7’ or ‘Channel 7 Muay Thai’ and follow the crowd. It’s important to get there at least one hour before the match begins at 12:45 am, otherwise you’ll have to stand the entire time and be jostled by people entering and exiting (matches end at 4:35 pm). Bring your own water bottles. Free matches are also sometimes held on certain days in front of the MBK mall, but you’ll need to check beforehand to see if any fights are actually on. Matches held at the Lumpinee and Rajadamnern boxing stadiums are expensive, but ringside tickets may put you shoulder to shoulder with former champions.
MRT Chatuchak Park (Exit 3), BTS Mo Chit (Exit 4).
38. Wat Yan Nawa
With chedis for masts and a Buddha altar instead of a wheel room, Wat Yan Nawa (the Boat Temple) is a one-of-a kind Chinese junk boat-shaped temple built by King Rama III to remind future generations of the magnificence of the once popular junks. It’s free to enter but you might be asked for a small donation of THB 20 for some incense to pay your respects at the altar. While the temple itself is worth a quick look, the real attraction here is the fantastic repository of the relics of the Buddha and other enlightened monks, beautifully laid out in the hall in the nearby building. Miniscule beads of every hue, which are supposedly transformed body parts, along with more ordinary bone fragments, all credited with possessing magical powers, are displayed in reliquaries. Here’s where you can see the ‘brain relics of Buddha like grape seeds,’ the many chest, face, and forehead relics, and even glimpse the legendary Naga Gem (a gemstone found in a snake’s head). Aside of the relics, do take time to appreciate the unique multi-religious aura of this place – from the Chinese Kwan Yin, to the Hindu Ganesha, all the various Gods here live in harmony in this temple, surrounded by antique Buddhas and life-sized monk wax sculptures. You can leave behind notes of wishes or prayers on the little tree inside. Tips: Check out the top floor – ceremonies to ordain boys as monks are sometimes held here. As this temple is right by BTS Saphan Taksin, combine this visit with any plan that involves a trip on the river. In spite of its very functional appearance, the little restaurant close to the temple, Steak Chef Noi, is worth a visit for its delicious food, served up by a former hotel chef.
BTS Saphan Taksin (Exit 4).
Daily, 8am – 6pm. Free Entrance.
Sing-Sing Theater a must-visit bar-cum-club, with ladies dancing in bird cages, hanging lanterns, Chinese dragon imagery, and elaborate metalwork. Modeled like a theater, with multiple levels and balconies overlooking a central stage (which doubles as a dance floor), it’s one of the hottest destinations to hang out in Bangkok. Creative touches greet the eye everywhere, from the ‘Muses’ (ladies in Chinese quipaos) who usher you in, to the signature cocktails served in metal cages. International music acts and popular DJs dish out great music, and there’s a focus on innovative concept dance performances. Watching white- garbed martial artists, hot burlesque dancers, or ethereal siren mermaids flit about is an added bonus to spending an entertaining evening spent socializing or dancing in an already opulent setting. There’s nothing quite like Sing Sing Theater anywhere else in the city – with elements of theater, bar, and club, it’s the destination to socialize, dance, or enjoy the show. Tips: While it’s a great place to visit any day during the week, call ahead to find out when there’s a show. Sing Sing Theater is the brain child of the very popular designer Ashley Sutton; his other ventures in the city – Maggie Choos and The Iron Fairies – are other outlandish bars also worth checking out for their quirky atmosphere. For an overview of all Bangkok night life events check out Siam2nite, a one stop destination that lists many cool events and shows around town.
BTS Phrom Phong (Exit 3).
Daily, 9pm – 3am. Free Entrance.
40. Muang Boran
The Ancient City or ‘Muang Boran‘ is a massive outdoor museum, constructed in the shape of Thailand, that contains 115 accurate scale models of Siam’s ancient wonders. Spanning roughly 315 acres and built by the eccentric Thai millionaire also responsible for both the Erawan Museum and the Sanctuary of Truth (in Pattaya), a trip here is tantamount to experiencing a microcosm of Thai history in all its splendid diversity. Old monuments, glorious ruins, spotless temples, and historic houses are scattered about a verdant landscape punctuated by fascinating cultural and mythological references. Craftsmen working on traditional art forms and vendors selling snacks as they paddle about the city’s floating market give this open-air museum a lively feel. To really do it justice, Muang Boran needs an entire day – a day filled with endless and outstanding photo opportunities. Tips: Get here early on a weekday to experience all of its splendors without the hassle of crowds. Check to see if they have any promotional ticket offers that also include the Erawan Museum. Tram rides start from the entry point, but these are only available at set times and follow pre-determined routes – the best way to see the Ancient city is to hop on to one of the free bicycles or hire a golf cart and roam around at leisure. Make sure you have adequate water and sun protection. Take an anti-clockwise route starting with the Thai village and have lunch at any of the restaurants in the floating market. Plan to reach the Royal Watercourse Procession before 4 pm, as that’s your last chance for a free lake cruise that’ll take you past many magnificent dragon-shaped ceremonial barges and other sights. Leave early Muang Boran early enough to stopover at the Erawan Museum on your way back.
BTS Bearing (Exit 3) & Taxi ride.
Daily, 9am – 7pm. THB 700.
Known as the ‘Museum of Death,’ the Siriraj Medical Museum is filled with exhibits such as which can be both gruesome and heart-rending at the same time: conjoined twins, deformed babies, skulls with gunshot wounds, murder weapons, a two-and-a-half-foot-wide diseased scrotum, and parasites you didn’t know could exist in a human body. One of the museum’s star exhibits features the paraffin wax-filled body of Thailand’s most notorious serial killer, Si Quey, who ate the hearts of little boys. He’s flanked by a mummified rapist in a what look like a telephone booth display, bearing the words ‘Rape Murderer with Death Sentence.’ Take your time checking it all out as the museum is spread out across different buildings, which can be a little tricky to locate. The most disturbing sections are the ones devoted to Parasitology, Forensic Pathology and Congenital Disorders. Tips: The museum is located on the grounds of Siriraj Hospital. The easiest way to get here is via the ferry boat. Spring for the complete ticket (THB 300), which permits you to enter the Siriraj Bimuksthan Museum, only if you’re interested in checking out the history of the hospital and the river area. Other offbeat museums to check out include the Human Body Museum, the Batcat Museum and Toys, and the Museum of Floral Culture.
By Boat: Phannok Pier.
10am – 5pm. Closed on Tuesdays and Public Holidays. THB 200.
42. Soi Cowboy
A red-light area that reflects that offers a glimpse into the seedier side of Bangkok, Soi Cowboy is a 150 meter long stretch, opposite the Terminal 21 mall, that sports numerous go-go bars. Bikini-clad women stand in droves under neon-signs in this farang ghetto, enticing passing tourists to buy a drink. Many places here offer half price drinks during happy hours which might last until 9 pm – getting a drink lets you experience the vibe of the street here without any other untoward hassle. Other red light district areas in Bangkok include the Nana Plaza and the infamous Patpong night market. Tips: One of the best streets for gay nightlife is Silom Soi 4. If you do decide to visit the Patpong night market, be wary of vendors approaching you with a list of some of the unbelievable activities that ladies can engage in involving ping pong balls, razors and more. While they might entice you inside for a drink, quoting a low entry price, it’s entirely possible they’ll then have bouncers to bar your exit, (especially if you’re the last to leave) unless you pay ten times the price or more for the privilege of having watched the ‘shows.’
BTS Asok (Exit 6). MRT (Exit 2).
43. Float Session
Bangkok’s flotation centers give you the experience of complete sensory deprivation as you float in an epsom salt bath within a futuristic pod. A ‘float’ can last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the option you choose, and you’ll need to shower before you get in. This experience isn’t really for everyone – it can be either completely relaxing or mind-numbingly boring, depending on your personality. Regardless, it’s worth trying out, as it is quite something to experience the kind of surreal silence where you can hear your own heartbeat in total darkness. It’s worth trying out once regardless of whether you love it or hate it. Tips: Ask for promotional offers. Make sure to apply Vaseline liberally on any rashes or cuts you might have before you enter the tank, as the salt water will sting terribly otherwise. Also ensure that the water doesn’t enter your eyes; there’s a mist spray and towel inside the pod for emergencies. Shower thoroughly beforehand – the staff are serious about possible contamination and you’re required to sign an agreement that specifies a huge fine in case there is any. It’s best to go to a float session without any makeup, perfume, or gel on to avoid the risk.
44. LadyBoy Cabaret Show
Extravagantly dressed and unbelievably beautiful ladyboys are the highlight of the show, as they lip-sync and dance to many popular hit songs, putting on quite the performance. While there’s plenty of entertainment value here in terms of the sets and contemporary dance forms (hip hop, ballet, Bollywood etc.), it’s the unbelievably beautiful ladyboys (‘kathoeys’) themselves that stand out. Many of them deliver equally stunning performances dressed as either men or women. Interestingly, these shows aren’t risque, and are suitable for family entertainment. Tips: If the crowds are pretty thin, you may be enticed up front by the entire cast of the show for a post-performance photo shoot and be overwhelmingly bombarded for tips. It’s wise to either avoid this situation entirely or keep a few notes ready in hand. Popular cabaret shows include the Calypso Cabaret and Mambo Cabaret show.
MRT Lad Prao (Exit 1).
7pm and 8:20pm. THB 1200.
45. Boat Noodle Alley
Nondescript in appearance, Boat Noodle Alley is an alleyway near Victory Monument that’s famous for serving boat noodles, known as ‘guay diow rua’. Small noodle portions are served in tiny bowls costing around THB 10 or more; this is reminiscent of the way they were sold by floating noodle sellers – the small portions meant less chance of spillage. Locals and students visit here to order bowls by the dozen – some top favorites involve a dash of fresh pig’s blood. Tips: A noodle bowl is super cheap; order 5 or more bowls to experience a delicious variety of broth flavors, seasonings and noodle types. Some places offer a free glass or bottle of Pepsi if you down 10 or 20 bowls. The khlong adjoining the alleyway, with its polluted waters, is far from scenic – you might want to opt for one of the air-conditioned restaurants instead. Check out the Victory monument area before or afterwards as it’s great for inexpensive clothes and cheap formal suits.
BTS Victory Monument (Exit 4).
Daily, 11am to 9pm.
Opened to the public in early 2016, the Nai Lert Heritage Home is a grandiose example of traditional Thai architecture featuring gorgeous teakwood expanses and a charming landscaped garden with century-old trees. It can only be visited with a guide, and if you can’t make it on the appointed days and times, they do allow guided visits by pre-booked appointments. Aside of many antiques and artifacts, there’s plenty of history and many fascinating details to admire – a table made of musical instruments, a gigantic monk bowl to feed visiting monks, and a bomb hole that’s been transformed into a lotus pond. Tips: Relax with a meal or drinks afterwards, at the adjoining Ma Maison restaurant. The Jim Thompson House and the M.R. Kukrit House are other old and well-known homes to check out.
BTS Ploen Chit (Exit 1).
Thursday & Friday. Guided visits at 11am, 2pm & 4pm. THB 500.
One of Bangkok’s most iconic riverside landmarks, Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) is also one of the city’s oldest temples, famous for its unique Khymer-style central spire exquisitely decorated with colored porcelain. The temple’s majestic spire, surrounded by four smaller spires, dominates the skyline and symbolizes the mythical Mount Meru (in Buddhist cosmology, the center of the universe). Steep steps lead up the central spire and if you dare the climb you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the river, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. The various pavilions and guardian statues in the temple complex are also worth a look. Tips: To get here, take the ferry to pier N8 and then take a cross-river ferry for THB 3. You can get some cool great shots of the temple from the cross-river ferry boat either when approaching or departing the temple. The best views of this temple are to be had at sunset around 6 pm, from restaurants and cafes on the opposite side of the river; The Deck at the Arun Residence Hotel is one of the best locations to capture some amazing photographs.
By Boat: Tha Tien Pier (N8) & Cross-river Ferry boat.
Daily, 8am to 6pm. THB 50.
48. Bamrung Muang Road (Street of Many Buddhas)
An elephant trail in times past, Bamrung Muang is Bangkok’s ‘Buddha Road,’ where thousands of small to giant-sized Buddhas and all manner of Buddhist paraphernalia are sold. Walking down this road is a visual treat: human-sized seated monks, colorful Hindu Gods and Goddesses, massive orange candles, and giant bells all grace the storefronts bordering the sidewalks. Besides the shops, Monk buckets (buckets filled with everyday supplies available for monks can use) can be seen here. You might stumble upon Buddha-producing factories here – walk around for some cool photo ops: camera-ready rows of Buddhas, and workers loading and and touching up the statues. Tips: Be mindful of the narrow sidewalks as you walk. This road is quite long and goes on past the Giant Swing and a huge intersection, so continue past it and follow the road as it extends to the other side.
Khlong Ride: Phana Leelard Pier.
Daily, 9pm to 6pm.
49. Artist’s House (Baan Silapin)
Baan Silapin (the Artist’s House) is an old two-story teak wood house that’s an excellent place to experience old community life or chill out alongside the canals reading a book and watching the boats pass by. There’s an ancient stupa/chedi right at the center of the café, a puppet display and a performance space on the bottom floor, and many prints, drawings and photographs for sale on the first floor. It’s a charming locality, with homes on stilts bordering the canals, boldly colored human-sized statues of Thai men siting khlong-side gazing at the canal waters, artists working on paintings, and kids throwing colorful fish food into the water. The free shadow puppet performance is a must-see: black-clad masked actors manipulate intricate khon puppets and portray the tale of Ramayana. Tips: Its best to visit on a Saturday, as they are most likely to have a shadow puppet performance at 14:00. Call ahead on other days to check if they have a show scheduled. Make sure to leave a little tip in the puppet performance donation box; the appreciative puppets may reward you with a handshake or a kiss. If time permits, explore the surrounding area, as there are a few old temples worth exploring visiting in the vicinity.
BTS Wongwian Yai (Exit 2) & Taxi.
Monday & Tuesday 10am – 6pm.
Wednesday to Friday 9am to 6pm.
Saturday & Sunday 9am – 7pm.
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