Bangkok is one of the most fascinating capitals in the world. Its population is over eight million people and its history is 500 years old. Filled with colourful Buddhist temples, golden towers, street markets, and eclectic architecture, it attracts all kinds of travellers. Check out what to do in Thailand’s capital no matter whether you are into cultural sightseeing, sky bars with great panoramas, or street food tasting.
Visit Wat Pho
Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of Reclining Buddha, is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Thailand. What is most unique about it is the huge sculpture of the reclining Buddha that takes up most of the temple’s interior space. The monument is 46 meters long and 15 meters tall, and entirely covered with gold. Once you are done admiring the sculpture, it is worth taking a look at the beautiful series of pictures that cover the temple’s interior walls. These sophisticated murals depict over 400 representations of Buddha. Incidentally, Wat Pho temple is also one of the best massage centers in Bangkok.
Explore Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace
Wat Phra Kaew temple and the former residence of the Thai monarch ‘Grand Palace’, located on so-called Ratanakosin Island, together constitute a fairy-tale-like complex you should definitely wander around. Built in the Ratanakosin architectural style in the 18th century, the buildings are tightly intertwined with the Thai royalty as well as religious life, as the Buddhist temple is a popular pilgrimage destination. Unfortunately, you cannot go inside the royal apartments, but you should enter the temple. It is guarded by two mythical giants and, unlike other Buddhist temples in Thailand, is not a place where monks live and pray, but rather plays a representative and aesthetic role. The Grand Palace used to be inhabited by the royalty between 1782 and 1925, and encompasses a very large number of buildings as well as a beautiful garden.
Visit Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
The aim of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is to provide an exhibition and meeting place for Thailand’s contemporary artists. Apart from various art exhibitions, you will find here cultural and educational events such as talks, film screenings, or concerts. The place also has a library, a restaurant, and a bookshop. The current main exhibition at BACC entitled ‘Pause’ discusses the status of the photograph and photographers in the art world, showing how photography is a means of visual communication; the artists featured in the exhibition come from different South-East Asian countries.
Go to Jim Thompson’s House
Jim Thompson’s house, nowadays a fascinating museum that combines the East and the West, belonged once to an American war veteran and businessman who significantly contributed to the revitalization of the silk industry in Thailand. As a foreigner whose service to Thailand was exceptional, he has awarded a prestigious Order of the White Elephant. The combination of the American and Thai traditions is reflected as much in the house as in the restaurant Jim Thompson Restaurant and Wine Bar, which offers authentic Thai cuisine with excellent Western wines.
Explore Bangkok National Museum
Bangkok National Museum is located near the Grand Palace and should be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain insight into Thailand’s art history and cultural heritage. Located in an 18th century palace Wang Na, it houses collections of artworks from different historical periods, from prehistoric times to the Sukhotahai and Ayutthaya eras to the modern Thai Kingdom. There are also collections from nearby countries, such as Chinese treasures and weapons.
Bangkok National Museum, 4 Na Phra That, Bangkok, Thailand, +66 2 224 1333
Get a tuk-tuk ride around the city
Bangkok’s colorful tuk-tuks are a necessary element of the city’s landscape. More than that, they are also a comfortable and enjoyable way of moving around the chaotic streets to reach points of interest which usually are not close to each other. They are cheap (especially if you can bargain well) and will allow you to observe the city without the interruption of a glass window.
Visit Wat Saket
The Wat Saket Buddhist temple, known also as the Temple of the Golden Mount, apart from its architectural and spiritual points of interest, due to its location offers one of the best views of the city’s panorama. It dates back to the Ayutthaya era and was for centuries used for cremation ceremonies that were not permitted inside the old walls of the city. During the reign of the king Rama V (second half of the 19th century) the iconic golden statue of Buddha was added to the temple.
Visit one of Bangkok’s many floating markets
Thai floating markets are outdoor shopping and food markets located on – and around – water. Although they vary by size and level of ‘touristiness’, in each of them you will be able to find fresh coconuts, cooked food, fruits, spices, artwork, and clothing. They tend to be inexpensive and very picturesque. If you are lucky, you will spot a fruit or vegetables seller on a tiny boat.
Shop in Siam
Bangkok’s Siam quarter is the most famous part of Thailand when it comes to high-class shopping. You will find here four gigantesque shopping centers: MBK Center, Siam Discovery Center, Siam Center, and Siam Paragon. The Siam Square, central to the quarter, contains more independent and smaller retailers as well as restaurants, bookshops, and cafés. There are also a few luxurious hotels here. If you like urban skylines, it is worth getting a drink at one of the sky bars.
Spend an evening on Khao San road
Khao San is without any doubt the busiest and most vibrant road in Thailand’s capital. Called the biggest backpackers’ hub in the world numerous times, it is the meeting point of various travelers. Nevertheless, you will also find here many local students who needed a drink or good dinner. Khao San is absolutely full of restaurants, bars, clubs, massage centers, souvenir shops, antique boutiques, and clothing and accessories shops. It also attracts local street vendors, so even without walking into any restaurant you will be able to get tasty local meals and – watch out – fried bugs, snakes, and scorpions that are really worth the try.