The growth in air travel has allowed ordinary travellers to visit the places that their parents only saw on film or in magazines. One such place is Bangkok. The world saw the exotic court of the King of Siam (now Thailand) in the film, ‘’The King & I’’ in the 1950s. The story was about the relationship between an English Governess and the King in the 19th Century. Today, Bangkok is within the reach of many tourists. It is a hectic city with a huge number of attractions. One is the Grand Palace that featured in that Hollywood film. Whether you are looking for things to do in Bangkok for kids or things to do in Bangkok in nightlife, the city is nothing short of anything.
Bangkok was a trading post for several centuries, but it is now a city of over 11 million with tourist numbers each year three times that figure. Even if your final destination is a Thailand beach, if you land in Bangkok en route, you should spend a few days seeing its highlights; there are many and below you can read about 10 of them. You should always have your camera ready because there is so much to photograph. The best camera for travelling is one that is light and easy to handle but with a good lens for a variety of shots. Here we have listed some of the best places to visit and top things to do in Bangkok Thailand:
1. The Grand Palace & Wat Pra Kaew
The Grand Palace was the home of the Royal Family from 1782 for 150 years. Within the Complex, there are a number of buildings including Wat Pra Kaew which in English means ‘’The Temple of the Emerald Buddha.’’ Only the King can approach the Emerald Buddha to clothe it in a different robe depending on the season. That Buddha was carved from a single block of emerald in the 15th Century. The Palace is only used today for ceremonial occasions but at other times visitors can see all but the Inner Hall. It is important to remember that this Complex is a sacred place and visitors must dress appropriately so no shorts, short skirts, T-shirts or bare shoulders are a good start. You will find plenty of cheap accommodation near Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew in Bangkok Old town which is one of the best areas to stay in Bangkok.
2. Wat Arun
Talking of photography, Wat Arun is commonly seen promoting South East Asia online and in travel brochures and other literature. This Temple sits on the Chao Phraya River from which you will get excellent views, day and night. The spire is more than 200 feet high and dates back to the 19th Century. The style is Khmer, an empire that spread throughout South East Asia to South Vietnam between the 9th and 15th Centuries. Wat Arun’s building corresponds with the Rattanakosin Period and Bangkok becoming Siam’s capital. Arun means ‘’Dawn’’ but sunset is a great time to get a photograph.
3. Wat Pho
If you are at Wat Arun and you look across the River, Wat Pho will be in front of you. It is home to the Reclining Buddha and to give you an idea of scale, even its feet are over 16 feet long. It follows that Wat Pho is a large temple. The Buddha is actually 150 feet long and 50 feet high, so it is quite a challenge to get a good photograph. The Temple sits in large gardens where there are numerous sculptures, beautiful porcelain, and murals. Remember again to dress appropriately for this religious site, even though Bangkok may be hot, especially in the middle of the day. There are 4 temples in the Complex and rows of Buddhas, totaling around 400.
4. Golden Buddha
Wat Traimit is not the most impressive of temples but it is home to a Buddha whose value lay hidden for many centuries. It was back in the 13th or 14th Century when a 10 foot tall Buddha was made of solid gold. However, to hide its true value, it was covered in plaster. It came to Bangkok in the 19th Century to a new home, Wat Chotanaram, still plastered over. In 1935, Wat Traimit became its new home then 20 years on, when it was being moved, it was dropped. The chipped plaster revealed what was below; solid gold. Since then, this treasure has been there for all to see. Its estimated value is US$250 million.
5. Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson was an American who is regarded as the man who revived Thailand’s silk industry. His house is effectively a museum, or rather the six teak houses on one complex. They remain in good condition and tell the story of Thompson and silk. One fact is missing however and that is how Thompson met his death. He disappeared in the Malaysian jungle in 1967 and that disappearance remains a mystery today. Thompson stayed in the Far East at the end of World War II and made Thailand his home, trading in silk, something still new to consumers in the West. Without any doubt, it is listed amongst one of the unique Bangkok things to do.
6. The Waterways of Bangkok
Trade, entertainment, and transport all have a close link to Bangkok’s waterways, day and night. Ferries take people to different landing points in the City as part of daily life but there is much more to the waterways which are also a great place from which to get a different view of Bangkok. No wonder, it is one of the top 10 things to do in Bangkok in 3 days.
- Floating markets sell local produce from early in the morning until there is nothing left. Tours are available from early morning to visit them, watch the activity and buy if you wish.
- At the end of the day, why not take a cruise on the River. There is plenty of choice and you will have time to see Bangkok ‘’lit up’’ as you sample the best of Thai cuisine.
7. Street Food & How to Cook It
Speaking of food, Thai cuisine is popular worldwide but you should try it in a traditional Asian way, heading to a street stall where all the food served in Bangkok’s restaurants is also available. Worry not about any hygiene issues because busy stalls have good turnover, so everything is very fresh. Trying street food is one of the fun things to do in Bangkok this weekend.
Perhaps you could spend some time in Patpong, with its many entertainment places, market stalls and street food? Patpong’s night market in the heart of Bangkok is very safe despite its reputation as a red light district.
There are cooking classes which are very popular with tourists. You will start by going to buy the fresh produce which you will be using to cook some of Thailand’s favourite dishes. These days, the ingredients you need to cook these dishes will be available locally when you get back home from your holiday and want to display your skills.
If you want to learn more about the history and culture of Bangkok and Thailand, there is a choice of museums within the City. You will not be able to visit more than a few and your choice will be based on your interests. Look at these alternatives then do some research before deciding which to pick.
- The Corrections Museum on the site of the former Remand Prison, closed in 1990, is interesting if a little gruesome. Wax models being executed are among the exhibits.
- The Bangkokian Museum is a rural teak house containing traditional household items.
- Bangkok National Museum is in the Wang Na Palace Complex close to the Grand Palace has Thai art and artifacts with English descriptions to help tourists.
- The Royal Thai Air Force Museum with over 30 aircraft tells the story of the Thai Air Force. You will find it at the old Don Muang Airport.
- Erawan Museum’s main attraction is the huge copper three headed elephant at the entrance. It weighs 250 tonnes, with dimensions 130 feet by 100 feet.
Your photograph album after a visit to Bangkok is certain to be impressive. Take advice on the best camera for travelling if you are not a regular photographer. You will not regret that because of all the landmarks in Bangkok and the everyday sights that are worth remembering. Once you go through the above-mentioned list of best things to do in Bangkok Thailand, you will come to know what to do in Bangkok exactly.
Temples (wats) play an important historical and cultural role in Bangkok and your photographs are certain to include them. Likewise, Bangkok’s waterways have a role as well. The floating markets, cruises, and ferries simply to get around away from the traffic are all important aspects of life. Be patient because this busy city inevitably means that travel is slow but if you relax, that can be part of its charm. If you are looking for top things to do in Phuket then don’t forget to check our other travel guides.