Bangkok is the Orient's most cosmopolitan city and has attractions to stimulate even the most jaded travellers. Created as the Thai capital in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, Bangkok is a national treasure house and Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic centre.
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo (Tel : 222 0094, 222 6889, 224 3273, 222 2208) This city landmark should be the first place on any visitor's itinerary. It is a huge compound on Na Phra Lan Road near Pramane Ground which is surrounded by high white walls and occupies an area of about a square mile. The palace, begun in 1782, consists of several buildings; with highly decorated architectural details. The Royal chapel, Wat Phra Kaeo, which is in the same compound, houses the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred Buddha image in Thailand. Photography inside the building housing the Emerald Buddha is forbidden. The complex is open daily from 8.30 a.m.- 3.30 p.m. Admission fee is 125 baht (including tickets to The Coin Pavillion & Phra Thi Nanl Vimanmek & Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall). Proper dress is essential.
Phra Thi Nang Vimanmek and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall Vimanmek Palace is located behind Bangkok's National Assembly and is the world's largest building made entirely of golden teak. The three storey wooden palace has 81 rooms, halls, excluding terraces and verandahs. Near the entrance to Vimanmek Palace is the carriage museum where 13 royal horse-drawn carriages once used by the reign of King Rama V are collected. The collection is so splendid and regarded as a great historical value.
Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall (The Support Museum), a one storey teak building built in the reign of King Rama V, is situated on the east wing of Vimanmek Throne Hall. Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall is now Thailand's first handicraft museum where Her Majesty The Queen collects handicraft masterpieces created by members of Support Foundation. In the museum, visitors find such handicrafts as niellowares Thai silk with various unique designs, "Lipao" basketry like beautiful trays, handbags studded with jewels in different designs such as green beetle. The compound is open daily from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m. Admission fee is 50 baht per person. Free guide is available (Tel. 2818166, 2816880, 281 1569, 281 1518, 280 5926)
The National Museum Tel : 2241333, 2241396 Within walking distance of the Grand Palace, across the Pramane Ground, is one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in Southeast Asia. The National Museum houses over one thousnad artifacts ranging from neolithic times to the present Bangkok period. The complex, also begun in 1782, consists of several old but beautiful buildings of colourful Thai architectural design. The museum is open every day, except Mondays, Tuesdays and public holidays from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m. Admission fee is 20 Baht.
The National Theatre Thailand's National Theatre is on Na Phra Lan Road next to The National Museum. Thai Classical dramas and other types of international arts are periodically staged here. Current programmes can be checked at the theatre (Tel. 2241342) on weekdays between 8.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. Special exhibition shows of Thai classical dancing and music are held on the last Friday and Saturday of each month. Please contact the theatre for details.
Sanam Luang This huge public ground in front of the Grand Palace used to be the place where the Weekend Market, now moved to Suan Chatuchak on Phahonyothin Road, was held. Special activities or ceremonies such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May and the New Year Festival also take place here. At the northern part of Sanam Luang, opposite the Royal Hotel, is a small statue placed in small white pavillion. The Goddess of the Earth was built during King Chulalongkorn's reign (1868-1910)to provide public drinking water.
The City Pillar Shrine Located at the southeast corner of Sanam Luang, this graceful, temple-like structure houses "Lak Muang" a stone pillar placed there by King Rama I, the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, as the foundation stone for his new capital city of Bangkok. Lak Muang is believed by many people to have the power of granting wishes.
Wat Pho (Tel : (02) 222 0933) This world famous temple is located right next to the Grand Palace, on the south side. It is one of Bangkok's oldest and largest temples. Wat Pho was built by King Rama I nearly 200 years ago and houses the gigantic gold-plated Reclining Buddha. This unique image is 46 metres in length and 15 metres high with beautifully inlaid mother-of soles. Wat Pho is also regarded as the first centre of public education and is sometimes called "Thailand's First University". The building housing the Reclining Buddha is open daily from 8.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m. Admission fee is 20 Baht.
Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) (Tel :(02) 465 5640) Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun can be reached either by Arun Amarin Road or by crossing the river by boat from Tha Tien Pier,near Wat Pho. The most attractive structure in this temple is the 79-metre-high pagoda or "Phra Prang". Wat Arun was restored during the brief Thonburi period to be the Royal Chapel of King Taksin. Despite its name "Temple of the Dawn", the most beautiful view of it is from the Bangkok side of the river at sunset. Admission fee is 10 Baht.
Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) At the end of Yaowarat Road, near Bangkok's Hualamphong Railway Station, is a temple situated on Traimit Road. This temple is known for its famous Golden Buddha, constructed during the Sukhothai period. The image, of solid gold, is three meters high and weighs five and a half tons. The building holding this image is open to the public everyday from 9.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m.
Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple) Tel :281 2501 The Marble Temple is on Si Ayutthaya Road near Chitralada Palace. The temple is well-known because its main building was constructed during the reign of King Rama V. The best time to visit this temple is early in the morning when Buddhist monks are chanting inside the chapel. The interior of the main building is magnificently decorated with cross beams of lacquer and gold. A large collection of Bronze Buddhas lines the walls ofthe spacious, inner courtyard. The main building is open to visitors until 5.00 p.m. There is an admission charge of 10 Baht.
Wat Suthat (The Giant Swing) Located on Bamrung Muang Road, this temple took 27 years to build. It is famous for the excellent murals in the main building from the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851). The viharn should be seen for its collection of gilded Buddha images. The temple complex is open daily from 9.00 a.m.-5.00 p.m. In front of the temple is the famous Giant Swing. Many shops surrounding Wat Suthat stock a very comprehensive range of Buddhist ecclesiastic supplies.
Wat Sa Ket (The Golden Mount) War Sa Ket or the Golden Mount, was built during the reign of King Rama I (1782-1800). The golden chedi houses relics of Lord Buddha, and affords visitors a panoramic view of Bangkok.
Wat Indravihan Located in Bangkhunphrom area on Wisutkrasat Road, Wat Indravihan is well-known for a huge standing Buddha image. This image of "Buddhasiariyametriya", is 32 metres tall(108.99 feet) and 10 metres and 24 inches wide (40.09 feet) his Buddhist monument was built during the reign of King Rama IV. The top of the Buddha image contains a relic of Lord Buddha brought from Sri Lanka. The temple is open to the public every day. There is no admission fee.
Wat Thammamongkhon Located on Sukhumvit Soi 101, this is the highest pagoda in Bangkok. The pagoda, 94.78 metres high, has 14 storeys and an elevator to enable visitors, particularly elderly people, to go to the top of the building. Relics and a hair of the Lord Buddha, kept in the pagoda, were presented by the Supreme Patriach of Bangladesh.
Wat Ratchanatdaram Located on Thanon Mahachai. This royal temple was built in the reign of King Rama VI in 1846. Loha Prasat (Metal Palace), one of its tourist attractions, standing on its 36 meters high with 37 surrounding spires is the only one of its kind left in the world. Situated in the nearby area area royal pavilion for a guest welcome and the memorial statue of King Rama III.
Wat Bowonniwet The building is located on Phra Sumen Road, in Banglumphu area. Built in 1829, it is the shrine-hall of Phra Phutthachinasri, which was molded in about 1357. Wat Bowonniwet is one of the most important temples of Bangkok, whose one-time chief abbot was King Rama IV before he asscended the throne. Other Chakri Kings who had resided here during their monkhood include King Rama VI and King Rama VII, as well as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic) This is a very old temple on Na Phrathat Road between Silpakorn University and Thammasat University. The back of the temple faces the Pramane Ground, or Sanam Luang. Wat Mahathat was built during the reign of King Rama I and houses Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, one of the two highest seats of Buddhist learning in the country. Those interested in Buddhist meditation should visit Section 5, which is the head-quarters of Vipassana (insight) meditation inThailand. Information and practice in English can usually be arranged according to the availability of suitable monks. The temple complex is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. On Buddhist holy days, there is a thriving open air market in the grounds and a comprehensive selection of traditional Thai medicines, usually in plant or root form, for sale.
The Shed of the Royal Barges (Tel : 424 0004) This shed, where several royal barges are displayed, is located on Khlong Bangkok Noi off the Chao Phraya River not far from Phra Pin Klao Bridge. These barges were used on Royal and government occasions and formerly served war vessels. The most beautiful and well-known barge is "Suphanahong" used by the King only when he made his Royal river procession for the Kathin ceremony, a Buddhist tradition of offering robes to monks, usually during October or November. The Royal barges proceeded during the Rattanakosin Bicentennial celebrations. The unique design and decorative details of each barge should be of great interest to all visitors. The shed is open to the public every day from 8.30 a.m.- 4.30 p.m. There is an admission fee of 10 Baht.
Jim Thompson's Thai House (Tel : 215 0122) This remarkable Thai-style house, was the work of Mr. Jim Thompson, an American who came to Thailand at the end of the Second World War and revived the Thai Silk industry. His later disappearance in the Malaysian jungles remains a mystery to this day. The house, now a museum, is at the end of Soi Kasemsan 2 opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road. On permanent display are Mr.Thompson's collection of Asian artifacts, such as blue-white China ware, Cambodian stone figures, benjarong ( a multi-coloured porcelain made in China), wooden Burmese statues and many other fabulous antiques. Jim Thompson's House is open from Monday to Saturday 9.00 a.m.- 4.30 p.m. Admission costs 100 baht. Volunteer guides explain the collection to visitors.
Suan Pakkad Palace (Tel : 245 4934) On Si Ayutthaya Road not far from the intersection of Phaya Thai Road, used to be the residence of princess Chumbhol of Nagara Svarga, one of Thailand's leading art collector. There is a complex of five traditional Thai Houses, overlooking a beautifully kept garden. They house a large collection of Asian art and antiques. One building exhibits a collection of seashells, mineral crystal and painted pottery from Ban Chiang. Suan Pakkad Palace is open everyday except Sunday from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m. There is an admission fee of 80 Baht.
Pasteur Institute (Snake Farm) This interesting spot is located at the corner of Henri Dunant Road and Rama IV Road west of Chulalongkorn Hospital. It is a section of the Thai Red Cross, where one can have cholera, smallpox and typhoid inoculations as well as rabies treatment. The institute has become a popular tourist attraction because of its large collection of live poisonous snakes. The Snake Farm is open to the public every day between 8.30 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. on weekdays and 8.30 a.m.-12.00 p.m. on public holidays. The extraction of venom from the snakes is demonstrated daily at 10.30 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. on weekdays and at 10.30 a.m. on public holidays. Admission fee is 70 baht. For further details please call 252 0161-4.
Labour Museum Located near Makkasan Railway Station, Nikhom-Makkasan Road, Phayathai. Here, labour history of Thailand from the past to present is put on exhibition. The museum is open daily with no admission fee during 10.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m. except for Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays.
Philatelic Museum The museum is on 1st floor of the Metropolitan Postal Bureau (North) behind Sam Sen Ni Post Office. Open daily from Tuesday to Sunday during 9.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m. No admission fee. Thai and foreign stamps of the old ages are on display. The collections of postbooks in both Thai and foreign languages are available at the library. Stamps and accessories for stamp collection are on sale. For more information, please contact tel.271-2439, 573-0099 ext. 2637.
Ban Kamthieng (Tel : 258 3491, 258 3444, 260 2830-32) Ban Kamthieng is an old house, originally constructed in Chiang Mai more than 200 years ago and donated to the Siam society by its owners and reconstructed in Bangkok. A very large variety of Thai flora and fauna can be seen in the garden of the house, which is at 131 Soi Asok (Soi 21) Sukhumvit Road. Also on display are items used daily by Thai farmers and fishermen. It is open daily from 9.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m. An admission fee of 50 baht is charged to help maintain the property and grounds.
Museum of Imaging Technology The first camera and photograph museum to be established in Thailand and Asia, is located at the same building as the Department of Photographic Science and Printing Technology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University. Historic photographs and imaging equipment as well as its technological evolution are collected and displayed in the form of camera and imaging technology museum. Modern photographic arts and techniques as well as advanced technology of the dimensional photographs, electronic photography, and printing technology are also exhibited. The museum is open on Saturday between 10.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m. Admission fee is Baht 100 each. It is also open on weekdays for group visitors making advance contact. Tel. 251 1913, 2541748.
Hall of Railways Heritage It is located to the North of Chatuchak Park near a multi-purposes parking lot, is where railway information is collected for publicity. Steam engines, train models, and miniature trains of various sizes are exhibited there along with photographs and paintings depicting development of world railway systems and several other related objects. The Hall of Railways Heritage is open every Sunday between 5.00-12.00 a.m. Admission is free. For more information, please contact the Thai Rail Fan Club. Tel. 243 2037-9.
Prasart Museum It is located at 9 Soi Krungtepkreetha 4, Si Nakharin Road, Phra Khanong, houses a vast collection of artifacts from pre-historic through Rattanakosin periods. Various styles of architecture, for example, a baroque building, a smaller version of the real Palace in Bangkok National Museum, and an imitation of Ho Phra of Wat Yai Suwannaram, are scattered within the museum complex. Prasart Museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during 10.00 a.m - 3.00 p.m. Admission fee is Baht 300 each (snack and beverage included). It is also open on weekdays for group visitors. Please make advance contact at Tel. 379 3601, 379 3607, 253 9772.
Bangkok Planetarium & Scientific Museum The scientific museum situated next to the Eastern Bus Terminal(Ekamai) is an exhibition center on scientific knowledge and astronomy. Open daily, except Monday and national holidays, from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m. Admission fee is 10 Baht. At the planetarium, daily performances on the solar system are presented for the public from Tuesday to Sunday. Open from 8.30 a.m.2.30 p.m. Admission fee is 10 Baht. For further information, please contact tel. 392 5952, 390 2301.
Narayanaphand (Tel : 252 4670-9, 255 4328-9) This is a handicraft centre, under government supervision, located on Ratchadamri Rd. Visitors may inspect and buy selections of handicrafts from all parts of the country. Items available include Thai silk, ceramics, wood carvings, lacquerware, bronze objects and Khon masks. The store is open daily from 10.00 a.m. until 8.00 p.m.
Bangkok Dolls & Museum (Tel : 245 3008) All kinds of Thai dolls are made in this factory which is on Soi Ratchataphan (Soi Mo Leng) off Ratchaprarop Road, in the Pratunam area. It is open to visitors, who may inspect and buy dolls, every day except Sundays and public holidays from 8.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m.
China Town Bangkok's China Town is an old business center covering a large area around Yaowarat Road and Charoen Krung Road(New Road). There are many small streets and alleys full of shops selling all types of goods. The area is always lively, and market stalls abound. It has been the main centre for trading by the Chinese since they were moved from their old site some 200 years ago to make way for the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha complex.
Bang Lamphu A shopping area once frequent solely by local people has become a popular place for tourists. This area offers various inexpensive items, especially ready made clothes, handbags, men's and lady's shoes, cosmetics and curios. Bargaining is recommended.
Weekend Market at Chatuchak Park This large open public ground covers approximately 35 acres opposite the Northern Bus Station on Phahonyothin Road. Known as Suan Chatuchak, it hosts the popular Weekend Market where people buy and sell a thousand local products. Items range from exotic fresh fruits, vegetables, handicrafts, dress materials, clothing, shoes, toys, domestic utensils and pets. There is a particularly fine section for' plants. The Weekend Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 7.00 a.m. -6.00 p.m.
Dusit Zoo (Tel : 281 2000, 281 1039) Located near Vimanmek Palace, Dusit Zoo is opened to the public everyday from 8.00 A.M.- 6.00 P.M. Tropical animals to be found include great grey kangaroos, Sumatran rhinoceros, Siamese crocodiles, gaurs, lesser mouse deer, American bisons, etc. Admission fee is 20 baht.
Siam Water Park Siam Water Park is merely a 30-minute drive from the Lat Phrao flyover, and is located in suburban Amphoe Minburi. The park features an extensive man-made sea with artificial surf, whirlpools, fountains and waterfalls, and towering water slides amid carefully landscaped gardens. Attractions include children's playgrounds, aviaries, an open zoo and botanical gardens. The complex is open daily from 10.00 a.m.to 6.00 p.m. (weekdays) and 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. (weekends). Admission fee is 200 baht for adults and 150 baht for children. Bus service: No. 26 & 27 from Victory Monument. (Tel :517 0075-9).
Safari World It is located at 99 Ramindra 1, Min Buri, covers an area of some 430 rai and is divided into 2 parts. The first, the Safari Park, houses a large variety of animals like zebra, deers, giraffe, birds, tigers, lion, hears, etc. in natural habitat. Visitors can drive their own cars or have a good look from one of the Safari World's air-conditioned coaches. The second, the Marine Park, exhibits marine and some rare animals. Visitors can enjoy performances by trained animals like dolphins, birds, seals, and monkeys. Restaurants and game shops are also scattered within the area and tram service is provided for those wishing to have a look around. Safari World is open daily between 9.00 a.m.-4.30 p.m. Admission fee is 400 baht for adults and 300 baht for children. For more information please call 518 1000-19 Bus services: No. 26 from Victory Monument goes to Minburi, from where a mini-bus service serves Safari World.