Thailand’s capital is a bustling city crammed with sights and memorable Bangkok activities. Visit its opulent temples and palaces, dine on the best of spicy Thai cuisine and enjoy superlative shopping. Wherever you look you’ll find a multitude of new and exciting experiences.
Cultural Bangkok activities – glistening temples & palaces
Many of Bangkok’s top attractions are along the course of the Chao Phraya River in the centre of the city. Wat Pho is a spectacular temple that houses an impressive 45 meters long reclining Buddha. The lavish Wat Phra Keow temple complex has magnificent towers and golden chedi spires. It’s regarded as the most sacred temple in Thailand and houses the Emerald Buddha, a jade and gold statue believed to be the protector of the Thai kingdom. Wat Phra Keow adjoins Bangkok’s Grand Palace, which was the former residence of the king. Not to mention Wat Arun with its seventy-metre shell and porcelain encrusted tower.
Note that Thailand’s sacred temples and royal buildings have a dress code. Men must wear long trousers and sleeved shirts and women must don long skirts or a sarong. The major temples rent appropriate clothing to visitors who arrive unprepared.
The Dusit district is a little further up the river and includes the Dusit Zoo and the current royal palace. Within the precinct, the luxurious Vimanmek Mansion is a former palace which is now a museum of Thai culture and heritage. In contrast to its traditional teak architecture, the nearby Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a classically grand European style building.
The water bus on the Chao Phraya River is an inexpensive way to travel between many of the city’s major attractions. It’s also a welcome and cool reprieve from the hectic traffic. An evening cruise is particularly enjoyable at the end of a full day of Bangkok activities.
Jim Thompson House in central Bangkok was the former home of the American businessman, architect and silk entrepreneur. The traditional Thai building is now a major tourist attraction as a museum and art gallery. Thompson had six 19th century houses dismantled, shipped to Bangkok and reassembled to create it.
You’ll find street vendors on literally every street in Bangkok. Plus, the huge Chatuchak market in the city’s north has about 15,000 stalls selling everything from clothes to handcrafts. It’s one of the best known, however, there are many markets dotted all over the city. Certainly, the range of items for sale is huge, with masses of bargains. Many markets open at night, like the Ratchada market pictured above. Find it behind the Cultural Centre MRT Underground Station. Alternatively, head for the giant shopping centres like MBK and Central World if you prefer authentic branded goods and air conditioning.
Finally, there’s food, food everywhere in Thailand. You can eat just as well at street stalls as you can at restaurants for a fraction of the price. Bangkok is no exception. Seek out the places Thais themselves gravitate to for the best. Certainly, the areas of Saphan Thaksin and Bang Rak heading along Charoen Krung Road from the BTS Station are a street food institution. Or try the area around Victory Monument. Otherwise, splash out on air-conditioned ambience at Issaya Siamese Club.