Things to do in Bangkok – 14 Top Tourist Attractions to visit in Bangkok, Thailand
Things to do in Bangkok – 14 Top Tourist Attractions to visit in Bangkok! While the etymology of the word ‘Bangkok’ is not clear but its shortened native name of ‘Krung Thep’ has rightly coined this wonder ‘city of angels.’ The capital of Thailand is filled with dazzling shrines and vibrant city life.
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This city was at the centre of the political struggles which gripped Thailand in the 20th century. From the abolishment of the monarchy to the establishment of a constitutional rule and through several uprisings and coups. Bangkok has seen and felt it all. This history is steeped in its land; culture and architecture. However, Thailand is now among the most visited countries in the world and Bangkok is on top of the list of the most visited cities in the world. Below you’ll find why!
Things to do in Bangkok
1. The Grand Palace
Located in the heart of Bangkok, this beautiful palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and then Thailand) since 1782. Construction began in the 18th century and through successive reigns, new structures and buildings were added.
The Royal Chapel of Wat Phra Kaew (or the Temple of Emerald Buddha) is housed within the palace and is a guarded by walled cloisters on all 4 sides. Spread over 2,351,000 square feet, this is not something to be missed but make sure to dress modestly as sleeveless shirts or shorts are not allowed. Also, following Temple rules enter the complex barefooted.
2. Wat Pho
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is located south of The Grand Palace, on the Rattanakosin Island. This temple sits regally the first place of what is known as the highest grade first class Royal temples. Constructed by Rama I, this temple complex houses the 46 meters long reclining Buddha whose 3 meter high feet are inlaid with mother of pearl in 108 segments.
It also houses the largest collection of Buddha images in all of Thailand. Considered the earliest centre for public education in the country along with the school of Thai medicine, this illustrious temple with its marble inscriptions is in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme.
3. Wat Arun
The Temple of Dawn named after the Hindu God Aruna (personified as the radiant sun) is located on the Thonburi West Bank of the Chao Phraya River. And true to its name, the first light of the morning sun reflects off the surface of the temple with a flash of unparalleled brilliance.
Although the temple has been in existence since at least the 17th century, its most recognizable spires were not constructed till the 19th century. Its main feature is the Khmer style tower topped by a 7 pronged Trident and surrounded by four smaller prangs on all four sides and encrusted with seashells and porcelain.
4. Wat Traimit
Temple of the Golden Buddha: Housing the world’s largest gold Buddha statue which reaches 15 feet tall and is comprised of around 83% of pure gold is the reason why this temple, even though considered to be a rather modest temple by Thai standards, is so popular among visitors.
But the second floor or the temple which houses an interpretive centre tells the history of the Chinese community residing in Bangkok whereas the third floor reveals a museum that houses the history of the Golden Buddha itself. Bangkok’s central train station is near this temple and provides great transportation options if you want to make private tour arrangements to other areas via Thai railways.
5. Wat Suthat
A royal temple of the first grade, its construction began in 2350 BE by King Rama I and was completed in 2390 BE by King Rama III. A towering red giant swing stands at its entrance and it’s magnificent wall murals which detail the previous 24 incarnations of Buddha, as well as the hand-carved teakwood door panels, mesmerize visitors.
There are 28 Chinese pagodas at the base of the lower terrace which symbolize the 28 Buddhas who were born on earth. It is located East of the Royal Field, in the old city area.
6. Giant Swing
Constructed in 1784 by Rama I in front of the Devasathan Shrine, it was used to reenacting elements of the Hindu origin story where Brahma tested the stability of the new world by ordering Shiva to stand on a mountain while giant snakes tried to shake him to the ground.
In the ceremony, Thai men wear headdresses and launch themselves into the air while attempting to catch a bag of coins tied to the top of a 25 meters pole. The expected success of the men and the stability of the swing are supposed to represent the unshakable Shiva. But the ceremony was discontinued after several fatal accidents and some deaths in 1935.
7. Bangkok National Museum & Wang Na Palace
Located in the 4 Na Phra That, occupying the former palace of the vice King, one of the largest museum of South East Asia and the main branch of Thailand’s National Museums, features Thai art and history.
Opened in 1874 to just exhibit relics during the reign of King Rama IV’s rule by King Rama V, today this museum contains galleries which exhibit everything from the Neolithic times to regional Asian Buddhist Arts like Chinese Tang, Indian Gandhara, Vietnamese Cham and Cambodian Khmer Arts. It also houses King Ram Kham Khamhaeng’s inscription which was included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme Register in recognition of its world significance in 2003.
8. Chatuchak Market
Open since 1942, the largest weekend market of the world sells plants to pets and everything in-between. One distinctive landmark of the place is the clock tower which was built in 1987 to commemorate King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th birthday.
More than 15,000 stalls sit there which are divided into 27 sectors selling various commodities. You can reach this place using the BTS and MRT railway transport systems. If visitors are not in the mood for shopping then they can rest or picnic at the nearby Chatuchak Park.
9. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
The whole area of Bangkok is interwoven with a number of channels. These served both for drainage of swamps, but also for connection between towns, villages and individual houses. However, the town of Damnoen Saduak has one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area.
Located about 100 km southwest of Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is often considered the most famous floating market in the world. It consists of three smaller markets known as Ton Khem, Hia Kui, and Khun Phitak. The busiest time is from 7 am to 9 am in the mornings but is active until noon.
10. Khao San Road
Khaosan translated as ‘milled rice’ is a reminder of the times when this short (410 m) street in central Bangkok was a famous rice market in the city. But Khaosan road is now most famously known as a backpacker destination which offers cheap accommodation from 3-star hotels to a mattress in a box style places.
But it is also a travel base as major coaches’ leave for major tourist destinations daily. It now sells paintings, handicrafts, local fruits, clothes, a wide range of fake IDs and unlicensed CDs and DVDs- all useful backpacker items.
11. Jim Thompson House
Housing the art collection of an American Businessman and architect Jim Thompson this museum spans around 2023 meters of land. It features historical Buddhist statues, traditional Thai paintings made of cloth, wood, and paper which depict the life of Buddha as well as the legend of Vessantara Jataka.
But the collection is not limited to just Thailand as Jim also collected white and blue porcelain from China. It also contains other secular sets from Cambodia, Laos, and Burma. The whole complex consists of six traditional Thai style houses.
12. Lumpini Park
This 142-acre multi-purpose park offers open public space, playground, the artificial lake where visitors can rent boats and more. Cycling is also permitted here from 10:00 to 15:00. Visitors can look at the King Rama VI statue or perhaps engage in bird watching.
They can visit help out in the Home of Hope for the disabled children, visit the Lumpini Park library or youth centre. When hungry they can try out the Sri Thai Seen Food centre and then perhaps engage in the Western and Thai music festival on Sundays (January to April from 17:30 to 20:00). But one thing should be noted that smoking is banned here and dogs are not allowed.
13. Terminal 21
Located in Watthana district, this chain of complexes has two areas: the retail area containing 9 stories (it has the SF cinema city and Gourmet Market) and the hotel and residence area having 42 stories.
The retail has the floor divisions called the Caribbean, Rome, Paris, Tokyo, Istanbul, London, San Francisco City, San Francisco Pier and Hollywood. They are named as such since these specific floors are decorated according to the theme of the city it is named after.
14. Street Food Stalls
Street foods are ready to eat, quick staples and Bangkok’s Street food stalls are spread all over the city. They are world-famous since they contain spicy, savoury or sweet food at convenient places and cheap prices.
While touring the city, these will keep visitors full. Their Pad Thai, Hoy Tod, Crispy Chicken, Oyster omelettes, shrimps or grilled meats and not to be missed.
Touring Bangkok, visitors need to be wary of the prices vendors quote for their wares and be aware of their belongings. ATMs in Bangkok spit out the money first and card later, so tourists should keep that in mind. But overall, visitors will enjoy the city which has colour coded taxis and cleans mass transit. This city is not only rich in its architecture but also in its wildlife, food, and culture.