Chao Phraya river

Chao Phraya river

Street food

Street food

Bangkok, known to the Thais as “Krungthep”, which means the City of Angels, was established in 1782 by King Rama I as capital of Siam. Over the past two centuries, it has developed into a great metropolis with a population of over eight million. Like other modern cities in the world, Bangkok boasts lots of massive buildings, numerous luxurious hotels, shopping centres, and a modern international airport. But Bangkok has also retained its traditional charm. It is a mixture of East and West, the ancient and the modern. Its surface has taken on the look of the present time, while underneath the old ways are much alive in Thais’ everyday life. So, despite its modernization, Bangkok is still best suited for a glimpse of the traditional arts, architecture, religion, and other aspects of the culture of the Thai people.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

This is the most famous place that is a must for all tourists. It is a large compound located near Sanam Luang in the very heart of Bangkok. The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha were built after King Rama I ascended the throne as the founder of the Chakri Dynasty on 6 April 1782 and have undergone several repairs and renovations.
The Grand Palace consists of several buildings with different styles of architecture. Wat Phra Kaeo is renowned as the most beautiful and important Buddhist temple in Thailand. It houses Phra Kaeo Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the most highly revered Buddha image carved from a single block of fine jade.

Scattered in the temple grounds are numerous interesting sculptures of artistic value, including the fanciful animals in mythology, the fierce-looking giants standing guard at the gates, the six pairs of Cambodian-style bronze lions and the stone figures from China.
On the inside walls of the temple’s compound, there are extensive mural paintings depicting scenes from the famous epic “Ramayana”. It is the longest wall painting in the world as well as one of the Unseen Bangkoks. A distinctive characteristic of this temple is that there are no monks living in it like other temples.

Among the four groups of palaces, the Chakri Maha Prasat is the largest and most famous. Erected by King Rama V in 1882 as his own residence, the 3-storey building is a mixture of Thai and Western architecture. The top part is pure Thai with tapering spires and tiered sloping roofs, and the lower parts, designed by a British architect, are in the Imperial Victorian style.

Boromphiman Hall This French-inspired structure was built by King Rama V for Crown Prince Vajiravudh as his residence. It is now used to accommodate visiting foreign heads of state.

Note: Proper dress is required. Women visitors must wear long pants or long skirts. Men in short pants are not allowed to enter the temple. Photography inside the main temple is forbidden.

City Pillar Shrine (San Lak Muang) Sanamchai Road 

Located across the street from the eastern wall of Wat Phra Kaeo to the southeast of Sanam Luang, this shrine contains a wooden pillar erected by King Rama I in 1782 to represent the founding of the capital. The spirit of the pillar is considered the city’s guardian deity to whom hundreds of Thai worshippers daily come to pay homage and offer prayers.
Thai classical dance performances are given many times daily from 08:30 until 15:30 hrs. (16:00 for Sunday).
Vimanmek Mansion Ratchawithi Road

Located in the Dusit Palace area behind the old National Assembly Building, this three-storey European style mansion is the biggest golden teakwood building in the world. It was originally built in 1868 by command of King Rama V as a summer house on the island of Ko Si Chang off Chon Buri province. It was moved to Dusit Palace compound in 1901 and used as a royal residence.

After having been deserted for decades, it was renovated by order of H.M. Queen Sirikit in 1982 and opened to the public as the private museum of King Rama V with 31 exhibition rooms in total. Some rooms such as the bedrooms, the throne room and the bathrooms, are kept in the original condition, while the others are used to display art works.
The collection consists mostly of photographs of royalty and other personages. Also displayed are antique furniture, elegant Thai ceramics, precious china, European porcelain, splendid gift items from abroad and many other invaluable memorabilia.
There are several other buildings in the compound that are worth visiting. Most of them display a variety of artifacts and precious art objects. Some interesting ones are:

Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall

Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall Built in a harmonious Euro-Thai style, this throne hall is a one-storey building decorated with intricate fretwork known as the floral design, coloured glass and stucco motifs on the gable. It is now used as a museum exhibiting art works and handicrafts of great value, especially those of the SUPPORT Foundation under the royal patronage of HM the Queen.
Suan Farang Kangsai Residential Hall It was originally the residence of Princess Dara Rasmi, a royal consort of King Chulalongkorn. It now displays oil paintings by members of the royal family and various royal paraphernalia, such as an insignia of the king, royal sedan chairs and the Grand Butsabok or movable throne.

Suan Hong Residential Hall

Suan Hong Residential Hall This two-storey building was the residence of Queen Sawang Wattana from 1902-1910. Now it houses collections of pictures of royal ceremonies. Moreover, it also houses photographs of activities of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Suan Bua Residential Hall

Suan Bua Residential Hall This building was formerly the residence of HH Princess Saisavali Bhiromya, the royal consort of King Rama V. Today, it exhibits the precious art objects which were presented to His Majesty the King on his birthday and other occasions.

Suan Si Rue-du Residential Hall

Suan Si Rue-du Residential Hall This building was originally the residence of HM Queen Saovabha, and HRH Princess Valaya Alongkorn, HM King Bhumibol’s aunt. Presently it displays gifts and art objects presented to His Majesty King Bhumibol on the auspicious occasion of the 50th anniversary of his accession to the throne in 1996.

The Royal Carriage Museum contains 23 royal horse-drawn carriages mostly imported from Europe in the reign of King Rama V.
Besides; cultural shows are presented in the mansion compound every day at 10.30 and 14.00 hrs. A tram service is also available at a fee of 50 baht per person. For more details, contact Tel. 0 2628 6300.

Note: Proper dress is required. Women visitors must wear long skirts or long pants. Men in short pants are not allowed to enter.

National Museum Na Phrathat Road 

Established in 1926 in the reign of King Rama VII, it is located within walking distance of the Grand Palace next to Thammasat University, this is the largest and most comprehensive museum in Southeast Asia. It contains an 18th century palace and a group of well-designed buildings, housing Thailand’s artistic treasures from prehistoric to contemporary.
The National Museum houses three permanent exhibition galleries as follows:
1. The Thai History Gallery
2. The Archaeological & Art History Collections
3. The Decorative Arts & Ethnological Collections

Entrance to the National Museum 

Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon or Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Chetuphon Road

Located next to the Grand Palace on the south side, this is the oldest (built in 1688) and biggest temple with the largest number of pagodas (total 95) and largest collection of Buddha images (total 394) in the city. Wat Pho is well known for its huge Reclining Buddha, 46 m long and 15 m high. The most striking part of the statue is its soles, which are decorated with 108 auspicious patterns inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Besides, it was the first open university of Thailand which used to offer courses in several branches of knowledge like literature, archaeology, astrology and medicine.

Nowadays Wat Pho is famous among foreign visitors for its Thai Traditional Massage School, which offers three kinds of massage services namely, body massage, body massage with herbs, and foot massage. The massage service opens daily from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. For learning courses, there are three courses, i.e. general Thai massage, therapeutic and healing massage and foot massage.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) Arun Amarin Road 

Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River with Arun Amarin Road at its back, it can be reached by boat from Tha Chang Pier near Wat Phra Kaeo or Tha Tian Pier near Wat Pho. Constructed in the 17th century, it is attractive in its striking prangs (a kind of pagoda) which are decorated with millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain. Its central prang, at a height of 82 metres (20-storey building) is the tallest prang of Thailand. Visitors can climb up to a high level to have a good view of the Chao Phraya River and the nearby surroundings. Anyway, the most beautiful view of it is from the east bank of the river at sunset.

Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)

Si Ayutthaya Road near Chitralada Palace
Wat Benchamabophit is one of the most modern works of Thai religious architecture where the relics of King Rama V are enshrined.

Graceful and tranquil, it is famous for its main chapel built in white Cararra Italian marble to house a replica of Thailand’s most beautiful Buddha image, Phra Phutthachinnarat. The courtyard behind the chapel exhibits 53 Buddha images representing famous images and styles from all over Thailand and Asia.

Samutprakan Crocodile Farm & Zoo Samut Prakan, 25 km from Bangkok

Here is the world’s largest crocodile farm with over 60,000 crocs in stock. Visitors can also view a crocodile wrestling show and elephant shows which are presented several times daily. Besides, there is a modest sizedzoo with some rare animals such as tigers, chimpanzees, lions, leopards, pythons, camels, etc.

Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo Km 30 of Phetkasem Highway

The zoo boasts an elephant theme show which includes elephants training by mahouts, elephants at work, dancing, playing football and scenes of ancient elephant-back battle. The zoo also includes a crocodile farm with more than 10,000 crocodiles, where daily crocodile wrestling shows are held.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market  

For those who want to be amid the peaceful atmosphere and observe the traditional ways of life by the water, Bangkok has quite a lot to offer. The easiest way is taking a Chao Phraya River express boat. There are also several canal routes by long-tail boat which offer more charming scenery with stops at old temples which are scattered along all canals.

There are several floating markets on various canals in Bangkok and other nearby provinces, of which the most well-known ones are: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

This large and popular floating market is about 80 km southwest of Bangkok in Ratchaburi province. Photos of this vibrant market featuring many small boats laden with colourful fruits and vegetables and paddled by Thai women wearing bamboo hats, are among the most often published in travel magazines and brochures of Thailand.

The Damnoen Saduak canal was ordered to be built in 1866 by King Rama IV of the Chakri Dynasty to facilitate waterborne travels between Ratchaburi and Samutsakhon Provinces. It was finished and opened to the public in 1868.

Nowadays, apart from providing transportation, Damnoen Saduak canal also provides local farmers with adequate water for agricultural purposes. A number of canals were dug to connect with it by local peasants to get water to splatter their land. As the excellent quality soil along the canal is very fertile, the area has a high potential for producing various kinds of fruits and vegetables.

The Floating Market is routinely crowded with hundreds of vendors and purchasers floating in their small rowing boats selling and buying agricultural products and local food, which are mostly brought from their own nearby orchards. Therefore, it is a very attractive place for tourists to see this old style and traditional way of selling and buying goods.

Around this area, boat trip services are available for sightseeing along smaller canals branching off from the Damnoen Saduak canal. Visitors can observe Thai traditional houses and the way they live as well as tasting exotic fruits, local food and refreshing drinks along the waterway.

There are bus services to Damnoen Saduak from the Southern Bus Terminal on Borommarat Chachonnani Road starting at 6 a.m. You’d better get there as early in the morning as possible to escape a crowd of visitors.

Royal Barges Museum On Bangkok Noi Canal near Arun Amarin Bridge

The museum can be reached by boat from Tha Chang Pier near the Grand Palace. It houses several royal barges used in Royal ceremonial processions on the river.
The most beautiful and important barge is the Suphannahong, the king’s personal barge, which was built in 1911 in the reign of King Rama VI. It is 44.7 metres long and 3.1 metres wide, being the largest and most elaborate dugout in the world. The name, meaning “golden hongsa”, came from the bow of the barge carved into the shape of the head of a mythical bird called hongsa.

Another important barge is Narayana Songsuban, the newest royal vessel constructed for King Rama IX. Its bow was carved in the shape of the Hindu God Narayana riding the Garuda.

Snake Farm (Pasteur Institute)  

Located at the corner of Henri Dunant Road and Rama IV Road, the Snake Farm is the second oldest in the world. A foreigner who realized the dangers of snakes’ venom established it in 1923. Since imported serum was no match for serum produced by Thai poisonous snakes, this snake farm was purposely built to extract serum from their venom.

At present, the farm is also used for providing knowledge about venom for interested people and medical students, as well as raising non-poisonous snakes, which are beneficial to our ecosystem like the Indochinese rat snake, and the copperhead racer, which is kept for educational purposes.

After refurbishing, the Farm now features multimedia facilities that offer exhibitions such as snakes’ life cycle and their evolution. On weekdays, the extraction of venom is demonstrated at 11.00 hrs. To feel a shiver of excitement, let’s watch a daily show between an experienced handler and deadly reptiles at 14.30 hrs.

In addition, the Farm provides activities for kids such as how to do the first-aid for a snakebite victim and a quiz on snakes’ venom.

Bangkok’s activities


Thailand offers truly outstanding golf facilities. Wherever you are in the country, it is not difficult to find a golf course nearby. In Bangkok, most courses are located on the outskirts of the city where there is more open space. There are also a number of fine and attractive golf courses in the adjoining provinces, especially in Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani. Besides clubhouses, some modern golf clubs even provide swimming pools, tennis courts and fitness centres. Apart from enchanting locations, modern courses, first-class service, and friendly caddies, a main advantage of playing golf in Thailand is the low green fees and caddy fees when compared to those in the Western countries. These are reason why Thailand was voted “Best Golf Destination in Asia” by Asian Golf Monthly’s readers in 2006.

Muay Thai (Thai Kick Boxing)

Muay Thai or Thai Kick Boxing is a world famous martial art. It is considered by many to be the most violent and exciting sports. The Muay Thai boxer wears gloves and shorts, usually in red and blue, as international boxers do with additional armbands and a headband, which has been blessed by his teacher.

Compared with international boxing, Muay Thai has a distinctive feature. In Thai boxing, each part of the body such as fists, feet, knees, and elbows is allowed to be used as a weapon to overcome the competitor. Moreover, its combination of dancing and fighting is unique in style.

Before the match begins, each competitor will perform a dance, or what they call “Wai Kru”, accompanied by traditional Thai music. Reasons for doing the performance are to pay homage to gods and holy spirits for protecting, as well as to pay respect to their instructors and opponent. A bout of Thai boxing consists of 5 rounds, which lasts a total of 23 minutes. It takes 3 minutes to fight a round with a 2 minutes break between rounds.

Thai boxing is popular among Thais and foreigners, so the boxing stadiums, which are all over the country, are always crowded. The most well known stadiums, Lumpini and Ratchadamnoen, are in Bangkok. Similarly, Muay Thai training camps are also available throughout the country, especially in tourist-attracting cities like Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Jogging & Aerobics

These two activities can be done easily in parks scattered around Bangkok. You can find energetic aerobics groups in a park around 5-6 p.m. every day. Some major parks in Bangkok are as:
– Lumphini Park on Rama IV Road in the Silom area
– Benchasiri Park (the Queen’s Park) on Sukhumwit Road
– Rommaninat Park on Siriphong Road, near the Giant Swing
– Saranrom Park on Thaiwang Road, near the Grand Palace and Wat Pho
– Chatuchak Park next to Chatuchak Weekend Market


In Lumphini Park, Bangkok’s most popular park, there is a big artificial lake in the centre which is perfect for boating. Boats are available for rent at very reasonable rates. There are similar facilities in Dusit Zoo.


For those who love to pamper themselves by the spa therapies, there are a good number of spas in Bangkok, many of them attached to first-class hotels.

These spas are equipped with hi-tech spa equipment and offer a full range of spa therapies including aromatherapy, herbal therapy, massages, facial and body treatments.

Sports Centres

Generally, swimming pools and fitness centres are provided in top-grade hotels. There are also a good number of sports clubs and fitness centres elsewhere around Bangkok, especially in business and tourist districts like Silom, Sukhumwit, etc.


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