Explore Bangkok, Thailand

What to see in Bangkok, Thailand

People spotting

More than any other place in Thailand, Bangkok offers wonderful opportunities for just sitting and watching people go by. Here’s a partial checklist:

  • University student — Many of Thailand‘s universities continue to enforce a uniform, and what a uniform it is: for girls, it’s a sheer white blouse with a short black skirt, and the little shiny logo button on the blouse tells the cognoscenti which particular university she is attending. Boys wear a white dress shirt and black trousers.
  • Office lady — sharply clad in infinite variations of solid pastel shades.
  • Bargirl — mostly short and dark-skinned farm girls from the provinces, a bargirl can be spotted a mile away thanks to her pink hot pants and the kilo of gold around her neck. Often found in happy financial symbiosis with the sexpat.
  • Sexpat — Fifty-plus, bald, beer belly, stained shirt, love struck expression and a hairy arm wrapped around a girl too young to be his daughter. He’s found what he’s looking for.
  • Expat — A farang walking about purposefully in dress shirt and long trousers, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it’s 35°C outside. For extra credit, try to distinguish between the scruffier English teacher type and the jet-setting expense package type. Or try classifying them by the old joke about the three types of expat — missionaries, mercenaries and misfits.
  • Yuppie — Like every other big city, Bangkok boasts a coterie of young professional types who are hip, well-educated and relatively affluent. Similar to the Expat, they usually sport business attire and are likely to be hurried — except they probably know a shortcut, and they aren’t sweating so profusely.
  • Khao San Road vagabonds — braided hair, bead necklace, sarongs, shorts and floppy pants, either on their way to or just back from the beaches. Despite claims of being ‘travellers’, and consequently look down of others they deem to be mere ‘tourists’, become dazed and bewildered when torn apart from the familiar surroundings of Khao San Road.

Most of Bangkok’s sights are concentrated on the island of Rattanakosin, often referred to as the “Old City”. Out of Bangkok’s hundreds of temples, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun usually make up the top 3. The Grand Palace has an immense size, so expect to spend at least a full morning or afternoon there. Within the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple of Thailand. Unlike other temples, it is not one building, nor are there living spaces for monks. Instead, it is a collection of highly decorated holy buildings and monuments. One of its buildings houses the Emerald Buddha, and while you might not expect it from its size, it is the most sacred Buddha image of Thailand. Sadly the entrance fee is quite steep for what you get. There are basically only two buildings you can enter and the whole area is absolutely overcrowded. Huge loads of tourists everywhere, it feels like a zoo or Disneyland. It kind of ruins the experience.

Nearby is Wat Pho, home to the world’s largest reclining Buddha image and a famed massage school. There is an entrance Fee and you get a free water + you can refill your water bottles inside. The main structure is about 60-88 m high and it is surrounded by four smaller prangs. It is one of Thailand’s most picturesque temples, and is engraved on the inner part of all ten-baht coins. It is so recognizable that it even became the logo of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). If you look closely, you will see that it is beautifully decorated with colorful broken Chinese porcelain pieces. It is currently being renovated and the majority is covered in scaffolding. Climbing up is also prohibited due to the renovations. Heading back to Rattanakosin, there are many other major temples you could visit, including the Golden Mount, Wat Suthat and Wat Ratchanaddaram.

Don’t throw away the entry ticket of the Grand Palace, as it gives free entry to the Dusit Palace in Dusit. It is situated in a leafy, European-style area built by King Rama V to escape the heat of the Grand Palace. Its main structure is the Vimanmek Mansion, touted as the largest golden teakwood house in the world, but you could spend your whole day in the museums if you wish. There are many museums in Bangkok showing traditional Thai-style residences. Most visitors take a tour through Jim Thompson’s House, the CIA-operative’s mansion assembled by combining six traditional Thai-style houses, conveniently located near Siam Square. Ban Kamthieng in Sukhumvit, M.R. Kukrit’s Heritage Home in Silom and the Suan Pakkad Palace in Phahonyothin are not quite as impressive, but still make for a nice experience. Rattanakosin’s museums are mostly dedicated to history and culture, including the National Museum (about Thai history and archaeological remains), the Museum of Siam and the King Prajadhipok Museum. Bangkok has a small, but vocal art community, and you might want to visit the National Gallery or The Queen’s Gallery, or one of its numerous smaller galleries spread over the city. Siam Square features the recently opened Bangkok Art and Culture Centre which has temporary art exhibitions throughout year.

Lumphini Park in Silom is the largest park in central Bangkok, and a good way to escape the fumes. Backpackers around Khao San Road can head for Santichaiprakarn Park, a small but fun park along the Chao Phraya River with a breezy atmosphere, usually with locals juggling or practicing tricks. It is built around the 18th-century Phra Sumen Fort with a nice view on the modern Rama VIII cable-stayed bridge. Zoos and animal farms are some of the more popular tourist attractions in Bangkok, but before visiting, please be aware that animal welfare in Thailand is not strictly regulated. Poor living conditions of the animals and inadequate veterinary care are examples of the sad mistreatment of the animal population. You can’t go wrong at the Queen Saovabha Institute Snake Farm in Silom, as the staff takes good care of their snakes and they have a job of informing the public about the risks associated with them. Another nice family attraction is Siam Ocean World in Siam Square. It has a steep price tag, but at least you get to see the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia.

PAK NAM temple is located on Petch Kasem road. This place is quite peaceful because less people go there. Beside the temple, there is a big canal located for you to feed the fishes. And the Architecture here is also very nice and so amazing that the wall of this temple is neatly carved to describe about the history of the Buddhism and most of the parts of this temple are made up of teak woods.