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What to do in Bangkok – Top Attractions

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Asian culture and travel meet together in harmony in Thailand’s capital city: Bangkok.

Bangkok is a delicious mix of old and new. Rich in tradition, while on the cutting edge of the technological revolution, Bangkok is a city with a plethora of sites that aren’t to be missed. For the ultimate intermingling of old and new, ride in the Sky train (rot fai fah) and visit any of the three most famous temples of Bangkok: The Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun.

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If you’re traveling to Bangkok for the first time, you may want to print out our overview of the top attractions in Bangkok:

The Grand Palace

In the center, the heart of Bangkok, see the Grand Palace, also called the “Old City” and Wat Phra Kaew.

Grand Palace in Bangkok

Grand Palace in Bangkok © by swifant

The palace has been the home of the Kings of Siam (and eventually Thailand) from 1782 to 1925. The present reigning authority, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, currently resides at Chitralada Palace; however the Grand Palace is used often for many official events every year.

After your visit, keep your entry ticket to the Grand Palace, as it gives free entry to the Dusit Palace, another beautiful historical landmark. For architecture lovers, Dusit palace is not to be missed. Like most royal Thai palaces before it, Dusit Palace is divided into three areas, the outer, middle and inner courts. However, compared to the Grand Palace, the lay-out is quite different; in an attempt to combine nature and practical architecture, sections of the courts have been divided by canals and gardens, as opposed to industrial walls.

The temple of Wat Arun

Get out your cameras if you’re into getting post-card shots! The temple of Wat Arun, is the most photographed site in Bangkok, and has given notoriety to the city.

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun © by DyegO siLaK

The temple is made of tiny pieces of glass and porcelain. “The temple of Dawn” built by King Rama II in the noble Khmer style, dates back to the Khmer empire from 802AD to 1431AD. Be sure to allocate a sizable amount of your time to visiting Wat Arun; it is a place that is meant to be taken in. It is said to be awe-inspiring and humbling.

For another look, take the ferry across the river for 3 baht, climb up a set of three-leveled steps, and get a panoramic view of the city.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Pho © by swifant

Wat Pho, also called the “Temple of the Reclining Buddha” is certainly one of the must-see attractions in Bangkok. Be sure to check out Buddha’s soles!

Once you’ve scoped out Buddha’s feet, you may consider pampering your own. Get a fish “Foot Massage.” You will find a dense concentration of massage parlours in more touristy areas of Sukhumvit, Old City, Siam, Silom, Khao San and Chatuchak. You could do this at the Renowned, Spa Athenee, which offers a luxurious couples treatment, and a memorable Sunday lunch.

Bangkok Chinatown

A trip to Bangkok would not be complete without a visit to the infamous: Chinatown (Yaowarat).

Thanon Yaowarat, Bangkok, Thailand

Thanon Yaowarat, Bangkok © by yeowatzup

Experience shopping, food, and culture; the best times to visit Chinatown are during the Chinese New Year and the Vegetarian Festival.

To further whet your shopping whistle, check out the Floating Markets: another cultural highlight to touring Bangkok. The most famous floating market for foreign tourists is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi Province. Damnoen Sadauk is the epitome of the classic floating market, and therefore a great place for taking beautiful photos. (However, if you don’t want any other tourists in the picture that you must go there early in the morning.)

There are several other Floating Markets which also boast trading boats, delicious food, and vibrant scenery, if you wish to visit one less traveled, such as the Tha Pra Chan Market.

Other Attractions

Bangkok is notorious for its hustle and bustle, but do not fret, there are places to escape the madness of the busy streets and markets.

One such, Lumphini Park in Silom, is the largest park in central Bangkok, and a good way to escape the fumes. Walk through lush gardens and notice beautifully sculpted statues. Bangkok is a hub for both indoor and outdoor art aficionados. For gallery lovers, visit National Gallery , which boasts housing pieces from the King himself, or The Queen’s Gallery, both renowned for their art culture. Thai art and antiques now on display at the Jim Thompson’s House and Museum, as well.

You could even see many Bangkok attractions by bike!

With Bangkok’s new eco-friendly line of bikes in the Green Bangkok Bike project, you could borrow one for free and bike from eight different service stations. Also, a free tour is also given by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, should you wish to have a guide as you pedal around!

For a more relaxing tour, try the Riverside Khlong Tour. Hop on, and move quickly; those boats don’t wait for stragglers! Pay your fare (10 baht) and submerse yourself in a view of the backyards of Bangkok. While on the river, raise your pinkies, and have High Tea by the River author’s Lounge at the Oriental Hotel; a sophisticated way to spend any afternoon.

Khon masks

Khon masks © by mr.beaver

For more entertainment, the Khon, traditional Japanese dancers, put on an excellent, consistent, captivating performance. Khon is the most stylized form of Thai dance; dancers wear elaborate traditional Asian costumes, often with masks. The dance is comprised of four different bodies of characters: female, male, demon and monkey.

Where to stay

We have put together several lists of the best hotels, guesthouses and hostels in Bangkok. Check them out:

For accommodations, travelers can stay at the Focal Local bed and breakfast, nestled in a quaint Bangkok neighborhood, to discover more culture than you would by staying at the Hilton (although the Bangkok Hilton’s restaurant, Maya, has also been considered a “gem”) where the managers are more personal, and often cook, offering you another opportunity for authentic Asian cuisine on your journey.

Or even Mandarin Oriental, often judged as the best hotel in the world. At least, stop in and get a drink at the famous “Bamboo Bar.”

A visit to Bangkok, Thailand is a one of a kind cultural experience. With so many rich attractions and awe-inspiring Temples, it’s easy to see why Bangkok is home to nearly ten million people: there’s something for everyone! Whether as a traveler you prefer to take the slow touring route or a quicker paced shopping and biking tour, visitors are sure to leave pleased and amazed.

For other things to do in Bangkok, including nightlife, see a list of all of our articles tagged Bangkok.

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