It has been a few years since I took a trip out of Europe so when we planned to go to Thailand It was the excitement that kept me going through exams. It has always been my dream to visit that side of the world because everything about it is so different to what I’ve ever been used to. Putting aside the opposite seasons, the food, the high temperatures, the interesting architecture and the different culture it’s the people that make Thailand a real paradise. They call it land of the smiles, but I never realized why until I set foot in Bangkok. Thai people are so genuine, they are always happy, always wanting to help you out and being surrounded by genuinely smiley people has such a positive impact on your day.
Only in the last century Bangkok started to develop into a bustling city centre with the construction of the sky train, and the business centre of Sukhumvit road. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, King Rama I ordered the construction of a small canal to make up an artificial island that today is known as Rattanakosin. This is the royal part of the city, housing the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, also seen as the cultural and religious nucleus of Bangkok.
The city is filled with cultural and religious monuments that have to be visited. Unfortunately there are so many things to do In Bangkok that it is impossible to see everything in just three days, however I have prepared a short three day city guide according to the places I visited so that all the most important sites are covered and at the end I will write some extra things to see if you stay longer.
After breakfast, start your day with the most important site in Bangkok: The Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha. Located on the little artificial island renamed Rattanakosin, this is the nucleus of the city, essential for both tourists and citizens. Wat Phra Kaew is a temple complex built in 1782 by the orders of King Rama I to house the country’s most praised religious image: the Emerald Buddha.
Tickets are priced at 500 THB and this includes entry to the temple complex, the Grand palace (which you can only admire from the outside as entrance is closed to visitors), the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles , which was really enjoyable, and the pavilion of regalia, royal decorations and coins. For an audio guide you can pay an extra 100 THB (around £2.50)
Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace:
Opening times: Monday-Sunday: 8.30-15.30
How to get to there: Depending on your starting point take a Chao Phraya River Express boat to Chang Pier and follow the directions (or the tourists) to the Grand Palace Complex.
Dress Code: Remember to dress appropriately – the dress code is incredibly strict so no shoulders showing, no tummy showing, no dress above the knees and no shorts for men. They will make you buy extra clothing if you do not follow the dress code so it’s best to be prepared (a foulard is not enough to cover your shoulders).
So a part from the Bot of the Emerald Buddha why do I recommend visiting this complex? Simply because it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and mesmerising site due to the golden Chedi ( also known as a stupa, or a strange yet beautiful vertical structure containing the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns, also used as a place for meditations), the mosaic pillars and the gigantic mythological gods.
You start the tour of the complex with the upper terrace on your left hand side. Here you will see the first chedi named Phra Siratana Chedi. This is said to enshrine a piece of the Buddha’s breastbone. It was erected in 1855 and follows the Ceylonese architectural style. To the side of this stupa you will see Phra Mondop, the Buddhist library of scriptures. Built in 1789 by request of King Rama I to house the Buddhist scripture which is enclosed in a beautiful mother-pearl cabinet.
Next door to the library you will find the Prasat Phra Thep Bidom, the royal pantheon. Rebuilt in 1903 following a fire, this structure contains life-size statues of the Chakri kings but is closed to visitors every day of the year a part from the 6th April, which is Chakri Day, a day to celebrate the founding of the Chakri dynasty.
On the right hand side of the terrace, you will see a majestic chapel named the Phra Ubosoth, or the Bot of the Emerald Buddha. This is the most important building in the complex, and was built on request of King Rama I in 1782. This chapel, constructed in Thai architecture houses the country’s most sacred image: the Emerald Buddha. Although this image is only around 70cm, it is the most powerful representation of Buddhist religion and the most praised image of the country. Carved from a block of green jade, it is said to have been discovered in Chiang Rai in 1434 hidden inside a Chedi that was struck by lightening. It was then taken to the country of Laos in 1552 until King Rama I brought the statue back to Thailand in 1779. Initially brought to the temple of Wat Arun and later transferred to this very chapel. Important are the three annual ceremonies of changing the costume of the Emerald Buddha at the beginning of three seasons. The King changes the statue’s attire from summer costume, rainy costume and winter costume. Photos are strictly not allowed in this chapel so just take your shoes off, walk in and admire this extremely powerful image.
Important in this complex is also the Phra Asadha Maha Chedi, another vertical structure made entirely of mosaics, constructed during the reign of King Rama I. They are built as a monument of veneration dedicated to a certain Buddhist concept.Around the complex you will also see six gigantic statues known as the Demon Guardians. They are built to guard the chapel of the Emerald Buddha from any evil spirit. Each statue is an important character In Ramakien epic.
Don’t forget to have a look at the walls of the cloister that encloses the temple as they contain some beautiful murals that depict the Ramekin epic, the country’s national epic.
When you have finished looking at the temple complex, move on to the Grand Palace. On your left hand side, a very beautiful looking building that you may think is the Grand Palace? Nope its just a state guesthouse.
On the right side of the guesthouse (named Borombhiman Hall) is the Amarin Vinitchai Throne Hall. This holds the bedchamber of King Rama I. Following from here you will see the grand, former royal residence, Chakri Maa Prasat. It was initially built by King Rama V in 1877. The original architecture of this building was Western architecture, as it was designed by a British architect. However it got many complaints as it wasn’t Thai-style enough, therefore the three Thai Spires were later added to dominate the European-style building,
Today this building is used as a chamber for royal banquets and state visits whilst the ground floor is a weapons museum. To the right of the Palace, you will see the Dusit Maha Prasat, built in 1789 by King Rama I. It is a beautiful example of Thai Architecture due to its four-tierd roof and the nine-level vertical spire. The building is also known as the Throne Hall, containing the thrones of the royals.
Next to the Dusit Maha Prasat you will see the Arporn Phiok Prasat, a small pavilion that was used to facilitate the king from alighting form his elephant.
After having admired the complex, make your way to the exit, but don’t forget to visit the pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. Honestly the coins museum was not my favourite but the textile museum is definitely worth the visit. It is a museum built on request of the Queen for the people. The aim of the museum is to collect, display and preserve textiles from Asia. You will also see the queen’s personal collectionof haute couture including her numerous Pierre Balmain collection. Balmain was the Queen’s personal designer until his death in 1982. Interestingly the queen would wear her gowns once in public, but to make the most out of them she would continue to wear them in the palace.
Another interesting aspect of this museum is the explanation of the costumes of the Gods and Demons; It provides a deep description of the origins of Khon, one of Thailand’s oldest dance forms. It also highlights the khon costumes and its differences between men, women and demons.
Presuming this very long, yet interesting tour takes you all morning then its probably time to find somewhere to eat.
Lunch: The Deck at the Aarun Residence.
Recommended by a fellow blogger, this is a great restaurant located moments from the Grand Palace. Tactically situated on the riverside at the end of a quaint little street. From this restaurant you have a beautiful view over the Wat Arun, another temple that you will visit. The menu is varied between European food and Thai food – however my rule is usually to stick to the typical cuisine so of course I stuck to having prawn fried rice and steamed vegetables. The restaurant cooks high quality, authentic food so be sure to try it!
After walking around a temple for hours I suggest visiting Lumphini park, a very aesthetically beautiful and relaxing park located on the eastern side of the city. An oasis of nature embellished with lakes and a beautiful clock tower. If you are a boxing fanatic then not too far away from here you can see the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
Dinner: Siam Tea Room (the Marriot hotel)
Choosing a good restaurant is never easy so I found this one by asking two thai foodie instagrammers, and they told me that this is a very good option for dinner. Located in one of the world's well known hotels, The Siam Tea Room serves authentic Thai delicacies in a causal yet sophisticated bistro setting. The menu ranges from curries to thai style pork ribs.
After Dinner: Khao San Road
Since the early twentieth century, Khao San Road is well known for being the "backpacker hangout". Due to it's cheap hostels, guesthouses, noodle shops and bars you will be immersed in the true alternative atmosphere.
Make sure you wake early to Visit the Chatachuck Weekend Market as the place will be already be swarming with people around 9.30. Anything you need, you will find in this market. Give yourself a good four hours for this market as for some reason time seems to go pretty quick. You will find some beautiful fabrics, leather goods, beauty products, ceramics, wooden objects, clothing and many more. Make sure you bargain on the price, as the sellers always start high. Also if you see something you like, buy it. I ended up by thinking I would return to this one stall and later I spent half an hour trying to find it and of course never found the stall again. Also, if like me you love coconut products then look for Phutawan. They are an actual little shop selling all sorts of natural coconut products such as body oil, body butter, face cream, pillow mist, hand made soaps and hair serums.
Opening times: Saturday/Sunday: 6.30-18.30
How to get here: Take the sky train N8 to Mo Chit Station.
Lunch: Chatachuck Street Food
If you’re keen on trying street food then this is the best quality street food you will find. Walking around the market will make you incredibly hungry therefore have a look around and get an idea of what you want to eat and return to the stool at lunch time. They serve some great barbecued seafood or noodles.
In the afternoon, have a walk around Chinatown, one of the areas that is closest to traditional Bangkok. You can expect to find old shophouses, warehouses, temples, shrines and many little stands selling street food. There are specific alleys that sell different things for example one will sell car shrapnel, another sells various spices, another has street food, fabrics and many more interesting things.
Located on the Charoen Krung Road you will find an ancient temple named Wat Uphai Ratbamrung or also known by its Vietnamese name “Chúa Khánh Vân”. It is one of the first Vietnamese temples in Thailand, and was built in the eighteenth century. It was built by Vietnamese immigrants who were allowed to immigrate to Thailand thanks to Kind Rama I. These immigrants built numerous temples around the city and it is interesting to make a comparison between the Vietnamese built temples and the Thai built temples. From what I gathered, the Vietnamese style was a lot more influenced by the Chinese.
At the roundabout after Charoen Krung Road you will see the Odeon Circle China Gate. This gate marks the ceremonial entrance to one end of Chinatown. Chinese New Year is generally celebrated around this gate.Located just off the Odeon Circle China Gate, you will see Wat Traimit. This temple is a remarkable example of eighteenth century Thai architecture. This temple is well known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, as it houses this 5.5 ton golden statue. It is the largest golden Buddha of the world and it is said to date back to the late thirteenth century under the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great.
Ticket: 40 THB
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 8.00-17.00
Wat Pathum Khongkha is located 2 minutes from the Chinatown Gate on the Song Wat Road. This temple is a Thai-built temple dating back to the Ayutthaya period. It is an interesting, quaint little temple to visit to have a different perspective of the usual, Thai, extravagant temples such as Wat Traimit and Wat Pho.
Following from here, take a walk down Sampeng Lane to really get a taste of the traditional, mercantile area of Bangkok. Also known as “Sin Alley”, this lane leads to opium dens, brothels and gambling houses. It is interesting to get an idea of this part of the city as well as the beautiful golden temples.
Dinner: Bangkok Heightz
Before heading over to Bangkok I thought I would ask a couple of Instagrammers for some recommendations on where to go and eat. One recommended Bangkok Heitz. Located on the busy Sukhumvit road, in the area of Sukhumvit you will find this restaurant on the 39th floor of the Intercontinental hotel. The first thing that takes your breath away is the view. Nothing beats that view. The windows are only half covered in glass meaning that you have a clear view over the city. There is also a little terrace for an even better view. The restaurants décor is very contemporary with low lighting and a prevalence in dark coloured furniture. There is also a DJ playing some music at low volume, which is a nice accompaniment. The food is also traditional, Thai cuisine beautifully presented and make sure you order the Pad Thai – it is the best Pad Thai of the city. For more information on the menu check out their online menu here
After Dinner: Patpong Market
One of Bangkok's well known night markets and red light districts is the Patpong Market. Here you will find the hustle and bustle of the city. A little place filled with grungy looking bars, dancing thai girls and a market selling all kind's of things such as fake designer clothing, watches, bags and jewellery.
This morning, go and visit Wat Pho, ma favourite temple complex of the city. Located just to the south of the Grand Palace on Thanon Thai Wang you will find this important complex, which dates to the sixteenth century and is the oldest temple of the city. It is home to one of the most important sites: The Reclining Buddha. King Rama III donated this golden statue of 46 metres long in the nineteenth century. This symbolizes the Buddha passing into nirvana having achieved enlightenment. It is a pretty mesmerizing symbol and worth visiting. Still in the complex you will see many smaller temples with smaller Buddha’s and many towering chedi’s that are memorials to the past monarchs.
Ticket: 100 THB
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday: 8.30-18.30
How to Get here: Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tha Tien and walk 2/3 minutes.
After the Wat Pho, Take the Chao Phraya express boat across to Wat Aarun from Tha Thien to Tha Wat Arun. We took a Tuk Tuk because in my eyes an experience with a Tuk Tuk is essential, but with traffic it took quite a long time. Wat Arun is another gorgeous temple complex in Bangkok. It was found by King Taksin who, in 1768 found an old temple called Wat Magog. He decided It was a perfect place to house the sacred Emerald Buddha and renamed it Wat Jaeng, that means the Temple of Dawn. This was later renamed by King Rama IV into Wat Arunratchawararam – shortened (clearly) to Wat Arun. King Rama I later moved the Emerald Buddha into Wat Phra Kaew and enlarged the structure of Wat Arun, adding the central prang to 104 metres high. The prang represents the Hindu-Buddhst Mount Meru, the home of the gods.
Inside the complex you will see gigantic mythological statues called Yaksha, which are used to guard a temple from evil spirits.
Ticket: 50 THB
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday: 8.30-17.30
Lunch: Cabbages and Condoms
Probably the funniest meal I have ever had here at Cabbages and Condoms. Funny yet delicious – recommended by a friend we headed over to this restaurant located on 10 Sukhumvit Soi 12 . As you enter you will arrive infront of three beautiful statues made entirely of condoms. Following from here you are seated in this pretty jungle-like area with a very casual ambiance. The menu is typical Thai, with a varied choice of curries, pad Thai, morning glory, fried rice and Thai Salads. (Visit the full menu on their website here: http://www.pda.or.th/restaurant/ ) I really fancied something light so I ended up choosing Morning Glory which is stir fried vegetables and Jasmin Rice. It was a perfect combination for a light and easy lunch. At the end of the meal, they bring you the bill, with a condom. High quality Thai food coupled with low prices and a fun atmosphere is the perfect combination to a great restaurant.
In the Afternoon, take a stroll around Siam Square in the area of Pathumwan situated along the main road Rama I. Siam Square houses a gigantic air-conditioned shopping centre filled with many well known international brands such as Louis Vuitton ,Gucci, Pinko and more. But who comes to Thailand to buy that kind of stuff!? In Thailand you cannot go home without buying pearls, coconut products, silk and leather. The best place to find great bargains is MBK, another large shopping centre that appeals to all sorts of ages, and that sells electronics, sports wear, clothing, jewellery, shoes and many more. MBK is located near Siam Square, on 444 Phayathai Road.
For dinner, I suggest trying Shangri-La’s own restaurant called Salathip. It serves delicious, authentic Thai food and entertains you with a traditional Thai dance. You can chose to eat on the riverside terrace or inside the Thai style huts. The Menu is traditional thai cuisine beautifully presented on a dish. You can either chose to have a taste of various dishes from the set menu, or to simply choose your own plate. I tried prawn pad Thai, which was delicious but they have various different specialties to try from such as Stir-fried Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Chargrilled Tiger Prawns with Tamarind Sauce, Sautéed Crab meat, Green and Red curry and many more. The price range is average, depending on what you get – but a main dish sits around the 10£ range. Don’t forget to try the best desert in the world (in my eyes anyway) : Mango served with Sticky Rice.
After Dinner: The Dome – Drinks
Looking to have the best view over the city? The Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower, located on the 63rd floor, is one of the most gorgeous locations of the city. One of Bangkok's landmark, featured in numerous films such as The Hangover pt. II it is one of the highest open top bars in the world. A perfect location for your final night, come here to relax, have a drink and look over one of the most spectacular cities of the world. Keep in mind that they make you pay for the view, as a cocktail is priced at around twenty pounds.
Currency : THB (Thai Bahts) - £1 = 4.40 THB / £10 = 440 THB
How to Travel around Bangkok:
Chao Phraya Express Boat : Orange line: 15 THB, Green Line: 13-32 THB, Yellow Line: 20-29 THB
BTS Sky Train: Fares vary depending on the zones. Prices range from 15 THB - 52 THB or you can opt for a day ticket for 130 THB.
For more information on transport: http://www.transitbangkok.com
When is the best season to go to Bangkok? Their summer season is usually November-February and this is the best season to go, as during July, August and September is their monsoon season so you can expect rain and storms.
Staying longer in Bangkok? Look at what else you can do:
Visit Jim Thompson's House
A popular attraction is Jim Thompson's house. An important american entrepreneur who changed his life and moved over to Bangkok. He was the founder of Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. His house is composed of a complex of six Thai Style homes built in typical thai architecture.
Opening Hours: 9AM-6PM
Tickets: Adults 150THB / Students: 100THB
Location: 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road
Go to the Floating Market
Looking for something different? Go to the most popular floating market called :Damnoen Saduak. It is a fun experience, with a bus that leaves Bangkok at around 7AM and you sail across the river passing different small wooden huts on stilts that sell various products such as coconut products, fruits, tiger balm etc.
For more information on the floating market check out the website here.
Also named "little India" as in the nineteenth century Indian immigrants frequently gathered here. You will find a shopping bazar filled with fabrics, clothes, spices and many more interesting things.
Opening Hours: 9AM-6PM
Location: Yaowarat Road
Seen as one of Asias largest museums, the National Museum is a complex that contains various antiques collected around Southeast Asia. Created by King Rama V in 1874, it is an interesting museum that helps you understand the heritage of this particular culture. Items start from the prehistoric era, passing through Sukhothai-, Ayuthaya to contemporary Bangkok.
Opening Hours: Wed-Sun: 9AM-4PM
Tickets: 200 THB
Location: 4 Th Na Phra That
ood for Kids:
A theme park located on Thanon Rangsit Nakornnayok. You will find numerous rides and attractions to fill your entire day.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10AM-5PM / Sat-Sun 10AM-7PM
Tickets: Vary from 880 THB
Location: 62 Moo 1, Rungsit-Ongkarak Road (Kilometer 7th)
Siam Ocean World
A paradise for kids, the Siam Ocean World is filled with various marine species. You can encounter sharks, starfish, penguins, jellyfish and many more interesting creatures.
Opening Hours: 10AM-9PM
Tickets: Adults: 990 and Kids 790 THB
Location: 991 Rama 1 Road
Book Here for 10% off: http://www.sealifebangkok.com/en/tickets/package/?p=oth&gp=4490
Originally the King Chulalongkorn's private botanical garden that became a public zoo in 1938. You will find many different kinds of animals ranging from mammals, birds and reptiles.
Opening Hours: 8AM - 6PM
Tickets: Adults 100THB and Kids 50 THB
Location: Rama V Road, Dusit.
Composed of both Safari World and a Marine Park you can take your kids on an adventure in the northeast of the city. You will see giraffes, elephants, ostriches, zebras, camels etc. There are also some water rides.
Opening Hours: 9AM-5PM
Tickets: Starting from 560 THB
Location: 99 Thanon Ramindra