Travel to Thailand
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BANGKOK TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Bangkok city and culture
Bangkok has been Thailand's capital for almost 300 years and has numerous sights and attractions that represent the country's rich historical and cultural heritage. There is so much to do and see here, whether you be on or off the tourist trail! Here we will look at the more obvious and prevalent attractions. In the next article we will show you the real Bangkok, perhaps with a twist or two!
Chinatown is a bustling district, home to Thailand's native Chinese, ever since King Rama I requested the Chinese population relocate there in the early 1780's. Chinatown is one of the oldest areas of Bangkok with a maze of streets and alleys, where you can find authentic Chinese cuisine, shopping and massage.
Near to Chinatown in the famous Yoawarat Road, offering you an opportunity to shop for souvenirs, fresh and dried fruits.
Bangkok Flower Market
Orchid Market (Pak Klong Talard) is the biggest fresh flower market in the city. Every day at sunset the roadside of Pak Klong transforms into a fusion of bright, blooming colour as vendors sell flowers from all over the Kingdom.
This is the former King's palace. It is the world's largest golden teakwood mansion and is an outstanding example of 19th century architecture and carpentry craftsmanship. Vimanmek mansion will take you back in time to gain a rare insight into the lifestyle of the royalty.
Ancient City Samut Prakan
This family friendly attraction features mini replicas of famous Thai sites. The Ancient City has beautifully landscaped gardens representing the shape of Thailand, and feature replicas of the county's most significant landmarks and monuments. There are 116 structures, all of which are in their proper geographic position and include palaces, temples, halls, floating markets, Buddha's and shrines.
Bangkok National Museum
This is a national heritage collection portraying Thai history. Explore the largest collection of Thai art and artifacts in the country. Dating back to 1874, when His Majesty King Rama V opened the first museum to exhibit his father's collection, the National Museum offers a superb insight in to Thailand's cultural and artistic heritage.
Jim Thompson House
This is the house of James H.W. Thompson, the American ex-military officer who single-handedly revived the craft of Thai silk-weaving. Built in 1959, this beautiful teak house contains rare Asian art and antiques, such as blue-white Chinaware and Benjarong.
Bangkok Floating Market : Damnoen Saduak
A trip to the Damnoen Saduak floating market is still worth doing. The totally chaotic, small 'khlongs' or canals are filled with flat boats heaped with fresh produce, each jockeying for position and paddled by ladies ready to stop and bargain at a moment's notice. It's colourful, noisy and great fun. You can take the long-tail boat to the market, where you will pass traditional teak houses, orchards and local people going about their daily lives. Nearby is the town of Nakorn Pathom,which has the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia.
The Rose Garden Cultural centre has a large area which has been developed into a typical Thai Village. Here, you can see villagers in their natural habitat, working to create traditional handicrafts. You will see crafts such as Silk-weaving, pottery, mask masking, mat weaving, umbrella-painting, doll making, garland-making, rice-pounding and the intricate crafting of silver and lacquer ware. You will also see impressive displays of Thai period costumes and the busy daily activities of a typical Thai market. You will also see the diverse styles of Thai Houses and a fascinating display of antiques from all over Thailand.
Sampran Elephant Ground & Zoo
This is a great family friendly playground. Visit Sampran Elephant Ground & Zoo to enjoy elephant shows complete with dramatic sounds and narration, see the interaction between elephants and the Suay tribes people who have trained them for generations, and watch re-enactions of 'Yutha Hathi', the primeval war fought on elephant back.
Bangkok Dream World
Set in beautifully landscaped gardens, this is a great, family fun, theme park. With a day out at Dream World you and the children will get to experience the spectacular atmosphere of this vast amusement park and enjoy the exhilarating shows and rides at the ‘four lands of dream'.
Bangkok Safari World
This is a mammoth open zoo and marine park and offers great fun and entertainment for all the family. In the safari park, see zebra, giraffe, birds, tigers, lion deer, and bears roaming in their natural habitat. In the marine park, see fish, sharks, dolphins and many other extraordinary aquatic creatures.
Bangkok's Grand Palace and the sight of the Jade Buddha in Wat Phra Kaeo are among the highlights of any visit to Thailand. Each of the structures making up the 54-acre palace complex enshrines not only the ethos of a period but, above all, the spirit of the monarch ruling at the time. The entire holy precinct preserves the wholesome style of the original construction, despite there having been many alterations and refurbishments. When undertaking this restoration work the greatest emphasis has been placed on being true to the original features, especially to the extensive murals which have been adversely affected over the years by the high levels of air pollution in Bangkok.
This small shrine is the point from which all distances are measured. Here too, according to widespread belief, reside the guardian spirits of Bangkok, the true "masters" of the city. Day and night a multitude of people armed with flowers and joss sticks gather around the gilded lingam, the phallic symbol in the heart of the shrine, hoping to be granted good fortune. To please the guardian spirits and to smooth their passage to Nirvana, they also buy caged birds and set them free.
Vimarnmek Palace is located at the rear of the park which surrounds the National Assembly. The four-story teak palace houses the extensive royal collection of art, furniture, paintings, jewellery; much of which was acquired by King Rama V.
Siam Niramit is a theatrical production depicting a realistic journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Thailand, starting with a trip back in time, over 7 centuries ago. The show features 150 performers, 500 lavish costumes, spectacular scenery and amazing special effects using the world's most advanced technology.
Thai Boxing in Bangkok (Muay Thai)
Unruly, brutal and often bloody, to see a Thai boxing match is a must for those into this kind of thing. Bright neon lights illuminate the boxers going through their spiritual 'Wai Khru', the ceremony to thank teachers, spirits and the sport. Even the voluble sound of Thai classical instruments and the roaring cheer of rapturous spectators do not distract the fighters.
Bangkok's temples are a distinctive part of the capital's heart and soul. The architecture is breathtaking and the magnificent decoration is unique.
Wat Phra Kaew (The Emerald Buddha)
Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is regarded as the most significant Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located in the historic heart of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace, it enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the sacred Buddha image painstakingly carved from a single block of jade.
Wat Arun in Bangkok (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng, is located on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is believed that after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya, which was besieged by the Burmese army at the time, King Taksin arrived at this temple just as dawn was breaking. He afterwards had the temple renovated and renamed it Wat Chaeng, the Temple of the Dawn.
Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the magnificent Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It's the largest temple in Bangkok and is legendary due to its huge and majestic reclining, gold leaf clad Buddha. The Buddha is 46m long and the feet are 3 metres long and elegantly decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of auspicious 'laksanas' (characteristics) of the Buddha.
The headquarter of Thailand's largest monastic order and Vipassana Meditation centre, Wat Mahathat is an important centre for the study of Buddhism and meditation. Although most programmes are in Thai, there are some in English and the temple has become a popular place to learn the Vipassana meditation system.
Wat Traimit (Temple of Golden Buddha)
Located at the end of Chinatown's Yaowarat Road, near Hualampong Railway Station, Wat Traimit houses the world's largest golden seated Buddha measuring almost five metres in height and weighing five and a half tons. In the past, artisans crafted the Buddha's in gold and camouflaged them from invading armies by covering them with stucco and plaster.
Wat Sutat (Great Swing)
This is one of the oldest temples with an elegant sweeping roof and is the site of the original Giant Swing ceremony. All that remains of the original Giant Swing, is a giant teak which is in front of the temple. The swing was used in a ceremony to give gratitude for a good rice harvest. Young men would ride on the swing, high in the air.
Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount)
The grimy yellow mount crowned with a gleaming gold Chedi is also known as the Golden Mount or 'Phu Khao Thong'. It rises within the complex of Wat Saket, an unusual temple that houses Buddha relics inside its 58-metre-high Chedi surmounted by a golden cupola. Constructed by King Rama I just outside the new city walls, the late-18th century temple served as the capital's crematorium. During the following 100 years, the temple became the dumping ground for around 60,000 plague sufferers.
Each day between sunrise and sunset, and in several cases deep into the night-time many markets are held in Bangkok and the suburbs. Between them they supply most of the inhabitants' daily requirements in the way of fresh vegetables, livestock, clothing, textiles and other goods. On Fridays and Saturdays Thai housewives shop for their weekly requirements. These daily markets are every bit as vibrant, bustling and full of curiosity and atmosphere as the immense weekend markets. Here are just a few of the many markets in Bangkok:
Mutton is still sold "on the hoof" at Bangrak market (between Sathorn Tai Road and Silom Road) though trading takes place extremely early in the morning. The market is also well worth visiting later in the day however. Most of the fruit and vegetables are snapped up by the larger Bangkok hotels, taking advantage of the wide range of fresh produce available. This is a broad market catering for all the Thais' every day needs.
Chatuchak Market In Bangkok
This place is a shopper's paradise with bargains galore. There is a massive variety of merchandise covering 70 rai (35 acres) of land, and with over 15,000 stalls and more than 200,000 visitors every weekend, Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market is the mother of all markets, possibly one of the biggest and most famous in the world. The market also has a great variety of ‘wholesale' stores, willing to do business in their own curious way. For the small business to business entrepreneur wishing to make a good import business, this is definitely the place to start.
Klong Toey Market
Klong Toey market is one of the cheapest in Bangkok, being located away from the city centre and catering more for the wants of the poorer inhabitants. The traders present their merchandise in a somewhat haphazard fashion. You can see fish being sold alongside clothing, live animals next to leather and electrical goods along with pet food. Whatever, there is always a wide range of goods to choose from. Be warned, the place is grubby and some of the smells can be somewhat overpowering.
Nakhom Kasem Market
Notorious many years ago for the dubious source of its produce, the Nakhom Kosem ("Thieves' Market") in the centre of Chinatown still rather relishes its earlier bad reputation. The market should undoubtedly be visited, if only for the consummate variety of wares on sale. Amongst the many reproductions collectors, with patience and a keen eye, you still have a chance of discovering a genuine antique worth far more than its asking price.
Patpong Road Market
With Patpong Road, hub of Bangkok's nightlife, being closed to traffic in the evenings, several dozen street traders now set up stalls there. Beware though of pickpockets, they are very active; as indeed they are in all the markets.
Silom Road Market
Every evening Silom Road is transformed into a big street market, with a huge variety of merchandise and a great number of open-air restaurants and snack vendors whose food can be safely tasted without worry.
Tha Thewes Market
Every type of flower grown in Thailand is found on sale in Tha Thewes market. From early on in the morning until late at night, scores of children lovingly and delicately weave the garlands for which the country is celebrated, selling them to tourists, taxi drivers and even locals for just a few baht. In this way they make a contribution to the household budget from a very early age. Tha Thewes is one of the few markets actually on the Menam Chao Phraya embankment. Orchids in rare abundance, jasmine, hibiscus and the lotus blossoms are a joy to the senses, while a multitude of garden and tropical forest plants combine in a luxuriant display.