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Top Cultural Attractions In Bangkok
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With impressive architecture, sprawling markets and fascinating museums dotted throughout the city, Bangkok has plenty to keep visitors occupied during the day before its legendary nightlife gets underway. The majestic Grand Palace and the iconic Wat Arun are amongst the most photographed landmarls in South East Asia and offer a fascinating introduction to the Far East for the thousands of tourists booking cheap flights to Bangkok each year.
Temples & Palaces
Many of Bangkok’s most famous architectural attractions lie in and around the winding Chao Praya River in the Old Town area of the city. These are within easy reach of popular backpacking haunt Khao San Road and well linked to other areas of the city by water taxi.
The five spires of Wat Arun (aka the Temple of Dawn – pictured above) tower over the adjacent river; an image which takes pride of place in many a holiday photo album. The temple consists of four intricately decorated and narrow spires that surround a taller central spire. This taller spire can be scaled using the steep flight of stairs carved into the stone.
Wat Arun looks particularly spectacular at sunset although the quietest time to visit is early in the morning from 8.30 am onwards but before the crowds arrive.
The Grand Palace
Arguably the must-see sight of a trip to Bangkok, The Grand Palace (main image) was built in 1782 and was home to the Thai king for 150 years. Nowadays the palace is a popular tourist attraction that features the majestic Emerald Buddha, a statue carved from a huge block of jade that dates back to 15th century AD. Only the king of Thailand can touch the statue, which is testament to its revered status. It’s housed within the Wat Phra Kaew – the most revered Buddhist temple in Thailand.
Wat Saket (aka the Golden Mount) combines distinctive architecture with panoramic views over the city. It’s a 300 step climb to the top of the overgrown man-made hill that sprouts incongruously from the surrounding concrete, but the view is certainly worth the climb to look out over the city.
November is a particularly interesting time to visit Wat Saket when it hosts a traditional temple fair and an annual Buddha worshipping ceremony. Crowds of worshippers flock to the temple during this period and it’s best to visit during the day.
Just 10 minutes from The Grand Palace is Wat Pho - a relaxing temple on the banks of the Chao Praya River. The golden reclining Buddha statue is the centrepiece of Wat Pho which stands at 15 metres tall. It’s is also a great place to experience a traditional Thai massage – a more intense take on the relaxing western version.
The thought of markets in Thailand conjures up images of boats gently floating along narrow canals selling fresh produce. Whilst some of the best-known floating markets require a day trip from Bangkok there are some interesting markets to visit within the city itself.
This vast 35 acre market features over 9,000 market stalls every weekend and sells pretty much anything you can imagine. It’s divided into 27 sections with a large walkway circling the outside of the market and numbered alleyways to help newcomers find their way around.
Anyone prepared to haggle can leave Chatuchak with a selection of fantastic bargains. The market gets particularly hot during the warmer months of April and May so it’s a good idea to arrive early and bargain hunt before it warms up.
Bang Nam Pheung
Tucked away in a horseshoe of the Chao Praya River, the Bang Nam Pheung market is full of all sorts of interesting local produce – the fascinating array of exotic fruit will be an eye-opener for anyone new to Asia.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
This has the charm of small local market and isn’t as touristy as some of the more frequented floating markets that surround the city. Much of the market is stationed on land but there is a selection of small boats that float alongside, cooking-up delicious Thai food.
Anyone that’s looking to delve a little deeper into Thai culture should pay a visit to one of Bangkok’s fascinating museums.
Jim Thompson’s House (pictured) is certainly an unlikely name for a tourist attraction but this former of home of a US expat houses an impressive collection of artefacts, ancient wall hangings and other interesting objects.
The Museum of Siam is an interactive narration of Thai identity. There are lots of interactive games to keep both kids and adults entertained like excavating a mock archaeology site and shooting old fashioned weapons. Bangkok National Museum is more traditional fare, housing relics from hundreds of years of Thai history including ornate royal chariots.
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