There’s a lot to love about Bangkok: the delicious food, the bustling and colorful markets, the ever-smiling people, and so much more. It’s no wonder that Bangkok has been the world’s most visited city for four years in a row now!
If you live in Thailand and love to travel, there’s no reason not to visit the Thai capital. You can book a Bangkok tour package on Traveloka or some other reputable online travel booking service, where you are likely to find plenty of offers to suit any kind of budget. You’ll need more than a day to explore, for sure, and Bangkok has a way of making you want to stay longer and longer. However, there are also a lot of places that you can visit that will make even just a short trip worthwhile. Here are a few examples.
Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
The Grand Palace is a must-visit for all tourists visiting Bangkok. This magnificent complex was built in 1782, and since then, it has been considered as the heart not only of the capital but all of Thailand. There are more than 100 buildings in the grounds of the Grand Palace, and one of the most popular is the Wat Phra Kaew. This is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand and also where the Phra Kaew Morakot or the Emerald Buddha resides. The sculpture is made from a single block of a green semi-precious stone, and since it hasn’t been analyzed to determine its true composition, the “emerald” in its name actually refers to its color.
The Emerald Buddha has three sets of costumes, one each for the summer, rainy, and winter seasons. The costume-changing ceremony is performed by the king or a member of the royal family if the king is unable to do so. If you can time your visit during the changing of the seasons, you may be able to witness the ritual. If not, you can always view the costumes currently not worn by the Emerald Buddha in the Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations, and Thai Coins.
Wat Arun or the Temple of the Dawn is famous for its iconic spires with elaborate floral designs that are encrusted with ceramic and porcelain. Built in the early 19th century, the temple is a symbol of new beginnings. Specifically, it signifies the rise of the Rattanakosin period after the fall of Ayutthaya. Wat Arun’s name is also symbolic. It’s derived from Aruna, the charioteer of the Hindu sun god Surya and the personification of the red rays of the rising sun.
The most iconic feature of Wat Arun is the central prang, towering at over 200 feet, topped by a trident with seven tips. Surrounding the central prang are four smaller ones, which are decorated with porcelain and seashells. There are also several statues around the central prang and the temple grounds, as well as ornately decorated pavilions and halls.
Across the river from Wat Arun is Wat Pho, one of the oldest temples and one of the six first-class royal temples in Thailand. Wat Pho is the home of the gold-plated statue of the Reclining Buddha. It also houses more than a thousand Buddha images—the largest collection in the country. Finally, there are almost 100 stupas inside the Wat Pho, along with four great chedis, two belfries, several viharas and pavilions, and a bot or a central shrine. There are also gardens and a museum on the temple grounds.
An interesting thing about Wat Pho is that it’s considered the birthplace of Thai massage. In fact, you can find instructions and techniques for Thai massage inscribed in the statues and images around the temple. There is even a massage school here, and visitors can learn the basics from the open courses provided.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you happen to be visiting Bangkok on a weekend, it’s a must to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s the largest market in Thailand, and it offers a wide variety of items from over 8,000 stalls. There are clothes, jewelry, food, art pieces, books, handicrafts, and so much more. All of these are set into a background music of shopkeepers shouting what’s for sale, along with blasting music from almost every stall.
It can be overwhelming, for sure, and it’s also easy to get lost. As such, make sure to equip yourself with a map, and familiarize yourself with each section for an easier shopping experience. Also make sure to haggle a bit for discounts, although you should know that everything here is already quite affordable. Even if you’re not going to shop, though, Chatuchak Weekend Market is still a great place to visit with its relentless energy. Let your senses guide you to a unique adventure!
If you can spare a couple of hours, go on a khlong tour on colorful hang yaos, and see how people in Bangkok used to live in the olden days. You can hire hang yaos from major tourist docks and let the boatmen take you on a ride; they know where to go for the best and most historic sites. However, ask to go to Khlong Mon and Khlong Bangkok Noi if you’re pressed for time. The former has a sweet, old-world kind of charm, complete with the sight of people washing their clothes along the canal. The latter, meanwhile, is more dynamic. Khlong Bangkok Noi is lined with old temples and modern factories, quaint houses and imposing navy installations. There’s also the Royal Barges National Museum at the intersection with the Chao Phraya River. Pay a quick visit to see the grandiose barge that has been used in royal ceremonies through the years.
These are just a small taste of the hundreds more places and things to see and do in Bangkok. Experience the Thai capital for yourself, and discover why millions of people visit it every year.