Bangkok welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world and it doesn’t take long to realise why.
Eng (Pimolpun Larpyongyos)Thailand Travel Specialist
Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated directly across the Chao Phraya River from Wat Pho. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit in Bangkok. Wat Arun (or temple of the dawn) is partly made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water.
Wat Arun’s central “prang,” or tower, is a representation of Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Hindu cosmology; surrounding the central tower are four shorter, satellite prangs, decorated with with seashells and bits of porcelain previously used as ballast by trading ships arriving from China. Visitors may wish to climb the steps of the central prang for an excellent view of the city.
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and a must-do for any first-time visitor in Bangkok. It's one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf. It’s an easy ten minute walk between here and the Grand Palace, and we recommend coming to Wat Pho second, because even though the golden Buddha here is just as popular many people don’t take the time to wander around the rest of the complex so the experience tends to be far more relaxing.
This is also a great place to get a traditional Thai massage. Wat Pho is often considered the leading school of massage in Thailand, so you really are in good hands here.
Explore the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, or The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. While the Buddha itself is small, the vast temple complex of gilded shrines is an impressive sight – with tiled roofs of bright orange and green, and mosaic-covered pillars. The Gallery of Murals features a vast, incredibly detailed depiction of the Ramayana, one of Asia’s most famous epic tales. While Thailand’s Kings stopped living in the palace around the turn of the 20th century, the palace complex is still used to mark all the manner of ceremonial events and auspicious occurences.
Visit Wat Suthat, one of Bangkok’s most important Buddhist temples, which was founded in 1807 by King Rama I. Afterwards, continue around the large temple complex as your guide explains the history behind the 25-foot tall bronze Buddha statue, the temple’s remarkable series of wall paintings, the landmark giant red swing, and more.
Damnoen Saduak is the most popular floating market in Thailand, great for photo opportunities, food, and for giving you an insight into a bygone way of life. The market operates each day between 06:00 and 11:00, though it is best to arrive as early as possible to avoid the tourist crowds. Traditional Thai homes built on stilts line canals that are packed with canoe-like boats selling local vegetables, fruits and flowers; many such boats are operated by women vendors, who dress distinctively in blue shirts and high straw hats, the classic attire of Thai farmers.
Most visitors who come to Thailand want to visit a floating market and many of them will end up here. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s an enjoyable morning out of the city and if you avoid the tourist shops you can get a real sense of the place.
With over 10,000 stalls, Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market is perhaps the largest weekend market of its kind. A rambling maze of crowded alleys, Chatuchak’s stalls sell a wide variety of trinkets, souvenirs, clothing, food, and even live animals. Additionally, the food is first-rate – ranging from skewers of grilled pork, sliced vegetables, and squid eggs to plates of pad kee mao, or wide, flat rice noodles stir-fried in a wok with vegetables, meat, and scallions.
Suan Pakkad Palace is a place to find visions of Thailand you thought long since vanished in Bangkok. Its name means 'cabbage patch', in reference to when the land was nothing more than just that.
Today, however, it's a well-tended tropical garden with serene ponds surrounding eight traditional Thai houses bequeathed by Thai royalty, and features a vast collection of art and antiquities belonging to the Prince and Princess.