Bangkok: Thailand’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
If you’re a seasoned backpacker, then chances are you’re already familiar with Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Since it’s not only steeped in culture but also easy to reach, the city has made it to the top of many travel bucket lists.
Bangkok is definitely not a quiet city, but that makes it all the more exciting! You’ll always discover something new here, such as the impressive temples, the huge markets, and many other attractions. The large crowds also mean that there’s always something going on.
To give you an overview, we have compiled the most important information about Thailand and its wonderful capital. Afterwards, we’ve prepared a list with our 10 favorite sights. Before we start, we should warn you – reading this article will probably make you want to book your tickets to Bangkok immediately!
Bangkok in a Nutshell
Thailand, a highly sought-after vacation destination, is located in Southeast Asia and borders Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. Over 35 million travelers visit the country every year – and with good reason! In addition to the many cultural attractions, Thailand offers the perfect conditions for a beach vacation due to its location between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, with Maha Vajiralongkorn as its king. His father, whose birthday, December 9, is still a national holiday, ruled the country until 2016. Thailand is very different from many Western countries, and you should take its laws and rules seriously. For example, you can’t speak ill of the king. But there are also some more comical rules. Did you know that it’s illegal to leave the house without wearing your underwear?
Stereotypically, vacations in Thailand are associated with sex tourism and prostitution, and we recommend reading up on this subject before starting your trip. You also have to beware of scams aimed at tourists. They’re pretty common in Bangkok, the largest city in Thailand.
The Thai name for Bangkok is Krung Thep. The capital is located in the south of the country, directly on the Chao Phraya River and the Gulf of Thailand.
Despite the potential culture shock, we still highly recommend visiting Bangkok. To help you plan your trip, we’ve compiled a list with recommendations. Don’t miss out on the delicious local food either, especially the national dish, Pad Thai. You can get these stir-fried rice noodles with all kinds of side dishes, such as shrimp, tofu, or egg.
We also recommend visiting one of Bangkok’s colorful festivals. There’s always something going on in the capital. How about the Tourism Festival in January, where the Thai people present their culture to you? Or would you rather experience a holiday and attend Songkran, the New Year’s festival, in April? But don’t be surprised if you get wet at this event because a water fight is part of its tradition. We also recommend checking out the kite festival at the royal palace in March. These are, however, only some of our favorite festivals, and the Thai capital offers many more exciting events all year round.
When it comes to traveling around Bangkok, you have a number of options. You can take the Skytrain, the metro, a bus, or a boat. But sometimes the easiest way to get somewhere is just hiring one of the three-wheeled tuk-tuks or mopeds. Traveling like this will also allow you to enjoy the refreshing breeze and get some relief from the tropical and humid climate. Make sure you don’t forget about the rain season between April and October, which makes traveling during this time a little difficult. We therefore recommend taking your trip between November and March instead.
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Bangkok
As we’ve already mentioned, Bangkok has its dark sides as well. But that shouldn’t stop you from having a great time here. Just remember to be careful and to keep your wits about you. A little skepticism never hurt anyone. But let’s stop the doom and gloom! It’s time to talk about Bangkok’s beautiful side – here are our 10 favorite sights in the city!
The Grand Palace of Bangkok
The Grand Palace is probably Bangkok’s most popular landmark. The huge palace was built in 1782 and was the royal residence for several generations of monarchs. To this day, it is still used for ceremonies and to accommodate Thai heads of state and their guests. You can also visit the Wat Phra Kaeo and admire the Emerald Buddha here.
Of course, you should also explore the inside of the palace. Tickets start at around 500 baht. You can also book a guided tour through the royal palace. This way, you can discover some things that you probably wouldn’t see on your own. Remember to wear appropriate clothes during your visit. You should show as little skin as possible – this isn’t the day to wear shorts or a mini dress!
The Buddhist temple Wat Pho is located near the Grand Palace, so you can visit both sights in one trip. Built in the 17th century, it’s the oldest temple in the capital. King Rama I renovated and enlarged the whole complex in the 18th century.
Wat Pho is known for its “open university,” which was built by King Rama III, who also supplied the temple with many artworks and inscriptions about the country’s traditional healing arts. Today, the Wat Pho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The temple is also famous for its Reclining Buddha statue. Because it’s located inside the temple and is 45 meters tall, you can never see the statue in its entirety. It’s only possible to admire individual sections. The soles of the Buddha’s feet are particularly beautiful, as they’re decorated with more than 100 animals and mythological symbols.
Wat Arun, or the “Temple of Dawn,” is a building located on the banks of the Chao Phraya. For a truly spectacular view, we recommend visiting the temple at sunset. When it gets dark, thousands of lamps illuminate the structure. You can also climb its steep steps and admire the Royal Palace and Wat Pho from above.
The Phra Prang Tower, which is about 70 meters high, is clearly the main highlight of the temple. But the rest of the building, with its peaked roof and bronze elephant statues at the entrance, is just as impressive. It’s as if you’ve entered another world. The Buddha statues in the interior, which you can find in front of a colorfully decorated wall, are also absolutely stunning.
In the old town, you can visit a huge 40-hectare-large temple complex – welcome to Wat Suthat! Three different kings oversaw its construction, which started shortly after the coronation of Rama I in 1782. It then continued under Rama II and finally finished under Rama III.
Apart from the fantastic architecture, the temple also features some interesting murals. In addition, you can find one of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks in front of Wat Suthat. A 30-meter-high swing has been in the middle of the square since the beginning of the 18th century. Although it may remind us of a playground, the swing was not intended for fun but for traditional ceremonies. Unfortunately, it had to be rebuilt after being struck by lightning. The ritual practice stopped in the middle of the 20th century due to the large number of accidents. Although the swing you can see today is from 2007 and therefore not the original one, it is still an impressive sight that you shouldn’t miss out on while you’re here!
Wat Traimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha, would’ve remained just another temple if it hadn’t been for a lucky coincidence. The 3-meter-tall Buddha statue was actually thought to be made of plaster, until its shell broke while the statue was being moved in 1955. This is when it revealed its true beauty. As the name suggests, the Golden Buddha statue is made from solid gold, which also explains its staggering weight of 5.5 tons!
Where the Golden Buddha is from and who covered it in plaster remains a mystery to this day. It’s assumed that it was created in Sukhothai, an ancient kingdom of which only ruins have survived.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest market in all of Thailand. It’s home to over 10,000 market stalls and also includes a park. Its size of 1.1 square kilometers is hard to imagine without having been there – you’ll just have to experience it for yourself!
Because the market is so large, the choice of goods is also endless and you’ll find everything your heart desires here. From jewelry to delicious street food, there’s almost nothing you can’t buy here. The prices are generally also very reasonable.
Asiatique the Riverfront
Next to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, there’s another impressive market right on the banks of the Chao Phraya. The Asiatique market consists of four sections comprising around 1,500 boutiques and street food stalls. This is your chance to buy souvenirs, clothes, pieces of furniture, and other mementos.
A special attraction – besides the various musical performances in the evening – is the Ferris wheel. The view from the top is simply spectacular! The market is also home to other forms of entertainment, such as cabarets and boxing tournaments.
The Khaosan Road
The Khaosan Road is the heart of Bangkok’s backpacker district. On this almost 500-meter-long street, you’ll find many low-budget hostels and even more shopping opportunities. But we should warn you that many of the vendors try to overcharge tourists, so this is the time to put your bargaining skills to use!
You’ll find plenty of excellent food stalls on Khaosan Road and meet travelers from all over the world here. It’s also famous for its fantastic nightlife, so if you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to party, here’s your chance!
The Chinatown of Bangkok
Don’t forget to visit Bangkok’s Chinatown while you’re here! Of course, many European, American, and African cities have a Chinatown district, but the one in Bangkok is still a very special place.
One of its highlights is the Chinese gate, which marks the entrance to the neighborhood. You’ll also see many gold vendors here, whose stores are truly a sight to behold! Walking around Chinatown and taking in its unique atmosphere is a great way to spend an afternoon in Bangkok.
Lumphini Park offers its visitors a green escape from the busy streets of Bangkok. It’s the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon, so bring your picnic blanket and enjoy the contrast between the quiet park and the surrounding skyscrapers.
You can also explore the park from the water by renting one of the small paddle boats. Afterwards, we recommend visiting the nearby statue of King Rama VI as well as the local library.
Thailand’s fascinating capital is a popular travel destination, because it combines the typical Southeast Asian charm with a modern cityscape. Despite the large crowds, we can still guarantee that you’ll have a fantastic time here! After all, you’ll never be lonely, and you’ll never run out of things to see and do.
You’ll also get to learn more about Thai culture, some aspects of which you might not be accustomed to yet. For example, whenever you visit one of the many beautiful temples, you should show as little skin as possible. But don’t let these rules stop you! Wat Pho, Wat Traimit, and Wat Suthat are all well worth a visit. You also shouldn’t miss out on our favorite sight, the Grand Palace.
If you need a break from the busy crowds, spend an afternoon relaxing in Lumphini Park, and then have dinner at one of Bangkok’s fantastic street markets. This is your chance to try Thailand’s national dish Pad Thai in the country’s capital. Who could resist an opportunity like this?