The overriding theme of life in Bangkok is high-energy any time of day or night. The traffic is legendary, the markets are jampacked and city of eight million souls fairly teems with the general hustle and bustle.
Posted February 2,2018 in Places and Regions.
Thailand’s capital is also a center of great culture, history and style, with peaceful temples, palaces and museums sprinkled among the high-rises, malls and traditional shophouses. Bangkok is vast – more than twice the size of New York City – but it’s all tied together by the meandering Chao Phraya River and its canals. Many sights are easily accessed by water taxis, which are not so plentiful as they once were, but are still a great way to see the city. They pick up from designated points along the water. Tourism is huge in Bangkok, so you can count on spending time queued up to see some of the more popular attractions. However there are plenty of other desirable destinations that are equally captivating, but with lines that are at least more manageable.
One of Bangkok’s most vibrant districts focuses on Chinese rather than Thai culture. The main streets of Charoen Krung Road and Yaowarat Road, and their myriad side streets, are filled with gold shops in heritage shophouse buildings, Chinese-Buddhist temples (check out the ornate Wat Mangkon Kamalawat), tasty seafood restaurants and streetside market stalls. It’s chaotic and often overcrowded, but the food and shopping options are endless and the energy is contagious. Access by Chao Phraya riverboat pier Ratchawong.
Colorful and fragrant, this is Bangkok’s largest wholesale/retail flower market – though it also sells fruit and vegetables along the main road and the many sois, or side streets, all the way down to the river’s edge. Locally known as Pak Khlong Talat, the market is open 24 hours a day, but the best time to experience it is at night, when the artificial lights make the hues shine with an otherworldly glow. Every imaginable type of flower is on sale, from rare orchids to hybrid roses and intricate floral bouquets. Access via Chao Phraya riverboat pier Memorial Bridge.
While your first stop may be Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) or Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), these are constantly packed with tourists. You might want to venture a bit farther to the north, where you’ll find the Bangkok National Museum, providing a comprehensive overview of Thai history, art and culture. One of Asia’s largest museums, it’s split into three sections filled with ancient artifacts, religious statues, antiques and gifts given to the Thai royal family over the years.Entry fee for non-citizens is 200 baht ($6). Access by Chao Phraya riverboat pier Tha Phra Athit/ Banglamph.
To the north of the Grand Palace on Ratchawithi Road, the Dusit Palace was built at the turn of the 20th century to be the new residence of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Having just toured Europe, the king was impressed by its palaces, with their broad boulevards and large parklands. He ordered some of the Dusit Palace’s mansions and throne halls to reflect those European influences, like the Renaissancestyle Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. Probably the main attraction is Vimanmek Mansion, the largest teak house in the world, now a museum dedicated to Rama V, with porcelain, glassware, old photographs and memorabilia from that era. Tickets are 100 baht ($3) for the palace, while some other features, like the throne hall and Royal Elephant National Museum, are extra. Access via Chao Phraya riverboat pier Thewe.
The latest must-visit market in Bangkok, Asiatique benefits from a great riverside location and a combination of stalls and bricks-and-mortar boutiques housed in replica warehouses that hark back to this area’s history as an international cargo port owned by the East Asiatic Freight Company. There are more than 1,500 shops selling handicrafts, jewelry and more, plus dozens of restaurants. So take your time, stroll down the pleasant riverside boardwalk, take in the city skyline on the Ferris wheel, and watch one of the cabaret or puppet show performances. Access via Saphan Taksin BTS Station.
The new flagship mall of the Central Group is an architectural gem built on the site of the old British Embassy. Its dynamic, sinuous curves feature Thailand’s first Park Hyatt property in the upper floors, and at the base a six-floor cornucopia of designer stores, fine-dining restaurants, a 55,000-square-foot food hall and the city’s newest and most advanced cinema. Add green sky terraces, hosted artwork collections and performances by world-acclaimed visual artists and musicians, and you can see why this is Bangkok’s most happening locale right now. Access via Ploen Chit BTS Station.
Housed in a building reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the BACC is a contemporary arts facility with exhibition and performance spaces for events ranging across the artistic landscape, encompassing art, music, theatre, film and design. As well as a rolling calendar of exhibitions from both Thai and international artists, the center is also home to an art library, bookshops, restaurants and a café. Access via National Stadium BTS station.