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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Bangkok Sightseeing
Bangkok Sightseeing Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Overview

This sprawling city, Bangkok, has a great choice of attractive places for visitors. However, it is not easy to reach many of them in a single day due to the traffic congestion in Bangkok. Visitors are advised to select sightseeing in one area per day, though there are Skytrain and subway to travel across the town. A great way to enjoy Bangkok's city views is going to the observation deck on the 77th floor of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Thailand's tallest building or one of the tallest hotels in the world. There is an admission charge.

A number of important tourist attractions which include the National Museum, Wat Pho and the Royal Grand Palace, are all located in the eastern side of the Chao Phraya River (west of the north–south railway line) in an area called Rattanakosin Island, where there are also many hotels. Some travellers may stay in the east of the railway line in the Sukhumvit Road area, with a great choice of shopping centres, exciting nightlife and many places of interest, including Suan Pakkard Palace Museum and Jim Thompson Thai House.

Aside from the main sights (see Key Attractions), which are all ‘must-see’, there are many other places of interest which include more than 400 temples. Sanam Luang, located north of the Royal Grand Palace, is a large public area with a lot of old tamarind trees, which is used for many ceremonies throughout the year, including the Ploughing Ceremony. It is also a favourite haunt for kite-flying enthusiasts and just passing the time. On Bamrung Muang Road, the 19th-century Wat Suthat is famous for its murals depicting the lives of Buddha. Just opposite this temple lies Sao Ching Cha (Giant Swing), which was the site of Brahmin ceremonies until the 1920s. Only the posts of the swing are present today.

Situated between Hualampong railway station and the river, Chinatown is a cheerful and enchanting area with its maze of narrow roads and many shops that sell almost everything one can imagine. Wat Trai Mit, situated on Yaowarat Road, is home to a sparkling solid gold Buddha, 3 metres or 10 feet high and weighing more than 5 tons. Phahurat, which is adjacent to Chinatown, is the major Indian area, filled with colourful fabric stores and great Indian eating outlets.

In an graceful area, Si Ayutthaya Road has many government offices. Wat Benjamabopit, the recent royal residence, is principally constructed with Italian marble and a combination of Thai and European styles. An escape for peace and serenity in Bangkok city centre, Lumphini Park has pavilions and 2 small lakes. For tourists who don't have enough time to visit the rest of the country, the Ancient City, an open-air museum boasts full-size and scaled-down replicas of legendary buildings, temples and monuments from all over Thailand. This museum is set in 112 hectares or 280 acres of ground, and is 33 kilometres or 20 miles southeast of the city centre.

Bang Pa In, the former summer residence of the royal family in the 17th century, is 60 kilometres or 37 miles north of Bangkok. It has a cluster of buildings constructed in Oriental and European styles. Please be advised that it is essential to dress reverently when visiting temples or palaces. Visitors may not be allowed if the rule is not observed.

Tourist Information

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
1st Floor, 1600 New Phetburi Road, Makkasan, Rachathewi
Tel: (02) 250 5500. Fax: (02) 250 5511.
E-mail: center@tat.or.th
Web site: www.tat.org.th
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Another office is located at 4 Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, Pomprab (opening hours : 8.30 am to 4.30 pm). The Tourist Service Centre on Khao San Road (in front of Chana Songkram Police Station) is open from 8.00 am to 12.00 midnight every day. Tourist police offer 24-hour services for complaints, accidents and emergencies from their office on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue or through the toll-free hotline (tel: 1155).

Key Attractions

Royal Grand Palace

Set in over 53 acres of land and encircled by 1,900-metre walls, the Royal Grand Palace was built in 1782 when Bangkok was founded as the capital of Thailand. It is home to government offices and Wat Phra Kaeo, the holiest of all temples, where the sacred Emerald Buddha sits (it is not carved from an emerald but from jade). A scale model of Angkor Wat is also seen here. Several palaces are all highly furnished with tiles and ceramics. The dress code is strict, and visitors who wear shorts, mini-skirts, sleeveless shirts or flip-flops will not be allowed to enter, even though it is feasible to rent trousers and plastic shoes.

Na Phra Lan Road
Telephone: (02) 222 6889.
Web site: www.palaces.thai.net

Transport: Served by many buses.
Opening hours: 8.30 am to 3.30 pm daily.
Entry fee: B200.

Vimanmek Palace

It is the world’s largest residence which was made of golden teak. Vimanmek Palace was a former royal Summer Palace built in 1900 by the royal command of King Rama V. This 81-room mansion is nestled within manicured lawns, close to the recent royal residence, and consists of 31 exhibition rooms. There is an entry fee, and visitors must take a guided tour, which is available every 30 minutes. Worth seeing are Thailand’s first indoor bathroom and the oldest typewriter with Thai characters. The dress code is strict, and visitors who wear shorts, mini-skirts, sleeveless shirts or flip-flops will not be allowed to enter.

Ratchawithi Road
Telephone: (02) 228 6300.
Web site: www.palaces.thai.net

Transport: Served by many buses.
Opening hours: 9.30 am to 4.00 pm daily (last tour is at 3.15 pm).
Entry fee: B50. Free if visitors have bought a ticket to the Royal Grand Palace (ticket valid for 30 days).

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

The largest and oldest temple in the city, Wat Pho has a huge gold-plated Reclining Buddha, which is 46 metres or 150 feet long and 15 metres or 49 feet high. Today, it is also famous for its teaching of herbal medicine and traditional Thai massage.

Thai Wang Road
Telephone: (02) 222 0933.

Transport: Served by many buses.
Opening hours: 8.00 am to 5.00 pm daily.
Entry fee: B20.

National Museum

The National Museum is one of the most extensive museums in this region. It is home to a wide selection of artefacts ranging from the neolithic period through the more recent periods. Built in 1782, the traditional Thai style building is wonderful in its own right. The museum is so enormous that several visits are needed; however, if you don't have enough time, the lovely teak pavilion containing personal royal belongings is worth a visit. There are free guided tours provided by volunteers at 9.30 am every Wednesday and Thursday, and these are highly recommended.

Na Phrathat Road
Telephone: (02) 224 1333.

Transport: Served by numerous buses.
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 9.00 am to 4.00 pm.
Entry fee: B40.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Wat Arun, built in the 17th century, is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It has a 79 metre-high or 259 feet tower furnished with multicoloured ceramic tiles, making it a landmark along the river. The effect of the tiles is best seen at a distance. Wat Arun was the 1st place to keep the Emerald Buddha before it was moved to Wat Phra Kaeo in the year 1785. There is a nightly light and sound show from October to May.

Arun Amarin Road
Telephone: (02) 465 5640.

Transport: Boat from Tha Tien Pier.
Opening hours: 7.00 am to 5.00 pm daily.
Entry fee: B10.

Jim Thompson Thai House

An American man, Jim Thompson moved to Bangkok after World War II and the Jim Thompson Thai House was his home until his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia in 1967. He completely developed the Thai silk industry, and his traditional Thai style house is currently a museum presenting his collection of Asian artefacts. Completed in 1955, the home is a complex of 6 traditional Thai teak structures brought to Bangkok from different parts of Thailand. It provides compulsory guided tours around the house.

6 Soi Kasemsan 2 Song, Rama I Road
Telephone: (02) 216 7368.
E-mail: info@jimthompsonhouse.com
Web site: www.jimthompsonhouse.com

Transport: Skytrain National Stadium station.
Opening hours: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily (last tour is at 4.30 pm).
Entry fee: B100.

Royal Barge National Museum

The royal barges are hardly used by the royal family due to their age. A few of them are currently shown in the Royal Barge National Museum on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River. The 8 long, narrow boats are elaborately gilded and each need between 50 and 60 rowers to take their oars. The figure on the bow of each vessel indicates whether it carries the King and Queen or other members of the royal family. The foremost barge is the Suphannahong, used exclusively by the King.

Khlong Bangkok Noi
Telephone: (02) 424 0004.

Transport: River taxi.
Opening hours: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily.
Entry fee: B30.

Other Distractions

Suan Pakkard Palace Museum

Suan Pakkard Palace was the residence of Princess Chumphot, one of Thailand’s leading art collectors. 5 traditional wooden Thai houses, brought to Bangkok from different parts of Thailand, are set in one of the most beautiful gardens in Bangkok. It contains a significant collection of antiques.

Si Ayutthaya Road
Telephone: (02) 245 4934.

Transport: Skytrain Phaya Thai station.
Opening hours: 9.00 am to 4.00 pm daily.
Entry fee: B100.

Ban Kham Thieng

Brought from Chiang Mai and rebuilt in the capital, this 200-year-old classic northern-style teak home was owned by a worker and shows the simplicity of rural life in the north. Ban Kham Thieng boasts a good range of traditional implements used by farmers and fishermen.

131 Soi Asoke (Soi 21), Sukhumvit Road
Telephone: (02) 661 6470.

Transport: Skytrain Asoke station.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Entry fee: B100

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