Tag Archives: Bangkok

Bangkok City Tour: An Ultimate Guide

Bangkok is one of the busiest metropolitan cities in Asia. The high-rise buildings and magnificent temples create a perfect balance for the city landscape.

Your trip to Thailand won’t be completed without a Bangkok city tour. There are many stunning places where you can stroll around and explore the beauty of the Eastern City of Angels. Take some time for a sightseeing trip in Bangkok and discover the true Thai culture in every possible way.

Admire the spectacular temples

Thailand is home to hundreds of Buddhist temples known as Wat in Thai. There are more than 400 Wat’s spread throughout the city. Some of them are located in small alleys; others spotted right in between  Bangkok modern buildings.

When you enter the temple area, remember to dress according to the Buddhist tradition. For both women and men, the basic rule is to cover your shoulders and knees.

Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of Emerald Buddha is the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha is a statue of meditating Buddha in the style of Lanna school of the North, which was built in the 15th century. The temple is located within the grounds of the Grand Palace.

temple of emerald buddha

There is a robe that covers The Emerald Buddha. Every season, His Majesty The King changes the wrapper in an important ritual. The changing robe ceremony is held three times a year, which are in summer, winter and rainy season.

The temple of Emerald Buddha is located on a high platform, surrounded by holy buildings, statues and pagodas. His Majesty the King is the only person who is allowed to go near the Emerald Buddha.

Besides the temple itself, you can enjoy a mini model of Angkor Wat. When Cambodia was under Siamese control, this mini model represented the country’s victory.  Today, the model accounts for a history and celebration of the first centenary of the Royal city.

Wat Pho

Ever heard about the biggest reclining Buddha statue? Wat Pho is where the image lies. Wat Pho is located in only five mins walking distance from Grand Palace. Inside the temple, there is a Buddha statue that is 46 metres long! You might even find it difficult to take a picture of the whole statue with your phone.

wat pho

 

Besides the massive Buddha statue, Wat Pho is famous for its highly respected massage school. Professional Thai masseurs have been training here since 1955. If you are interested, make sure you add a short course in your Bangkok city tour itinerary.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun is one of the images on Thai currency, you can find it on the 10 Baht coin. Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn is located on the West side of the Chao Phraya River. The name is inspired by its beauty when you see the temple from across the river at sunset time.

wat arun

If you are coming from the Grand Palace or Wat Pho, you will need to cross the river to get here. The temple complex consists of white buildings, shrines and small temples.

Wat Arun central prang is the main attraction of the whole complex. It has a magnificent spire over 70 metres high, decorated with coloured glass and Chinese porcelain.

Wat Saket

Enjoy the incredible 360-degree view of Bangkok from one of the highest spots  in the city. Wat Saket or Golden Mount is a human-made hill crowned with a gold chedi. The chedi is 58 metres high. It takes about 300 steps to reach the top.

At the base of the temple, there is an unusual cemetery covered in vines and overgrown trees, which is a dumping ground for 60,000 plague victims. Approaching the top of the temple, a wall of bells and a panoramic Bangkok view welcome you.

All year round, the temple welcomes worshippers and hosts an annual temple fair during Loy Krathong every November. During this festival, there is a large bright-red cloth covering the golden chedi. A candlelit procession up to the top marks the opening of the one-week long temple fair. During this week, the temple is super crowded with hundred of worshippers and tourists.

Bangkok city tour via Chao Phraya River

The Chao Phraya River adds a beauty charm to the city. It is a perfect place to escape from the traffic-clogged streets and bustling city vibes. The river offers a fresh perspective of Bangkok city and a great mixture of skyscrapers, temples and modern buildings.

bangkok river tour

Chao Phraya River is one of the transportation choices to get around. For tourists, it is a great option to commute because it offers lower costs than taxis and great views throughout the journey.

You can also enjoy a nice dinner on a cruise on Chao Phraya River. With a great view of Wat Arun in the background, lively entertainment and amazing Thai dishes, you’ll enjoy the most romantic moment in Bangkok.

Take a cooking course

Thai food has made a remarkable appearance around the world. It is made of  exotic ingredients that are mostly found in Southeast Asia. Some dishes even take hours to make!

There are hundreds of cooking courses around the city. You will learn how to pick the best ingredients, understand the appropriate cooking techniques and get to know how to cook it right.

Many places offer a one-day course, specifically designed for tourists who want to know the basic cooking skills. You will be able to show off your new skills to friends and family back home!

The top cooking schools in Bangkok are Chef Leez Thai Cooking Class, Sompong Thai Cooking Class and Cooking with Poo. All of these schools start their courses with a trip to a traditional market where you’ll learn to pick the best and freshest ingredients. Then you’ll have a cooking session guided  by a professional chef and tasting time!

The prices range from 1,000 to 2,500 Baht ($29 – $71) depending on the length and level of the courses.

Shop at the Weekend Market

Thailand is one of the best shopping destinations in Southeast Asia. Bangkok offers a wide selection of shopping spots from high-end streets, one-stop shopping malls to traditional and super cheap shopping markets.

If you are a first-timer in Bangkok, Chatuchak market is a great place to start. It is the biggest weekend market in Bangkok. Many locals and tourists come here to shop and eat.

Chatuchak market is massive. You can get lost here so make sure you take a map at the entrance.

people shopping at chatuchak market

Photo Courtesy: flickr

You can find anything here, from vintage and retro collections, Thai merchandises, handicrafts, clothes, sunglasses, accessories to secondhand books! There are street food vendors on every corner.

Bangkok’s top 5 off-the-beaten-path attractions

Getting off the tourist trail in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the world’s biggest, and most bustling cities. It goes by several names, including the official Thai name “Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit” (no joke!). This is the longest city name in the world, or just “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon” for short, translating to City of Angels. Curiously enough, the more westernized name is almost opposite of this, as it is referred to as the “Sin City of Asia” with reference to the busy night life. Being one of the oldest Asian trade cities in dealing with the West, it has had a long term standing accommodating foreigners. This has brought about many popular attractions, and some at high tourist prices!

So what can you do that’s fun, interesting, and not really on the beaten-path? Being such a massive metropolis, there’s hidden gems around every corner in Bangkok. Here’s some of my favourite discoveries:

Forensic Museum

The forensic museum is not your run of the mill museum. This off-the-beaten-path museum is located at Siriaj Hospital, in central Bangkok. This place is crazy… and certainly not for the faint of heart! The Forensic and Pathology Museum takes you through a variety of different exhibits, examining different elements of the CSI related science, and it’s use in Bangkok. The exhibits include coronary studies, head injuries, a Tsunami 2004 exhibit, and even the mummified cadaver of the most infamous serial killer in Thailand. It’s not your run of the mill attraction, but certainly brings with it a heap of information and an inside look at this interesting study.

Thai Barbecue

Perhaps not best to combine this with your day at the Forensic Museum, this is a very popular Thai activity. Similar to a Korean BBQ, the Thai version incorporates a bowl at the bottom of the grill for making a soup with noodles, greens, wontons and of course some drippings from the meat being cooked on the grill above. It’s a do-it-yourself activity, and all you can eat. The typical Thai BBQs run about 120 Thai Baht, and often don’t have time limits dictating your stay. The buffet is immense, with tons of tasty food to try – including salads and desserts! Best if you go with some friends so you have some company to engage with while waiting on your meat to cook to your liking! They can be found all over the city – my personal favourite is Pla Thong located centrally in Bangkok near the Victory Monument sky train station!

Go to the Cinema… in bed

Going to the movies in Thailand may not seem like such a big deal. Sure there’s lots of English choices available, but they’re no different from the movies you can watch back home… except for one detail. A few theater complexes have developed VIP theatres. If you’ve got an extra evening to kill, and you really want to check out that new film your friends back home have been raving about – this is an experience in itself. Often with 3 different seating options, you can choose between the front gallery, where you’ll sit comfortably under the screen in body fitting bean-bag chairs. Moving up a notch going up the sides of the theatre, you will be watching the movie with the comfort of home, in a leather recliner chair – equipped with a blanket for maximum comfort.

And then.. the cream of the crop – Check out the fully reclinable ‘bed’ seats. These ones go up the centre of the theater for the best seating. They have enclosing walls so you and a friend don’t get the distracting sounds from people chatting around you. They also happen to recline almost completely horizontally for the effect of laying in bed. Equipped with pillows and a blanket, this is the ultimate comfort in movie watching.

This is like flying first class, minus the turbulence, and with a giant state of the art screen and surround sound system, to comfortably transport you to a far away land. Oh.. and did I mention they deliver popcorn and drinks directly to your seat? The seating runs about 300-1000 Thai Baht – cheaper than a night out back home, and in much more class and comfort. The Paragon Cineplex in central Bangkok is perhaps the most state of the art if considering this fun option.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

This is about as full on as markets get. At the very end of the sky train and subway lines, it’s easy to get to from nearly every central point in Bangkok. This market is probably the largest of it’s kind that I’ve ever been to. It’s definitely the biggest in Bangkok. It’s so big in fact, there’s maps available showing you the different areas to visit, and how to navigate to them. It’s roughly 4 city blocks in size, and easy to get caught up in and just spend the day browsing! You can get just about anything here – from clothing, to food, to art work, and even pure bred puppies! Once you’ve finished your shopping, or just need a break, there’s a massive park right next to it that you can go and lounge in and examine your loot! You’ll find some of the best prices here, and is a great option for buying souvenirs.

Visit Refugee Prisoners at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC)

Now this can be a tough one for some people. It doesn’t exactly sound like the beaches and temples vacation you had originally planned on doing, but may be one of the most rewarding off-the-beaten-path experiences in Bangkok. There are countless people who have been imprisoned for overstaying their visas or living here illegally as refugees. They live with very little, and lack some basic necessities, such as vitamins, carbohydrates and hygiene products. There are a few NGOs in Bangkok who, for a very small fee of about $15, take you to visit some of the refugees and bring them these products with your donation. When you get out of your comfort zone and try to help others in need, you quickly learn the benefits of love and adventure that come from changing people’s lives for the better.

Ian Ord

An explorer since birth, Ian has now spent the better half of his life travelling. Spanning all 7 continents, and leaving no stone unturned, he continues to pursue discover new cultures, festivals, foods and all the other riches the world has to offer.

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