Thailand // Top 7 highlights in Bangkok
Thailand’s capital is a vibrant melting pot of embellished temples, multi-ethnic neighbourhoods, exquisite street food, exotic markets and historic landmarks. Bangkok (aka Krung Thep in Thai) is a very exciting city to say the least! You need several days to fully grasp its wacky way of life, and peel through the infinite layers and hidden secrets this city has on offer.
It might be a bit overwhelming when you first enter this buzzing environment, so just switch on your zen mode and let yourself get carried away through this colourful playground!
To make things a bit easier for you we set up a list of 7 highlights you have to flow by :)
1. Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
This magnificent temple is part of the ever-sparkling Grand Palace complex. This is Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction and a holy destination for Buddhists from around the world. Until the 20th Century this complex was the official home of the Thai monarchy. It comprises over 100 lavish buildings in different architectural styles.
2. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It houses the city’s largest reclining Buddha (15 meter tall and 46 meter long!) and the largest collection of Buddha images in the whole country (over 1000 Buddha images and stupas). The entrance fee is 100 baht, and it’s an easy ten minute walk from the Grand Palace.
Wat Pho was named after the Indian monastery where Buddha is believed to have lived, and the large statue is covered with gold leaf and beautiful mother-of-pearl adornments. It’s also the first and leading Thai medicine and massage school, so definitely a great place to rest your sore tourist feet get a traditional Thai massage!
3. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
This iconic temple of Bangkok is located opposite the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. It’s easily accessible by ferry departing from the Tien Pier and the entrance fee is currently 50 baht. Built during the 17th Century the distinctive temple has a central 79 meter high “Prang” (Khmer architectural tower) which is surrounded by four smaller towers. They’re all decorated with ornate floral Chinese porcelain mosaics. A very steep but short climb to the top of the central “Prang” will reward you with panoramic views over Bangkok city!
All this temple visiting sure makes one hungry! Not to worry… the options are abundant in Bangkok! From street food to fine dining, the choice is yours! Thai cuisine is one of our personal favourites from around the world, offering so many delicious and famous dishes: Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup), Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles), Kai Med Ma Muang (Chicken with Cashew Nuts)…. YUMMMM! But if you’re not in a Thai food mood, there are eateries everywhere serving any type of food from the world, especially on Sukhumvit Road and Khao San Road.
5. Rooftop Bars
A great place to digest your culinary adventure in Bangkok is to head over to one of the many rooftop bars! Bangkok is famous for its dazzling skyline, so what better way to take it all in than with a cocktail, good company and a panoramic sunset view across the bustling city life below? Just remember to double-check the dress code (no sandals or sleeveless shirts for men) as some of them are very strict on this! A few of our favourites: Vertigo and Moon Bar (Banyan Tree Hotel), Sky Bar (Lebua Tower) and Cloud 47 Rooftop Bar and Bistro.
6. Explore Bangkok by boat
Discover why Bangkok was named “Venice of the East” by cruising its many waterways on a traditional Long Tail Boat. It’s a great way to get around this metropolis and get a glimpse of the communities still living along the banks of the Chao Phraya river. These canals (klongs) crisscross the city and provided the chief way of moving around Bangkok until recent years, when they are being filled up and turned into roads. Luckily the heart of Bangkok still consists of an enormous network of these canals, and a visit to this ancient area is very worthwhile!
7. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Bangkok is by far the biggest shopping hub in the region. The streets are jam-packed with stalls, markets and shopping centres competing for your attention and shopping budget :) But the biggest bustling market in the whole city is the Chatuchak Weekend Market (sat-sun). The 35-acre area houses over 8,000 market stalls! So you name it, they’ve got it! Food, handicrafts, pets, clothing, home decoration, books, antiques, plants, ceramics… sharpen your bargaining skills and shop till you drop!
Extra highlight close to Bangkok: Ayutthaya
If you’ve had enough of the busy city life, hop on the bus towards Ayutthaya! In less than 2 hours you’ll arrive at the tranquil ruins of this old UNESCO World Heritage city, home to several gorgeous Buddhist temple complexes. Click here for more information!