Touring Bangkoks cultural trail

The Grand Palace is the tourists first stop

The Grand Palace is the tourists first stop

By Peter McCall

With over seven centuries of history and traditions, Thailand is one of the most intriguing and exciting destinations in all of Asia. It is the capital Bangkok that leads the way in culture, art and vibrancy in Thailand. It would take several trips to explore all of the wonderful cultural attractions in this bustling metropolis, but here are a few of the ‘must-sees’ that visitors can fit into a one day tour.

A tour of Bangkok would not be complete without visiting the most famous structure in Thailand, the Grand Palace. The palace served as the official residence of the king of Thailand from the 18th century to the mid-20th century and is filled with an impressive collection of elaborate temples and other impressive structures. The design of the palace includes spectacular roof lines and elegant adornments.More on the Grand Palace.

This wonderful structure is also home to one of the countries greatest treasures, the Emerald Buddha. Tickets to the Grand Palace are not expensive and include admission to the Vimanmek Golden Teak Mansion, the largest teak mansion in the world.

Wat Pho is the oldest working temple in Bangkok as well as its largest. Situated adjacent to the Grand Palace, not only can visitors explore the grounds, they can also receive an invigorating Thai massage here as the temple is home to Thailand’s most prominent school of massage and herbal medicine.

At the temple, you can also pay a visit to the renowned Reclining Buddha, the largest Buddha in Thailand. This colossal monument makes for excellent photo opportunities. Those wishing to increase their luck or make merit can place coins in the pots along the wall behind the Buddha image and make a wish.

The Dusit Zoo is situated directly across the road from Vimanmek Mansion in the once private garden of King Rama V, who was responsible for commissioning the mansion. The zoo houses over 1,300 animals including several rare species and is worth a visit whether you are travelling with children or not.

Giant Buddhas make giant statements

Giant Buddhas make giant statements

The city has a few fascinating museums on offer. The National Museum is just a short walk from the Grand Palace grounds and is the largest museum in Southeast Asia. The museum houses exquisite exhibits of traditional Thai art and a plethora of historical artefacts from Neolithic times. The Royal Barges Museum is located on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River and has eight royal barges on display.
More on museums in Bangkok.

Visitors touring the city at the weekend should not miss an opportunity to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market. This is one of the largest outdoor markets in the world and offers over 15,000 vendor stalls. Keep in mind that shopping in this maze is not for the faint-hearted. Although you can find incredible bargains, the market is jam-packed with eager shoppers all trying to get treasures at a bargain price. The market can be conveniently reached by Sky Train. Visitors should take the train to Mo Chit and then follow the signs to the market. The area is also accessible by taxi and bus; however, traffic around the market can be bad.

By early evening, you will need to refill your energy supply. Luckily, you won't have to search very far for Thai food outlets as they are on virtually every corner. There is also an abundance of Western food options. If you head to Chinatown (just east of Hualamphong Station) you will find a wide selection of eateries as well as plenty of temples and Chinese shop-houses.

While in Chinatown, a visit to Wat Trai Mit should not be missed. The most famous attraction in the temple is the Golden Buddha, which is made of solid gold and weighs five and a half tons.

If you have any time left, you may want to make a visit to the Damnernsaduok floating market to the west of Bangkok, in the Rajaburi Province. Other notable attractions include the Jim Thompson House, the Crocodile Farm and the Rose Garden, a beautiful country resort that gives a wonderful glimpse into Thai culture and includes folk songs and dance.

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