The ‘City of Angels’ is Thailand’s showcase, and it boasts many of the most important, not to mention beautiful, buildings and temples in the country. It should be your first stop on any Thailand visit, with endless curious sights. There really is plenty to see and do in this vibrant city, so it’s worth spending a few days in the capital as a tourist.
Bangkok offers a wealth of culture, interest and sightseeing. Most Bangkok tourist guidebooks dedicate a large chunk to its many impressive sites, activities and numerous exotic characters. From the glittering Grand Palace, to giant gold Buddhas and busy night markets, Bangkok really is a tourist magnet.
What to see in Bangkok
The stunning and intricately decorated temples that are all over Bangkok range from the exquisite to the magnificent – Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho being top of most tourist lists. But there are many more besides, and you’ll be in danger of becoming ‘templed out’ if you’re not careful. While in Bangkok a guide is recommended to help you navigate your way and maximise your time.
Although the city is relatively young compared to other centres in Thailand, it has benefited as the capital of a wealthy kingdom that developed a rich legacy of cultural architecture during the 18th and 19th centuries. These have been left largely untouched in the historic Rattanakosin district where you will find the magnificent Grand Palace, Golden Mount, Giant Swing and numerous temples that are several centuries old.
The leafy, low-rise Dusit district nearby is a world away from the chaotic collection of skyscrapers across town, and here you’ll find the marvellous Vimanmek Teak Palace, neo-renaissance Abhisek Throne and eclectic styles of Government House and other administrative properties. The zoo and royal family’s residences are here too.
While in the area, an altogether different experience can be had by wandering down the ultra-bohemian backpacker centre of Khao San Road, where the people themselves become the attraction. A popular route from here is to catch a riverboat down the Chao Praya where you get the best views of the striking pagodas of the Temple of Dawn and other landmarks along the river banks.
The teak mansion of Jim Thomson’s museum house (near Siam Square), along with the canals of Thonburi and bustling lanes of Chinatown, are all recommended in every Bangkok guidebook as great examples of the people’s Bangkok. In addition are the modern attractions of shopping centres, markets, and entertainment complexes of Ratchaprasong and Sukhumvit, which all pull the crowds.
Beyond Bangkok are more popular tourist favourites, and most guide trips invariably head for the famous Floating Market, one hour away. It’s an early start, but with some proper planning you might manage to see the best bits of Ayutthaya, to the north. This World Heritage site was the former capital in the 17th Century and is now in ruins.
Don’t miss the famous evening entertainment, including the go go bars, lively pubs, plus restaurants and night markets. Don’t stay out too late, though, as there’s plenty to be seen during a short stay in Bangkok.