Characterised as the prime example of a primate city, Bangkok is Thailand’s capital and one of Southeast Asia’s most frantic, sprawling urban centres. Increasingly popular amongst tourists, the city is known for it’s fast pace, rich history and distinct identity, based largely around its thriving street culture.
The Grand Palace
One of Bangkok’s most iconic and colourful sights, the Grand Palace was formerly the heart of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, the Thai. Monarchy. While its function today is more ceremonial than administrative, it remains one of the city’s most significant buildings and one of its most popular tourist attractions. Built towards the end of the 18th Century, the complex is an eye-catching sight and also houses the Museum of the Emerald Buddha Temple, which exhibits a number of the Kingdom’s major artefacts. Its most famous site is Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Thailand’s most significant religious site, Wat Phra Kaew is a sacred Buddhist temple known for its eponymous dark green statue and opulent design.
One of Thailand’s holiest Buddhist sites, Wat Pho trails only Wat Phra Kaew in terms of its significance. Dating back to the 16th Century, it is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. The complex is known for its extensive collection of Buddhist images, the most in the country. It is particularly known for its large reclining Buddha statues. Additionally, the temple complex is one of Thailand’s oldest educational institutions, offering a number of holistic medicine courses including Thai massage lessons today.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Thailand’s largest and most notorious market. Chatuchak has garnered some controversy in recent year as a hub for illegal wildlife trade, but this should not detract from what is one of the most bustling parts of Bangkok. The market is a vast, sprawling complex specialising in a diverse range of goods from food to ceramics to antiques. It is one of the best places in town to experience authentic Thai street cuisine.
The city’s largest public park, Lumphini is one of the only open public spaces in the whole of Bangkok. Spanning 142 acres, the park offers visitors a rare reprieve from the surrounding hectic pace of life in Bangkok. A beautiful oasis of all, the Park also hosts a number of festivals and activities throughout the year.
Jim Thompson House
One of Thailand’s finest and most unique museums, the Jim Thompson House is the former residence of the eponymous American businessman, a major figure who revitalised the Thai Silk industry. An entrepeneur, architect and former intelligence operative, Thompson disappeared without a trace in 1967. His home, built in 1959, has since been converted into a museum and houses his substantial collection of antiques. A masterful architectural accomplishment combining a number of different styles, the museum is one of Bangkok’s most unique attractions.
main image: courtesy of Fernando Garcia, Flickr Creative Commons