The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
The Grand Palace
and Wat Phra Kaew
, current home of the Emerald Buddha: These two attractions are located side by side next to the Chao Phraya River in west Bangkok and are two obligatory tourist destinations for all visitors to Bangkok. They are definitely worth visiting.
These places give visitors an appreciation and understanding of Thai history, religion and architecture as the palace dates back to the foundation of the current dynasty and the Temple, or least the Buddha (which is actually jade) inside the Temple, even longer.
The area around the palace is very historical and is the site of other important treasures such as Wat Pho
, home of Thailland's largest reclining Buddha and a school of oriental medicine.
Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn
, is another obligatory stop for the visitor to Bangkok. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, within sight of the National Palace, it has a very unusual temple construction – a Burmese style more than Thai - and shimmers as its bricks are encrusted with countless pieces of broken Chinese porcelain.
It dominates the approach to Bangkok at this particular point on the river and the main pagoda is tall, terraced and has an observation deck. Therefore, it provides visitors with an excellent opportunity to observe the surrounding area and the river.
Erawan Shrine Area
The Erawan Shrine area, located at the intersection of Ratchprasong Road and Phoenchit Road (Sukhumvit Road) is the location of the Erawan Shrine
, an important and heavily visited religious site. It honors the Hindu – and Buddhist - deity Brahma. Around the shrine, however, are some of the most important shopping destinations in Bangkok.
Among these are the luxury shopping plazas Central World Plaza
, Gaysorn Shopping Plaza
, and Erawan Plaza. There is also a Big C nearby, and one can buy luxury and discounted goods at the Amarin Plaza. As one might expect, there are also numerous restaurants, fast food places and food courts here, as well as cinema complexes. The larger malls sponsor many cultural activities to help attract more potential shoppers.
Siam Square Area
The Siam Square area is just up the street from the Erawan Shrine. It also contains some extremely large and important luxury shopping malls, most notably the Siam Paragon Shopping Center
, and also Siam Discovery Center
and Siam Square
There are also many smaller retail and boutique stores spread out over several streets that extend from Siam Square. Shoppers who prefer lower prices and more variety can shop at the huge MBK or Mahbookong shopping center
or at an adjoining Japanese department store. There are several cinemas, restaurants, fast food places and food courts here, and this area is very popular with younger Thais. The larger stores sponsor many cultural activities to help attract more potential shoppers.
is an entertainment area on Sukhumvit Road. It is not a place most Thais would recommend to tourists or to each other, and it is not somewhere many foreigners would want to go or admit wanting to go, but it is nevertheless very busy.
Nana Plaza consists of a building with 60 or so bars arranged around a courtyard. It is not as "wild" as it used to be but men can still enjoy chatting to and watching ladies – or ladyboys. Around Nana Plaza one can find other bars, street stalls and restaurants, and see many ladies and ladyboys
walk the streets in search of friends.
Baiyoke Tower & Pratunam Market
Baiyoke Tower and Pratunam Market
: Baiyoke Tower is the tallest buiding in Thailand, and at 304 meters in height with 85 floors, one of the tallest buildings in the world. Much of the building is occupied by a luxury hotel but a top the building there is a public restaurant and there is a public (but fee required) observation deck on the 75th floor.
From the observation deck, one can get a breathtaking view of the Bangkok area. The Baiyoke is located within the Pratunam market, a large shopping area. In Pratunam, one can buy clothing here at cheaper prices than elsewhere in Bangkok. Other shopping opportunities, such the electronics and computer center Pantip Plaza
, are nearby.
Silom Road used to be the primary shopping and entertainment location in Thailand. This is no longer true, but many stand alone shops and small plazas still remain on Silom Road selling antiques, art, jewelry, and high quality fabrics. Two high class department stores anchor the road with Robinson being located at the northern end and Central being located near the southern conclusion.
Famous Patpong Road
, which used to be the entertainment capital of Bangkok, branches off of Silom Road and at night it is the scene of a very active night market. Many bars and clubs remain, although many cater to specialized clientele such as gay people and Japanese (Soi Thaniya)
Chatuchak Weekend Market or JJ Market
Chuatuchak Weekend Market and Chatuchak Park
: With over 13,000 stalls and 300,000 visitors every weekend, the Chatuchak Market is the biggest outdoor market in Asia and probably in the world. One can buy almost anything here. Shoppers should arrive early as it will take time just to get a general idea of how to find one's way around.
Bargaining is the rule at the Chatuchak Market. A park complex centered around Chatuchak Park and an artificial lake is just north of the market. It is probably the largest park in Bangkok and has a train museum that attracts about 200,000 visitors a day.
Bangkok's China Town or Yaowarat
China Town: (Yaowarat)
was settled by Chinese in the 1700dreds and to this day it remains a Chinese enclave amidst the larger Thai society, although it is said that most of the residents can no longer speak Chinese. The area is perhaps even more crowded than other areas of Bangkok.
It maintains it older architecture and is packed with street stalls, gold shops and pawn shops. Wat Trimitr, home of the largest solid gold image of the Buddha in the world, is located near Chinatown.
The Dusit Zoo
The Dusit Zoo
, located on Rama V Road, is not the best zoo in the world or in Southeast Asia, but it is a welcome green spot in the concrete jungle of Bangkok. It consists of 47 acres centered around a good sized lake and offers excellent views of the surrounding area. Among the animals in the zoo are elephants, tigers, hippos, giraffes, zebras, many types of monkeys, and lots of smaller animals.
A tram runs through the park. One strength of the Zoo is its location. On one side of the zoo is Chitada Palace and its expansive grounds, in front of it is the Anantasamakhom Palace, on another side is the Chulalongkorn Monument and behind it is the Benchamabophut or "marble" Temple.