Kingdom of Thailand
The capital city of Thailand, is not known by the
name Bangkok to the Thai people, the actual name in Thai is Krungthepmahanakorn
Amornrattanakosin Mahintrayuthaya Mahadilokpob Noparat Rajataniburirom
Udomrajanivej Mahasatharn Amornpimarn Awatarnsatis Sakatadtiya Wisanukamprasit,
which is interestingly enough registered in the Guiness Book of
Records as the city with the longest name! But fortunately for us
it is abbreviated for daily use to Krungthep, or Krungthep Mahanakorn,
meaning City of Angels. As for the word Bangkok, this was derived
from Bang Kork, and refers to the original site which is only a
very small part of what is today called Bangkok by westerners.
The city was created in 1782 when King Rama I moved
the capital from Thonburi across the Chao Phraya River, with the
river serving as a natural line of defense against the ever-threatening
Burmese invaders. Back then Bangkok was still only a small village,
with canals instead of streets. Today it is a vibrant, thriving
metropolis of over six million people - approximately 10 percent
of the total population of Thailand, combining both Bangkok and
Though you may find that Bangkok has become a very
modern city in every sense of the word, many of the fascinating
ways of the original settlers are still in vogue - adding to the
charm of the city. For example you will still find food vendors,
what we call Thai Fast Food, plying virtually every street of the
city serving up a quick and economical meal to office workers, laborers
and millionaires alike. Water taxis and water buses still ply the
river and canals serving commuters from suburban residential areas
to the inner city, and for those who simply want to get from A to
B using the fastest mode of transport, after the motorcycle taxi
of course. Floating markets are still a normal way of obtaining
daily needs of the people living along, or even on these waterways.
So, as you see, Bangkok may be a big city, but our Thai culture
and customs are still very evident everywhere you look.
Grand Palace This city landmark should be the first
place on any visitors itinerary. It is a huge compound on
Na Phra Lan Road consisting of several buildings with highly decorated
architectural designs. Wat Phra Kaeo in the same compound enshrines
the Emerald Buddha image, most revered by the people. The complex
is open daily from 8.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. . Proper attire is essential.
Sanam Luang This huge public ground in front of
the Grand Palace is used for royal cremation ceremonies and other
special events including the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, Celebration
of the Kings and Queen's birthday, and the New Year Festival.
Other nearby monuments include the Statue of the Earth Goddess,
erected in the reign of King Rama V to provide public drinking water,
and the City Pillar Shrine or San Lak Muang, a temple-like structure
erected by King Rama I.
National Museum within walking distance of the
Grand Palace, this complex was once a palace consisting of several
old beautiful Thai style buildings. It houses a vast collection
of artifacts found in all parts of the country ranging from Neolithic
times, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya to the Bangkok period. The museum is
open from Wednesdays to Sundays, 9.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m. and closed
on Mondays, Tuesdays, and annual holidays. Guided tours in English,
French, German, and Japanese are provided to visitors on certain
days of the week.
National Gallery Museum Located on Chao Fa Road,
this museum exhibits traditional and contemporary works of art created
by Thai artists. Opening time is similar to that of the National
Wat Mahathat This old temple on Na Phra That Road
was built in the reign of King Rama I. It houses Mahachulalongkorn
Buddhist University, one of the two highest seats of Buddhist learning
in Thailand and also offers meditation classes for foreigners.
Wat Pho This world famous temple is located on
Thai Wang Road next to the Grand Palace. It is Bangkoks oldest
and largest temple. The gigantic gold plated reclining Buddha with
inlaid mother-of pearl soles is highly revered among Buddhists.
Also regarded as the first center of public education, or sometimes
called "Thailands first university", the temple
houses mural paintings, inscriptions, and statues which educated
people on varied subjects; for example, literature, warfare, archaeology,
astronomy, geology, meditation, medicine, and Thai traditional massage.
Wat Arun Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya
River, this temple can be reached either by Arun Amarin Road or
by boat from Tha Tien Pier, near Wat Pho. It was restored during
the brief Thonburi period to be the Royal Chapel of King Taksin.
An important structure is a 79-metre-high pagoda or "Phra Prang"
decorated with ceramic tiles and fragments of multicolored porcelain.
The name of Wat Arun literary means "Temple of the Dawn",
but the most beautiful view of it can be seen from the east side
of the river at sunset.
Wat Ratchabophit This temple is located on Fuang
Nakhon Road near Wat Pho. Built by King Rama V in 1869, it was in
keeping with tradition that each monarch constructed a temple to
mark his reign. The temple is a mixture of local and western styles,
showing an awakening interest in new construction design.
Pak Khlong Talat This is Thailands biggest
wholesale market for all kinds of cut flowers and vegetables. Plenty
of flower stalls lining Maharat Road near the Memorial Bridge offer
colorful and bustling scenes every morning.
Wat Suthat This temple on Bamrung Muang Road is
famous for the excellent murals created in the reign of King Rama
III. The vihara (preaching hall) should be seen for its collection
of gilded Buddha images. A huge door with intricate carving, which
is the masterpiece of King Rama II, once belonged to this temple
and is now kept in the National Museum.
In front of the temple is the Giant Swing or Sao
Ching Cha, where a Brahmanic ceremony had taken place until the
early 20th century. Many nearby shops stock a very comprehensive
range of Buddhist religious supplies.
Wat Thepthidaram Located on Mahachai Road, this
temple was built in the reign of King Rama III with a mixture of
Chinese architectural styles. Sunthon Phu, one of Thailands
greatest poets, had resided in this temple during his monkhood from
Democracy Monument This monument in the middle
of Ratchadamnoen Avenue was constructed to commemorate the peaceful
changeover from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy
on 24 June, 1932.
Wat Ratchanatdaram This temple is located on Mahachai
Road. It houses a spectacular unique styled structure called Loha
Prasat, which is the only one of its kind left in the world.. It
stands 36 metres high with 37 surrounding spires. The statue of
King Rama III who built this temple in 1846 is situated next to
The Golden Mount With the entrance on Boriphat
Road, this is an artificial hill topped by a gilded pagoda. The
mount is 260 feet in height from its base. Begun by King Rama III
and completed in the reign of King Rama IV, it is one of the most
celebrated landmarks in Bangkoks old area and offers a panoramic
city view from the top.
Wat Indravihan Located on Wisutkasat Road, this
temple is known for a huge standing Buddha image called Luang Pho
To. The image, 32 metres tall and 10 metres wide, was constructed
in the reign of King Rama IV. The topknot of the image contains
the relics of Lord Buddha brought from Sri Lanka.
Wat Bowon Niwet This important temple is located
on Phra Sumen Road in the Bang Lamphu area. Built in 1829, it is
the shrine-hall of Phra Phutthachinnasi, a very beautiful Buddha
image which was molded in 1357. King Rama IV used to be a chief
abbot of this temple before he ascended the throne. Other Chakri
Kings who had resided here during their monkhood include King Rama
IV and King Rama VII, as well as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Wat Benchamabophit Also known as the Marble Temple,
this temple is on Si Ayutthaya Road near the Chitralada Palace.
The main building was constructed during the reign of King Rama
V. Its interior is magnificently decorated with cross beams of lacquer
and gold. A large collection of bronze Buddha images lines the wall
of the spacious inner courtyard.
Vimanmek Royal Mansion Located on Ratchawithi Road
behind the National Assembly, this is the worlds largest building
made entirely of golden teak. Removed from Ko Sichang in Chonburi
province, it was rebuilt in the Dusit Palace in 1900 by the command
of King Rama V. Many rooms currently maintain the atmosphere of
the past. A guided tour is provided to visitors.
Most of the buildings in the same compound are
now used as museums. The outstanding one is Abhisek Dusit Hall,
which exhibits H.M. Queen Sirikits collection of handicraft
masterpieces created by rural people. The other displays various
items and art objects including H.M. King Bhumibols photography,
paraphernalia of rank and portraits, ancient cloth, clocks, and
Dusit Zoo This zoo is managed by the Zoological
Park Organization. It houses various species of tropical animals,
including 300 mammals, 1,300 birds and 190 reptiles. There is a
pond where visitors can enjoy paddling a boat. The area is pleasant
and shady, and is suitable for a picnic.
China Town Bangkoks China Town is an old
business center covering a large area around Yaowarat and Charoen
Krung Roads. There are many small streets and alleys full of shops
and vendors selling all types of goods. It has been the main center
for trading by the Chinese since they were moved from their old
site some 200 years ago. Nearby Phahurat or Indian market is one
of the citys renowned cloth centers.
Wat Trai Mit Located at the end of Yaowarat Road
near the Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lam Phong), this temple is
known for its famous golden Buddha image constructed during the
Sukhothai Period. The beautiful image of solid gold is three metres
high and weighs five and a half tons.
Suan Pakkad Palace Located on Si Ayutthaya Road
near the Phayathai intersection, this used to be the residence of
Princess Chumphot, one of Thailands leading art collectors.
Five traditional Thai houses overlooking a beautifully kept garden
display a large collection of Thai arts and antiques. It is open
everyday except Sundays.
Jim Thompsons Thai House This remarkable
Thai-style house was the work of Mr. Jim Thompson, an American who
came to Thailand at the end of the Second World War and revived
the Thai silk industry. His house, now a museum, is at the end of
Soi Kasemsan 2 opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road. On
permanent Display are Mr. Thompsons collection of Asian artifacts
and many other fabulous antiques.
Museum of Imagery Technology This is the first
camera and photograph museum established in Thailand and Asia, which
shares the same building with the Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn
University. Historic photographs and imaging equipment, as well
as its technological evolution are on display. Modern photographic
arts, techniques and printing technology are also exhibited. The
museum is open only on Thursdays from 10.00 a.m. 4.00 p.m.
Pasteur Institute or Snake Farm This interesting
spot is located at the corner of Henri Dunant and Rama IV Roads
west of Chulalongkorn Hospital. It is a section of the Thai Red
Cross, where one can have cholera, smallpox, and typhoid inoculations,
as well as rabies treatment. The institute has become a popular
tourist attraction because of its large collection of live poisonous
snakes. It is open from 8.30 a.m. 4.30 p.m. on weekdays and
8.30 a.m.-12.00 a.m. on holidays. The extraction of venom from the
snakes is demonstrated at 10.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. on weekdays,
and at 10.30 a.m. on holidays.
Erawan Shrine Located on Ratchadamri Road, this
shrine of Hindu God is very revered by many people who come to pay
homage and beg for blessings. Laced flowers and small wooden elephants
as well as Thai dancing performances are offered to the statue by