Best Things To Do in Bangkok
Shoppers take note: Bangkok boasts everything from flashy high-end malls to very affordable mass markets like Chatuchak. You're also bound to discover a number of streets with shopkeepers selling specialized goods (namely jewelry and silk). When your wallet needs a rest, you can visit the city's beautiful temples – the Wat Pho and Wat Arun – two of the most popular in the city. There's also the opulent Grand Palace where you can see the sacred Emerald Buddha. Let your trip to Bangkok culminate in a leisurely float down the Chao Phraya River; it’s the perfect perspective from which to appreciate this bustling city.
Updated September 8, 2017
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Wat Arun, meaning "Temple of the Dawn," is named for the Hindu god Aruna, God of Dawn. And fittingly, this 270-foot temple is glorious to behold at dawn or sunset. The temple is covered from top to bottom with mosaics, pieced together by Chinese porcelain. To experience it, visitors can pay a small admission price to climb inside the temple's central prang, but keep in mind that the steps are steep and the stairway is very narrow.
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The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, known as Wat Pho in Thai, is a Buddhist temple complex which is most known for its gold-plated "Reclining Buddha" sculpture. The Buddha measures 151 feet long and is 50 meters tall, making it the largest reclining Buddha statue in Thailand. The complex also houses the most Buddha's in all of Thailand. Along with the famous reclining Buddha, Wat Pho features a whopping 394 Buddhas that can be found spread out between four different chapels on-site.
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The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the biggest street markets in the world. It sprawls more than 35 acres and contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 shops and vendors. Here, you'll see a multitude of goods for sale, from fruit to puppies to clothing, antiques and more. The best way to navigate this mammoth market is to grab a map at the information offices on the edge of the market. Chatuchak is broken up into 27 different sections, but don't expect them to correspond to one type of good sold. Everything is completely spread out, and while it definitely overwhelmed some travelers, others found the energy of the market completely enthralling.
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The Grand Palace will probably be on the itineraries of most first-time travelers to Bangkok. That's because the complex once served as the residence for multiple Thai kings, their royal courts, as well as multiple branches of government, including defense and treasury departments. Though royalty nor the government has resided here for hundreds of years, that hasn't stopped tourists from making a detour. Should you venture within the palace's walls, you'll find numerous ornate structures that feature an interesting mix of Thai and European-style architecture. But the most popular site in the palace by far is the Wat Phra Kaew temple, which houses a sacred emerald Buddha statue.
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The Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC) is a relatively new mixed-use arts space. Many liken its contemporary architecture to the Guggenheim, and the artwork inside – which ranges from painting to performance – pushes the aesthetic envelope just as much as the pieces in the famed New York City museum. A lot of travelers like the BACC simply because it's something to do other than shopping or going to a holy site. And unlike many of Bangkok's other top attractions, crowds are limited here, making it the best environment to admire the facility's cool art.
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Following World War II, American architect Jim Thompson decided to settle down in Thailand and during his time in the country, ended up resurrecting Thailand's struggling silk industry. The ins and outs of the silk industry are fascinating, but many find his home (which was constructed from six different Thai homes) even more so. And Thompson's mysterious disappearance – he went on a vacation and was never heard from again – gives this attraction even more allure. The architecture of the Jim Thompson House, along with its late owner's enigmatic history, is what draws visitors here. Travelers also enjoy its charming grounds and the in-house cafe.
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