Bangkok, the capital of Thailand since 1782, is a lively city. Around 10 million people live in Bangkok. Chaos on the streets is part of everyday life here. Bangkok is a mixture of hectic and calm, of tradition and modernity. It is an exciting metropolis. And Bangkok is proud of its large number of fascinating temple complexes. The city is the political, economic and cultural center of the country. Over 400 wats (Buddhist temples and monasteries) can be found here!
Tip 1: Wat Arun
The Buddhist temple Wat Arun is also known as the “Temple of Dawn”. It is located in the Thon Buri community on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and is considered one of Bangkok’s most popular attractions. Visitors get the best view of this architectural masterpiece from the opposite side of the river. During the day, the temple shines in all its glory. At sunset and sunrise, it puts its viewers in a romantic mood. A visit to this beautiful temple complex should not be missed on any visit to Bangkok. Especially impressive are the huge towers, the very well preserved white buildings, the numerous shrines and the various Buddha statues.
The temple Wat Arun has a long history. The building already existed when Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand. At that time Wat Arun was known as “Wat Mokok”. Under the reign of Kings Rama II and Rama III, the temple complex was expanded and received numerous decorative elements. Exemplary for this are the various monkey figures that decorate the individual towers. In addition, the towers are decorated with colorful Chinese porcelain. This is especially true of the main tower, which is considered the highest and one of the most beautiful structures of the temple complex. Inside the main tower, a steep and narrow staircase leads to a balcony that offers visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of Wat Arun, Bangkok and the river.
Tip 2: Grand Palace
No one is likely to end their first visit to Bangkok without visiting the Grand Palace. It is the city’s landmark and probably the biggest tourist attraction.
In 1782, the newly crowned King Rama I (Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok) set about having the foundation stone laid for a palace on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya in the new capital.
Since then, the Grand Palace has been constantly expanded, rebuilt and renovated. These construction activities continue to this day.
Until 1946, the Grand Palace was the official residence of the regents of the Chakri Dynasty. At that time, the reigning King Bhumibol Abdulyadej decided to move the official residence of the royal family to the Chitralada Palace. Since then, the Grand Palace has been used only for ceremonial occasions.
Various structures and facilities are arranged on the grounds, surrounded by a brick wall approximately 1,900 meters long.
The most important buildings on this area are:
Wat Phra Kaew
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses the highly revered 14th century Buddha statue of the same name (see below!).
Chakri Maha Prasat
King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) had Chakri Maha Prasat completed as his residence during his reign. This complex consists of the throne hall and two wing buildings. The Chakri Maha Prasat is considered one of the most highly recognized architectural landmarks in Thailand.
The Throne Hall was used in earlier times to receive foreign envoys, who presented their letters of accreditation here. It was also used for large state banquets.
Phra Maha Montien
The Phra Maha Montien is located in the center of the old royal palace. Here is the audience hall Amarin Winitchai. To this day, it is the setting for the official coronation ceremonies of the reigning Chakri dynasty.
Dusit Maha Prasat
The impressive Dusit Coronation Hall is located here.
Tip 3: Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew is a Buddhist temple in the center of Bangkok. It was built at the end of the 18th century on the grounds of the Royal Palace near the Chao Phraya River and consists of a series of buildings, all of which are surrounded by a boundary wall. In total, you can visit well over 50 temples and statues here.
Therefore, during a sightseeing tour, you should allow enough time to enjoy the beauty and splendor. In 1782, the construction of the temple complex began and took almost 100 years to complete. In the temple complex you will also find the now world famous Buddha made of jade. Throughout Bangkok, small Buddha replicas in jade can be purchased. They are supposed to give the owner luck and prosperity, a whole life long. Especially when visiting the temple complex Wat Phra Kaew you will become a contemporary witness of Thai culture.
Tip 4: Wat Pho
There are more than 400 temples in Bangkok – but the oldest of these 400 temples is a particularly attractive destination not only because of its age. In the temple Wat Pho you can admire the gigantic reclining Buddha, which has become famous far beyond Bangkok and adorns numerous postcards.
The temple Wat Pho is located directly south of the Royal Palace in the old town of Bangkok and was probably founded as early as the 17th century. The renovation of the temple took place under King Rama I between 1789 and 1801. Wat Pho an impressive temple, but its main attraction is clearly the reclining Buddha.
The reclining Buddha in Wat Pho is not the largest of its kind in Thailand, but in any case the most famous. Only on site will you be able to truly comprehend the dimensions of the 46-meter-long and 15-meter-high statue of the reclining Buddha. In addition, the entire figure is gilded, which makes the reclining Buddha even more impressive.
Tip 5: Floating Market
In the past, Thailand had a poorly developed road network. Numerous canals (khlongs) were built in the Chao Phraya estuary to supply targeted regions with water and to make it easier to transport trade goods and agricultural produce.
In time, goods were sold directly from the boats. The floating markets were born.
Over the years, more and more canals were filled in to make room for roads. The number of floating markets decreased as a result. If Bangkok today often has to struggle with flooding, this is partly the result of the filled-in canals.
One part of Bangkok that is still crisscrossed by numerous canals is Thonburi (western side of the Chao Phraya). Here you can still buy goods directly from boats.
About 90 kilometers west of Bangkok there are still floating markets.
The Damnoen Saduak Canal is the longest canal in Thailand. King Rama IV had this canal built to connect the Mae Klong and Tha Chin rivers. The approximately 30 kilometer long and dead straight canal was completed in 1868 after the end of the reign of King Rama V. The soil on the banks of the Damnoen Saduak Canal was extremely fertile. The canal provided water for agriculture year-round, which had a positive impact on agricultural production. Agricultural products were transported by boats and also sold directly from the boats. This led to the development of numerous floating markets in Ratchaburi province. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the largest and most famous of them.