The capital city of Thailand and the gateway to South East Asia, Bangkok is hugely popular with budget travelers and backpackers because of its affordability, fascinating cultural attractions, and lively atmosphere. Whether you’re visiting Thailand for a few weeks or even longer, Bangkok should find a place in your itinerary. Here’s an overview of the most popular attractions in Bangkok.
Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)
The towering spires of Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, are among the most recognizable landmarks in all of Southeast Asia. Looming over the Chao Phraya River, these famous spires were built during the 19th century, while the temple itself dates back to at least the 17th century. The temple was built by King Thaksin to commemorate the beginning of the new kingdom, after Thailand’s former capital of Ayutthaya was destroyed. This temple is an example of Khmer-style architecture, including its distinct stupa which features ornate floral patterns embellished in shiny porcelain.
Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
Constructed in 1782, the Grand Palace was the family residence of the Thai Kings until 1946. Today, the palace complex is still involved in numerous ceremonial events, in addition to being a hugely popular tourist attraction. Wat Phra Kaew, the royal temple, occupies a portion of the palace compound. It’s among the most sacred temples in Thailand and houses the Emerald Buddha, which dates back to the 14th century.
Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha Temple)
Located not far away from the Grand Palace is Wat Pho, also known as the Reclining Buddha Temple. Built in the 18th century, Wat Pho is one of the largest temple complexes in the city. The temple is best known for its enormous 46-meter long reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf. Wat Pho is also home to one of the most famous massage schools in Thailand, so it’s also a wonderful place to try a traditional Thai massage.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Located about 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is one of Thailand’s most famous floating markets, attracting tourists from all over the world. Just imagine scores of wooden boats bobbing along the canal, filled with fresh produce and souvenirs. The market is a great place to practice bargaining and get a taste of Thailand’s famous cuisine.
Chao Phraya River & Waterways
A cruise down the Chao Phraya River offers a different perspective on this exciting city, showcasing its mix of modern and ancient. Bangkok has grown and flourished around this river, which has provided fish and other vital resources for centuries. The area between Phra Sumeru Fortress and Wat Arun houses the oldest human settlements in the city. The stilt houses surrounding the waterways are particularly charming.