With a number of airlines now flying to Bangkok, more and more travellers find themselves spending time in Thailand's capital when backpacking Southeast Asia. There is plenty to keep everyone occupied alongside the usual backpacker staple of sampling the bars on the infamous Khaosan Road. In this article, I have listed what I feel to be five excellent places to visit in Bangkok, each rich in culture and very typically Thai.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Expect large crowds and plenty of bootleg items on sale at Thailand's largest market. With thousands of market stalls covering 35 acres, you can expect to find everything from household goods, handicrafts, food and drink, clothing, footwear to fake football shirts and even live animals! Even if shopping is not your thing, Chatuchak weekend market is well worth a visit just witness this bizarre assembly of stalls.
Grand Palace & Wat Prakeaw
The misleadingly named Grand Palace is actually a complex of beautiful buildings spanning 20 acres in the heart of Bangkok. Wat Prakeaw (or The Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Thailand's most important and sacred temple houses a tiny Buddha carved entirely of Jade, and is probably the most famous temple in the complex.
Throughout the grounds you will find plenty of golden spires and colourful gargoyles and stunning architecture. The only down side is that it is a big tourist attraction, and as such comes with lots of scammers and touts and you will spend a large proportion of your time dodging amateur photographers! However, it is still very much well worth the visit and small entrance fee, and does make for some nice photo opportunities. Get more info about Places to see in Bangkok.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
The Damnoen Saduak floating market is actually about 100 kilometres from Bangkok, but well worth the half day round trip to visit. In the past, people used small rowing boast to navigate the canals. Nowadays, you can hire an engine powered longtail, which will power down the waterways when the congestion has eased! It is certainly intriguing and I would recommend getting some fresh fruit from one of the fruit vendors, which will peel, trim and cut any number of exotic fruits for you to try. Why not give the dragon fruit or pomelo a try. If you are not feeling very brave then maybe bananas are a safer option.
A trip to Thailand would not be complete without a visit to a Muay Thai Boxing stadium for a thrilling evening of contact sport, Thai style! Professional and amateur matches are held several nights a week, with ticket prices ranging from 500 to 2000 Baht.
Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
Wat Pho is the largest temple (or Wat) in Bangkok, and houses the 22-acre long statue of the Reclining Buddha. The immense gold-plated statue is intricately carved and is engraved with mother-of-pearl. This impressive temple is not only famous for the Reclining Buddha though: it was also Thailand's first university and the centre of Thai massage. A traditional massage here costs roughly 250 Baht, although you may wish to have something a little less painful and more relaxing like a herbal massage for around the same price.
If you have a bit of time to spare, and you wish to learn the art of Thai massage, courses can be arranged here for about 4500 Baht and can be split over ten days.
Many people find the hustle and bustle of Bangkok a bit too overwhelming and so only stay for a few days and this is enough time to see a few of the attractions listed above. If this busy city proves to be too much for, why not head south towards the islands, where you can treat yourself to some rest and relaxation on some of Thailand's finest beaches.
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