Bangkok

The beautiful capital of Thailand

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The official name of Bangkok is: Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. Which translates as City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra's behest. With this long name Bangkok has earned a place in the Guiness Book of Records. Common Thai call it Krungthep and more sophisticated Thai call it Ratanakoshin.

 

Bangkok is the fourth capital of what we call Thailand. Before becoming the capital of the nation in 1782, it was a small fisher town. It was made capital by the first king of the Chakri Dynasty King Phra Putthayotfa (Rama I) who reined from 1782 to 1809. For more information on the Kings of the Chakri, please go to the Chakri Dynasty page.

 

There is a lot to see and to do in Bangkok. Things you can do/see: visit some of the 4000 Wats (Buddhist Temples), go shopping, go on an bicycle tour, go on a klong (canal) tour, visit China Town (the largest outside of China), take a tuk-tuk (but be aware: they are not the safest way to get around and be sure to agree a price BEFORE getting in to one), visit the aquarium at Siam Paragon Shopping Center and many more.
Bangkok is also a great hub to visit other places near the town.
The most popular site to visit in Bangkok is the Grand Palace with Wat Phra Keo on its grounds.

 

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

Wat Phra Kaew houses the most important Buddha image of Thailand: the Phra Kaew Morakot.

The Buddha is made out of one piece of jade (not Emerald as the English name 'The Emerald Buddha' may suggest). The Buddha is sitting in the lotus position and is 66 cm tall.

The Buddha has 3 costumes: a diamond encrusted golden robe through the hot season, a solid gold robe in the cool season and a gold-plated monk's robe with headdress for the rainy season. These costumes are changed by the king.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace (with the Wat Phra Kaew on its grounds) is Thailand's most important tourist site.

The construction of the palace began in 1782 when Rama I (see Chakri page) was king. It was the home of the Royal family from 1782 to 1925. Nowadays it is only used on special occasions.

 

 

Visiting The Grand Palace (& Wat Phra Kaew)

On your way to visiting this magnificent site, you probably going to get there by taxi or tuk-tuk. Many a driver will tell you the Palace is closed. Do not let you fool you. The only time the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok is entirely closed is when it is being used for state functions, which rarely occurs. The Palace opens at 08.30 AM and closes at 03.30 PM. This includes Sundays.
The entrance fee is 500 Thai Baht and includes entrance to Wat Phra Kaew, the Grand Palace, and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile.
There are clothing restrictions: no sleeveless shirts, no vests, no short top, no see through tops, no short hot pants or short pants, no torn pants,
no tight pants, no bike pants, no mini skirts, no flip flops.
As you will probably visit the site for 3 to 4 hours, be sure to have a bottle of water with you. You can refill it (for free) on grounds of the compound. So no need to get thirsty.
Taking photo's: you are allowed to take as many photo's as you like. The only spot where it is not allowed to take photo's is the hall where the Emerald Buddha is sitting. However, you can take photo's of the image from the outside. THe only reason it is probhibited in the hall is to ensure the serenity of the hall.

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Wat Pho is one of the eldest temples of Bangkok. The temple was there before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand.

The main reason for many foreigners to visit Wat Pho is the giant Reclining Buddha. (46 meters long and 15 meters high).

The entrance fee is 200 Baht. Opening hours: 08.00 AM to 06.30 PM.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Wat Arun is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya river at the Thonburi site of Bangkok.

Entrance fee is 50 Baht. Opening hours: 07.00 AM 05.30 PM.

Travel Tip

To me the above mentioned sites are all MUST SEES in Bangkok. And they are all located very close to each other so they can easily be visited in one day. Wat Pho and the Grand Palace are located next to each other and very close to the Chao Phraya River. From both locations it is a very short walk to the river banks where you can cross the river to Wat Arun.

Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple)

The construction of this magnificent Wat began in 1899 at the request of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

The Buddha inside is called  Phra Buddhajinaraja and is a copy of the Phra Buddha Chinarat (the ashes of King Chulalongkorn are buried beneath the statue) which can be found in

Phitsanulok (Northerrn Thailand). To me these Buddha images are the most beautiful ones I have ever seen.
Wat Benchamabophit is a MUST SEE.

Tip: when going to this Wat, ask the driver for Wat Bencha.

Wat Phra Sukhothai Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha)

The Buddha of this Wat has a somewhat unusual history.

The image is called Phra Phuttha Maha Suwanna Patimakon.
The golden image we see today was discovered in 1955. Before that is was covered in stucco. This was probably done to prevent the the Burmees to take it from Ayutthaya, where the Buddha was previously located.

When trying to put the statue from its pedestal one of the ropes broke and a part of the stucco broke, revealing gold. It turned out the inside the stucco there was a golden Buddha image with a weight of 5.5 tons.

In 2009 the Buddha was moved again. This time to a much bigger Viharn on the same grounds.