What to see in Bangkok? Well, Bangkok is a hive of activity, with people, traffic, markets, street vendors, scooters and tuk tuks. This was my first visit to Bangkok, travelling with Tourism Thailand for Women’s Journey 2016 – Thailand through her eyes.
Coming from a small country town in Northern Victoria, my first impression was one of feeling overwhelmed, however it was quickly replaced with fascination, wonder and awe for the vastly different way of life in this bustling city.
If you’ve ever been to Bangkok, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Depending on how much time you have in Bangkok, one of the hardest things will no doubt be deciding how to fit in everything you want to see and do!
For a first visit, here are my recommendations on what to see in Bangkok.
1-The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
The Grand Palace is probably Bangkok’s most famous landmark – so be prepared to be visiting with hordes of other tourists, but trust me, it is well worth it.
Built in 1782, it was home to the Thai King. The architecture is awe-inspiring and the intricate detail testament to the dedication and work that must have gone into building it.
The Palace complex is made up of several different buildings, one of the being Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha is made of green jasper (the emerald part refers only to the colour of it) and sits in the centre of the temple upon a large gold altar.
It is covered in a robe that gets changed three times per year by the Thai King, coinciding with the seasonal months (summer, winter and the rainy season) and is an important ritual in the Buddhist calendar.
2-Thon Buri Palace
We took a boat ride over the Chao Phraya River to Phra Racha Wang Derm (Thon Buri Palace). Crossing the river by boat is quite a treat in itself as it gives a different perspective and view to the cityscape.
Phra Racha Wang Derm is the former royal palace of King Taksin. In 1767, King Taksin reasserted rulership over most of Siam after the Burmese had attacked Ayuthaya (more about that further on).
The King established Thon Buri Palace on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. The grounds are now the headquarters of the Royal Thai Navy.
3-Royal Barge Museum
Next on the list of what to see in Bangkok would be the Royal Barge Museum. Here you will find eight historical royal barges on display, some which are more than 200 years old.
They are made from large pieces of teak, beautifully and intricately decorated and engraved with mythical creatures.
My next recommendation would be to visit Ayutthaya. It’s about 50km north of Bangkok, but not something to be missed.
Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and is the second capital of Siam (the former name for Thailand).
Apparently, by 1700, Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world. However in 1767 the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya and burnt nearly the whole city to the ground, and the city left in ruins. In short, the people of Ayutthaya were forced to abandon the city. To this day it remains as a large archaeological site full of rich history, memories and relics from the past.
We visited Wat Phanang Choeng, a Buddhist temple which is located in Ayutthaya. It was actually built in 1324, 26 years before Ayutthaya was officially founded.
Walking around this area, I was awe-struck just thinking about the history behind the walls, imagining what must have happened, while the sweet smell of incense wafting around everywhere takes your senses back to a place that recognises on some level a past history.
One that is so rich and full of life, invoking a sense of nostalgia, it’s impossible not to be deeply touched by it all.
Legend has it that this Buddha image, shed tears when the Burmese overtook Ayutthaya.
Following on from there, Wat Maheyong is located just outside the city in the Hantra sub-district of Ayutthaya.
This Buddhist monastery was originally thought to have been built in 1438, during the reign of King Borommarachathirat II.
Wat Maheyong underwent a major restoration project in 1709. It and took somewhere around three years to complete. All that is left now though is the ruins of the temple, which again are spectacular to see.
It will leave you in a world full of wonder of a time that is beyond us, and hard to fully comprehend; something that will be etched in your mind and have you thinking about for days, if not months and years to come.
6-Ayutthaya floating markets
From there you can head to the Ayutthaya floating markets to get a bit of a shopping fix. There is well over 200 different shops offering clothing, art, souvenirs, and of course, plenty of food!
7-Candy Floss Street
On the way back to Bangkok, you would be remiss to pass by Candy Floss Street.
We were treated to the Thai way of making candy floss, and how sweet it is!
Candy Floss, but not as we know it. Wrapped in a sweet Roti crepe, it is pure sugary bliss.
Initially we were a bit unsure of it, but that was quickly surpassed with the sweet deliciousness that leaves you craving more.
8-Bangkok Flower Market
Back to Bangkok, and one thing I had heard about was the incredible 24/7 flower market.
The flower market is the biggest wholesale fresh flower market in Bangkok, and yes, it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week! So matter what time you find yourself there, you will always be delighted with beautiful orchids, roses, marigolds, and pretty much any flower you can think of.
9-Museum of Floral Culture
Carrying on with the flower theme, last but certainly not least, I would highly recommend a visit to The Museum of Floral Culture.
It is the brainchild of internationally renowned Thai floral artist Sakul Intakul. It has been created especially for lovers of flowers and those with an interest in Thai art and culture.
Located in the quiet residential area of the Dusit District, it offers a lovely retreat away from the busyness of the city.
You are able to do an exclusive tour which is conducted by Sakul Intakul himself, in which he will lead you through the exquisite collection of floral art throughout the museum, explaining the history behind it all. Afterwards you are treated to a fragrant specialty tea such as Love Pekoe Rose Tea, or Fujiian Jasmine Green Tea.
Heather Udy was a guest of Tourism Authority of Thailand