Bangkok Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Bangkok
Bangkok (13°44'N 100°30'E), the economic and cultural as well as the administrative capital of Thailand, is situated on the fertile delta of the Menam Chao Phraya river at the junction of the country's four major regions, North West (Pak Nya), North East (Isaan), South East (Pak Dai Towan Org) and South West (Pak Dai) Thailand.
With Dom Muang, south-east Asia's largest international airport, sited just outside the city, Bangkok is the point of arrival for the great majority of visitors to Thailand. The name Bangkok, probably a corruption of "Ban Makok" meaning "village of olives", is seldom used by the Thais themselves. The capital's official name is "Krung Thep Mahanakorn Amorn Rattanakosin Mahintara Mahadirok Popnoparat Ratchathani Burirom Udommahasthan Amornpiman Awathansathit", usually shortened, for obvious reasons, to "Krung Thep" (City of Angels). Alternatively the city is known as "Phra Nakhon" (the Heavenly Capital). Bangkok is the only city in Thailand which enjoys full provincial status in its own right.When the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese in 1767, General Phya Taksin, together with about 10,000 troops, made his escape to Chonburi by way of Bangkok. After launching a number of successful counter-attacks he finally drove the Burmese from the country and, in 1772, had himself declared king. One of his first official acts was to make Thonburi (now a district of Bangkok) the new capital of Siam. Bangkok at the time appeared, in the words of Europeans passing through on their way to Ayutthaya, a "small place with two forts". In fact the village was already a strategically situated trading post of some consequence, but one to which Europeans as yet attached little importance. In 1782 Bangkok itself became the kingdom's capital, seat of the royal house and of government and parliament. It was Rama I (1782-1809), founder of the still-ruling Chakri dynasty, who, in the early years of his reign, moved his royal residence from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Menam Chao Phraya. In so doing he set the scene for the transformation of Bangkok from erstwhile village to metropolis. Monasteries and temples were built and leading business-houses established themselves on the banks of the Menam, quickly turning the city into a center of international trade.Bangkok experienced a particular heyday during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V; 1868-1910); it was he who built the first wide streets, and also a 10-km (61/2-mi.) tramway. Under his successors the city expanded in uncontrolled leaps and bounds, the lack of planning being all too evident today.Now merged, Thonburi and Bangkok form a melting pot of more than six million people, who inhabit an area of only 650 sq. km (250 sq. mi.). "Greater Bangkok" has a population of nearly nine million.Bangkok has over 400 temples, a big part of the numerous cultural sites that make it a popular tourist destination as well as Thailand's major tourist gateway. The design of many of the wats was influenced by buildings in other parts of Thailand; for the visitor this means an insight into differing styles of temple architecture, not simply the Bangkok (or Rattanakosin) style. There are a number of palaces, some still used by the Royal family. The Grand Palace is the King's official residence.
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Bangkok is the Grand Palace. The associated Wat Phra Kaeo houses the Jade statue of Buddha.
Amongst the most charming temples in Bangkok is the Wat Benchama-bo-bitr or the 'Marble Temple'. The Temple is made from a distinct white Tuscan marble imported from Italy.
Known as a place of healing, Wat Pho is the oldest and grandest temple in the city. The temple features a striking interior with red and gold ceilings.
The extensive National Museum and associated Wang Na Palace are popular attractions to visit in Bangkok. Visitors can take guided tours around the Museum and Palace grounds.
The wooden houses, collectively known as 'Jim Thompson's Houses', are named after the American who brought them from Ayutthaya to Bangkok by boat. The houses are located in a picturesque garden.
Bangkok is famous for its many lively Markets which are in operation all day, and occasionally through the night.
Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha)
Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) owes its fame and its attraction to an accident, prior to which it was just one of the many hundreds of very ordinary temples scattered throughout Bangkok.During the 1950s the land around it was purchased by the East Asiatic Company, a condition of the sale being the removal of a plaster statue of Buddha. The statue proved too heavy for the crane being used to lift it; the cable parted and the figure was dropped, being left overnight where it fell. This happened to be in the rainy season, and when next morning some monks walked past, they noticed a glint of gold shining through in one place. The plaster was removed, revealing a 3.5 m (12 ft) Buddha cast from 5.5 tons of solid gold. All attempts to trace the origin of this priceless statue have so far failed. It is assumed however to date from the Sukhothai period, when marauding invaders threatened the country and its treasures, and it became common practice to conceal valuable Buddha figures such as this beneath a coating of plaster. Nor is it known how the statue came to Bangkok.The Golden Buddha can be seen on the upper floor of a two-story building access to which is by an external staircase next to the bot.
When, having fallen to the Burmese, Ayutthaya was reduced to rubble and ashes, General Taksin and the remaining survivors vowed to march "until the sun rose again", and there to build a temple. Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, stands on the spot to which they came and where later the new king built his royal palace and with it a private chapel.The wat, with its 79-m (259-ft) high central prang surrounded by four smaller ones, has become a symbol of Bangkok despite the fact that it adorns the Thonburi embankment on the far side of the river. The plastered brick exterior is decorated with countless fragments of porcelain. It is possible to climb up the prang, the effort being rewarded by an excellent view of Bangkok. Seen from the Bangkok side of the Menam Chao Phraya, sunset over Wat Arun is an unforgettable experience.
The Giant Swing is a 27 m high apparatus which was once used in a religious ceremony, but eventually banned because it was deemed too dangerous..
This Buddhist temple is thought to be one of the oldest in Bangkok. This striking temple is also home to some unique wall paintings.
Open once again to visitors following major restoration, Vimarnmek Palace is located at the rear of the park which surrounds the National Assembly (west of Dusit Zoo).The four-story teak building houses the extensive royal art collection of furniture, paintings, jewelry, much of it acquired by King Rama V.
Bangkok no longer has an authentic floating market. Most of the canals (klongs) cutting through the city were either drained and filled because of the risk of cholera they posed, or converted into badly needed roads. Only in Thonburi do one or two vendors still set up shop on the klongs in the early mornings. Even so, a boat trip along the waterways remains an absorbing experience, best embarked upon from the landing-stage near the Oriental Hotel. Here, especially in the morning, a multitude of craft wait to ferry sightseers across the Menam Chao Phraya and through the tangled web of little and not so little canals. The time to go if at all possible is in the morning or the late afternoon when life along the klongs is at its most colorful and varied.In order to see the kind of floating market which still existed in Bangkok up to a few years ago, it is now necessary to make the journey to Damnoen Saduak.
Chitralada PalaceOnce King Chulalongkorn's summer residence, Chitralada Palace stands in about 1 sq. km (247 acres) of grounds incorporating several artificial lakes. At each corner of the park is a fountain adorned with Late Baroque figures drawn from mythology, evidence of the cultivated taste of Thailand's rulers.Chitralada is hardly a typical royal residence; visitors, were they to be granted access, would be reminded more of an agricultural research station. The palace indeed doubles as a sort of experimental farm, aimed primarily at boosting the income of rice growers in the north by providing fish stock. The royal fish ponds are therefore much more than just a hobby. There is also a beef-rearing unit and an experimental dairy.As befits their status, the famous royal "white elephants" also have their quarters at the palace, where they are taken after first spending some time in Dusit Zoo. King Bhumibol now owns more albino elephants than any of his predecessors; never before have so many been presented to a monarch in the course of his reign.The moat around the grounds made headlines during the unrest in 1973 when student demonstrators sought, and found, refuge inside the palace railings.
Lak MuangBuilt around the stone which marks the city's foundation, this small shrine is the point from which all distances are measured. Here too, according to popular belief, dwell the guardian spirits of Bangkok, the real "masters" of the city. No matter what the hour of day or night a throng of people armed with flowers and joss sticks is always gathered around the gilded lingam, the phallic symbol in the center of the shrine, hoping to be granted good fortune in their various earthly ventures. They buy caged birds which they then release, not just to please the guardian spirits but also to smooth their own passage into Nirvana.The area around Lak Muang swarms with people too - making their offerings at altars set up outside the shrine, or washing with holy lotus blossom water scooped from large pots placed near by. In one corner, day time performances of Thai theatre are guaranteed an enthusiastic audience.
Siam Niramit is a theatrical production featuring 150 performers, 500 lavish costumes, spectacular scenery, and amazing special effects using the world's most advanced technology. The performance is a realistic Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Thailand starting with a trip back in time - over 7 centuries ago.
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