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  • Bangkok, Thailand City Guide

GETTING AROUND BANGKOK

Getting downtown from the Novotel Hotel or airport is easy using the BTS SkyTrain. Taxis are available, but expensive, and the traffic can make it a long trip. Bangkok’s elevated rail system is exceptionally clean and convenient, and the BTS SkyTrain line from the airport connects to the two other lines on the system. Ticket/token machines have an English option or you can buy a day pass from the people in the ticket booth.

Tip: Check out the arrows on the platforms. Locals line up to board trains to the side of the doors, thus creating a large space for those exiting. It’s very efficient, so it helps if you follow suit and wait in line to board.

The river ferries will also efficiently whisk you through the city and comes with some scenery, as well.

THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK

Map of Bangkok with highlight markers for guide locations

1. GRAND PALACE

This palace complex was the home for the royal family until the end of the 19th century. It is now used for royal ceremonies and welcoming important guests. Set aside at least a half day to leisurely take it all in. The whole compound is a peaceful and green respite from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city.

Tip: Shorts and sleeveless tops are not allowed. Licensed guides are available for a fee.

Don’t miss the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s most sacred places. The Emerald Buddha (actually made of jade) may be more than 2000 years old and is revered for its artistry.

Most people miss the small but interesting Museum of Regalia, Royal Decorations, and Coins. Displays include royal robes, jewelry, and swords—all intricately engraved or enameled.

2. WAT ARUN

Right on the riverbank, “The Temple of Dawn” has a central tower covered in colorful porcelain. It once housed the Emerald Buddha and was part of the royal palace before both were moved across the river to their present location.

3. WAT PHO

Wat Pho complex is adjacent to the Grand Palace and one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, intended to be a place for public education with murals on various subject areas. You’ll find the largest collection of Buddha images in the country, including the famous Reclining Buddha, which is over 150 ft long. The temple is also home to a school of Thai medicine, which is considered the birthplace of Thai massage, and you can enjoy a treatment while there for an added fee.

4. BANGKOK NATIONAL MUSEUM

Exhibits of Thai art and history with artifacts dating to the Neolithic times are housed in a former palace. Other displays include regional Buddhist arts from India, China, Indonesia, and Indochina.

5. VIMANMEK MANSION

Perhaps the world’s largest teakwood building, this early 20th-century mansion was used briefly as a royal residence and then basically abandoned for 80 years. It’s been restored and is now part of a large complex of museums.

6. WAT BENCHAMABOPHIT

Known as “The Marble Temple,” this temple is regarded as an architectural masterpiece with neo-classical influences on an otherwise traditional Thai style.

7. JIM THOMPSON HOUSE

The home of an American who brought the Thai silk trade to the west and then mysteriously disappeared while hiking in Malaysia. Learn about the process of gathering silk, weaving, and dying. Buy their beautiful products for gifts or souvenirs.

8. SNAKE FARM AT RED CROSS INSTITUTE

Watch as the workers “milk” the venom from the snakes’ fangs. This is how they extract snake venom for labs to produce anti-venom.

9. MARIAMMAN TEMPLE (Maha Uma Devi)

This Hindu temple is built in the South Indian architectural style and is often crowded, but is also an incredible site. Built in 1879, this is the main Hindu temple in Thailand and is covered in carvings of deities.
For hotel recommendations, please see the Pre- & Post-Tour section of your Trip Planner.

FOOD TOUR

Taste of Thailand (www.tasteofthailandfoodtours.org) runs several food tours around the city. You’ll have a chance to taste traditional dishes, sweets, and produce, as well as foods influenced by the international community in Bangkok.

FLOATING MARKET TOUR

There are many floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok. Some are more touristy than others, and there are many companies that offer tours of them with pick up at your hotel. Most markets are open weekends only. Amphawa is one of the most well-known. Tha Kha is one of the less-touristy ones with beautiful overhead foliage but has an erratic schedule. Khlong Lat Mayom also has less tourists and offers unusual fruits and vegetables.

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