Bangkok, the vibrant city set against the backdrop of the Chao Phraya river is an explosion to the senses. The sights, sounds and smells bring in a feeling of unfamiliar warmth; you see the facade of any other metropolitan city – the infrastructure, amazing transport connectivity, the never ending traffic, the lights from the skyscrapers, but dig in deeper and you realize the real soul lies in its grand and exquisite temples, the winding river reflecting the city’s timeless charm, its bustling, unique and colourful markets bursting with aromas from the food stalls lining the streets, the loud and flashy tuk tuks you cannot miss and the friendly smiles of the people as they say “khob khun khaa” in a sing-a-song way to thank you. You either love the city or you don’t, but you definitely cannot brush it off as just ‘another metro’! No wonder the locals call it Khrung Thep, the “City of Angels”.
Bangkok is like a huge multi flavoured pie, each slice to suit your own taste. It has a lot to offer depending on your interests, energy levels and the time you have. 3 days is hardly enough to even scratch the surface! Here’s what we did.
1. Visit the iconic Temples and Grand Palace
Visit the iconic landmarks of Bangkok – The Grand palace, Wat Pho (temple of Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).
The week we visited Bangkok coincided with the present king ‘s coronation ceremony so we found the whole city being decked up with flowers, buntings and flags in colours of the royalty; yellow and white. Flowered archs, orchids in every possible colour, streamers in yellow and white, life size photos of the king adorned every street around the palace.
Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha)
Start the day by visiting the Grand Palace. The former home of the King of Thailand, this palatial complex houses several buildings with its typical curved high roof with sharp tops and coloured sloped eaves. The palace is now used only for important ceremonial occasions.
Opening hours: Everyday 08:30 – 15:30
Ticket price: 500 Baht
Estimated time: 2-3 hours
Leaving you to enjoy photos of the grand and exquisite work in the Grand palace.
You can see us joining the monkey army as our guide insisted us for this must take pic! We did enjoy as you can see us giggling.. 😀
The temple of Emerald Buddha is in the adjoining complex and is about 2 minutes walk from the Grand palace. Photography of the sanctum is prohibited as the temple is open for prayers & ceremonies.
Visit the Grand palace as soon as it opens
to avoid crowds and also the scorching sun in the summer!
Dress modestly; making sure to cover your shoulders
and knees while going to the Palace. Shorts,
tank tops and sleeveless clothes are not allowed.
There is a counter to borrow stole and skirts but
the queues are long and you are required to leave
your passport or some ID proof to borrow the clothes.
Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho is a ten minute walk from the Grand palace, on the other side of the same block. At the entrance to the temple, you walk past huge statues of gatekeepers which are believed to be age old Chinese ballasts adding to the charm and vibe of the premise. You will find more statues in various sizes and types, based on Chinese beliefs dotting the several entrances to the temple complex.
Get your tickets sorted out and walk into a small temple-cum-museum on one side of the “Reclining Buddha” complex. There is a zen like aura in this temple; you can feel the palpable positive vibes as you observe people silently offering prayers & incense sticks at the altar against the background of the gentle humming of the huge gong similar to a Buddhist singing bowl.
Opening hours: Every day 08:30 – 18:30
Ticket price: 100 Baht
Estimated time: 1-2 hours
We spent a few minutes soaking in the peace while we skimmed through the museum to understand the history of the temple. We noticed a local person playing the gong with such ease, inviting tourists to try their hand at it. We did try our hand but were hardly able to get any sound from it. You can also get a slice of traditional fortune reading with numbered sticks & cards at the complex.
You will be astounded by the sheer size of the reclining Buddha. It is worth spending some time at the temple just to admire the 91 ornately decorated ceramic tiled stupas, murals, chedis, numerous statues of Buddhas and other smaller temples in the complex.
Our camera was busy throughout capturing the craftsmanship, architecture and colors as they looked more beautiful through the lenses.
We personally love the silence and calmness of temples and Wat Pho is dotted with plenty of such spots with small temples and prayer halls within the complex where you can reach your zen in seconds.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun is on the the other bank of the Chao Phraya river. Hop onto a public ferry at the Tha Tien Pier near Grand Palace to Wat Arun. It is the easiest, fastest and cheapest (15 THB per person) way to get there. The ferry also gives you a local flavour and panoramic views of the Temple and Grand Palace on either side of the river banks.
This spectacular White temple with spires reaching out to touch the sun against the stark contrast of blue skies is a sight to behold ! Climb up its steep stairs to get a view Bangkok , the bustling city, its majestic temples and palace resting on the other bank of the Chao Phraya.
I couldn’t resist posing for a ‘what Arun!?’ (pun intended) pic! 😀
2. Shopping 🙂
Bangkok should alternatively be called the “City of Shopping”. Markets galore, Bangkok is indeed a shopper’s paradise. Night markets, weekend markets, floating markets, train markets, plane markets., shopping malls, there is something for every every of shopper in Bangkok.
Read more about some really cool markets to visit in Bangkok in our post Shopper’s paradise – Bangkok
3. Food !
You cannot come to Bangkok and not try the food here ! Thai cuisine has some really exquisite and comforting flavors that we really loved to eat. We enjoyed trying some unique and bold flavors and decided Thai food needed a dedicated post of its own as there is a lot more to the cuisine than your staple Thai curries and rice!
Check out food recommendations on our blog Thailand – What to eat?