Bangkok is the capital city of the Siam Kingdom of Thailand and is among the world’s top tourist destinations. Known for its ornate shrines, cultural landmarks, vibrant street life and notorious red-light districts, it is known to be the most visited city in the world. From the peaceful Buddha temples to the chaos of the local streets; Bangkok will surprise you with its variety of familiar and exotic experiences you can choose from. It is the most enigmatic city with a perfect blend of tradition and modernity and a perfect balance between sacred and profane. The best time to visit Bangkok is between November to February when the climate is cool. Rest of the year is hot and humid here. Here is a list of top 5 things you must do in Bangkok.
1. Reclining Buddha Temple
‘Wat Pho’ or the ‘Reclining Buddha’ temple is known to be the oldest temple in Bangkok. The main attraction of this royal temple is a 46 meters long and 15 metres high statue of the reclining Buddha which is the largest statue of Buddha in Thailand. This grand statue is made of ‘gold leaf’ and the eyes as well as the soles of the feet of Buddha are made of the ‘mother of pearl’.
The feet of the statue are 3 m high and 4.5 m long. They are divided into 108 panels displaying the auspicious symbols that represent Buddha . These symbols include, flowers, white elephants, dancers, tigers and altar accessories. The hall at the back of the statue contains a row of 108 small bowls. Visitors can purchase a set of coins to drop in each of these bowls which is known to be an auspicious ritual that fulfils 108 wishes. The set of coins cost only $0.60. There is more to the temple than just the reclining Buddha.
It has more than 1000 statues of Buddha scattered throughout the grounds. There are 91 stupas with amazing tile and ceramic work. Four of these stupas are the largest and dedicated to the 4 Kings of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty. They hold the ashes of these kings. The peaked and beautifully carved roofs of the temple are a perfect example of the excellence of Thai architecture. The outer court of the temple has 16 gates guarded by huge stone statues.
Wat Pho is also the birthplace of the traditional Thai Massage. You will find many pictures on the wall explaining the various pressure points to be pressed in a massage. There are Thai massage courses here and visitors can even opt for the massage by the students of the course at a much cheaper price. Overall, Wat Pho is the temple you simply cannot miss in Bangkok. Visitors are required to wear appropriate clothes to visit the temple – attire that covers your knees and shoulders and this applies to both men and women. To enter the main temple, you need to remove your shoes and hat and carry them with you in a poly bag provided at the entrance. Keep your entry ticket safely as it entitles you for a free water bottle after your visit to the main temple.
2. Dinner Cruise
Dinner Cruise is the most luxurious experience you must have in Bangkok. Relish the lip smacking flavours of the traditional Thai food along with your choice of wine as you sail along the city’s most spectacular Chao Praya River. You’ll feel like being in a completely magical world as the shimmering temples, the glistening skyscrapers and the cool tropical breeze greet you from every direction. The romantic candle-lit ambiance and the world class hospitality adds icing to the cake. It’s a simply unforgettable experience you should not miss in Bangkok. We chose the ‘Apsara Dinner Cruise by Banyan Tree’ and I highly recommend it for a more personalised service. The food and wine was served on our table. The staff was very cordial and helped all guests to take pictures and even gifted us with a souvenir photograph.
3. Bangkok Flower Market
‘Pak Klong Talad’ or the Bangkok Flower Market is the biggest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in Bangkok. Although the market is not designed for a tourist attraction, you must visit this place for once if you love fresh markets. The place is a kaleidoscope of bright, blooming and beautiful colours. You’ll find a lot of flowers from local as well as imported species. They include roses, jasmine, forget-me-not, chrysanthemum, orchids, lilies, tulips, snapdragons, iris, crown flowers, delphinium and many more. All these flowers are sold at relatively cheap prices.
The market is more crowded at night and in the early morning. The area of the market is not so big and it will take from 30 mins to an hour for you to walk around. It’s quite amusing to see the workers in the market making beautiful garlands, bouquets and other flower crafts. The amalgamation of bright colours with the freshness of nature is simply a treat to the eyes. As a part of our tour, I tried my hands on making a flower garland and doing some flower art. We ended the tour sipping on a delicious blue tea, traditionally made with fresh butterfly-pea flowers.
4. Tuk-Tuk Night Tour
’Sam Lor’ or commonly known as tuk-tuks are three wheeled vehicles similar to the auto rickshaws. Book a tuk-tuk night tour to venture into the city’s glittering temples and eye-catching landmarks at night. Get to know the history and culture of Thailand while sitting in a beautifully lit tuk-tuk with neon lights.
Walk through the local markets of Bangkok and taste the local street food. Relish a traditional Pad Thai dinner at an authentic Thai restaurant. The experience is a splendid one. Please make sure you book this tour online or with a travel agency only. Do not book a tuk-tuk directly for this night tour as tuk-tuk scams are pretty common in Bangkok. This is a guided tour with an English speaking guide who takes care of you throughout the trip.
5. Thai Massage
When in Thailand, Thai massage is something that should be on your priority list. The traditional Thai massage aims at pressing various pressure points in the body for an overall well being. Thai massage has a long history and has passed through generations. There are numerous massage options available in Bangkok that you can opt for.
Not all of the massage centres you find there are authentic. Check if the masseur is a local from Thailand. Locals know the massage techniques very well as they have learnt it from their family traditions. Traditional Thai massage is generally done without oil and the duration ranges from 60 minutes to 120 minutes. It aims at pressing more than 100 pressure points in the body. Other options include oil massages , foot massage, head massage, Spa, etc. You are greeted with a cold welcome drink and an after massage warm drink to relax your body.