BANGKOK, THAILAND (Podcast and show notes)

Bangkok in Thailand is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities to visit. Chock full of traffic and always bustling, but it is full of friendly, gentle and welcoming people with great hotels, food and things to see and do.

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Overview of things to do:


1: The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace has an area of 218,400 sq. metres and is surrounded by walls built in 1782. The length of the four walls is 1,900 metres. Within these walls are situated government offices and the Chapel Royal of the Emerald Buddha besides the royal residences.

Just north of the Royal Residence of the Maha Monthian from which there is a connecting gate lies The Chapel Royal of The Emerald Buddha. The “Emerald Buddha” is carved from a block of jade. It is an object of national veneration and crowds come to pay respect to the memory of the Buddha and His Teachings on certain days of the weeks when it is open to the public.

Within the complex are many buildings for diverse purposes and in differing styles reflecting the architecture of the various reigns. However, despite their differences the most of the structures adhere strictly to traditional Thai style, their diversity lying rather in certain details or construction materials. There are 12 smalls pavilions surrounding the Ubosot (Chapel).

2. Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)

One of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok features the famous Reclining Buddha, which is the largest in Thailand measuring more than 150 feet in length.

Just behind the opulent extravagance of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha stands Wat Phra Chetuphon, which is more commonly known by its old name of Wat Po. Most western tourists don’t get past the temple’s huge reclining Buddha, but there is actually much more to see than the one colossal statue.

The temple is actually much older than the city of Bangkok itself. It was founded in the 17th century, making it the oldest temple in Bangkok. The name Wat Po comes from its original name of Wat Potaram. King Rama I, the founder of Bangkok, enlarged the temple, installed many statues and other artefacts recovered from Ayuthaya, and renamed the temple Wat Phra Chetuphon in 1801.

3. Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn

This temple is considered to be the most famous and photographed temple in Bangkok, which features a soaring 70-meter-high spire decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain.

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, is one of Bangkok’s best know landmark. It stands on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Thon Buri. Wat Arun is best seen from the opposite bank of the river; it glistens in the sunlight during the day and stands dark and noble at dawn or dusk. A visit to the beautiful, peaceful monastery complex surrounding the familiar towers is very worth-while. These towers, the “Phra Prang,” although best known, the only part of Wat Arun. It also contains narrow lanes; elegant, old white buildings; shrines, pools of turtles and two fine giants, ” Yuk Wat Jaeng,” mortal enemies of the ” Yuk Wat Po” across the river.

Wat Arun figures in one of Thailand’s most colorful festival, the Royal Tod Kathin. Then His Majesty the King travels down the river in a procession of Royal barges to present new robes to the monks after their three-month lent period

4. Vimanek Mansion/ Palace

Built by King Rama V, this palace is the largest teak structure in the world featuring a unique blend of Victorian and delicate Thai architecture.

Upon his return from Europe in1897, King Rama V (1868-1910) used his personal money to purchase orchards and paddy fields between Padung Krungkasem Canal and Samsen Canal for the construction of a royal garden which he named “the Dusit Garden”.
The first permanent residence in Dusit Garden was Vimanmek Mansion, built in 1900 by the royal command of King Rama V. The mansion was in fact his former Summer Palace, the Munthaturaltanaroj Residence of the Chuthathujrachathan at Koh Sri Chang, Chonburi, that was dismantled and rebuilt under the supervision of HRH Prince Narissaranuwaddhiwongse. The celebration for the completion of Vimanmek Mansion was held on March 27, 1901. King Rama V moved from the Grand Palace to reside in Vimanmek Mansion for 5 years until the completion of the Amporn Satarn Mansion in 1906 where he lived until his untimely death in 1910. As a result, Vimanmek Mansion become deserted and the royal family moved back to the Grand Palace.
The building has two right-angled wings. Each wing is 60 metres long and 20 metres high. It is a three-storey building except for the part where the King resided, which is octagonal and has four-storeys. The ground floor is brick and cement while the upper floors are built of golden teakwood planks. There are altogether 31 exhibition rooms, some of which maintain the atmosphere of the past, especially the bedrooms, the Audience Chamber and the bathrooms. Some rooms house exhibitions of art works, for example, there is a silverware display room, a ceramic display room, a glassware display room and an ivory display room.
5. Bangkok National Museum
This museum, considered the largest in Southeast Asia, houses a vast collection of antiquities including prehistoric art, murals, bronzes, exhibits from other Asian countries and ceremonial carriages used by royal families.
The history of the National Museum Bangkok dates back to 1874 when His Majesty, King Rama V opened the first public “museum” to exhibit the royal collection of King Rama IV, and other objects of general interest, at the Concordia Pavilion inside the Brand Palace. Later, the Museum was transferred to its present site, the “Wang Na”, or “Palace to the Front” which had been the palace of the Prince Successor. In 1926, it was named the “Bangkok Museum” and subsequently developed into the National Museum Bangkok, when it came under the direction of the Department of Fine Arts in 1934.
This place is REALLY close to the Grand Palace
6. Temple of the Golden Budda
This highly revered temple contains the Golden Image Buddha, which is made of solid gold and weighs approximately 5 ½ tons.
7. Lumpini Park
There is a green oasis amongst the cement jungle that is Bangkok. It is called Lumpini Park, and it is sort of the Thai version of Central Park. It is a very large park that does not allow motorized vehicles. It is large enough that visitors are buffered from the noise and exhaust of the surrounding streets. Lumpini park has it all – trees, flowers, grass, lakes, creeks, quaint bridges, trails, benches….
8. PatPong Night Market and…
In the evening, this lively market is a great place to shop for souvenirs, fake brand name items and cheap goods and to visit Bangkok’s infamous “adult entertainment area.”
9. Getting about
Bangkok’s skytrain has revolutionized travel within the congested Thai capital. Opened by HM King on his birthday (05 December 1999) the mass transport system changed life overnight for millions of city commuters. The system is spotlessly clean, fast, efficient, and relatively cheap. Previously a trip between two busy commercial centers of Silom and Suriwongse would have taken at least an hour by taxi. More info Route map

Now, in a matter of minutes, commuters can fly over Bangkok’s rooftops to arrive at their choice of destination. Stations have a range of kiosk shops with products ranging from coffee to cell phones. Computerized ticketing save busy travelers time – if they have the right change! Views from the train offer an interesting contrast from that of the street level; from the train you can actually get the impression that Bangkok is a vertical city not far detached from the media projections of New York

The northern part of the line goes to Mawchit (northern bus station) and a simple hop to Chatuchuk market opens a new and exotic world for western visitors. This sprawling bazaar is one of the most celebrated in Bangkok with offering that range from plastic kitchenware to snake oil.

too tooks


10. Shopping: Avoid the home made tailors…..visit a night market… and the very glitzy malls 9though these are expensive

Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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