Wat Arun, one of the must-see attractions in Bangkok
Bangkok is a huge, sprawling metropolis, but most of its attractions are located in a relatively small area by the Chao Phraya River. That’s where you’ll find most of the glittering temples (“wats”) and the continually-evolving skyline with modern towers (most of them housing luxury hotels, malls, or stylish apartments). This is a rather young city (it was founded in 1782), so don’t expect ancient sites, but you’ll still see some splendid monuments, mostly dating from the 18th century.
ADMISSION PRICES: Tickets to sights in Bangkok are quite inexpensive. The most popular temples, for example, charge between 50 and 200 baht (1.60 to 6 US dollars/1.20 to 5 British pounds/1.40 to 5.50 euros), although most are free (but do have a box for donations). Occasionally, foreigners are charged a higher admission price than locals.
ORGANIZING YOUR TIME: To escape the energy-draining heat and humidity (and the crowds), get up and go out early. Because most of the city’s main sights are outdoors (the temples and the markets), visit them early in the morning, and take a break at lunch time. As most hotels in the city have a pool, relax there or go for a Thai massage in the hotter hours of the afternoon, and head back out at sunset for the views, rooftop bars, and night markets.
DRESS CODE: Most of the city’s main tourist attractions are sacred places, so dress and behave appropriately. Sleeveless shirts, shorts (or shorts above the knee) and capri pants (basically anything that reveals more than your head and arms) are not allowed in many temples, and in particular at the Grand Palace. If you forget this dress code, you’ll be shown into a dressing room and given a sarong before being allowed in.
FINDING YOUR WAY: Finding your way around Bangkok is sometimes challenging. Sight and street names are transliterated, so you may see different spellings on maps and signs. Note that “ch” and “j” are interchangeable, as are “d” and “t.” “Ph” is pronounced “p,” and “th” is “t.” Major roads are “thanons” (example: the famous Khao San Road is often Thanon Khao San), and minor lanes are “sois” (which are usually numbered).
Tourists at the Wat Pho temple
Temples, Shrines and Churches
-Erawan Shrine - A pilgrimage site for good fortune.
-Kalawar Church - A Catholic church originally from the 1700s.
-Sri Maha Mariamman - Bangkok's most sacred and colorful Hindu temple.
-Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace - Royal residence with fairytale architecture and the city's grandest temple.
-Wat Arun - An iconic monument to climb on.
-Wat Benchamabhopit (Marble Temple) - An architectural masterpiece made with marble.
-Wat Mangkon Kamalawat - Bangkok's largest and most important Chinese Buddhist temple.
-Wat Pho - The must-see home of the gigantic Reclining Buddha.
-Wat Ratchanatdaram and Loha Prasat - A singular monastery.
-Wat Saket and the Golden Mount - A hilltop temple overlooking the city.
-Wat Suthat - The site of one of Thailand’s biggest Buddhas.
-Wat Traimit - Home of the world’s largest golden Buddha.
-Bangkok National Museum - A former royal palace displaying the country's national treasures.
-Jim Thompson House - A house-museum offering a fascinating look into traditional Thai architecture and Asian art.
-Royal Barges Museum - The marvelous vessels used by Thai royalty.
-Erawan Museum - A colorful museum topped by a three-headed bronze elephant, housing ancient artifacts.