Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is a vibrant, exciting hive of activity. It is culturally-rich and renowned for its ornate temples and shrines as well as its 24/7 party scene.
It is a city of contrasts. You can find a quiet, holy temple where visitors have to show the utmost respect, close to a strip of bars and nightclubs where there is a constant flow of tourists. It is a place where the old meets new and calm clashes with chaos.
With over eight million inhabitants it is a vast city with an incredible amount to offer and a trip to Bangkok is very rewarding. Flights there are generally very economical and many visitors can travel there without needing a visa for Bangkok.
Here are just a few of the best things to see and do in Bangkok.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is the spiritual heart of Bangkok and the city’s most famous attraction. It is an elaborate complex of decadent buildings including Wat Phra Kaew, which contains an invaluable emerald Buddha which dates back to the 14th century. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and has also served the headquarters of the government and military over the centuries.
The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
Wat Pho is UNESCO-protected and one of Thailand’s oldest and most important temples. The giant Reclining Buddha is the temple’s centerpiece and represents Buddha’s entry into Nirvana. It’s 46 meters long, 15 meters tall, and is covered in gold leaf. Wat Pho also contains a vast number of other golden statues and beautifully detailed murals throughout its chambers and it’s also one of the best places to get a massage in Bangkok.
Floating Market (Damnoen Saduak)
Damnoen Saduak is the longest and straightest canal in Thailand. Its most famous feature is the the Floating Market which opens every day until noon. It is a labyrinth of canals containing boats full of fresh produce as well as floating kitchens which serve traditional Thai dishes. Despite an increasing number of visitors, the unique market has managed to retain its authentic feel.
Bangkok National Museum
The museum is home to the largest collection of artifacts and Thai art in the country. It once had a reputation as a poorly organised, chaotic collection of random things. It has now been reorganized into three separate sections consistent with different eras of Thai history. It was originally opened by King Rama V to showcase the gifts his father had given him. The collection includes jewels, clothing, textiles, woodcarvings, musical instruments, and weapons.
The Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)
Wat Arun is uniquely special. It looks very different from all the other temples in Bangkok as it was built in a distinctive ancient Khmer style. Its most imposing feature is its spire which is over 70 meters high and intricately decorated with colored glass and porcelain. Wat Arun symbolises the birth of the Rattanakosin Period and the founding of the new capital. Its riverside location makes it particularly stunning at sunset.
Ancient City (Muang Boran)
Muang Boran is a vast open-air museum which tells Thailand’s story from its early history to present day. It is a mixture of demolished original buildings which have been rebuilt, as well as replicas which have been scaled down to a third of its original size. In just one day you can pass through different eras of Thai history and culture such as the Lanna, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Rattanakosin periods.
Do I need a visa for Bangkok?
Does everyone need a visa to visit Bangkok? No, many nationalities can enter Thailand for limited periods without obtaining a visa. For 22 other nationalities, it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival for Bangkok. These can be obtained at 48 different checkpoints around Thailand including at all the major airports.
For those who cannot enter visa-free, and who aren’t eligible for the visa on arrival, it’s necessary to obtain a conventional Thailand visa for Bangkok from a Thai embassy or consulate.
Very soon, there will be the option of an online visa for Bangkok which will simplify the application process for eligible travelers. The online form for the tourist visa for Bangkok will only take a few minutes to complete.
By the end of this year, Chinese, French, British and Emirati citizens will be able to apply for a Thailand tourist visa electronically. More countries are expected to be announced by the Thai Government in 2019.