In the past 2 years we stopped by Bangkok twice. We are not city people, however we like to see some of the “must-do’s” that a city has to offer. So our two trips combined have helped us come up with a few cool things we think are our “must-dos”.
On our first visit we were still a bit inexperienced with full time traveling. That is why when a tour company stopped us at the airport and offered us a discounted ride to our airbnb and a “great deal” on tours of the city, we were thrilled! We didn’t think that our guide didn’t speak english well, that they would take us to a restaurant on their tour route instead of the place we wanted to stop to and that they would take us to shop where they wanted (we didn’t buy anything). Overall we saw plenty but we were not too thrilled about the limited freedom to do as we liked.
Our second time was completely different. We booked a place in the center of town. We knew clearly what we wanted to do and avoided any form of tour! Everything could easily be done by ourselves. In the process we also had a chance to try a tuk tuk, the skytrain and the ferry. Let’s not even forget that at our arrival at the airport we booked a GRAB which cost us half the price of what a taxi would have been! We were definitely more experienced this time around!
Here is a list of the places we have seen during our 2 trips!
1. The Reclining Buddah
The Wat Pho or “Temple of the Reclining Buddha” is the oldest and biggest temple with the largest number of pagodas (99 in all) in the city.
The temple is famous for its 46 meters long and 15 meters high gold plated Reclining Buddha image. The image was built during the reign of King Rama III . The Reclining Buddha shows the passing of the Buddha into final Nirvana after death. The soles of the Buddha’s feet are inlaid with mother of pearl in 108 segments, showing in great detail the 108 lakshanas or auspicious characteristics of the Buddha. Along the statue you also find 108 bronze bowls, where people donate coins believed to bring good fortune. Luca and Emma loved putting coins inside, although the whole offering concept wasn’t yet clear to them!
It was fascinating to see the Reclining Buddha, specially considering the size of it in such a small space. Our kids were speechless!
2. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
One of the things our kids dreamed of visiting when in Bangkok was the famous floating market! This was the first place we requested for our tour. You can imagine our surprise when they told us that it wasn’t in Bangkok but actually in Damnoen Saduak, about 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok. Of course we went anyway!
The floating market consists of a maze of narrow canals. You will see small wooden boats full of vegetables, fruits or other products moving around offering their products. Since this has now become a tourist attraction make sure you bargain since everything is probably overpriced anyway! Before getting to the market we navigated a bit of the canals, where we saw some of the everyday life unfold and I must admit it was the most authentic moment of the whole day!
We later found out that there is a floating market in Bangkok too, however this is the most famous for tourists so probably not the most authentic!
3. Wat Benchamabophit
This was one of my favorite temples in Bangkok! It is also known as the marble Temple, since it was built with Italian marble. It has Carrara marble pillars, a marble courtyard and two large lions guarding the entrance. The cloister around the assembly hall houses 52 images of Buddha. It is dated late 19th century under Rama V. In fact the temple’s name means ‘the Temple of the fifth King”.
Did you know why this temple is also famous? Its impression is on the back of the 5 Baht coin!
4. Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit, also known as Temple of the Golden Buddha, houses the largest gold Buddha image (3 meter tall and 5.5 ton in weight). The origins of this statue are uncertain. It is made in the Sukhothai Dynasty style of the 13th-14th centuries. The statue was covered with a layer of stucco to conceal its true value and prevent it from being stolen. It stayed in this condition for almost 200 years.
While they were moving the statue in 1955, the plaster was chipped off and the gold revealed. Imagine the surprise!!!!
5. Visit Woodland
This place was a very unexpected and pleasant surprise! Woodland is a privately-owned museum 50km out of Bangkok.
Woodland is divided into three areas. The Story of Woodland, with over 5,000 wood carvings, Woodland Village with restaurants and souvenir shops, and The Resort, which is the former residence of the Thewphaingarm family.
The museum part presents experiences and adventures by “Grandpa teak” a talking tree-man. This Tales is told thorough thousands of pieces of rare wood carvings displayed with light, images and sound. The display is divided into 10 rooms: Rootstock Room, Wild Life Room, Woodsmen Room, Dragon Cave Room, Abyss Room Room, Twilight Room, Hindu Room, Guan Im Room, Buddha Room and Catholic Room.
This is a great place to explore, if you need to get away from the city as well as admire some amazing wood work.
6. Visit the Grand Palace
A “must see” in Bangkok is the Grand Palace. This was once the king’s home as well as the place where the government of Thailand carried out their work.
Unfortunately all we got to see was this part…..there are some clothing restrictions when going in temples here in Asia. We were as always prepared with sarongs and longer sleeves. Differently from temples though, men must wear long pants in order to get in (be aware of this otherwise you will need to go shopping!).
Mass refused to go buy a pair of pants and stayed out with Luca. Cosimo got in because as usual they thought he was a girl (in this case it was a good thing!). However we decided to just see this part because it was extremely hot and we didn’t want to leave them out for so long……maybe next time! However it is a very big place to visit, so keep this into mind, it could take you hours.
7. Visit Wat Arun
Along the banks of Chao Phraya River sits this stunning temple. It is named after Aruna, the God of Dawn. Here we were luckily all able to enter with our sarongs!
The temple is completely covered in ceramic tiles and colored porcelain, truly worth visiting! You can also climb up the steps all around it and get some pretty nice views of the river.
8. Walking around in the mall
Sometimes you need some downtime or simply need to buy something, so why not go in a mall?!
There are so many in Bangkok! Some have fancy stores, some are more simple. We went grocery shopping, changed a couple of bags that were broken, got one of our iPad screens fixed and more, everything at great prices!
9. Lumphini park
Traveling with kids means always being in search of a playground! Of course Lumphini Park was on our radar. This is a 57.6-hectare park in the heart of Bangkok.
It was named after Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha in Nepal. At the time of its creation, in the 1920s by King Rama VI on royal property, it stood on the outskirts of the city.
Once we got there we found a playground, lots of workout equipment, a very big lake with swan paddle boats that can be rented and we also met 2 monitor lizards.
10. Ride a tricycle
Many Asian cities have tuk tuks traveling all around the city. They aren’t the cheapest way to get to places and you should most definitely negotiate on the price. However you cannot miss riding on one of them at least once! Of course you won’t breath the best air as you drive in traffic, but it will be an unforgettable adventure specially when you are 5 like us and have to squeeze in one!
Not to mention how some of these people drive, makes it a real thrill at time.
11. Go on the top of King Power Mahanakhon Building
We clearly have an attraction for very tall buildings!
From our apartment we could see the Kingpower Mahanakhon Building. At the very top there was a glass terrace and we could see people standing on it. We had to visit it!
It is the tallest building in Thailand at 314 meters. You have an endless view of the city and the millions of skyscrapers!
On one side of the top floor there is the World Largest Glass Tray, which you can walk on but only with your shoes covered. I’ll be honest, it is a bit scary to look down and I’m not afraid of heights! Our kids though did not seem to mind!
12. Ferry ride on Chai Phraya River
Considered by some the “Venice of the east” we could not miss going on a ferry boat on the Chai Phraya River. The river flows through Bangkok. You can get a Hop on and off ferry and explore some remarkable sites such as Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, the Reclining Buddha and Iconsiam Mall. Or you can take a long tail boat and explore all the little canals in the area. Either way it is a great experience!
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