Bangkok Landmarks Guide | Happily Lost in the City of Angels
Dubbed as The City of Angels, Bangkok has always been on the most coveted list of top holiday destinations in the world. The smorgasbord of attractions, vibrant cosmopolitan lifestyles, the warmth of its people and the endless finds from food to fashion are just some of the never-ending reasons why tourists always love it here.
When the marauding Burmese eclipsed the glory of 15th century kingdom of Ayutthaya, the capital was pushed down south in Thonburi, on the western banks of Chao Phraya River. In 1782, King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke moved the capital to the eastern bank of what is now known as Bangkok.
Truly, Bangkok has come a long way from its lowly agricultural past to being today’s dynamic capital city. Since the late 19th century, Bangkok’s development is growing in a swift scale making it a hub of premiere addresses of the world’s best companies and brands in Asia.
I have been to Bangkok a few times in the past and just like many other tourists, I combed its streets decked with temples and monuments, gardens and skyscrapers, flea markets and malls. Bangkok is indeed the city where you can say, so many things to see and do yet so little time.
Here are the famous city landmarks that I have already ticked from my ever-growing list.
The Grand Royal Palace
No visit to Bangkok is ever complete without having seen the Royal Palace. Built in 1782, the grandeur of its architectural styles and the opulence of its history truly befit its royal residents. Within its grounds are the sacred temple called Wat Phra Kaew that enshrines the 14th century Emerald Buddha and several other museums.
Location: Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
Entrance Fee: 500 Baht (open until 3:30PM only)
How to Get There: The fastest way is via Skytrain BTS (Silom Line) to Saphan Takhsin. Take Exit 2, towards Sathorn Central Station. Board the river taxi (Chao Phraya River) and get off at Station N9. From the wharf you may walk or ride the tuktuk to the Royal Palace.
Hemmed on the western banks of Chao Phraya River in the ancient capital of Thonburi lies Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. Its central spire towers 70 meters from the ground heavily ornamented with bas-relief sculptures in complex patterns of Chinese porcelain and colored glass mosaics.
From the summit of Wat Arun awaits a magnificent view of the river and the bustling cityscape of Bangkok. It is also nice to see Wat Arun from the eastern bank at night when it is washed in glimmering lights.
Location: Thonburi District (along the west bank of Chao Phraya River)
Entrance Fee: 100 Baht (open until 5:30PM)
How to Get There: Coming from Sathorn Central Station, take the river taxi and disembark at Station N8. Transfer to a smaller boat in Tha Thien Pier to cross to other side of the river.
It is an upscale night bazaar, a posh open-air mall, an amusement park and a dining destination! This is Asiatique, Bangkok’s wholesome address for fun. Open only at night, it houses hundreds of boutiques, more than 30 restaurants, a gigantic ferries wheel and a lot of entertainment venues.
Location: Chareonkrung Soi 74-76 (open from 5:30PM until midnight)
How to Get There: Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin Station, exit towards Sathorn Central Station. Take the free ferry to Asiatique.
In commemoration of 1932 coup d’etat that led to Thailand’s first democratic state, the Democracy Monument stands as a symbol of Thai liberty. It stands as a roundabout in a traffic-swarmed Ratchadamnoen Road, where its artery roads lead to other points of interests like old temples and historic buildings.
Location:Ratchadoemnoen Road, Rattanakosin
How to Get There: The best way is to take a cab, as there are no nearby train stations. Another option is to take the Chao Phraya River Express and get off at Maharaj Pier or at station N6 but it is a long walk from King Rama I Monument (unless you like to pass by the temples, the Little India and side-street flower market, then this might the best way).
King Rama I Monument
Designed by His Royal Highness Prince Naris, the bronze-casted double life-sized monument of King Rama I is in commemoration of Thailand’s 150th founding anniversary of Bangkok. Otherwise known as King Puttayodfa, King Rama I was the 1st king during the Chakri Dynasty, the period of Thailand’s illustrious beginnings.
Location: At the foot of Memorial Bridge
How to Get There: Take BTS to Saphan Taksin Station and board the Chao Phraya River Express. Get off at Station N6. The monument is just right outside the station.
Victory Monument is a military obelisk that stands a reminder of the Thais’ victory over the French invaders that conquered Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia of what now make up as the French Indochina. It is a popular landmark surrounded by many low-end malls, bus and van stations going the south routes and a hotspot for political rallies.
Location: Intersection of Phahon Yothin, Phaya Thai, Ratchathiwi and Din Daeng
How to Get There: Take the BTS Skytrain to Victory Monument station. Take Exit 4 towards the overpass that leads to the monument.
Kindness, mercy, impartiality and sympathy—these are the 4 virtues that represent the 4 faces of a Brahma god called Than Tao Mahaprom enshrined infront of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. Cast in gold, it is believed that this shrine has brought good luck to the hotel’s several decades of fame. Today, many locals and tourists come to offer traditional prayer dances.
Location: Ploenchit corner Ratchamdri Road
How to Get There: Take the BTS skytrain to Chitlom station. Walk towards the side of Central Plaza Mall. Just before you reach it, you will see Erawan Mall on the left side.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
It just used to be popular among wholesalers and to locals but over the years it has become a shopping destination in itself. Chatuchak Market is the happening zone every weekend as it is the undisputed largest flea market in Bangkok. It is a dizzying complex of stalls selling almost everything—-clothes, accessories, home decors, small appliances, souvenirs, handicrafts, food, traditional medicine, plants, pets and all sorts of services from massage to tour tickets.
Location: Phahon Yothin Road, Chatuchak (open from 4:30PM to 9:00PM)
How to Get There: Both the BTS Skytrain and MRT Subway terminates in Chatuchak Park. BTS station is Mo Chit while MRT station is Chatuchak.
Everywhere in the world, Chinatown is always synonymous to good food and good buy. In Bangkok, this small district centered on Sampheng Lane is a haven for cheap shopping. Local brands, fake international brands, all sorts of Made in China wares from plastic to ceramic, exotic traditional medicine and many unthinkable items that you wouldn’t think it exists. But their biggest draws are its restaurants that boast of nothing but the well-loved Chinese cuisine.
Location: Yaowarat Road
How to Get There: Take the MRT Subway to Hua Lampong station. From there you can already start to explore the roads to Chinatown passing by some souvenir shops and the Wat Traimit temple.
Where it stands at the heart of shopping mecca, the Pratunam Market, Baiyoke Tower stumps everything that surrounds it. It is the tallest building in Thailand, rising to 304 meters and completing an 84-storey building housing a hotel, restaurants, observatory decks and small shopping outlets.
It used to be just a fading hotel until its clever idea of a revolving roof deck brought it back to fame. On its summit is a fantastic view of Bangkok’s skyline rotating to 360º of awesomeness.
Location: Baiyoke Sky Hotel, 222 Rajprarop Road, Pratunam
How to Get There: Taxi is the best way to get to Pratunam as it’s a circuitous road to Pratunam. But another option is to take the BTS to Chitlom Station. Exit towards Central Mall Plaza. Hit the Ratchamdri direction, passed Platinum Mall. Straight ahead should lead you to Pratunam. You won’t miss Baiyoke as it’s the most prominent building in the area.
Lebua State Tower
Lebua State Tower is a known address but not a destination for everyone. It is not only a landmark, for being the 2nd tallest building in Thailand but it is also the premiere dining and party destination of Thai showbiz personalities, rich locals, expats and upmarket tourists. Popularly known as The Dome for its golden dome architecture that crowns the topmost floor, the State Tower houses some of Bangkok’s finest restaurants and clubs.
Sirocco Skybar is one of the best roof deck bars in the world offering an illuminated ambience of the city’s skyline at night while being serenaded by a jazz band. It is certainly a wonderful experience to be here but it also comes with a good price.
Location: Silom Road, Bangrak
How to Get There: If you can’t come in style, take the taxi, at least.
Bangkok is known to be a highly tolerant city and this aspect of individuality is nowhere else celebrated than in the red and pink light district of Patpong. At night, this part of Silom becomes the universe of wild parties, outrageous girly bars, gay bars, gay-friendly cafes and what-have-yous. Popular among tourists, this zone is not for the faint-hearted.
Location: Silom Area (it starts at Soi 4)
How to Get There: Take BTS skytrain to Sala Daeng station or the MRT subway, get off at Silom station. From there, make your way through a web of neon-lit alleys.
Siam Paragon Mall
Glitzy, active and always full—this is Siam Paragon, the most popular upscale mall in Bangkok. Due to its strategic location as the BTS skyway interchange, Siam Paragon has become everyone’s rendezvous area.
Under its roof are the famous houses of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and many other brands of brands. It is also home to international food brands and high-end cinema experience.
Location: Rama I Road, Pathumwan
How to Get There: Take BTS skytrain to Siam station. The mall is right beside the station.
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