Hidden Gems of Bangkok
Hidden Gems of Bangkok
Bangkok’s tourist attractions are well documented, but when you’ve seen the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and the huge reclining Buddha at Wat Po, what else shouldn’t you miss? Here are ten less well-known sights that you should try to make time for during your trip.
This extraordinary graveyard, close to the Chao Phraya River on Charoen Krung Road 72/5, has been tended by an elderly Thai lady for over four decades. The graves of its occupants offer a fascinating insight into recent Thai history. Look for the final resting places of such notable former residents as Henry Alabaster, who was employed as an advisor to the King of Siam, American Hamilton King, an envoy who died back in 1912 and surgeon Friedrich Schaefer who founded the Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Art museums might not be the first thing you think of when you plan a trip to Bangkok, but the MOCA, as it’s known, is home to the largest collection of modern painting and sculpture in the country. The galleries feature artists like Prateep Khotchabua, whose colourful surreal scenes depict animalism and nudity, and Preecha Pun-Klum, whose vibrant “Glamorous Night in Bangkok” is a perennial crowd pleaser. You’ll have to take a taxi to find the MOCA at 3 Vibhavadi Rangsit, as the nearest BTS station (Mo Chit) is a ten minute drive away, and avoid Mondays as the museum is closed.
Rivercity Restaurant and Rooftop Bar
The Chao Phraya River runs right through the city and you’ll already have been hopping on and off the ferries to get around. In such a frenetic place, you’ll be pleased to find a rooftop bar with awesome views of the city and its waterways, a place to put your feet up and relax after a busy day pounding the pavements. The Balco bar on the fifth floor of the complex is perfectly situated for a sundowner, and then why not stop and have a meal at the barbecue restaurant as you watch the city’s lights come on.
Playhouse Theatre at the Asia Hotel
Ladyboy shows are ten a penny in Bangkok, but this one stands out for its expert choreography. The Playhouse Theatre at the Asia Hotel features everything from Swan Lake to Fame via Mr Bojangles and a highly original blend of Beyoncé and Fred Astaire. It’s more family friendly than risqué but the skillful performances of the talented dancers will be certain to delight.
Dinner at the Ka Tron Restaurant
This madcap restaurant specialises in flying chickens. Yes, you read that right. Order the chicken at Ka Tron Restaurant and it will be fired from a catapult and caught by a waiter riding a unicycle. Not enough? How about climbing up on stage wearing a pink motorcycle hat and seeing if you can catch said chicken on the metal spike that protrudes from it? If you can spear a chicken and an orange, you’ll win a rubber chicken to take home with you. Catch a lime on your spike as well and your meal’s free. You’ll find this delightfully bonkers place at Bangna-Trad Road Km1.
Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
Buried deep within the Wachirabenchathas Park, the Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium can be hard to find with a lack of signage. Persevere and you'll find a fifteen metre tall butterfly dome filled with the fluttering of tiny wings. You'll be able to learn about the life cycle of this fascinating insect too and best of all, the attraction's free of charge.
Bangkok Forensic Museum
If you're a fan of the macabre, then this may well become your favourite Bangkok museum. Housed in the Forensic Medical department at Siriraj Hospital, the eclectic exhibits at the Bangkok Forensic Museum comprise body parts, deformed embryos and even the preserved corpse of Thailand's first serial killer. They were collected by Dr Songkran Niyomsane, a forensic pathologist, over the course of his career. Not for the faint hearted, this unusual museum is fascinating - if you have the stomach for it!
Bangkok Plane Graveyard
It's not at all common to find an aeroplane graveyard in a city, but one of Bangkok's suburbs hosts just that. Some enterprising local families have acquired and repurposed several ageing planes, so if you've ever yearned to set foot inside the cockpit of a jumbo jet, here's your chance. Scrapped and stripped, these old planes will feel more like something from the set of a disaster movie than a means of transportation, but are worth a visit nevertheless.
In front of Wat Suthat you'll find a giant swing. Constructed in 1784 in front of the Devasthan Shrine, it was traditionally used as part of a Brahmin ceremony but these days the renovated structure is a tourist attraction in its own right. The pillars of this giant swing are formed from six huge teak tree trunks, the largest of which measure a whopping 3.5 metres in circumference. The original timbers can be found in the National Museum.
The purpose of an amulet is to ward off trouble, so it's not surprising that this market is a popular destination for those who work in dangerous occupations as well as visitors to the city. The charms on offer include tiny Buddhas, sacred wooden relics and even human hair. But whatever the reason for their purchase, the vendors promise one thing: these amulets will bestow good luck on the recipient.