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Bangkok is a big city, like so many other big cities. I used to try to spend as little time in Bangkok as possible, and I would only spend time here when I had to, or if I was passing through to somewhere else. Eventually, the city grew on me, and I found it easier to get around (traffic is pretty bad here). I enjoy spending time here now, although it is a lot more expensive compared to other parts of Thailand.

Wat Phra KaewThe first stop on the tourist trail is Wat Phra Kaew. Dress standards are strict here, and visitors are made to wear pants and shirts with sleeves. It is always pretty busy here, and it costs about 200 baht to get in, but it's worth it. Be careful of the many touts who hang around outside, many off whom will tell you the temple is "closed" and then try to lure you away to gem shops where you will get ripped off.

Wat Phra Kaew - Angkor Wat modelIn addition to numerous temples on site, there is also this model of Angkor Wat. There is plenty of excessive gaudyness in the architecture of the various buildings here, but I guess that's sort of the point.

Grand Palace sculpturesLots of gold... gaudy, but hard to resist. These sculptures are at the Grand Palace.

Dusit Hall at the Grand PalaceDusit Hall at the Grand Palace.

Wat Pho - reclining BuddhaRight next door... almost across the street, is Wat Pho. It is much smaller and not as busy as it's neighbour. The highlight is a long building holding a huge statue of a reclining Buddha. It is just across the street from Wat Phra Kaew... but on the opposite side, so it's a bit of a walk.

Inside a templeInside the temple at Wat Pho. It's a bit grainy, because it was dark, and I didn't want to use my flash... and sometimes people don't like trip;ods in their temple. But, this gives you a good idea of what the inside of an important temple looks like.

Bangkok - view from towerThere is a large tower dominating the city, the Baiyoke 2 tower - you can't miss it. I think it has a hotel inside of it. Anyway, you can go to the top for some great views of the city. Unfortunately, there's a lot of pollution in Bangkok, so it is frequently hazy, but it is still a unique view of the city.

Bangkok - view from towerThis is the view looking towards the Victory Monument with the BTS (elevated train) snaking around it.

shrine at Central World PlazaThere are shrines all over Thailand, and at large, important buildings in Bangkok (like shopping malls), there is often a shrine located in a promenant position like this one at the end of the plaza at Central World Plaza.

Erewan Hotel shrineThis shrine is at the Erewan Hotel, and is especially busy. They have traditional dancers available for hire to anyone who has had their wishes fulfilled after making an offering at the shrine. The incense burns my eyes.

snake showI hate snakes, but the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute at the Red Cross Hospital has a little show that is used to educate people on snakes in Thailand and the institute's purpose.

snake show - extracting venomThis is a demonstration of how venom is milked from snakes. The venom is extracted to produce anti-venom, all of which is explained at the hospital. When I posted a video of this on YouTube, some people questioned whether the snakes were actually venomous, and also complained about the treatment of the snakes. The snakes are indeed venomous (that is the whole point), and this isn't a freak show where animals are harmed. The snakes themselves are quite valuble and useful, so they would not be harmed intentionally. I think that the people who left those comments made their judgement without actually viewing the video.

Wat ArunWat arun, on the Thonburi side of the river. It provides a scenic backdrop for the many restaurants on the river.

SongkranAround mid-April come the Thai New Year holiday, "Songkran". It is better know as teh water festival, when everybody gets out and has a big water fight. Songkran is about a lot of other things, like showing respect for monks and older people, but it's the war in the streets that you will remember.

SongkranEverybody gets involved, and water guns are sold right on the street. People are pretty generous when it comes to "reloading" your gun from a neighbour's tap, and it is good to create an alliance, especially with the kids.

SongkranThe first night is sort of quiet, but after that the streets quickly fill up, and anyone who thinks they can go out without getting soaked has made a serious mistake. However, there are parts of the city where it isn't quite so bad - mostly near the glitzy shopping centres.

Victory MonumentThis is Victory Monument, with the BTS Skytrain snaking around.

MBK - a busy, busy mallMakboonkrong (MBK) shopping centre is conected to the BTS Skytrain, and has typical mall stuff - theatres, a bowling alley, but is much more crowded than you are used to.

Hualamphong Railway StationHualamphong is the main railway station in Bangkok, however, there are two other railway stations that you would use, depending on where you are going. The bus stations work the same way - buses to the north leave from a different terminal than the ones to the south.

This page was updated July 30, 2007