Hidden Gems in Bangkok

Bangkok is a hive of activity, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It attracts tourists from even the most far-flung corners of the world, who tirelessly explore this exciting city with its plentiful attractions. Popular sites like The Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Pho are top of most must-see lists, which can stretch to literally hundreds of fascinating places. While these constantly garner the bulk of the attention, it’s the little-known attractions – the hidden gems of Bangkok – which have the potential to really spice up your trip.

 

Bangkok Hidden Gems - akyra Thonglor Bangkok Hotel

 

Bangkok's Hidden Gems

 

Artist’s House

Also known as the Baan Silapin, the Artist’s House is an old teak house dating back to the 1800s that was transformed into an art gallery in 2010. Its location on the banks of one of Bangkok’s many canals gives it an authentic feel, although makes it a little harder to find.

Among the works on display are traditional paintings, puppets and masks. The gallery also houses a small theatre where visitors can watch handcrafted traditional puppet shows that showcase Thai folk tales. This old style of entertainment adds a unique element to the gallery, and a welcome glimpse into Thai life.

 

Double Dog Tea Room

A visit to Bangkok’s China Town wouldn’t be complete without resting your weary legs in the Double Dog Tea Room. It’s situated just off the beaten track which makes it a welcome break from the hub bub of China Town’s main streets.

This is a special find for tea lovers who have their pick of a vast range of speciality teas from China, Taiwan, Japan and Sri Lanka. The informative menu is extremely helpful in guiding you to make your selection, and your brew is served either in classic ceramic single-cup teapots, or bone china cups with the leaves still inside. The presentation depends on the type of tea that you select.

 

Erawan Museum

Erawan, the three-headed Hindu elephant, is a well-documented religious icon of the Thai people, so it’s quite fitting to have a museum dedicated to this legendary effigy. The museum is uniquely designed to resemble this icon and is in fact the largest hand-carved sculpture in the world.

The museum inside the elephant is split into three levels representing Earth, Heaven and the Underworld. The Underworld and Earth are in the pedestal with Heaven situated in the body of the elephant. Each level is grandly decorated with beautiful works of art, antiques and elaborate décor that tell the story and history of Erawan.

 

Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market

Although predominantly a local market, the Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market attracts tourists because of its unique canal location. With water on one side and a residential neighbourhood on the other, the market provides the perfect escape from the busy city.

Much of the fresh food and produce is sold from traditional wooden boats on the canal, but there’s also plenty to see in and around this hub. Thatch huts selling everything from t-shirts to plants line the walkways to the water, while shade from the lush tropical trees keeps you cool and comfortable as you soak up the local atmosphere.

 

Lumphini Park

If you want a taste of what many Bangkok locals do to wile away the hours, then a visit to Lumphini Park is in order. This large green, peaceful space in the centre of an otherwise chaotic city was the first of its kind in Bangkok and provides the setting for various relaxing activities.

At any time of the day you can catch people cycling or jogging around the park, participating in public Tai Chi classes, picnicking on the grass, rowing around the expansive lake or simply relaxing with a good book. King Rama VI donated the land to the nation, but sadly died before construction of the park was complete. A large statue of King Rama IV was erected in 1942 to commemorate the development of the Park.

 

Amulet Market

Traditionally, amulets are used to ward off evil, keep trouble at bay and attract good fortune, so this market attracts plenty of superstitious beings and others who are simply curious to see what it’s all about. While mass-produced amulets are common all over Bangkok, this market just off Maha Rat Road has plenty of unique, authentic and sometimes valuable amulets and other good luck charms.

The market is a vast network of small lanes lined with tables and selling lucky charms trinkets, and amulets relating to the Buddha, Hindu idols or religious monks. Genuine amulets can be somewhat pricey, but traders are open to haggling, and you can usually reach a happy medium between the marked price and what you’re willing to pay.

 

Airplane Graveyard

Although not quite on the scale of the one in Arizona, or as well organised, Bangkok’s Airplane Graveyard is an interesting find. It’s located on private land in the Bang Kapi district on the eastern side of the city, and is certainly worth a visit.

The graveyard is nothing more than a vast field of dilapidated and decaying abandoned aircraft, the centrepiece of which is a Boeing 747. Visitors are able to wander among the wreckage, climb aboard several of the aircraft and explore their interiors with the remains of the flight decks and other mechanics.

 

Golden Buddha

The Golden Buddha is arguably Bangkok’s most valuable hidden gem. This cross-legged Buddha image is housed in Wat Traimit in the city’s bustling Chinatown area. While there are plenty of gold Buddhas in Thailand, they are gilded rather than constructed wholly from pure gold. They also don’t weigh anything close to the five and a half tons that this iconic structure does!

Although the statue’s construction date is uncertain, historians believe that it could date back as far as the 13th century. What is known, though, is that at some stage it was encased in concrete to protect it from thieving hands. Its full beauty was eventually revealed in the 1950s when the concrete casing was damaged. Some of these protective pieces are on display in the temple.

 

Caturday Cat Café

Perhaps erring on the whacky side of things to see in Bangkok is the Caturday Cat Café located in Ratchathewi near the BTS station. This quaint café is home to an absurd number of cuddly felines, who will jump into your lap or rub up against your legs without hesitation.

As you’d imagine, the whole café is cat-themed with paintings and other décor staying true to this subject. The menu is varied with a range of beverages, cakes and light snacks, and if you love cats, it’s the perfect place to relax and get your feline fix.

 

Bangkok Butterfly Garden & Insectarium

While wandering around the Wachirabenchathat Park in the Chatuchak district you may happen across a large glass and steel dome. This is the Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium; a large structure built to house and protect various species of this elegant insect in its natural habitat.

This free attraction has several displays showcasing the lifecycle of these fragile insects, as well as a study room and activity areas for educational exercises. The butterfly garden focuses on teaching visitors about colourful creatures and other insects.

 

Pak Khlong Talat

Pak Khlong Talat is the biggest flower market in Bangkok, open 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. The market is popular with retailers who arrive early to get the best of the floral pickings, but plenty of local residents also frequent the market for their personal selection.

There are literally thousands of stalls selling flowers of all varieties and colours, both local and imported species, like roses, lilies and orchids. You can also purchase or order floral garlands, displays, bouquets and other accessories for your arrangements. Regardless of whether you end up purchasing any of the freshly cut flowers, it’s worth adding this flower market to your must-see list.

 

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

Although not particularly hidden, MOCA is a true gem for lovers of contemporary art. It houses the most extensive collection of modern art and sculptures throughout Thailand, built up over time by passionate art lover Boonchai Bencharongkul.

The museum in Chatuchak is spread over five floors. Besides Bencharongkul’s private collection, visitors can also view a selection of works that showcase traditional Thai style art as well as pieces with a Western influence. The best of Thai art is on display at MOCA, and art aficionados will come to understand how art in the country has developed with the introduction of modern concepts.

 

 

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