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Bangkok's Hidden Treasures: Off-the-Beaten-Path Gems

City Guide January 5, 2024

 

 

Hey explorers! Ready to discover Bangkok off the beaten track? This bustling city is a treasure trove of hidden gems, far beyond the renowned Grand Palace and the lively Khao San Road. It's a city where quirky cafes, secret rooftop bars, and unique cultural spots blend seamlessly with the urban landscape.

This guide is your key to unveiling the lesser-known Bangkok secrets, from the charming Artist's House to cozy cat cafes, and from hidden temples to vibrant bars in Bangkok.

Let’s embark on a journey to uncover hidden Bangkok, where each turn in the narrow sois (lanes) brings a new and exciting discovery! Along the way, we'll share travel tips and insights into the city’s intriguing Buddhist temples and other Bangkok gems. Whether you're navigating the city in a tuk tuk or exploring on foot, you're in for an adventure that will reveal the true heart of Bangkok. Let's dive into the city’s lesser-known yet equally enchanting side!

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Discovering the Unknown

The Airplane Graveyard

Bangkok's Airplane Graveyard is a hidden gem for urban explorers and photography enthusiasts alike. This unusual site, featuring several decommissioned airplanes, offers a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world.

The skeletal remains of these aircraft provide a stark contrast to the bustling cityscape of Bangkok. Visitors can explore inside the planes, making it an adventurous and unique experience. Remember, the site is essentially in a private area managed by a local family, so a small fee is expected for entrance. The visit to the Airplane Graveyard promises an unconventional and memorable exploration.

Practical Info: Located off Ramkhamhaeng Road, the site is best accessed by taxi or bus. Open daily, with mornings being the ideal time for cooler weather and better light for photos. The entry fee is negotiable with the local family that maintains the site.

 

Erawan Museum

The Erawan Museum is an architectural wonder that captivates visitors even before they step inside. The giant three-headed elephant statue, perched atop the museum, is an iconic symbol of Bangkok. Inside, the museum houses an eclectic collection that ranges from historical artifacts to contemporary art.

The exhibits are spread across three levels, symbolizing the Thai cosmos. The museum not only offers a visual feast but also provides insight into Thai culture and mythology. The lush gardens surrounding the museum add to the tranquil and mystical ambiance.

Practical Info: Situated on Sukhumvit Road, it's easily accessible via the BTS Skytrain, alighting at Bearing station. The museum is open daily from 9 AM to 7 PM. The entry fee is approximately 400 THB, offering full access to both the museum and the surrounding grounds.

 

 

Chao Phraya River’s Hidden Corners

While the Chao Phraya River is a well-known landmark in Bangkok, its hidden corners are often overlooked by tourists. Embarking on a journey along the less-traveled parts of the river reveals quaint riverside communities, small temples, and traditional markets that offer a glimpse into the local way of life.

These areas are free from the usual crowds and provide a peaceful and authentic experience. Hiring a long-tail boat is a great way to navigate these waters, allowing for a more personal and up-close exploration of Bangkok's riverside.

Practical Info: Access to these hidden corners can be found at various points along the Chao Phraya River. Local riverboats and long-tail boats can be hired for personalized tours. The best times to explore are in the early morning or late afternoon when the light is beautiful, and the temperatures are cooler.

 

Amulet Market

Bangkok's Amulet Market offers a unique window into Thai spiritual and cultural beliefs, centered around good luck and protection. This market, bustling with a variety of stalls, is where locals and collectors come to buy and sell amulets, talismans, and religious artifacts.

Each piece, from ancient Buddha statues to modern amulets, is believed to hold different powers, from bringing wealth to offering protection. It's more than just a market; it's a fascinating cultural experience where you can observe the deep-rooted spiritual practices of Thailand. The market's close proximity to Wat Mahathat adds to its spiritual significance.

Practical Info: Situated near the historical Wat Mahathat, it's a convenient stop for those exploring the old city. The market is open daily, with the morning being the best time to visit when the weather is cooler and the market is less crowded. Easily accessible by public transport, tuk-tuk, or taxi.

 

Artist’s House (Baan Silapin)

The Artist’s House, known locally as Baan Silapin, is a hidden cultural gem in Bangkok. This centuries-old, traditional Thai house has been transformed into a vibrant art space. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in the local art scene, with galleries showcasing works by local artists and a charming café.

The highlight for many visitors is the traditional Thai puppet show, a rare cultural treat that brings ancient stories and legends to life. These shows are not only entertaining but also reflect the rich heritage of Thai puppetry. The tranquil setting by the canal and the rustic charm of the surrounding community make it a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle.

Practical Info: Located in the Thonburi area, it offers a glimpse into a more traditional side of Bangkok. Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM. The best way to get there is by taxi or a scenic boat ride. Puppet shows usually start around 2 PM but are not held every day, so it's best to check in advance.

 

Wat Phra Dhammakaya

Wat Phra Dhammakaya is not just a temple; it's a monumental symbol of modern Thai Buddhism. Known for its immense size and unique architectural design, this temple stands out for its central stupa, resembling a golden spaceship. The stupa, officially named the Dhammakaya Cetiya, is adorned with thousands of small Buddha statues, creating a mesmerizing effect. The temple grounds are vast and peaceful, offering visitors a serene environment for reflection and meditation.

Practical Info: Wat Phra Dhammakaya is located in the Pathum Thani province, just north of Bangkok. The temple is open to visitors daily, with early morning or late afternoon being the best times to visit, avoiding the midday heat. The temple is accessible by bus or taxi from Bangkok, and visitors should dress modestly and respectfully, as it is a place of worship. The temple’s spacious grounds make it a peaceful escape from the bustling city and an opportunity to witness a unique aspect of Thai culture and spirituality.

 

 

Street Food Secrets

Bangkok’s street food scene extends far beyond the well-trodden tourist paths. Venture into the heart of local neighborhoods to discover hidden culinary gems that many visitors miss. Look for spots crowded with locals – a sure sign of delicious, authentic fare.

From sizzling pad thai to aromatic curries and fresh seafood, these hidden street food spots offer a taste of real Bangkok. Exploring these lesser-known food havens is not only a gastronomic adventure but also a way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Practical Info: These secret street food spots are widespread across Bangkok, particularly in local neighborhoods. While they're open at various times, evenings are usually the best for the widest selection of dishes. Street food in Bangkok is known for being both inexpensive and delicious.

 

Unusual Buddha Statues

Bangkok is home to diverse Buddha statues, each with its own history and style, beyond the famous Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. From intricately designed statues in quiet, lesser-known temples to unique representations of Buddha in different postures, these statues offer a more serene and contemplative experience. Visiting these sites provides a glimpse into the diverse religious and artistic traditions of Thailand.

Practical Info: These unusual Buddha statues can be found in various temples scattered throughout Bangkok. Visitors are advised to dress respectfully when visiting these sacred sites. Most temples are open from early morning until late afternoon. Entry is usually free, but donations are appreciated to help with maintenance.

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