Bangkok Tourist Attractions

Thailand's most popular tourist destination and fascinating city is a place of great contrasts. From its golden temples to its glamorous modern palaces that double up as hotels, Bangkok is unforgettable and charming, exciting, bewildering and stunning.

The city of Bangkok is not actually as old as many people believe - just 200 years ago the settlement on the western embankment of the Chao Phraya River was just a small trading center with a rag-tag port community of traders and fishermen. To the most famous Bangkok tourist attractions belong the floating markets, shown as an exotic backdrop in many famous Hollywood movies.

Damnoen Saduak, as the floating markets are called locally, may gradually have become more touristy in appearance, but there is still enough authentic atmosphere to transport visitors back in time, when these markets were the most important trading center for miles around. There are bubbling cauldrons with steaming hot curry or boat noodle dishes and charcoal grills with seared skewers laden with delicious morsels from the depth of the sea. From flowers to vegetables and fruit, meat and fish, the floating markets sell whatever the gourmet might dream of.

The equally famous and utterly stunning Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn dominates the skyline with its golden spires. Built in the first half of the 19th century, the temple symbolizes the birth of the Rattanakosin Period and the creation of a new capital city after the old one, Ayutthaya, was destroyed by the Burmese army. Wat Arun is one the must-see Bangkok tourist attractions. Situated on the western bank of the river, the temple complex got his name because at the time of the siege, King Taksin arrived at this holy enclosure just when dawn was breaking and a new Thailand was about to be born.

The Grand Palace and Wat Prakeaw are standing on sacred grounds and have been the Royal Court and Thai Kings Residence since they were constructed in 1782. While Wat Prakeaw is a shrine for the Emerald Buddha, which was carved from a single block of emerald, the Grand Palace is a pleasure residence with intricate decorations and carvings, utterly stunning architecture and serves as one of the finest examples of Thai craftsmanship found anywhere in the world. These two most spectacular Bangkok tourist attractions are also two of the must-see destinations for many people's "bucket list".

The Old City and Wat Pho with its enormous reclining Buddha figure enshrined in a gigantic temple complex and landscaped gardens is one of the highlights of a trip to Bangkok. Apart from the College of Traditional Medicine, which is located within the complex, there are all manner of collections of religious and worldly artifacts and spiritual as well as scientific inscriptions that make this one of the most fascinating places to visit in Asia.

For fans of the modern there is the Riverside, the Chao Phraya River and Waterways complex that puts other skylines to shame. From skyscraper palaces to water-taxis, from rice laden barges to luxury hotels and cruise ships, from traditional houses on wooden stilts in Bangkok Noi to the Phra Sumeru Fortress, the Riverside is among the finest of Bangkok tourist attractions the city has to offer. The often narrow canals that criss-cross this area, known as the Bangkok Khlongs, earned Bangkok the nickname Venice of the East. Small boats venture into these tree-lined canals where floating boat-shops and houses on wooden stilts are just as they were a couple of hundred years ago.

The Old City is also exciting for its nightlife and shopping. On Khao San Road the pleasure hungry tourist will find everything from exotic market stalls to glitzy cocktail bars, from massage parlours to music clubs playing western style music as well as eateries and food stalls where traditional, very hot Thai curry is served and small restaurants, where the milder, more acceptable versions are served to tourists.

Bangkok tourist attractions are so plentiful one could be there for months and still marvel at new things every day. For something more refined and relaxed, why not visit Jim Thompson's House, a collection of six Thai-style teakwood dwellings that are now a museum but where once dedicated to making Thai silk, which was worn by fashion models the world over? The Jim Thompson House and Museum is located on the bank of the Saen Saeb Canal.

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