Bangkok Walking Tours

                                                                    Bangkok Walking Tours
                                                                              (Tour begins at the Shangri-La Hotel)
Keep in mind that Bangkok is a very large city and that walking in the city is often difficult since vendors set up at curbside and also against building walls so there is little space to walk. Also, understand that pollution from the many automobiles and tuk-tuks can make walking unpleasant. However, taxis are cheap during the day and tuk-tuks can be hired very inexpensively (although your driver may require stops at several tourist traps). Thus, walking may be substituted from time to time by riding to reduce the wear and tear.
Take New Road (Charoen Krung Rd) north from the hotel. Check out the famous Oriental Hotel, on the left, where Joseph Conrad, William Somerset Maugham, James Michener, and others have stayed. Continue north and bear left at the fork (you are still on Charoen Krung). Just before the intersection with Yaowarat Road, on Thanon Traimit is Wat Traimit, with its five-ton, 13-foot Golden Buddha (13th century). Stop to see the 5 ½ ton Buddha.

After the visit, return to Charoen Krung, turn right, then bear left onto Yaowarat Rd. Take a left onto Thanon Song Sawat, then right onyo Sampeng Lane (also known as Soi Wanit 1) and stroll through Bangkok‘s Chinatown. Check out Boonsamakan Vegetarian Hall (at the corner of Ratchawong Rd) and the Pahurat Cloth Market (just across Chakraphet Rd). A detour left on Thanon Chakraphet and left again to Wat Chakrawat, which has an odd collection of buildings. Take a right onto Thanon Triphet till it intersects with Charoen Krung Rd, then turn left and continue toward the river (road becomes Thanon Thai Wang).

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) (closed 12-1) is on this road. This is the oldest, largest, and most imposing temple in the city. The Buddha is about 150 feet long and 50 feet high, the largest in Thailand. The soles of his feet are encrusted with Mother-of-Pearl. There is a monastery here as well, the College of Traditional Medicine and this is a great place to get a massage. In the Eastern Bot of the complex are almost 400 Buddhas, carvings and bas relief everywhere, and a magnificent bronze Buddha.

Continue to the river on Thai Wong. Here you can get a great view of Wat Arun, across the river. If a water taxi at Tha Tien, the pier, is available, cross the river and check out the temple, then return. This temple is known as the Temple of Dawn and is 286 feet tall. Climb to the third terrace for great views. Just south of the wat is the Klong Bangkok Yai, a “fake” Floating Market.

Cross the river back to Tha Tien and take Maharat Rd (parallel with river) north, by the Royal Palace complex. Beyond the complex, take a right onto Tr. Silpakorn to Thanon Na Phra That. Take a left and stop at Wat Mahathat (on the left). Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic) houses a large, sitting Buddha. Here is the Center for the study of vipassana (insight) meditation.

Across from the Wat is Sanam Luang (the National Common), which used to be where public executions were held. Cross the common and turn right to reach Lak Muang, a marble pavilion with a phallic-shaped sculpture. This is the City Pillar, the foundation stone of the city (point from which all distances in the country are measured). Next to it is the Defense Ministry, with its collection of cannons, and, next to that, the Saranarom Palace, now the Foreign Ministry.

Retrace steps and walk north on Ratchadamnoen Nai Road. As you near the end of the common look to your left to see the National Museum, Royal Theater, and National Gallery. Then turn right onto Ratchadamnoen Klang. At the circle ahead is the Democracy Monument. Cross the circle and take Prachathipatal Rd north. About a mile north of the circle, you will see Dusit Park on the right at the intersection with Si Arutthaya Rd. Enter the park and visit Vimanmek Palace, “castle in the clouds“, in the northwest corner (no shorts or sleeveless shirts), the largest teak palace in the world (73 rooms). No nails were used in its construction.

Chitralada Palace (the royal residence) is adjacent to the park on its eastern side, but is not open to the public. Also look for Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall (east of Vimanmek), which has a veranda carved with exquisite latticework, and Ananta Samakhom (Royal Throne Hall).

Exit on the southern edge of the park (Si Arutthaya Rd) and turn left to find Wat Benchamabophit, perhaps the most impressive example of Thai architecture in the city. Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple) has 52 bronze Buddhas lining the courtyard. The name of this temple comes from the white, Carrara marble which forms the walls. Retrace steps on Si Arutthaya Rd toward river to Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd. Turn left and walk to its end at a major intersection. Take Mahachai Rd (same direction on opposite side of intersection). At the corner is Mahakan Fort (one of two remaining watchtowers which guarded the Old City Walls). Next to the fort, cross the Phan Fa Bridge and look to your right to see Wat Saket (it used to be city‘s main crematorium and was used to dispose of bodies killed in the many epidemics of the 19th century), which sits on an artificial hill (Golden Mount). Notice its carved windows. Climb its 318 stairs for a great view of the city. Back on Mahachai, look across the road to see Loha Prasat (Metal Castle) Pagoda (note the 37 metal spires which symbolize the virtues needed to attain nirvana) which is within the Wat Ratchanada complex.

Continue south on Mahachai Rd, then turn right on Bamrung Muang Rd and left on Ti Thong Rd to check out Wat Suthat (on left just past the Giant Swing). Note the refined Large Wihan (main hall) with teak doors and frescoes, and the Bot (meeting hall), famous for its murals. Return to the intersection and take Thanon Bamrung west to Thanon Atsadang. Take left here and look for Wat Ratchabophit on the left. Note the Chinese ceramic tiles on the walls of the bot and the exquisite works of art on the windows and entrance doors. Next, continue south, then turn left onto Charoen Krung Road. Check out the Thieves Market, on the right just past the canal. Stay on Charoen Krung Road back to the hotel. This walk will probably take an entire day with stops at many of the temples, so be sure to schedule a lunch and perhaps several coffee stop along the way.

Bangkok Walk at Night

Exit the hotel and walk east on Silom Road (probably at least a mile). Look for Patpong 1 Road and take a left. This is Bangkok’s main “Red Light District”, parallel streets between Silom Road and Surawong Road. Stroll the area, then return to the hotel using either Silom or Surawong Roads.

Bangkok Shopping Walk

Exit the hotel and walk north on Charoen Krung Road, turn right onto Si Phraya Road to its end. Cross Rama IV Road and take Phayathai Road north to Siam Square. The Mahboonkrong Center (MBK) and its seven (7) floors of shopping is at the corner with Rama 1 Road. Plus, it is connected via skyway to Siam Square Mall, almost as big. Hidden to the rear of Siam Centre is Wat Pathumwnaram, in the Srapathum Palace complex. Taking Rama 1 Road west then right onto Soi Kasem San 2 brings you to Jim Thompson’s House, an interconnecting maze of seven (7) teak houses that the expatriate and antique collector had built to house his treasures. In the opposite direction, just east of Siam Square, at the corner of Rama Road and Ratchadamri Road is the Erawan Shrine. This incense-filled shrine is dedicated to the Hindu God, Brahma.

Miscellaneous Thoughts and Ideas:

1. Take a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River – white and red Express Boats leave every 20 minutes from Tha (pier) Sathon.

2. Damnoen Saduak, the famous “floating market” seen in one of the recent James Bond movies, is 68 miles southwest of the city. Ton Kem is the biggest market there. Since the market closes at 11 AM, an early excursion is necessary. Buses leave Bangkok’s southern terminal every 20 minutes from 6 AM. Then you must take a 1 hour boat tour of the market with a local.


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