Travel Log: Bangkok, Thailand

As some of you know, I recently returned from a wonderful ten day vacation in SE Asia.  Our travel itinerary was fairly busy this trip, with stops in Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Macau.  The first stop on our journey was Bangkok, Thailand.  We wanted to make the most of our two days in the city by visiting the most important historical sites in Rattanakosin (the old city).  On Saturday morning, we started with the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.  The cost is 500 baht for a ticket that allows entrance into both, and you just need to make sure that your clothing covers your knees and shoulders.  You can borrow long pants/skirts/shawls if needed at the palace for a deposit of 200 baht, refunded when you return your borrowed items.  My outfit was not blog-worthy by any means: my luggage missed its connection and I had to re-wear my same clothes from the plane.  I am sure you can imagine how happy I was about that.  However, this ensemble met the temple requirements and my luggage was not getting delivered until Saturday evening, so I made the best of it.  We entered the Golden Palace through the main gate, purchased our tickets, and headed first to Wa Phra Kaew, the most sacred temple in Thailand that houses the Emerald Buddha.

 We happened to arrive about 10 minutes before one of the free English tours.  There are a handful every day, and to join you just sign up at a podium to the left of the entrance.  The tour started here, in front of the golden shrine Phra Si Ratana Chedi that hold ashes of the buddha and Phra Mondop, a library.

 Five-headed royal nagas at one of the entrances to the library made of 18 carat gold.  Wow.  According to our guide, nagas with three or more heads are reserved for royal buildings only.

A sandstone model of Angkor Wat on the upper terrace.  Apparently, King Rama IV wanted his army to walk on over to Cambodia, dismantle the real deal, and bring it back to Thailand.  When he figured out that was not possible, he settled for having this miniature replica created instead.

A close-up photo showing 18k gold and mother-of-pearl details.

Colorful detail on the outside of the Royal Pantheon (also known as the Shrine of the Celestial Ancestors).  King Rama IV had the Royal Pantheon built with the intention of storing the Emerald Buddha inside, but it was not completed until after his death and King Rama V decided that the building itself was too small.  As a result, the Royal Pantheon now holds statues of Kings Rama I through VIII and is open to the public once a year on April 6th, the anniversary of the founding of the Chakri Dynasty.

More photos on the upper platform.  We visited fairly early in the morning (9am), but January is peak tourist season due to the ideal weather and it was very crowded.

One of the bronze lion guardians outside of the Ubosoth, the building that houses the Emerald Buddha.  You can see that thousands (millions?) of people have rubbed his nose for good luck as they passed by.

The Emerald Buddha is the most sacred object in all of Thailand, made from a solid piece of jade and housed within the main building of Wa Phra Kaew.  This buddha has three different outfits that are changed by the king himself: winter, summer, and rainy season.  Since we visited in January, we were able to see the Emerald Buddha's winter outfit.

After our tour, we walked a bit more around the grounds of the Golden Palace before heading toward the river.  We ran into the Tha Tian market and Thai Wang Alley full of street vendors, and decided to stop for lunch before heading across the river to Wat Arun.

There were so many delicious looking (and smelling) snacks, and everything is so cheap.

 We settled on street pad thai, tom yum soup, pork skewers with sticky rice, and fresh mango for dessert.  I only have a photo of the pad thai but it was all SO good.

After our lunch, we walked past the rest of the shops out to the pier.  Here, you have a couple of options: a larger ferry that travels up and down the river with defined stops, or this little ferry that just goes across the river to Wat Arun and back.  We paid our 3 baht each to go across the river to visit the Temple of Dawn.

The impressive view of Wat Arun from the East side of the river.  Wat Arun is named after the Hindu god Aruna, a personification of the rising sun.  If you have a chance to visit this temple at dawn, the morning lights reflects off its surface and creates a gorgeous sight.

 Wat Arun is known for its steep and narrow steps - you can see how the people walking down are treading carefully.  The cost is 100 baht to enter Wat Arun, and it was not very busy when we arrived mid-afternoon.

 One of the narrow walkways around the middle platform.  This temple has so many artistic details, it is amazing and was my favorite temple that we visited in Thailand.

Wat Arun is decorated with seashells and pieces of porcelain from China, creating a colorful and beautiful mosaic look.

And finally, the beautiful view over the river from the middle platform of Wat Arun.  After we finished touring this temple, we paid our 3 baht to get back across the river and made a quick stop at Khao San Road just to walk through.

 Khao San Road is famous for being a "backpacker haven" of cheap hostels, food, and shopping.  It is said to be very lively at night, but we only had time to make a quick stop in the afternoon because of our planned dinner at Nahm (separate dinner post here).

I hope you enjoyed these photos from several of Bangkok's iconic historical sites.  I have so many more photos to go through, please stay tuned for additional posts on our travels in Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Macau.  Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great week!


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