The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is an interesting and intoxicating destination famous for its full on food, urban exploration, and cultural contrasts.
From getting lost in the maze of streets and tiny lanes around Chinatown, to finding yourself in conversion with a Buddhist Monk on a smart phone, this is a city with a rich and multifaceted personality, and has long drawn some of the highest tourism of other cities in South East Asia.
But although being a living example of the well trodden path, Bangkok still has a bountiful number of secrets which have remained largely unexplored by typical travellers.
Take the Road Less Travelled: 5 Unexpected Things to Do in Bangkok
Rod Fai Market
Thailand’s first Train Market, famously known as The Rod Fai Market is an open-air market selling a wide range of vintage products from the yesteryears. It is located behind the Seacon Square Shopping Mall and sells everything from antique furniture, to hippy fashion and memorabilia.
The huge market has three sections with innumerable traders selling fashion, and things like French chandeliers, vintage leather jackets, Cadillac etc. combined with a lively bar and food stalls.
It is a remarkable night bazaar in which it is easy, and exciting, to get lost!
Bangkok Flower Market
The Bangkok Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat in Thai), is Thailand’s largest wholesale flower market and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some say that Pak Khlong Talat is now one of the world’s largest flower markets.
This is a bustling and authentic market, and is a fascinating place to visit if you’re looking for lesser known attractions off the usual tourist trail. But perhaps it’s lesser known because directions online can be confusing.
The best way to get to Bangkok’s Flower Market is to take the SkyTrain to Saphan Taskin station, then transfer to Taksin Pier and take the Chao Phraya Express boat to stop #7, Rajinee. Alternatively, ride the Bangkok MRT to “Hua Lamphong,” then ask a taxi or tuk tuk driver to take you to Pak Khlong Talat, or show them this Thai text: ปากคลองตลาด.
Photo CC Ninara
Location: Sukhumvit Road, Samut Prakan, Thailand
It is estimated that it took around ten years to complete the statue starting from the designing to the complete construction. It is a tribute to the Hindu mythology’s Erawan otherwise known as Airavata. The trunks of the elephant are the size of the historic Banyan trees.
The true definition of a hidden gem, a huge, three-headed elephant statue standing upon an equally gargantuan pedestal is the first, and last, thing you see when visiting this museum. The splendid beast is 250 tons in weight, 29 metres high, 39 metres long, and is made of pure green-hued copper.
Once you get inside the museum, “each of its three levels symbolises a part of the Thai cosmos, and headily fuses rare Eastern antiques, rampant religious iconography, and the most psychedelic de’cor you’ll see outside a dream.”
Canal life has long been a part of Thai culture; with hundreds of canals (Khlongs), the waterways of Bangkok used to flow through two thirds of the city. Many residents lived in wooden homes on stilts, and the canals were busy transport routes, though the government has since filled in and paved over many of the canals to build roads.
Nevertheless, there are still many khlongs around Bangkok, and a long tail boat ride is a unique opportunity to visit the Bangkok of old. This is the chance to witness what Bangkok looked like before skyscrapers adorned the city, and there are many picturesque photo opportunities.
“Many Thai locals till live along the waterways, in small wooden houses that rise out of the water on wooden stilts. As you pass by, you can see them doing laundry or bathing while small children are playing.” You can see traders crossing the water with their boats full of fruits, and fresh produce.
Photo CC: Dennis Jarvis
Bangkok Forensic Museum
The Bangkok Forensic Museum is a medical museum, and not for the faint hearted! It is nicknamed the Museum of Death, and located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River in the Siriraj Hospital.
Travellers searching for something unusual will definitely find it here; there are six museums with two buildings, which house some of the creepiest exhibits you’re likely to have seen; everything from disease-identified specimens, to human organs for anatomical education, and prehistoric remains which were uncovered at the archaeological site at Chorakhe Phueak in Kanchanaburi Province.
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