Bangkok Walking Tour

Bangkok Walking Tour


This walk starts and ends at Khaosan Road
which is worth a visit in it’s own right. There is lots going on and lots of places
to stay. Shops and stalls open every day, food is available
24/7 and almost every evening guarantees a party atmosphere. Nearby Soi Rambuttri is
slightly quieter, but only slightly. There’s a link to a video about Khaosan Road in the
description. There is also a link to a map of this walk
where clicking markers along the route gives additional information. From the Burger King end of Khaosan Road turn
right and then left along the dual carriageway where the Democracy Monument, situated on
a traffic island, was built soon after Thailand ceased to be an absolute monarchy. Further along, pass a memorial to King Rama
the 3rd in the gardens of Wat Ratchanatdaram then Pom Mahakan, one of fourteen forts incorporated
into the old city wall. Cross the nearby canal where to the left,
the dual carriageway continues to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and the Vimanmek Mansion.
To the right, this walk continues over a second bridge towards the Golden Mountain. When crossing look left to see the jetty where
boats leaving for Central World, The Platinum Fashion Mall and Pantip Plaza offer an alternative
and cheaper way to travel. A measure of athletic agility is required when boarding and disembarking. Pass the wood shops and fire station to where
the entry gate of the Golden Mountain is obvious but smaller than could maybe be expected.
Once through it turn right, skirting the base of the hill towards the pay booth. Because
Bangkok is flat views from the top are quite extensive. Back at the entrance, continue left past more
wood shops. Immediately before the next junction there is a stall where monk’s alms bowls,
often cherished as souvenirs, are made and sold. At sunrise each day monks go into the streets
to receive gifts of food which are placed in their alms bowls by generous Bangkokians. Cross the bridge alongside the stall towards
the Giant Swing, clearly visible in the distance, passing many specialist Buddhist shops on
the way. The entrance to Wat Suthat, authentic, important
and not overpopulated with tourists, is near the Swing. Bangkok City Hall occupies the opposite side
of the square. Continue along passing even more shops selling
Bhuddist items until reaching what was once a roundabout, a circle of some of the oldest
buildings in Bangkok. Turn left, passing Sukha 1 and 2, a couple
of narrow roads where each weekday morning from about 6 o’clock busy Trok Mor street
market attracts very few foreigners. Next right, over a canal, The Pig Memorial
was built in 1913, to celebrate the 50th birthday of the queen of Thailand. Walk along the bank to Saphan Hok, Bangkok’s
Dutch bridge, crossing it on the way to Wat Ratchabophit, circular in shape with a Royal
Mausoleum in it’s grounds. As with many temples, there are free public toilets and a donations
box to appease the fair minded. On the far side exit right towards Johny’s
Gems, a jeweler of excellent repute. Continue past Ban Mo, a locality specialising
in electrical items, then a small Chinese temple, before reaching the flower market,
Pak Khlong Talat. It is extensive stretching all the way to the river and deep into surrounding
side streets. Best time to visit is during an evening prior
to one of the special Buddhist days which occur at least weekly and are depicted by
Buddha images on local calendars. Go left at the main road, passing between
the green stupa of Wat Ratchaburana and The Memorial Gardens, before following it as it
bears away from the river towards Little India. Partially hidden behind India Emporium Shopping
Mall, the Sikh Temple, as usual, extends a friendly welcome to visitors. Opposite Thanon Phahurat, the next major road
to the left, enter the narrow lane lined with stalls where Indian influence gradually disappears
as Chinatown begins. It continues for about 1500 meters with numerous side shoots making
it a favourite with bargain hunters and shopaholics. With the river on one side and Yaowarat, the
main road running through Chinatown, on the other, getting completely lost is pretty difficult. Towards the end, after the lane has widened
slightly, Indian influence returns briefly in the form of gemstone shops where cutting
and polishing done to order takes about a week to complete. Finally turn left along Song Sawat Road past
Wat Koh, so named because it once stood on an island. At the traffic lights detour right along Yaowarat
to China Gate and, across the road, Wat Traimit, Temple of the Golden Buddha, four stories
high, with an interesting history, which can be visited. Return along Yaowarat past the traffic lights
where the next two turnings to the right are home to a number of restaurants and other
food outlets well patronised by Thais, which is usually a good sign. Take the second, Plaeng Nam Road, going left
at the end along Charoen Krung Road. Just after the lions guarding the entrance of Wat
Mangkon Kamalawat, Bangkok’s largest and most important Chinese Buddhist temple, turn left
again and past Wat Kanmatuyaram. Continue across Yaowarat with it’s gold shops
on the corner, to where the stalls eventually peter out. Beyond the Sin Pun Kao Thang Shrine,
easy to miss and not much to look at, turn right and then left at the end to the river. Board a boat flying an orange flag in the
direction of the Memorial Bridge which can be clearly seen from the jetty. Disembark at the next pier and cross the river
to Wat Prayurawong where it’s possible to climb inside the white stupa. Feeding turtles
at the nearby pool is also possible and less energetic. Afterwards walk along the river bank taking
the path in the direction of Wat Arun. Pass Santa Cruz Church, originally built by
the Portuguese in 1770, then Kuan Yin Shrine, a small Chinese temple, both of which can
be visited. At the end of the path, a little way beyond
the ferry crossing to Yodpiman and the Flower Market, Wat Kalayanamit is a relatively large
and important temple. Walk away from the river along the road immediately
before it, turning right at the end. After about 50 meters take the slip road to
the side of the bridge then pass underneath before climbing the steps the other side. Across the canal descend to follow the footpath
past the entrance of Tonson Mosque, which dates from 1688, towards Wat Hongratanaram.
After maybe visiting The King Taksin Shrine, take either road away from the canal.
On reaching the main road turn right then cross over the traffic lights.
Pass the navy establishment entrance towards clearly visible Wat Arun, entering through
the second gate. Beyond the main stupa, decorated with discarded
pieces of Chinese porcelain and which can be climbed for a fee, follow the path left
to catch the cross river ferry. On the other side walk through the stalls
directly away from the jetty, continuing between Wat Po, home of the forty six meter long Reclining
Buddha, and the rear wall of the Grand Palace. At the cross roads turn left past Saranrom
Park, once the gardens of Saranrom Palace, towards the City Pillar Shrine, Bangkok’s
oldest building, which lies just beyond a battery of canons stationed outside the Ministry
of Defence Office. From here pass the entrance of the Grand Palace,
Bangkok’s main tourist attraction. Next turn right by the colonial buildings
into Maha Rat Road. Towards the end modern Tha Maharaj is home to a number of air conditioned
riverside restaurants and particularly popular with Thais at sunset.
Just beyond but definitely not modern, the Amulet Market’s maze of passages projects
a distinctly traditional atmosphere. The main entrance of Wat Mahathat, constructed
around 1782 by the brother of Thailand’s first king, lies directly opposite. Guided tours
are on offer and meditation classes here, some specifically for non Thais, have quite
a good reputation. On the far side exit left alongside Thammasat
University, one of the best in Thailand but not usually open to the public, then the National
Museum which opens every day except Mondays and Tuesdays.
Just across from the First World War Monument, turn past the National Theatre. At the end
of the road head under the bridge and then immediately towards the river.
A diversion from this walk is to visit the Royal Barge Museum by crossing to Pinklao
Pier directly opposite and following the directions given in the link in the description.
Meanwhile, follow the path in the direction of distant Rama the 8th Bridge past the river
taxi pier at Phra Arthit on the way to Phra Sumen, a park dominated by it’s fort which
also contains Bangkok’s last remaining patch of mangrove swamp.
Finally, head for Khaosan Road by returning to Phra Arthit pier and walking between the
stalls directly away from the jetty to the main road. Turn right, then after about 50
meters take narrow Chana Songkram Alley next to the small Seven Eleven store on the left. At the end go left again, following the road
as it skirts round the perimeter wall of the temple. Khaosan Road is on the far side opposite
the main entrance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *