Free Books Friday: Travel to Bangkok by Stig Albeck
Posted on Friday, June 1st, 2012
It’s been a while since we did a free books friday! So today we make up for that by offering you a great travel guide for free. This free ebook will give you a great introduction to Bangkok city, the capital of Thailand. In this blog post we give you a short introduction to this magical and exotic city, but don’t forget to download the ebook for more details.
Why you should visit Bangkok
Are you planning to visit Bangkok in the near future? Then we might have some useful tips for you. Thailand’s capital has plenty of attractions and lots of tourists visit the city every year. After a recession at the end of the 1990s, the tourist trade is booming again to the benefit of local people and visitors alike. We collected some facts and must-see attractions.
Thailand: Historical legends, food and shopping
Many people begin their visit to the marvelous country of Thailand by flying to Suvarnabhumi – the international airport of Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi means the mythological ”Land of Gold”. There can be no better welcome as there are new perspectives to the exciting historical legends everywhere in Thailand… and gold and golden adornments in such great numbers that it will make you reach for your digital camera constantly.
Thailand is warm and lush and it is a country of great natural riches that can be experienced both in and outside the capital of Bangkok. From north to south, the country covers 2,000 kilometres and the variation from the green mountains and big rivers in the north over the rice paddies and open green areas in the central region to the many kilometres long beaches in the south, makes round trips and a continued reunion with Thailand, something to be wished for.
Enjoy the tasty Thai cooking which will treat you to everything from a tasty mellow to something so hot, it will bring both tears to your eyes and sweat to the brows of Westerners. Fish and shellfish are a wise choice and the fruits of Thailand are a cornucopia of healthy and refreshing food.
Shopping is something unto itself in Thailand. Large, modern shopping centres are placed side by side with dilapidated stalls and some of the hundreds of markets that you run into during a roundtrip of Thailand. The prices of many goods are very attractive, and many of the locally produced goods are beautiful, practical and also memorable souvenirs.
Some must-sees of Bangkok
• Boat trip on the Chao Phraya River
A good way of getting a first impression of Bangkok is by taking a boat trip on the Chao Phraya River. The name means “the River of Kings”. Several of the major sights of Bangkok are situated along the river, and there are fine and easy ways of transportation by boat.
Ordinary river busses go north and south from all piers on both side of the river. It is always possible and cheap to board a river bus and get to the next pier. If you do not live by the river, take the Skytrain to the Saphan Taksin Station, which is close to a big pier on the river. Saphan Taksin is also close to River City where many of the tour boats depart from.
• The Santa Cruz Church
The Santa Cruz Church in Thonburi is the oldest Christian church in Bangkok. The church was originally built in 1770 when Thonburi was the capital for a short period. The Portuguese built the Church. They were the first Westerners in Thailand as they had traded with Ayutthaya since the 16th century.
After the Burmese attacked and destroyed Ayutthaya, the Portuguese gave King Taksin military aid to drive out the enemy. To thank the Portuguese, the King granted them land where they erected the Santa Cruz Church. Originally, it was a wooden building, but the Church was rebuilt in 1835 and again in 1913 in its present form. The Church was constructed in European style under the leadership of Italian architects.
• The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
Bangkok’s Grand Palace and the temple complex of Wat Phra Kaew belong to some of the most remarkable building complexes in the world. They were founded by King Rama I in 1782 when Bangkok became the new capital of the country.
There is one shared entrance to the two sights.
• Anantasamakom Throne Hall
The Anantasamakom Throne Hall is built in Italian renaissance and neo-classical style in Carrara marble. The central dome is 49.5 metres tall and the building is 112.5 metres long. Of all the buildings in Bangkok that were inspired by European architecture, this is the most impressive. The Throne Hall was completed in 1915 after 8 years of construction work. In 1932, King Rama VII decided that the building should house the National Assembly of Thailand, which it did until 1972.
• Wat Pho
Wat Pho is a very large temple complex in central Bangkok. This is where the enormous Reclining Buddha can be found. With a length of 46 metres and a height of 15 metres, it is the biggest of its kind in the world. The statue is impressive in other ways than size, as it has some very beautiful mother-of-pearl engravings on the soles of its feet. The Reclining Buddha is from 1832 and it was built to draw people’s attention to Buddha’s Nirvana.
Close to the viharn with the Reclining Buddha, there is an enclosure with the four biggest chedi out of the temple total of 95. King Rama I built the middle chedi to house the Phra Si Sanphet Buddha, which was brought here from Ayutthaya. The ashes of King Rama II and King Rama III respectively are kept in the northern and southern chedi. King Rama IV built the fourth chedi to an unknown purpose.
In the grounds of Wat Pho, you can see statues of people wearing hats symbolising Westerners and a Chinese philosopher depicted so that he appears to be in a good mood. The remaining works put together form an immensely beautiful complex with many details of classical Thai architecture and temple art.
• The Giant Swing
The Giant Swing was set up in 1784 by Rama I to perform a ceremony in honour of the God Shiva, who swung in Heaven. During the ceremony, four persons would swing to a height of 25 metres. The temple Wak Suhat, which is situated by the Giant Swing, houses, among other things, a bronze statue of the Buddha in the Sukothai style. The statue is 8 metres tall.
• The National Gallery
The National Gallery has been set up in the former Royal Mint. The building is a mixture of European and Thai architecture and as such typical of the buildings that were constructed during the reign of King Rama V. The permanent exhibition of the museum displays a broad selection of Thai art. The museum also has temporary exhibitions of foreign and other Thai works of art.
• The Golden Mount
The Golden Mount was built in the temple area Wat Saket (วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร). The Mount is the highest in Bangkok and on its top, there is a building with a big, golden chedi where King Rama V installed a Buddha relic in 1877. The relic is believed to come from the Sakya clan. They received it after the cremation of the earthly remains of the Buddha. The other temple buildings are very interesting and they have been significant in the history of Thailand since the first king of the Chakri dynasty.
• Wat Benchamabophit
The elegant temple complex Wat Benchamabophit was built under King Rama V 1900-1910. The interior of the central temple hall is very beautifully executed in various materials, including gold. Wat Benchamabophit is also called the Marble Temple, because Italian Carrara marble has been used. The style is Thai, but inspiration from European neo-classicism can also be seen. The symmetry and lovely proportions of the temple makes it one of the most beautiful in Bangkok.
The Chinese quarter in Bangkok was founded in 1782 when Bangkok became the capital. The king constructed the Grand Palace where the Chinese living quarters were and they were moved to present-day Chinatown. In and around the Yaowarat Street, you get the feeling that you are in China. There are Chinese street signs, shops, restaurants, and the whole area gives a vivid impression of the entrepreneurial and commercial spirit predominant with the Chinese in Thailand.
• The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Traditionally, part of the local trade in Thailand took place in floating markets. This was possible because of all the dug out canals, which were often the easiest and most direct way of getting to the market place.
Today, the Damnoen Saduak is the only floating market left in Thailand. A market that is great to experience with its myriad of small boats where the vendors sell fruit and vegetables from the surrounding rural areas. Some boat vendors sell tourist goods, other boats are floating fast food stalls. The atmosphere is very lively and a trip on the canals in the area, known as the Venice of Thailand, is also interesting.
To find your way around you can visit the websites of the public transport in Bangkok:
Bangkok City Transport: www.bts.co.th
Bangkok Metro: www.bangkokmetro.co.th
Bangkok Airport: www.airportthai.co.th
State Railway of Thailand: www.railway.co.th
Of course, there is a lot more to see of Bangkok. To prepare for your journey to this famous metropolis download the free travel guide of Bangkok. Enjoy your trip!