Secrets are always fun to explore, and in Bangkok they are plentiful! Some are spoken of only in whispers, others take years to discover, a few are outrageously underrated. But one thing unites those picked for our Top 10: all will enhance your enjoyment of this exciting city. Most are door-openers – places you should visit – but we’ve thrown in a few eye-openers – curious facts – for good measure. Seize these before the masses do.
Scala Cinema in Siam Square
Siam Square Scala Cinema in Siam Square Scala Cinema in Siam Square offers a more modest one-screen experience compared to the large complex situated in Siam Paragon just across the road. Built in 1967, this exquisitely maintained movie theatre is worth a trip not only for the bargain priced seats and popcorn, but also for the retro setting. From the tickets to the building, everything here has been preserved and it is worth a trip just to stand in the domed-ceiling entrance and be transported to another age.
Papaya Vintage Shop
Ladprao, near Chatuchak Papaya Vintage Shop Papaya vintage is like no other shop you have even seen before. Many have heard of it but few have actually stepped inside it. Trying to list the amazing objects, items, figures, toys, household objects and furniture tightly packed next to each other would be impossible, but you can’t help but notice the pinball machines, Vespas and full-size familiar comic characters of Flash, Wolverine, Green Lantern and Batman, all proudly standing next to… a pair of giant rabbits.
Bangkok Forensic Museum Riverside – opposite Grand Palace Bangkok Forensic Museum
If your vision of a museum is a pretty display of artistic or cultural artifacts, then perhaps the Bangkok Forensic Museum is not for you. Located inside the Siriraj Hospital on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river, this sinister exhibition is more for the morbid or for travellers searching for something extremely unusual.
Fresh Flower Market Old City – Rattanakosin (near Wat Pho)
Bangkok Flower Market If you’re blooming mad about flowers, don’t miss Pak Khlong Talad. The city’s biggest flower market offers an exotic sensory treat, especially between 02:00 and sunrise, when lorries brimming with freshly cut flora, fruit and vegetables rattle in from neighboring provinces, and this unassuming roadside bursts into a symphony of fragrant smells and vibrant colours. Roses, daises, chrysanthemums, indigenous orchids – they’re all here in droves, and at miniscule prices.
Rod Fai Market (Eastern suburbs)
Rod Fai Market At Rod Fai Market, an open-air bazaar, formerly set beside an abandoned railroad track but now housed behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall on Srinakarin Road Soi 51, the vintage look never goes out of style. Spread on the ground is all kinds of collectibles and memorabilia from the yesteryear, from antique furniture to hippy fashion to Mao kitsch. The overall feel is down-to-earth cool.
Thai Air Force Museum
Don Muang Royal Thai Air Force Museum or The Royal Thai Air Force Museum is a small but surprisingly interesting plane collection hidden away near the old Don Muang Airport. Covering the entire history of Thai Aviation since the very first double-winged planes, about thirty airplanes are displayed partly outdoor, partly indoor inside a couple of large hangars converted into a museum
Shrine of Goddess Tubtim
Chidlom Shrine of Goddess Tubtim Literally hundreds of penises, from small wooden carvings to big stone sculptures that stand ten feet tall and decorated with ribbons, make this shrine quite unique. It honors Chao Mae Tubtim, a female fertility spirit. Women visit this shrine when they are trying to conceive, leaving offerings of lotus and jasmine. And if rumours can be believed, the shrine has a good success rate.
Erawan Museum Samut Prakan (outside Bangkok)
Erawan Museum A huge, three-headed elephant statue standing upon an equally gargantuan pedestal is the first, and last, thing you see when visiting Samut Prakan’s Erawan Museum. It’s a splendid, towering beast: 250 tons in weight, 29 metres high, 39 metres long, and cast in a pure green-hued copper. From conception to completion it took almost ten years to construct.
Rama IX Park
Rama IX Park is the largest green space in Bangkok, with a beautiful botanical garden, large lake and gardens inspired by countries around the world. Built in 1987 to celebrate King Bhumibol’s 60th Birthday, a visit to this large park on the outskirts of Bangkok is a great break from the city and, despite all the interesting things to see, remains surprisingly free of tourists and offers a genuine experience of how locals spend their afternoons off. 10 Khlongs Bangkok Khlongs For a real sense of how people in Bangkok used to live, in stilted shacks, old wooden townhouses and dilapidated lean-tos – and still do – try them Bangkok Thonburi Khlongs. It begins on the Chao Phraya, the main river that bisects Bangkok in a wide arc. Unlike say London or Paris, it remains as alive as the city it flows through. Don’t miss.
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