Many visitors will remain in the Bangkok center located on the east side of the Chao Phraya river. While some tourists wonder off to the West side of the river, they are mainly there to stay at a riverside hotel or spa. Explore a bit further and the area to the west of the river known as Thonburi actually has a lot to offer.
This temple was build in the 19th century during the reign of King Rama III. It’s most prominent feature is the large stunningly beautiful white chedi that towers above the surroundings. Location: next to the Memorial Bridge (Saphan Phut).
Santa Cruz Cathedral
Standing out of the ordinary surroundings with its cream-toned walls and design the Santa Cruz Cathedral in Thonburi is an impressive Catholic church built as the result of the close ties between the Portugese and the Thai in 1767. In short walking distance from the church there is a cofee shop with a small free museum about the portugese who came to Thailand to trade.You can reach the church by taking the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Rajinee Pier (N7), and then catch the Pak Khlong ferry across the river. Opening Hours: Everyday (Sunday service 06:00-10:00, 18:00-20:00)
Thonburi Canals (Khlongs)
Bangkok is famous for its series of canals and water-ways which once served as the main form of transport. From the canals you will get an entire different perspective of the city and will show you a different lifestyle of the locals. Pass by families doing their crafts and children playing in their wooden homes. You can arrange a private tour through the canals from almost every pier but the best piers to start your tours would be Sathon pier under the Taksin Bridge next to the Taksin BTS station or the Tha Tien Pier close to Wat Pho.
The Artist’s House – Baan Silapin
Every day (except Wednesday) at 14:00 you can watch a traditional Thai puppet dance performance at this place. The show doesn’t take long (15-30 minutes) but the area around the house and the house itself offer enough entertainment for another hour. The house is right next to the canal with a few statues sitting next to it. Inside the house are several paintings and the atmosphere at the house is in traditional Thai style. Open: Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 6 pm, Wednesday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday Sunday from 9am to 7 pm. Location: Soi Wat Thong Sala Ngarm, Phasi Charoen
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, and by the locals “Wat Chaeng” , is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is just across the river from the “Tha Tien” boat pier. When you go on a boat ride along the river, you can easily spot this temple as the design is quite different from the other temples. A 70 meters tall spire (prang) stands majestically on the river edge and makes one of Bangkoks most famous landmarks. The spire is decorated with thousands of tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain that glimmer in the sunlight. It is possible to go up the spire but be careful because the steps are really steep. The difficult climb is however worth it as you can have a fantastic view over the river and look at the temples on the opposite side of the river. To reach Wat Arun you can go by skytrain to the Saphan Taksin BTS station and then take the river boat to the Tha Tien Pier. From there you need to take a small ferry to the other side of the river. The Tha Tien boat pier is also in walking distance from Wat Pho.
Close to the famous Temple of Dawn stands a much lesser known temple. Tourists completely ignore this temple and rather go to Wat Arun without knowing what they are missing out on. The building of Wat Kalayanamit is massive and once you step through the large doorway, you will see why. The temple is home to a giant Buddha statue and the interior of the temple looks really impressive. Because of the lack of tourists, this temple still feels authentic and locals perform their religious activities inside without being bothered by a tourist crowd. You can take a ferry from the Ratchinee Pier which will take you directly to the temple pier. Location: At Kalayanamit Pier
Kuan Yin Shrine
In between the Santa Crus church and Wat Kalayanamitr stands a small but charming old Chinese building next to the Chao Phraya River. The site was built during the reign of King Taksin (1767 – 1782) by his Chinese followers. It was later rebuilt to house the shrine for Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy.
Royal Barges Museum
While remaining dormant most of the year, the royal barges serve an important role in Thai culture. They are made of teak and beautifully decorated with carvings and painted in bright colors of red gold and blue. The barges are still fully operational but only leave the museum during special occasions such as Royal ceremonies. Location: Khlong Bangkok Noi, near Phra Pin Klao Bridge. To reach the museum, take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Wang Lang Pier (N10) and walk from there. Opening Hours: Tuesday till Thursday 09:00 – 17:00
Lat Mayom Floating Market
While smaller than some of the more famous floating markets in Thailand, Lat Mayom in Thonburi has the picturesque Traditional Thai charm and it is less touristy with less crowds. At the market you will find mostly fresh fruit and vegetables but also handicrafts, artwork and clothes. The market can be reached by taking a taxi from Wongwian Yai BTS Station. Opening Hours: Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9:30 to 16:30. Location: 199/4 Rachadapisek Road
Millennium Hilton Rooftop Bar
No better way to end a busy day in Bangkok than to relax at the Hilton Rooftop Bar end let it all sink in. The bar looks over the river and the rest of Bangkok. You can see the temples and other landmarks while enjoying a nice drink or meal. Stay for a night at the Millenium Hilton? >>
Location: Millennium Hilton Hotel, 123 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan Tel: +66 (2) 442 2000 Cuisine: International and Asian