Khao San Road Attractions
What to See in Khao San Road
There are no historical sights to speak of on Khao San Road. That said, its location in the Old City (Rattanakosin) makes it an ideal base from which to explore the city's classic attractions. That's not to say there's nothing to look at or admire. On the contrary, being a hub of unwashed humanity means Khao San Road is the perfect place to do some people watching, and only minutes walk away lies the distinctive bohemian atmosphere of Phra Arthit Road.
All Attractions Near Khao San Road
In the former grounds of the 18th Century Wang Na Palace, The Bangkok National Museum houses the largest collection of Thai art and artifacts in the country. It's definitely worth a visit, especially if visiting nearby Wat Phra Kaew or the Grand Palace. Opened by King Rama V to exhibit the antiques and gifts bestowed to him by his father, it once held a reputation for being an ill-organised gathering of dusty relics. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 16:00 (Wednesday - Sunday)
- Location: Na Phrothat Road, near the Grand Palace
- Tel: +66 (0)2 215 8173
- How to get there: Taxi is probably the best way to go. Or embark the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Maharaj Pier, then walk about 20 minutes.
Circled by perpetual swarms of traffic, the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Road is a large Western-style symbol of Thailand's adoption of democracy and liberty. Field Marshall Plaek Pibulsonggram commissioned it to commemorate the June 1932 military coup that led to the country's first democratic constitution in place of absolute rule. He intended the monument to be the equivalent of the Arc de Triomphe, its European style a symbol of a newly invigorated Bangkok complete with similar Western freedoms.
Like most monuments built in a spirit of self-congratulation, however, it came to resemble propaganda more then a celebration of a remarkable democratic awakening. By the time it was built in 1939, the regime had turned autocratic, factions in the regime leading to what was in effect a military dictatorship. Since then, however, it has gained a legitimacy it once lacked, pro-democracy demonstrators using it as a rallying point in 1973, 1976 and 1992.
Designed by Italian-born Thai citizen Corrado Feroci (who later adopted the Thai name Silpha Bhirasi), it's rich with symbolism relating to the constitution's birth date of June 24, 1932. In its centre is a pedestal, inside of which is a copy of the original 1932 constitution.
The four surrounding wing-like structures are 24 metres high to represent the date the constitution was signed, and each one symbolises one of the four branches of the Thai armed forces that guard it. Bas relief sculptures at the base of the monument depict the armed forces both as champions of democracy and as the personification of the Thai people.
- Location: Ratchadamnoen Road, Rattanakosin (Old City)
If there is one must-see sight that no visit to Bangkok would be complete without, it's the dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city's most famous landmark. Built in 1782 - and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government - the Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 08:30 - 15:30
- Location: Na Phra Lan Road, Old City (Rattanakosin)
- Price Range: Tickets sold from 8:30 - 15:30 and cost 400 baht! One ticket includes entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.
Housed in a former Royal Mint built during the reign of King Rama V, the National Gallery displays work by Thai artists from the 17th Century onwards. Inherited by the Department of Fine Arts in 1974, it includes permanent exhibitions of works by King Rama VI and H.M. King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, traditional murals from early periods in the capital's history, and pioneering Thai modern art.
Particularly evident is the influence of Western schools of art, like impressionism and cubism, on recent Thai artists. There is also an area featuring temporary exhibitions of art from home and abroad, everything from painting and sculptures to prints and installations.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 16:00 (Wednesday - Sunday)
- Location: 4 Chao-Fa Road, opposite the National Theatre, Rattanakosin
- Tel: +66 (0)2 282 2639
Phra Sumen Fort
During the reign of King Rama I, fourteen forts were built to protect the borders of the Old City, but most have disappeared over the years. Only this one, on Phra Arthit road, and the Mahakhan Fort on Ratchadamnoen road now remain. Nestled in the quiet Suan Santichaiparkran Park, which itself straddles the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the hexagonal shape of this pale white concrete fort, with battlements, canons and observation deck are still in good, albeit slightly distressed looking shape.
If you come here during the day, combine your visit with a spot of relaxation in the park, or lunch at one of Phra Arthit Road's hole-in-the-wall restaurants. The fort, however, looks its best when lit up at night.
- Location: Phra Arthit Road, Banglamphu, near Khao San Road
Built around one of the few remaining structures of the old city fortifications, Santichaiprakan Park have become very popular with tourists and city dwellers, especially in the evening when the park fills up with families as well as young Thais and foreigners.
The nearby Phra Artit Road has several eateries and 'chill-out' pubs and bars. You can also make your way to the infamous Khao San Road, which is only a ten-minute walk away.
- Location: Phra Artit Road, Banglumphu
A hidden gem just a few metres from its bigger sister Khao San Road, Soi Rambutri is a more laid-back version of Khao San. The feel is almost like Khao San of yesteryear, before it shot to fame with the release of the Hollywood flick The Beach in 2000. Fringing Soi Ram Butri’s stone-paved path are sidewalk café, restaurants, beer bars and guesthouses of all types as well as a lineup of street stalls selling music CDs, used books, second-hand guitars, funky T-shirts, stir-fried noodles, som tam, and more. The soi runs from Phra Athit Road to Chakrapong Road, where you can continue on to Khao San. Read More...
- Location: Old City, between Chakrapong Road and Phra Athit Road
- How to get there: Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Phra Athit Pier, then cross the street, turn right and find a narrow offshoot lane from the main road.
Proof that the sacred can survive amidst the profane is Wat Chanagonkram. Its location in backpacker enclave Banglamphu, close to Khao San Road and mildly less frenetic Soi Rambuttri, belies both the ancient heritage and the tranquillity of this small temple and its shady grounds. Its origins date back to the Ayutthaya period, but it was restored in 1787, during the reign of Rama I. This was after the famous victory at the battle of nine armies, which explains the name - Wat Chanasongkhram Rajaworamahaviharn, which translates as 'victory in war'.
At the rear is a sedate tree-lined courtyard, including temple housing where monks and lay workers still reside. Within the temple compound is a small courtyard. The windows and gable of the small 'Ubosot', or ordination hall, feature elaborately gilded wood, while inside at the altar sits a famous Buddha image in the subduing mara posture called Phra Phra Buddha Norasee Trilokachet, dating from the reign of Rama I. Around it sit 15 Buddha images from the same period, and also a pair of ebony elephant tusks. There is also a statue of King Taksin, which predates the Chakri Dynasty. In front of the compound sit two chedis in the Jom Hae style, with wide base and sharp top.
- Opening Hours: 06:00 - 18:00
- Location: Chakrapong Road, near Khao San Road, Banglamphu
The headquarter of Thailand's largest monastic order and Vipassana Meditation centre, Wat Mahathat is an important centre for the study of Buddhism and meditation. Although most programmes are in Thai, there are some in English and the temple has become a popular place to learn the Vipassana Meditation (Insight Meditation). Classes are held daily from 07:00 - 10:00, 13:00 - 16:00, and 18:00 - 20:00. Time needed for practice will vary with each individual English-speaking monks assisting. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 17:00
- Location: Phra That Road (near Sanam Luang Park, between the Grand Palace and the National Museum), Old City (Rattanakosin)
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and a must-do for any first-time visitor in Bangkok. It's one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf. It’s an easy ten minute walk between here and the Grand Palace. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 - 17:00 (Massage available until 18:00)
- Location: Maharat Road. Close to the river (about a half mile south of the Grand Palace), Old City (Rattanakosin)
- Price Range: The entrance fee is 100 baht
Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located in the historic centre of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace, it enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 3.30 pm
- Location: Na Phralan, Phra Nakorn (inside Grand Palace complex), Old City (Rattanakosin)
- Dress Code: no short pants or short skirts, not sleeveless tshirts. Sarong are for rent at the entrance but better dress appropriately to avoid the queue.
- Price Range: 400 Baht!
Wat Saket, popularly known as the Golden Mount or ‘Phu Khao Thong’, is a low hill crowned with a gleaming gold chedi. Within, the 58-metre chedi houses a Buddha relic and welcomes worshippers all year round. The temple also hosts an annual temple fair in November, which lasts a week during Loy Krathong. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
- Location: Between Boriphat Road and Lan Luang Road, off Ratchadamnoen Klang Road