Bangkok navigates between tradition and modernity. The City of Angels (Krung Thep in the Thai language) is torn on either side of Chao Praya, the river that crosses a bank of ancestral legacies and a city where the high tech seems to regain its rights. It is not unusual, during a walk in small, picturesque and silent silks located outside the time, where the traces of the ancient Siam are still found, to be won by the deafening noise of the big arteries and their traffic jams, distant from only a few hundred meters. In your walks, on foot, tuk-tuk, bike or boat, wonder will prevail. Between jade Buddhas, gold, sleeping or standing, the street kitchen or the most starry restaurants… you will find much more than what you expected when you arrived! Do not miss a stroll on the canals to contemplate the extraordinary cultural richness of the Thai capital. Shop on one of the floating markets and let yourself be worn rather than overwhelmed by its extraordinary density.
Within the walls of the Royal Palace of Bangkok, the Buddhist temple of Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha Temple) contains one of Thailand's most sacred statues. It is therefore the Emerald Buddha (in fact Jaspe) that the Wat Phra Kaew owes his celebrity. Found in a temple of Chiang Raï around 1431, she was then covered with the gold leaf. Later, the stucco under the golden leaf crashed, and the green stone appeared. The Emerald Buddha measures 75 cm high and 45 cm wide and rests on a gold pedestal at the top of a golden altar of 11 m under a 9-story umbrella. The king himself changes her keeping according to the seasons. In the summer, it bears an enameled golden gold, adorned with precious stones; during the rainy season, an enameled bronze toe of blue and winter is a dress of gold mesh that covers it from head to foot.
The Wat Pho or Enlightenment Temple is nicknamed the temple of the sleeping Buddha. The Wat Pho is known for his Buddha sleeping pending death; This is the greatest image of Buddha in this position. The statue, erected by Rama III in 1832, is 46 m long and 15 m high. The plant of the feet, incrusted with nacre, boast the 108 good signs that Buddha was wearing at birth. Beside the Viharn, the library to the magnificent Chinese mosaics keeps sacred manuscripts. There are still four great chedi that represent the first four kingdoms. The chedi covered with green mosaics measures 41 m high and contains an image of Buddha from Ayutthaya, deteriorated by the Burmese.
The river of the Kings, the Chao Phraya is worth a stroll for who wants to feel the bowl of Bangkok. Taking its source in the northern mountains, it bypasses Ayutthaya's ancient capital and delineates Bangkok's western border before reaching the Gulf of Thailand. The Chao Phraya Express offers the possibility of taking a one-day pass and choosing to stop where desired from the Sathorn Pier at the Phra Athit pier. Navigate in sight between freight boats, sublime longtail boats and inhabitants swivel a head, leaving you away from pollution to see a breathtaking sunset with the temples on line. The stroll will review the old Western neighborhood, the neoclassical buildings, Chinatown and his fork with, as a nail of the show, the immense Wat Arun with the Grand Palais and the Wat Phra Kaew who form a golden triangle of sacred sites.
The Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahavihara or Wat Arun more simply is located on the right bank (west) of the Chao Phraya River in the Thonburi district of Bangkok. It is called in honor of the Hindu goddess Aruna, goddess of Dawn. King Tasksin grew a small temple that occupied the site, and Rama II, then Rama III amplified it. He is decorated with porcelain fragments and hundred statues of demons that protect him by 80 m. It is a symbolic representation of Mount Mehru, the house of the gods in Hindu mythology. Each of the 4 small pavilions contains representations of Buddha during different episodes of his life. More than the visit alone, it is the reflection of the sun lying on the temple, comfortably sitting on the opposite side of the Chao Phraya, leaving indelible memories.
The most impressive architectural complex in the city, without doubt. Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang or better known as Bangkok Grand Palais, was built as a city in the city. Western inspiration, only part of the palace is visited. The king with his residence now north of Bangkok, at the Chitralada Palace, the Grand Palais no longer hosts only some royal ceremonies. The so-called Grand Palais is the Chakri Maha Prasat built under King Chulalongkorn's rule, from 1876 to 1882, by English architects, which explains its European architectural style. You can visit the Amari Vinichai Throne Hall where the king always makes his birthday speech and the small arms museum in particular. The temple that occupies the northeast of the Grand Palais is probably one of Thailand's most sacred shrines.
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, 80 km from Bangkok, is divided into the largest floating market in Thailand. It represents the most faithful image of Asian tourists, a small bark filled with local fruits and vegetables peacefully recovering from a river or canal. Originally, there was only food, but gradually, this concept of floating market, deriving from the era when most of the trade was done by sea, expanded to clothing and crafts to appeal to foreign customers. It is better to arrive as soon as possible, from sunrise, because from 9 a. m., hordes of tourists arrive and the market completely loses its charm. At the end of the morning, everything's back.
Arriving in Thailand after World War II, Jim Thompson established himself as an architect, then as a silk seller. His record was permanently lost in March 1967. Many legends flowed after the disappearance of the famous American, decisive in the recovery of the silk industry in Thailand by founding Thai Silk Company in 1948. Jim Thompson's complex is composed of 7 traditional teck Thai houses from all over the country along the klong Sana Sap and assembled by the architect himself. Visitors can admire the American art collection (sculptures, furniture, dishes) gathered by the American. A true historical testimony to the culture of Southeast Asia, in the middle of a small tropical garden.
The temple of Wat Saket or «Golden Mountain Temple» is perched on a hill facing Fort Mahakan. He owes his name to his golden dome covered with small gold squares reflecting the rays of the sun. Rama II planned the construction of a gigantic chedi, only the hill remains the witness. Rama V later built a more modest chedi that was enlarged to host a relic of Buddha given according to the legend by the English governor of India to King Rama V in 1899. The temple deserves a visit to the rise of the 318 steps that offer a magnificent view of the city. You can see Saket temple below, the river, the Royal Palace and even the Wat Arun arrows. Every year, the Golden Mountain festival animates the site in November, where the faithful, torchers in hand, climb at the top.
More than half of the 10 million people in Bangkok have Chinese origins. So Chinatown has taken on an uncommon scale and does not look like the rest of Bangkok, with Chinese signs replacing those written in Thai, massage salons disappearing for jewelers and other restaurants. Red and gold are flooding the streets and even though some Thai temples are still present, Chinese temples are also found in very special decoration and architecture. Chinatown is located south of Rattanakosin. The first Chinese community was installed on the site where the Grand Palace now rises, but King Rama Ier, when he decided the creation of the city, chose this place to base the first fortifications and therefore asked them to move where their neighborhood is now. For who doesn't read Chinese (i. e. many people), get lost in the heart of Chinatown may look like a real labyrinth…