One afternoon while in Bangkok Catherine and I were looking through our Lonely Planet: Thailand Book for something to do. I told my cute pregnant wife that I would find something for us to do, and make a plan for the day. We woke up a little later than usual that day, and after a lazy lunch it was already approaching 2pm.
We got some coffee (no Thai coffee, just water, for my wife) and after much searching and flipping through our Lonely Planet we decided to do the walking tour of “Old Bangkok”. The bulk of must-see destinations are all around the same area. The tour consisted of walking through neighborhoods of Ratanakosin and Banglamphu. We made our way from temples to restaurants to monuments and even parks. I quickly jotted down all the highlights in my trusty black note book and off we went.
The starting point of the walking tour is 1) Tha Chang Pier. We got a quick bite to eat while we were here. There are many little streetfood “restaurants” to chose from. We ended up going to one that Catherine went to on her first visit here in 2011.
From the pier we walked along NaPhraLan heading east. On the west side of the street is 2) Silpakorn University, which is popular for fine-arts majors. Inside the campus is an old palace built for Rama I. After checking that out, we headed back onto the road and on the right side was 3)Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace which are two of the most photographed and popular places for tourists in Bangkok.
Head back to MahaRat and cross the street to check out 5) Wat Mahathat. When we went here, we were somewhat confused on what to see there. We just walked around inside and took in the sights. Don’t spend too much time looking for something important here. It is just known as a well respected Buddhist University. Head back to the west side of the street towards the river and into the 6) Amulet Market. there are tons of shops, and a path that leads all the way along the river going north. If you need a snack at this point, there are a couple places to grab a quick bite to eat.
At the end of the market, you come across another famous school 7) Thammasat University. This school specializes in law and political sciences. This campus was the site of a pre democracy demonstration in 1976 that turned bloody. Some Thai students were killed and wounded by the military. As we walked along Th PranChan we could see the history of the University on the outside walls, and how the people of Thailand have fought for their rights over the years.
Continue walking east on Tha PhraChan and you will get to 8)Sanam Luang, or also known as the “Royal Field”. Here they hold several events, for example the annual Ploughing Ceremony were the King initiates rice growing season, and a large kite-flying competition in (Feb-Apr). We saw tons of people running, bicycling, and just relaxing on the grass here. This is by far the largest piece of grass for Bangkok people to go and enjoy around the city center.
This next step can be a little tricky because you kind of have to cross two road here to keep on the tour. Cross Th Ratchadamnoen Nai and go north, turning right at the Royal Hotel onto 9) Th Ratchadamnoen Klang heading east. We stopped inside here multiple times on our walking tour for the preggy momma to use the bathroom 🙂
After the intersection of Th Tanao, if you look on the right side of the street you will find the 10) October 14 Memorial, which commemorates the civilian demonstrators who were killed in 1973 during a pre democracy rally.
Just further east of Ratchadamoen Klang you will get to a major intersection with the 11) Democracy Monument standing tall in the middle creating a massive round-a-bout. This monument has hosted multiple demonstrations, with the most notable ones being in 1973 and 1992.
Turn right, and head south down Th DinSo for about 1km, until you reach 12) Wat Suthat and Sao Ching-Cha. These temples are not as well known, but they were quite peaceful and less crowded, which was a plus. You don’t need to spend much time there to see everything.
After finishing there, head west down Th Bamrung and pass up all the 13) religious shops there. You will know you are in the right place when you see every shop for at least a block selling different Buddha statues.
The walking tour in the Lonely Planet suggested we should stop for a bite to eat around this time at 14) Poj Spa Kar or 15) Chote Chitr, which are on Th Bamrung, but since we had eaten not too long ago, we decided to just keep going on the tour. We continued down the path here and found ourselves at a river.
This is a shrine that you find in many cities throughout Thailand. After that, head south on Th Sanam Chai and turn right onto Th Thai Wang which will take you to the entrance of 17) Wat Pho. Here you will find a giant Reclining Buddha and lots of other wonderfully decorated buidlings. We spent about an hour here just resting and taking in some of the beauty this temple had to offer. Let’s just say we were here long enough for Catherine to need two bathroom breaks. I was making sure to keep Catherine pretty hydrated on our trip. It was quite warm during the day so we had built up quite a sweat from just walking. Mommy has to keep drinking water 🙂
The best way to finish off the tour is by heading down Tha Tien and cross the river on the river ferry. Just before crossing the river we decided to stop at another food stall for a snack. All that walking made me and Mommy very hungry! What did we eat…? Of course, Pad thai. We also ordered some Thai style Chicken Fried Rice. Yummy! After filling up on some tasty dishes we got back on the road.
We payed our 3 Baht and jumped on the ferry to get to the other side of the river. If you aren’t sure what to do just watch the locals. Set your money on the counter and go through the turnstile. There is plenty to see on the other side of the river surrounding the Khmer-influenced 18) Wat Arun.
If you are all tired-out by then you could stay on the east side of the river and head to Arun residence’s rooftop bar, 19) Amorosa for some drinks. Try to time it right and you will see one of the best sunsets available in Bangkok.