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Bangkok Travel Guide

Bangkok Places of Historical Significance

(1) The
Bangkok Fortifications
  • The City of Bangkok emerged from the total destruction of Ayutthaya City by the Burmese invaders in 1767. A city of over 1 million people was totally destroyed and those of its inhabitants who did not escape were killed or made slaves and taken back to Burma [ Myanmar ]. Accordingly war and invasion dominated the psyche of the Siamese people and all the new leaders were military men. Bangkok was chosen to be the new capital of Siam for strategic military reasons. The fortifications reflected more modern war fare and no longer were moats and narrow walls to stop elephants. The following remains of the fortifications made from 1768 are still there to be seen now.
(2) The Derm Wang Palace at Thon Buri
  • Wang Derm Palace or Thon Buri Palace is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River adjacent to Wat Arun which is also another tourist location of importance. The site is important for historical as well as architectural reasons.
  • The word ' Wang ' means a fortress or fortified outpost such as we often see in Northern Thailand at Lampang and Sukhothai. This Palace was built by King Taksin The Great in 1768.
  • Within this fortified complex were Wat Arun, Wat Molee Lokayaram and Fort Wichayen (later called Waichaiprasit Fort). The Thais refer to this place as ' Phra Racha Wang Derm ' meaning ' the original palace '
(3)  Bangkoknoi Canal
  • In 1522 the then King of Siam instigated the shortening of the River to the sea by cutting a canal heading directly South to avoid the meaning river. This canal was cut from where Thammasat University is today [ north of the Grand Palace ] to Wat Arun. The original meandering portion of the River then shrunk in size as the new canal expanded with the flow and volume of fast water to become the giant section it is today.
  • The original section of the River is now called ' Bangkoknoi '. Bangkoknoi has character and charm and is a gentle place where traditional Thai suburbs and markets developed and remain to this day.


(4\) The Royal Elephant Museum
  • The Royal Elephant National Museum was once an elephant stable for the Kings. For Kings the rare white Elephants were a symbol. But there is much more to be understood by visitors. Elephants were the war machines of the past. The Vietnamese destroyed the Mongol invaders with elephants, the Burmese at Pagan were slaughtered by the Mongols who then found ways to destroy the Burmese elephant armies, the Siamese Tai waged war with elephants in the wars with the Burmese and the Khmer Empires. It was not until the Portuguese sold canons to South East Asia did war fare change.
(5)  Grand Palace Bangkok
  • The Grand Palace (including Wat Phrao Kaeo) is the major tourist attraction in Bangkok. This complex was created in 1782 and comprises the Royal residence, the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, its surrounding Galleries depicting the paintings of the scenes from the Ramakien (the Thai version of the Indian epic of the Ramayana), the Outer Court, the Inner Court and the Central Court.
(6)  Dusit Palace
  • Dusit Palace is the name of the compound of Royal residences constructed in European style and built between 1897 and 1901. These were originally called Dusit Garden by King Rama V and later Dusit Palace by King Rama VI.
  • Foremost is Vimanmek Mansion, built of golden teak wood and which is the World's largest wooden mansion. Vimanmek Mansion has 31 exhibition rooms as well as the throne room, bathrooms and bedrooms. A tour within the Mansion is recommended for an insight into the life and times of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V), the absolute King who abolished slavery in Thailand.

(7) Lak Muang Bangkok's City Pillar
  • On the north-eastern corner opposite the Grand Palace walls and on the other side of the road is a shrine in which are the Bangkok city pillars. These are the abode of Phra Lak Muang the guardian spirit of Bangkok. Such city pillars are found elsewhere in South East Asia and in Thailand can be seen in most regional. The concept originates from India and stone versions can be found elsewhere in Cambodia. In Thailand they served as a political statement by the ruling classes.
(8)  Rattanakosin Island
  • Rattanakosin Island is that portion of Bangkok on the east side of the Chao Phraya River to the very west side of the eastern bank of the River. Historically it includes the ' Inner Rattanakosin ' and the ' Middle Rattanakosin '. To the west side the area is bordered by the Chao Phraya River and to the east side is the waterway the Lod Canal (renamed to Asadang Canal in 1982). The Lod Canal was constructed during the reign of King Taksin The Great whilst the Capital of Siam was then on the west side of the Chao Phraya River at Thonburi.


Bangkok Museums

(1)  
National Museum Bangkok
The National Museum Bangkok is a must see tourist attraction:
 
  • Firstly, the Museum houses Thailand’s largest and finest collection of Thailand art, including the collection of antiquities from the period of King Mongkut (1851 to 1868, that famous king from “ the King and I ”).
  • Secondly, the Museum is actually comprised of a series of buildings and structures, many of which are both historically important and architecturally significant. These include, Siwamokhapiman Hall which now houses the Thai History Gallery but which originally was built by the Prince Successor to Rama 1, Buddhaisawan Chapel built in 1787 to house the Buddha image ' Phra Buddhasihing ',The Red House, made of teak and the home of the elder sister of Rama 1, Issarawinitchai Hall which was the audience hall of the Palace of the Prince Successor and which now houses temporary special exhibitions, Pritsadang Bhimuk Hall which now houses the old weapons collection of the Museum and the residence of the second King of Rama 1V, King Pin Klao. The collection of important buildings is interesting for its history as well as the architecture styles.
(2)   Vimanmek Mansion Museum Bangkok
  • Vimanmek Mansion is part of a whole complex of buildings in the Dusit Palace grounds.
  • It was built by King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V, 1869 to 1910) as a summer retreat in 1901, and he resided here until 1906. After his death in 1912, the building was virtually unoccupied for a period of fifty years. In 1982, the hitherto neglected Mansion was renovated for use as a museum to commemorate King Rama V by displaying his photographs and collection of artwork and handicrafts of the Bangkok period.
(3)   Suan Pakkad Museum Bangkok
  • The Suan Pakkad Palace was assembled over a period of time beginning in 1952 by Prince and Princess Chaumbhot of  Nakhon Sawan, a province in central Thailand. They decided to display to the public their vast personal collection of art and antiquities, including those that had been passed down to them though successive royal generations. This collection ranges from the pre-historic to the contemporary periods. To house the collection, seven historic Thai buildings were moved to the Palace grounds and reassembled. Some of these houses had belonged to the Prince’s great-great-grandfather, who was a Regent in the reign of Rama IV, (1851-1868).
(4)   Jim Thompson House Museum Bangkok
  • Jim Thompson’s House and gardens and its valuable collection of South East Asian Art are well worth a visit.
  • Jim Thompson was an American architect who was stationed in Thailand in World War II as part of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency. After the War, he returned to Thailand, and successfully resurrected the Thai silk industry by marketing the silks for the western world under the guise of the Thai Silk Company Ltd. This was to be an enduring success, which has continued to this day in spite of his untimely and mysterious death in 1967.
(5)   Royal Barge Museum Bangkok
  • The National Museum of Royal Barges is located on the north side of Bangkok Noi close to its entrance on the west side of Chao Phraya River. The preferable way to access it is by boat from the East side of Chao Phraya River. The back route through side streets can be confusing and not good.
  • The National Museum of Royal Barges contains the most significant 8 of the 52 royal barges and provides information and displays historical and decorative objects associated with the barges and the Royal ceremonies.
(6)  Museum of Siam Bangkok
  • Museum of Siam was first opened in April 2008 and is located immediately south of Wat Pho on Rattanakosin Island. The museum building is a lovely 19 C building of classic proportions and the exhibition attempts to explain to Thai people their history and sources of their identity.
  • For a foreign tourist the Museum is good and deals with issues, such as the 1940 's dictatorship and attempts to mold Thai people into the then prescribed way of being, as was then also happening in Germany and Italy.
  • The principal themes of the display are the very first beginnings of human settlement in the region, the Ayutthaya Kingdom, the nature and then purposes of war, Ayutthaya's destruction by the Burmese and the recreation of the new Siam capital in Bangkok.
(7)   Royal Elephant Museum
  • The Royal Elephant National Museum was once an elephant stable for the Kings. For Kings the rare white Elephants were a symbol. But there is much more to be understood by visitors. Elephants were the war machines of the past. The Vietnamese destroyed the Mongol invaders with elephants, the Burmese at Pagan were slaughtered by the Mongols who then found ways to destroy the Burmese elephant armies, the Siamese Tai waged war with elephants in the wars with the Burmese and the Khmer Empires. It was not until the Portuguese sold canons to South East Asia did war fare change.