Bangkok: Same Same But Different

Sunday, September 24, 2017
Second time around here in Bangkok. And everything is same same, but different. Last time I was here (3 years ago) I missed out on the Grand Palace, which ultimately is the tourist attraction of Bangkok. This time, I wasn't going to let it slip.

Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand
We stayed in the same road as we did last time; Khao San Road. The 410 meter long road has, during the past 30 years, developed into a backpacker "ghetto". Offering cheap accommodation, bars, restaurants, souvenir stalls, coffee shops, street food and parties every single day of the week, it is the place to go off the grid. Well-educated young westerners, gab-year travelers, young Japanese couples, middle-aged men and women looking to relieve their youth, alongside local Thai boys, girls and boygirls (ladyboys) are all drawn to this place. It's a mix of everything, jammed into a single street. No wonder this place is world-famous.

Khao San translates into "milled rice". A reminder that this street used to be a major rice market in Bangkok back in the day. From Khao San Road travel agencies arrange tours to all of Thailand's most prominent tourist destinations. From Chiang Mai in north to Phi Phi Islands in south.

Khao San Road by night in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand
The Giant Swing is one of the city landmarks of Bangkok. It's a "snap-a-photo-and-move-along"-attraction, but it's not to be missed. The religious structures was used in Hindu ceremonies.

Giant Swing in Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Suthatthepwararam or simply Wat Suthat is a Buddhist temple located right next to the Giant Swing. Today the temple functions both for prayers and as a tourist attraction. Besides that, it serves as a place for homeless people to take a nap. Worth a visit while you're at Giant Swing anyway. Entrance fee is a mere 20 THB.

Wat Suthatthepwararam in Bangkok, Thailand
The Grand Palace holds many important structures, the most important one being the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The temple holds the title as the most sacred Budhha temple in Thailand and with good reason. The Buddha statue inside the golden temple is 66 centimetre tall and carved from a single jade stone. Only the King of Thailand (and the Crown Prince, since the King passed away last year) are allowed to touch the statue. The King changes the cloak of the statue three times a year, marking summer, winter and rainy seasons. Strict rules applies to a visit here. No bare shoulders or legs. No hats and no photos inside the prayer hall. Entrance fee to Grand Palace is 500 THB for foreigners.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand
Besides the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and it's surrounding chedis. The Grand Palace also have a modern central court, which is dominated by the magnificent Chakri Maha Prasat Hall. Completed in 1882 by King Rama who was looking for a Western look for his new home. Controversies towards that idea changed the planned dome-roof into a Siamese styled one.

Chakri Maha Prasat Hall at Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand
Moving on to Wat Pho. Another Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It has several large chedis, which makes you dizzy as you walk around them. Wat Pho is also named Temple of the Reclining Budhha. Inside the main chapel lies a 46 metre long and 15 metre high Buddha statue. One of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand. The feet itself are 3 metres high and 4.5 metre long (!) and have been inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Reclinning Buddha of Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Benchamabophit also known as the marble temple. This temple is one of the main tourist attractions and typifies the essences of Bangkok's architectural styles. Beautiful and not as crowded as Wat Pho or Grand Palace. Definitely worth a visit.

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok, Thailand
There are many other places to visit in Bangkok, but ultimately a visit here isn't about sightseeing. It's about sucking in the experience, getting swallowed up by the atmosphere and inviting in new impressions. The t-shirt philosophy of "Same Same, But Different" captures Bangkok perfectly. This capital city stands out from the rest, by having the exact same things to offer - just done differently.

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