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A Photo Tour Of Bangkok
I have been living in Bangkok since mid 1997. It hasn't changed very much in that time, it has got a little bigger, gained a few tall buildings, but it is still a huge city, full of traffic and people and always entertaining.
There are aspects of living in or visiting Bangkok which make it a pleasure; there are also a number of things which make it dreadful, it's like anything in life, there is good and bad.
In this lens I have displayed some of my photographs from around the city and talked a little about the subjects in them. I have also provided what I hope will be useful links for travelers heading to Bangkok so that they can find out more about the subjects of the photographs.
I hope you enjoy my photographs taken from around Thailand's capital city.
Have You Ever Been To Bangkok? Please Let Us Know Here
Have You Been to Bangkok?
Top 10 Bangkok - A Cool Little Guide To The City & Its Attractions
With so much to see and do in Bangkok it is imperative that visitors have some idea of what they want to see on their visit to the Thai capital. This guidebook is a handy companion, helping visitors to plan their time in in the city, avoiding the traffic jams and spending more time doing interesting things.
Wat Pra Kaew - The Temple of The Emerald Buddha & Grand Palace
Wat Pra Kaew is probably Thailand's most visited tourist attraction, and for good reason, it is magnificent with a profusion of colors, murals and golden structures everywhere you look.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the direct English translation of the Thai name: Wat Pra Kaew. Sometimes this is also spelled as Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Phra Keo or Wat Pra Kaeo, transliteration from Thai to English is not an exact science, to say the least.
I took this photograph from just inside the first entrance gate, before the ticket barrier and entrance to the temple proper; it is one of the iconic images of this temple and if you want to get you own shot make sure you visit on a day with clear blue skies - this photo was taken in the afternoon, around 3.30pm, I am not sure what the light conditions are like in the mornings.
Wat Pra Kaew From Across The Chao Praya River
Wat Pra Kaew is within the Grand Palace compound in Bangkok. Both buildings are magnificent but due to the compound wall and a multitude of surrounding buildings it is difficult to get a clear view of the whole collection of temples and palaces together when you are visiting.
I took this photo of the Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew from high up on Wat Arun, across the Chao Praya river, one of the few places that visitors can look down on the compound.
Scenes From The Ramakien In The Cloisters
One of the things I like most about Wat Pra Kaew is the large number of paintings on the walls of the cloisters, they are really beautiful - they depict scenes from the Ramakien.
On my first visit here, in 1996, I do not really remember seeing these murals, but on another visit, in 2008, the vivid colors of these paintings really struck me. Part of the way around the cloisters I realized why the wall murals had not made much of an impression in the past - they were in the process of being restored to their original glory. Some of the remaining paintings, which had not yet been restored, were dull from years of fading and were nothing much to speak of. As you can see above, the restored paintings are really bright.
I have visited several times since 2008 and the restoration process continues and a large number of the paintings are now glorious, with lots of gold paint standing out from other vibrant colors, depicting amazing scenes of battles involving deities, animals and other figures.
Here is a third scene from the Ramakien. I got rather carried away taking photos of these, on my last visit, and could have uploaded more than fifty different scenes to this photo collection. However, I have limited myself to just three!
Reflections Of The Temple Of The Emerald Buddha
Wat Pra Kaew provides photographers with a huge number of opportunities to get stunning shots, indeed if you were visiting just to obtain high quality images you could easily spend all day there. Looking around for potentially interesting shots I spotted some nice reflections - I got these two photos of of the temple reflecting in water and in mirrors, I was quite happy with them.
This site is open every day between 8:30-12:00 and 13:00-15:30 and one can spend a long time viewing the profusion of ornaments, decorations and murals. If you are only going to visit one temple in Thailand, make sure it is this one.
Wat Po - The Temple Of The Reclining Buddha
Wat Po is another of Bangkok's most famous temples, often being known as the "Temple of the Reclinging Buddha". When you go into the image hall that contains the reclinging Buddha you will certainly be impressed as it is massive. This is a photo of its head; I was standing underneath it, looking up at it.
A Profusion Of Magnificent Chedis At Wat Po
Wat Po also features an amazing proliferation of chedis. Each chedi contains the remains of some distinguished person, usually a member of the royal family or respected advisor.
The temple gets really busy, I had to wait quite some time to get this photo without crowds of tourists in it.
The Buddha Image Hall At Wat Po, Bangkok
Last time I visited Wat Po it was Khao Phansa day, a Buddhist festival in July and the main image hall was full of monks and people offering gifts to the monks. It made quite a sight.
Getting this photo took some time though; with low light conditions, people moving around I held my camera up against the door to steady it and used the timer to reduce movement and blurring. I took around 40-50 photos and got this one good one!
Wat Po is one of the more interesting temples around and houses a famous massage school. If you are interested in learning more you can take a look at the official website here: Wat Pho.
Make Sure You Don't Get Lost In This Huge & Hectic City
Bangkok is what you might call a "megacity", it really is a really huge and this makes it easy to get lost and disoriented. Get yourself a map of the city before visiting and familiarize yourself with the layout of the main areas that you are likely to visit and, of course, keep it with you when you are exploring town.
Bangkok Pictures - Experience The City's Infamous Traffic
The above photograph gives a good idea of what a typical downtown street scene in looks like. Perhaps it is not pretty but it is an experience to witness the mayhem, sounds, heat, smells and chaos of Bangkok life. While more or less every street in Bangkok is full of traffic, along the sides of these roads there nearly always lines of traders selling fruits, meat on sticks, drinks, noodles and all manner of other things and this makes it an interesting experience. Bangkok
I took this photo from a footbridge across Petchaburi Road and it actually shows this road at one of its least congested periods.
Bangkok Traffic - Round The Clock Congestion
It's rush hour in Bangkok all the time
Many people will have heard the horror stories of the traffic in Bangkok. I have certainly sat for more than 1 hour at a set of traffic lights in the past and in these circumstances the only thing you can do is try to laugh it off or get out and walk. It does not pay to be in a hurry in Bangkok.
Read my account of being stuck in one of Bangkok's worst jams - Stuck in a Bangkok traffic jam.
Some More Pictures Of Traffic Jams
The traffic is not quite as bad these days as when I first came to Thailand in 1996 but it is still really bad by anyone's standards, particularly at rush hours.
Quite often a taxi is the best mode of transport as they are air-conditioned and when things get really snarled up you can just get out and walk.
This page provides some information about various modes of transport in Bangkok that will help you beat the jams - Bangkok Transport.
Get Familiar With The Skytrain, Expressways & Underground
Stay clear of the traffic jams by using the Skytrain, Underground and Expressways of Bangkok. This map shows the routes of both the skytrain and underground, where they interlink and clearly indicates expressway exits and entrances for fast navigation around the city of Bangkok.
The best way to travel around the city and keep away from the traffic jams and the heat is to use the skytrain system. This overhead railway connects most of the downtown areas of Bangkok and is cheap to use, efficient and air-conditioned.
While the skytrain connects most of the main shopping areas of the city, the main hotel concentrations and the business districts it does not yet cover much of the city. The system has been extended a few times since its opening and more extensions have been announced but if you want to get to the old part of the city, where Wat Po and Wat Pra Kaew are situated, you are going to have to deal with the streets.
Bangkok Street Food - The Best Way To Eat In Bangkok
One thing I really love about living in Bangkok is the availability of tasty, fresh food at really low prices. In fact I would say that one of the best things about living in Thailand is the food.
The lady in this photo cooked up some fresh vegetables and chicken on rice for my sister and me, by the side of the road in about 3 minutes.
(P.S. - the correct grammar here is not "my sister and I" - take a look here: Grammar Question.)
Roadside Foodstall In Bangkok
In Bangkok, and Thailand in general, there are food stalls scattered around everywhere you look. Sometimes they are in places that perhaps at home you would consider eating, but here I have never had cause for complaint from food cooked fresh at a food stall in Bangkok.
This foodstall is typical of those found in Bangkok; a simple cart, cooking a few specialized dishes with tables and chairs on the street - fresh, tasty and cheap.
For those worried about hygiene there is not much to worry about. As entry into the foodstall business is so cheap there is a proliferation of them. Anyone who serves bad or unhygienic food goes out of business pretty quickly due to the competition being so readily available - it's self-regulating really. It could be argued that this is true capitalism in practice; none of those protectionist policies on the restaurant industry that make it so expensive and difficult to enter the market in western nations! Of course, others might see it differently.
A Bowl Of Beef Noodle Soup
More Bangkok Foodstalls
It is not just meals that one can buy at foodstalls in Bangkok. A wide variety of vendors sell drinks, pancakes, fruit, cakes, barbecued meats, sausages and even insects. It is pretty much a case of you name it, they have got it.
The foodstall in this photo is selling drinks and cakes.
Bangkok Street Food Links
For a full list of Bangkok Street Food Links just google the term: I have done it for you, just click here - Bangkok Street Food.
- 15 Course Street Meal on the Cheap
An excellent article on how to have a feast on a tight budget in Bangkok.
- Bangkok Street Food Reviews
A series of Bangkok street food reviews by independent visitors on VirtualTourist.com.
- Street Food in Bangkok
An article on the street food of Bangkok from The New York Times.
- Sidewalk Guide to Bangkok's Finest Street Vendors
A guide to finding good street food in Bangkok.
- Street Food in My Area
A young Thai's personal take on his street food routine.
Wat Arun - The Temple Of Dawn
Wat Arun is one of the iconic images of Bangkok; if you have ever seen a holiday brochure for Thailand then you probably have seen a photo of Wat Arun. It is indeed a photogenic temple but it is actually far better looking from a distance than close up.
View From Wat Arun
During open hours visitors can climb the stairs up the prang of Wat Arun. The steps are VERY steep and one needs to be wearing "sensible" shoes to climb them safely. However, it is worth the climb because the views from the prang are really good.
Wat Arun At Night
The compound of Wat Arun is open until 10pm meaning that you can enter and take really great photos of the temple lit up at night. You are free to walk around the temple at night but cannot access the main prang after dark; it is surrounded by a fence with a locked gate.
Some Wat Arun Posters
Here are a few Wat Arun posters. There are lots more, so if you don't see one you like, just click on one of the links and search through the others.
Patpong Night Market
Patpong Road is famous for its strip of gogo bars featuring scantily-clad dancing girls and "ping pong" shows - sorry, I don't have any photos of those. Quite frankly they are all a bit feeble although if you want to see what they are all about any of the ground floor bars are fine and used to visiting tourists.
Any bar advertising "shows" will be upstairs and to be avoided. No matter what the touts say you will be ripped off, it is a well-known fact - Bangkok Sex Show Scam.
Patpong's Night Market is far more noteworthy and these days spreads out along Silom Road on many nights (although not every night). Here you can buy all manner of souvenirs; t-shirts, DVDs, CDs and Thai knick-knacks feature heavily.
Patpong Night Market is a colourful affair.
There is a good mixture of reviews of Patpong Night Market on Virtual Tourist.com
Here is a fairly inoffensive page about Patpong and other go go bars in Bangkok.
One Night in Bangkok
"One Night in Bangkok Makes a Hard Man Humble". Remember that cheesy song from the musical "Chess"? It's by Murray Head and can be downloaded for 99 cents from this link.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
To be pedantic Damnoen Saduak floating market is actually in Ratchaburi province, but most people visit it as a day trip from Bangkok and it is one of those things that people associated with Bangkok so I have included it here.
Floating Market Vendors
There are lots of things to buy at the floating market; traditional fruits and vegetables, fast food Thai style and, of course, a plethora of tourist tat. But you always need a bit of tourist tat to take home!
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Video Clips
Although the floating market at Damnoen Saduak is not as big as one might imagine it does provide the opportunity to take lots of very beautiful photos and it is the only one of the markets that bills itself as "floating" that actually uses small traditional boats as far as I know.
Vimanmek Teak Mansion
Vimanmek Mansion is billed as the world's largest golden teakwood mansion. It was originally a royal residence on Koh Sri Chang which King Rama V had dismantled and rebuilt in the Dusit area of Bangkok.
It is now a museum to King Rama V where his personal effects can be seen during a guided tour which is included in the entry fee.
I found Vimanmek Teak Mansion a really nice place to visit and there are lots of other old royal residences in the grounds that you can also visit for your entry fee. Whilst it is not spectacular, the grounds do contain some really nice old buildings and it is a peaceful area right in the heart of busy Bangkok.
Check out the Vimanmek website.
Bangkok's Modern Buildlings
Most people probably think of Thailand and Bangkok as an undeveloped place. Well, there are still peasant farmers in much of the country but Bangkok is a modern city by anyone's standards.
Some of Bangkok's modern buildings have been designed with flamboyance in mind, but generally they stick to the tried and tested standard of steel and glass that most skyscrapers around the world use. This next photo demonstrates that quite well.
The following photo is of the same steel and glass building, showing the reflection of the stairs to Ploenchit skytrain station in the windows.
The Emporium Shopping Mall
Many of the above-mentioned glass and steel buildings in Bangkok are shopping malls. The shopping malls in Bangkok range from those that sell very cheap goods to those that are full of ultra-expensive luxury items and are patronised by the many super rich Thais that live in Bangkok.
My wife likes The Emporium. Quite frankly I shudder when she tells me she is going there as most of the stuff for sale is expensive; designer labels and the like. It does have one of the best book shops in Thailand though, Books Kinokuniya, which has a huge range of books from all genres.
I like the way these pictures display the geometric shapes and perspective, looking down at the various floors. If you wish to go to The Emporium when in Bangkok, there is a bridge into from Prom Pong skytrain station, and it is in Sukhumvit Road, on the corner of Soi 24.
Bangkok Taxis - A Colourful Way Of Getting Around The City
Why would anyone take photographs of taxis?
Well, I remember being impressed with all the different coloured taxis in London when I was small (no, they aren't all black) and the taxis in Bangkok are even more colourful. To be honest, one photo of one taxi is not very impressive but when you get a picture of a number of different coloured taxis it is a different story.
As I couldn't get any single photo of lots of different coloured taxis I put together this collection of colourful taxi photos. I hope you like them.
If you take a taxi in Bangkok remember only to get in those that agree to use the meter. If they want to haggle over the price just say no more and get another taxi. Even if you are already in a taxi in Bangkok and the driver begins to haggle, just get out and find another one.
When taking taxis in Bangkok just pay the metered fare. If you are using an expressway you must also pay the toll. If you take a taxi from the airport you will receive a yellow ticket and you must pay 50 baht over the metred fare. Read about the Bangkok Taxi Scams so that you can avoid it when you arrive in Thailand.
Transport options around Bangkok.
Flowers In Bangkok - There Are A Surprising Number Of Flowers To Be Found
For such a busy, congested and famously polluted city, Bangkok has a surprising amount of greenery and this includes flowers. Bougainvillea is one of those ubiquitous tropical plants and it flourishes in many places such as temples, gardens, hotel forecourts and wasteground; sometimes it is planted and sometimes it has just "escaped" or been forgotten. It is a beautiful plant as you can see from my photo above.
Bangkok has a profusion of temples and these are great places for finding flowers in the city, indeed they sort of seem to go hand in hand with the tranquility that a temple can provide.
These flowers below were all photographed in temple grounds around Bangkok.
If you like my photographs of flowers I have lots more here: Royalty Free Photos of Flowers.
The photos above are all of garden plants. Anyone who wants to do some serious botany in Thailand should take a look at the Office of the Forest Herbarium website.
Krathongs are a floral display, often on a banana wood base which also contain incense and an offerring of money. Loy means to float in Thai, so Loy Krathong means to float Krathongs. The festival falls on the twelfth lunar month int the old Thai calendar; it usually falls in early November.
The general popular idea of Loy Krathong in Thailand is to float away all the bad aspects of ones life and to start anew, although it may originally have been a way of venerating Buddha.
The photos are a bit blurry but they do demonstrate what a colourful affair Loy Krathong is.
Sky Lanterns For Loy Krathong
The northern city of Chiang Mai usually sees the release of thousands of sky lanterns in addition to the krathongs. This trend is now spreading to other parts of the city and I saw this one being released near where I live in Bangkok.
Learn more about Loy Krathong where there are also some wonderful photos of sky lanterns in Chiang Mai.
Elephant Images At Erawan Shrine (Thao Maha Brahma)
The shrine at the Erawan Hotel at Rachaprasong Intersection of downtown Bangkok is always a busy place. This shrine was built after a prominent fortune teller told the owners of the hotel that the foundation stone had been placed on an inauspicious date. The way to resolve this was to build a shrine to Thao Maha Brahma.
The shrine is always busy with Thais paying their respects and tourists taking photographs of the shrine and the traditional Thai dancing which takes place there.
I always notice the profusion of elephant images at the shrine (Erawan is the Thai name for a mythical elephant from the Ramayana) so I decided to get this close up of some of the larger ones.
Fancy A Beer? Beer Is An Important Part Of Life In Bangkok :)
I am one of those guys from Britain who likes to drink what the rest of the world calls "warm beer". I have never really understood this because real ales are not served warm, but chilled so that the taste can come through. It just isn't ice cold so you can't taste the disgusting chemical taste that many mass-produced lagers have.
Anyhow, when I miss home I take a taxi to Sukhumvit Road (Soi 33) and have a few pints of Cream Bitter in The Londoner Brew Pub where they brew their own beer. It is really good. They also brew their own lager if that is what you prefer.
Above is my beer at The Londoner.
Bangkok Street Protests - Anti Government Protests In 2010
April 2009 redshirt protestors opposing the government rioted in Bangkok, causing destruction of property and death. In March 2010 they came back to Bangkok to try and cause the downfall of the government.
On 10th April the government tried to break up the increasingly disruptive and violent demonstration using the army.
The army came up against an armed force and 23 people were killed by gunshots and grenades, including 5 soldiers.
Redshirt protestors deny any link to the armed force that fought on their side.
On 11th April 2010 the protest was back to being peaceful and I took the photographs you can see above.
A week later the redshirts barricaded a number of Bangkok's streets and created a fortress in the centre of Bangkok; it was not possible for the public to go about their business within this area without first subjecting themselves to checks by redshirt militia. Here is a photograph of the redshirt stockade at Sala Daeng Intersection, Bangkok.
The construction of the redshirt barricade and a statement from the redshirts which said they were going to enlarge their protest and take over Bangkok's banking district prompted many people to protest against the original protest. Violence ensued and 5 random grenade attacks on the new protestors killed one and injured many others, prompting many to see the redshirts as terrorists.
The Multicoloured Shirts
The grenade attacks on rival protesters gave rise to an organised opposing group of protestors calling themselves the "multi-coloured shirts"
The people of the multi-coloured shirts came out to protest against violence and what they saw as a movement to bring down the Thai monarchy - a fear that was perhaps justified by the fact that some redshirt publications calling for the destruction of the "aristocracy" and lecturing about revolutions that had executed monarchs. The multicoloured shirts had also noted the lack of Thai flags at redshirt protests and that in their view the terrorism was being sponsored by ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawat.
These things explain the proliferation of Thai flags, pictures of the king and anti-Thaksin rhetoric in the photographs.
Of course, with all the street protests, mentioned above, a lot of riot police were deployed.
Here are some riot police taking a break and they kindly laid out their equipment in a photogenic way.
Nikon Coolpix 7600 - The Camera I Used To Take These Photos
All the photos on this page were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 7600. It is a really easy camera to use and provides some really good pictures. It is one of the older models in the Nikon Coolpix range but is still a good camera.
Latest Blog Entries About Bangkok - Bangkok On Blogs
Five Great Things About Thailand
Reasons To Visit Thailand
Thailand is a great country to visit or to live in. The relaxed pace of life and low cost of living make it both a pleasant place to be and a cheap one. Here I will highlight just 5 things that make it a great place.
5 Great Things About Thailand
Picture Of Thailand - Thailand Wide Travel Photos
Here I present a collection of my Thailand travel photos taken over a number of years living in and traveling around the Kingdom. Included are photos of temples, beaches, scenery, cultural oddities and other things that I hope go some way to creating an overall picture of Thailand and what it is.
I hope that my photos gave you a taste of Bangkok. If there is anything else that you would like to see added in this collection of photographs let me know, I may have some images already that I can add or your comments may inspire me to go out and take some more pictures.