Jul 22 2011
After hearing many gripes about how devoid Bangkok is of culture, I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of thorough and user-friendly museums in this town. Dig a little beneath the surface and you’ll find a selection of cultural picks, from modern galleries to niche novelty stops. Among the riches are several Bangkok-focused history museums; if you are interested in taking a peek at this city’s past, each of these three spots is an excellent place to do it.
Most noted for its massive five-metre Buddha, inside Wat Traimit on the second floor is a thoughtful museum on the history of Bangkok’s Chinatown. With videos, photographs, life-sized displays and interactive features, the museum traces the history of the heavily influential Chinese in Bangkok. The museum is small and a visit should take 45 minutes at most. Pair it with some street noodles and you’ve got yourself an afternoon.
Admission price: 100 baht
Open daily 08:00-17:00
The wat is located about a five-minute walk from Hualamphong MRT station along Tramit road.
King Prajadhipok Museum
A must-see for biography lovers, this museum traces the life of King Prajadhipok, otherwise known as Rama VII. I knew nothing about Rama VII before visiting, but after an hour in the museum I had a new soft-spot for this strangely intriguing king. Ruling during the late 1920s and early 1930s, Rama VII was on the throne when revolution turned Thailand into a constitutional monarchy. Through photographs, artifacts, outfits and stories, the museum follows his life in detail (from birth in Thailand to exile in England) as well as the life of his wife, Queen Ramphaiphanni.
Admission price: Free
Open Tues-Sun 09:00-16:00
The museum is located at 2 Lanluang Road near Democracy Monument. It is easily accessible from the Phan Fa pier for the Sansaep Canal Boat or buses 2, 15, 44, 47, 59, 60 or 169. It is a 15-minute walk from Khao San Road.
Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall
Rattanakosin, the island that Khao San Road sits on, is the oldest section of Bangkok and this brand-new museum presents a compelling historical account of the area. The museum’s strongest suits are its modern displays, interactive features and easy-to-understand explanations of royal traditions and customs. During my visit there were hardly any other foreigners in the place; with that in mind it’s interesting to see how Bangkok history is presented to locals. All of the information presented borders on propaganda, and through that lens it’s even more fascinating. A visit to the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall requires a two-hour guided tour, so factor that in before committing.
Admission price: 200 baht, plus 1,000 baht deposit for audio tour (recommended)
Open Tues-Fri 11:00-20:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-20:00
Located at 100 Ratchadamnoen Road not far from Democracy Monument. Easily accesibly on buses 44, 511 and 512 and a 10-minute walk from the Phan Fa pier for the Sansaep Canal Boat. It is a five-minute walk from Khao San Road.
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