Enjoy the beautiful and interesting river sights of Bangkok, including many temples. Take a self-guided boat trip on the regular express boat on the Chao Phraya river from the Phra Athit Pier (near Khao San Road) to the Sathorn pier (BTS Taksin Bridge) or vice versa. Find a map in the sidebar >>>

Rama XIII Bridge

A showpiece of modern architecture in Bangkok, the King Rama XIII bridge was completed in 2002 and named after King Ananda, the King's older brother who died under mysterious circumstances in 1946 at the age of 21. The 475-metres long gold-painted cable-stayed span bridge is built with 84 cables supporting a single tower. The bridge is printed on the Thai 20-baht bills behind a portrait of King Ananda.

At night the bridge is beautifully lighted and a view worth watching.

Thammasat University

The second oldest in Thailand, Thammasat University, was founded in 1934 as the University of Moral Science and Politics. It has always been politically and socially active and was the stage for both the 1973 uprising and the 1976 massacre, which led to one of the more than a dozen military coups in Thailand since 1932.

Thonburi Railway Station

Replaced in 2003 by the Bangkok Noi train station 1 km. further down the road, the 1900 Thonburi station was the terminal of Thailand's western railway route. Japanese troops used it as a base in Thailand during WWII and it is most famous for its connection to Kanchanaburi, where they used prisoners-of-war and forced labour to build the so-called "death railway" to supply their troops in Burma. The station was one of the many targets bombed by the Allied Forces and rebuilt afterwards in the same style.

Siriraj Hospital

Siriraj Hospital was the first hospital in Thailand (1888) and is the place where future Thai doctors studying at Mahidol University are still trained today. The hospital was named after one of King Rama V's sons who died in childhood. In the medical museums of the hospital one finds skeletons, embryo's, sick body parts and parasites on alcohol and the preserved bodies of some notorious killers. The Wang Lang market sprawls over the nearby area.

The hospital is the current residency of the King of Thailand, Rama IX, who has been there for treatment since late 2009.

Wat Rakhang

Wat Rakhang (which means "bell temple") got its name from an ancient bell unearthed during construction. The temple dates back to the Ayutthaya era and was upgraded to a royal temple during the reign of King Taksin. There are many bells still in the temple, but the original one was moved to the Royal Grand Palace.

Wat Rakhang is among the nine sacred temples that Thais visit to make merit on auspicious occasions.

Royal Grand Palace

Regarded as the number one attraction in Thailand, the Royal Grand Palace has been the official residence of Thai kings since Bangkok became the capital of Thailand. Its most important sight is the Emerald Buddha, a 45 cm high jade sitting Buddha that according to the legend was created in India more than 2,000 years ago. The Buddha has three sets of clothing which are changed by the King of Thailand at the beginning of each new season (hot, rainy and cool).

Wat Pho

Next to the Royal Grand Palace, the 17th century Wat Pho, or Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklaram as it's officially known, is an old Bangkok temple famed for its amazing 46-meter long reclining Buddha and traditional Thai massage school. The sixty 200-year old medical inscriptions on the walls are used as the base for treatment.

Many of the towers are inlaid with Chinese porcelain in beautiful patterns and there are many Chinese statues from the time that Thai ships delivering rice to China used them as ballast on their return trip with their empty ships.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Wat Arun is the image that often represents Thailand and is printed on the back of Thailand's 10-baht coin. At first only a 17th century monastery, it later became a royal temple called after Aruna, the Indian god of dawn, and one of the nine most sacred temples in Bangkok. The temple is located inside King Taksin's Wangderm Palace and used to house the sacred Emerald Buddha until it was moved to the Royal Grand Palace when Bangkok became the new capital.

Its 85-meter high prang - a Khmer-style tower - was until quite recently the tallest building in Bangkok. The prang and its four satellites are beautifully decorated with pieces of Chinese porcelain.

Wangderm Palace

The Wangderm Palace of King Taksin (NOT related to Thai prime minister Thaksin) was built within Fort Vichai Prasit and used during the short period that Thonburi was the capital of Thailand (1768-1782). In front of the gate there's a statue of King Taksin "the Great" as he is called in Thailand.

The palace later housed the Royal Thai Naval Academy and the entire area is now part of the Royal Thai Navy Headquarters.

Fort Vichai Prasit

The white-walled fort of Vichai Prasit was built in 1688 as part of a defence line of forts to protect Thailand from foreign invasion. However, in  1893 the French managed their way to the capital after the so-called Paknam incident. Although Thailand was never colonised, over the years it has had to hand over almost one-third of her land to appease the colonial powers in neighbouring countries, including the French in Cambodia.

The fort is now part of the Royal Thai Navy Headquarters.

Wat Kanlayamit

One of the nine most sacred temples in Bangkok, this temple was built around 200 years ago by a rich Chinese nobleman and donated to King Rama III, who named it Wat Kanlayamit. The King commissioned a huge sitting Buddha image to be placed in a newly-built main hall, and King Rama IV later added a library for religious scriptures.

The main building is in Thai style, but most of the other buildings clearly show a Chinese influence on building style and decorations. 

Santa Cruz Church (Wat Khudi Chin)

Construction of an originally wooden catholic church for Portuguese living in the area started in 1770 in the then new capital Thonburi on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. The temple was officially called Santa Cruz Church ("Holy Cross Church"), but popularly named Wat Khudi Chin after the area where it was built.

The church was rebuilt twice during its life time and the current construction is about 100 years old. It was designed by Italian architects Annibale Rigotti and his partner Mario Tamagno, who designed many buildings in Thailand at that time. Portuguese Cultural Centre

Saphan Phut (Memorial Bridge)

Saphan Phut, the first bridge over the Chao Phraya river, was opened in 1932 to celebrate the 150-year anniversary of the reigning Chakri dynasty. It was named after King Rama I, whose official title was Phra Buddha Yodfa. The middle part of the bridge can be drawn up to allow bigger ships upriver.

From late afternoon the nearby Pak Khlong flower market dazzles its visitors with its beautiful colours and flower handicraft; later in the evening the Saphan Phut market at the foot of the bridge rules with new and second hand clothes and small goods for budget prices.

Guan Yu Shrine

During the Ayutthaya period Chinese foreign traders erected this shrine for the famous Chinese general Guan Yu to serve as god and protector of the their community in Bangkok.

The general fought in the civil wars between the kingdoms of China in the second and third century and plays an important part in the classic Chinese historical novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", still read today and the basis for films, TV series and computer games.

Siam Commercial Bank

Around 1900 Thailand's economy was developing rapidly and a commercial banking system became necessary. After Prince Mahisorn did a successful pilot project in a shop house, King Rama V gave his brother permission to construct this first branch of the Siam Commercial Bank in 1907.

The baroque building was designed by Annibale Rigotti, an Italian architect from Turin responsible for many famous buildings of that time.

Holy Rosary Church (Wat Kalawar)

Portuguese traders have been in Thailand for around 500 years and were the first westerners to settle in the then capital Ayutthaya. The Portuguese built this gothic roman-catholic church at the edge of Chinatown in 1786, 4 years after Bangkok was established as the new capital. Portuguese Cultural Centre

Portuguese Embassy

The Portuguese were the first foreigners in Thailand and the first foreign embassy in Thailand was the Portuguese embassy, which started its work in 1820. The current structure was built around 50 years later after the original stuccoed bamboo and stake house deteriorated.

After all those years the embassy is still in use. Portuguese Cultural Centre

The Oriental

The first hotel in Thailand, The Oriental was established shortly after the signing of the Bowring Treaty, a free-trade agreement between the UK and Thailand, to house the increasing number of British traders and seamen coming to Thailand.

For over 130 years it has been accommodating royal guests, celebrities and heads of state, but it is most famous for writers like Conrad, Maugham and Greene who stayed here during their visits to Thailand. The original 2-storey Authors' Wing is still standing.