Time to put on your walking shoes and visit the most revered Buddhist temple in the country, Wat Phra Kaew, or The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It’s located inside the grounds of the Grand Palace, the residence of the royal family since 1782 – if you loved The King and I, you’ll love spending a couple of hours wandering around these beautiful grounds just as Anna did in the 1860s with King Mongkut’s children. The temple is named after a Buddha that may be called Emerald but is, confusingly, carved from jade. And don’t expect a mega-Buddha either – it’s pint-sized, albeit very beautiful. While you’re at Wat Phra Kaew pop into the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles for a look at the royal textiles over a century.
Around the corner from Wat Phra Kaew is Wat Pho, one of the oldest temples in Bangkok and home of the impressive 46-metre-long Reclining Buddha and the largest collection of Buddha images – almost 1,000 – in the country. The Lonely Planet guide cites this as their fave site in Bangkok.
Shopping is as much a part of the Thai culture as eating, so head to Chatuchak, the world’s biggest weekend market. There are more than 15,000 stalls spread over 11 hectares, so grab a map on entry (or download here) – the market is divided into sections so if you know what you want, it should be easy to find. And if furniture or large items are on your list, there are shipping agents who can help organise safe delivery. Make sure your bargaining skills are up to scratch – the prices here are excellent, but be careful buying “antiques” that may not be real.
Dining at a place called Cabbages and Condoms may sound strange, but it’s highly recommended. Profits go to the Population and Community Development Assoc, so it’s a unique way to assist with Thailand’s family planning issues and empower the locals to eradicate poverty. It’s also great Thai food, served in an attractive, fairy-lit courtyard (book to ensure a spot) and air-conditioned rooms where all the decorations are made using condoms. Yep, and every diner is given a condom with their bill, too!