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Things to Do in Bangkok
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Wat Phra Kaew/The Grand Palace


The Grand Palace


This sprawling, revered complex is home to one of the holiest artifacts in Thailand - The Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew). To visit The Grand Palace and its collection of halls and temples is a dream of every Buddhist in the country. If you go, please know that wats are sacred to Thai Buddhists and that if you wear shorts or short sleeves, you may be denied admission. Same goes for thongs - the toe and heel of the shoe should be closed. Shoes are ok in the general grounds but once you enter one of the chapels, you MUST remove your shoes. You will see hundreds of shoes either piled just outside or on wooden shelves. Follow suit. The complex is open from 8:30 am to 11:30 am and 1:00 to 3:30 pm. Admission is 200 baht, but is, of course, subject to change at any time without notice. For the latest, please call 224-1833 while in Bangkok.

The National Museum

A terrific home of Thai Art and the largest museum in Southeast Asia, the buildings themselves were built in 1782. There are free, excellent and highly recommended tours in English given by volunteers on Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30 am starting at the
ticket booth. The schedule for the tours in other languages is Wednesday (French and Japanese), and Thursday (German) all at 9:30 am at the ticket booth. Call 224-1370 for more information.

Jim Thompson's House


Jim Thompson's House


A curious sounding destination at first, this is a perfect choice to see actual Thai architecture and art. American Jim Thompson is a legend in these parts owing to his almost total responsibility for the popularity of Thai silk and the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance in Malaysia in 1967. The house itself and its architecture is an attraction but also his small but spectacular collection of Asian art. The house is open from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm daily, with the admission fee of 100 baht all going to a local charity. Kids (under 25) and students are half-price. Call 216-7368 for more information.



Floating Markets

There are several but the best one to visit - Damnoen Saduak - is NOT in Bangkok but about 60 miles away. While the spectacularly colorful photographs you've seen are a lure and it's a unique place to visit, only you can decide if you want to hop on a bumpy bus early in the morning to get there. If you're time is limited, we recommend the other sites listed here. (By the way, avoid the Wat Sai market in Bangkok unless you're into hordes of visitors paying too much money for an over-commercialised tourist-trap!)

Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)
There are numerous places to view this ritualistic, violent sport. Kicking is more prevalent than punching in Thai boxing and there are many foreigner's who come to Thailand to learn the sport

A Canal or River trip
Ok, ok, the canals are dirty, polluted and the color of oil, lined with tottering huts half falling into the water BUT it's quite an experience to zip through the middle of the city in ten minutes what would take you 45 minutes by car. If you feel it's a bit dangerous as you step off the (bobbing) dock onto the (bobbing) boat, just watch as a young woman in a tight skirt or school-boy in slick dress shoes hops on with the slightest of ease. Once in, someone will come by - walking precariously on the edge of the speeding boat - and collect your fare. When the breeze and occasional sprays of water hit you in the face, you should ignore the first sentence above and just enjoy the spectacle. Certainly something to be seen, Jim Thompson's house is on one or the "better" canals and a good reason to combine the two activities.

Traditional Thai Massage
A two-hour massage will usually cost you under ten dollars and being pampered on an air-conditioned matress can be a great way to spend a broiling afternoon, or a rainy one! Be forewarned though, this is not the typical Swedish style massage you may be accustomed to. There is no gentle warming of the muscles first, for example - they get right in there from the start. Near the end of the massage - depending on where you go - the masseuse (usually a woman) will try to pretend that you volunteered to be a contortionist in the circus and try to bend you in ways that you (and most others) believe not possible. Topping it off may be a rather sudden "crack" of the neck. Do NOT underestimate the sheer power of these women, no matter how small they may be. If you don't want this, simply wave them off as this begins. Having said all this, it's terrifically relaxing and a wonderful value.

 


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