ตึกถาวรวัตถุ
Sereechai Puttes/Time Out Bangkok

Cultural and historical landmarks in the Old Town that you may have forgotten

—or didn’t know existed

Phavitch Theeraphong
Written by
Wissuta Ploypetch
&
Phavitch Theeraphong
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The Old Town is one of Bangkok’s most significant tourist draws, home to the some of the country’s most striking landmarks such as The Grand Palace, Wat Po and a spate of museums and galleries. The area, however, also boasts a number of other cultural gems apart from these guidebook staples; attractions that remain untainted by tour coaches and selfie sticks. These “undiscovered” sights encapsulate a part of the country’s cultural history that’s no less great than the stories told by the area’s more popular attractions.

Take our advice and dedicate your next weekend to discovering these hidden Old Town gems.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin

Many may not realize that the Bangkok National Museum is located on the compound that houses the Bowon Sathan Mongkon Palace or the Front Palace. Located, as its name suggest, right in front of the Royal Palace, it was once the residence of the figures held the exalted position of being second to the king. The palace’s main attraction is the Phutthai Sawan Royal Residence, which holds Phra Phutta Sihing, a revered Buddha statue from Sri Lanka, as well as ancient paintings depicting the life of Buddha.

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin
Thawon Watthu is a sight to behold, its architecture combining elements of traditional Thai architecture with Khmer and Gothic influences. The building was the royal crematorium of Maha Vajirunhis, the Crown Prince and eldest son of King Rama V, before it was turned into a library. Today, the structure functions as a museum portraying the life and royal duties of King Rama V.
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Kalayana Maitri Road
  • Attractions
  • Public spaces
  • Rattanakosin
A stroll along this small road could make you forget, albeit briefly, that you’re actually in Bangkok. The Ministry of Defense, a study in neo-classical architecture, borders it on one side, while the Royal Thai Survey Department, which boasts majestic stucco tracery and Roman-style pillars, lines the other. The road was named after the Thai title of American diplomat Francis Bowes Sayre who served the Siamese court on international affairs during the reign of King Rama VI and King Rama VII.
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin

Modeled after a now-demolished castle in Sri Lanka, Loha Prasat, which means "metal-roofted castle”, is the world’s last remaining structure of its kind. The magnificent edifice boasts 37 goldgilded metal spires that symbolize the 37 Buddhist virtues requisite for reaching enlightenment. The central building houses Buddha relics, and has a spiral staircase that goes up to a viewpoint with striking panoramas of the Old Town. The tranquil compound is a popular meditation site among locals.

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  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin

This lofty, Western-style structure stands at a height equivalent to a two-story building, and features colorful stained glass and a near-life-sized statue of a torch-bearing figure at its peak. The gate used to lead to the residential palace of Prince Thongthaem Sambassatra, a son of King Rama IV who commissioned its construction.

Devasathan Bosth Brahmana
  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin
One of the most scared Hindu sites in Bangkok is a short walk from the The Giant Swing. This temple features three shines, each one dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva, Ganesh and Vishnu. Southeast Asia’s oldest Ganesh statue has also found its home here. The temple was also built to hold religious ceremonies, such as Triyumpawai Tripawai, which entailed daring men to swing themselves on wooden poles to reach a gold coin-filled bag hanging from the top of the Giant Swing. The ritual was put to a stop by King Rama VII, who deemed dangerous and lifethreatening.
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  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin
This golden domed structure is one of the most revered Sikh sites in Bangkok. A reconstruction of the original temple that was destroyed during World War II, it has been housing the sacred Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, since the reign of King Rama VI. The temple, which is frequented by sari-clad devotees, offers free meals and Sikh classes in Thai.
Wat Dibaya Vari Vihara
  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin
Built in the Thonburi period, this Chinese monastery was once named Kum Low Yee, which means “the temple with a sacred pond.” Inside, the temple is decorated with elements depicting a multitude of Chinese dragons, from the painted ceiling to the pillars. According to legend, the temple was believed to be the habitat of the Green Dragon God who protects the pond within the hallowed compound.
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Wat Ratchabophit
  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin
Built in the reign of King Rama V, Wat Ratchabophit is a prime example of a Buddhist temple that marries traditional Thai and European architecture. Its facade features intricate fivecolored benjarong porcelain, a feature that distinguishes it from the other temples in the Old Town, while its interiors of the ordination hall display more western Gothic-style aesthetics. One side of the temple grounds is a royal cemetery that houses the remains of King Rama V’s family.
Chakraphong Mosque
  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Rattanakosin
Tucked in a small alley in the Muslim quarter of Bangkok, Chakraphong Mosque was constructed in the reign of King Rama I as a religious site for war prisoners from Pattani. The two-story structure combines Arabic and Persian design elements such as multicolored glass and geometric wood paneling.
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Rattanakosin

This grand, neo-classical building—its design was inspired by a factory in Birmingham, UK— is home to pieces by revered Thai artists, including a 1960s painting by the late King Bhumibol. Despite owning a vast collection of priceless paintings, the gallery is badly lit and the art pieces are unsuitably described. So a research on Thai art is advised prior to your visit.

Art Gallery at Ban Chao Phraya
  • Art
  • Installation
  • Rattanakosin
This riverside gallery used to be the palace of Prince Sathittamrongsawas, the son of Pinklao, the second King of Siam in the reign of King Rama IV, and, years later, the residence of Mario Tamagno, the Italian architect behind iconic Bangkok landmarks such as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and Hua Lumphong Railway Station. Petroleum Authority of Thailand funded the restoration to turn it into an art gallery that showcases pieces by renowned and emerging artists.
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