Having been named “The World’s Most Visited City” several years in a row, the Thai capital has it all, from bustling streets and savoury street delicacies to exquisite temples, to name but a few. In the past couple of years, Bangkok has also captivated photographers hailing from around the globe to capture the unique essence and architecture that Bangkok has to offer.
We have compiled five lesser-known zones that aren’t your average tourist destinations in the tuk-tuk city. Side note, a drone will really come in handy. Side-side note, these places are not only picturesque but also have a historic background to get closer to Thailand’s rich Buddhist history. Here’s to indisputably spice up your photography game!
Locally known as Wat Samphran (วัดสามพราน), this impressive Buddhist temple was officially registered in 1985, however, the date on which it was built is unknown. This baby-pink masterpiece is an architectural wonder with the scaly dragon curling its body around the temple. It spans 80 metres in height to pay homage to the number of years the Buddha lived. It was originally built as a place for monks to study and meditate.
The interior of this temple has a spiral of stairs leading to the top where you can scrub the dragon’s beard and wander inside the dragon’s belly. The dragon’s body forms a tunnel in the interior and this tunnel leads to the roof. However, some of the stairs have been deteriorated due to poor maintenance and some areas are off-limits. It also contains a massive Buddha statue and additional smaller statues.
It opens at 6 am and closes doors at 6 pm every day.
Wat Samphran, 7 92/8 Sam Phran, Sam Phran District, Nakhon Pathom 73110
This one might have taken the idiom “Fish out of water” in a literal sense! This inimitable temple is located in Ancient Siam (formerly known as Ancient City), a vast museum park created by Lek Viriyaphant. It depicts Thailand’s rich culture and Buddhist history by comprising life-size replicas of historic temples. This particular temple is dedicated to the Sumeru Mountain, which, according to Thai cosmology, is considered to be the pillar of the world and the centre of the Universe.
It is best to get around this park on a bike or a golf cart (available at the spot) to cover most of the parts. Getting around this park might take up an entire day but advantageously, bikes are included in the entrance fee.
Ancient Siam, 7 296/1 Sukhumvit Rd, Bang Pu Mai, Mueang Samut Prakan District, Samut Prakan 10280
Let us take a moment to appreciate the intricate details! This stunning symmetrical pavilion was built to embody the union of 500 monks from different cultural backgrounds, who attained Nirvana, which is the highest state in Buddhism. Irrespective of coming from different backgrounds, different codes of conduct, and different merits, the 500 enlightened Buddhists could attain their soteriological goal with the right strategies. Nearby historic monuments in the museum park include “The Royal Water Course Procession”, which depicts royal processions and ceremonies, and “Giant Swing and in Brahim Temple” which showcases the influence and omnipresence of Hinduism in ancient Thailand.
The museum park opens at 9 am and closes at 7 pm every day.
The Pavilion of the Enlightened, 7 296/1 Sukhumvit Rd, Bang Pu Mai, Mueang Samut Prakan District, Samut
Time to address the elephant in the room (apologies for the terrible pun)! Well-known for its massive 29-metre-high three-headed elephant structure, Erawan museum displays an impressive collection of antiques and priceless religious objects that belonged to the late museum owner, Lek Viriyaphan. Encompassing three storeys, the interior of the museum models the Hindu representation of the Universe, consisting of the underworld, the Earth, and Heaven.
Whilst the grand spiralling stairways and the stained glass windows provide perfect photo ops, be sure to head out to the serene garden outside the museum where you get to stroll along the stone paths, mythological statues, and ponds with floating lotuses. The lotus flower symbolises purity in Buddhism and Hinduism. You can capture some beautiful macro shots of the rare flowers, too.
The museum is open from 9 am to 7 pm.
Erawan Museum, 99 Bang Mueang Mai, Mueang Samut Prakan District, Samut Prakan 10270
Ending this list without a market wouldn’t do Bangkok justice! Though the more popularly known and photographed market is Talad Rod Fai, Maeklong Railway Market is literally built atop railway tracks, making it an experience that is not to be missed!
Trains pass through the market eight times a day so there’s plenty of chances for you to capture this vibrantly painted carrier that provides a lovely contrast to the colours of the awnings. One can’t expect to buy souvenirs and clothing in this market but it’s highly recommended that you indulge in some sweet Thai snacks, fresh fruits and veggies, and delicate flowers.
Traveller’s tip: Try to reach this market in the earlier hours of the day to avoid crowds and if you walk farther into the market, there will be fewer people trying to steal a selfie with the train.
Maeklong Railway Station, Muang Samut Songkhram District