Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thailand - Roaming Around Bangkok - Part 2 (Khao San Area)

On my later visits to Bangkok, I stayed at Khao San area.


The place is great for night life, food tripping and temple hopping during day time. You may start your journey from the end of Khao San road near the police outpost; you may follow the red line to visit Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn). You need sturdy legs, trust me, since it took me an hour of leisurely walk to cover the entire distance. On top of this, I need to take a boat ride from Tha Tien pier to the opposite bank of Chao Phraya river in order to reach Wat Arun. If there are ladies in your group or your wife is with you, don't ever try to follow this path especially when the temperature is high, you've been warned, LOL. At any rate, you can observe and appreciate Bangkok city's normal daily lives if you complete trekking the red line.

RED LINE

City Pillar Shrine and Ministry of Defense

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

Bike Rental
Antiques vendors

Traversing the red line, you'd also pass some great spots such as Sanamluang Park and Ministry of Defense building to name a few. Likewise, there are many antique vendors along the street at the back side of Grand Palace when going to Tha Tien pier. It was entertaining to have a look at those antiques being peddled by the street vendors. You have nothing to worry as long as you don't speak for they would assume that you're also a local. Upon arriving at Tha Tien pier, make sure that you're queueing at the correct berthing station to reach Wat Arun otherwise you might end up boarding the Chao Phraya Express boat that travels across the entire length of the river.

Be aware though that along the way, some touts would try to call your attention especially when you have reached the Grand Palace area. Don't mind them because chances are they would discourage you in visiting these places, they would give many reasons so as to divert you to "other great temples" and shops in connivance with some tuk-tuk drivers. Moreover, some clever guys would entice you to feed those pigeons near Sanamluang park with corn, don't mind them. I mean those guys, if you don't have spare Baht to pay for the corn.

BLUE LINE

You need to start at the other end of Khao San road and turn right up to Ratchadamnoen Klang road. I prefer to call this as the main road along blue line due to its great width. Turn left at Ratchadamnoen and simply follow this main road. This path is a bit easier to follow since the distance is shorter than the Red Line. It took me around 45 minutes to reach "The Golden Mountain."

Democracy Monument

By following the main road you'd easily notice "The Democracy Monument" from afar. This public monument also serves as traffic round-about. It was commissioned in 1939 to commemorate the 1932 revolution that established the Thailand constitutional Monarchy.

An added treat is the Mc Donald's outlet near this monument. I took my lunch there before returning to Khao San road.
Loha Prasat or Wat Ratchanadda at the back

Just continue following the main road and at the intersection of the main road and Maha Chai road you would see "Loha Prasat" or "Wat Ratchanadda;" a Buddhist temple built by Rama III in 1846. If you have time to spare I suggest that you pay a visit to this temple because it is the 3rd Loha Prasat temple in the world. You'd find the other two in India and Sri Lanka. It is called Loha Prasat due to pyramid or multi-tiered structure with 37 metal spires which signify the 37 virtues towards enlightenment.

Mahakan Fort and The Golden Mount at the back

Wat Saket and The Golden Mount

Going further you'd see "Mahakan Fort." This is one of the two remaining forts from the 14 forts built by Rama I around Bangkok. This fort is quite historical but due to its small size you won't find it among the itinerary of tourists. Nevertheless, from this area you can see the "The Golden Mount." Just cross the bridge and turn right to reach Wat Saket. You need to climb an artificially built hill to reach the Golden Chedi on top of the hill. This place is used to be a cremation area during Ayutthaya era and built and restored by different Ramas. Normally, the visitors come here to climb The Golden Mount. In fact, I did the same. I never entered the temple itself at the base of the hill but rather exerted much effort in climbing the Golden Mount since the view at the top was simply stunning.

In conclusion, Khao San road is famous due to its food and night life in Bangkok. It is also called as backpackers Mecca and from here you can easily book a trip to other places and countries. However, an informed tourist would treat this place as focal point for a very interesting and worthwhile temple hopping in Bangkok. In fact there are less known temples around the area but due to lack of time and fatigue I didn't bother visiting them all. Khao San isn't the place for those who are looking for laid-back vacation but rather for those hardcore-visitors-of-off-beaten-path, if I may say so.

By the way, don't forget the golden rules when you visit these temples, observe proper dress code and remove any foot wear before entering any temple. I can safely say that your shoulder up to knee should be covered at least. Remove your hat or cap also before going inside the temple and don't disturb the devotees.

Enjoy your temple hopping!

P.S.

Don't forget to bring water, small/face towel, sunscreen, cap/hat and map.


OTHER THAILAND ATTRACTIONS:

Platinum mall, Bangkok
Pratunam market, Bangkok
Roaming Around Bangkok - part 1 (Pratunam area)
Pantip Plaza, Bangkok
CentralWorld mall
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Khao San Road
J - Trends in Town Celebration
Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha)
Wat Saket (Temple of Golden Mount)
The Grand Palace - Bangkok City