Rattanakosin Island is where I always enjoy going. It is the heart of Bangkok where history and culture are prominently on display.
My alma mater, Thammasat University, is located right in the area on the riverside. I was a student there for 4 years and know the streets there quite well. The amulet market next to the campus is extremely familiar to me and it’s a hotspot for Thai superstitious culture. If you pay attention to every little stall there, you will realize the vast variety of the amulets. Every shop has its own character; some focus on bronze buddha statues, some collect various relics, and others are dedicated solely to printed talisman vests which are replicas. From what I have heard, the prices of the amulets here vary from hundreds of thousands of baht to as less as ten baht.
If coming from Sathon Pier, I would recommend taking a public boat upstream and getting off at Tha Chang pier or Tha Tien pier. Walking straight out from Tha Chang pier leads you to The Grand Palace. Heading north from the pier leads you to the amulet market. Alight at Tha Tien pier and you will see Wat Pho.
The Grand Palace, Thailand’s number one sightseeing spot. The Grand Palace is the royal residence built by the first king of Chakri Dynasty (Rama I). Wat Phrakaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha) is also inside the Grand Palace complex. The revered Emerald Buddha, which is highly treasured, is seen as Thailand’s national buddha statue. During Thai New Year, people from all over the country come to worship the Emerald Buddha and ask for its blessings. Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon), is a must-see attraction for first-time visitors to Bangkok that houses the majestic Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho also is famous for its inhabitants’ effort to revive and preserve knowledge of Thai traditional massage. As a Thai, of course, I have been here countless times, accompanying my visiting friends.
Finding these points of interest often takes you through communities that dot the riverside. Near Tha Tien, I walked through the community market. The vendors in the market specialize in dried foods, and sell many delicacies that amazed me by their vibrant colors and, of course, their smells. I remember seeing big piles of orange-colored dried shrimp sit next to brown-colored dried squids, available in different sizes and shapes. I turned and saw the biggest dried fish I have ever seen. It probably weighed around 3 kilos, a portion that can serve a whole household for a month.
Self guided walking tours of Rattanakosin Island are available in Neighbourhoods section.