South Rattanakosin

The South Rattanakosin Island walk takes you through the often-overlooked Little India of Bangkok before hitting the main attractions of Old Town.

A. Pak Khlong Market

Take a blue flag Chao Phraya Express Boat to Yodpiman pier. Alight and cut straight through Yodpiman River Walk to go to your first stop.
This market may be underwhelming at first sight but once you are near its northern edge along Chakphet Road, prepare yourself for bursts of fragrance and colors. Pak Khlong Market is the largest retail and wholesale flower market in the capital. During wee hours of the morning, you can experience the chaotic change of hands of blooms.
Emerge onto Chakphet road and turn right. Walk straight and cross the road to enter a plaza containing:

B. Statue of King Rama I

This statue is dedicated to the king who moved Siam’s capital from the west of the river and founded Bangkok on the east side in 1782. His reign was the starting point of the current ruling Chakri dynasty. King Rama I’s legacy includes the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Facing away from the statue, walk straight north along Tri Phet road. On your right, enter into:

C. Wat Ratchaburana Ratchaworawihan (Wat Liap)

This Thai Buddhist temple was built in late Ayutthaya period by a Chinese merchant named Liap. The temple became his namesake, adopting the informal name of Wat Liap. Inside the ordination hall, find the artwork of respected artist Khrua In Khong, a monk praised for incorporating the European style into traditional Thai art during the mid 1800s.
Exit the temple and cross the road at the next zebra crossing. On the other side of the road is:

D. Suankularb Wittiyalai School/National Museum of Education

Suankularb is one of Bangkok’s most prestigious secondary schools. Its name means rose garden and refers to its origin as a school established on the rose garden area of the Grand Palace. The school is noted for its architecture, known to many as the Long Building due to its once being the longest building in the city. To enter the museum section of the school, call ahead to check opening times.
Continue walking north until you reach the intersection of Tri Phet road and Phahurat road. Turn right to see:

E. Phahurat Market

This area and row of shophouses is known as the Little India of Bangkok. The neighborhood was originally a Vietnamese enclave. As Bangkok grew, the Sikhs moved into the area and established a thriving textile trade, which can still be observed today.
Walk straight and turn right on Chakphet road. Continue southwest until you see on your right the golden domed gate to:

F. Gurudwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha

This golden domed Sikh temple dedicated to the religious scripture Guru Granth Sahib is a hidden landmark that’s tucked behind shophouses. Climb to the top to see panoramic views of Old Town and Chinatown. Once you are done, explore the surrounding area for great Indian eateries, such as Royal India.
Backtrack all the way to the intersection of Tri Phet road and Phahurat road. On the northwest corner is:

G. The Nightingale-Olympic Shopping Center

As though trapped in time, this shopping center is more a museum than a commercial retail space. The Nightingale-Olympic Shopping Center is one of Bangkok’s oddities. Displays from the 1960s still exist alongside products that should have been updated or discontinued a while ago.
Exit the mall and turn right. Turn right again on the intersection, walk straight on Phahurat road, and cross the canal until you meet Sanam Chai road. Turn right on this T intersection. On your right, find:

H. Drum Tower

This four-storied tower is a replica of the original drum tower in Bangkok. The architectural style follows that of Ayutthaya period. Originally, the drums within the tower were used for three purposes: signaling sunrise and sunset, warning of fires, and alarming others of invasion.
Keep walking north past the drum tower to the next intersection. On your right is the Territorial Defense Command. Enter to find:

I. King Rama VI Museum

King Rama VI reigned during a time of global instability. As such, Thai military activity was at its height. The museum views the king through the lens of his military background and his achievements. Significant periods include World War I during which Thailand sent troops to the Western Front.
Cross the road to enter:

J. Saranrom Park

Take a breather in one of Bangkok’s most verdant public park. Saranrom Park was once the garden ground of Saranrom Palace where royalty and their guests would reside. The government donated the land to Bangkok as a public space in 1960.
Exit the park on the north end and turn left to emerge out on Sanam Chai road once more. Continue heading north. On your right is:

K. Saranrom Palace

This magnificent structure, once a residence for royalty, is heavily influenced by western architecture. Today it houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is not open to the public. The open plaza in front contains the statue of King Rama IV, also known as the father of science and technology of Thailand.
Continue walking north until you see cannons of the:

L. Old Big Gun Museum, Ministry of Defence

The front lawn of the Ministry of Defence is dedicated to cannons of old, from Ayutthaya period to the Rattakonsin period.
Cross Lak Muang road to see:

M. Lak Mueang (City Pillar Shrine)

Many cities and towns in Thailand have a pillar, which is believed to house the city deity. Bangkok has two pillars: one from King Rama I and the other from King Rama IV. The pillars are made from acacia or chaiyapreuk in Thai, which means “tree of victory”. Their purpose is to bless and protect the city and its people.
Directly opposite the shrine on Sanam Chai road is:

N. Sanam Luang

Sanam Luang is one of the city’s most significant locations. Although it is a simple open field, Sanam Luang has been the site of important events throughout history, including royal ceremonies and functions. The field also plays an important role as public space, where kites were once flown locals for leisure and protests took place.
Exit the field on the south and cross Na Phran Lan road. Turn right to head towards the river. On your left is the main entrance to:

O. Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha

This large complex is the heart of Bangkok’s history. It is the legacy of King Rama I and is considered by many to represent the pinnacle of Thai architecture. Marvel at its opulence and make sure the see the Emerald Buddha, the palladium of the country.
Once you have exited the compound, turn left and walk along the palace walls. Turn left on Maha Rat road and continue along the west wall. At the end of the west wall, cross Maha Rat road and walk towards Tha Tien pier. Board the river crossing ferry to go to:

P. Wat Arun

Wat Arun is Bangkok’s poster child and seen on almost every postcard. Constructed in Khmer style, this temple is decorated with porcelain from the ballast of boats coming from China. It once housed the Emerald Buddha before it was transferred to the Grand Palace.
Cross the river back to the east side. From the pier, walk straight and turn right on Maha Rat road. Cross Maha Rat road and enter:

Q. Wat Pho

This temple contains the largest collection of Buddha images in the world, including the giant reclining Buddha. During its early days, Wat Pho also served as the country’s education center. It is the birthplace of Thai massage, where techniques are still being taught. Experience Thai massage at the temple’s massage center for visitors.
Exit the temple on Maha Rat road and cross the road once more to explore:

R. Eateries by the river

The alleys of Tha Tien is has seen a host of restaurants and cafes opening up to rejuvenate visitors. Get your fill of Thai cuisine at Err, coffee at Elefin, or a drink with a view of Wat Arun at Sala Rattanakosin.
Once you have recharged, walk back out to Maha Rat road, turn right and keep walking until you see:

S. Chakrabongse Palace/River Books Shop

The Chakrabongse Palace is an oasis for guests who have chosen it as their accommodation for their stay in Bangkok. River Books has a shop in front of the palace and publishes books dedicated to Southeast Asian art and culture.
Continue south on Maha Rat road until you see on your left:

T. Museum Siam

This museum is dedicated to the history of Thai people and culture. It is easily one of the most modern and accessible museums, utilizing technology to enhance its displays and interactivity with visitors. Finish your walking tour here and wind down before going to your next destination.
To get to your next destination, exit the museum on Maha Rat road and turn left to continue walking south. When you reach the canal, turn right to enter the underground MRT station or walk to the river to catch a public boat at Rajini Pier.

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