Bangkok's history can be traced back to the early part of the fifteenth century when Ayutthaya was its ruler. At that time, the name was then only applied to a small village located on the river's western side. Due to this very strategic location by the Chao Phraya River's mouth, gradually, this village began to increase in importance. It served as an outpost for customs, and was also the site of a 1688 siege when the French became expelled from the village of Siam.
As the city capital of Thailand, Bangkok plays a critical role in the history of the country. Renowned for its phenomenal Buddhist temples, this once named "Venice of the East" has witnessed a major metamorphosis over the past 50 years.
1. Wat Arun- The Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, is located on the Thonburi west side of the River Chao Phraya.
King Taksin renovated the temple, and also renamed the temple the Temple of the Dawn or Wat Chaeng. King Taksin ruled during the Thonburi Period, and it was during this time that the chief temple was Wat Chaeng, and this temple was once the home of the enshrined Emerald Buddha, in addition to the Phra Bang, yet another vital Buddha image, and the both of these were taken from Vientiane.
All through the Rattanakosin Period, the temple flourished. Its fine craftsmanship and beautiful architecture bear witness to the temple's status of being a first grade temple as well as one of Thailand's most outstanding temples.
The prang (spire) of the Temple of the Dawn along the Chao Phraya's riverbank is a landmark of world fame for Bangkok. This looming prang is over 229 feet tall (70 meters), and is incredibly decorated with small colored glass pieces in addition to delicately placed Chinese porcelain introduced into these intricate patterns. Even though the temple is referred to as the Temple of the Dawn, it is positively breathtaking at sunset especially when it is lit up during the night.
2. The Temple of Wat Pho
Wat Pho is found in back of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This is Bangkok's biggest temple and renowned for the massive and imperial reclining Buddha. The Buddha is covered by gold leaf and measures over an amazing 150 feet (46 meters) long.
To give you an idea of the proportion, the feet of the Buddha measure over 9 feet long (3 meters) and is adorned with illustrations of the Buddha's characteristics (laksanas) in mother of pearl. This temple is also known as the Temple of Reclining Buddha.
At Wat Pho, you can have a traditional Thai massage. This therapeutic massage is more of an invigorating massage instead of being relaxing in nature, as this form of massage incorporates for its stress relief and improved blood circulation a variety of yoga posture styles. The cost for a half hour is about 120 baht, whereas the per hour cost is 200 baht.
There are good English speaking tour guides available at Wat Pho that will also share some interesting information about the temple for approximately 200 - 400 baht. The cost will depend largely on your skill for negotiating as well as the number of people in your group. You can also consult with a few palm readers or astrologers. It may be possible to receive a monk's blessing if you make a small donation. The donated money will go to help maintain the temple (wat), and it will cost you 20 baht to enter.
3. The Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit)
In Chinatown, at the end of Yaowarat Road, near the Railway Station in Hualampong, the Temple of Golden Buddha is the home to the biggest seated Buddha in the world, measuring in at almost 16 feet high (5 meters) and weighing in at 5.5 tons. Artisans in the past, created the Buddhas in gold, and then disguised them by covering them in plaster and stucco to keep them safe from any invading armies.
The Wat Traimit Buddha was discovered accidentally when it was dropped while it was in the process of being moved to reveal under a plaster casing an incredible Sukhothai styled Buddha made of solid gold. There are pieces of the original plaster still on display. This makes Wat Traimit a must watch destination in Bangkok.
Tobias Carlson is a business writer based in Asia. He often visits Bangkok on his trips in connection with his Office Rental in Bangkok business.