There's a growing number of Bangkok museums celebrating the arts and culture of Thailand. Many of them commemorate the country's rich history. However, some places showcase more eccentric interests, such as the Museum of Counterfeit Goods and the Bangkok Forensics Museum. Meanwhile, if you want to see the latest works by Thai artists, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Whichever museum you go to, you'll see the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the local artisans. Some museums have been recently renovated, offering an exciting modern museum experience. While holidaying in Bangkok, make sure to spend some time in the following museums.
Outside, the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is an impressive neo-Renaissance white marble edifice. Step inside and you’ll discover paintings depicting the history of the current royal dynasty and gold ceremonial items. There are also exhibits and masterpieces from Thailand's national artists. As the Throne Hall is part of the Royal Family's property, conservative clothing is recommended.
Translated, Suan Pakkad Palace means ‘cabbage patch’, but don’t let the amusing name fool you. The museum was previously home to members of the Royal Family. It's made up of several traditional Thai houses, containing items from the royal collection of Hindu and Buddhist art. After you're done exploring the interior, have a refreshing walk around the gardens.
If you want to learn more about the people living in the north of Thailand without leaving the capital, visit the Ban Kamthieng and Siam Society. Originally located in Chiang Mai, the museum was moved to Bangkok and contains items inhabitants would use every day when living in a wooden house. It’s also the base for the Siam Society, a group that promotes knowledge of Thailand and its surrounds.
Bangkokian, or the Bangkok Folk Museum, represents what life was like for people before World War II. The group of three buildings includes a family home that was completed in 1937, a boarding house built by the family to help make ends meet, and a surgery that was owned by a British doctor.
Don't be fooled by the old-fashioned Western-style building. The Museum of Siam tries to answer the question, ‘What does being Thai mean?’ Modern, interactive installations — like pretending to be a TV reporter or a diner regular — will help get you thinking about this question as you discover the evolution of the Thai people and their culture.
The Bangkok National Museum started out as antiquities passed down by King Rama IV to his son. The collection has since expanded and represents Thailand's history dating back to the Neolithic period. It's also the largest national museum in Southeast Asia. For more insight, join one of the guided tours run by English-speaking museum volunteers.
Throughout Bangkok you’ll see gigantic painted gold statues of Buddha. The difference with the Buddha housed in Wat Traimit is that it’s made of solid gold. Nearly 5m tall, it weighs more than five tons and is the largest Buddha effigy in the world. Find out how it was discovered and moved to its current home at the Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Patimakorn Exhibition, located within the wat (temple).