Monday, November 28, 2011

Exploring Bangkok on a Tuktuk

The best way to explore Bangkok is through its very popular auto rickshaw vehicle – Tuktuk. They are readily available in every street corners of Bangkok so it is easy to spot them to get a short trip within the city. It is a very popular mode of transportation in Bangkok so there is no reason to excuse myself in a taking a wild ride of tuktuk especially as a first time visitor in Thailand.

Our tuktuk driver and city tour guide, Dalin, literally drive us through-out the city to explore its great sights ans places of interest for a whole day. Since tutuk is a small vehicle, it can easily pass through the traffic jams of Bangkok and small alleys for shortcuts. My tuktuk ride wasn’t just a great experience of exploring Bangkok but also a great way to sample the urban life scenes in Thailand’s capital.

Exploring Bangkok on a Tuktuk!
Our tuktuk driver/tour guide - Dalin, driving us in every part of Bangkok.
First thing that I noticed in the streets of Bangkok is that it is less polluted in smoke even though there are times it is traffic and heavily packed by vehicle. The streets are also cleaned, well maintained most of the time free from litters and trashes. I am also fascinated by bright and loud colored taxis that brings lively vibes to the busy streets of Bangkok. Malls and shops are in every street corners making the city a real shoppers paradise.

The streets of Bangkok on a tuktuk's eyeview.
Tuktuk can easily pass through the network streets of Bangkok. That’s why going through the nearest attractions of Bangkok just like a breeze. One of the nearest museums in Pratunam and Ratchaprarop train station is Suan Pakkad Palace. This museum is a collection f traditional Thai houses collected by Prince and Princess Chumbot. Some houses belonged to the prince’s family and all are more than a century old. Don’t miss to see the Lacquer Pavilion. It is an extraordinary example of Thai art and consists of a room within a room styled structure decorated with richly carved gilded wood.

A few short hops on tuktuk, we passed by the palace residence of the Thai monarchy, The Chitlada Palace. Though it is beautifully covered with fountains and canals in its gates, it is impossible to see the palace as it is mostly covered with trees and always close to the public. We drove to our intended destination, Wat Benchamabophit or The Marble Temple is the most beautiful temple I saw in Bangkok. It is just located opposite one corner of Chitlada Palace in Dusit district. The temple is noted for its stunning and majestic architecture which is distinctly Thai. You’ll admire the temple’s stunning architecture from the gold and orange encrusted roofs to the ubosot (hall) covered outside by marble from Italy. Take a peek into its altar and it main Buddha image (Phra Buddhajinaraja) as these is the most beautiful in Thailand. Take time also to look the surrounding cloisters of the temple where there are numerous Buddha images on display as well as significant buildings like Song Dharm Hall and Sri Sri Somdej Pavilion.

Wat Benchamabophit or The Marble Temple.
The surrounding canal inside The Marble Temple.
Wat Benchamabophit - The most beautiful temple in Bangkok!
Various Buddha images found inside the temple's cloister. 

The author and the stunning Marble Temple.
A reminder that you are in the land of smiles!
Driving past Bang Lumpoo district, I saw the Democracy Monument, a public monument commissioned in 1939 to commemorate Siamese Revolution of 1932. After a few rolls, we reach Rattanakosin where a few steps from our drop-off is the large Sanam Luang Park. On opposite of the park is one of Bangkok’s major attraction – The Grand Palace. It is a complex of palaces and temples where for 150 years was the home of King and his court. It is here where I became amaze by the different and detailed architectural structures of buildings, palaces and temples. Everything is bejewelled in gleaming stones and gold! Wat Phra Kaew or The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the most important temple inside the complex because it houses the Emerald Buddha. Some of the most remarkable building inside the complex were The Royal Pantheon or Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn, Chakri Maha Prasat Hall and Dusit Maha Prasat Hall. All of which are architecturally stunning buildings. The Grand Palace is a grand invitation to Thailand’s rich culture, history and heritage.

The entrance facade of Grand Palace.
The grand temples and palaces of Grand Palace.
Admiring the grandeur of Chakri Maha Prasat Hall.
A grand invitation in Grand Palace.
Almost right next door is Wat Pho, better known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha because of the reclining Buddha sparkling in gold. Aside from the golden reclining image, the temple also has four largest chedi (Thai buddhist monument or pagoda). They are decorated with ceramic tiles and three dimensional ceramic pieces which form intricate floral patterns. Its four highest chedis which is also each colored distinctly actually represents the kings who ruled the country in the past. I was surprised to learned that the four chedis is just part of the 91 chedis that can be found inside the temple. There are also 400 buddha images on display in the surrounding cloisters of the temple. All are gleaming in gold! Wat Pho is also known as the oldest temple in Bangkok and actually much older than the city of Bangkok itself. It was founded in 17th century.

The reclining golden buddha, sparkling in gold!
The stunning wall design of the reclining Buddha hall.
One section of the cloister surrounding Wat Pho with numerous buddha images.
Via tuktuk, you can also reached the Royal Barges Museum. The museum displays 8 of the 50 royal barges on display that is used in formal processions during the old Ayuthaya period. The barges on display very in size and function. The most important of all is the Suppanahong or “Golden Swan”, with its figurehead prow in the shape of a huge golden swan. Next to it is the Narai Song Suban with King Narai riding a Garuda on its prow. Around the sides and back of the warehouse are display cases with oars, flags, and other paraphernalia of the procession ceremonies.

The head of Suppanahong or “Golden Swan”
The Royal Barges in the museum.

Also in a day you can explore the almost the side by side sights of Loha Prasat (a unique temple structure in Bangkok for its “metal castle” concept and Wat Ratchanadda) and Wat Saket (or Golden Mount is located just outside the old royal city precincts, famous for the golden chedi sitting on a man-made mountain). Then you can also proceed in exploring Vimanmek Mansion. Billed as the world's largest teakwood mansion, it was built as a royal residence in the first few years of the 20th century. Its now a large complex of museums where the buildings themselves form part of the "collection" on display. Next to the mansion, the tuktuk can fetch you to the nearby Dusit Zoo. A favorite for families in Bangkok, the zoo is popular as a picnic spot as it is for the animals. The park has many food stalls with a reputation for delicious food at very low prices. Its central location makes it easy to get to.

video 
Bangkok experience is not complete without taking a ride of Tuktuk. (Video)

I had a satisfying whole day exploration of Bangkok via Tuktuk!
A day exploration of Bangkok is an indulgence to the senses but it also involves tiring walks, getting lost and dealing with hot weather. So it just rightful for Dalin to drive us one of the best seafood restaurant in Bangkok to replenish energy from a tiring day. This is a great way to end my day of exploration of Bangkok – to start exploring it this time by trying Thai cuisines! Who wouldn’t agree? A tiring day of exploration needs a yummy bowl of Bangkok! 

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Exploring Bangkok on a Tuktuk is part of my Thailand's Amazing Smiles series where I share my wonderful trip to the land of amazing smiles last October 25-28, 2011. We actually did not visit Royal Barges Museum because of the flooded situation and we only passed by Suan Pakkad Palace but each site can be easily reach via tuktuk and other main attraction in Bangkok. For a helpful trip to Bangkok visit Bangkok for Visitors website for more information.You might also like the other parts of the series: 

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for showing me that riding a Tuk-tuk is also a fun thing to do when in Thailand. I agree that it can easily pass through the traffic jams of Bangkok and small alleys for shortcuts. Usually, local bus yung sinasakyan ko kapag nasa Thailand since cheaper kasi siya.. Pero would love to try riding a tuktuk.. Hopefully this coming December. :)

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  2. @Bino: Bangkok again this December... nice holiday trip! Tuktuk is also cheap. We paid 50THB and gave additional 20THB because Dalin is very nice in helping us exploring the best of the city. Bangkok trip experience is not complete without experiencing riding a tuktuk.

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  3. You're lucky to have met a nice tuktuk driver. Some could be very deceiving, that's why we mostly took the bus also when we were in Bangkok.

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  4. We will try to explore the city more while riding in a tuk-tuk on my next visit to Bangkok, hopefully we find a nice and honest driver like yours.

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  5. that seems cool ha...wish to ride that tuktuk someday..cool pix!

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  6. would you believe na d pa ako naksaya ng tuktuk sa Thailand or Cambodia. either nilalakad ko, bus or bike. hahaha thanks for this post, nxt time will try it! :)

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  7. @Gay: I am also aware of these touts and scam tuktuks but we are very fortunate... Dalin is a nice Thai tuktuk driver.

    @Clair: Try it, its a worthy ride to see and experience the real side of Bangkok on a tuktuk's eyeview.

    I will upload a video soon.

    @Ruby: Thanks or shall I say... ka pun kap!

    @PinaySolo: Sayang... try it. This where you experience the authentic city of Bangkok. Hindi kumpleto ang Thailand trip paghindi nakasakay at ma-experience ang tuktuk!

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  8. I never had a chance to ride tuktuk although I have several shots of them 'coz I find them so regionally eye-catching.

    Wala na ba baha sa bangkok?

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  9. @Lawstude: And you'll be fascinated with them as well! As of now only north of Bangkok is flooded. Central Bangkok remains dry along with its tourist spots and operates normally. Receding of flood is gaining progress in the city.
    If you plan to visit Bangkok or any visitors here, follow the latest update here - http://www.thailandtourismupdate.com/OfficialStatementInfo/47/993/Situation-Update-Flooding-in-Thailand

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  11. i'd always take a tuktuk than hire a taxi. it's cheaper and more ideal for going on short trips.

    glad to hear that the flood is now receding. :)

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  12. @Chester: Thanks for sharing your experience and thanks for dropping by.

    @Vin: I think its cheaper and you get to see the real side of Bangkok once you ride a tuktuk.

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  13. good thing you met an honest driver. mostly kasi di ba pag tourist ka akala nila lagi kang maraming dalang pera kaya tataasan ang price. Pag nagpunta ko ng Bangkok I'll definitely try riding a Tuktuk..

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  14. puro international destination ah!

    ano mas mabilis, tuktuk o motor? :P

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  15. grabe nga ang mga tuktuk scam dun pati sa cambodia,mabuti na lang i had been warned before we went there.good job!,babalik ka pala ian this december,ikaw na,i miss bangkok

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  16. @Joan: Thanks for dropping again... yup, Dalin is a nice tour guide slash tuktuk driver. A Filipina resident refer him to us. Try tuktuk and experience the other side of Bangkok like no other!

    @Christian: I'm not sure... but look at the vid I posted to get a feel of how to ride a tuktuk.

    @Chris: Oh no, hindi po... Bangkok might be my last trip of the year. Next year na po, hehe...

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  17. Very nice ang Tuk Tuk tour mo sa temples. Pwede malaman kung how many days ang pag-ikot sa mga temples and how much you paid the Tuk Tuk driver. I really love those old temples - I want my 2 kids to experience them. Kung may contact number ka sa driver, can I have it ? Salamat

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    1. Halft day lang tour namin sa Grand Palace pero kung gusto mo libutin at explore sya ng todo a lot a whole day to Grand Palace kasi in the afternoon may Wat Pho visit pa kami. We paid 50TBH to the driver plus 20TBH for the good service but all entrances and lunch is not included in this Tuk tuk tour.

      The driver is affiliated with the accomodation owner we stayed. You can contact Ms.Gemma Parocho at these nos +66835463667/+639495861188. Email: parocho_gemma@yahoo.com.ph

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