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13 best temples in Bangkok, Thailand

There are hundreds of temples in Bangkok, ranging from tiny neighborhood shrines to multi-acre complexes. Deciding which temples to see is difficult, and it’s not just about the temple’s beauty. For many of these, it’s about what the temple holds as well.

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Text: Temples in Bangkok: 13 traditional temples worth seeing (and the Rachel's Ruminations logo). Image: a sitting Buddha statue, gold-colored, wearing a gold-colored shawl over its shoulder.
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Given that there are so many, which are the best to see? Here’s a list of traditional Thai temples in Bangkok, or rather temple complexes, several of which are on every Bangkok itinerary, but some of which are less well-known. Following the list is some advice about which to prioritize, and also some general tips about visiting temples in Bangkok and Thailand as a whole.

About Thai temple complexes

Traditional Thai Buddhist temples are typically not just a single building, but rather a complex of buildings and the outdoor space around them, usually surrounded by a wall.

An ordination hall is where important ceremonies take place and where monks meditate. It will have one or more Buddha images. You may be allowed to enter the ordination hall, or you may not, depending on the temple. In any case, see my tips later in this article so you know what you can and cannot do in a temple.

The sermon hall (viharn) contains the most important Buddha image(s) belonging to the temple. Many sermon halls and the ordination halls will have their inside walls covered with detailed and colorful images that generally tell stories from the Buddha’s life.

Closely clustered buildings, seen from above: each with a red roof and most with pointed decorations at their peaks and eaves.
The temple complex at Wat Saket

Stupas are towers that hold relics of the Buddha. A stupa might also be called a chedi or a prang, but they’re all variations on a theme. Some smaller ones may serve as tombs, holding the ashes of monks from that particular temple.

Some temples have many sitting Buddha images, each on a small pedestal. These are often tombs as well, paid for by a particular family to contain their ashes.

Outside, around the temple buildings, you’ll often find other areas in use as places of worship, but also as commercial opportunities. They’ll often have a tent-like or metal roof sheltering Buddha images. Believers can buy items like flower chains, food and cloth at stands nearby in or just outside the temple grounds. They leave these as offerings to “make merit.” They buy and light incense and/or candles to set up near the altar. Many temples don’t allow incense or candles inside anymore because of fire danger, so these outside altars replace that tradition.

Side view of a Buddha statue with flame in front of it.

Temples often have a large open-sided hall for sermons and other gatherings. They might also have a bell tower to ring out ceremonies.

The bigger temples will have more buildings to serve more practical functions. If monks train there, for example, their housing and kitchens and such will be inside the compound.

Except where mentioned below, the temples are free to visit, though there is often a box for donations for you to drop in a few bahts.

If temples like these are your thing, make sure to read my article about Nikko in Japan too.

1. Wat Arun

Though its official name is Wat Arun Ratchawararam, everyone calls this temple Wat Arun, which apparently means “Temple of Dawn.” It’s easy to spot because of its very tall stupa or prang surrounded by four subsidiary prangs. What’s special about this temple is the decorations on the stupas: they’re covered entirely with porcelain tile pieces. It’s quite a sight to behold, especially at night when it’s brightly lit.

Looking up the stupa: a stairway up the middle, very steep, and tiers like a wedding cake, smaller and smaller toward the top, all of it covered with flowery patterns of ceramic tiles.
Wat Arun’s central prang

The original temple on the site dated to the 17th century (Ayutthaya period) and was restored in the mid-1800s, when Thailand’s capital city, Thonburi, was here. This makes it not only one of the most famous temples, but also one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. What you see now, though – the tall prang – was finished in 1851, well after the capital moved across the river to Bangkok.

Besides the general beauty of the use of porcelain, notice some of the creatures portrayed on Wat Arun’s prangs and other buildings:

  • The images around the base of the prangs, some of which depict demons.
One of the tiers of the stupa is lined with human-like figures, on one knee and with the other knee up, arms up as if supporting the tier above them. They're all wearing ornate hats and their clothing is decorated with ceramic tile.
  • The subsidiary prangs have images partway up of a horseman of some sort in a niche. I find these quite charming.
Looking at a middle level of a tall stupa; it has a tall narrow niche in it where a horseman sits on a tall narrow horse. The stupa is busily decorated with ceramic tile.
  • At the entrance, two huge statues of yaksha, which are good spirits that stand at the entrance of temples to protect them from evil spirits.

You’ll likely be sharing Wat Arun with lots of tourists, both foreigners and locals. When I visited, there were many young Thai people wearing traditional Thai outfits, posing for lots of selfies. I asked one of them why they were doing that. She told me that it was just for the fun of posing in these outfits. She hastened to add that they didn’t normally dress this way.

The entrance is in a traditional thai style, with a steep peak and detailed decorations under the gable, a plain red roof otherwise. On either side of the square entrnace is a yaksha: large humanoid characters in colorful outfits but with animal-like faces, clutching swords and wearing tall helmets.
Yaksha, guarding the entrance.

Open daily 8:00-18:00. Fee: 100 baht. There’s a ferry stop right in front of it.

2. Wat Mahathat

Its full name is Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit, and this temple complex is ornate and extensive. It’s within the grounds of the Grand Palace, the home of the king once the capital of Thailand moved to this side of the river in 1782. The Grand Palace compound is huge and has a range of buildings, but Wat Mahathat is the section of green-and-red-roofed Thai-style temples on the north side of the Grand Palace complex.

A stupa on either side, and entrance in the center of the photo with a yaksha on either side of it. Above the entrance is another stupa. The stupas are all highly decorated with tile. A few tourists walk on the space between the stupa and illustrate that the yaksha are about 3x a human's height.

Wat Mahathat dates to the Ayutthaya period (1351-1767). It was renovated and rebuilt extensively in the 18th century, mostly just because it was near the Grand Palace and could be used for official ceremonies concerning the royal family.

When I call Wat Mahathat “ornate,” it’s a bit of an understatement. Parts of the buildings are decorated in ceramic, like Wat Arun, but parts are, for example, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, while some have mosaics of glass and gems or are coated with gold leaf. The Thai multiply-tiered roofs, with their typical upward-pointed decorations at the peaks, along with the consistent roof color, are what brings the various buildings together.

Looking up at the ornate entrance. Four white pillars hold up the gable which is decorated in gold, with rows of buddhas across above the entrance. Behind the pillars are 3 doors to the temple, all closed, and all crowned by an ornate gold decoration.

Like at Wat Arun, you’ll find huge yaksha statues and several stupas, one of which is highly decorated and perches on top of one of the temples. Another one is quite simple and unadorned, but painted entirely gold.

Also like at Wat Arun, you’ll face crowds of tourists here. You can buy a combined ticket to see Wat Mahathat, the Grand Palace buildings and grounds, and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which I’ll describe next. You could easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here, which probably contributes to how crowded it is.

A Taksha in many colors, with a fierce face, next to a very shiny gold gable over an entrance.

The Grand Palace and the Wat Mahathat buildings are open daily 8:30-15:30. Fee: 500 baht for foreigners; free for Thais. Nearest ferry stop is Tha Chang.

3. Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew is generally known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and was built starting in 1783. Strictly speaking, it’s part of Wat Mahathat, but is more important because of the special Buddha image it holds.

Known as the Emerald Buddha, this statue is rather small – about 66 centimeters (26 inches) tall. It’s not made of emerald, but rather jade, and shows a seated, meditating Buddha. It is centuries older than the temple is, though how old isn’t clear. Perhaps it was created in Thailand, or perhaps stems from India or Sri Lanka. It “lived” in northern Thailand for an unspecified amount of time, then spent hundreds of years in Laos before Thailand conquered Laos and took the statue back. Its current home, Wat Phra Kaew, was built specifically to house this Emerald Buddha statue.

The temple, meanwhile, is even more ornate than Wat Mahathat, and it’s worth taking the time to admire the workmanship on and inside the building itself. The building and many of the decorations shine with gold leaf.

Looking up at an extremely ornate temple, every inch of its gables, eaves, walls doorways and columns covered with tiling or gold detailing.

The ticket to the Grand Palace includes admission to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It costs 500 baht for foreigners and is free for Thais.

4. Wat Pho

The original temple on the site of Wat Pho (Full name: Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan, but Wat Pho is short for its old name, Wat Photaram.) dated to the 17th century. After the Burmese invasion destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, King Taksin moved the country’s capital to Thonburi, just across the river from Wat Pho.

King Rama I rebuilt Wat Pho in 1788-1801 after he moved the capital to Bangkok from Thonburi across the river. He also added what Wat Pho is most known for: the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The gold-painted Buddha inside this specially-built temple measures 46 meters (151 feet) long. The reclining Buddha pose isn’t so common in Thai temples in Bangkok. It depicts the Buddha just before reaching nirvana.

Seen from the foot end, looking along the legs to the head, which is propped up on one elbow. It is gold-colored and fills the room.
Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.

The complex is huge, with lots of stupas, halls and gardens, and it houses 1000 Buddha images (including the reclining Buddha). King Rama I brought many of them here from the old capitals, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.

Wat Pho is also the birthplace of Thai massage. The school within the complex offers training courses in massage or other aspects of traditional Thai medicine to this day. You can also get a Thai massage right here at the source.

Looking down a row of gold-colored seated Buddhas in the Subduing Mara pose.
Buddhas at Wat Pho.

The Buddhas in the photo above are in the “Subduing Mara” or “Overcoming Mara” pose: sitting cross-legged with the right foot on top, left hand resting in his lap, palm up, right hand palm down on the right knee. This has to do with a story of Buddha resisting the temptations presented by Mara, a demon, at a moment of meditation when he was very near achieving enlightenment. This is the pose you’ll see most at Thai temples.

Open daily 8:00-18:30. Admission fee 200 baht.

5. Wat Saket

Also known as Golden Mount, Wat Saket is a bit different because it perches on the only hill in Bangkok.

The original temple on the spot dated to the Ayutthaya period, but the hill wasn’t built until the late 18th century. The large stupa on the hill dates to the late 19th century, and the more modern temple wasn’t built till the early 20th.

The crest of a temple roof in the foreground, Golden mount in the background: white walls and a gold stupa rising in the middle of the roof.
The Golden Mount, as seen from the Metal Palace.

This temple houses some Buddha relics, but generally isn’t as ornate or interesting as the ones I’ve listed above. What makes this temple special is its height, and the view it offers.

It takes about 320 steps to climb the mount, and by going inside the stupa, you can climb a short stairway to come out on the roof, at the base of the stupa. From there you’ll get a 360-degree view of the city.

Looking through a window with a row of small bells hanging from its top, looking over a termple in the foreground with red and green roofs, and the modern city with skyscrapers in the background.

The rest of the complex is below the mountain and contains some ornate temples and a few quite large Buddhas, including a very large standing one.

Open daily 7:00-19:00. Small admission fee.

6. Wat Ratchanatdaram (Metal Palace)

The central building in this temple complex is the main attraction, in a different architectural style from any other temple building. It’s called Loha Prasat, but it’s more commonly known as the Metal Palace or Metal Castle. With three high levels in the form of a square pyramid, metal spires top each level: 24 on the bottom level, 12 on the middle level, and one central spire on the top.

Looking up at the Metal Palace: white walls, red windows, and a row of gold-colored spires on each roof: 7 visible spires on the lower roof, 4 on the upper roof and one central spire.
Metal Palace

While traditional temples and related buildings surround it, the Metal Palace itself isn’t really a temple in the traditional sense. It’s more a place of learning about Buddhism. Each floor has a grid of pillars and hallways between them whose walls carry plaques explaining various elements of Buddhist belief: 37 virtues leading to enlightenment, which is why there are 37 spires on the building.

From the top level you can get a great view, including a view of the Golden Mount.

Open daily 8:00-17:00. Free admission.

7. Wat Traimit

Wat Traimit (short for Wat Traimit Witthayaramworawihan) dates to 1832. It is worth a visit for two reasons. It houses a museum all about Bangkok’s Chinatown, and it houses the famous Golden Buddha.

Wat Traimit is a white stone building with stories that are smaller as you climb. In the center of the top story, a tall golden stupa.
Wat Traimit

Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center

The museum is remarkably well-done, with text explanations about how and why the Chinese community came to be in Bangkok, but also containing life-sized mock-ups of typical Chinatown scenes, complete with very realistic waxworks of the people involved.

A very realistic waxwork man stands behind a counter with various bowls of food arrayed on it. Another man sits on a chair on his haunches, wearing no shirt, and eating from a bowl with chopsticks.
Mock-up of a street stall catering to Chinese laborers.

The Golden Buddha

The Golden Buddha is just what it says: a Buddha image made of pure gold – unlike the other images you’ll see at every temple that look golden but are actually just gold-leaf over plaster or bronze.

It also has a great story to go with it. It’s in the Sukhothai style, so probably created during the Sukhothai period. It’s assumed that one of the kings of Sukhothai must have commissioned it, since it’s made of solid gold.

Shiny gold Buddha in Sukhothai style in the Subduing Mara pose.
The Golden Buddha.

The Buddha was probably taken to Ayutthaya when the capital moved there from Sukhothai. However, at some point it was plastered over, lacquered and covered in gold leaf. There are two possible stories for why this happened:

  1. It may have been done in order to hide the image when the Ayutthaya invaded Sukhothai in the 15th century.
  2. Alternatively, it may have been brought to Ayutthaya in its original form and plastered over when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767.

In either case, from that point it sank into obscurity, treated like any other old Buddha image, ending up in the 1800s at a temple in Bangkok.

It wasn’t until 1955, when it was being moved to Wat Traimit, that it fell and the plaster chipped, exposing a bit of the gold inside. Investigators removed all the plaster to reveal the original gold image, made of several parts that fit neatly into each other.

Back view up at Wat Traimit, gold decorations over the windows, and a gold stupa on the roof.
A different view of Wat Traimit.

In 2008, the image was transferred to its current home: a specially-built pavilion at Wat Traimit. It’s the same building that houses the museum, and also includes a small exhibition about the Golden Buddha’s story.

While the style of the plastered-over version was in Ayutthaya style – square face, thick lips, and rather bulbous nose – the golden statue underneath is in classic Sukhothai style: curled hair; a flame aureole (the thing on his head); a slight smile; a narrow, slightly hooked nose; arched eyebrows that meet; and a robe over one shoulder that reaches down to the navel. The pose is a classic “Subduing Mara” pose.

The Golden Buddha is 398 cm tall (157 inches) and weighs 5.5 tons. If I’m figuring right, that makes it worth about $58 million just in terms of the value of the gold.

Open Tuesday-Sunday 8:00-17:00. There is a small admission fee for both the Heritage Center and the Golden Buddha.

8. Wat Thepthidaram

Wat Thepthidaram, a.k.a. Wat Thepthidaram Worawihan or Wat Phraya Krai Suan Luang, is another pretty temple, this one perhaps the furthest off the beaten tourist path of any temple on this list. Founded in 1839, its principal Buddha image in its ordination hall is made of white stone and is probably centuries older.

In a separate building is another more typical Buddha image, but this one is surrounded by 52 images of female monks (bhikkhunis). A (male) monk I met at the site explained to me that the point of the group of images is that women are just as eligible as men to lead a monk’s life and seek to attain enlightenment.

A gold Buddha statue sitting quite high on a pedestal in Subduing Mara pose. Below it, an array of other gold-colored statues, some standing, some sitting, mostly facing the large Buddha in the center.
The 52 bhikkunis image.

Also notice the pretty little stone sculptures here and there on the grounds. These came in the form of ballast on ships from China, unloaded in Bangkok to make room for goods to ship back to China.

This temple was also home to a royal poet named Sunthorn Phu. If you’re interested, you can visit his former house, now a museum.

Open daily 8:00-17:00. Free admission.

9. Wat Benchamabophit

Started in 1899, Wat Benchamabophit is special particularly because of its extensive use of Italian marble, which is why it’s also called the Marble Temple. It’s the only temple in this list that I haven’t visited, but from the pictures online, it looks very elegant and ornate with its traditional Thai architecture and gold highlights.

Open daily 6:00-17:00. Admission fee: 20 baht.

10. Wat Phichaya and 11. Wat Anong

It’s not clear when Wat Phichaya (Wat Phichaya Yatikaram Worawihan or Wat Phichai Yat) was first built, but it was abandoned for some time before its restoration in 1829-32. It’s a particularly pretty temple, with a symmetrical assemblage of structures and pretty decorations of the eaves and doorways. The “twin pagodas” on either side are elegant white stupas with gold detail. The main temple has a large stupa right on top, also detailed in gold.

Straight ahead, a temple with decorative gable and red roofs behind that, topped with a large white stupa. ON either side of the photo, part of the two side stupas are visible, also white with gold details.
Wat Phichaya.

Wat Anong (Wat Anongkharam Worawihan) is right next to Wat Phichaya and dates to about 1850. If you’re there anyway, it’s worth taking a look because of the beautiful woodwork on the buildings and the many Buddha images. In the late afternoon, if the sun is shining, it glitters.

Looking up at the front of a temple but seen from the side: a highly decorated gable in shiny gold and red paint.
Wat Anong.

Admission is free to both Wat Phichaya and Wat Anong.

12. Wat Prayun or Wat Prayoon

Wat Prayun (full name: Wat Prayurawongsawas Worawihan) dates to the mid-1800s and is best known for its bright white stupa surrounded by smaller stupas with a circular wall, also white. Unlike many stupas, you can actually enter this one, which offers a glimpse of how such stupas are constructed: brick mostly, with wooden beams for support.

A very large white stupa with a wall around its bottom that has many smaller stupas along it. Sun setting in the background.

Climb the stairs and you can see views over the rest of the temple complex. The buildings have some lovely detailing under the eaves and form a contrast to the modern buildings behind them.  Inside the main temple sits a very large gold-covered Buddha in Subduing Mara pose.

A Buddha image in Subduing Mara pose, covered head to tow with bits of gold leaf, some of which are peeling off, creating a textured effect. The brick wall behind it is also coverd with bits of gold leaf.
A small Buddha inside the stupa. Sometimes devotees buy small amounts of gold leaf to stick on the Buddha statues.

In a garden next door, you can feed the resident turtles. Buy a box of cut fruit in the garden and use the long skewers provided.

Open daily 7:00-18:00. Free admission.

13. Wat Kalaya

About halfway between Wat Arun and Wat Anong, you can find Wat Kalaya (full name: Wat Kalayanamit Woramahawiharn). This temple is another pretty complex, dating to the early 1800s. Its claim to fame, though, is the huge sitting Buddha statue; it’s more than 14 meters high.

A very large temple, with high square pillars holding up a mostly red roof, decorated around the edges in gold. In the foreground, a two-story white structure that holds a bell.
Wat Kalaya

Open daily: 10:00-20:00 on Monday, and 6:30-17:00 the rest of the week. Free admission.

Which temples in Bangkok should you visit?

In any tourist destination, there are sights that get crowded, but there’s usually a good reason: they’re well-known places that have come to be seen as “best” for one reason or another. At the same time, Bangkok is a huge city, so don’t expect to visit many temples in a day unless you take taxis from one to the next. Below is a map so you can figure out which temples are best to visit together.

You’re likely to visit the Grand Palace in any case, so it makes sense to visit the most popular temples, Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Kaew at the same time. Wat Pho is walking distance away too, and definitely should be high on your list.

Once you’ve seen those three, it’s a matter of how many more temples you’d like to see. Wat Arun is a great place: worth a separate trip (It’s on the west side of the Chao Phraya river, but easy to reach by ferry.), or at least try to get a glimpse of it from the river – at night it’s beautifully lit up.

Night view of the huge Wat Arun stupa.
Wat Arun from the river.

The Golden Mount (Wat Saket) is worth visiting as much for the view as anything else, and combines well with the Metal Castle and Wat Thephidaram.

Wat Traimit isn’t near the others, but I especially enjoyed it because the Chinatown Heritage Center was so interesting. So was learning about the Golden Buddha’s story and seeing it in real life. In any case, being in Chinatown, it could combine well with, say, a Chinatown food tour. (That link goes to the one that I took, which I thoroughly enjoyed.)

Wat Anong and Wat Phitchaya are right next to each other on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya river, and Wat Prayun isn’t far away.

I will be posting separately about another specific group of temples – Chinese ones – in a later article because they are less often visited but equally interesting.

Buddha statue in meditation pose, with bits of gold leaf stuck to it and an orange cloth wrapped around it over one shoulder.
Meditating Buddha (both hands resting palm up) at Wat Mahathat.

Tips for visiting Buddhist temples in Bangkok, Thailand

Buddhist temples have a dress code: dress conservatively. Men should wear long pants and women should wear capri or long pants or a skirt that covers the knees. No tank tops either; keep your shoulders covered. If you show up with clothing that’s too skimpy or too tight, you’ll have to rent cover-ups to be allowed in.

You’re expected to take off your shoes when visiting any Buddhist temple, so it’s a good idea to wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. It doesn’t seem to matter if you walk inside on bare feet or socks. There’s usually a shelf outside the entrance where you can leave your shoes. Don’t worry about your shoes getting stolen; no one would dare steal shoes at a temple.

You’ll likely see people kneeling in prayer on the floor in front of the altar. Don’t disturb them. Stay at the back if you’re not praying yourself. Don’t take selfies, even if you see locals doing so. It comes off as disrespectful, and in many places is forbidden.

In many temples there’s a raised area, usually carpeted in red, either up right in front of the altar or along the left side of the room (as you face the Buddha). This is reserved for monks, who use the area to walk and meditate at the right hand of the Buddha. Do not step or sit on this area.

A view down the inside of a temple, with the usual gold Buddha up high on a pedestal at the end - this time in meditation pose. The walls are painted with frescos. The floor is covered in reddish-pink carpet, and the left-side is raised about a food higher than the rest.
The raised area on the left is reserved for monks. Taken at Wat Saket.

On a more mundane topic, many temples offer public toilet facilities. These are usually clean and tidy; please keep them this way. Some may not provide toilet paper, so it’s a good idea to have a supply of your own. Some do supply toilet paper, but it’s outside the stalls, so you need to remember to take some before you go in. In some cases, signs will warn you not to flush any toilet paper, in which case there’s a bin for you to use. Even if you can flush it, use toilet paper sparingly.

A gold-colored fat man with bare belly and big smile, sitting cross-legged.
At Golden Mount.

Where to stay in Bangkok

Obviously a big city like Bangkok has thousands of accommodations (4041, to be exact, according to booking.com), and I certainly can’t tell you about them all. What I can tell you is about the four different places I stayed in Bangkok. I’ve marked all four on the map above.

But first, a disclosure: I was sponsored for my stay at three of the following four hotels: Holiday Inn Sukhumvit and Holiday Inn Express Sathorn sponsored me for three nights each, and the Tourism Board of Thailand paid for me to stay two nights at Holiday Inn Express Siam during a media press trip. Nevertheless, they have no influence over what I write about my stay.

Holiday Inn Bangkok Sukhumvit

Starting with the fanciest, normally I’d recommend the four-star Holiday Inn Bangkok Sukhumvit as a splurge, yet the price is not high, at least when you compare it to prices in Europe. What I liked best about this hotel was that my room had an amazing view. I was in one of their larger “executive” rooms on the 21st floor, which had a huge wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. I never tired of that view and was reluctant to close the curtains to sleep.

Large bed on the left, large windows on the right with a sofa in front of them, a tv on the wall straight ahead with a small fridge next to it and a desk in the corner of the room.

Despite the hotel’s location in a very busy and trafficky part of town, the soundproofing is good, keeping the sound of the city to just a low background hum. I love the Holiday Inn pillows, the bed was very comfortable and the room had all of the amenities I wanted, like bedside outlets, for example, and a desk I could really work at, with fast wifi.

There’s also a pool which is much appreciated after a day sightseeing in the heat. It’s not quiet, though, since it overlooks (from the 8th floor) a busy street and BTS above-ground train line.

The food was also excellent here – the breakfast buffet was huge, with choices ranging from typical western breakfasts like cooked-to-order eggs, pancakes, cereals, and so on, to Thai savory choices of meat and vegetables with rice, to Chinese dim sum and Japanese sushi. I appreciated the fresh local fruit and fruit juices too.

A pork bun and a dumpling.
I love dim sum at breakfast!

I ate two other meals in the hotel. The first was their seafood buffet dinner at their Zeta restaurant, which had many more choices besides seafood. Much as I would have loved to chow down on the really fresh-looking barbequed shrimp and crab, it was American Thanksgiving that day, so I went with the traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings. I admit to having low expectations in a country where roasting a whole turkey isn’t normally done, but it was excellent.

The other meal I enjoyed in the hotel was at Maya Restaurant on the 29th floor. This top story is cantilevered out from the rest of the building, making the architecture distinctive and giving that restaurant an even more phenomenal view than my room eight stories below. Anyway, it’s an Indian restaurant, and the chef prides himself on tweaking traditional Indian dishes with a contemporary twist. I can’t really name any of what I ate, but it was all interesting and even quirky. Some of the samples were too hot for my wimpy palate, however, so make sure to ask about heat levels if you eat there.

The building is quite narrow except at the top where a triangle of the top floor is cantilevered out above the street. The front side (under the cantilever) is mostly glass.
The Maya Restaurant is on the top floor.

I had a sampling menu, and while mine was gifted to me, it would have cost upward of 1000 bahts. This is a high price for a meal in Thailand, but it’s a normal restaurant meal price where I live in the Netherlands. I’d certainly recommend it for a special night out. There are vegetarian, meat or seafood options.

Food placed decoratively on a plate, with drops of sauce and a small flower around them. Shrimp, lamb chop, and some kind of fish ball.
Just a few of the elements in my sampling menu.

As for location, this hotel is in a great location if you want to do a lot of shopping: there are big shopping centers and malls nearby and within a few stops on the BTS train. For sightseeing, it’s somewhat less convenient. It’s a few blocks to the BTS, then a transfer to the metro and several stops on that to get to any of the best sightseeing. Having said that, taxis and tuk-tuks are everywhere and cheap, and if I could have stayed longer at this hotel, I would have.

Holiday Inn Express Siam

The Holiday Inn Express line is a three-star product, so my room at Holiday Inn Express Siam was more standard, but it was spotlessly clean and had all the amenities I wanted and needed. It had the same Holiday Inn pillows I love and outlets by the bed. There was a table where I could work comfortably, and a chair for sitting and enjoying the view.

Hotel room with bed on the right, table with tv above it on the left. Modern leather chair in the far corner, and large window, partly obscured by curtains.
My room was on the 16th floor, if I remember correctly.

And like the four-star described above, this room had floor-to-ceiling windows and a great view.

The breakfast was about what you might expect from a three-star: basic Western breakfast choices like eggs, bread and sausages, and some Eastern choices like rice, meat and vegetables. There was always good fresh fruit as well.

Night view over a dark stadium with the lights of the big city beyond it.
One side of the view from my room.

The location is a bit closer in than the Holiday Inn Sukhumvit, but still requires some travel on the BTS to see any of the sights. The nearest sight is the Jim Thompson House, a few blocks away.

Holiday Inn Express Sathorn

Also a three-star, the Holiday Inn Express Sathorn was similar to the Holiday Inn Express Siam, though my assigned room was somewhat bigger this time. The view was less sweeping but was dominated by the MahaNakhon building: an interesting design that is the tallest building in Thailand.

The Mahanakhon building is tall and rectangular, but some parts of it are recessed or stick out, like a game of Jenga.
My view from room 601.

The wifi was good and fast, there were outlets by the bed, I had a place to work, and the bed was very comfortable – again, those Holiday Inn pillows! And again, it was all spotlessly clean.

Made bed, tables with lights on either side.

I wished I’d known ahead of time about the self-service laundry room at this hotel. Getting laundry done for you can be annoyingly expensive at many hotels, so I’d hauled my laundry to a self-service laundromat a few days before. I could have saved myself a lot of effort.

Anyway, what really made this Holiday Inn Express stand out was the use of charming and colorful artworks by Daniel Monfort Gil. The style is pop art or perhaps street art, and the subjects are all local scenes of things like street vendors or train stations. A huge mural dominates the lobby, smaller murals appear here and there in the hallways, and mounted paintings on glass, all by the same artist, adorn the rooms and hallways.

Below, a long counter with one woman standing behind it as the reception. Couches and chairs in front of the counter. On the wall above reception, a large, room-wide mural, showing people waiting for a train, looking at their phones, talking to each other, etc.
The lobby, with a huge mural by Daniel Monfort Gil.

Breakfast was included and was pretty much the same as at the other Holiday Inn Express: good quality with the standard choices.

As for location, this was the best of the hotels I stayed in. There are plenty of eating and shopping options nearby – I had a tasty ramen down the street one night, and some excellent Korean food nearby the next night.

Most of the sightseeing I wanted to do still required travel on the BTS, but the nearest station was just around the corner – about three minutes’ walk to the Chong Nonsi station – and it was just a few stops to the Saphan Taksin station, without having to transfer. From Saphan Taksin, I took ferries to get to many of the sights that were near the river. Ferries run frequently along the river, and other ferries cross the river here and there too. Especially in the November heat, I found this the most pleasant way to get around.

Hansa Bangkok House

My stay at Hansa Bangkok House was not sponsored, and it’s definitely at the more basic end of the accommodations spectrum. I had a room with a bathroom to myself and air conditioning, which was absolutely a necessity. The room was clean and certainly sufficient, but had a couple of problems. It didn’t have enough outlets in convenient spots and, more importantly, the bed was extremely hard, so I had real trouble sleeping. There wasn’t really a place to work, so I set up my laptop in the breakfast room, which is not air-conditioned once breakfast is over. It wasn’t ideal.

Narrow building: ground floor says Hansa Bangkok House surrounded by greenery. Three floors above that, each with a balcony.

On the other hand, the breakfast room was pleasant at breakfast time, and the food, while limited in choice, was good and sometimes quite interesting. There was some excellent street food just a block away – the best pad thai I ate on this trip.

The location of Hansa Bangkok House is not great for sightseeing. It’s on a very busy street quite a bit north of the sights and on the western side of the river. That means it isn’t anywhere near a metro or BTS line, which in turn means you pretty much have to take a taxi to get anywhere. The manager of the hotel is quite willing to flag a taxi for you and do the negotiating for you – ALWAYS insist that the driver turns on the meter! – but it’s a bit of a pain to always have to depend on taxis, especially because the traffic can be awful. I far preferred the metro, ferries or BTS train, all of which are cheaper than taxis as well.  

If none of these accommodations appeal to you, look at your other accommodation options here.

Do you like to visit temples like these? Or have you visited any of the Bangkok temples I’ve listed? What did you think? Add a comment below!

My travel recommendations

Planning travel

  • Skyscanner is where I always start my flight searches.
  • Booking.com is the company I use most for finding accommodations. If you prefer, Expedia offers more or less the same.
  • Discover Cars offers an easy way to compare prices from all of the major car-rental companies in one place.
  • Use Viator or GetYourGuide to find walking tours, day tours, airport pickups, city cards, tickets and whatever else you need at your destination.
  • Bookmundi is great when you’re looking for a longer tour of a few days to a few weeks, private or with a group, pretty much anywhere in the world. Lots of different tour companies list their tours here, so you can comparison shop.
  • Get a Priority Pass if you fly a lot so that you can use airport lounges while you wait for flights. Plan your visits around meals and/or drink times and it’s definitely worth the investment!
  • I’m a fan of SCOTTeVEST’s jackets and vests because when I wear one, I don’t have to carry a handbag. I feel like all my stuff is safer when I travel because it’s in inside pockets close to my body.
  • Airalo is an e-sim card. You buy it through an app and activate it when you need it. I tried it on my trip to Thailand and it worked just like any other sim card, but without my having to fuss with physical cards.
  • I use ExpressVPN on my phone and laptop when I travel. It keeps me safe from hackers when I use public or hotel wifi.


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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments! Read more…
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