The museums of Bangkok

  • Posted onApril 11th, 2013

Bangkok National MuseumBangkok has such a magnificent and colourful heritage, with so many significant temples, buildings, memorials, and parks. And while it’s possible to take in so much of the city’s culture through walking around, exploring the streets, and travelling along the canals and river, if you really want to dive into Thai culture it pays to hit some of the interesting, weird, and wonderful museums found in the city.

The Bangkok National MuseumNational Museum of Bangkok

Found in the former compound of the Wang Na Palace, The Bangkok National Museum is home to a mammoth collection of Thai art and artefacts which you will want to explore in some detail. The museum was originally opened to display the large assortment of antiques inherited by King Rama V and had a reputation for being highly disorganised and uncared for. However, that reputation is no longer fitting.

Today The Bangkok National Museum is in full swing, proudly displaying a plethora of items telling amazing tales from Bangkok and Thailand’s epic history, with exhibits now organised into three distinct sections, consistent with periods of Thai history. The museum now includes plaques and descriptions in both Thai and English, making it far easier for foreign visitors to enjoy. The museum is also close to Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace for those looking to make a day if it.

Erawan MuseumErawan Museum

Found under the massive three headed elephant statue and landmark of Bangkok, stood high upon an equally huge pedestal overlooking the highway, the Erawan Museum is something rather special. The museum can be located in Samut Prekan, just outside of central Bangkok, but don’t let the museums proximity put you off, the chance to take in the epic sight of the 250 tonne statue is worth the trip alone.

Within the three storeys of the museum you’ll find a priceless collection of antiques and religious objects, many of which are worshipped as being sacred and believed to be key to the prosperity and success of Bangkok and Thailand as a nation. The museum is best experienced by taking a tour, with tours running every 30 minutes through the day. You can also climb up into the belly of the statue and take in some impressive views of the surrounding area.

Jim Thompson HouseJim Thompson House

The Jim Thompson House tells the tale of one of the most significant foreign residents of Bangkok and the legacy he left behind after his mysterious disappearance in the late 1960s. An ex-US military man, Jim Thompson fell in love with Thailand and lead the revival of the Thai silk trade which at the time was almost non-existent.

The house itself is impressive enough, made up of several ancient teakwood Thai houses imported from Ayutthaya, storing fine examples of art and furniture from Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, surrounded by lush gardens and tranquil water features, sat by the bank of the Saen Saeb Canal. The houses are best experienced on one of the regular free tours given in several language options.

Bangkok Forensic MuseumThe Bangkok Forensic Museum

If you’re not that into exploring traditional museums of art and culture, or just crave something completely different then you may find the Bangkok Forensic Museum an interesting alternative. Located within the Siriraj Hospital on the Chao Phraya riverside, here you’ll find a rather eerie collection of creepy and unusual items such as murder weapons and pickled body parts. It’s not for the squeamish but definitely promises to be a memorable, if not morbid, day out.

House of Museums BangkokHouse of Museums

Forget about your priceless antiques and historic object, the House of Museums is all about everyday items from the 1960s onwards. Think chunk mobiles phones, tacky furniture, board games, toothpaste and tinned food, and you are along the right lines. Though you aren’t likely to learn too much about the traditionally taught history of Bangkok and Thailand, it is actually a great way to get some insight into Thai life over the last 50+ years, taking stock off all the kitsch and classic items, many of which will provoke memories from your own childhood. This fun museum is set in a somewhat remote location just outside Bangkok, so you need to plan your journey well.

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