Bangkok is many things to many people, but it is not necessarily a museum town. A number of the museums are fairly dated and fail to provide a fun, educational, modern and engaging atmosphere. However with that said, there are still plenty of good museums to keep one occupied for at least a week if not longer including some rather intriguing, esoteric and hidden away ones. We have visited and reviewed the following 50+ museums in Bangkok.
And two of the best apps for visiting museums are Google Maps (in our experience, fairly accurate for locating even some of the most obscure of the museums listed below) and Google Translate – the camera translate feature is highly recommended for use, especially in many of these museums which only have descriptions written in Thai – simply point your phone camera using the app at the Thai words and it will translate and or dictate the text into your own language.
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Dusit Palace is one of the true highlights of a visit to Bangkok. Seems that many have already discovered this beauty based on the incredible amount of buses in the parking lot and the scores of groups that descend to see the dazzling beauty of the interior – but then based on it’s location (somewhat outside of the core of historical central Bangkok), many may not realize this is an attraction well worth going slightly out of your way for and or may not realized the significance of this location to the Royal Family. The throne hall is just one part of the Royal residences on this property (includes a number of Royal Halls and Royal Villas – of which only a few are open to the public).
A number of drink and fruit vendors have located their portable ‘shops’ near the bus parking (in case you need some fluid or nourishment while walking in the often hot and humid conditions that Bangkok is noted for).
No camera’s are allowed inside (we were told by several staff that it is ok to take photos of the exterior but this contradicted with the staff who kept whistling at visitors to put away their cameras outside of the Throne Hall. The museum shop and ticketing is located within a small but nonetheless impressive and intricately designed building. After you enter this building, you must leave all camera’s and cell phones inside clear Plexiglas lockers next to where you purchase your tickets. After you lock the locker, take the key with you until you return to collect your belongings.
Visitor’s must also wear proper attire inside – no shorts or sleeveless uppers. Visitor’s who arrive under dressed can purchase (for a nominal fee) a Thai sarang to wear inside. At the entrance, guests must split into two lines; one for male and one for female – every one who enters is personally frisked by security guards – then you go through metal detectors and can then collect an audio device for more information about the interior.
The upper level of this throne hall is a dazzling display of gold, marble columns (Carrera marble imported from Italy), several domes, chandeliers and elaborate ceilings. Today this is also a museum – the lower level contains an impressive display of various royal regalia including numerous additional golden objects. The interior design certainly has a European flair – which makes sense considering the architects and sculpture involved were Italians. The building was finished in 1915.
For more information visit: www.artsofthekingdom.com
Ancient City (also known as Muangboran) was conceived and created by Lek and Praphai Viriyahphant. Lek (died 2000) was an extremely wealthy Thai who also created the Erawan Museum (the likeness of the Erawan Elephant is sometimes used on the back of the Skytrain cards). One can almost get here on the Skytrain – exit at the terminal station, Khela on the Sukhumvit line and take a taxi about a 5 minute drive to the entrance to the Ancient City. Plenty of parking on site near the main entrance.
Set on 320 acres this open air museum features some 22 kilometers of biking/hiking paths and roads. A narrow section of the park is open to the public free of charge – the rest requires the purchase of a ticket (like elsewhere in Thailand, the entry price is more for foreigners).
This park is so huge that it is not practical to walk it – rather visitors typically get around by bicycle (included with the cost of admission) or visitors can rent electric carts. An open air tram makes scheduled stops throughout the day. Or one can pay a bit more to drive their car through the park. And during our visits we have even seen large tour buses driving through the park. Be sure to pick an audio guide near the ticket office (with several languages available).
Over 100 monuments and temples from various eras in mostly Thai history are contained within the park – many are reconstructions of either Thailand’s existing historical sites but often of sites that no longer are in existence. Some were torn down from their original sites and rebuilt here. And some buildings are represented from sites in neighboring countries.
Some of these are highly impressive and well worth visiting including Sanphet Praseat Palace Ayuttaya, the Grand Palace and the Pavilion of the Enlightened. Because the park is so huge and there are so many buildings and monuments – maintenance of the buildings and grounds is a huge undertaking; often portions of the park will be under renovation or even new construction.
In addition to the large buildings, other highlights include botanical gardens, canals and markets.
Snack bars are located in select parts of the park – the primary food is in a Thai floating village. One needs at minimum several hours to explore this park although it is easy to spend far longer here. Because of its size, never feels really crowded.
Anti Corruption Museum. Opened in 2015 this unique museum is located about 10 minutes from the Sam Yot metro station or 10-15 minutes from Victory Monument Skytrain station by car or motorbike. Admission is free – visitors walk through what looks like a floor of a parking lot passing by concrete columns decorated with anti-corruption messages. Check in and sign in at the information counter on the ground floor – often there is no one here.
The building is multiple stories, but the bulk of the exhibits are located on the second floor. Several small theatres are also on site for anti corruption films and related messages – with the films in Thai but with English sub titles.
Founded by the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC), this museum appeals to all ages but is especially important for children and teenagers to visit. Offers specific stories and case studies of corruption that have occurred within Thailand and beyond. Exhibits are primarily in Thai but often provide shorter sections in English. Several prominent corruption cases within the country are highlights including the Klong Dan waste water treatment plant project (23 billion baht funneled through this project in a corruption scheme) and an exhibit about Austrian provided fire trucks and related firefighting materials – also part of a corruption case.
Open Monday through Friday from 9-4pm. For more information visit their in Thai Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/act.anticorruptionThailand
Art in Paradise (also known as the 3D Museum or Trickeye Museum) is located on the 4th floor in the large Esplanade Shopping Mall next to the Thailand Culture Centre metro stop. This is one of three locations in Thailand, the other two being in Pattaya and Chiang Mail. One must leave their shoes at the counter next to the entrance.
Well setup for the selfie generation, the various paintings on the walls are remarkably 3-d lifelike at times. Very talented artists. While you can certainly take plenty of selfies at some of the smaller paintings – some of the artwork is rather large and it helps to come here with a buddy to take your photos.
Eclectic, colorful and whimsical at times, all the scenes are highly inviting and part of a visit is watching others pose sometimes rather creatively ‘within’ the paintings. Although not to creatively – especially with the upper body nude woman (IE leave your clothes on at this one).
Very photographic friendly, one of the few museums in town where its OK to bring in a tripod. This museum is divided into six sections including the Fantasy Zone, Classic Zone, Nature Zone, Aquarium & Safari Zone, Modern Zone and Media Art Zone. A couple of the painted scenes take up most of a large room. Several paintings appear to move as you walk by them.
A fun space for all ages. For more information visit: www.artinparadise.co.th
Baan Kudichin. Opened in 2017 by husband-wife Chatchai and Navinee Pongthai, this small museum is located near the banks of the Chao Phraya River in a tiny alley within a very short walk from Santa Cruz Church (still very much actively being used) and a slightly longer walk to several nearby wats also worth visiting. This small section of Bangkok houses some of the city’s earliest history.
Originally called Thonburi the capital of the Kingdom of Thonburi was moved here after the Burmese destroyed most of what was the capital city at the time, Ayutthaya. Because of the Portuguese’s early involvement in Thai society (they were the first westerners to visit what is now Thailand having sailed up the Chao Praya River in 1511) and the fact they were allies, the King at the time (Taksin) gave the the Portuguese settlers this small section of land.
Despite the Kingom of Thonburi only lasting for about 15 years, descendants of the original Portuguese settlers still live in this area – the land is owned by the Catholic diocese and the families that live in the area are predominantly Catholic. The original Santa Cruz Church dates from the 1700’s it has been rebuilt several times – the current version dates from 1916.
Originally a family home, the house that contains the museum was built in 1935 at a cost of 1,000 baht (a good sum of money in those days but only about 25 US dollars today). The house was built raised so that during the annual flooding, the waters from the nearby Chao Praya River and other tributaries could flow freely through the ground floor.
The museum encompasses two floors of exhibits and highlights the Portuguese history from the Ayuttaya in this part of Thonburi to the present day. Exhibits focus on daily life back then including culinary displays (influenced by the Portuguese), furniture and a variety of tools used by residents. An observation tower accessible via a steep ladder gives one excellent views in all directions including of Santa Cruz Church and parts of the Bangkok skyline on the other side of the river.
A cafe is located on the ground floor – where one will often find Navinee working. Not a restaurant but rather offers a variety of drinks including coffee and soda and some desserts. And they do serve a tasty Portuguese Sappayak Bun. A pleasant place to enjoy some of their offerings is the courtyard near the cafe and the peaceful garden.
A couple of other interesting places worth visiting if you have made the trip out to see the museum and the church is the Thanu Singha Bakery (continue down the alley from the museum) and overlooking the Chao Phraya River is the ancient wooden Windsor House – a dream of ours to restore it to its former glory, but in the meantime looks like it might fall down. Supposedly this dates back to the 1850s.
Access by public transportation includes from the MRT Itsaraphap Station – approximately a 20 minute walk or from the MRT Sanam Chai about a 5 minute walk to the Pak Khlong Talat – Wat Kanlayanamit free shuttle boat which drops one off on the opposite side of the Chao Phraya River within a few minute walk of the museum. Admission is free but donations are always welcome. Shoes must be removed before entering the second floor exhibits. Closed Mondays – open Tuesday through Sunday from 930am until 6pm. For more information, visit: www.baankudichinmuseum.com
Bangkok Art & Cultural Center is located across from the MBK shopping mall (nearest Skytrain Stop is National Stadium). This sizable building features three main galleries including the People’s Gallery on the 2nd floor as well as several open hall spaces often used for rotating exhibitions. It contains several levels of galleries which contain most eclectic modern art. Often art students from Thailand colleges will display their works of art in here. The ground floor just outside the building is an open space and sometimes contains outdoor sculptures.
The closest BTS Skytrain stop is National Stadium (a few minute walk away with the 3rd floor connected directly to the Skytrain). One can also arrive fairly close to the center by boat – about 300 meters away via the Saen-Saeb canal route (disembarking at the Sapan Hua-Chang landing).
Other media is also often on display. In addition to the exhibition space, the museum contains a cafe, restaurant, bookshops and an art library. For more information visit: www.bacc.or.th
Bangkok Doll Museum is located about a 10 minute drive from Victory Monument (the Skytrain stop) in a section of town that is a tangled web of expressways and large city surface boulevards. In our experience, not very well known by taxi or motorcycle drivers who we talked to in this part of town. The museum was established in 1957.
Features several rooms with hundreds of dolls many of which are in glass display cases taking up the entire width, almost from floor to ceiling. Thai dolls, International dolls, colorful costumed dolls – the diversity is rather remarkable!
In addition to the museum (admission is free) a small workshop is located near the main entrance where you can watch several craftspeople work on various dolls.
The primary room houses the permanent doll collection – the small interior room offers a variety of dolls for sale. Certainly not every city has a doll museum – especially such a a museum over 60 years old.
Bangkok Metropolitan Museum. This totally under the radar house museum is located in the under the radar Samsen area of Bangkok (also known as the Phra Nakhon district) – not far from the banks of the Chao Praya River. Located on the grounds of the local district office. For reference, the always busy Khao San Road is only about a 10 minute walk away from here. This two story museum was established in 2003 and is located in the former home of a man named Phraya Borirak Ratcha (who was a palace guard for one of the kings). The house is built of wood – in a traditional Thai style – raised on stilts and featuring plenty of wooden shutters.
The docents speak very limited English – the first floor contains a number of images of the local neighborhood – with descriptions that are entirely in Thai. The second floor contains some English descriptions explaining the process of making several local handicraft items. The docent will follow you around the museum trying to interject useful comments in limited English.
Four primary topics are highlighted in the museum; local history, local arts and culture, local ways of living and other highlights in the area that might be of interest to tourists.
Bangkokian Museum (folk museum) is located on a tiny street just down from the raised busy Sirat Expressway (toll road) – which by the way several food vendors have located shop underneath its concrete infrastructure and a stop here is convenient for breakfast or lunch in conjunction with a museum visit. This museum was established by the original owner of the home on site – Waraporn Surawadee. She inherited the home from her mother and decided to turn it into a museum – she also donated the land to the Bangkok Metropolis Authority. Ms. Surawadee lived on site and was the museum curator until she passed away at age 81 in 2017.
In 2016 a developer wanted to put in a high rise (relative to the neighborhoods non high rise buildings) next door. Quickly Ms. Surawadee sprang to attention and crowd funded enough money to purchase the lot next door to the museum. Now it serves as a parking lot for the museum.
Visitors enter a small shaded courtyard (certainly a welcome oasis and green space as compared to the surrounding urban sprawl) and sign in to the guest book overseen by a security guard. Admission is free. Two homes are on site: the primary home was built in 1937 and sits on it’s original location – it is wooden and very much built in a traditional Thai style. The primary home contains a number of rooms both downstairs and upstairs including several family rooms. Era furnishings, household appliances and decorations are on display. Guests enter via the veranda and remove their shoes – during our visit a very friendly staff member eager to practice her English and inform us about the properties’ history quickly greeted us.
The second home in the back was built in 1929 and was moved here from another location (and scaled down to better fit the size of the property). It used to be the home of Dr. Francis Christian an Indian British citizen who was the first husband of Ms. Surawadee’s mother. Despite Mr. Christian never living here, one of the highlights of a visit is an old medicine room with equipment from the 1920’s and 1930’s.
A third building contains a museum in the traditional sense and is located in the back of the property. With numerous items on display it is easy to get ‘lost’ exploring the history presented here. Numerous historical items are displayed on the first floor including traditional items from Ms. Surawadee’s grandmothers family, old coins, baskets and gardening tools. The second floor is the exhibition space – at the time of our visit this space highlighted Bangkok from the past to the present including how people’s daily lives have changed over the years.
Closest BTS Skytrain stop is Saphin Taksin (about a 15 minute ride by car to the museum or approximately 25-30 minute walk on foot).
Bank of Thailand Museum is located in the prominent Bank of Thailand Building almost in the ‘shadow’ of the Rama Bridge VIII along the banks of the Chao Praya River. Contrary to what most maps and websites show, the museum is no longer located in the palace Bang Khun Phrom rather it is located on the other side of the palace (just walk underneath the raised roadway that leads to the Rama Bridge VIII).
This impressive building used to house the monetary making operations for Thailand. Today it houses a beautiful library and a number of exhibitions relating to the Bank of Thailand, history of money, money printing machines, information about the massive bank vault on site and various wealth systems. Guided tours last approximately 90 minutes and are held at select times throughout the day – several in the morning and several in the afternoon – at the time of our latest visit, these times are 9am, 930am 1030am 1pm, 130pm and 2pm. Visitor’s must be on a guided tour – which are provided free of charge. During a visit we noticed groups were anywhere from around 15 to 30 in size. Can be popular with school children.
The tours are held entirely in Thai (including a short video about the museum and money) but friendly docents hang around your group and walk up to you at key intervals practicing their English and providing you with additional details of the tour in English. The staff highly recommends you download the BOT Museum app (provided you have internet) – this sizable resources will be helpful during your tour as you can scan QTR codes on the exhibits for more information as well as provides an exhibit and map layout in English of the museum along with detailed descriptions (in English) of the exhibits.
Note that the museum is kept quite chilly – especially on the lower floors and having a jacket might be helpful especially if you are a thin person dressed for the normal Bangkok heat and humidity.
Two of our favorite exhibits on the tour include the first floor which contains the giant machines used for printing money and displays on how they work – and one the lower floor an exhibit on the history of money including some very intriguing original Lydian coins from 3000 years ago (the world’s first coins created from a natural alloy of silver and gold) produced from what is now part of Western Turkey. Some ancient Thai coins are also presented – ranging from less then a baht up to 4 baht (silver and somewhat circular shaped) as are exhibits showing the evolution of Thai money throughout the years (both coins and paper money).
Also some intriguing monetary history as it relates to Thailand is presented – during World War II Japan made a number of strong requests relating to money – several of which were directly related to the founding of the Bank of Thailand created through an act in 1942. Perhaps of lesser importance to visitors is the exhibit highlighting a number of prominent Thai individuals who over time have influenced Thailand’s monetary system (including mini statues of their likenesses).
Batcat Museum & Toys . Yes there is a museum dedicated entirely to vintage toys and batman memorabilia from all over the world. The name cleverly comes from combining Bat from Batman and Cat from Catwoman. Thousands of items are displayed throughout the museum including Stars Wars Memorabilia, the ever lovable Simpsons figurines and plenty of comic book character figurines and models to satisfy even the most hard core Marvel enthusiast. Some of the rooms have balcony style perches so you must definitely walk up the stairs for a different perspective of the obsession.
The rooms are all fairly dimly lit – as a result, visits have a sort of ethereal dungeon like quality to them.
After moving through several rooms containing seemingly thousands of toy figurines one arrives in the Batman Room and one’s eyese quickly gravitate to old TV Screen in the corner playing old Batman & Robin shows(during our visit Batman was hanging out of a helicopter on a ladder trying to board a moving ship when a shark attacked him on the lowest rung of the ladder). The special effects in this scene were rudimentary at best, leaving the modern day digital afficionado quite amused while Batman radios up to Robin to drop down the ‘shark repellent” of which of course he handily has three bottles ready to go).
And if one has built up an appetite after viewing the endless collection of collectibles – there is no need to walk down the street for some of Bangkok’s famous street food (hey Bangkok even has a street food vendor who earned a Michelin star for his culinary prowess) – simply pop over into the adjoining Bat Bar & Cafe for some Batman related grub.
Located not quite half between Suvarnabhumi Airport and the center of town – Batcat Museum is not necessarily easy to get to. The closest Airport Rail Link stop is Hua Mak – from there you can hop in a taxi for an approximately 15 minute ride to the museum.
Chulalongkorn University Museum is a multi-story museum located roughtly in the heart of Chulalonkorn University. Closest Skytrain stop is Siam. One of Thailand’s most well-known universities, Chulalonkorn is also home to a number of other museums each focusing on a specific disciple. But this museum focuses on the university itself and its history.
The museum is located next to the Cultural Arts building – it is housed in a modern 4-story glass building. The primary exhibits are housed on floors 2-4 and rotate from time to time including art works, science exhibits and space for cultural activities.
The 4th floor provides exhibits detailing memorable moments over a span of 100 years at the university. This includes an exhibit on several foreign heads of state who have visited over the years including USA presidents Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton and Japanese and Malaysian prime ministers. And Chulalonkorn University was the first Thai university to connect to the internet 24/7 back in 1992.
Bathrooms are on the first floor.
Coin Museum is located within a very short walk of Khao San Road. If Bangkok had a museum center – this would probably be it – as several prominent museums are located within this part of the old town. This museum opened in 2014 – the first floor is open to the public (without needing a tour guide) and includes several temporary exhibitions, an interactive demonstration for children and the museum gift shop.
All visitors to the rest of the museum must be on a guided tour (which leaves every 20-30 minutes during their normal hours). The guides don’t speak English (this museum is not a big attraction among foreigners). During a visit, one of the front desk staff joined us for part of the tour to help translate. Visitor’s are handed blank pieces of paper which can then be placed in front of the wall near the front desk to see various animated moving pictures (representing select coin designs).
The first part of the guided tour involves an interactive exhibition which focuses on Thai history and the use of money – this display includes the ground literally vibrating beneath your feet, visual displays on the wall and some air movement. The tour proceeds to several dimly lit rooms which display what are now unusual types of money used over the years in Thailand and in other countries – ranging from giant stone wheels in the tiny Micronesian island of Yap to various metals.
At one point Thailand was using foreign coins as currency – even coins from Mexico. The Royal Treasury would stamp the official seal on these foreign coins.
Allow around 30 minutes for the guided tour.
Erawan Museum – is more of an attraction then a museum, but perhaps the ‘museum’ in the name helps differentiate this location from the ever popular Erawan Shrine. Fairly under the radar for most visitors to Bangkok (possibly because of its location a ways away from the center of town), but it shouldn’t be this way. Well worth making the effort to visit – and really it’s not really much of an effort as the BTS Skytrain runs fairly close to the museum. Founded by Thai millionaire Lek Viriyaphant (died in 2000).
Not really a conventional museum the highlight of a visit here is a massive three-headed elephant statue built upon a massive pedestal. Visitor’s are given a plastic admission card which you hand to the staff as you walk up onto the pedestal. Nearly 30 meters tall, this statue towers over the entire complex. Impressive visually from the exterior, the interior is as equally impressive.
The rooms below the giant elephant contain a dazzling array of Eastern antiques, colorful tile and eclectic artwork spread out over three floors (be sure to visit all three and walk to the top where there is a small shrine). The first floor contains some impressive Chinese vases (antiquities) – the second floor has a variety of precious antiques including some pottery from Europe and the third floor contains a number of very old Buddha statues.
The surrounding gardens are also worth visiting – Be sure to walk underneath the ‘herd’ of elephants all lined up in a row. As you pass through each elephant will acknowledge your presence with a loud trumpeting sound. Walkways wind through the garden next to small ponds crossing over bridges. A number of benches are located next to the pond, all with good views of the three-headed elephant.
GIT Gem & Mineral Museum is Thailand’s first Gem & Mineral museum. It is located in the not to tall ITF-Tower Building on the second floor (simply walk up the short flight of stairs or take the lift). Within about a 5-7 walk from the nearest BTS Station, Chong Nonsi.
The museum is laid out according to several themes including some information about gem mines in Thailand, differences between real and synthetic gemstones, diamonds, how to prepare gemstones and arguably the highlight – their gold exhibit (which includes information about a gold mine located in Thailand). Several large amethyst rocks are on display.
Not a huge museum at all so doesn’t require a large time investment – although if you have a strong interest in gems and minerals, you would want to spend more time here. Fairly basic displays. Open Monday through Friday from 10-5pm. Visit: www.git.or.th/2014/museum_information_en.html
Green Lantern Museum of Sex (Brothel Museum) – this tiny carefully curated space is a bit hard to find – and the challenge in finding this hidden space is part of the attraction of visiting. It is directly next to the Thong Lo Skytrain Stop – exit number 3 – as you exit down the stairs reaching the street level, immediately turn right and then look for a tiny unassuming little soi (walkway) on your left. Walk in a very short distance and you will see the Green Lantern Coffee shop. There is no sign for the museum either outside the Green Lantern Coffeehouse or along Suhumvit. The museum is located above the coffeehouse on the second floor.
Owned and founded by William Charuwatkul (whose father owns the much larger and nearby Kamavijtrava Erotic Museum). A highlight of a visit is if William is on site to offer insights into the museum’s exhibits. He spent time living and studying in San Diego, California and speaks excellent English.
The focus of the museum is on the history of Thailand’s sex industry and its prostitution with a number of related exhibits including paintings and photographs.
Green lanterns or in Thai (khom khiew) used to be placed outside of brothels in Bangkok (similar to red lanterns in Amsterdam’s red light district). One will learn about Charoen Krun Road, Thailand’s first road to be funded entirely from tax money on prostitutes. Examples of Thai pornographic magazines are also housed inside – visitors will learn that when wanting to purchase one of these, a man will discreetly ask the shop for lottery numbers (mutually understood that all he wants is to purchase a pornography magazine). And conveniently these porn mags do contain lottery numbers.
Admission is included with the purchase of food or drink items or with a purchase of a ticket and tour to the Kamavijtrava Erotic Museum. A tiny bathroom is located on the first floor.
House of Museums is located, with no traffic about 15 minutes from the MRT Lak Song Station by taxi. With traffic allow 30 minutes as this trip tends to be slowed by bad traffic around the station and the nearby huge Mall Bangkae. The museum is in the northwest part of Bangkok, right on the edge of the city where the density of buildings starts thinning out – this is the Thawi Watthana district. Located in a residential neighborhood – follow the signs to the museum and look for the somewhat hidden signs in front. This is a private museum operated by volunteers from the Cultural Affairs Association. Many of the items on display were donated.
Founded by writer and prolific collector, Anake Nawigamune. The museum opened in 2001 but was severely damaged during bad floods in 2011 – but has since been repaired. Located in two buildings, the primary building houses three floors of old items, mostly dating from the 1960s and 1970s that once were relevant in daily life. Somewhat loosely organized into shops – IE for dentists, barbers, coffee, medicine and jewelry among others.
The first floor is mostly air conditioned – the upper floors are not and can be hot and a bit stuffy. The ground floor contains several shops including one that stocks hundreds of small toys and other souvenirs. The upper floors are packed with often eclectic and little seen anymore items from floor to ceiling in some cases – old photographic equipment, typewriters, early computers, printing presses, cooking items and even an old fooz ball table. A 4-seat tiny cinema on the second floor plays dated Thai films.
Admission is reasonably priced – and after paying the entrance fee visitors can choose from one of several small notebooks to take with them as souvenirs of their visit. A tiny air conditioned space, appropriately called the Weekend Cafe is located on the ground floor – offering several coffees and cola drinks. The museum and cafe are only open Saturday and Sunday from 10-5pm. Visitors leave their shoes at the entrance and pick them up when ready to leave.
Human Body Museum is located on the campus of Chulalongkorn University (closest Skytrain station is National Stadium – about a 12 minute walk). Located behind the Siam Square Shopping center it can be somewhat difficult to find the museum even with the help of Google Maps (due to all the side alleyways and number of buildings on campus). Once you do locate the Faculty of Dentistry building which houses the museum (posters are located outside the building on the ground floor) take the elevator to the 9th floor and sign in with security just outside the museum entrance. Admission is free although donations are gladly accepted.
Chances are this will be one of the most unique museums you will ever visit. The exhibit contains 14 real dissected human bodies that have been preserved through a process called plastination (one can read more about this on the sign boards located next to the main entrance). The bodies are nearly all male. In short, this process replaces water, fluids and fat inside the body with resin and plastic. The bodies have been dissected in numerous ways – each one presented reveals something unique whether it is a human head cut in half, a focus on internal organs or a look at human muscles. The exhibits were donated by the Tokyo Medical and Dental University.
A number of ‘spare parts’ have also been dissected including a brain, a foot and one body that has been cut through in cross sections every few inches from head to toe. Aside from any squeamish reactions you might have the exhibit is really remarkable and offers a rare and unique look inside the human body. Also a look at what is clearly a heavy smokers lung versus a healthy lung. Supposedly one can hold a human brain in their hand but we never located this on site.
We have seen a number of curious Asian tourists here but curiously never Western tourists.
Investment Discovery Museum – want to learn about Money Monsters? You’ve come to the right place! Located inside the Thailand Stock Exchange (closest metro stop is the Phra Ram 9 Metro stop (about a 10 minute walk away). The museum is operated by the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) with exhibits available in both Thai and English. This museum is very interactive – one is given a plastic card (similar to what you use when riding the Skytrain) – card slots are available at many digital displays throughout the museum. The first display is for entering your information – name, email, phone number and your profile photo will be also taken.
This ‘record’ follows you throughout the displays – one of the most exciting monetary digital displays is located in the “Big Battle Room” – setup for investing your assets into various Thai stocks. During a recent run through buying and purchasing stocks – we found that either we had great luck or the display was setup to always reward users with positive monetary gains. Either way, in another room we found our profile image dramatically displayed on a wall as being a successful investor.
The focus of the museum is to educated ‘newbies’ about investing and highlight the importance of financial stability. A recurring theme of the museum is ‘money monsters’ ranging from unexpected health issues, no savings, over spending etc. And prior to entering the monetary guts of the museum one gets to fight these money monsters. A digital wall display offers numerous money monsters coming at you from all angles – you stand in the middle of the room waiving your hands trying to kill these monsters – all the while looking quite silly as you do so.
Specific rooms offer displays about stocks, bonds, mutual funds and derivatives.
Visitors can watch a number of short films highlighting investment strategies and other monetary related topics. During our visit one of the museum staff accompanied us throughout the museum, steering us towards the most interesting displays.
Kamavijtrava Erotic Museum is a private museum (advance reservation of at least 24 hours required) created and curated by long time art collector, Uthai “Peter” Charuwatkul. This is the first erotic art museum in Thailand. Located in a residential neighborhood about a 15-minute walk from the Thong Lo Skytrain stop. One meets the owners son William in the lobby and he provides a personal in depth tour of the museum – encompassing rooms on 4 floors.
The focus of the museum is on erotic art ranging from paintings (sometimes murals inside temples contain erotic art), pottery and sculpture. A visit starts in a room with smaller side rooms, each containing a man and woman in a various sexual position. The artwork was entirely created by Thai artists. With art showing both semi naked and fully naked people.
While the museum focuses on man and woman sexual relations, there are also a few interesting homosexual exhibits. Arguably one of the highlights is a small room containing a variety of small and larger phallic symbols. One will learn that sometimes Thai restaurant will display phallic pieces of art on site – a symbol of fertility and hopefully good luck for the restaurant. One will also learn about the ‘penis festival’ or festival of the iron phallus held every year in April at a special shrine in Japan. Incidentally, Bangkok also has its own phallic shrine setup in honor of Chao Mae Tubtim the female fertility goddess.
Once visitors have seen this special room, later in the tour they are given their own museum souvenir, a tiny phallus with a hole in one end so that it can be conveniently worn around your neck if you so choose.
Another exhibits display the sexual power that sometimes men and women try to hold over each other – and highlights several superstitious practices.
The museum has outgrown its space and at the time of our visit, plans were in the works to move the museum to a larger facility in Pattaya (about 2 hours east of Bangkok). Open 10-6pm Monday-Friday. Address: 25/14 Soi Saeng Chai, Sukhumvit 38 – visit: www.kamavijitra.com
Kamthieng House is a space that modern Bangkok has left behind – standing in the gardens of this tiny property one is surrounded by the concrete jungle including numerous high rise buildings. A fairly short walk from either the Sukhumvit metro stop or the Asok Skytrain stop. The house is on the grounds of the Siam Society – a group founded in 1904 with their first meeting at the iconic Oriental Hotel. Their mission is to promote and preserve knowledge about all things Thai including the Lanna people; they maintain an excellent library on site (they also offer a variety of regional trips – pop into the entrance of the museum to pickup any of the flyers highlighting upcoming trips).
The Kamthieng Housem, built in 1844 was originally located along the Ping River in the Chiang Mai province. It opened as a museum in its current location in 1966. The home has been well restored and is one of the oldest homes in Thailand representative of northern Thai architecture. The house was passed on through women via matriarchal lineage – originally owned by Mae Saed, the home is named after her grand daughter, Mae Kamthieng. Prior to entering the home visitors can stroll the grounds and view some of the tools of the Lanna culture on the ground floor including weaving implements, agricultural tools and other arts and crafts.
Admission is paid to the the docent at the entrance to the stairs which lead up to the home (shows must be left on the stairs or on the ground floor). A number of tiny rooms contain exhibits relating to Lanna culture including kitchen implements and other culinary tools. From inside the house one feels stepping back into time, a slower more traditional way of being – but then you look out the window overlooking the contemporary buildings and see people rushing to the nearby metro stop and you realize how quickly people’s lifestyles have changed in a remarkably short period of time.
King Prajadhipok Museum is located in a handsome building in the core part of old town Bangkok at Phan Fa Lilat Bridge at the corner of Lan Luang Road. Taxi drivers don’t seem to know this museum but will quickly recognize Wat Saket (which is a short walk away). The building is historic – completed construction in 1906 – today it contains three floors; the first floor highlights the Queen, the second floor highlights the King’s contributions ((Rama VII) to Thailand as well as his personal interests and the third floor contains a number of the King’s personal possessions. The museum houses permanent exhibitions but also rotates temporary exhibitions from time to time.
Prior to the museum opening in 2001, this building had a number of uses; early on it was home of the John Sampson Store (selling western fashions and men’s suits), then became a construction materials supplier and ultimately was purchased by the Public Works Department for their headquarters in 1933.
Arguably the highlight of a visit is the information about the 1932 coup – which ocurred while the King was vacationing in Hua Hin. He eventually abdicated the throne, making him the first and only Thai King to have ever done so from the current ruling Chakri dynasty. He spend the last few years of his life living in the United Kingdom before tragically dying at age 48 of heart disease. He was cremated in the UK – there were no Buddhist monks living in the UK at that time so he did not have a traditional Thai funeral.
Note that sometimes friendly folks hang around the museum in the shade of a nearby tree trying to lure tourists into taking a tour in a tuk tuk (at a supposedly much reduced rate with the caveat you will have to stop at a jewelry store).
Admission is free – note that the museum has excellent air conditioning on all three of its floors. This museum is closed on Mondays and national holidays.
M.R. Kukrit House is a former residence of Thailand’s 13th Prime Minister (the first to setup a political party in the kingdom). This small piece of property and cultural heritage is located on South Sathorn Road off of a tiny little alley not far from the Sathron City Tower Building. The closest Skytrain stop is Chong Nonsi – about a 10 minute walk from the station.
The land is valuable considering its location – surrounded by the tall buildings of Bangkok’s financial district. Despite being in the city it feels calm and quiet on the 2 acres. The home provides an excellent example of a historic Teakwood Thai house. During several visits we have sometimes seen M.R. Kukrit’s son lounging in the hammock beneath one of the main homes.
Features five teak wood homes including a reception hall. All the furnishings have been left very similar to the way they were when Kukrit died in 1995 at age 84. He enjoyed dogs and you may see a few paintings of these animals during your stop here. He was also an accomplished and prolific author. A highlight is the library containing many English books which Kukrit brought back from the UK (he graduated from Oxford University).
Pretty landscaping in the Mai Dat style – similar to Japanese bonsai. Sometimes plenty of nesting pigeons in the nearby trees. Also a friendly large orange koi fish which is over 10 years old (we call him or her, Peachy). Loves surfacing to have visitors pet its head in anticipation of being fed. Address: Prapinit, South Thungmahamek, Sathorn, Soi Sathon 19, Yan Nawa, Sathon – open 10-4pm daily.
Madame Tussauds Bangkok is located on the 7th floor (in this mall the floors are called ‘labs”) of the Siam Discovery Center shopping mall (across from the Virgin Fitness Center). Perhaps not the normal location when you think of wax museums but it is Bangkok and there are some unusual and interesting attractions located in shopping centers (think Snow Town Bangkok at Gateway Ekkamai and Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World – an aquarium in the basement of Siam Paragon, just to name a few). With a storied history dating back some 250+ years – this Madame Tussauds is Asia’s 4th location.
Numerous personalities who have strongly influenced culture and media over the past 100 or so years are represented. Unlike other Madame Tussauds around the world, this one features several wax sculptures of former Thai royalty. Like other wax museums we have visited – it can be a bit discomforting as you walk among the sculptures – especially if it is not to crowded – constantly thinking you are being watched.
At times you want to walk up to Nicholas Cage, or Madonna, or the Dali Lama. When you do so, you shyly ask them how they are doing and what they are doing in Bangkok. But you are always greeted with silence. Exhibits are broken down into those who have made valuable contributions to the music world, arts, politics and sports among other fields. The always popular international icon, Yao Ming towers over those of normal height.
During our visit we were provided with several coupons – one for a free drink and snack at the gift shop and one where you can have a wax model made of your hand. Visit: www.madametussauds.com/bangkok/en
Mineral Resources Museum is a several minute drive from Victory Monument (with light traffic) or about a 20 minute walk from the Victory Monument BTS Skytrain station. Located on Rama VI Road near Priest Hospital – look for the somewhat dated looking entrance with several statues of dinosaurs in front. Some rock specimens are displayed outside under the covered area. Open daily (except Mondays) from 830am until 430pm this museum was originally founded in the mid 1920’s as an information center geared towards students. It opened in 1937 as the mineral and stone museum and has been at its current location since 1986. Located on the first floor of the Emerald Building directly next to the Department of Mineral Resources.
This small museum features three exhibits and should be on any rock and mineral enthusiasts list of attractions to see when in Bangkok. Also good for children interested in geology. Separated into a geology exhibit with information about water, plate tectonics and earthquakes, a mineral resources section with cases displaying various minerals and gemstones including some nice quartz crystal displays (found in Thailand – and often donated pieces) as well as a very informative display about the uses of minerals including fuels and petroleum mines in the country. And before you exit be sure to take some time to view the tiny exhibition about dinosaur fossils found in Thailand.
Because of its limited size, one doesn’t need a long time to visit – perhaps 30-60 minutes. Exhibits in Thai and English.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is located on the way to Don Muang Airport (one cannot miss its imposing presence) – one can take the BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit and then take a taxi from there – which if traffic is ok will take around 12 minutes for the taxi ride. The BTS extension completed as of 2018 allows one to take the Skytrain almost to the museum. Address: 499 Kamphaengphet 6 Rd. Ladyao, Chatuchak.
This worth while museum is definitely worth going out of your way for – especially if you enjoy art. Houses the largest collection of this type of art in all of Thailand. Features Thai artists across a wide range of genres from paintings to sculptures spanning some 70+ years. Some pieces more eclectic, some quite dramatic, others are intriguing and need more time standing in front of them in contemplation – but regardless, the art work contained here is memorable.
Features 5 floors of large rooms often with sizable paintings presented. Both permanent and temporary exhibitions are on display. A small gift shop on the first floor sells various pieces of art. Make your way up floor by floor with the escalators until you reach number 5 – art here showcases both Thai and International artists. Then take the elevator down to the bottom floor.
Bags are not allowed into the museums but camera’s are – photos can be taken but without a flash. Open every day of the week – weekdays 10-6, weekends 11-5pm. For more information visit: www.mocabangkok.com
Museum of Counterfeit Goods is not located near either the metro or Skytrain, however the BRT (bus system) offers several stops in the area including at Wat Dan which is about a 15 minute walk to the museum. Can be quite confusing to find and or describe the location to taxi drivers or motorcycle taxi drivers. Google maps takes visitors down an alley to a small factory – in reality this museum is located on the 26th floor of the tall Supalai Grand Tower.
Visitors must have an appointment – walk-ins are not allowed as prior arrangement needs to be made for visits as they museum does not staff full time employees. Tours by one of the Tilleke & Gibbins employees are often hosted for school groups and other group travelers – but individuals may also book an appointment. As of our latest update to this review, the museum is open by appointment only Mondays at 2pm and Thursdays at 10am. Visitors must present an id with reception on the ground floor and are given an access card for entry to the building.
Founded and operated by the very successful Tilleke & Gibbins law firm the museum founded in 1989 contains more then 4,000 items – many of which have been collected during their legal cases. Tilleke & Gibbins was founded in 1890 and now have several offices around parts of Asia but their Thai office only works on Thai related counterfeit cases. Their space is somewhat limited to about 1,500 items at any one time out of their total collection.
If one can think of an item that can be counterfeited chances are these are part of their collection or their legal firm has worked on related cases. None of the items were donated – all were purchased by Tilleke & Gibbins as part of cases and or related legal work. The museum is organized into 14 different types of counterfeit items including include numerous fashion products, perfumes, household appliances, drugs, automotive parts and products including engine oils and many other products.
Sometimes counterfeit products will be repackaged or bottled in original packing. Often counterfeit items are so real looking that even experts have a hard time distinguishing between the two. An example on display is light bulbs – an employee from the legitimate light bulb manufacturer visited the museum one year and he was not able to tell the difference. The only way these counterfeit bulbs were discovered was that they ultimately only had about a 1/2 life of the real product and were burning out way prematurely.
Some of the products displayed may be part of active legal cases and if so, photographs will not be allowed of these objects. During our visit, a Chinese made motorcycle sold in Thailand was on display.
For more information or to request an appointment, visit: www.tilleke.com/firm/community/museum
Museum of Floral Culture . When one visits this intriguing space, one soon realizes the fundamental differences in floral culture between the east and the west. The floral culture in the west is one that at its core is about vases – presenting flower arrangements in a vase containing water. In the east, the floral culture is about disassembling and reassembling flowers – creating a variety of interesting flower arrangements often with string as the conduit. If one spends any time on the roads in Thailand (especially outside of the heart of Bangkok), one often finds flower vendors selling tiny flower garlands at some of the most popular stop lights. These garlands are hung inside the car as good luck but one of their side attributes is the wonderful aromas that linger for a while until the flowers quickly dry.
Visitors to the museum are greeted by many hanging flower arrangements (on long strings) in the central courtyard. The museum was founded by flower designer, former engineer turned artist, Sakul Intakul and is located in an old colonial style home. Once visitors pay the admission they are free to join one of the guided tours.
The interior of the house is divided into multiple exhibits across a number of rooms both on the ground and second floors. Highlights include some of Sakul’s own floral creations, the history of floral design, the uses of flowers in Thai culture including at weddings and funerals and a room containing live flowers. Floral exhibits are also dedicated to floral cultures outside of Thailand, focusing on other parts of Asia. And a workshop often hosts classes and special events relating to Thai floral culture.
Visitors will also learn a bit about Sakul – his is a very accomplished floral artist with his works represented in Bulgari Hotels & Resorts in Bali. He also provided created the floral installation for the Rome International Film Festival.
The gardens behind the home are well worth exploring – a small wooden gazebo is located next to the tiny poool – this is an ideal place to park it for a while – especially if you need to take a break from the urban stresses of Bangkok. This space is like a mini oasis in the concrete jungle of the city.
Also worth making the time for is a stop at Dok Mai Thai Salon du The, on the veranda for tea and desserts.
Located on a quiet street in the Dusit residential area about a 10 minute drive north of the Dusit Zoo not far from the Chao Praya River. Open daily except Monday. Visit: www.floralmuseum.com
Museum of Imaging Technology, Chulaongkorn University – this under rated little gem of a museum is located in the Photographic Science and Printing Technology building within the Faculty of Science department at Chulalongkorn University. This University and related medical center takes up… well, a good portion of Bangkok it seems! A massive campus, Chulalongkorn is located in the vicinity and directly south of the Siam Skytrain stop. The closest metro stop is a 7 minute walk away – Sam Yan. Or about a 15-20 minute walk from either the Siam Skytrain stop or Sala Daeng.
The museum is located directly next to Phaya Thai Road but because of a metal fence along between the road and the campus, visitors must enter through either of the surrounding campus roads. The museum is not well signed on the outside, it is located on the 2nd floor – take the elevator or walk up the stairs. Opened in 1990 this museum explores the evolution of photography – all the way from the rudimentary photographs (the first photograph dating from 1826) through more modern photography.
Exhibits are well titled and described in both English and Thai. Numerous cameras are on display including a neat exhibit of all the parts used to make a more recent professional grade Canon camera. Wandering among some of the original large and clumsy to use cameras through the state of the art professional digital cameras – makes one realize how far the evolution of imaging technology has come in a relatively short amount of time. Merely several generations ago lacked the technology to reproduce photographic images.
Items related to cameras are also displayed including a dazzling array of filters, films, video and print materials. Canon is the primary commercial benefactor of the museum, and a number of canon cameras are on display. Canon’s name is also associated the the Exploratorium on site – a small theatre.
Highly recommended for photography enthusiasts – non photography enthusiasts probably won’t be impressed with a visit here due to the museum’s niche content. During our recent visit, we were the only ones here and staff had to open the museum and turn on the lights and air conditioning. Open Monday through Friday from 10 to 3pm. Although the staff may close the museum for an hour or so around 12pm for a lunch time break. Visitors must remove their shoes before entering the museum.
Museum of Natural History, Chulalongkorn University was founded in 1954 and is located on the second floor in the Science of Biology Building. The first floor features a giant python perfectly preserved. The main room upstairs is filled primarily with a variety of zoological organisms including some of the more memorable exhibits – fighting Thai cocks, giant fish (including the Giant snakehead fish), butterfly’s and a number of interesting shells. A number of rare species are on display. Also some human skeletons in glass display cases are randomly located throughout the main exhibit room.
The primary exhibit hall is not air conditioned – a separate small room accessed near the main entrance is devoted to Thai turtles and the air conditioning in this room works wonderfully. Visitors must remove their shoes before entering the museum and are kindly requested to sign the guestbook sitting at a table just inside the main entrance.
In 2006 the emperor and empress of Japan visited this museum – and photos of their visit hang near the main entrance. Located about a 15 minute walk from the closest Skytrain stop of Siam.
Museum of Thai Pharmacy is located within a very short walk of the Thong Lo BTS Skytrain stop. Despite being so closed to a part of town where numerous expats visit or live in, we have rarely seen anyone inside this museum (and we often walk by and have stopped in several times). The museum is located on the third floor of the nondescript looking Pharmaceutical Association of Thailand building (located in a short back alley).
The entrance to the building is located on the 2nd floor – if the doors are closed you may have to pickup the phone next to the doors and call in or get the attention of someone in the nearby window. The museum is generally open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 4pm and admission is free. Nearly every description of the items on display are in Thai.
The museum is fairly small – located in one main room but contains hundreds of items. Generally the museum is laid out historically with exhibits about early Pharmacy in the country and how it has evolved over the years. There are a number of interesting displays including various seeds and herbs and fairly early primitive treatments.
And a non-related bonus are the views of the very urban skyline in this part of town from the entrance to the museum.
Museum Siam does what many Bangkok museums fail to do – provide a hip, fun, modern and engaging atmosphere. What is similar however to other museums is the type of building it is housed in; a neoclassical large house that looks both old and impressive simultaneously. It is located in the former building of the Ministry of Commerce. A hip cafe is located on the first floor serving up a variety of good drinks.
The focus here is on “Thainess” – in other words what makes Thailand unique – it’s history, traditions, culture and food among other aspects. Covers Thailand’s various history in a fun way – especially appeals to Thailand’s youth.
Part of the museum is interactive. A number of the exhibits are totally selfie ready and its not uncommon to see visitor’s constantly taking photographs inside. Highlights of a recent visit included culinary exhibits, Thai fashion, wats & monks and a grid featuring glass enclosures that would rise out of the ground highlighting certain attractions within Bangkok as well as items of historical significance.
National Art Gallery – is located in a very noticeable yellow colored Colonial styled building (on site of an old coin minting factory which historically produced between 80,000 and 100,000 coins daily). After the mint closed down in this location, the building was renovated and reopened as the museum in 1977.
You can easily spot the main gallery building across the many lanes of the almost always busy Somdet Phra Pin Klao Road. If you are standing on the other side of the road from the museum – despite being so close, you most likely will not be able to cross straight across all these lanes of traffic but will have to walk all the way almost to the Chayo Praya River walk under the overpass and then walk all the way back to the museum. In our experience, nearby taxi, tuk tuk or motorcycle drivers often think you are asking to be taken to the National Museum, which is an entirely different museum in a different location (albeit not far from the National Art Gallery).
The main building/gallery features two stories of fairly large, somewhat gloomy open rooms that do not necessarily provide the best lighting for the pieces of art on display. A decent sized courtyard is located behind the main building (several sculptures are on display here) with access to several side rooms that display rotating exhibits. Open 9am until 4pm Wednesday through Sunday. While seemingly a large museum when you first enter – in reality visitor’s don’t need to devote huge amounts of time here.
National Museum is located near the Chao Praya River only several blocks away from Khao San Road – bordered by the following streets – Mahathat, Phra Chan Road and Na Phra That. This museum is composed of many separate buildings containing Thailand artifacts, works of art, and other treasured items. It is worth visiting if you enjoy museums, viewing historical artifacts, and you are interested in Thai history and culture. Some of the buildings are air conditioned – most are not. There is a small very inexpensive cafe in the center of this museum.
At the ticket office be sure to pick up the “Brief Guide to the National Museum Bangkok” brochure. This is very informative and contains photos, a map and other directions for The National Museum. Note backpacks need to be checked in at the main gate.
There are numerous historical items contained within each of the buildingson site. Compared to other Bangkok attractions there are few tourists here. Be sure to see the Royal Funeral Chariots contained in building number 17. Some of these very old chariots were used within the last 20 years for royal events. Another highlight is the golden treasure display in building number 11 – the Wayusathan Amares Hall. This used to be the private residence of a the Prince Successor to Rama II. Shoes must be taken off at the bottom of the stairs leading up to this room.
Tickets are 40 baht (general admission) and are free to students in uniform and priests. This museum is open from 9am to 4pm Wednesday through Sunday. They are closed Monday & Tuesday and also on National holidays – although visitors can usually still enter the grounds on these days of closure. For more information call: (02) 224-1370.
Naval Museum Naval Museum is conveniently located in the ‘shadow’ of the Royal Thai Naval Academy Skytrain stop (from the Skytrain platform one looks directly down onto the museum and grounds). Houses several floors of exhibits including the ground floor below the main building. Somewhat dated, the exhibits cover a period in the Thai’s navy ranging from the early Rattanakosin period (late 1700s) to more recent.
A number of weapons and firearms are on display – be sure to visit the armaments room with its wide range of weaponry (including some that date back to the 1930s). During one of our visits, a uniformed man was walking through the exhibits offering insights to visitors in both English and Thai. More recent exhibits include many photographs of time the Thai navy spent in Korea in the 1950s and 1960s. Also a highlight are the models of old ships
Admission is free and the museum is open from Tuesday through Saturday. Photography is allowed.
Patpong Museum. Located a few hundred feet in on Soi Patpong, upstairs from the Black Pagoda nightclub – the museum opened in late 2019. Admission is charged and collected at the reception. The museum is an impressive showing of the region’s history, famous personalities and exploration of its sex shows and nightclubs. The museum is organized into three sections – the first focuses on the early history and how Patpong developed including notes about its relevance to the USA based CIA, the second, the watering hole is located in the middle of the museum and the last focuses on sex shows and is for only those 18+ years of age.
The watering hole/bar offers visitors one free drink (present the free drink coupon given at the entrance to the museum) to be enjoyed over the plywood like counter. A visit here can be slightly distracting as a film depicting dancing semi nude women continuously plays within an opulent golden frame. A piano is located next to the bar – and anyone willing and able is allowed to serenade museum visitors with its sound.
Tours are self-guided or guided – but really come alive with some of the Patpong veterans who are works of living history among themselves – and will provide first-hand insights into the workings of the neighborhood and its changes over the years. Patpong was home to the Grand Prix Lounge + Bar, the first Go-Go Bar in Asia having opened in 1969.
Worth spending some time in front of is The Wall of Fame showing silhouettes of famous Patpong personalities or celebrities who have visited the neighborhood over the years. An iPad type device is hooked to a chain on a golden pole – simple hold this screen in front of any of the silhouettes for more information about that person.
The fun part of the tour begins past the red drapes labeled 18+ only. The guide may ask for your id, but probably will only be joking.
Several interactive exhibits are located in this part of the museum including a machine that forcefully shoots out ping pong balls from a woman’s lower region. Visitors are given a box and have to attempt to catch as many ping pong balls as possible. We scored 33 which at the time of our visit was either the record or near the record. We were awarded a fuzzy tiny nipple key-chain for our efforts which we proudly gave as a present to one of our friends.
Another display shows photographs of gorgeous ‘women’ – of which about 60% are not actually women. And visitors should guess the sex of the creatures depicted on the photos – then lift up each display to check the accuracy of one’s guesses. Nearby is a fetish vending machine – yes there is actually such a thing and this one offers a number of bizarre sexual products – key in the number of the desire object, put in your Thai baht and voila the object will drop out.
Before leaving, visitors are offered coupons to several nearby shows including to a sexual fetish show at the nearby Bar Bar Nightclub. Allow about an hour to visit the museum, longer if you make some friends at the bar. Open daily from 10 until 10pm. Also accessible via wheelchair. Closest Skytrain stop is the nearby Sala Daeng. For more details about this one of a kind museum, visit: www.patpongmuseum.com
Phaya Thai Palace is located within about a 10-12 minute walk from Victory Monument – slightly more from the Victory Monument BTS station. The site used to be a rice paddy field – if you grew up farming rice in this part of town – you certainly would not recognize the area today – which is dominated by shops and several large buildings including nearby hospitals.
Originally built in 1909, for a short period was converted into an International hotel – and was the site of Thailand’s first radio station. Today the site is owned by the military and the palace is situated next to the Phramongkutklao Military Hospital.
Admission is free to guests – mostly setup for Thai tourists and all visits are by guided tour only (which takes up to an hour). Only open during certain hours on the weekends, the tours are available for the first 40 visitors (each of which is given a badge which they wear around their neck).
The tour includes a visit to the courtyard/gardens in the back and the gardens in front as well as a stop inside the immediately eye-catching Thewarat Sapharom Hall located on the front of the grounds (incidentally, this is the only original building that still stands on the site). Check out the hand painted frescoes and gold work inside.
And if you are in the mood for a bite to eat stop at the cute Cafe de Norasingha located across from the main entrance.
Pipit Banglamphu Museum is a small museum located within a short walk of Khao San Road. Shoes must be taken off and left outside the entrance – admission is free. Excellent air conditioning. This museum opened in 2014 inside what used to be the Kuru Sapha Printing House – and focuses on the history and life of the Banglamphu part of Bangkok. The name Banglamphu came from the Lamphu trees which used to attract fireflies, back when Bangkok actually had fireflies. The last Lamphu tree was destroyed in the major flood of 2011 when the Chao Praya River swept over its normal river banks flooding much of the Banglamphu neighborhood.
The second floor contains a Treasury Department Museum. Visitor’s to the first floor are self-guided. Exhibits are in both Thai and English. A noteworthy exhibit on the use of brick is worth some time exploring. Brick in Thailand has been used dating back to 1100 BC. Bricks were used in pagodas and other historical sites.
Compared to busy Khao San Road and some of the other nearby streets, the courtyard is a very quiet place which one has to walk through before entering the museum.
Prasart Museum is a real find that is highly worth seeking out. To reach the museum via mostly public transportation, take the Airport Rail Link from either the Skytrain or Metro and get off at the Hua Mak station (roughly halfway between central Bangkok an Suvarnabhumi Airport). From there you can take a taxi or motorcycle the short distance to the actual museum. They strongly recommend you make an appointment ahead of time (call, 02 379 3601 – in our experience English is spoken). If you show up during their normal hours on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (the gate to the property will be closed and you will have to call from your cell phone to see if they have time to show you around).
If you show up by yourself you will be charged the same price for two people. The fairly steep admission price combined with the location being outside of the main part of Bangkok keeps the crowds away.
This oasis covers 5 acres and was founded in 1980 by Thai real estate developer, Prasart Vongsakul. His mission is to collect and preserve antiquities from not only Thailand but other parts of Southeast Asia as relating to Thailand, display historical architecture (several small structures are located throughout the property including a Buddhist Chapel, the Red Palace and a European-style home) and provide an educational space for those interested in learning more about Thai antiquities.
During our visit, a long time family friend Peter showed us around the property. The tour took about one hour and we visited the inside of all the homes and learned about each architectural style, some of the flora and fauna in the garden and finished with a look at the inside of the main European styled house (contains an amazing variety of historical Thai antiquities and collectibles from Royal Family items, to dishware, to jewelry to furniture).
Prasart often purchases rare pieces from Sothebys or Christies including historical architectural accouterments. His unique collection covers a wide range of history from prehistoric, pre-Thai, Sukhothai, Lanna Thai, Ayutthaya to the Rattanokosin period.
Once your tour is over you can spend additional time wandering the beautiful tropical gardens on your own (features a number of rare and unusual plants).
Queen Savang Vadhana Museum is located about a 3-5 minute walk from the closest Skytrain stop, Siam. This used to be the home/mansion of Queen Savang Vadhana (died 1955). She was the grandmother to one of Thailand’s most revered kings, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (died 2016). This museum has very limited hours – and is only open seasonally from part of December through March. Opened as a museum in 2008. Also the namesake for the Queen Savang Vadhana Memorial Hospital (located about 30 minutes north of Pattaya).
Well restored, this two story building offers a glimpse into the of life for the Thai royal family from this era. The building was originally constructed to be for medical examinations and was completed in 1931. Four main exhibition rooms are within including an exhibit about Queen Sri Savarindira, another section highlights the Thai Red Cross Society among other displays, the third section displays some of the furniture and household items and the fourth exhibit is highlights the history of hospitals and medicine in the country.
An audio guided tour is available in several languages. Always closed when we stop by – may require a reservation. We will update this review further once we are able to visit the interior and have more details.
Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles – see our mention under the Grand Palace on our Wats & Temples page
Railway Outdoor Museum is not to be confused with any other larger train exhibit or railway museum in Bangkok. To clarify such, we start with it’s location which is clearly evident and differentiates this from any other train exhibit in the city. It is located next to the Railway Police Division’s office (the State Railway of Thailand) just across the Nopphawong Bridge off of the Liap Khlong Phadung Kasem Alley (next to a small canal).
This outdoor space is accessed via a small gate – features several very dated looking trains which visitors can walk inside and explore some of the basic exhibits. The exterior of one of the trains is painted in the various flags of the ASEAN nations – the other train’s exterior is painted colorfully presumably by children. Located next to an old paved court where children will sometimes be playing football.
Not necessarily worth seeking out as a destination in it’s own right – if you are in the area with nothing else to do, might make a good stop especially for young children.
One will also learn basic details about the State Railway of Thailand; the Bangkok Station first opened in 1891.
Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall opened in 2010 and offers a number of exhibits focused on Thai lifestyle and culture. Located within a short walk of Democracy Monument, about 10 minutes from Khao San Road and very near to several prominent temples including Wat Saket and Loha Prasat. During a recent visit the exhibitions seemed geared towards Thai (we were the only farang in our group). All visitors must join one of the guided groups – several different options are offered on these tours – focusing on a variety of exhibits. Allow a minimum of two hours for each tour although if you tire, you may request to leave early and one of the guides will accompany you out. The guides speak both English and Thai and tours incorporate a number of multi media presentations. English speaking visitors may elect to use one of the English audio guides.
All tours start on the first floor in front of a lighted display portrayed on the wall (if you wave your hands frantically above your head, a number of birds will take flight in this digital display). The first floor is open to the public without needing a guide – and includes a cafe, a library, a coffee shop and several small souvenir shops.
Tours progress pass through a hall containing a pictorial display of key points in Thai history. Visitors are allowed a few minutes to explore this section on their own and then are led upstairs through various exhibits. One of the exhibits includes an in depth look at Thai lifestyle and culture including life in small villages. Other exhibits (divided into 9 halls) focus on the history of this particular part of Bangkok and also of the Thai Royal Family. Open daily except Mondays – the price of admission is quite reasonable considering the length of each guided tour. Website is only in Thai: www.nitasrattanakosin.com
Royal Barge Museum is located on the small Bangkok Noi canal just off of the Suhkumvit River (not far from the Siriraj Hospital). Access can be via the canal using the Chao Praya Express Boat – get off at Wang Lang Pier (N10) or for a more private experience – hire a Tuk Tuk and request they stop at this museum. Alternatively one can access this museum via city streets and what is one of the more unique entrances to any museum we have visited around the world – a raised narrow concrete path the leads through various slums ultimately arriving at the museum. (the museum is well signed along this path). Total walking time from the street to the museum along the path took us about 8-10 minutes during our most recent visit.
Visitor’s pay a reasonable admission fee – double the admission fee if you want to take photographs inside.
Only several of the barges are on display at any time – these are intricately designed and colorful and the use of gold is extensive. They are rarely used/seen on the water – used only for special ceremonies. We visited once many years ago in November and were told the barges aren’t often here this month because of the annual Royal Barge Ceremony in December.
If you become thirsty – there is a vendor who sells cold drinks from his refrigerator almost directly across from where you pay the admission fee.
Sam Sen Nai Philatelic is conveniently located within a very short walk of the Saphan Khwai skytrain stop (one can actually see the building and museum sign from the skytrain). Located in the same building as the Samsen Nai post office, the museum is located on the second floor. Admission is free.
Originally established in 1947 focuses on Thailand’s postal system; the countries postal roots originated with the Bowring treaty in the 1850s. A British consulate opened in Bangkok and in 1867 this consulate introduced a postal system to the country. By 1883 Thailand had established its own postal system and had issued its first ever stamp.
Contains a sizable collection of stamps from around the world – organized roughly by continent displayed in pull out clear shelves including numerous stamps from countries that no longer exist. Also some related physical items including an old post office box, original stamp designs and machines for printing stamps.
Silpa Bhirasri National Museum focuses on the life and times and artwork of Silpa Bhirasri, considered the father of modern Thai art. An Italian by birth, he was born as Corrado Feroci in Florence Italy in 1892 and died in 1962 at Sirirat Hospital in Bangkok . In the 1940s he became a Thai citizen (when it was much easier to become a citizen of the Kingdom) and changed his name at that point. He first came to Thailand in 1923 to teach western sculpture. His contributions to Thai society are significant – in Bangkok he designed the Democracy Monument and the Victory Monument and was also the founder of Silpakorn University (originally founded as an arts university but now offers numerous disciplines).
The primary museum is located within a short walk of the Grand Palace at The Fine Arts Department at Silpakorn University. This museum is housed in the building where Silpa used to work. It contains a number of his art pieces and works from some of his students including both paintings and sculptures. A highlight is seeing his original desk covered with a number of his art tools. Other items from his career are on display including his old typewriter.
Located within a very short walk of the museum is the Hall of Sculpture at Silpakorn University. This large metal framed building houses some of the original plaster casts created by Silpa for his sculptures. Both large and small casts on display as well as replicas of some of his most famous works. Admission is free – open weekdays from 9 until 4pm.
silpa used to say, “Life is short … art is longer” – he lived until only 69 years old having died of cancer. Walking through the Hall of Sculpture his words ring true – his art lives on for anyone to enjoy who is interested.
Siriraj Medical Museum. This possibly disturbing museum to some is located in Building 28 on the grounds of Siriraj Hospital (the main museum). You can reach the hospital by taking the Chao Praya River Express Boats – get off at Pier #10 (Wang Lang). Or if you are on the opposite side of the Chao Praya River you can take one of the boats that crosses the river from either Maharaj or Prachan Cross piers. Once you reach Pier #10 (Wang Lang) it is about a 10-15 minute walk to reach the museum.
No photographs are allowed inside – probably for obvious reasons. The content is graphic and involves displays of terrible injuries including stab and bullet wounds. You may become nauseated after seeing jar after jar of perfectly preserved still-borns or other children with various defects. Several rapists are on display including a serial killer – well-preserved through natural mummification.
A tsunami exhibit shows the devastation and many injuries sustained during this natural disaster. There is also a separate display on parasitology and some of their effects on humans.
Five museums make up the overall collection spread throughout several buildings on campus, they are: Ellis the Pathological Museum, Congdon Anatomical Museum, Sood Sangvichien Prehistoric Museum and Laboratory, Parasitology Museum, and the Songkran Niyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum.
The Congdon Anatomical Museum contains a wide array of preserved human organs and other parts of the body. One room is devoted to skulls and bones – another room contains two dissected humans, one a male and one a female. Also a number of small babies/children. An amazing dissection of a whole-body nervous and arterial system is on display – with the eyeballs being the most eerie and prominent part of this skilled dissection. This is a rare opportunity for the general public to see a wide range of human anatomy on display.
Guests sign in on the ground floor prior to visiting each museum.
Suan Sukkad Palace is located about a 5 minute walk from the Phaya Thai Skytrain station. This space is another city oasis that feels so different from the nearby concrete jungle (there are good views of Thailand’s second tallest building located nearby). Originally a vegetable garden for growing mostly cabbage and lettuce, the name Suan Sukkad litterally means ‘cabbage garden’. Despite its name, the buildings here don’t necessary look like what one associates with a palace. Nevertheless, the museum was created in 1952 when Royal Highness’s Prince and Princess Chumbhot of Nagara Svarga converted their private homes into the museum (at that time the homes were dismantled from their prior location and moved to this site).
The first example of a Thai Royal Family opening up their homes to the public while still living on site.
The property is divided into several sections – the primary modern Chumbhot-Pantip Centre of Arts was built in 1996 and houses a sizable collection of antiquities including the Banchiang Collection (prehistoric artifacts). Other Thai style older homes contains a variety of art, musical instruments (in the Prince Paribatra Music Room), a geology exhibit and cultural related displays. In addition to the antiquities, arguably the highlight of a visit is the Lacquer Pavilion. It is over 450 years old, has been moved several times since its original location – this tiny home features beautiful gold lacquer works and hand painted designs. Today there are 8 unique homes on site.
For more information, visit: www.suanpakkad.com
Sunthon Phu Museum is located towards the back of Wat Thepthidaram Worawihan. Located next to the impressive Loha Prasat complex and within a short walk of the beautiful Wat Saket.The museum is a collection of small rooms centered around a small courtyard honoring the life and times of poet Sunthon Phu. Sunthon, often called the “Shakespeare of Thai Literature” or “the Bard of Rattanakosin” Suthon ordained at this temple and spent three years of his life here. The museum rooms are where he lived during his time here.
The Adventure of Sudsakorn was Thailand’s first animated film (dating from 1979). This film was was based on a character from Sunthon’s nearly 50,000 line poem, Phra Aphai Mani.
A monk will often give you a highly personalized tour of the museum guiding you through each of the rooms within the museum. One room contains story boxes – open up one of them to read more about Sunthon (in Thai and English). Despite Sunthon being born in 1786, technology plays a role here – during your tour if you stand in certain areas you will be superimposed into a digital image (which can then be emailed to you by one of the monks).
Another highlight of a visit is singing some of Sunthon’s versus with a monk. The monk will set the tone and you will follow suit, verse by verse. The acoustics in the room will make you sound like a Thai opera star!
Sunthorn Museum is located about a 20 minute walk from the MRT Bang Kae Station – or about a 5 minute taxi or motorbike ride. Located in a residential neighborhood in a warehouse. Look for the faded and dated museum sign in front as well as the official Thai brown and white sign (description in both Thai and English) indicating a place of interest.
During our visit we spotted the museum owner and founder Mr. Sunthorn Chunothaisawat sitting in front of his warehouse working on an old sewing machine. Because that is what Sunthorn has been doing for decades – in part repairing sewing machines. The entrance is filled with thousands of pieces of old equipment and machines many of which are sewing machines.
The museum is two floors. One enters the first floor by walking through the maze of old machinery. Sunthorn has been collecting antiques from around the world for more then 30 years. Dominating his collections are clocks and oil lamps. But as one wanders through the collections, one can spot pretty much anything! A couple of highlights are two huge German made Kiimsch cameras, ancient portable air conditioning units that look like lunch pails and an old translation machine used to translate between Chinese and English made by Toshiba. Also old typewriters and an extensive collection of toys from around the world, especially from Japan.
Sunthorn used to house antique BMW motorcycles but he told us he has since sold all of these. No air conditioning inside the museum during our visit – was very hot and stuffy but when one starts seeing these cool old objects, one quickly ignores the stifling temperature. Sunthorn speaks very limited English and best to visit the museum with a Thai friend who can help translate if you do not speak Thai.
Normally open only on Saturdays from 10 until 4pm with a private walk through the museum by Sunthorn. Very much off the Bangkok museum beaten path. Admission free.
Suvarnabhumi Airport Museum . Totally under the radar but in plain site of most arriving passengers (on the western end of the terminal), this museum is located on the departures level 4 at Suvarnabhumi Airport. With most arriving passengers focused on one thing and one thing only – getting their luggage out of their vehicle and directional focused on getting into the airport and getting checked in – one can visit Suvarnabhumi many times over the years and never even see the museum building.
Built in a prominent triangle shape it is literally just across the lanes of traffic from the curbside drop off area for departing passengers. Not well advertised within the airport and not well promoted online, a visit here is truly for the passenger who has done their research and enjoys visiting aviation themed airport museums.
Passengers with luggage can leave their suitcases and other items in a small holding area next to the main check in counter. A tour of the museum is guided with a short intro video provided in the first room. The museum features 10 rooms each containing a different theme ranging from the history of the site, the the construction period to the auspicious room number 9 where you will learn about this lucky number and the role it plays in the airport.
Other rooms highlight the construction materials used in the airport, the King’s contributions and his visits to the airport and displays about the eco-friendly design and materials used in the museum building.
Did you know Suvarnabhumi Airport is surrounded by a 23.5 kilometer dike to prevent the land from flooding? Creatively, a bicycle and pedestrian path run the entire length – this takes about an hour to cycle the complete distance at a leisurely pace.
During our visit they gave us a souvenir airport key-chain which whenever we look at it we fondly recall our pleasant time here.
Thai Labor Museum is located about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the nearest metro stop, Ratchaprarop. Very much under the radar, during our latest visit we were the only one in the museum. Arriving well after the opening hours, the museum was still locked and dark in side – we simply rang the bell and a staff members immediately came out. Look for the poignant red statue of a man and woman pushing a wheel – the wheel representing human labor throughout history and the historical struggles of the labor force in general.
We also felt a bit like a celeb as the local very welcoming staff followed us around for a bit snapping off photos while we browsed the exhibits. Admission is free although donations are gladly accepted. We were accompanied by at least one staff member during our entire visit as we moved from room to room.
The museum is located in a building that originally housed the Railway Police Station. It became a museum in 1993. The museum highlights the history of the Thai labor force and the often harsh conditions that various working generations had to go through – eventually leading to labor rights and changes in law. The museum features 6 rooms beginning with forced slavery during ancient Thai society through present day Thai society.
Especially of interest are the exhibits highlighting the reforms made during the Fifth Reign (King Chulalongkorn which marked major changes, resulting in Thailand moving to a more modern society). Other interesting exhibits also detail Thai labor in the 1930’s and the 1940’s including the repercussions of World War II. And be sure to check out the exhibit about the Rickshaw ‘coolies’ – the human powered rickshaws used for transportation in Bangkok for decades until they were eventually phased out by the 1950’s. An old one of these rickshaws is even on display.
An exhibit might catch your eye in the last room – items are strewn all over in a display reminiscent of some of the Thai Tsunami exhibits we have seen over the years. Remember, this is a labor museum, so this is not a Tsunami exhibit – rather is is a look at Thailand’s worst industrial accident in its history – the Kader factory fire in 1993 in which 188 people lost their lives (this wasn’t the first fire at this particular factory).
The museum has enough exhibits in English to keep the interest of most western tourists (the tv monitors broadcast more information often mirroring the written words on some of the displays.
The museum is open (with holiday exceptions) Wednesday to Sunday from 10-430pm.
Thai Red Cross Society Museum is conveniently located on the same grounds as the Snake Farm. Very limited hours – posted as from 10am until 3pm but during several visits, we found despite the open sign hanging on the front door, the museum actually opened at 1pm. Established in 2003 with the blessing of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in honor of the Queen’s 72nd birthday. This museum opened to the public in 2003.
From the closet Skytrain stop of Sala Daeng, the main entrance to the grounds is less then a 10 minute walk. Once you enter, the museum will be on your left side a short walk from the entrance (look for the statue near the front). Nearly all the descriptions at this tiny museum are all written in Thai – if you do not read Thai, it will certainly help to use the Google translate app during a visit.
The focus of the museum is to educated the general public about the history of the International Red Cross and of the Thai Red Cross – from historical times to present day. The seven principles of the Red Cross are displayed in various exhibits including their Foundation of World Humanitarianism, Medical training, prevention of fatal diseases, childcare services, securing charitable donations, helping prevent human suffering, and honoring those who donate to their organization. In addition, the museum preserves important documents from their time helping people in the kingdom.
Also on display is information about the Florence Nightingale Medal – a tribute to Florence Nightingale and her influence in the nursing profession. up to 50 Florence Nightingale medal recipients are awarded every two years to select individuals who perform above and beyond the call of duty during wartime or during a natural disaster. Several women from Thailand were awarded this medal in 2017.
Site is in Thai only, but for more information visit: www.museum.redcross.or.th
Vimanek Teak Mansion is located on the grounds of the Royal Dusit Palace and is the world’s largest golden teakwood building. It is 3 stories and contains 81 rooms. It is not a particularly old building (constructed in 1868 moved to current location in 1900) but it is worth visiting not only for the ornate construction and beautiful teak wood but also for the art, jewelry, and other royal treasures contained within – especially the fine china, glassware and ceramics.
English and Thai tours are given. Because this is royal property you must wear long pants to enter. Sandals are ok. No cameras are allowed inside – although after the tour you can retrieve your camera from the lock box (20baht fee for storing items). You must remove your shoes and use the storage lockers before you enter. Foreigner entry price differs from Thai entry price. Vimanmek closes at 3:30. It is easy to miss the “royal gift shop” which is located near the storage lockers. All proceeds from sales at this shop benefit the Royal Family’s personal non profit projects in Thailand.
The “Royal Honey” sold in containers that look like they should hold Shampoo is worth a taste – as well as the “milk” tablets. Also note the foot-spray sold here works wonderfully!
There are other things to do here besides tour the Vimanmek Teak Mansion. There is a large marble building, another wood building, a royal carriage museum (free) and a museum housing the current King’s photography. Dusit Palace is located off of Thanon U-Thong not too far from Khao San Road and the Banglampu district. Best reached by taxi. About a 12-15 minute taxi ride from Victory Monument (depending on traffic). For more info call: (02) 628-6300-9.
NOTE: the mansion has been closed since July 2016 due to extensive renovation. We stop by the entrance once or twice a year to check its status. NO ETA on reopening. We will update this review once we have new information. As of 2020 the mansion has been dismantled and is in the process of being restored and eventually rebuilt. This is a lesson in patience!
We plan on visiting the following museums in 2020/2021 as time permits:
Bang Khun Phrom Palace
Royal Thai Airforce Museum