I spent a fun week in Bangkok recently (travel diary post coming next) and my absolute highlight was the day I did a full-day city and temple tour with the wonderful Oriental Escape.
I have never done a private tour before and it made the world of difference getting one on one information, being able to explore at your own pace and ask all the questions you like.
I truly felt like I got an authentic Bangkok travel experience, my guide was so knowledgeable and easy-going and it was an exceptional day, rich in culture, art and history.
Read on if you want to hear all about one of the best tours I have ever done and what made this tour so outstanding.
I was picked up bright and early (for me) from my accommodation at 8 am by my lovely guide Ms. Jen who also introduced me to the driver Mr. Wittaya. The modern Toyota Altis was comfortable, clean and air-conditioned and a cold bottle of water and snack were provided.
Our first stop of the day was Wat Trimit, a fairly new temple in Yaowarat (Chinatown), home to the famous Golden Buddha. It is the world’s largest solid gold seated Buddha, at three metres high and weighing five and a half tonnes. There were many locals inside paying their respects.
The Golden Buddha was originally covered with plaster to conceal it from the invading Burmese and was only rediscovered accidentally about 40 years ago. In 2010, Wat Trimit’s new building was officially opened to the public and the statue was moved there.
After learning all about the temple and exploring the beautiful area we hopped back into the cool car (it was already sweltering hot) and passed through Chinatown and the colourful flower market on the way to our next destination.
I had previously visited Wat Pho 4.5 years ago, but I was so excited to return. It is my favourite temple in Bangkok and I’m pretty sure I was even more wowed by it the second time. The architecture is simply amazing and I must have taken a thousand photos of the beautiful pagodas (tiered towers) which are artfully decorated in colourful tiles and ceramics.
Wat Pho is most famed for the Statue of the Reclining Buddha. Made of gold leaf, this grand lying down Buddha is the largest in Thailand; an enormous 46 metres long and 15 metres high.
We spent a good amount of time exploring the large grounds (which is 8 hectares) and I even got to go inside one temple while a monk praying ceremony was being held. It was a wonderful experience.
The next stop was the mighty Grand Palace, which I had also visited on my previous trip, but not with a guide.
Built in 1782, the Grand Palace is undoubtedly the city’s most famous landmark. It is known as the heart of Bangkok and is the official residence of the Kings of Siam.
The intricate detail and beautiful Thai architecture are incredibly dazzling. Within the palace complex are many impressive buildings and sacred sites including Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which contains a small but very famous Emerald Buddha that dates back to the 14th century (we weren’t allowed to take photos).
My guide took me through each significant place and I learned so much about the history, something I had missed on my first visit. She also knew all the best spots for picture taking and was a wonderful photographer for me!
It was now lunch time and as I had told Jen that I loved the local food, she took me to her own favourite spot for lunch. She said most people prefer to go to a restaurant where there is a large buffet with many options. I was thrilled to be taken to this local hole-in-the-wall place and she ordered two different dishes for me to try. Both were so fresh, full of flavour and absolutely delicious (don’t worry, I didn’t eat all of both of them!).
We then went next door to try traditional Thai coffee, I ordered an iced one as it was so hot and it was perfectly refreshing. She also popped out and surprised me with traditional Thai sweets which are interestingly only made from egg yolk and sugar. This was the icing on the cake and I absolutely loved them (much to her surprise, as she thinks they are far too sweet!).
Our final temple of the day was Wat Benchamabopit, commonly known as Marble Temple, which is one of the most modern works of Thai religious architecture. It is classified as a first class Royal temple and is one of significant importance.
It is most famous for its main chapel built in white Carrara Italian marble which houses a replica of Thailand’s most beautiful Buddha image, Phra Phutthachinarat. The entrance is marked by four impressive marble pillars, and even the large courtyard is made of shiny white marble. It was a most tranquil and impressive temple.
It is also an active temple with resident monks, their private living quarters are across the canal separated from the temple area.
Lastly, on the way back to my accommodation we did a driving city-sightseeing tour.
We passed through the well-known backpacker’s area Khao San Road before heading to Ratchadumnoen Road (The Royal’s Way). En route I got to see more significant temples and architectural buildings, including the City Pillar Shrine, National Museum, Thai Boxing Stadium, Anantasamakhom Palace, Parliament House, Dusit Zoo and Chitlada Palace King’s Residence.
I arrived back at around 2 pm, very happy (albeit hot and sweaty) after such an amazing day.
Tour Company: Oriental Escape
The specific tour I did: Bangkok Temples & City, Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha
Reviews: 5/5 stars from 271 reviews on Trip Advisor
Price: Depends on the number of people. For example for my tour if you are a couple it costs $96 USD each, or if you are a group of 3-4 it costs $79 USD each, which is a fantastic price for what you get. (The prices keep going down the more people you have).
I learned so much about the culture of Bangkok and its fascinating history all throughout the day. My tour with Oriental Escape truly enriched my time in Thailand’s capital city and I 100% recommend this tour and company to others.
If you are visiting yourself and wish to see the best sites Bangkok has to offer on a flexible and personal tour with excellent customer service, then look no further. Their experienced and passionate team of guides have the best knowledge and inside information for each attraction.
They offer a large number of day and night tours to cater for many temples and city highlights you may wish to see. As well as Bangkok, they also have a number of tours all throughout Thailand and Indochina and even offer Airport transfer services.
You can easily choose which category of car you would prefer and there are choices for high-end service. All admission fees are included in your tour and there are no hidden extra costs or forced shopping and tourist traps that are sadly so commonly found on tours around Bangkok and Thailand.
It’s an excellent option for families, friends and groups travelling together, couples and even solo travellers like me.
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If you wish to see a bit more of my day trip and the temples and city highlights I saw, it is featured in the second half of my Bangkok travel vlog for YouTube (start at 5:43):
Coming soon as well as my travel diary will be plenty of Bangkok and Thailand travel tips, top recommended things to do and of course best food to eat!