Buddhist Temples in Bangkok
About 90% of the Thai population claim Buddhism, which is more a philosophy or way of life than a religion as practiced in the western world. Neighborhood Buddhist temples tend to be community centers.
Temples in Thailand tend to be ornate with green and orange roof tiles, gold gilt and mirrored mosaics. Chedis or stupas tend to dominate the grounds of many wats. Most temples will have a dominant Buddha image, usually brass or bronze, and a cluster of smaller statues of varying design from standing to seated to reclining.
Thai Temples also tend to be quiet and peaceful, and can be a welcome respite from the heat, noise and activity of Bangkok streets. Thai wats are also a good place to meet "regular" Thai people.
Royal Grand Palace
After ascending the throne in 1782 King Rama I moved the capitol across the Chao Phaya River from Thonburi to Bangkok. HM ordered the palace built to match the royal palace destroyed in the fall of Ayuttuya. It took three years to complete. The Grand Palace stands close to the river and includes a Royal Chapel which houses the Emerald Buddha and the royal residence.
Wat Phra Kaeo
was ordered built along with the Grand Palace. It houses the most revered Buddha image in Thailand, the famous Emerald Buddha. HM participates in three ceremonies each year to change the season costume made of gold. The Buddha is Lanna style seated in a position of meditation. King Rama I brought the image to Thailand in 1778.
Perhaps the most popular shrine in Bangkok is the Erawan Shrine. Thai four-headed figure of Brahma is a reflection of the Hindu influence in Thailand. Brahma is the Hindu god of creation.
You will frequently see musicians and dancers performing at the shrine. They are paid by worshippers who have had their wish granted and want to show their gratitude.
There is another popular Brahma shrine next to the World Trade Center.
Bangkok Cultural Shows
Cultural shows range from traditional Thai music, dancing and wedding ceremonies to Thai boxing and elephants "working". They are primarily aimed at tourists.
But for those who want to experience some of Thailand's cultural heritage and get some nice pictures, they can be worthwhile.
Only 30 km out of Bangkok, is a popular place to see a cultural show because of the wide variety of programs. They have a Thai Village and programs which include a Buddhist ordination procession, a traditional wedding, classical dancing and music, sword fighting, Thai boxing and an elephant show. You can go on your own or book a tour through your hotel or a travel agent. Do not deal with touts!
Thai Boxing - Muay Thai
Thai boxing, known in Thailand as Muay Thai, is an ancient, traditional sport in Thailand. It can be one of the more violent of the martial arts but has gained a lot of popularity.
Essentially, it is a form of boxing where anything but head butting is allowed. Feet, knees, hands, elbows, and shoulders are all legal weapons.
In addition to the fighting, there are numerous cultural aspects to a Muay Thai program, including ritualistic dancing, ornamental head and armbands, and music. For many travelers, a visit to Bangkok is not complete without taking in some Thai boxing