Bangkok, Thailand



Khao San Road

Khao San Road is a part of the Rattanakosin district and one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Bangkok. However, most of the interesting sights are around the street rather than Khao San Road itself. Besides the interesting architecture, the area shows a mix of people and heritage that is typical for Bangkok. There are Buddhists, Chinese, Muslims, Mons and of course a great number of foreigners in this small area of the city. All of this makes the Khao San area an interesting place for a glimpse of Thai life.

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Democracy Monument
Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and Dinso Road intersection.
Democracy Monument completely occupies a roundabout at a major thoroughfare in Bangkok. The monuments distinguishing features are the four "wings" situated at four equally spaced points around a smaller central shrine. The wings are decorated with artworks of war and war-related events. Quite impressive when seen from a distance but maybe not worth the hazard crossing five lanes of Bangkok's traffic for a closer look. The Democracy Monument commemorates the June 1932 military coup d'etat that led to the country's first democratic constitution in place of absolute rule by the monarchy. Demonstrators gathered here in 1973, 1976 and 1992 in their struggle for democracy, signifying the monument's important role in recent Thai history.

Democracy Monument by Marek ƚlusarczyk

October 14 Memorial
Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and Tanao Road intersection.
14 October 1973 is one of the most important dates in modern Thai history. Millions of pro-democracy protesters gathered at Ratchadamnoen Klang Road against the military dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn. The junta used snipers positioned on rooftops, killing dozens of protestors. Eventually the regime was toppled and Thailand became a constitutional monarchy. This memorial commemorates those who died on that day, as well as those that died at similar protests in 1976 and 1992.

Phra Sumen Fort
Phra Athit Rd (inside Santichaiprakarn Park).
Phra Sumen Fort
is one of two remaining watchtowers (the other being Mahakan Fort) of the historic city wall that once surrounded Rattanakosin Island. The historic city wall that followed the Chao Phraya River and Khlong Rop Krung used to have fourteen of these watchtowers but today only two remain. Phra Sumen Fort was constructed in 1783 during the reign of King Rama I to protect the city from foreign naval invasions. The fort comprises an observation tower and two levels of battlements with its original canons still in place.

Santichaiprakarn Park
Phra Athit Rd (near Phra Arthit Pier). Opening: daily 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
This small but green park has a great view of the Chao Phraya River and the modern Rama VIII suspension bridge crossing the river. There's an open-air pavilion, the Phra Sumen Fort and (supposedly) the last two lamphu trees that used to be all over Banglamphu.

Santichaiprakarn Park by Heinrich Damm

Wat Bowonniwet
Corner of Bowonniwet Road and Phra Sumen Road. Opening: daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Built in 1829, this is the shrine-hall of Phra Phutthachinnasi, a very beautiful Buddha image that was created around 1357. This is one of the most important temples in Bangkok, whose chief abbot was once King Rama IV before ascending to the throne. King Rama IV, King Rama VII and King Bhumibol Adulyadej also resided here during their monkhood. Be careful in the afternoon - you must take off your shoes in the temple grounds but it can start to "cook" from the heat. Wearing socks would be a good idea.

Wat Chana Songkhram
Soi Chana Songkhram (opposite the western end of Khao San Road). Opening: daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Centuries ago (following a war with the Burmese) the Siamese kingdom gave land in this area to people from the Mon minority, who had fought beside the Siamese. The Mon established a community here including
the Wat Chana Songkhram (also known as the War Victory Temple). Many travellers use the temple grounds as a shortcut between Khao San Road and Phra Athit Road where the ferry pier is located. The temple is worth a visit with ts  nice murals, crisp sounding temple bells hanging from the eves, Bougainvillea vines and beautiful trees. There is no charge for admission and you are welcome to find a little tranquility away from the throngs of backpackers on Khao San Road.

Sunset Street Art Gallery
199 Khao San Rd (inside the Sunset Street complex). Opening: daily from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
This is one sight that is actually situated on Khao San Road itself. This art gallery is housed in a colonial-style interior and has plenty of paintings on the wall, most of them in a kind of traditional Thai-style. It is quite small, but still fun for a short visit.

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