Phra Nakhon is one of the oldest districts in Bangkok, located in the heart of the city and home to some of the most iconic tourist sites in Thailand. The district is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant street life. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top things to do in Phra Nakhon, including the best tourist sites, street food and food courts, restaurants, places to stay, and shopping centers and markets.
History of Phra Nakhon
Phra Nakhon is the historic heart of Bangkok, Thailand, and is one of the most culturally significant areas in the city. The area encompasses the old city, including the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, and numerous other temples and historic sites. In this article, we will explore the fascinating history of Phra Nakhon, from its earliest days as a small trading settlement to its present-day status as a bustling cultural hub.
The Early Days
Phra Nakhon’s history dates back to the early 15th century, when King Ramathibodi II established the city of Ayutthaya as the capital of his kingdom. Ayutthaya was located about 80 kilometers north of present-day Bangkok, and it quickly became a major center of trade and commerce. As Ayutthaya grew in importance, a small trading settlement began to develop along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, which runs through what is now Phra Nakhon.
The settlement was known as “Bangkok,” which means “village of wild plums.” It was a small, bustling community of merchants and traders who made their living by buying and selling goods from around the region. Bangkok’s strategic location on the Chao Phraya River made it an ideal spot for trading, and it quickly grew into a thriving center of commerce.
The Rise of the Chakri Dynasty
In the late 18th century, a powerful new dynasty emerged in Thailand, the Chakri Dynasty. The founder of the dynasty, King Rama I, recognized the strategic importance of Bangkok and decided to make it the new capital of Thailand. He established his court in the area now known as Phra Nakhon and began building a new city around it.
King Rama I built a series of impressive temples and palaces in Phra Nakhon, including the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. These structures were designed to showcase the power and majesty of the new Chakri Dynasty and to establish Bangkok as a cultural center of the region.
The Golden Age
Over the next several decades, Bangkok and Phra Nakhon continued to grow and prosper. The city became a center of art, culture, and commerce, attracting people from all over the region. The Chakri Dynasty continued to build impressive new temples and palaces, and the area around Phra Nakhon became known as the “Golden City.”
During this period, Phra Nakhon was also a center of political power. The kings of the Chakri Dynasty ruled from the Grand Palace, and the area was home to many of the country’s most powerful officials and nobles.
The Modern Era
In the 20th century, Phra Nakhon continued to play an important role in Thai culture and politics. The city was modernised, with new roads, buildings, and infrastructure. The monarchy remained an important institution, and the Grand Palace continued to be a centre of power.
However, the area also faced challenges in the modern era. Bangkok’s rapid growth and development led to increased traffic and pollution, and many of the historic buildings and temples in Phra Nakhon fell into disrepair.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in preserving Phra Nakhon’s historic buildings and cultural heritage. The area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and there are ongoing efforts to restore and maintain the historic structures in the area.
Phra Nakhon is a fascinating and important part of Bangkok’s history and culture. From its early days as a small trading settlement to its present-day status as a cultural hub, Phra Nakhon has played a vital role in shaping Thailand’s history and identity.
As the city continues to grow and change, it is important to preserve and protect the historic sites and cultural heritage of Phra Nakhon. This area is a symbol of Thailand’s rich history and traditions and should be cherished and celebrated for generations to come.
Today, Phra Nakhon remains one of the most important areas in Bangkok, and it is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Thai history and culture. Visitors can explore the stunning temples and palaces, stroll along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, and immerse themselves in the vibrant street life and markets of the area.
Whether you are a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or just looking to experience the sights and sounds of Bangkok, Phra Nakhon is a must-see destination that should not be missed.
One of the main attractions in Phra Nakhon is the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings that served as the official residence of the Kings of Siam from 1782 until 1925. The palace is known for its intricate architecture, stunning gardens, and intricate carvings. Wat Phra Kaew, located within the palace complex, is one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Thailand and houses the famous Emerald Buddha.
Another must-visit temple in Phra Nakhon is Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The temple is home to the largest reclining Buddha statue in Thailand, measuring 46 meters long and 15 meters high. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful architecture and peaceful atmosphere of the temple.
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is another iconic temple in Phra Nakhon. The temple is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and is known for its stunning Khmer-style architecture and beautiful views of the river.
For those interested in learning more about Thai history and culture, the National Museum Bangkok is a must-visit. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits related to Thai history, art, and culture.
Finally, no visit to Phra Nakhon would be complete without a walk down Khao San Road. Known as the backpacker’s hub, Khao San Road is a lively street filled with bars, restaurants, street vendors, and shops. Visitors can enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and pick up some souvenirs to take home.
Street Food and Food Courts
Phra Nakhon is also known for its delicious street food and food courts. Tha Maharaj is a popular riverside food court that offers a variety of Thai dishes, including seafood, noodles, and curries. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal while taking in the beautiful views of the Chao Phraya River.
Pak Khlong Talat, also known as the Flower Market, is another popular spot for foodies. While it’s primarily known for its fresh flowers, the market also offers a wide variety of street food, including grilled meats, fresh fruits, and sweets.
Wang Lang Market is another great place to sample some of the best street food in Phra Nakhon. The market offers a variety of dishes, including grilled meats, noodles, and seafood. It’s a great place to experience the local food culture and try something new.
Thanon Tanao is a street in Phra Nakhon that’s famous for its street food. Visitors can sample a variety of dishes, including Pad Thai, grilled meats, and fresh fruits. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite while exploring the district.
Finally, Thipsamai Pad Thai is a must-visit for anyone looking for the best pad Thai in Phra Nakhon. The restaurant has been serving up its famous dish for over 50 years and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Phra Nakhon is home to some of the best restaurants in Bangkok, offering a variety of cuisine from Thai to international. Supanniga Eating Room is a popular restaurant that serves traditional Thai dishes with a modern twist. The restaurant is known for its beautiful decor and stunning views of the Chao Phraya River.
Err is another popular restaurant in Phra Nakhon that offers a unique take on Thai cuisine. The restaurant’s menu features a variety of dishes inspired by traditional Thai street food, including grilled meats, noodles, and curries.
Thip Samai Pad Thai is not only famous for its street food, but also for its restaurant that serves up the best pad Thai in the district. The restaurant offers a variety of pad Thai dishes, including the classic pad Thai, as well as more unique variations.
Supatra River House is a beautiful restaurant located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The restaurant serves up traditional Thai dishes, including curries, soups, and seafood. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal while taking in the stunning views of the river.
Finally, The Sixth is a trendy rooftop bar and restaurant that offers a unique dining experience with a panoramic view of the city. The restaurant serves a variety of international dishes, including steaks, seafood, and pasta. It’s a great spot to enjoy a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.
Places to Stay
Phra Nakhon offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Sala Rattanakosin is a popular boutique hotel that offers stunning views of Wat Arun and the Chao Phraya River. The hotel features a rooftop bar and restaurant, as well as comfortable rooms and suites.
Riva Arun Bangkok is another popular hotel in Phra Nakhon that offers beautiful views of the Chao Phraya River. The hotel features modern rooms and suites, as well as a rooftop bar and restaurant.
The Warehouse Bangkok is a unique hotel that’s housed in a restored 19th-century warehouse. The hotel features industrial-chic decor and spacious rooms and suites. It’s a great option for travelers looking for a unique and stylish accommodation.
Inn A Day is a cozy boutique hotel that’s located just steps away from Wat Pho. The hotel features comfortable rooms and a rooftop bar that offers stunning views of the temple and the river.
Finally, Baan Wanglang Riverside is a charming hotel that’s located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The hotel features traditional Thai-style rooms and suites, as well as a restaurant that serves up delicious Thai dishes.
Shopping Centres and Markets
Phra Nakhon is home to a variety of shopping centers and markets that offer everything from souvenirs to high-end fashion. Sampeng Market is a popular wholesale market that offers a variety of goods, including clothing, accessories, and souvenirs.
Saphan Phut Night Market is another popular market that’s open from dusk until midnight. The market offers a variety of street food, clothing, and accessories.
Asiatique The Riverfront is a popular shopping and entertainment complex that’s located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The complex features a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as a Ferris wheel and a nightly cabaret show.
Iconsiam is a luxury shopping mall that’s located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The mall features a variety of high-end fashion brands, as well as a gourmet food market and a cinema.
Yodpiman River Walk is a charming shopping complex that’s located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The complex features traditional Thai-style architecture and a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs and enjoy the beautiful views of the river.
10 interesting facts about Phra Nakhon
- Phra Nakhon means “royal city” in Thai, and it is the historic heart of Bangkok.
- The area is home to some of Thailand’s most iconic landmarks, including the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Pho.
- The Grand Palace was built in 1782 and served as the official residence of the kings of Thailand until 1925.
- Wat Phra Kaew is home to the famous Emerald Buddha, which is considered the most sacred image of Buddha in Thailand.
- Wat Pho is one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok, and it is known for its impressive reclining Buddha statue.
- Phra Nakhon was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981.
- The area is home to a number of traditional Thai markets, including the famous Pak Khlong Talat flower market.
- Phra Nakhon is also home to numerous museums and galleries, including the Bangkok National Museum and the Museum of Siam.
- The area is known for its vibrant street life and colorful architecture, with many buildings decorated with intricate carvings and murals.
- Phra Nakhon is a popular destination for cultural festivals and events, including the annual Songkran festival, which celebrates the Thai New Year.
Phra Nakhon is a district that’s rich in history, culture, and vibrant street life. From the iconic tourist sites to the delicious street food and the trendy rooftop bars, there’s something for everyone in this district. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Bangkok or a seasoned traveler, Phra Nakhon is a must-visit destination that offers a unique and unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags and head to Phra Nakhon to discover the best that Bangkok has to offer!