Bangkok has plenty to offer self-proclaimed art connoisseurs visiting the capital. For those of you who only have a day in the city and want to fill your itineraries to the brim with artistic finds, be sure to follow our tested and trued 24-hour Bangkok art guide.
Bangkok Art Guide — Morning: Visit the Bangkok National Museum
The Bangkok National Museum is one of the largest and most comprehensive of collections of all things Thai history and art. The space consists of a handful of structures. Each is teeming with information hailing from every Kingdom Thailand was ruled under. The several buildings are filled with pieces of art, glittering royal barges, and more. The museum was proclaimed one in 1934. Ever since then it has been one of the top historical places attractions in the capital.
The Bangkok National Museum is in the former grounds of the Wang Na Palace from the 18th century. Because of this, it has had plenty of time to accumulate the artifacts found here today. The museum also offers free guided tours in several languages. These are held Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.
Mad Monkey tip: The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Pho are all within walking distance of the National Museum. Feel free to make a short stop at any one of these stunning religious structures if you have time.
Fees: ฿200 (approximately $6.20)
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Location: 4 Na Phrathat Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand 10200
Bangkok Art Guide — Afternoon: Watch a traditional Thai puppetry show
Nestled along the canals of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi is the Artist’s House. It is also known as Baan Silapin. Inside visitors will find the house filled with artistic souvenirs available for purchase. The house itself is a work of art, as well. It is adorned with handmade pieces created by locals.
The Artist’s House most memorable aspect are the Thai puppetry shows held here. Though the shows are not in English, they are still entertaining to watch. Performers take to the stage with their elaborate puppets. They perform in front of the old white chedi, or stupa. It is found at the attraction’s core. In addition to the hour-long puppetry show, the Artist’s House also has a small, onsite cafe. It is equipped with all the cafe essentials, like tea and coffee. The Thai puppetry shows are held daily at 2 p.m. (except on Wednesdays).
Mad Monkey tip: After the show, be sure to grab a bite to eat along the canal. There are many restaurants sitting adjacent to the Artist’s House. These all have modest yet delicious Thai entrees on their menus. Many items are under ฿100 (approximately $3.10). Visitors can sit right along the murky banks of the Chao Phraya River and enjoy their meals.
Hours: daily from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Location: 315 Wat Tong Salangam, Phet Kasem 28, Thanon Phet Kasem, Pa Si Charoen, Bangkok, Thailand 10160
Bangkok Art Guide — Early Evening: Go to the Jim Thompson House Museum
It is every traveler’s rite of passage to purchase an item made of Thailand’s celebrated silk. Returning home without a scarf or two is seemingly a crime, though this was not always the case. Jim Thompson was an employee of the Office of Strategic Serves (the forerunner to the CIA). He moved to Bangkok after serving in the Second World War. Upon relocating to the capital, he simply fell in love with Thai silk. He later worked to revive the product around the world. He certainly succeeded! The Jim Thompson House Museum and a few other venues that sell his silk is all the legacy he has left, however. He disappeared in 1967 in Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Speculation as to why he went missing continues today. This museum remains a popular destination long after his disappearance, however.
Why is Jim Thompson’s house famous?
Thompson was an architect of sorts before becoming involved in the silk industry. His home is considered a work of art by some and a disaster by others. He was an avid art collector during his time in Bangkok. His collection remains inside the old, teak home. The house is made up of a number of strange design aspects that some believe to have led to his demise. Some guess that because he built his house in a way in which would bring him bad luck, he went missing. Others think that the CIA had something to do with his disappearance. Many think that he was eaten by a wild animal while hiking. Regardless of how he went missing, the museum is a must-see art-inspired destination.
Fees: ฿150 for adults (approximately $4.60), ฿100 for students under 22 years old (approximately $3.10)
Hours: daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Location: 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok, Thailand (BTS National Stadium and can walk from Siam BTS)
Bangkok Art Guide — Late Evening: Visit the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Next, head over to the adjacent Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. It is here you will see even more amazing works of art. There are always many interesting exhibitions being held at this extravagant gallery. Be sure to check out their website before making your way to this incredible gallery.
The venue itself is a work of art. Tall, vaulted ceilings were built to utilize the natural light. This floods and brightens the exhibits today. In addition to photography, painting, and sculpture exhibits, the gallery is also home to many artsy cafés. There are also artistic vendors and shops found throughout. All of these are sure to fuel the inner creativity in all those who frequent. This is a great destination for solo travellers in Bangkok, as well.
Fees: free to enter, though there are many shops and cafes where you will certainly want to blow some baht
Hours: daily from 9:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. (except Mondays)
Location: 929 Rama 1 Road, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand 10330 (BTS National Stadium and can also walk from BTS Siam)
More Articles on Bangkok Art:
Did this article about Bangkok art get you excited about your future trip to the capital? Do you want to learn more about Bangkok art? Then check out these links we have rounded up to make your artistic trip planning in Bangkok a breeze. We only recommend blogs that we read and use ourselves, as well.
- Bangkok’s best art galleries and art spaces by Siriya Suriyanon for BK Magazine
- The Best Art Museums & Galleries In Bangkok, Thailand by Kelly Iverson for Culture Trip
- Art Places in Bangkok – 10 sports worth visiting by Asja Nastasijevic for Widewalls
- The best galleries in Bangkok for TimeOut
- Bangkok Art Galleries for Bangkok.com