Secrets are always fun to explore, and in Bangkok they are plentiful! Some are spoken of only in whispers, others take years to discover and a few are outrageously underrated. But one thing unites those picked for our list: all will enhance your enjoyment of this exciting city.

    Most of the things below are door-openers (specific places you should visit), but we’ve thrown in a few eye-openers (curious facts) for good measure. Check them out before they're "discovered" by the crowds!

    1

    Pak Khlong Talad (Flower Market)

    Old City - Rattanakosin (near Wat Pho)

    If you’re blooming mad about flowers, don’t miss Pak Khlong Talad. The city’s biggest flower market offers an exotic sensory treat, especially between 2am and sunrise, when lorries brimming with freshly cut flora, fruit and vegetables rattle in from neighbouring provinces and this unassuming roadside bursts into a symphony of fragrant smells and vibrant colours. Roses, daisies, chrysanthemums, indigenous orchids – they’re all here in droves, and at minuscule prices.

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    Location: Soi San Chao Ban Mo, Wang Burapha Phirom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

    Open: 24/7

    Map
    • Shoppers
    • Unusual

    photo by Irene2005 (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Rod Fai Market

    Eastern suburbs

    Rod Fai Market is an open-air bazaar just behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall on Srinakarin Road Soi 51. The vintage look never goes out of style here. Spread on the ground is all kinds of collectables and memorabilia from yesteryear, from antique furniture to hippy fashion to Mao kitsch. The overall feel is down-to-earth cool.

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    Location: 51 Srinagarindra Road, Nong Bon, Prawet, Bangkok 10250, Thailand

    Open: Thursday–Sunday from 5 pm to 1 am (closed from Mondays to Wednesdays)

    Phone: +66 (0)81 827 5885

    Map
    • Shoppers
    • Food
    • Nightlife
    3

    Erawan Museum

    Samut Prakan (outside Bangkok)

    A huge, 3-headed elephant statue standing upon an equally gargantuan pedestal is the first thing you see when visiting Samut Prakan's Erawan Museum. It's a splendid, towering beast: 250 tons in weight, 29 metres high, 39 metres long, and cast in a pure green-hued copper. The sculpture is the museum itself, which houses a wide range of artefacts in a psychedelic setting.

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    Location: 99 Bang Mueang Mai, Samut Prakan 10270, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)2 371 3135

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    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual
    4

    Bangkok Forensic Museum

    Riverside - opposite Grand Palace

    Bangkok Forensic Museum, located inside the Siriraj Hospital, offers a sinister exhibition for the morbid or for travellers searching for something extremely unusual. Expect deformed babies and mutated organs preserved in jars, as well as the mummified remains of Bangkok's most prolific cannibal. 

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    Location: 2 Wanglung Road, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700, Thailand

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +66 (0)2 419 2601

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    5

    Papaya Studio Bangkok

    Ladprao, near Chatuchak

    Papaya Studio Bangkok is like no other shop you have even seen before. Many have heard of it, but few have actually stepped inside it. Trying to list the amazing objects, items, figures, toys, household objects and furniture tightly packed next to each other would be impossible, but you can’t help but notice the pinball machines, Vespas, and full-size comic characters like Flash, Wolverine, Green Lantern and Batman, all proudly standing next to... a pair of giant rabbits.

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    Location: 306/1 Soi Lat Phrao, Phlabphla, Wang Thonglang, Bangkok 10310, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)2 539 8220

    Map
    • Shoppers
    • Unusual

    Also known as the Bangkok Phallic Shrine, this unique place of worship honours a female fertility spirit called Chao Mae Tubtim. Hundreds of penises, from small wooden carvings to big stone sculptures that stand over 2 metres tall and decorated with ribbons, make this Bangkok shrine quite unique. Women visit this shrine when they are trying to conceive, leaving offerings of lotus and jasmine. 

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    Location: Nai Lert Park Heritage Home, 2 2 Witthayu Rd, Lumphini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

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    The Royal Thai Air Force Museum has a small but surprisingly interesting plane collection hidden away near Don Mueang International Airport. Covering the entire history of Thai Aviation since the very first biplanes, about 30 aircraft are displayed partly outdoor, partly indoor inside a couple of large hangars. 

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    Location: 171 Paholyothin Road, Don Mueang, Bangkok 10210, Thailand

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +66 (0)2 534 1853

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    • History
    • Photo

    Scala Cinema in Siam Square offers a modest 1-screen experience in Bangkok. Built in 1967, this exquisitely maintained movie theatre is worth a trip not only for the bargain-priced seats and popcorn but also for the retro setting. From the tickets to the building, everything here has been preserved and it's worth a trip just to stand in the domed-ceiling entrance and be transported to another age.

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    Location: 184-216 Rama I Rd, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

    Phone: +66 (0)2 251 2861

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    • Couples
    • Families
    • Nightlife

    photo by Supanut Arunoprayote (CC BY 4.0) modified

    Rama IX Park is the largest green space in Bangkok, with a beautiful botanical garden, large lake and gardens inspired by countries around the world. Founded in 1987 to celebrate King Bhumibol’s 60th birthday, a visit to this large park on the outskirts of Bangkok is a great break from the city. Despite all the interesting things to see, the park remains surprisingly free of tourists and offers a genuine experience of how locals spend their afternoons.

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    Location: Suan Luang Rama 9, Sukhumvit 103 Road, Prawet, Bangkok 10250, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)2 328 1385

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    • Budget
    10

    Khlongs in Bangkok

    Riverside

    For a real sense of how locals used to live (and how some still do) – in stilted shacks, old wooden townhouses and dilapidated lean-tos – join a tour of Bangkok's Thonburi khlongs (canals). A boat ride along the canals usually begins on the Chao Phraya, the main river that bisects Bangkok in a wide arc. From there, the narrow waterways spread into the city on either bank.

    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    photo by David Broad (CC BY 3.0) modified

    Willy Thuan | Compulsive Traveller

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