3 Bangkok Hidden Gems for Alternative Urban SightSeeing
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is renowned for being a cultural melting pot teeming with things to see and do. Most tourist guides offer a basic overview of some of the most famous attractions in Bangkok, leading you to the Grand Palace, several wats (temples) and Chatuchak Market. Everyone you meet will have a direction to point you and a day out to get your teeth into when you’re wondering what to do in Bangkok. With more and more tourists herding towards the same places, these routes are now slick operation that leads to a smooth day of sight-seeing.
With so much to see and do so easily, it can be hard to motivate yourself to wander off the beaten track and into the sea of underground, less well-known sights. Yet despite their relative anonymity, taking the time to find some of the hidden treasures of Bangkok can be both rewarding and extremely exciting, as you venture into the unknown and come of it with a story to tell like no other you’ve heard from backpackers passing through. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
Are you a fan of vintage fashions and all things long forgotten? Nightingale Olympic, tucked away in the heart of Chinatown, is the perfect place for retro shopping. Built in the 60’s as the first real shopping mall in Bangkok, it found itself struggling against the sudden competition of immense commercial shopping malls being constructed in the 70’s all over the city. With the new-found consumerism and throwaway fashion, Nightingale Olympic found keep pace extremely taxing, leaving them to make a monumentally daring decision to freeze themselves in time.
By condensing business to just two floors of the building, Nightingale Olympic have managed to keep themselves open for business. But what makes it so special? Every item available for purchase comes from the original stock lines which have yet to be sold. By limiting available stock and streamlining displays, they have managed to keep enough back to survive the years, selling products from only the 60’s and early 70’s. From tennis rackets and manual running machines to expensive lingerie and perfumes, all items are priced similarly to the original stock to keep with the overall theme. Additionally, the have left the salon and other features available to see, although they can’t be used due to outdated cosmetics and health and safety implications of some of the apparatus.
Even if you’re not looking to purchase a 1960’s guitar or vintage human hair clip-in braids, it is worth taking a trip out of curiosity.
Siriraj Medical Museum
Located in the grounds of Siriraj hospital, this medical museum is perhaps one of the most unusual and morbidly fascinating experiences. The museum is made up of three parts: The Pathology Museum, The Forensic Medicine Museum and The Parasitology Museum.
The Pathology Museum is a gruesome yet educational showcase of specimen samples affected by diseases, both rare and common in this day and age. Although these samples may, at first, appear overpoweringly disturbing due to the cultural difference in sensitivity, the educational information provided transforms them to something moving and scientifically compelling. As one of the largest pathological collections in the world with over 4000 samples, it is easy to appreciate how inviting this attraction is to the curious mind.
The Parasitology Museum aims to educate and inform visitors of the dangers of tropical parasites located in Thailand and the surrounding areas, with a substantial collection of horrendous parasites to view and learn about.
Lastly, the Forensic Medicine Museum is an important establishment as it is home key modern historical features of Thailand, such as the first serial killer encased and embalmed.
Despite the shocking nature of this attraction, those who are intrigued by human life and the dangers that surround us, may want to take the opportunity to participate this alternative day out. Due to the over-protective sensitivity that dominates the Western world, you may never get the chance again to have such a visceral experience of this nature.
Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
One of the major bonuses of visiting tropical countries such as Thailand, is the capacity to see beautiful creatures not present elsewhere in the world. Despite Bangkok appearing from the outside to be the epitome of urban living, it in fact home to one of the most beautiful butterfly houses, showcasing a multitude of butterfly species free to flutter carelessly throughout the mesh dome.
Located in the near vicinity of Chatuchak Market, Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is the perfect place to retreat after a day of market hustle and bustle. Home to some of the most spectacular species of butterfly in the world, including the Siam Tree Nymph and the Giant Silkworm Butterfly, you can’t help but feel as though you’ve slipped into a secret world of wonder. Not just a visual spectacle, this attraction is there to educate and teach its visitors with perches holding different types of food, especially tailored to each specific butterfly species, to attract them to a place where you can see them up close and read about their particulars.