Bangkok is one interesting city, and its wide variety of museums reflects this. From charming dolls to preserved human body parts, Bangkok’s museums are some of the most unusual ones in the world. You’ll be seeing all the strange facts and exhibits the city has to offer. Here, the five best alternative museums in Bangkok.
Take a look at our favourite museums in Bangkok, we are confident you will be pleasantly surprised with the quality on show.
The Bangkokian Museum is a truly off-the-beaten-path, hard-to-find hidden gem in Khet Bang Rak made up of several small, ridiculously charming homes built in the 1930s. The complex is perfectly preserved and maintained, giving visitors a peek into middle-class Tha life nearly 100 years ago. There's also a smaller, more modern building that houses old photos of Bangkok, as well as a random assortment of artifacts and objects. It's not uncommon to be the only person here. The rooms are small, so it's better that way.
Museum Siam Khet Phra Nakhon is an interactive museum full of surprises. On the outside, it's a stately, neoclassical building. Once you step in, you'll see a juxtaposition of antique fixtures and technology combined with modern art. Each of the 14 rooms are designed to showcase the history, culture, and evolution of the Thai people through video, audio, and interactive elements. There's a lot to absorb, and you could easily—and happily—spend three hours wandering.
Located on the 26th story of the imposingly grand Supalai Grand Tower, the Museum of Counterfeit Goods shares a floor with its creators, the working law firm of Tilleke & Gibbins. It's hidden and nowhere near the middle of the city—you won't just stumble upon it by chance. The exhibition consists of 500 counterfeit items (from the firm's thousands, all confiscated) ranging from clothes to food to medication. It's very cool to see, but there's a much larger purpose: To educate the public about copyright infringement.
The granddaddy of all Thai museums, the Bangkok National Museum was the first National Museum in Thailand; today it's home to the most extensive collection of Thai artifacts and art in the country. Located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the museum, which was built in the late 1800s, consists of numerous buildings, each housing different types of art. Three permanent exhibition galleries, all with sculptures and artifacts, have their own themes: a Thai History Gallery, an Archaeological and Art History collection, and a Decorative Arts and Ethnological Collection.
A giant open-air museum in the shape of Thailand, the Muang Boran consists of one-third-scale replicas of buildings found throughout the country. The grounds are spectacular but quite large, so if you find the complex too difficult to navigate on foot, hop on a free tram or bike or rent a golf cart. However you spend your time, this is a meditative and quiet place to escape the city and see Thai architectural hits, all in one place.
Art In Paradise, Bangkok's first 3D art museum, consists of six permanent exhibition spaces spread among two levels inside the Esplanade Shopping Mall. Each room has dozens of intricate paintings designed for you to jump right in and pose for the camera. The 150 paintings and interactive sets include period pieces, modern works, and fantastical designs. The experience can feel like you're in a theme park at times, but it can also offer a wildly funny few hours with friends.
Suan Pakkad Palace is a group of eight small, traditional teak Thai houses built centuries ago in Chiang Mai and transported to a lush tropical garden in Bangkok. The palace is the former private residence of a royal family who converted the buildings and their vast treasures into a museum in the early 1950s. Today, they house antiquities from different centuries, including ancient artifacts from all over Asia, instruments, furniture, everyday household items, paintings, and an ornate throne.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is a five-story museum with more than 800 works. The stark, modern building was created to look as though it was carved from one piece of granite; cascading jasmine designs on either side project natural light onto the atrium floor inside. There are several floors of permanent exhibits, plus seasonal shows (including, most recently, the elephant-focused "Legend"). The art isn't packed in, and there's plenty of room to admire one piece at a time.
Much like the Guggenheim in New York, the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre has a central atrium surrounded by nine floors of exhibitions, shops, and restaurants. Popular among young people and students, this museum nurtures creativity and the arts. There's a huge array of art from Thailand and around the world, including photographs, paintings, modern art, and sculptures. The museum also hosts musical performances, movie screenings, and programs for kids.
Known as the "Thai Silk King," Jim Thompson was an American architect credited with saving the dying silk industry in Thailand during the 1960s until he mysteriously vanished in a Malaysian jungle. He left behind a jaw-dropping complex of six traditional teak homes in the middle of the city, one filled with treasures collected during his decades-long love affair with Southeast Asia. Here visitors can wander through his house, admiring fine porcelain, paintings, wall hangings, and figurines. After an English language tour, snack on fresh spring rolls and pad thai next to the peaceful koi pond, visit the museum shop, and stroll through the tropical gardens.
Learn more about Thailand’s rich culture and history with the help of the Bangkok Dolls House and Museum. In this museum, you’ll find miniature replicas of all things Thai. Tongkorn Chandavimol is the proud owner and creator of the Bangkok Doll Museum. Since 1957, this doll extraordinaire has created classical Thai dancers, historical figures and more. Her dolls are recognized around the world for their attention to detail and charm. She builds the dolls in the museum with the help of about 20 artisans.
The goal of the Erawan Museum is to educate people on the past, so people can better navigate their future. The museum values Asia and Thailand’s rich art and heritage and many of the pieces show evidence of spiritual development in Asia. Lek-Praphai Viriyahphant founded the museum in 1967, making 2017 its 50th year in existence. One of the most popular artifacts in this museum is the giant elephant that sits outside. It’s 29 meters tall, 12 meters wide, 39 meters long and weighs a whopping 150 tons. There’s a ฿400 (about $11) entrance fee for foreigners and or children aged 6-15 it’s only ฿200 (about $6).
The Siriraj Hospital was the first Royal Hospital of Siam. It reintroduced the ancient practice of Thai traditional medicine. This practice uses a holistic approach to health and healing those who are ill. It also incorporated modern medicine, which made it one of Southeast Asia’s most cutting-edge centers of medicine. Today, there is a total of six museums located on the Siriraj Campus. Together, they are the Siriraj Medical Museum.
Beware: These museums are not for those who are squeamish. You will find a strange range of artifacts in these museums. One of the most interesting of all the museums is the Ellis Pathological Museum. Its exhibits include human organs infected by various diseases and human physical disorders. Another museum is the Songkran Nilyomsane Forensic Medicine Museum. It displays cadavers and organs of humans who died both naturally and unnaturally. It also exhibits evidence handling and investigative techniques within murder cases. There is a ฿200 (about $6) entrance fee for adults.
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