Top 8 Museums in Bangkok

| July 10, 2021

The best way to learn the most about any city or country you are in is to visit their museums, and Bangkok has over 100 of them to explore. As the capital of Thailand, this city is the best place to see the most important places from art galleries to museums. In a former palace, it is also the largest museum in Southeast Asia.

There are museums about everything you can think of in Bangkok from airplanes to zoology. They even have a museum of counterfeit goods. Most museums do not allow large bags so find a luggage storage site in Bangkok to leave your things for safekeeping before heading out.

  • National Museum of Bangkok

As the largest and one of the oldest museums in Southeast Asia, the National Museum of Bangkok features both art and history inside what used to be the palace of the Vice King. Opened in 1874 to show off the royal collection of King Mongkut, it now exhibits collections from all over Thailand and parts of Asia.

The museum includes three buildings. The Red House shows the early Bangkok style of furniture and other items. The Buddhaisawan Chapel was built in 1787 and houses murals from the life of the Buddha. The Siwamokhaphiman Hall was built for the King of Siam in the late 1700s and features the Thai History Gallery.

  • Museum Siam

This interesting museum is housed in a gorgeous neoclassical building and its main feature is a huge ribbon made of bronze that starts outside and loops through the building. The intention of the ribbon (the Roong) was to ask and help answer “What does being Thai mean?” as it is stated in red on the bronze ribbon.

The Roong leads you, turning into a screen where you can watch a movie about Thai culture. Follow the Roong to a Bangkok Café where you can serve others or be served. Outside, follow the Roong to a small shop where you have to step through a refrigerator to get to the last exhibit, a full-sized restaurant with wax food.

  • Samut Prakan Ancient City

Samut Prakan Ancient City is the largest outdoor museum in the world with almost 800 acres, including a miniature city featuring 116 of the country’s most famous attractions and monuments. The grounds are shaped into the shape of Thailand, which is a creative way to detail all of the attractions where they belong.

The Ancient City was completed in 1963 by Lek Viriyaphant, who was planning to make a golf course with miniature sites. But he changed it to a museum in 1972. There are 120 attractions such as The Royal Stand, The City Wall and Gate, and the Giant Swing and Stand. You can also take a boat ride in the park.

  • Bangkok National Art Gallery

If you are interested in seeing more artwork, check out the Bangkok National Art Gallery, located in the historic Phra Nakhon District in what used to be the Royal Thai Mint. The mint functioned in the building from 1902 until 1968 and was turned over to the Fine Arts Department in 1974 before it opened in 1977.

The permanent collection of art dates back to the 1700s and covers two floors. It includes paintings done by some of the Thai Kings as well as famous artists all over Thailand. The courtyard and garden feature a variety of stunning sculptures as well as lovely fountains and gardens to explore.

  • The Jim Thompson House

You may not expect a museum called the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, but the former owner, Jim Thompson, was renowned for keeping the silk industry going when it was failing. In fact, he was dubbed “The Silk King” because he dedicated 30 years to reviving the Thai silk trade successfully, saving the tradesmen.

From the Buddha guarding the kitchen to the terrace on his large koi pond, the home features many items depicting the life of Buddha as well as his tasteful collection of silks and porcelain ware. There are even two mahjong tables and a teakwood dining table set for dinner and a deck overlooking the Saen Saeb Canal.

  • Bangkokian and Bangrak Museum

The Bangkokian Museum, also known as the Bangkok Folk Museum, consists of several houses to offer the public insight into what life was like for upper-middle-class Bangkok families during the Rattanakosin era from 1868 to 1910. Exploring the homes filled with period furniture and personal items.

The homes include the beds, décor, and even some clothing from the previous owners along with old black and white photos of the original residents. The Bangrak Museum is located within the Bangkokian Museum and features the history of the windmills, canals, and roads that used to be part of the area.

  • Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Bangkok was opened in 2012 by Boonchai Bencharongkul, a business executive, to display a large collection of Asian paintings and sculptures. Some of the many famous artists include Prateep Kochabua, Chalermchai Kositpipat, Hem Vejakorn, and Thawan Duchanee.

With tons of natural light, the artworks in the museum are showcased beautifully. Other famous artists include Bundit Padungvichian, Denpong Wongsaroj, and Lumpu Kansanoh. The fourth floor features three huge paintings of the Three Kingdoms, Heaven, Earth, and Hell with amazing detail.

  • Siriraj Medical Museum

Also known as the Death Museum, this medical museum is actually meant to be for medical students, but everyone is welcome. It is not a place for young kids or the squeamish because there are some gruesome items on display there. This includes cracked skulls of murder victims and deformed babies.

It is located in the Siriraj Hospital, which is the oldest hospital in Thailand. There are actually five museums including the Prehistoric Museum and Lab with displays from 70 million years ago, the Ellis Pathology Museum, Congdon Anatomy Museum, the Parasitology Museum, and the Forensic Medicine Museum.

Do not miss out on seeing some of the major attractions while you are in Bangkok. The Grand Palace is the number one attraction in Thailand so don’t miss that. Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is also a famous one to see as is the Temple of the Golden Buddha, or Wat Traimit.


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About the Author:

Current: Editor of, Managing Director at dp-Studio Co. Ltd. Past: Lecturer, Instructor at School of Architecture King Mongkut University of Technology, Architect at RNL Architect, Architect at Roth Sheppard Architects Education: School of Architecture Chulalongkorn University Bangkok Thailand (B.Arch) School of Architecture University of Arizona USA - School of Architecture University of Colorado, Denver USA (M. Arch)
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