Attractions in and around Siam Square
If you’re looking for attractions to see and do in Bangkok, Siam offers more variety than any other area. Get your cultural fix at BACC, the city’s biggest art gallery and cultural centre, take a trip into the past at Jim Thompson’s beautifully maintained teak villa or visit famous temples and shrines to see the role Buddhism plays in everyday Thai life. On the other end of the scale there is a fantastic ladyboy cabaret show called Playhouse Theatre.
Family-friendly attractions also rank high: you could spend the afternoon at world-famous wax works Madame Tussauds, posing with your favourite celebrities, or get up close and personal with many aquatic creatures at Siam Ocean World, Thailand’s finest aquarium. Add to this the curious Human Body Exhibition (where you can actually hold a preserved human brain), and if you’re lucky enough to visit on Wednesdays check out MBK Fight Night where you can enjoy Muay Thai bouts absolutely free of charge!
1.Jim Thompson House
The lovely garden-enclosed compound sitting on the bank of the Saen Saeb Canal would have gone completely unnoticed, had it not been for a legacy left behind by a middle-aged American man named Jim Thompson, the man who helped bring Thai silk to the world. His elegant residential enclave, comprising six traditional Thai teakwood houses transported from Ayutthaya and Bangkok’s Ban Krua community, echoes Jim Thompson’s 30-year love affair with Southeast Asian art and cultural heritage.
- Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00 (last guided tour at 17:00)
- Location: Soi Kasemsan 2, opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road.
- BTS: National Stadium
Erawan Shrine is one of the most popular places of prayer in all of Bangkok despite the fact that it is Brahman, not strictly Buddhist. It is conveniently located close to all the shopping malls around Ratchaprasong Junction, and is an all encompassing experience with clouds of incense, garlands of flowers and exotically dressed Thai dancers performing on request. It is believed that if your prayers at Erawan Shrine are granted you must return and pay for a team of dancers to honour the four-faced Brahma God, Than Tao Mahaprom. It was erected during the mid 1950s, after the Thai government had decided to build the luxury Erawan Hotel. Construction was beset with so many problems that superstitious labourers refused to continue unless the land spirits were appeased.
- Opening Hours: 06:00-24:00
- Location: In front of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, corner of Ploenchit and Ratchadamri Road
- BTS: Chidlom
The Art and Cultural Centre is the hub of Bangkok’s burgeoning art scene and offers the widest range of contemporary art, design, music, theatre and film in the city. Located only a few minutes walk National Stadium BTS it hosts a number of changing exhibitions from both Thai and International artists. Entry is free and the centre is open from 10.00 till 21.00 every day except Mondays. Whilst it has not quite reached the calibre of the great art centres in London and New York its potential is evident and it is worth dedicating an hour or so for a visit.
- Opening Hours: 10:00-21:00, Closed Monday
- Location: Rama I Road (Opposite MBK shopping mall)
- BTS: National Stadium
4.Siam Ocean World (Siam Paragon)
Two storeys underneath the glitzy Siam Paragon shopping mall, an aquatic wonderland the size of three Olympic swimming pools awaits your discovery at the Siam Ocean World. This underground aquarium, one of the largest in Southeast Asia, will dazzle you with innovative world-class exhibits and over 30,000 curious looking creatures from various depths and aquatic regions across the globe. Children will love the exciting around-the-clock shows, including Shark Feeding, Rocky Shore Talk, Penguin Feeding, Diver Underwater Talk, Rainforest Zone Feeding, Animal Contact and Otter Feeding. You can even feed freshwater fish, among them the Chao Phraya River Stingray and Mekong Giant Catfish, or have little fish ‘massage’ your feet at the Happy Fish, Happy Feet Pool.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00 daily
- Location: Basement floor, Siam Paragon, Siam
- BTS: Siam
- How to get there: Take Exit 5 from the BTS Siam Station, which provides direct access to Siam Paragon.
5.Madame Tussauds (Siam Discovery Center)
Located in the Siam Discovery Center, Madame Tussauds Bangkok is no old-fashioned wax museum. For the entertainment value and a chance to rub shoulders with world celebrities, heads of state, activists, sports heroes and heroines, legendary artists, and even royalty, the museum is worth checking out.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00 daily (might change slightly during long weekend or national holidays)
- Location: 6th Fl. Siam Discovery Center
6.Kidzania (Siam Paragon)
Kidzania is the latest and, without a doubt, most innovative addition to the ‘edutainment’ scene in Bangkok. This is unlike anything we have seen before and the level of fun has been raised to a brand new level. Each and every one of the shops and buildings in Kidzania town is a learning experience for children from four to 15 years old. Not just some boring ‘show-how’, here kids get to be part of the shops. It’s extremely well executed and kids love it. The range of experiences is also unique as there are up to 80 different jobs to choose from, everything from being a real dentist to flying a Boeing 737!
- Opening Hours: Weekdays 10.00 AM – 5.00 PM • Weekend and Holidays – Morning 10.00 AM – 3.00 PM – Afternoon 4.00 PM – 9.00 PM
- Location: Top floor of Siam Paragon
- BTS: Siam
- Price Range: Adult (15-60 years old) : 400 baht – Kids (4-14 years old) : 650 baht – 1 kid and 1 adult : 1 050 baht – 2 kids and 1 adult : 1 700 baht
Some people want to show off with the latest and greatest experiences, but let’s be honnest, some of the high-tech cinemas lack soul. All the machinery and gadgets can’t hide that the essentially look like shiny black boxes. If you want a cinema trip with a slice of history then check of the Scala in Siam Square. This cinema was built in the 60s and they’ve kept the beautiful art deco architecture in perfect nick. The cheery chappy in a yellow blazer and bowtie has also been there since it opened. Just because the experience is vintage it doesn’t mean the screen is, the Scala have kept their audio visual equipment up to date. The same can’t be said for the seats though, one bonus modern theatres have is precious leg room.
- BTS: Siam
- Address: Scala Theatre, Siam Square Soi 1, Rama I Rd
8.Human Body Museum
The Human Body Museum in Siam Square is a weird and amazing exhibition of 14 dissected human bodies from Japan. Some might think this is a really creepy idea but there is always a small audience who quite like to be freaked out by morbid things whilst on holiday. In some ways it is a little disturbing. But as this display is located inside the Faculty of Dentistry building at the medical university of Chulalongkorn, it also makes sense as an educational exhibit. Once you get over the uneasy feeling that comes with knowing that these are the bodies of real people, you can start looking at the exhibition parts with great interest. It’s amazing to know that we are all living our little lives with these amazingly complex structures within us, but never could look at it this detail before.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm (last admission 5.30 pm), closed on Monday and national Holiday
- Location: 9th floor of the Dentistry Faculty Building of Chulalongkorn University.
- Price Range: 300 baht for adults, 100 baht for students
- How to get there: The university is very large so it’s easy to get lost. Maybe the best way is to come from the back of Siam Square and enter next to the large and easy to spot book shop.
9.Playhouse Theatre (Asia Hotel)
Playhouse Theatre has brought their family-friendly ladyboy show to Bangkok with glamourous dancers, stunning costumes and classic show tunes. The show differs from most other transvestite cabarets in that the emphasis is on expertly choreographed dance routines and showmanship (excuse the pun) rather than any kind of erotic dancing. There are over ten separate acts during the 1 hour 15 minute performance during which time the audience will be treated to renditions of Christina Aguilera, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson and Swan Lake. Playhouse Ladyboy Show takes place at The Asia Hotel and the location is a real plus point as it is has direct access to Ratchathewi BTS Station.
- Opening Hours: 20:15 and 21:45 daily
- Location: Rama 1 Road, PathumWan
- BTS: Ratchathewi
- Address: Asia Hotel 296 Phayathai Road (in front of Ratchathewi Skytrain Station
- Price Range: 1 200 baht