Whether you’re visiting the city for the first time or are a regular visitor, Thailand’s capital will win you over with its exceptional museums, which you won’t find anywhere else. Here are a few must-visit museums in Bangkok!
Nestling on the south-east coast of Asia, Bangkok is a vibrant metropolis with lively rooftops, night markets, gourmet restaurants and much more. As well as its vibrant atmosphere, Bangkok is also known for its sacred character, emanating from the presence of centuries-old temples and a culture dating back thousands of years.
1. Bangkok National Museum
- Address: 4 Na Phra That Alley, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
- Opening hours: 8.30 am-4pm Wednesday to Sunday
- Admission: 5.5$
Bangkok National Museum is the bastion of Thai art, history and culture par excellence. It houses an impressive ethnological collection, including treasures such as classical dance costumes, Khon masks, Chinese silhouettes and traditional musical instruments. It also contains sculptures and busts dating back to key periods in Thai history, including Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.
The museum is spread over six separate buildings, one of which houses the majestic Buddhaisawan Chapel with its elegant murals and the sacred image of Buddha, while most Thais come to pay their respects in the historic gallery of Siwamokhaphiman Hall, which contains the famous Inscription No. 1 of King Ramkhamhaeng.
The Bangkok National Museum is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm, and is closed on public holidays. During your visit, feel free to take photos of the various works of art on display, but be careful not to use the flash, out of respect for the delicate pieces. There is no formal dress code, but it is advisable to dress appropriately, bearing in mind the sensitivities of other visitors.
2. Siam Museum
- Address: 4 Sanam Chai Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
- Times: 10am – 6pm Tuesday to Sunday
- Admission: 2.7$
Nestled in a majestic European-style building, the Siam Museum offers immersive tours focusing on the richness of Thai culture, exploring its people, traditions and the metamorphoses it has undergone over the decades. The museum embraces the philosophy of experiential learning by adhering to the concept of a museum of discovery, a new form of museum designed to offer a dynamic and lively experience, aimed at stimulating visitors’ thinking and arousing their curiosity.
As soon as you enter the first room, you will be invited into a small theatre where a film explores the fundamental question: “What does it mean to be Thai?” After this introduction, you will be led through the complex, which will attempt to answer this question using a variety of elements, such as models, traditional objects, photographs, and much more.
From room to room, you’ll be transported through Thailand’s fascinating history, from the beginnings of Ayutthaya to daily life, through the defining moments of its history, conflict, Buddhism, and finally, the rapid entry into modernity. Each room is beautifully decorated, and time passes more quickly than you might imagine, thanks to a number of interactive exhibits.
The Siam Museum is a real eye-opener, and while museums aren’t usually top of your holiday list, it’s an exceptional introduction to the spirit and culture of Thailand, without ever being boring. Plus, being so close to Wat Pho, it’s a perfect addition to a day exploring this part of Bangkok.
3. Bangkok Art and Culture Center
- Address: 939 Rama I Road, Pathum Wan, Bangkok
- Opening hours : 10am – 9pm Tuesday to Sunday
- Admission : free
Located in the bustling district opposite Siam Square and MBK, the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) is the beating heart of Bangkok’s thriving art scene. It offers a diverse range of contemporary art, design, music, theatre and film. Just a short walk from BTS National Stadium Skytrain Station, the BACC regularly hosts changing exhibitions featuring Thai and international artists.
As well as the breathtaking exhibitions it houses, the architecture of the BACC is quite exceptional and will leave you speechless. The perfect fusion of natural light and optimised artificial lighting enhances the experience in its exhibition galleries. Inside and out, the building is reminiscent of the famous Guggenheim Museum in New York, with its vast curved white façade and spiral walkways. The modern feel of the building blends harmoniously with traditional Thai culture, with its high ceilings showcasing a variety of exhibitions.
The Bangkok Art and Culture Center also houses a unique art library, a true paradise for art lovers. In addition, the centre offers a variety of shops and cafés where you can take a break while exploring this endlessly exciting exhibition space.
For a more leisurely experience, it’s best to visit the BACC in the morning, when it’s less busy, allowing you to explore in more detail. The quickest and most convenient way to get there is by BTS Skytrain. You can get off at National Stadium station, then take the Skybridge to the 3rd floor of the BACC for direct access.
4. Jim Thompson House Museum
- Address: 6 Kasem San 2 Alley, Pathum Wan, Bangkok
- Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm
- Admission: 5.5$
The Jim Thompson Museum occupies the former home of the late James Thompson, an American businessman who devoted more than 30 years of his life to revitalising Thailand’s silk industry in the 1950s. Set in a charming garden complex on the banks of the Saen Saeb canal, the site is home to six traditional Thai teak houses from Ayutthaya and the silk village of Ban Khrua. Both a museum and an art centre, it exhibits Thompson’s collection of Asian antiques and Thai silk.
The Jim Thompson Museum spans four floors of multifunctional cultural space, including two exhibition galleries, a multi-purpose rooftop space, a café, a museum shop, and a William Warren Library. In addition, several halls and open-air spaces seamlessly link the buildings. A tour of the house introduces visitors to Thailand’s traditional silk industry, offering an insight into the intricate steps involved in creating a sophisticated piece of silk by the skilled hands of local artisans.
Located in the Siam district, close to the BTS National Stadium aerial metro station, access to Jim Thompson House is easy. When you get off the train, take Exit 1 and follow Soi Kasemsan 2 on your right. Continue to the end of the street and you will see the museum on your left.
5. Siriraj Medical Museum of Death
- Address: Adulyadejvikrom Building, 2 Wang Lang, Bangkok
- Opening hours: 10am – 5pm
- Admission: 5.5$
At the heart of Siriraj Hospital, Thailand’s foremost forensic medical institution, lies the Museum of Anatomy, also known as the Bangkok Medical Museum. It boasts a striking and, for some, disturbing collection of foetuses, malformed beings and organs dissected or preserved in formalin. It also represents the first Western-style medical establishment in the Kingdom of Thailand. It may not be a tourist destination for the faint-hearted, but for those who enjoy exploring, a visit to Siriraj promises an unforgettable experience.
The Medical Museum consists of six small museums, all nestled on the campus of Siriraj Hospital. Mental preparation is essential for tackling this confusing-looking museum, as the special exhibits it houses are nothing like the usual sculptures, paintings on metal, wood or stone.
One of the most disturbing little museums is the Ellis Museum, which displays deceased foetuses with congenital malformations, carefully preserved in glass jars. The Museum of Criminology also features the mummies of notorious murderers, as well as victims of natural disasters and accidents. It is strictly forbidden to take photographs or bring food into the museum. It is also important to note that some parts of the museum may not be suitable for pregnant women and children, which should be taken into consideration before planning a visit.
6. Erawan Museum
- Address: 99/9 Ban Mueang Mai, Samut Prakan district
- Opening hours: 9am – 7pm
- Admission: 11$
Located on the outskirts of Bangkok, Erawan Museum is a little-known gem on the city’s traditional tourist circuits. According to its founder, the Erawan Museum was designed to embody the spirit of Asia by preserving the essence of the arts and the four great religions, in order to share the foundations of Eastern civilisation with Asians and the whole world, under the aegis of philosophical inspiration.
The building and its gardens are extraordinarily beautiful, but the most striking feature is undoubtedly the gigantic three-headed elephant enthroned majestically at the top of the main building. The three-headed elephant, Airavata (known as Erawan in Thai), comes from Hindu mythology and not only represents the vehicle of the god Indra, but is also a symbol of the cosmography of Eastern beliefs. The Erawan Museum houses one of Thailand’s most exquisite private art collections, while simultaneously serving as a visual representation of the three levels of Thai Theravada Buddhist cosmology: the underworld, the human world and the heavens.
To get to the Erawan Museum, simply take the Chang Erawan BTS, just 40 minutes from the city centre. Shuttle buses are available near Exit 2, inside Kor Sor Nor Samut Prakan. Please dress modestly, although the museum does provide skirts and overcoats for visitors if required.
7. Children’s Discovery Museum
- Address: 810 Kamphaeng Phet 4 Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok
- Times : 10am – 4pm Tuesday to Sunday
- Admission: free of charge
Children’s Discovery Museum located in Bangkok, is a creative and innovative space designed to offer children the opportunity to learn while having fun through a variety of interactive exhibitions and indoor and outdoor activities. It features a host of apparatus, games and galleries designed to encourage learning through experimentation. Children can create huge bubbles, explore illusions through mirrors, and listen to recordings of languages from around the world.
In addition, they can immerse themselves in Thai culture, understand how electronic devices work, and immerse themselves in reading in the dedicated zone. There are also music rooms, folk art areas and car modules.
Bangkok’s Children’s Discovery Museum is easily accessible by public transport. You can take the MRT blue line and get off at Chatuchak Park stop, or take the Sukhumvit BTS line to Mo Chit station. From there, the Children’s Discovery Museum is just a 5-minute walk away. If you prefer, you can also opt for a taxi, as fares are relatively affordable in Bangkok, ranging from 2 to 5 baht depending on the distance.
It’s worth noting that the museum is close to the famous Chatuchak weekend market, making it easy to combine a visit with another of Bangkok’s most popular attractions.
8. Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center
- Address: 661 Charoen Krung Road, Talat Noi, Bangkok
- Opening hours: 8.30 am – 4.30 pm Tuesday to Sunday
- Admission: 1.1$
Located on the first floor of Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Centre is a small but extremely captivating museum dedicated to the Chinese community in Thailand. It uses a variety of audiovisual devices and state-of-the-art technology to make the history of the Chinese and the development of Bangkok’s Chinatown both exciting and educational.
The tour begins with a video that immerses visitors in the life of Yaowarat Chinatown in the 1940s. The origins of Chinese history in Bangkok and Thonburi are then explored. The visit becomes particularly captivating in the room that traces the lives of Chinese immigrants, describing their perilous journey through storms and rough seas in the hope of finding a better life in Thailand. The history room “1861 to the present day” presents events relating to the reigns of Kings Rama IV to Rama IX, as well as major events in the world and in China, highlighting their impact on the Chinese community in Thailand.
The museum features life-size exhibits that allow visitors to step back in time and experience the arduous journey of the Chinese aboard junks, as well as a day in the life of old Bangkok. The museum is also an excellent introduction to exploring Chinatown on foot. To get to the museum, take the metro to Hua Lamphong station and walk to the shrine from there.
9. Science Center for Education (Planetarium Bangkok)
- Address: 928 Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei, Bangkok
- Opening times: 9am – 4.30pm Tuesday to Sunday
- Admission: 1.38$
The Bangkok Planetarium, also known as the Science Center for Education, offers a surprisingly fun and engaging experience for children and adults alike. It offers a variety of experiments covering areas such as elementary physics, magnetism, human anthropology, dinosaurs, insects, oil production in Thailand, ecology and much more. However, its central theme is space, making it an extraordinary place to learn, suitable for all levels and ages.
Established in 1964, the Bangkok Planetarium houses fascinating permanent exhibitions in four main buildings: the Planetarium, which offers information on astronomy through a planetarium system; the Science and Technology Building; the Underwater World, where you can explore the life cycle of marine life; and Nature and the Environment. In addition, there are exhibitions focusing on health sciences, where you can learn how to maintain good physical condition.
The experience of sitting under the planetarium’s vast dome and watching the stars, constellations and our own solar system unfold is simply magnificent. However, it’s a shame that English-language shows are only offered once a week. What’s more, the Bangkok Planetarium is very easy to get to. A short walk of about 200 metres from the Ekkamai BTS Skytrain station (near the upmarket Emporium shopping centre), exit 2, will take you directly to the planetarium.
10. Suan Pakkad Palace Museum
- Address: 352 Si Ayutthaya Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok
- Opening hours: 9am – 4pm
- Prices: €2.61
Suan Pakkad Palace Museum is the first museum in Thailand, established on the basis of the private property of the royal family. It was opened in 1952 by Princess and Prince Chumbhotpong. Its name, “Suan Pakkad,” means “the land where cabbages grow,” in memory of the time when this land was just a vegetable garden. Today, it is a splendid tropical garden with peaceful ponds surrounding traditional Thai houses. The traditional architecture of Suan Pakkad Palace is a wonderful recreation of a bygone era in Bangkok.
Comprising eight Thai teak houses, Suan Pakkad Palace is home to a remarkable collection of art and artefacts handed down from generation to generation within the royal family. A visit here will give you the chance to admire a wide range of items, including musical instruments, precious stones, Chinese porcelain, statues from different eras, shells and fossils, masks and traditional dance costumes, as well as pottery, ceramics and furniture.
Unlike other museums, Suan Pakkad Palace offers a more peaceful atmosphere, ideal for a quiet visit. The gardens are a haven from the hustle and bustle of the city beyond its walls. To get to the museum, simply take the green line of the Sukhumvit BTS SkyTrain. It’s about a ten-minute walk from the Skytrain station to Suan Pakkad Palace.
Here are the best museums in Bangkok to visit. We hope this selection has inspired you to explore more of the cultural, artistic and historical wealth of this magnificent country. On your next trip to the Thai capital, be sure to include some of these extraordinary museums in your itinerary, and discover the treasures they hold.