Street-by-Street: Around Sanam Luang



Street-by-Street: Around Sanam Luang

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Sanam Luang (“field of kings” or “royal ground”) is one of the few sizable open spaces in Bangkok. It is the traditional site for royal cremations, the annual kite flying festival, and the Royal Plowing Ceremony. Spiritually speaking, this area is one of the luckiest in the city, with the Grand Palace, the Lak Muang (City Pillar) shrine, and the Amulet Market bordering Sanam Luang. Neighboring streets overflow with salesmen hawking lotions, potions, and amulets for luck, love, or protection from evil spirits. Astrologers gather to chart your stars or read your palm. Notable sights include Wat Mahathat, Thailand’s most revered center of Buddhist studies, and the National Museum, which charts Thailand’s fascinating history.

Wat Mahathat

Meditation classes are held at the Buddhist university within this temple’s compound. Dating from the 18th century, the wat is more notable for its bustling atmosphere than its buildings.

Silpakorn University of Fine Arts

The entrance to Thailand’s most famous art school can be found on Na Phra Lan Road. The university regularly puts on excellent art shows in its exhibition hall. See the signs outside the entrance for details and opening times.


The Thais are a highly superstitious people – those who do not wear some form of protective or lucky amulet are firmly in a minority. Amulets come in myriad forms and are sold in specialty markets, often near spiritually auspicious sites. Although many are religious in nature – such as tiny Buddha images and copies of sacred statues – others are designed for more practical purposes, such as model phalluses to ensure sexual potency. Amulets are such a big business that there are even magazines dedicated to them.

National Museum

A magnificent range of arts and crafts from every period of Thai history are displayed in this huge museum.

Kite Flying at Sanam Luang

King Chulalongkorn (1868–1910) was an avid kite flyer and permitted Sanam Luang to be used for the sport. Fiercely contested kite fights can often be witnessed here between February and April.

Fortune Teller at Sanam Luang

Many Thais set great store by the predictions of fortune tellers and often visit those who gather on Sanam Luang near Wat Phra Kaeo.



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