Bangkok is an exciting city that is known to be crowded, hot and never still; as it’s eight million plus inhabits go about their daily lives amongst the masses of tourists who descend there annually to explore and discover more of this iconic South East Asian city. Be their interest historic, cultural, epicurean, the vibrant nightlife or power shopping, this is a place that over delivers and the museum scene is no different, yet here there’s more than meets the eye, with some unusual offbeat and somewhat bizarre places to visit. Should you be drawn to the unusual, these Bangkok Museums are for you.
Bangkok Doll Museum
Opened by Khunying Tongkorn Chandavimol, a Thai woman who trained at the prestigious Ozawa Doll School in Japan and who has become Thailand’s most talented doll maker started this small museum in 1957. The museum has a collection of almost 500 handmade dolls and there is a heavy showcase of traditional Thai khon puppet characters from the Ramakien dance drama, along with dolls wearing costumes of the various northern hill tribes and ethnic groups, as well as the costumes worn throughout rural Thailand, as well as a section dedicated to traditional costumes from around the world. Best of all, the dolls are all for sale, so you can take home a souvenir home.
Museum of Counterfeit Goods
The Museum of Counterfeit Goods is one of the city’s more interesting museums and is well worth a visit. Bangkok is known to be one of the world’s capitals for counterfeit goods, as any walk through a market will show, and while the most of us might not think twice about buying a fake watch, or some perfume, this well laid out display that is part of the Tilleke and Gibbins law firm, promises to educate people about intellectual property and how destructive it can be for all parties involved. There are thousands of goods seized in raids, case study examples, and the law firm provides well-prepared free lectures and guided tours. Be sure not to wear a knock-off Prada bag or Polo shirt. Visits by Appointment.
Bangkok Forensic Museum
Not for the faint-hearted, Bangkok’s Forensic Museum is found inside the Siriraj Hospital and offers a rather fascinating exhibition for travellers searching for something extremely unusual. The hospital features six distinct museums within two separate buildings, with the pathology and forensic rooms seeming to hold the most interest. There are some macabre displays, ranging from dead bodies and mummified corpses of murderers to accident victims and genetically mutated babies that float in jars of formaldehyde. Body parts, skeletons and victims of various parasites round out the collection. The museum is fascinating, informative, and serves as an educational lab for medical students.
Museum of Siam, National Discovery Museum Institute
Also known as the Discovery Museum, the Museum of Siam offers a well-designed multimedia exhibition that focuses on the questions of “who are Thais” and “what is Thai culture?” tracing Thai history from past to present. Going through a series of different rooms, you will uncover the different facets of Thai history, from Suvarnabhumi to Buddhism, to the founding of Ayutthaya and Thailand today, in relation to the world. In each room visitors have a variety of digital exhibits they can interact with, and video exhibitions that offer insight into “Thai-ness”, explaining the history and ethnography of the regions. Friendly staff greets everyone and the instructions are to please touch everything.
Condom Museum, Ministry of Public Health
Aptly based at the Department of Medical Sciences in Nonthaburi, the museum lets visitors tour the lab where condoms are tested. It is no surprise that Thailand is one of the world’s largest producers of condoms and from just turning that into a joke, the Museum is an effort by the Ministry of Health to get Thais to overcome their negative images of condom usage. The museum is tucked into the back of the sprawling Ministry of Health complex, and has several small rooms that show the history of condom awareness and manufacturing in Thailand, with sizes, colors and flavors of every spectrum on display. There are even strength and endurance testing rooms, where staff will show you just how far they can stretch a piece of rubber. Giggling as you learn is certainly allowed.
Bangkok Airplane Graveyard
‘This is where kings of the sky are left to die’. Next to an auto body shop off of Ramkhamhaeng Road in Bangkok is an abandoned 747. Decommissioned planes seem to have occupied the land since at least 2010, the first reported as the nose sections of two Boeing 747s. In January of 2014, two MD-82 jetliners formerly operated by Orient Thai Airlines were added. By 2015 a 747 had joined the ranks, as well as other unusual additions.
Said to be owned by a local businessman who has been selling off parts of the airplanes for scrap, they have been stripped of seats, interior panelling, TV sets, and overhead compartments. Flight magazines, oxygen masks, and life vests litter the grounds and interiors. The families who live in the scrapped planes have done what they can to make it comfortable. There is a fee to enter of about 500-1000 baht, depending on the day, which goes to support the resident families. Should you visit do respect the local residents and leave everything in its original state. If people’s curtains are down, or the doors are not open, do not bother them.
While technically it isn’t a museum but private property, it is undoubtedly one of the world’s more famous abandoned places and you are unlikely to be the only one there exploring.
A truly photogenic landscape, if you can see beauty in unexpected places.
- Before travelling, take a look at my Etiquette Guide To Travel In Thailand for some useful guidance, and Bangkok Fun Facts and Recommended Highlights for more info on the city.
- Read about my visits to Thailand and visit the Amazing Thailand South Africa blog.
- For any additional information, connect with Lesley Simpson of Lesley Simpson Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Included photos sourced on Pixabay.