When you think of Bangkok, its burgeoning museum scene is most likely not the first thing that comes to mind. You probably think of tuk-tuks speeding through the streets, and overcrowded street markets with overflowing street food stalls. The busyness of the streets may make it a bit difficult to find the best museums in Bangkok.
The museums of Bangkok range from fine art museums to preserved traditional Thai homes turned museums to rambling museums filled with national treasures. Escape the oppressive heat and find time to visit some of the best museums in Bangkok. Whether you are interested in the Bangkok National Museum, Batcat Toy Museum, or the Thai Human Imagery Museum, you will find plenty to keep you busy.
Once you set your itinerary, find a Bangkok luggage storage location close by to drop off your things while you step back in time, soak in the amazing culture, enjoy interactive experiences, and stroll through a palace. You will not be sorry you spent a day or two museum-hopping in Bangkok.
Located in Khet Bang Rak, the Bangkokian Museum is comprised of several adorably small homes that were built in the 1930s. The museum can be hard to find if you are not sure where you are going, but once you have found it you will be glad you did. The perfectly preserved homes give you a look into how the middle class in Bangkok lived over 90 years ago.
Stop by the more modern building of the group to view an assortment of objects and artifacts as well as old photos of the city. While this may not be the most traditional museum, it is free to visit and is a fascinating little place to spend an hour or so. The staff will happily help you translate the information plaques into English or you can download a translator.
Address: 273 Soi 43, Charoenkrung Road
Tilleke & Gibbins Museum of Counterfeit Goods
There may not be a better museum to visit in Bangkok than the Tilleke & Gibbins Museum of Counterfeit Goods where imposters come in so many different forms. Head to the Supalai Grand Tower and visit the museum located on the 26th floor. This hidden gem should definitely be on your list when museum-hopping in Bangkok.
With over 500 counterfeit items, all of which have been confiscated, you will spend hours trying to determine what tipped the government off that it was a fake item. From medication to clothing to food, there is a little bit of everything. The primary purpose of the museum is to teach you about copyright infringement.
You do have to make an appointment to visit the museum at least one day in advance unless you are planning on visiting on Monday afternoons or Thursday mornings. This is a smaller museum so you most likely will spend about an hour or two exploring.
Address: 1011 Rama 3 Road (between Soi 59 and 61) on the 26th floor of the Supalai Grand Tower.
This unique open-air museum is in the shape of Thailand and is filled with spectacular things to see including building replicas in traditional Thai style from around the country. The museum is large and it may be difficult to walk the entire place. There are free trams or bikes or you can rent a golf cart to get around.
You will most likely spend hours exploring all the nooks and crannies of Ancient Siam learning about Thai culture. There are snack bars and souvenir shops to round out your visit. Most of the replica buildings are open for you to go inside and explore. Learn about Thailand in one fantastic place. Families love coming here as there is so much to see and do.
You will want to book your tickets in advance so you can benefit from a discount. Day of tickets can be very expensive. You can bring your own drinks or you can visit the snack bars and ice cream kiosks for refreshing drinks and treats.
Address: 296/1 Moo 7, Sukhumvit Road, Bang Pu Mai Subdistrict Mueang Samut Prakan District Samut Prakan Province
Not to be confused with Ancient Siam, Museum Siam is located in Khet Phra Nakhon and is an interactive museum filled with surprising twists and fun exhibits. The neoclassical building that houses Museum Siam makes you think it is just another boring museum, but when you step through the doors you are met with a jumble of technology, modern art, and antique fixtures
There are 14 rooms to explore. Each has been designed to highlight the culture, history, and evolution of Thailand’s citizens. A mix of audio, video and interactive exhibits help you understand what is being showcased at Museum Siam. You can easily spend three hours exploring all this museum has to offer.
The permanent exhibit “Decoding Thainess” is the crown jewel where you will learn about Thai history, its people, and culture. There are several temporary exhibits that are hosted throughout the year so you can visit often. Ask about their free audio guide to help guide you through the museum without having to keep asking the staff questions.
Address: 4 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
Bangkok National Museum
This was the first national museum in Thailand and has grown to have the biggest collection of Thai art and artifacts. Housed on the Grand Palace grounds, the museum was constructed during the late 1800s and is made up of several buildings. Each building is home to different types of artworks.
There are three permanent galleries filled with artifacts and sculptures and have their own theme: Archaeological and Art History, Decorative Arts and Ethnological Collection, and Thai History Gallery. Since the buildings are so old, it seems there are constant renovations going on so do not be surprised to see work zones when you visit.
Visit on Wednesdays or Thursdays for free English tours with the price of a general admission ticket. Grab a cup of coffee at the coffee shop next to the ticket booth while you wait for the guided tour to begin.
Address: 4 Sanam Chai Road, PRA Barom Maha Rajawang Pranakorn District, Bangkok
Art in Paradise
The first 3D art museum in Bangkok, Art in Paradise is a must-see when you check out the best museums in Bangkok. Inside the museum, there are six permanent exhibit spaces on two levels. Each room is filled with paintings that have been designed to look three-dimensional. Head to the Esplanade Shopping Mall and visit Art in Paradise.
With over 150 interactive sets and paintings, some fantastical designs, period pieces, and modern works, you will want to bring your camera for a unique photo shoot with your family or friends. You are actually encouraged to “jump” into the art for phenomenal photos. From serious to silly, each room offers something amazing.
Address: Unit 408, Level 4, 99 Ratchadaphisek Road, Din Daeng, Din Daeng, Bangkok
Museum of Contemporary Art
MOCA is housed in a five-story building and is home to over 800 contemporary art pieces. The building that MOCA calls home was designed to look like it was carved from one huge piece of granite with cascading jasmine on two sides providing natural light.
The permanent exhibitions are amazing to see but the seasonal shows bring people from around the country to visit. One of the more memorable MOCA seasonal exhibits was “Legend”, an elephant-focused exhibition. The biggest collection of modern Thai sculptures and paintings can be found at MOCA.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a private museum so the artwork that can be displayed here is more controversial than government-owned museums. It is a museum you have to visit even if you are not an art lover.
Address: 499 Vibhavadi Rangsit Rd Ladvao, Chatuchak, Bangkok
Suan Pakkad Palace
You will want to visit the Suan Pakkad Palace to see traditional Thai teak houses that were built centuries ago. A group of eight houses were transported from Chiang Mai to a lush tropical garden. The palace was once the private residence of a royal Thai family who turned the buildings into a museum during the 1950s to showcase their vast treasures.
The museum still holds some of those treasures but has grown to include artifacts from all over Asia including paintings, tapestries, furniture, instruments, household items, and even an ornate throne. Be sure to wear slip-on shoes as you do have to remove your shoes prior to entering the rooms throughout the Suan Pakkad Palace.
Address: 352-354 Sri Ayudhya Rd, Rajathevi
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Many compare this culture center to the New York Guggenheim. It is exquisitely built with a central atrium that is surrounded by nine floors. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is a popular hangout for students and young people.
The museum is filled with creative arts and is home to a very large assortment of pieces from Thai artists as well as artists from around the world. Art mediums include paintings, photographs, sculptures, and modern art. One of the best things about this museum is that they host movie screenings, musical performances, and kids’ programs.
Admission is free and some of the exhibits even offer free guided tours so you do not miss a thing while here. Drop by the small shops found on each of the nine levels for souvenirs and gift ideas such as postcards, jewelry, and small drawings, paintings, or sculptures.
Address: 939 Rama 1 Road, Wangmai, Pathum Wan
Jim Thompson House
The American architect dubbed the “Thai Silk King”, Jim Thompson was credited for single-handedly saving the dying silk industry during the 1950s-1960s. Thompson was an officer at the OSS and during World War II was stationed in Thailand. After the war, he remained in the country.
He vanished in a Malaysian jungle but left a legacy behind in six traditional Thai teak houses located right in the heart of the city. One of these houses was filled with treasures he collected throughout Southeast Asia.
Today, visitors can meander through the Jim Thompson House and see his vast collection of paintings, fine porcelain, figurines, and wall hangings. Once you have completed your tour of the Jim Thompson House enjoy refreshments next to the koi pond and then do a little shopping at the gift shop. The tropical gardens surrounding the houses are a wonderful place for a peaceful stroll.
Address: 6 Kasem San 2 Alley, Bangkok
What are the best free museums in Bangkok?
Who does not love visiting a museum and paying nothing? There are thankfully a few museums in Bangkok that will not break the bank because they have free general admission. Some of the special exhibitions do cost but you can still wander through these terrific museums for free and just avoid any special exhibits.
Try the Bangkokian Museum, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Royal Elephant National Museum, and the Bank of Thailand Museum.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Bangkok?
The city center of Bangkok is a cultural hub and being able to walk to a few of the museums is a wonderful way to explore more of the city and soak in a bit of the local culture. While there are not many museums in the heart of the city, there are a few including one of our favorites, the Jim Thompson House. Here are a few other museums in downtown Bangkok: Madame Tussauds Bangkok, Nai Lert Park Heritage Home, Queen Savang Vadhana Museum, and Buddha Dharma Relics Museum.
Are there any cheap museums in Bangkok?
Cheap museums in Bangkok generally mean free museums, although there are a few that charge a nominal fee such as the Jim Thompson House and the Museum of Contemporary Art. When you are on a budget while museum-hopping in Bangkok make sure these museums are on your list: Jim Thompson House, Bangkokian Museum, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, and Museum of Contemporary Art.
Bangkok's Unique Museums For All
Whether you are planning to spend a day or an entire week checking out the museums in Bangkok, you will not want to miss some of these wonderful places. If you happen to have more time in your itinerary check out the Bangkok Folk Museum, Thai Film Museum, and Bangkok Forensic Museum. Afterward, continue your exploration of Bangkok by heading to sites like the Chatuchak Market for shopping in Bangkok or the Temple of Dawn for an incredible cultural experience. Travelers on a budget will appreciate our guide on free things to do in Bangkok as well!