Bangkok has a thriving commercial arts scene, and there are many galleries around the city showcasing the work of young Thai artists. Traditional art is well represented at major museums, and there plenty of quirky elements in the Bangkok cultural world to keep the most demanding entertained.
1. Bangkok Arts & Culture Centre
Designed as a kind of one-stop shop for the arts in Bangkok, the BACC brings together traditional and contemporary art, music, film, theatre and design. It is smack in the middle of town, opposite MBK, and features permanent and changing exhibitions.
2. Museum of Contemporary Art
This five-level gallery houses the collection of Thai magnate Boonchai Bencharongkul in a beautiful light-filled space beyond Chatuchak on the urban fringe. Most of the works are Thai, but there are a small number of Western artists featured. You will need to take a taxi to get there.
3. Museum of Buddhist Art
Apart from inside the city's great temples, this is where you can see some of the finest pieces of religious art in Thailand. The collection includes work from 10 eras of Buddhist art, from the sixth century to the present Rattanakosin period, and covering Khmer, Burmese and Ayutthaya art.
4. Artist's House
Lost amid the Thonburi khlongs is Baan Silapan, the Artist’s House, a gallery/cafe/performance space that preserves cultural treasures including traditional puppetry and classical dance. Set in a 200-year-old house, it is Bangkok’s most charming arts place. Hire a longtail to get you there.
5. Bangkok National Museum
Thailand's biggest collection of traditional art and artifacts, this museum houses an eclectic range of items including gold, precious stones, traditional weaponry, textiles, statuary and musical instruments. There is also a hall displaying funeral chariots, as well as other impressive pavilions.
6. Aksra Puppet Theatre
Thai puppetry is a declining art, but it can be seen here at its best. The black-clad puppeteers are not hidden, but as the show develops the metre-high puppets totally command the stage. The story is mostly drawn from Thai folk tales and religious epics, but there are also Japanese influences.
7. Siam Niramit
It's all terribly commercial, but Siam Niramit is lots of fun as it presents a technicolour cultural history of Thailand and Thai Buddism. The section on heaven and hell is both gruesome and gripping. The show features more than 100 performers and a host of impressive special effects.
8. Patravadi Theatre
Traditional Thai and contemporary dance combine at this innovative theatre, which is set on the west bank of the Chao Phraya with views across to the Grand Palace. Performances on weekends (Friday to Sunday at 7pm) run alongside a school offering courses in various dance disciplines.
9. Siriraj Medical Museum
Not for the squeamish, this extraordinary museum is devoted to forensics and pathology and is in Siriraj Hospital grounds. Skeletons, foetuses, even the preserved bodies of conjoined babies are displayed – along with a mummified serial killer. It's designed for medical students but open to the public.
10. M.R. Kukrit House
The home of a former Thai Prime Minister, this compound of five traditional teak houses built on stilts is home to a charming collection of Thai art, ceramics, furniture and literature. Lovely restful gardens, too, which are always a pleasure in the relentless Bangkok heat.