1. Eat Street Food
Street food is a way of life for residents of Bangkok, and it isn’t something tourists should be afraid of. Vendors are as common as restaurants throughout the city, and you can get everything from fresh fruit to a full meal without breaking your wallet. One can eat very well in Bangkok thanks to the variety of street food choices. Some vendors will only have take away options, whilst others will have a few tables and chairs set up for their customers. Make sure you grab a freshly cooked Pad Thai or spicy soup when you visit the Thai capital, they are a must have!
2. Go to the Cinema
Bangkok’s many cinemas offer a luxurious experience for a fraction of the price you’ll pay at home. A plus for international visitors is that the majority of the films are shown in English. One thing you’ll definitely find unique about visiting a cinema in Bangkok is what happens before the film. After the ads and previews, all cinema patrons will stand for the King’s Song. It is imperative that everyone in the theatre does this, including tourists. The Thai people have an enormous amount of love for their King and Royal Family, and it can be punishable by law if they are disrespected.
3. Ride the BTS
One of the most comfortable public transport options I’ve experienced throughout my travels in Southeast Asia is Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain network. The BTS connects the city incredibly well and it’s fast, frequent and has the most amazing air conditioning! I think I’ve ridden it in the past just to escape the heat.
4. Get a Thai Massage
The city is flooded with massage parlors, from cheap and cheerful to high end spas at the best luxury hotels in Bangkok. A Thai massage is as painful as it is enjoyable, and it’s an experience I recommend everyone to try at least once. Rather than using oils, a Thai massage is a series of stretching and body manipulation techniques. Be prepared to get close with your therapist. An average Thai massage in Bangkok will cost you around 200 THB (~6USD).
5. Have a Sunset Drink at a Sky Bar
Bangkok’s sky bar scene is thriving. There are some fabulous places across the city to enjoy a drink while watching the sunset over the concrete jungle. If you’re staying at any of the best hostels in Bangkok, the staff will be sure to point you in the right direction. By far the most famous would be Sky Bar at the Lebua Hotel. Thanks to the movie The Hangover 2, this bar is on every tourist’s list of the best things to do in Bangkok. Take a full wallet and dress appropriately, as drinks are pricey and you can’t get in wearing your beach attire. Other bars I’ve been to and can recommend are Cloud 47, Octave Rooftop Lounge at the Marriott Hotel and Scarlett Wine Bar at the Pullman G Hotel.
6. Take a Boat Ride on the Chao Phraya River
Bangkok is known as the Venice of the East, and the busy Chao Phraya River serves as a lifeline to the city and to the rest of the country. Small canals link the city and surrounding areas, and taking a long tail boat ride throughout this water maze is a great experience when in Bangkok. You’ll see children playing, old men fishing and women doing their weekly laundry all on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. You can also get to the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and the temple of the reclining Buddha via a Chao Phraya River boat.
7. Visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market
Where you can buy anything and everything, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a great place to get your ‘haggle’ on. With over 8,000 stalls, you’re sure to find that souvenir you’ve been needing for your family and friends back home. Located 25 – 30 minutes from the centre of town via the BTS system, the market is easily accessible for tourists. My advice, bring sunscreen and be prepared to get hot! There’s a lot of outdoor space at the market, and the indoor areas can get a little close for comfort. A must-try is fresh coconut ice cream with a range of toppings.
8. Go Temple Hopping
I couldn’t write a Bangkok post without including the temples. Two must-visits are the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
The Grand Palace complex is breathtaking. The detail, colours and workmanship make this a truly amazing sight to see. The only downside is that it’s very crowded and can be very hot. A strict dress code applies, so be sure to follow the rules to enable a swift entry. Despite the crowds, if you have a good eye you can still get some incredible photos without another person in them.
Nearby the Grand Palace you can visit Wat Pho – the temple of the reclining Buddha. A sight that will amaze you, a 46m long gold plated reclining Buddha. Wat Pho also houses the most Buddha images in the whole of Thailand.
To learn more about Buddhism and the fascinating history of the temples I recommend you book a guided tour with a local guide.