If you have never thought about visiting Bangkok believing it to be nothing more than a city of brothels and pingpong shows then I’m here to tell you that you will be not only wrong but you will be in for a pleasant surprise. Whilst there is that element of go go bars and girls if you wish to go seeking out the red light district but Bangkok is so much more than that.
Visiting Bangkok for the first time may have you feeling a little overwhelmed due to it’s sheer size but within the first 24 hours as you explore this wonderful exotic city you will fast become at ease. Getting around is pretty easy too once you learn how.
Bangkok is a great family destination and a safe option for a solo traveller. If you are on a budget then you will find Bangkok to be incredibly cheap and if you have been hankering to experience a true five star luxury hotel then this is the city you can afford to do it in. The food is also a delight, from the humble street vendor with their makeshift roadside kitchen (serving tasty meals for under $2 AUS/US) to the opposite end of the spectrum, where you will be impressed with the cuisine found in award winning restaurants that will also be kind on your wallet.
I like to consider Bangkok as an exotic city of organised chaos. Just take a look around you and you will see tortured black electrical cable adorning buildings and poles, impromptu kitchens set up on foot paths, crazy traffic endlessly zooming by, fruit and veggie vendors with their produce spilling out onto the ground, sellers of wonderfully delicious fresh fruit on ice, colourful Tuk Tuks and pink taxi’s as far as the eye can see. Markets, let’s not forget those – here, there and everywhere and when you are done with the markets, then it’s time to hit the shopping centres for even more shopping. Add into the mix five star luxury hotels, Michelin star restaurants, designer couture boutiques and the roof top bars that Bangkok is famous for and you will have something for everyone.
Then when you start peeling the layers back you will discover the traditional Bangkok – worship temples and shrines heavily laden with floral tributes and incense lighting, palaces and buddhas galore. The wonderfully accommodating Thai nature, the Thai people would have to be the friendliest people on this planet and they will ensure you have a memorable visit. Learn the word sawadee as you will be greeted many times by the Thai people with a bow of the head as you pass by.
The heat and the smells may take a little getting used to but the city really is a visually interesting place to just wander about.
So if you only have a few days in Bangkok then it may be hard to narrow things down as there is plenty to see, do and experience. Here are a few “must do’s” whilst you are in Bangkok on limited time.
The Grand Palace
The former home of the Royal family, built in 1784 is an amazing sight. The architecture is both lavish and visually stunning. If you only get to see one thing in Bangkok then this is a must.
Dress modestly, shoulders and arms must be covered, dresses below the knee and no shorts of any length. Men are required to have their full legs covered. If you do not have the appropriate clothing you will either be asked to hire some clothing from the cloak room near the entry or you cannot enter.
It is best to visit early morning as the area is a sun trap and it will get unbearably warm. Bring your own water.
Wat Pho (The reclining Buddha)
Located next to the Grand Palace is Wat Pho. Wat Pho is not just another temple. It houses the impressive reclining buddha (which is over 40 meters long) and the famous massage school. Please be aware that this temple is located next door to the Grand Palace and is a ten minute walk between the two. The grounds are free to enter and only the actual temple housing the buddha will cost you an entrance fee (100 baht). There are scam artists waiting out the front who will tell you that the temple is closed and will try and take you elsewhere to sell you goods and dropping you back later and of course wasting your time. The temple opens at 8 a.m. each day and does not close until 5 p.m.
If your holiday is not complete without a bit of retail therapy then you are most certainly going to be spoilt for choice. There is a large retail shopping precinct to the North of Bangkok where you will find the following complexes: Siam Paragon, Siam Centre and the MBV. The Siam Paragon and Siam Centre are home to more upmarket clothing and shopping whereas the very popular MBV is both a market and shopping centre that is on the cheaper side of shopping.
Lebua State Tower
The Tower is Bangkok’s third tallest building – houses a luxury hotel, has the worlds’ highest open air restaurant in Sirocco and the famous SkyBar for enjoying a cocktail whilst you are admiring the panoramic view of Bangkok. Taking the lift to the Dome is completely free of charge.
Visit a rooftop bar
You can easily kill two birds with one stone if you have already visited the Lebua Tower as they have the world famous Sky Bar but the city of Bangkok is known for it’s roof top bars. Try your luck at a few others that have an equally amazing view over the city of Bangkok.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
This market was made famous for appearing in the 1960s James Bond film, depicting the lively market as a bustling trade via water boats. The market is about a two hour drive south of Bangkok and is best seen early in the morning around eight a.m. The floating vendors sell everything from fruit to souvenirs. The market concludes around midday. Best way to get there is to take a tour, where you will be picked up from your hotel via minibus.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you are lucky enough to be in Bangkok over the weekend then check out the Chatuchak Weekend Market. This market is no average market, with around 15,000 stalls that spans some 35 acres. You will not only get lost within it’s depths but you will find just about everything you can think of.
- Visit for the wonderful hospitality of the Thai people
- It is incredibly cheap – so cheap you can experience five star luxury without breaking the bank
- The Thai culture and experience a different way of life
- The amazing Thai food whether that is at a restaurant or cooked for you on the street
- The warm weather all year round
- The shopping and markets