Bangkok is a big city that has a lot to offer, even sometimes too much! Here are 10 things that you should absolutely do, either you are just visiting or living here:
Well I guess I am not learning you anything by mentioning that food is definitely one of the best way to discover a culture and the first thing you’ll probably try after arriving in Thailand. Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup, Red Curry, Mussamam Curry and many more: Thai food is amazingly delicious and tasty and you won’t get bored of it! Therefore, make sure you always ask for non-spicy food because Thais like it hot! But where to try Thai food?
Street food is everywhere in Bangkok and really cheap plus always good! Don’t be too afraid of getting sick, after several months living here, I have never been so. But if you rather prefer to sit in a cool place (Bangkok is really warm!) or just don’t wanna take a shower because of heavy rains (personal experience!), go to a food court. I am not sure similar concept exists in Europe but basically it consists of several food stalls offering all of them different kind of food gathered in one same place. The ones I am recommanding are Pier 21 in Terminal 21 (BTS Asoke/ MRT Sukhumvit) because it is really cheap (prices start at 30 Bahts) and Food Republic in Siam Center (BTS Siam) because of its nice design (prices are around 100 Bahts). Then, if you want to sit down and experience the thai service (slow and a bit messy – all the plates usually don’t arrive in the same time!) I recommand you these restaurants with Thai clientele: Som Tum Der that offers Isaan food (delicious Papaya Salad for 50 Bahts) and Pastel & Monochrome for having dinner and then a drink in their garden (lunch menu for 300 Bahts – meal between 200 and 1000 Bahts).
Thai massage may be known painful among travelers around Thailand but don’t let this refrain you to try it! Thai massage gives a different meaning of relaxation, admittedly thorough it will therefore leave you with an amazing feeling. If you are willing to try this oil-free and fully-clothed yoga-like massage, I recommand you to go to Ruen Nam Massage Studio located in a traditionnal thai wooden house on Silom or if you want something a bit more high-class, Urban Retreat Spa, Asoke branch (on Sukhumvit) will be perfect for you. (1 hour-thai massage at 350 Bahts for both places)
The “JJ market” as so called by Thais is the largest market in Thailand and the largest weekend one in the world! It represents in itself a day trip and there are 27 sections to discover. This definitely represents a must-do in Bangkok.
Either you are willing to have a fast-paced or relaxing experience, you will find a floating fitting with your mood. Damnoen Saduak is the most touristic one and thus really busy as the Amphawa floating market, more local as being the weekend destination for Bangkokians. Therefore, if you are willing to see more traditional markets, you should try the Tha Kha or Khlong Lat Mayom ones.
Buddhism is the primary religion in Thailand, practiced by around 95% of the population. It is said that there are between 400 and 500 temples (called “Wat” in Thai) in Bangkok. Of course, some are more famous than others as Wat Pho with its famous reclining Buddha, Wat Arun on the other side of the Chao Praya, Wat Phra Kaew (same visit as the Grand Palace), Wat Saket or also called Golden Mount, all located next to the backpackers district Khao San Road or also the Marble Temple or Wat Traimit in Chinatown and many more!
It might be as well confusing sometimes to see hindu gods statues around the city. But Thai people actually do mix Buddhism and Hinduism.
As well, your experience with Buddhism can go beyond than just visiting temples. If you are an early bird, each morning around 6.30 am the 100 000 monks of Bangkok walk down the streets with their black alms bowls and you will have the chance to see donation of food mainly. This rite provides the monks their only source of food, and the lay people gain merit to ensure a better incarnation in the next life. This is a really interesting experience to see and even to be part of it.
Let’s note that I heard that women can not talk and touch monks, therefore I have seen the opposite. However, if you are a girl make sure to not touch a monk and talk to them only if you see other women doing so.
Bangkok has many skybars offering all incredible views of the city. Visiting a skybar is a must do! But which one to choose? Read this article to know the 5 best skybars in Bangkok!
7. Listen to the National Anthem
Everyday at 8am and 6pm is played the national anthem on TV, radios, BTS, MRT and streets, basically everywhere! So don’t be surprised if suddenly people stop walking or get up. It is just for a couple minutes. As well, if you go to a cinema, before each movie you will see a short movie about the King and you will have to stand up.
8. Experience a shopping mall
Bangkok has an impressive list of shopping malls! But you may be thinking: “What am I gonna do in a mall when I can do the same back home?” Well, don’t be so sure! Bangkok has some exclusive malls:
- Terminal 21 (BTS Asoke/MRT Sukhumvit): It is the paradise for any fashion lover! There, you will find small designer’s shops offering unique pieces at really affordable prices compare to Europe. Don’t like the asian style? Walk around this mall to see which city represents each floor (it is based on an airport terminal) and stop their amazing food court Pier 21.
- Pantip Plaza (BTS Chitlom): Have you ever seen a whole mall dedicated to IT? Welcome to Pantip Planza! Located on Petchaburi road, a 15min walking distance from Central World,
- MBK (BTS National Stadium): You’ll see it in every tour guides! MBK is quite impressive! You’ll find everything there and it is definitely the best place to buy your souvenirs (last floor)! You’ll pay then cheaper compared to Khao San Road or Sukhumvit and Patpong markets.
9. Buy tickets for your next trip
I guess your time in Bangkok is only a stop before getting to the islands or to the north of Thailand so you should buy your tickets here. If you are willing to take the train, go directly to the Hua Lamphong Train Station (MRT Line). You can buy your tickets at the station desks but to do so, you will have to know which train you are willing to take and thus how the train system works (train number, sleeping train or not, class and if you prefer to sleep on upper or lower bed). To get more information about the Thai train system, visit this amazing website: www.seat61.com.
If you are not really sure about which train you should take, go on the mezzanine floor of the station. You will find there 2 travel agencies selling tickets as well as tours. The one I recommand you is on the left side called Chiang Mai SK Tours & Travel. Unlike what I’ve read on internet about them, they are really friendly and helpful and they speak well english. I always go there to buy my train tickets that are at the same price than downstairs. Therefore, I took once a minivan ticket from Surat Thani to Khao Sok and it was more expensive than if I would have taken directly there. So remember that train tickets are OK but not connection buses. Then, regarding buses and tour packages fares, I am not able to recommand it or not as I have never bought it here.