5 top things to do in Bangkok
After spending my first few days of my new adventure here in Thailand in the capital, here is my 5 top things to do in Bangkok for those that follow my footsteps. I’m not normally a fan of the lists you find when surfing the net, mainly because people seem to just want to out do the next guy. What start as a list of 5, the next guy does a list of 10 and then before you know it the list of top things is 50-100 long??? It is no longer in my opinion a list of the top things, it is merely a list of everything.
With that in mind and the fact I like to contradict what I say, here is my list of 5 things must do things in Bangkok. I have kept it to 5 for the reason stated above.
The Thai’s absolutely love food and seem to eat non stop, no longer have they finished one meal but they are planning the next. This is strange when you see the size of your average Thai person, they are tiny in comparison to their European and American cousins. Where they put all this food is beyond me?
Bangkok is home to some absolutely world class hotels, and restaurants and those with unlimited budgets can eat in some of the finest establishments in Asia. But for me this is not experiencing the real Thai cuisine. You can eat in 5 star restaurants in every major city and town in the world, you don’t need to come to Bangkok for it.
What you can’t do all over the world is enjoy real, Thai food just the way the locals eat it. On the go, on the side of a Soi at what would never pass as a restaurant anywhere other than Asia. The abundance of choice and variety of the Thai cuisine will mean you can eat everyday for a year and not get bored. Absolutely everything can be bought from these carts, form the more popular Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Pad Krapow, and BBQ satay skewers. To whole salt baked fish, deep fried insects and more.
This is not just the best way to eat but also the cheapest in Bangkok,dishes start from 35thb ($1us) and you could easily have a feast of dishes to try for around $5us. No wonder this is one of our top things to do in Bangkok.
2) Experience the Culture
Experiencing the culture can mean many different things to many different people. But to me it means wandering around aimlessly finding little suburbs and enclaves that are otherwise off the beaten track. I spent many afternoons, not just in Bangkok but all over Thailand on foot wandering aimlessly. With particular agenda I ended up finding some great little places, temples, food and of course met some amazing people. Bangkok is very multi cultural and you can gain a lot of experience from not only talking to Thai’s but also the expats who have lived hear for years.
One absolutely must see Bangkok cultural sight is the grand palace, it is heavily visited by tourists, but it is a great way to learn about Thailand. Here you will gain a huge insight into why the Thai’s are the way they are, what motivates them, what makes them happy and their philosophy.
3) Visit a market
Another favorite past time of the Thai’s is shopping, they love it. And Bangkok is home to some world class shopping, the city boasts the same high end boutiques and super malls as any other major city. But as with the food scene this is not what I am recommending, the best shopping in my opinion is at a real Thai market.
Almost every corner of the city boasts a market or two, some are traditional Thai markets, frequented only by locals and expats, some are pure tourist traps. Wherever you choose we recommend staying away from the markets that seem to only offer tacky souvenirs, and cheap copy football shirts. That is a big sign that the market is purely here to satisfy the tourists.
A real Thai market is a great experience, full of color and vibrancy, and smells to awaken every sense. The one I chose to spend an afternoon was Chatuchak market, I can only assume it is not only my favorite but the pick for most people as it is easily the biggest here. The market apparently attracts 250,000 shoppers a week not bad going. Here you can buy almost anything imaginable, clothing, jewelry, food, flowers, souvenirs, electronics.
Prices will be much cheaper than you will find in Europe, but haggling is a must to get the best price.
4) Khao San Road
It doesn’t matter what age or stage of life you are at, a visit to the infamous Khao San Road is a must. Most guides you read portray this area as backpacker paradise full of hostels, cheap bars, drunken stupors and con men. But this is far from what I experienced. It may have started that way 20 years ago, but now it is a vibrant and chilled hub for the longer term traveler.
The reason I recommend visiting is however to pick up tips from other travelers, meet new people and gain new experiences. Just don’t listen to the constant stream of Thai’s who will approach you offering all sorts of new tours and to show you the city. They are only interested in a quick buck and not you.
5) Visit a Nightlife Zone
Now i’m not condoning these sort of red light zones, or “entertainment complexes” as they are known here. And I understand a lot of people will say visiting only encourages. But they are a big part of the city now, and there seems to be no getting away from them.
And I am certainly not suggesting you need to partake or indulge in any activity here, but you should at least wander up and down one of the more famous zones, such as Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy. But the one I went to was Patpong, this was mainly to kill two birds with one zone. Patpong is not only famous for it’s nightlife scene, but also boasts some great food stalls as well as a decent night market. Although I refrained from making any purchases here as it seemed expensive compared to Chatachuk.
Well that’s enough from me On Bangkok, you will no doubt find your own things to do in Bangkok, and if you follow step 2 and wander around no doubt they will be awesome.
Next I headed up north to the cooler more relaxed part of the country Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.