Bangkok – You either love it or hate it.
Bangkok is known for its crowded streets, floating markets, wild nightlife, and the never ending traffic. You will either love it or hate it. Bangkok is definitely not my cup of tea but I did like bits and pieces of Bangkok after spending a few days there. And, this is my guide to this crazy city. It is not a definitive guide to Bangkok, but, it does include a lot of pieces for a first-time visitor to Bangkok.
BTS a.k.a Sky Trains are the best way to commute if you stay nearby the BTS route. The next best option is Uber. I think the combination of two works pretty well. Do not depend only on Uber else you are sure to get stuck in the infamous traffic jams of the city. Also, try and avoid Tuk Tuk as much as possible. The price the drivers demand is unreasonable and it is a pain to bargain with them. Having said that, go on at least one Tuk Tuk ride whenever you find one with a reasonable price. The colorful Tuk Tuk’s are indeed a signature of Bangkok.
There is no dearth of things to do and see in Bangkok. There are a lot of cultural and historical sites in Bangkok. Here are few of my favorites.
Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha):
Wat Pho is one of the largest temples in Bangkok and is famous for the reclining Buddha that is approximately 46m long and is gold plated. This is a beautiful temple and the architecture is stunning. A must visit if you’ve not been here before.
The Grand Palace:
The Grand Palace is a few minutes walk from Wat Pho. It is best visited together. You can cover both Wat Pho and The Grand Palace is less than 4 hours. The Grand Palace is huge and the architecture is intricately beautiful. Do not miss the Emerald Buddha Temple inside the Grand Palace. It is a small emerald statue of Buddha inside a stunning temple.
Wat Arun and Chao Phraya River:
Wat Arun is situated on the banks of Chao Phraya river and is easily one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok. I wanted to visit the temple during sunset because it is beautifully lit up at that time. I was unlucky because the central prang was under maintenance at the time I visited. I would highly recommend visiting The Deck (or any nearby bars/restaurants) to get the best view of Wat Arun at sunset. A ferry ride on Chao Phraya is also fun in the late evenings.
Jim Thompson’s House:
If you are tired of Bangkok’s heat, traffic and the numerous shopping centers, head to Jim Thompson’s House. A charming Thai style house cum museum is an oasis amidst the crazy city. A guided tour takes you around the house whilst showering you with pieces about Jim Thompson and his role in the silk industry.
Sukhumvit Soi 11:
Sukhumvit is poor on traditional tourist attractions but rich on street shopping, nightlife, malls and restaurants. It is very modern and cosmopolitan. Sukhumvit also houses most of the luxury hotels in Bangkok. Soi 11 is very close to Nana BTS (and not very far from Asok BTS) and has great (expensive) nightlife. The dining is costly but options are galore. Also, Sukhumvit has tons of Indian restaurants which serve great Indian food (for a very high price, of course!)
Short trips from Bangkok:
It does not take more than 2 days to explore Bangkok. But, just like us if you have some extra days you can plan a day trip to Ayutthaya or you can visit Pattaya. Pattaya would need at least 2 days. However, if you’ve already visited other beach towns in Phuket or Krabi, skip Pattaya and head to Ayutthaya instead. Ayutthaya is a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site which is only 80 km from Bangkok.
You may read all about Ayyuthaya here.
It is difficult not to shop in Bangkok. Here are some places where I went for shopping –
Siam Square (Near Siam Square BTS):
Siam Square has something for everyone. Simply walk around the square and you’ll find a lot of interesting things to shop. I felt the place was good for bags and jewelry. It has a good mix of brands and local stores. If you’re looking for malls nearby, Siam Paragon and Siam Center are just a stone’s throw away.
Great place for handbags and just about anything.
Neon Night Market:
Go here for cheap street food, fresh fruits, and juices. Inexpensive trinkets and dupes of perfumes can be found here.
Khao San Road:
Khao San Road can be a bit dirty and dingy but it’s an experience worth checking out. There’s plenty of street food, tacky souvenirs, late-night nightlife, roadside(inexpensive) massage and a lot of bits and baubles.
You may also visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market, Terminal 21 Mall (right outside Asok BTS) and also choose from the numerous floating markets that dot the city.
Bangkok is tricky and whichever part of Bangkok you decide to stay you will be stuck in endless traffic jams. I will stick to Sukhumvit in this post because that is where we stayed. Staying in Sukhumvit was a blessing because of quick access to BTS. Sky trains are the only way you can escape the traffic in Bangkok. We used the metro every day for our commute.
We stayed at Aloft (Sukhumvit, Soi 11) and Four Points by Sheraton (Sukhumvit, Soi 15). These two hotels are in proximity to Nana and Asok BTS and are surrounded by zillions of restaurants, cafe, and malls. We had a great stay in Aloft and Four Points. At Aloft we were on the 32nd floor and had the best view of Bangkok city from our room. Four Points was more of a calm and relaxed setting. Both these hotels are great options in Sukhumvit.
You may read this – A guide for where to stay in Phuket, Krabi & Bangkok which has a bunch of hotel and location recommendations for your stay in Thailand.
That’s it for the guide. Now, It is your turn. What is your favorite bit from Bangkok? I would love to know, tell me about it. 🙂
Do you love Thailand? Read more about all my adventures from Thailand.
Also, you may visit ‘The Store’ which is a personally curated compilation of all my favorite things & products that I use on a day-day basis. I am sure you will find something useful for yourself.