Bangkok. It is one of the most loved cities in the entire world. It is a lively, chaotic, international, and fun city. It covers 600 miles of territory and has a population of over 8 million. You could easily spend months exploring the city.
The city has been home to me more times than I can count. I lived there for several years. Since 2004, when I arrived in Bangkok, I have seen the city grow and change in many ways.
There aren’t many touristy activities in Bangkok, but plenty of cultural and food-based activities will give you an idea of Bangkok’s real life beyond the tourists.
Enjoy a Free Walking Tour
A free walking tour is one of my first actions upon arriving in a new place. The tour will take you to the most important sights and teach you about history. It also gives you a glimpse into the culture. You’ll also have a local expert guide to help you with questions and offer suggestions and recommendations.
Bangkok Walking Tours offers a variety of tours that give a good overview of the city. Make sure you tip your guide!
The Grand Palace
Built by King Rama I in 1782-1785, the Grand Palace was completed during the period when Bangkok’s capital moved from Thonburi. Although it is the King’s official residence, it’s only used for ceremonies.
Because of limited wood supplies, the palace was initially constructed with wood. After raiding other sites in the area, the team eventually could locate the building materials they required. The palace, hidden behind concrete walls, is not one large building. It’s a collection of temples and chedis, mound-like structures containing Buddhist relics, carvings, statues, and the famous 15th-century Emerald Buddha.
Wat Pho and Wat Arun are both worth a visit.
Wat Pho is known as the Temple of Reclining Buddha. It is well-known for its huge golden reclining Buddha statue. The statue, which measures 15 meters high and 46 meters in length, was built in 1832. It is one of the most visited sights in the city.
It is approximately the same size as a block of city blocks and contains tons of reliefs and statues. There are also many courtyards, temples and temples. This is not a simple photo opportunity. On the grounds is also the prestigious Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School. After seeing all the sights, you can get a massage. It is the best in the country. You will need to be there early or late in the morning to get your massage.
Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn (Temple of the Dawn), is a beautiful Buddhist temple on the Chao Phraya River’s edge. It’s right opposite the Grand Palace on the side of the river. The main spire offers sweeping views over the city. The facade is intricately tiled and reflects the sun beautifully at sunrise and sunset. It is my favorite temple in the entire city.
Khao San Road: Experience it
This is the backpacker capital in the world. Since 1980s, Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri have been Asia’s hub for backpackers. It’s now a tourist hot spot with hawkers, bars and street stalls all around, but it’s still an enjoyable place to spend some time. Enjoy a drink and some pancakes while you wait and meet other travelers.
This is the largest Chinatown in the world. There are many great restaurants, street food, and places to shop. The main attraction is the food. You’ll find tons of food vendors in the city selling food you won’t find anywhere else.
You should spend time exploring the narrow streets of this city and sampling all you can if you love seafood. You don’t have to know where to eat if you aren’t sure. Just pick a stall with lots of locals.
Take a River Cruise
Take a Chao Phraya River tour to see the city from a new perspective. River cruises are a great way to relax and enjoy the river’s 370km (229 miles) length. Avoid taking a costly river cruise. You can instead take a water taxi along the river and only pay a few dollars. You can start at the pier and go to the end. Then, you can come back. It’s a great way to save money while enjoying a fun river tour that weaves through the city.
The Floating Market is available for your viewing pleasure.
Although the floating markets can be touristy, they can be a lot of fun and should not to miss. The main floating markets are Khlong Lat Mayom (the most popular) and Taling Chan. You can shop while they go by in their boats. It’s a unique experience!
You can get lost in the chaos and aromas of the markets, which can lead to sensory overload. It would help if you arrived early, especially at Taling Chan, to beat the tour groups and crowds. You will find cheap food everywhere, so bring your appetite. I like to go to the market to find out what I’m interested in; then I go on to eat my way.
The Museum of Siam is open to the public.
This museum focuses on the history and culture of Thailand. It was opened in 2007. The museum is located in an 18th-century European-style building and is fully interactive. The museum features multimedia displays, movies, galleries and interactive exhibits that focus on culture, history and war as well as the making of modern Thailand. It does a great job at keeping the museum both educational and fun.
Visit the Bangkok Malls
Bangkok malls are different from other countries’ malls. They are more like social centers where people can meet up to eat and relax in the heat. There are many food courts here and coffee shops that can be used for relaxation or work. You also have movie theatres and bowling alleys. They are great places to meet up and enjoy some of the more unusual experiences in the city.
Terminal 21 (my favorite mall), MBK Center for electronics and knock-offs, Siam Paragon (upscale) and Pantip Plaza for electronic shopping are some of my favorites.
Visit More Temples
Bangkok offers many more temples to explore. For a day, you can hire a driver to drive you around Bangkok. These are some of my favorite temples:
- Wat Saket This temple is one of my favorite spots in the city, with its stunning golden dome and breathtaking views from the top. Admission costs 10 THB.
- Wat Benchamabophit This temple is shown on the back of the 5-baht currency and features 53 Buddha images that represent different Buddhist mudras ritual gestures. Admission costs 20 THB.
- Wat Ratchanatdaram This temple was built in the 1840s and is the only one in the world with a bronze roof. Admission is completely free.
- Wat Trimit is a temple in Chinatown that houses a huge solid-gold Buddha statue (6 tons). Admission costs 40 THB.
- Wat Mahahat is Thailand’s oldest Buddhist monk institute. You can also find amulets for luck, love and money at the weekly market.