Bangkok has a plethora of interesting things to offer, so we’ve compiled a list of what stuck with us best of all to help you guys plan your days out.
- The Grand Palace – You can’t do Bangkok without seeing The Grand Palace. These ornate sprawling structures are home to not only Thai royalty, but years of history and things to learn. A word of advice – go as early as earthly possible. The Palace packs with tourists around 10a and stays full as a can of sardines until the tourist attraction closes. Pair that with the high sun and sweltering heat and, well, you get the picture. Also, ladies your shoulders MUST be covered, and a scarf will not do, so plan your outfit accordingly. We were forced to purchase T-shirts to put over our jumpsuits after some security guards yanked our scarves off our shoulders to find spaghetti straps. Avoid the drama. Cover your shoulders.
- Wat Pho – This ancient temple is frequently overlooked, but at only a five minute walk from The Palace we can’t figure out why. Wat Pho is not only a gorgeous temple with some of Thailand’s most fascinating history, it’s the home and learning center of Thai massage. If you have the time, pop into the temple’s school for a massage. They’re the most expensive in the city ($20) but they’re well worth the traditional experience. It’s also a great spot for souvenirs, we left with traditional Thai balm that helped us with mosquito bites, bruises, aches and pains throughout our trip and after we’ve returned home.
- Roof Top Bars – We asked around while in Bangkok to see which rooftop bar was the most famous or well known. If you’re a movie buff, then Sky Bar is your place (most recently well-known from Hangover 2). But what we learned was that every hotel is now competing for the best bar in the clouds, and each has a completely different experience and menu. We recommend The Marriot’s rooftop bar. It wasn’t over-crowded, but still had an impeccable view of the city, and their mixologist was whipping up beautiful cocktail inventions using the best of what Thailand has to offer from rice to coconut.
- Outdoor Markets – These market’s can change seasonally or depending on the day of the week, so make sure to check which markets are on when you happen to be in town. If you’re down for a true Thai experience hit up Klongsan Market. It’s easy to get to using the metro system, and a regular hot spot for locals just getting off work and looking for food. You probably won’t hear much English there, so be ready to use your best non-verbal communication, and then… enjoy! If you’re looking for something a little more easy to navigate as a tourist, check out Bangkok’s Farmer’s Market, just be sure to check that it’s on the date you plan to go.
- Malls Malls Malls – We rarely recommend traveling to another country and going to the mall (okay maybe in Belgium and South Korea too), but Bangkok’s obsession with fashion has taken over a good portion of the city with some of the biggest malls, and fanciest brands in the world. Head down Sukhumvit road and you’ll pass the mammoth structures one by one. What makes these malls unique, is that since they’re so near to each other and so competitive they’ve gone above and beyond with their style and design, incorporating things like waterfalls, giant art installations and LED flowers you’d otherwise only see in Disney Parks. Whether or not you’re a shopper, it’s worth the tour.
- Red Light District – We put this last on our list cause we get the sexual tourism is not for everyone, to be quite frank, we’re not even sure it’s for us – especially as women traveling alone. We set out by asking other travelers in our hostel who had been what they thought of each of the three red light districts in Bangkok and their experience. They all shared similar stories of having fun, but being held up for more money by the bouncer upon their exit (being asked for more money after having paid the entry fee, and any purchases made inside). So instead of braving the scene on our own we signed up for one of the reputable tours our hostel recommended and took a look from a distance. What I will say is this: if you’ve never been to a red-light district before, go with an open mind and as little judgement as possible, and if you’re worried you’ll feel uncomfortable – don’t go. There’s nothing wrong with it “not being your thing”. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in a different country so follow your gut, your instincts and your feelings, and if a friend in your group decides to hang back, don’t give them slack for it. Respect their decision. A friend in our group had no interest in going and none of us argued with that decision nor shamed her for it.
Remember no matter where you are, if your priorities are to be safe and have fun you’re probably headed in the right direction!