Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and as much as it is a big city, it's a crazy mish-mash of cosmopolitan, intensely rooted culture, shopping heaven, tourist treasure and culinary surprise. It's fast-paced and wild and the perfect place to start your adventures in Thailand.
Let's jump right into my top 10 things to do in Bangkok.
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The best 10 things to do in Bangkok
#10 – Chinatown
Chinatown is bustling with activity and more importantly a lot of cheap local eats. There are a lot of hidden treasures here including food stands on the streets. Don't be deceived, you don't necessarily come down for the Chinese food but for some awesome Thai food.
#9 – Golden Mount
The sad part of this is that I never got to go up to the top of the Golden Mount because they close quite early but the views from here are supposed to be amazing. The temple itself is also quite unique, nestled atop a hill in the middle of the city which is what gives its commanding view of the city.
#8 – Siam Paragon
Bangkok is also big into shopping and the Siam Paragon is one of the newest ones of the bunch on the main drag of Sukhumvit. There are a ton of shops here if you're into that. If you just want to check it out, I'd recommend heading down to the basement like I did to grab food in the food court. Lots of food surprises here!
#7 – Wat Po Massage School
I found out about this one through the guide books and for something supposedly very popular, it is pretty damn hard to find. The maps I had were completely useless and it was pretty difficult to explain to the locals where you wanted to go because they'd think you're talking about Wat Pho or any sort of random massage place. We eventually did find it, in one of the small alleyways and true to the reviews, I was able to get an authentic Thai massage that was no frills. Prices are cheap, surroundings aren't the most luxurious but they get the job done there!
#6 – Rooftop Bars
Something I was really excited about heading into Bangkok was checking out one of their many rooftop bars. There are quite a few to choose from including Sky Bar at Sirocco and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel. We ended up picking the Moon Bar because a lot of reviews said it was less touristy as Sky Bar and there was a good chance to just sit down, enjoy a drink and some nuts. We did just that and took in the incredible view from the top. Loved it!
#5 – Chatuchak Weekend Market
This is a little dependent on if you're in Bangkok for the weekend but if you are, this is something not to be missed. It's a crazy market that you can pretty much call a flea market on steroids. The amount of space this market covers is just incredible. Even though we spent half a day there, I think we must've only seen half of the market. Lots of knick knacks to buy, food and drinks to get and of course lots and lots of clothes.
#4 – Khao San Road
A trip to Bangkok just wouldn't be complete without a visit to the well-known backpacker street of Khao San. If you need any sort of touristy souvenirs this is the place to get it. If you want to find a cheap place for drinks and to party, this is the place to be. If you want to meet other backpackers and travellers on the road, you won't find them any more concentrated than here. This place livens up at night and is just packed with energy. I had a fun time just roaming around through these streets, checking out the stores and trying out various food.
#3 – Wat Arun
Across the Chao Phraya river, Wat Arun is just a ferry ride away. There are a ton of temples to see in Bangkok but I would say this one is pretty unique. There's a steep climb to the mid level of the temple but even a vertically challenged guy like me was able to handle it. There are lovely views from the top and overall is quite different from the other temples as it is almost fully outdoors and centered around the main tower that you see.
#2 – Wat Pho
Who am I kidding, this one is pretty damn cool. Most of the time you see Buddha's in a very serious, cross legged position but the Buddha in Wat Pho is fully reclining and chilling. We opted to get a guide for this temple and had a blast with him even though he was quite a bit eccentric, strange and we only understood half of what he said. Lots of history here and quite a few more buildings outside of the reclining Buddha.
#1 – Grand Palace
The grand daddy of them all which is probably why it's called the Grand Palace. If you're to pick only one temple to go to in Bangkok, this is undeniably the one you should go to. Plan at least a half a day here and I would recommend going in the morning to try to beat a bit of the tourist rush. it feels like this is the cultural center of all of Thailand in some ways because there are so many different religious buildings and artifacts here that span several ages. It's a lot to take in and a lot to see. There's also…a lot of gold here!
What are your favourite parts of Bangkok that you'd add to the list?