Visiting Bangkok: Tips and Recommendations
You could say that we went from one end of the spectrum to the other after departing Dubai and arriving in Bangkok. From a super modern and almost peaceful place to the mayhem of tuk-tuk drivers, street food stalls and loud music. It was very different to say the least. Arriving late at night on Khao San Road trying to find the sign for our accommodation amongst the herds of tourists partying on the street and locals trying to usher us into their bars, convincing us to buy buckets, shots and every other drink you could think of was an experience in itself. A lot of people we came across seemed to really dislike Bangkok. They seemed to have been blinded by the somewhat dirty looking streets, the sticky heat, the worry of being scammed by everyone and the herds of tourists everywhere and didn’t seem to realise that beneath all that is a fun and fascinating city. There’s lots to do to keep you busy, good food to keep you well and truly satisfied and it’s a place that fits every budget no matter how little or how much you fancy spending. Here’s my top recommendations for the Thai capital:
Khao San Road: Known as the backpacker centre of Bangkok, Khao San Road is literally impossible to walk down without someone trying to convince you to get a tuk tuk, go to a ping pong show, buy one of their (supposedly incredible) suits or try one of their ‘delicacies’…cockroaches, worms and every other completely unappetising insect you can think of. A street dominated by so many bars, street food stalls and fast food joints…crazy is the the closest word to describe it but despite the craziness, it’s a street you must visit when in Bangkok, whether it’s for a leisurely stroll through or for a full on bar crawl to meet fellow travellers. Accommodation wise, if you’re brave enough to stay on this road, I’d recommend Buddy Lodge for young travellers wanting a bit more luxury than a hostel provides but still at a cheap price. With it’s main selling point being it’s rooftop pool and bar, it means you can relax with a cocktail or two after a morning of sightseeing. The room and bathroom were nice and a decent size and despite being directly amongst the chaos, we couldn’t actually hear any noise from our room unless we’d just had one too many drinks to notice…
Temples: Until I visited Bangkok, I’d never seen the beautiful Thai temples before. They are gorgeous and so impressive and as you’d probably expect of the Thai capital, there are lots to see. My favourite was probably Wat Benjamabhopit as it was just so pretty but Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) which lights up at night also looks beautiful along the river bank. As well as the many temples to keep you occupied, there’s also the Grand Palace which is probably the city’s most famous attraction. Make sure you get up early to visit though as the queues are long and it can take up quite a bit of your day. Also, do NOT forget to bring or wear something that covers your knees and shoulders for both the temples and the Grand Palace otherwise you might not be allowed in. For most of the temples we found that they asked you to remove your shoes before entering so it can be useful to wear footwear that you can easily slip on and off.
Tuk-tuk ride: Grab a tuk-tuk for an easy and super cheap way to explore the city. Over the 5 days we were in Bangkok, I think we got about 3 tuk-tuks in total for places that weren’t within easy walking distance. A tuk-tuk ride is such a fun experience but be careful as there are SO many scams. If a price they offer seems to good to be true then it probably is. We nearly got scammed on our first one which we should have realised after agreeing to a ridiculously cheap price. What they do is they try and take you to certain places you haven’t agreed to go to such as a suit factory or tourist office and get you to go inside. If you’re in there for a certain amount of time, then the tuk-tuk drivers get money. It’s a bit dodgy but luckily we sussed something wasn’t quite right and managed to get out of the situation despite our angry driver. Make sure you agree on a price beforehand and make it clear that you won’t be going anywhere other than where you’ve asked. It might be worth paying that extra money to avoid being scammed.
Chinatown: Although there are Chinatown’s all over the world, the one in Bangkok is still worth a visit with it’s huge street and side streets going off to the left and right hand sides flooded with street food stalls selling noodles, rice, fish and meat dishes along with some extremely strange foods too! Although we had a delicious meal at Chinatown, we actually found the area to be more expensive than the street food in other parts of Bangkok but it’s definitely worth checking out.
Sky Bar: There are many sky bars in Bangkok where you can sip cocktails whilst enjoying magnificent views of the city below you. Although I’m sure many of them are incredible, Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel is the one I’d 100% recommend. It’s totally chic, positioned 61 floors above the city with a 360 degree uninterrupted view of Bangkok. It is pricey for Thailand so bare that in mind and there’s also a dress code but fear not, they will provide trousers for men if required. If you’re after a bit of luxury and stunning views, Vertigo and Moon Bar is the one for you.
Chao Phraya River: Sail along the Chao Phraya river whilst relaxing and taking in some of the sights of Bangkok whilst barely making a dent in your wallet. There are different ways to enjoy the river cruise but if you’re looking for the cheapest option, head to Central Pier and get on the public boat for just 15 baht each way which is approximately 35p! The tourist boat is a bit more expensive and you’re only really better off getting that if you want the sights to be pointed out and explained to you. If you’re not that bothered, save your pennies and get on the public one. You can get our at any pier you want so it’s a cheap way to travel to different parts of the city or like we did, just sail up and down and take in Bangkok.
We also had some amazing street food in Bangkok. Try and look out for the stalls that are the busiest as generally these always seemed to be the best. A lot of them have tables outside next to the food stalls so you can sit and people watch whilst eating the delicious Thai cuisine.
Of course, there are so many other things you can do in Bangkok but these are my absolute musts. Have you been to Bangkok before? What did you think of the city?