Bangkok has the longest name of a capital city globally with its 168 letters. The present title should be Krungthep Mahanakon, but clearly, Bangkok is still in use. Thailand’s capital also used to be the most visited city by foreign tourists, and it is not hard to understand why. The list of attractions is endless. As Bangkok gradually opens up to business again, here are a few of my recommendations on what to do in the Thai capital.
7 Tidbits in Bangkok
- Explore Chinatown. Best place to eat and dig into small side streets to get lost and touch the solid Chinese heritage in Bangkok. The sound of Asia working and making money. Read more about Chinatown here and here.
- Then, feel the pulse and see the trends in Siam Square. There is no lack of opportunities to eat well here either. Huge malls like Central World, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and the retro-vintage mall MBK can keep you busy for a day or two. Remember to explore the tiny backstreets surrounding them. Read more about Siam Square here.
- Temples and palaces. In Bangkok, countless writers have been stunned by the beauty of the golden spires and the glass mosaic glittering in the sunlight. The smells and sounds of the east. Strings of incense smoke and subtle sounds from the Buddhist mantras sipping out from elegantly shaped doors. Obvious highlights are Wat Phra Kaew/ Grand Palace, the reclining Buddha temple of Wat Pho, the porcelain stupa of Wat Arun but also Wat Traimit in Chinatown with the Golden Buddha. Finally, not to forget the marble temple Wat Benchamabopit. Remember to think about the dress code when visiting these attractions. Read more about respecting Thai Culture here.
- Go for the best views of Bangkok and enjoy a sundowner. My personal favourite recently is the low key View Arun resort. As it says, there is a restaurant overlooking Chao Phraya River and Wat Arun. Read more here. Enjoy stunning views of Bangkok from Bangkok Red Sky or Sirocco Lebua, which claims to be the highest Sky Bar in the world. King Power Mahanakhon is Thailand’s new architectural landmark. The tower is in the heart of Bangkok’s central business district at Chong Nonsi BTS station. The 78-story development is also home to the Ritz-Carlton Residences and King Power Mahanakhon Sky Walk. An observation deck shows off the city’s most epic views at 314 meters.
- Explore the waterways. Do it the 007 way like in the man with The Golden Gun, join an evening cruise, or take a northbound day cruise up to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. Anyway, taking your time to explore the canals that tell the story of the Venice of the East is a must. Bangkoks West side Thonburi illustrates the Shophouse Syndrome of Bangkok and is where most canals prevail. The Siamrat blog has a great post on the history of the khlongs/canals of Bangkok. Moreover, an excellent idea is to book a hotel with river views, you get the five-star hotels, but there are cheaper options like Chatrium or Ibis riverside as well.
- Do you feel templed out? Go the Lumphini Park to enjoy some of the more green and lush parts of Bangkok. Have a picnic by the lake or join the exercise. Read more about Lumphini park here.
- Finally, discover the area around Silom and all the incredible street food on Convent road. Read more here.
Test the BTS and try to bicycle the Bangkok Jungle
What more to do in Bangkok? A bonus tips is to use the BTS Skytrain on a few occasions. To begin with, it is a comfortable way of travelling. Furthermore, it gives you a bird’s panoramic perspective of the capital.
Another interesting tip for the adventurous traveller. Seeing Bangkok by bicycle is also a rewarding experience. There are a few operators out there offering bike tours in Bangkok. I also enjoyed riding over small bridges and the canals on the Thonburi side, visiting small markets and fruit plantations. In contrast, on the east side, there are the skyscrapers of Bangkok.
Be careful about scams
Finally, be well prepared for the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. The contrasts are fascinating but also overwhelming at times. BE CAREFUL about scams. People advising you to go where you do not intend, people telling you that where you plan to go is closed today, but they have another suggestion, Tuk Tuks offering free or cheap rides. Nowadays, it is easy to download the Grab application and have the transportation coming to you. They find you wherever you are, and you pay a fixed price. But if you do use taxis, then make sure they go by the taximeter. And that the meter is not rigged. Travelfish has a good article on the Bangkok Scams; read more here.