When planning our trip to Thailand, I was trying to make sure we hit all the hot spots. Everyone said to spend as little time in Bangkok as possible and do more time in the Islands and Chiang Mai- but we LOVED Bangkok! The temples, roof bars, cafes, river and tuk tuks gave the city the most incredible vibe. If you are headed to Thailand, definitely go to all the spots you want, but do NOT miss out on the capital city- which also happens to be the most visited city in the world! So what are the top 8 things to do? From temples to street food, Bangkok has it all!
1. Visit the main temples
Obviously Bangkok is known for its temples and they do not disappoint! The top three I recommend are the Grand Palace (the Emerald Buddha is here. Costs about 500 Baht, or around $16); Wat Pho (the giant lying Buddha is here. This is about 100 Baht, or $3); and my personal favorite, Wat Arun (across the river, the temple of dawn and costs about 100 Baht, or $3).
PRO TIP: Get there early! The Grand Palace gets crowded fast, if you are there when they open at 830am you will have the place virtually to yourself. You get the best pics and can head to the other two when the crowds start to head in.
NOTE: There is a strict dress code in the temples. You must cover your shoulders and your knees. Read their website prior to going to make sure you can get in after making the effort to get there!
2. Get a massage!
Thailand is known for a crazy cheap massage shop on every corner (and often multiple on one block) and they are not messing around. These massage therapists cost anywhere from 300 Baht for an HOUR (around $10) and the massages are heavenly after long flights and walking all day.
PRO TIP: You get what you pay for! We opted for a more upscale massage in our hotel which was a crazy good deal compared to America but expensive in Thai standards and I mean it when I say It was the best massage of my life!
3. Rooftop bar
Speaking of nice hotels, Bangkok is one of the most inexpensive major cities I have ever stayed in. We had a gorgeous 5 star hotel for what a Best Western in Kansas would cost. That being said- hostels and regular hotels are even cheaper so you can travel to Bangkok on ANY budget! Most of these hotels have roof bars and the view is amazing. Bangkok has the most random sky line with sky scrapers basically popping up wherever they want so every roof bar is beautiful. Our favorite was the Banyan Tree and we avoided the overpriced, touristy Sky Bar although I have heard the view is amazing there too!
If you have ever been to DC and seen the National Harbor with nice shops and a ferris wheel, this is essentially Asiatique! We were searching for something to do on our last night and stumbled upon it on the map. What we loved were there were hundreds of shops in their night market, a ferris wheel, restaurants on the water and a muay thai show! While I loved shopping through markets in Thailand (or the rest of Asia for that matter), I hate being tapped on the shoulder and hounded when I am trying to shop. The market at Asiatique is clean, beautiful and opens up at night with artists and souvenirs as far as the eye can see!
5. Go to a Muay Thai Show!
You can go to an authentic one for about 2000 Baht ($70) and it’s 4 hours of crazy fighting, or you can opt for the Muay Thai Live at Asiatique which is half the price and 2 hours of a show explaining the history and 2 live fights at the end. This was perfect for me, especially with the AC 🙂 and I loved learning the history and art form of Muay Thai right before seeing an awesome show!
PRO TIP: Premium seats and Standard seats are the same price, so make sure to ask for the premium!
6. Street Food.
While I am not the most adventurous eater, I LOVED the fruits of Thailand. Thailand is known for its street food and these vendors are everywhere. From Michelin star to a cart on a side road you can dine any way you want in Bangkok and I absolutely recommend trying something new!
PRO TIP: Durian really does smell like feet, but they absolutely love it
7. Khaosan Road.
We stumbled across this neighborhood which was bustling with tourists, coffee shops and massage places. Everywhere you look there was something new and each nook and cranny offered another neat cafe. Fun place to check out- Tales cafe & hostel. Awesome coffee and will make for a great Insta pic!
8. The Tourist Boat
For only 50 Baht one way ($1.70) or 180 Baht all day ($6) and 10 stops from Khaosan Road, it’s a really neat way to see the city, cool off and get from place to place. Stop at the flower market, china town or go all the way to Asiatique!
A FEW MORE PRO TIPS:
– GRAB: April 2018, Thailand got rid of Uber and now only has Grab. This is an app that works the same way except has some really cool features. What you see as the price is what you pay (it never ups like Uber does when you get there) and you can pay cash (which is great because they don’t take American credit cards)! Whether you want to use Grab everywhere or just get a feel for exactly how much a ride should cost so you don’t get ripped off by a taxi or tuk tuk, it’s an awesome app.
– Service Charge: It’s custom to tip 5-10% in Thailand but heads up, if you go somewhere nice, chances are they will add it to your check anyway!
– Getting cash: Don’t change your money at the airport (unless absolutely necessary). Make sure you get enough out when you go to an ATM and take cash out there. Bank to bank seems to give the best rate!
We had only 48 hours in Bangkok and loved EVERY minute! Comment below any questions and I’ll do my best to answer!
Other places to note that we only drove through but would love to see when we are back: Chinatown, The Flower Market & The Caberet at Asiatique.