Oh Bangkok, you crazy, dirty, beautiful sin of a city.
Many travellers start their trip around Asia in Bangkok: with cheap flights and an easy onward journey, it’s the heart of Asia. It is a city you love or you hate; and I fell head-over-heels in love with the madness that is Bangkok. With so much to offer, a visit feels more like those fast-paced European trips rather than the relaxed island stays. You could spend two weeks solely in Bangkok and not get bored.
Here is what we did in Bangkok over two days:
The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha:
Unfortunately this one will cost you an entrance fee, but it’s iconic and should not be missed. The reds, greens and golds of the buildings will leave you in awe. If you can, get there before opening and line up to avoid the crowds and midday heat. And make sure you are wearing sleeves and long trousers, with any tattoos as covered up as possible.
(PS The Grand Palace looks like it has escaped the English countryside).
A short walk from the Grand Palace, and with a cheaper entrance fee, is Wat Pho. Everyone who goes to Bangkok must see the Reclining Buddha. The statue is so large that you cannot fit it in one photo. There are many smaller temples on the grounds with other Buddha statues where people pray and are also open for observation. Ladies be sure to cover the shoulders here at Wat Pho.
Hop on a taxi boat for thirty seconds across the river to Wat Arun: another temple, but smaller and cheaper than Wat Pho. You can climb the white temples steps for great views over Bangkok and the River. Not many people know of this temple, so it is much quieter than the previous two mentioned.
Jim Thompson’s House:
Jim Thompson was an ex-CIA agent for America, who moved to Thailand after the World Wars to revive the Thai silk market. He had a housing estate hidden behind the busy streets in Bangkok, of which is made by several houses from around Thailand that had been transported to Bangkok. He entertained many famous people and was even married to the present Princess of Thailand. Then he mysteriously went missing in Malaysia and never returned….
Very cheap to get into, which includes a guided tour around the beautiful traditional-meets-modern housing estate.
Every backpacker heads to Khapsan Road for a wild night out. With loud bars offering mega deals on buckets and crazy Ping Pong shows, you can expect a messy time.
But there is more to Khaosan Road than alcohol. The street is lined with food stalls and a clothes market offering cheap prices and a great experience. If you can, wander further than the main strip off some side roads to find even better deals and even better food.
Across the road from Jim Thompson’s house there is the MBK Mall. On the top floor there is a world food court and on the other floors it is chaos. Think, Western Mall meets Khoasan road. International shops line the edges of the mall, but in the centre there are market stalls everywhere (you can barter in a mall!).
We walked along the river and over a bridge from Wat Pho to Wat Arun. The walk took about an hour in the heat, but we went along back streets and met some wonderful locals and saw some mid-boggling things (like a farm UNDER a bridge. Yes, cows under a bridge).
There is plenty more to do in Bangkok if you have time! Some more sights include:
A Sky Bar:
There are many in Bangkok, the most famous being the one featured in the film The Hangover. Above Eleven is another, small sky bar, but has a good reputation and was recommended to me by an ex-pat.
Bangkok’s red light district. For those who can brave it, I was recommended to go there for cheap drinks and to experience the ‘real Bangkok’. So maybe get off Khaosan Road and go and see what it’s all about.
Due to the rain we had to give this one a miss, but Bangkok’s China town is supposed to be amazing. You have to take a taxi or Uber as public transport to the area is scarce.
If you are spending a week or more in Bangkok, I recommend you visit one of the floating markets. These are just outside of the city, hence why I say visit if you are on a longer trip. Boats row up to you and serve you local food and sell you souvenirs all on the water. It sounds chaotic and delicious!
Take a water taxi along the river, perhaps jumping off at a few temples along the way. You get a great view of Bangkok’s skyline and it’s much cheaper than the river boat tours.
You will never be short of things to do in Bangkok. From iconic sights to shopping malls, there is something for everyone if you just give it the chance. If you can set aside the smell, there is a magical city waiting for you.
But be careful: Bangkok sucks you in.
Have you ever been to Bangkok? Let me know your opinion on this city in the comments!