Every great city in the world has its own unique character. Mention Bangkok and instantly you think of the signature tuk-tuks, the really good food, shopping, spas and traditional massages. On one hand, Bangkok is increasingly urban with many modern amenities and well known global chains of retail outlets but they have managed to preserve their cultural identity with the teachings of Buddhism integrated into their soul and history. In short, there’s something for every visitor in Bangkok whether you’re looking for a fun night out or on a spiritual journey. Here are 10 things to get you started on.
1. Sightseeing At The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
For sightseers and history buffs, Wat Phra Kaew is part of the holy trinity of Bangkok’s early history, which includes Wat Pho and Wat Arun. If you are short on time and had to choose just one, then it has to be the Wat Phra Kaew because it is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand and is located within the precincts of the Grand Palace. Though the present Thai monarch resides in a different palace, the Grand Palace is still an important venue for official functions and a popular tourist destination.
2. Find Bargains At Chatuchak
The world famous weekend market with 8000 stalls for you to choose from, it’s literally shop till you drop, or can’t carry any more. Find anything from vintage collectibles, books, food, souvenirs, clothing all at bargain price. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated. They are open from 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Sundays and from 6pm till 10pm on Fridays.
3. More shopping in Platinum
Bangkok has a ton of malls to shop from, but deliberate no further, Platinum is by far the best mall to shop in. With 3 towers of each 6 storeys high, the mall is laden with dirt-cheap clothes (and yet fashionable) that will definitely make you shop till you drop. Find tees at RM5 to RM10 and even dresses at RM20. Mark my words that Platinum will take up one whole day but it’s all worth it when you buy 2 years worth of clothes by the time you are done.
Tip: The top floor of Tower 2 sells a pulley bag for you to store all your goodies you’ve gotten instead of holding all your plastic bags in your hand.
4. Visit The Floating Markets
A floating market is where the vendors sell things directly from their boat, may it be fruits, food and trinkets. There are 5 locations where you can choose from. Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa are among the most popular ones if you don’t mind waking early and travelling an hour away from Bangkok. Taling Chan and the neighboring Khlong Lat Mayom are nearer alternatives with the former one being famed for fresh roasted seafood. A newer floating market is Bang Nam Pheung which is just 20km away from the city centre.
5. Enjoy The Street Food
There is food everywhere you look in Bangkok and we all know that some of the tastiest dishes can be found in the simplest of stalls. Some places you can consider going food hunting are the Victory monument and Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown. It is also worth noting that Mondays are street cleaning days and most of the vendors take the day off.
6. Try Fried Insects
The more adventurous can head to Khao San road or Soi Cowboy and look for vendors selling fried insects. Among the more popular choices are bamboo worms, crickets, grasshoppers, scorpions and silk larvae, while the more cringy ones are water beetles and cockroaches. These are usually about RM4 per small bag, and RM6 for a bigger one. The insects are laced with flavouring so don’t worry about their funky taste.
7. Hit The Go Go Bars
Looking for a wild and raunchy night out? Consider the Go Go bars available at Soi Cowboy, Pat Pong and Nana Plaza where you can also catch Ping Pong and Tiger Shows.
8. Take In The Bangkok Night View
And what better way to do this than sipping cocktails from a rooftop bar? There are many to choose from – Vertigo and Moon Bar, Park Society, Sky Bar, Cloud 47. One of the most famous one is the Dome which is located on Lebua Hotel. Entrance is free so don’t fret and go check out their breathtaking view of Bangkok city even you did not plan to buy a drink. Note that they have a dress code tho, so dress smart casual.
9. Visit Asiatique
One of the go to spots in Bangkok and to no surprise either. Asiatique is an open-air mall with shops, restaurant, bars and entertainment! Getting there is cheap and easy too, with free shuttle boats from the Taksin BTS station.
10. Chill Out At Jazz Bars
If you’d like to unwind after a hard day of exploring Bangkok and listen to good music, there are bars around town that have live band performances like the Saxophone Pub (Victory Monument) and Brown Sugar.
11. Get A Traditional Massage
Where better to get a Thai massage than, you guessed it, Thailand? After some endless walking, a foot massage will feel like heaven. There are plenty of stores around, and prices are usually about RM10 for 30 minutes. What a steal!
There are many types of massage and it depends on what you are looking for – aromatherapy and oil massage, reflexology or if you wan the real thing, try Wat Po (less than a kilometre away from the Grand Palace) where they practice the craft taken from the original inscriptions in stone commissioned by King Rama V.
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