Whether you’ve planned a dream holiday to Thailand, or you’re seeking to break up your long haul journey to a faraway destination, Bangkok is the perfect stopover hub to get your dose of shopping, food and cheap massage fixes. The city is famously known for its chaotic crowded streets, bountiful shopping complexes, and the mouthwatering scent of spices and tang that loom in the air. Although it is not known as a city of sightseeing abundance, you’ll find that it is the ‘modern’ centre of Thailand; with its skytrain transport system that runs above the roads, endless pedestrian bridges, fancy hotels and upscale restaurants. If you’re traveling for tasty food, on-trend fashion, and generally, having a good time – then Bangkok most certainly delivers.
Where to stay
I’ve been to Bangkok countless times and always wind up staying in Pathum Wan district. Accommodation tends to be on the dearer side, as it is an area littered with luxury hotels located within walking distance to all the major malls, such as, Paragon and Central World. My motto has always been, “when in Thailand, live like royalty”, considering that staying in a 5-star hotel is still cheaper than staying in a 4-star (sometimes 3-star) hotel in Australia. If you’re feeling luxurious, I can’t recommend the Renaissance highly enough. From its exquisite breakfast buffet to its lavish and modern rooms, I can guarantee that your jaws will drop as soon as you enter the grandiose lobby. If you’re not fussed about being accommodated a tad further from the city centre, then more cost effective alternatives are either the Centara Grand or Baiyoke Sky in the Ratchathewi district.
What’s there in Bangkok to see?
Wat Phra Kaew (The Grand Palace)
Located in the Phra Nakhon district, roughly 20 minutes by taxi from the centre, The Grand Palace is widely regarded as the most sacred temple complex in all of Thailand, housing the majestic statue of the Emerald Buddha – an absolute must-see if you’re in Bangkok.
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Not quite Vietnam’s staple noodle soup, but just as good (on the eyes). Home to the famous Reclining Buddha, built by King Rama I in the 18th Century, Wat Pho is the oldest temple complex in Bangkok.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Located along the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, it is among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks. Best viewed at sunset whilst on a dinner cruise or standing on the opposite side of the bank, get your cameras ready to snap some incredible night shots of this temple when the lights cause the surface to radiate a royal golden colour.
Chatuchak weekend market
One of the world’s largest markets with over 15,000 vendors selling everything from home decor to huskies (yes, live puppy huskies), this is a market you’ll never have come across anywhere else in the world. Located in north Bangkok, it is roughly a 25-minute BTS ride from the city centre – and you can’t miss it. It is a goliath of a market.
Who goes to Bangkok without visiting MBK? Probably the most well-known, almost iconic, shopping malls of the city. Most of the shops are set up like stalls, and you’ll find that the inside resembles more of a market than an actual mall. An air conditioned market. Trust me, after a day at the Chatuchak market, you’ll be on your knees thanking God for the invention of air con.
One of the newest airport-themed shopping malls in Bangkok, you’ll find that the shops that reside within here are more independently owned brands and boutiques. Check out the restaurants located on the top floor, there are some great food options after a long day of shopping. Or if you fancy a quick feed to replenish your energy, visit the basement for a number of fast food choices, like crepes and ice creams.
Foods you MUST try
Fish Maw Soup in Chinatown
One of my favourite, but lesser known soups in Thai cuisine, is the delicious Fish Maw Soup. You’ll find various vendors selling this delicious stew-like dish on the main strip of Chinatown. What is it, you may ask? If I tell you, you’d wish you never asked. Fish maw (aka fish bladder), quail’s egg and chicken blood. Don’t let the sound of it repel you, I promise, it is delicious!
Pad Thai at Thip Samai Pad Thai
Arguably, the BEST Pad Thai you will ever have tasted in your life. Although, it’s hard to find bad Pad Thai in Bangkok, I’m almost certain that this one will blow your mind.
Food court in the basement of Paragon Mall
If you’re unsure of where to even start eating in Bangkok, then the food court at Paragon Mall is the place to go. Don’t particularly feel like Thai food? Totally cool. Choose from umpteen other cuisines, like, Singaporean hawker food, steak, pasta, dumplings – to name a few! Everything is delicious down there.
Boat noodles near the Victory Monument
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a spicy and sour noodle soup. There’s nothing more satisfying than sipping on a hot bowl of spicy, herby and slightly sour broth whilst soaking in the Bangkok heat at the Victory Monument. You can’t go wrong with 30 Baht ($1) a bowl. I only ate about 4 bowls.
Home to some of Bangkok more exclusive real estate, Thonglor’s vibe is more upscale, urban and hip. Simply put, it is the hot spot of Bangkok’s youth today. Everyone from the likes of famous Thai actors, musicians and models frequent this place, so if you’re lucky, you might bump into a celebrity! The area is well known for its classy bars, fashionable clubs, boutique shops and modern eateries
Khao San Road
If you’re feeling seedy, or you want to connect with fellow backpackers over a cheap tower of Singha beer, then you’ll feel right at home here. Littered with bars and bar ladies trying to lure anything walking on two legs in, you’ll most certainly be spoilt for choice.
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