Visiting Bangkok soon? There’s plenty more to this city than traffic congestion and massage parlors. In fact this happening Asian city is one of the region’s most visited and offers up a host of great value and culturally rich experiences. Here are 10 of my favorite recommendations for spending a few days in the Thailand capital.
Awesome Things to do in Bangkok, Thailand…
1. Jim Thompson’s House
This stunning teak house, now a museum, was built by silk industry legend Jim Thompson. A colorful American character, he made his home in Thailand after developing a love for the country and its people when he was stationed here during WWII. Before his mysterious disappearance in the late 1960s, he had completed this magical home and successfully revived Thailand’s silk industry. Visitors can tour the house that was once the talk of the town, see some of his personal belongings and read allegations about what happened on his fateful vacation to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.
While this red light district attracts plenty of sex tourists who come for just one thing, it has a wide appeal to many types of tourist. Aside from the rows of go-go bars offering a menu of delights, there are lots of regular cafés that make for great people-watching. Shoppers will want to hit the night market which sells everything from cheap CDs and watches to fake designer handbags. You may be accosted by bar touts while you are browsing, but most of them are not too persistent and there is a friendly, harmless atmosphere. If you don’t want to spend your night watching naked ladies dancing, there are many nightclubs and live music venues that do not provide any ‘extra’ services.
3. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.
While the Grand Palace is little used by royalty today, its adjacent neighbor, Wat Phra Kaew, is probably the most visited temple in the country and certainly a must-visit on any break to Bangkok. Housing the Emerald Buddha statue and some intricate murals, the temple is the site of many significant Buddhist religious ceremonies. Visitors must cover their legs and arms before they will be allowed entry, so make sure you dress appropriately.
4. Wat Arun
This temple was most significant during the height of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, but it experienced a fall in visitors after the capital was moved down the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok’s current location. Having experienced a revival, the temple is once again one of the most visited in the country, and sits nestled between six Chinese-style pavilions on the riverbank. Its most unusual feature is its Khmer-style tower which has depictions of Chinese soldiers and animals as well as a statue of the Indian god Indra. The tiny pieces of cut glass and seashells used to adorn the tower glisten in the sun. The temple was briefly home to the Emerald Buddha statue before it was moved to Wat Phra Kaew.
Bangkok’s latest glitzy addition to its super-malls is Siam Paragon, a designer lover’s paradise, with every outlet from Gucci to Louis Vuitton represented. But if your budget doesn’t allow for such luxury, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives. Siam Paragon’s neighbour, Siam Discover Center has a popular bookshop and some home decorating outlets, while nearby Siam Square has a number of specialist boutiques mainly selling clothing and music. Within walking distance is MBK, a vast mall with hundreds of shops and bargains. The cheapest deals however can be found at Pratuman Market, where the biggest problem you will have afterwards will not be your bank balance, it will be getting all your purchases home, but don’t worry, they have shipping to Lebanon or anywhere else in the world.
6. Khao San Road
This backpacker’s mecca has been popular with travelers for decades and provides a lively, if noisy, atmosphere for those passing through the capital. Lined with cheap guesthouses, restaurants and bars, visitors can shop here by day and party here by night. It is also a good place to shop for hippy-style clothes, jewellery and CDs, while dozens of travel agents offer inexpensive tickets to onward destinations. If you want to meet other fellow travelers, this is the place says Paul from we buy houses Santa Fe.
7. Chatuchak Market
This vast weekend market is a day out in itself. Get here early and make your way through the little alleys, picking up bargains along the way. By afternoon, the markets gets very crowded and expect to be pushed, shoved and tugged at as you hot-foot it around. But if the heat and crowds get too much, rest up at one of the inexpensive food stalls before a second round. With everything from puppies to books and plants to clothing, whatever you are looking for, you are guaranteed to find it here. Be careful you don’t loose your friends as you shop; it’s easy to get lost here!
8. Muay Thai Boxing
This martial art is passionately followed by Thais who like nothing more than to watch two opponents battle it out with lethal swings and crushing kicks. While at first this may not seem like the ideal way to spend you evening, the electric crowds and charged atmosphere is contagious, making for a great night out. Tickets are sold in three tiers, depending how close you want to be, and fights are held almost nightly. Lumphini and Ratchadamnoen stadiums are the most popular venues and tickets can be bought on the door.
9. Lumpini Park
Bangkok is a busy city and if you find yourself in need of tranquility, you won’t have far to go. Lumpini Park lies at the heart of the city, and is an oasis of calm. Visitors can paddle their way around the lake and its canals on a rented peddle-boat, or alternatively lounge in the shade of palm trees. There are also a few architectural attractions within the park including a Chinese-style clock tower, Thai Lanna and Chinese pavilions, a variety of sculptures, a children’s play park and a rest area.
If you think Bangkok sightseeing is all about ancient temples and palaces, you are wrong! This exciting adventure theme park is a break from tradition and is the ideal day trip for those with children. Alongside heart-stopping roller coasters, there are relaxing theme gardens, replicas of famous landmarks, live shows and performances and even a cable car. Easily accessible by public transport or by car, the park is conveniently situated within proximity of the city center.