Top five things to do in Bangkok
The song says, ‘one night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster,’ and this couldn’t be more accurate. Absolutely anything goes in this crazy city, and I mean anything! While we are far from living the traditional backpacker lifestyle, it is so easy to see why this city is a backpacker haven. Backpackers and well, 50+ single men.
The city of over eight million people has so much to offer, you would almost have to live there to truly experience everything. Having said that, it is clear that the tourism boom has plateaued and the ship has sailed. While we weren’t about to change flights and extend our stay, overall we were pleased with our time in Bangkok.
We’ve put together a list of our top five things to do in Bangkok, as well as some information on accommodations and transportation.
OUR TOP FIVE THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK!
1. VISIT THE TEMPLES
If your only stop in Thailand is in Bangkok, then visiting one of its many temples is a must. We visited both Wat Arun and Wat Pho, but the most interesting was the iconic Wat Arun, which overlooks the Chao Phraya River in central Bangkok. Visit during the day and make the climb to the top for some outstanding views of Bangkok and the river below.
Take some time to admire the intricate details and appreciate the craftsmanship that went into its construction. (Note: if you are visiting Northern Thailand or neighbouring Cambodia, you will see some of the most spectacular temples in the world).
2. BIKE AROUND BANGKOK AT NIGHT WITH GRASSHOPPER ADVENTURES
I will admit, I was terrified to do this tour. We had a close friend visiting us, so I reluctantly agreed to do it. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was in elementary school, but in the end, this was one of the most memorable things we did in Bangkok. I guess that saying, “it’s like riding a bike,” is true as I was perfectly fine after a few minutes on the bike. Bangkok traffic is insane, so the thought of riding a pedal bike, at night, through the streets was a little unnerving. We crossed the river and visited Wat Arun at night, which by the way is spectacular at night, toured Bangkok’s largest flower market, Pak Khlong Talat and tried some awesome street food. There was something really special about visiting the temples at night, with no other tourists around. We highly recommend this tour with Grasshopper Adventures! (Detailed review coming soon, with video!)
3. GET A THAI MASSAGE
There are literally thousands of spas and massage parlours in Bangkok and it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to go. We resorted to Tripadvisor to help us decide and it led us to the wonderful Shewa Spa in the Khao San Road area. The spa itself is extremely clean with professional staff and absolutely NO funny business. Don’t let the small stature fool you, those petite Thai massage therapists have hands like vice grips. Oh, I also convinced Steven to get his first ever pedicure here and his feet have never looked so nice!
The price for a one-hour traditional Thai massage at Shewa was 220 baht (~ $8 CAD).
4. VISIT KHAO SAN ROAD
Also known as the land of backpackers and cheap accommodations, Khao San Road is a lively street full of restaurants, street food, and clothes/souvenir vendors. If you are interested, you can also pick up a university degree from your university of choice or a driver’s licence from any state or province. All authentic of course. Khao San Road’s popularity skyrocketed after the release of the movie “The Hangover II” as several scenes were filmed there. If backpacking, this is the place to be seen. We visited a couple of times, mainly because our go-to spa was located in the area!
5. EAT STREET FOOD
You haven’t been to Bangkok if you haven’t eaten some type of meat off a stick on the side of the street. From sausages and seafood to soups and deep-fried scorpions; you name it and you can find it on the streets of Bangkok. We stuck to pork and chicken dishes and well, fried grasshoppers. Yes, had to try them. We did not eat that much street food given the language barrier and the use of MSG in many dishes, but we were able to find some in the Khao San Road area serving gluten-free pad Thai that was MSG free.
WHERE TO STAY IN BANGKOK
We did use Airbnb a couple of nights in Bangkok, however we also stayed at these two budget friendly accommodations (click the links for our detailed review):
TRANSPORTATION IN BANGKOK
If you plan to use taxis in Bangkok, ensure your taxi driver turns on his/her meter. They will be hesitant, try to offer a flat rate or pretend not to understand, but do not let them drive away until the meter is on!
We used public transit often, both the MRT (subway) and BTS (skytrain). We found it very easy to navigate. However, if you are travelling in a group, or have to make several route changes, it is sometimes more cost-effective to use a taxi.
If you are travelling between airports in Bangkok, there is a free shuttle service offered. It takes approximately one-hour and there are buses a few times per hour.
We opted to take a taxi when we first arrived in Bangkok at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. There is a queue outside the airport where you will be given a bay number to go wait for your taxi.
We also used the Airport Rail Link to pick up a friend at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. It was much cheaper than a taxi, and very easy to use. Give yourself a lot of time if you are travelling to the airport, as it fills up quickly and you may have to wait around for the next train if lineups are long.
Don Muang Airport
From Don Muang Airport, we took a shuttle bus to Mo Chit Station (MRT & BTS access). From there, we went to our final destination using either the MRT or BTS.
Overall we definitely recommend taking some time to explore Bangkok and its many attractions. Again, it depends on ones interests and what kind of trip you are looking for. For us, Bangkok was a little intense, but we are definitely glad we experienced it.
jess + trickett