Bangkok – also known as Venice of the East and City of Angels – is a fascinating blend of east and west, old and new. The capital of Thailand with nearly 9 million inhabitants is a city of drastic contrasts, a metropolis where ancient and modern meet. Luxury shopping centres, fancy rooftop cocktail lounges, chic upscale restaurants. Historical temples, street food, street markets. Red-lights district, large slum communities. Bangkok is hot, dynamic, hectic, chaotic and polluted. Traffic everywhere, people everywhere.Bangkok thrives with energy and offers a vast array of sightseeing, shopping, eating and drinking opportunities. There is so much to do and see in Bangkok that most definitely you will not get bored. Having visited Bangkok 4 times now, I must say that the city keeps surprising me over and over again, and every time I have found new interesting places to discover. Next I will introduce my favourite things to do and see in Bangkok.
Explore Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is one of Bangkok’s most famous attractions so it should definitely be on you itinerary. The Grand Palace is a complex of imposing buildings with beautiful architecture and plenty of intricate details. The palace was the official residence of the King for 150 years, however today the present King Rama IX lives at Chitralada Palace, and the Grand Palace is used for events and ceremonies. The vast complex is divided into several sections each with their own special buildings, pavilions, courtyards and gardens. Make sure you are decently dressed and then just take your time to explore the impressive complex.
Location: Na Phra Lan Rd, Bangkok
Shop in traditional Thai style at Chatuchak Weekend Market
This is a totally different shopping experience from the busy and fancy city centre shopping centres. Chatuchak Weekend Market offers shopping in traditional Thai style. This is among the largest markets in the world, and I must say it will be a long day if you want to explore the market thoroughly. Arriving early is anyways a good idea to beat the heat and the crowds. At Chatuchak Weekend Market they sell anything and everything: antiques, handicrafts, clothes, accessories, shoes, pets, plants, home décor, you name it.
Chill out at Benjakiti Park
This is an inner-city haven of tranquillity and shade right among Sukhumvit’s high-rise hotels and office buildings. Benjakiti Park is one of Bangkok’s most popular parks and a lot quieter than the famous Lumpini Park where huge crowds of locals gather at dusk to do their daily exercise. Here you can enjoy an easy stroll around the sizeable lake in the middle of the park and admire the cityscape over shimmering waters. Benjakiti Park is well maintained and colourful flowers and green plants add to the serenity.
Location: Khlong Toei, Bangkok
Bangkok’s Chinatown is a fascinating place that manages to elevate the senses in a way that sets it apart from the rest of Bangkok. It is stimulating but at the same time very exhausting. Chinatown is a vibrant place full of markets, great Chinese food, beautiful temples and other places to see. If you like things quiet go during the day as after dark it will be a completely different experience with all hustle and bustle. Walk through the area, sample food and look for bargains.
Location: Chinatown, Bangkok
Be entertained by a ladyboy cabaret show at Asiatique
A cabaret show by ladyboys is something you have experience at least once when you are in Bangkok. The Calypso Cabaret Show at Asiatique is very entertaining and made with good taste, passion and talent. The show is all about glitz, glamour and drama. Tickets are a bit pricey, however one drink is included. We were advised to purchase tickets in advance but it turned out unnecessary as we managed to get tickets when we arrived at the venue. The modern riverfront complex of Asiatique provides a good range boutiques and restaurants for shopping and dining before or after the show.
Location: 2194 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok 10120
Enjoy a sunset cocktail at Octave Rooftop Lounge and Bar
My favourite rooftop bar in Bangkok is without a doubt Octave Rooftop Lounge and Bar on the 47th floor of the Marriot Hotel Sukhumvit. This bar was opened a couple of years back and is supposedly the only rooftop bar with a 360-degree view of the city skyline. The overall experience is very impressive: spectacular views over the city, very cool decor, a shiny bar in the centre of the top floor, delicious drinks and very friendly service.
Location: 2 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 57, Bangkok 10110
Sample exotic street food
Street food is a quintessential part of the Bangkok experience. Street food is available everywhere in the city. It might be a humble cart on the side of the road, it can be a collection of stalls at a local market or a traditional shop house that has tables spilling out into busy streets. It is smart to have street food at busy places as the ingredients might then be on the fresher side.
Location: Everywhere in Bangkok
Climb the temple of Wat Arun
I reckon Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different from the other temples of Bangkok. Beautiful gardens surround the temple creating a great location for a stroll. A visit to this temple was definitely one the highlights of my stay in Bangkok as you get to climb the central tower of the temple. The climb is very steep and scary but manageable and the views from the top are more than rewarding!
Location: 158 Wang Doem Rd, Bangkok
Shop around the world at Terminal 21
Bangkok’s modern multi-storey shopping centres are every shopaholic’s paradise. Terminal 21 with some 600 shops offers a very unique shopping experience. As soon as you enter the building, it feels like you have just arrived at the airport: floor signs indicating the arrivals, a crisscrossing network of escalators, electronic display boards, information desk receptionists wearing air hostess uniforms. This is the starting point for a shopping trip around the world. At Terminal 21, each floor has a specific theme and you will get to shop in different cities and admire the most famous monuments from around the world: zouks of Istanbul, London underground, San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and so many more.
Location: 88 Sukhumvit, Soi 19, Bangkok 10110
Go on a cruise along Chao Phraya River
If your feet are sore from walking around the city, a cruise along the Chao Phraya River is an easy and pleasant way to see Bangkok. One advantage of cruising along the river is that you get to see many landmarks and bridges, such as the Rama VIII bridge, a beautiful single tower asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge. In addition you get an ever-changing scenic view while relaxing and enjoying food and drinks.
Location: Chao Phraya RiverAfter exploring the hectic city you might want to spend a few days on the beach to unwind. My favourite island escapes include Koh Samet and Koh Chang that are easily accessible from Bangkok. Or if you have more time why not go island hopping!
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