Known for the elephants and skyscrapers, Buddhist monks, and shopping malls, Thailand is both steeped in ancient traditions and thoroughly modern. Whether you’re looking for cheap thrills, awesome massages, or fine silk and handicrafts, Bangkok is definitely a must-see. Here's your guide to Thailand's capital city:
1. Explore the historical sights. Famous for preserving its centuries-old culture, Bangkok has numerous temples and palaces of amazing architecture and finely wrought designs. Check out the Grand Palace, a beautiful historic complex that also houses the famous Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Another must-see is the Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn), a breathtaking porcelain structure. Sooo IG-worthy, especially at night.
Wat Phra Kaew at the Grand Palace
Wat Arun at the Grand Palace
2. Plan your routes. If you plan on taking the trains, download the Bangkok Transit Guide, which features the BTS sky train, MRT subway, and BRT express guides and includes info on all gates to all stations. GrabTaxi is also available in Bangkok, and it’s advisable to book cabs there instead.
3. Download a currency app. Seamlessly convert dollars, euros, and pesos to baht and vice versa with the XE Currency app. This will prevent you from buying overpriced tourist trap items too!
4. Go shopping! Bangkok is famous for shopping. Check out Siam Square, which combines highend shopping malls with lanes of open-air shopping complexes. Siam Square also offers Thai street food, hawker stalls, patisseries, coffee shops, and high-end restaurants. If you feel like channeling your inner hipster, check out the Rod Fai Market, an open-air bazaar selling vintage items, antique furniture, and kitschy memorabilia as well as rare collectibles.
Don't forget to check out Thailand's floating market, too. You can buy anything from spices, fresh fruits, and veggies to colorful native hats and other souvenirs.
5. Try all the street food. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try a beetle or cricket, too? Grab a drink at any of Bangkok’s numerous rooftop bars and get a view of the city below. Check out the local markets, too! There are night markets and weekend markets selling everything from green mangoes, grilled prawns, and coconut crab curry. Yum!
Fish sticks from Bangkok's weekend market
6. Go on a bike tour. Stray off the beaten path, and go on one of Bangkok’s many bike tours. View the numerous 200-year old structures, temples, and palaces dotted along the sunny countryside while burning calories and toning your legs. Just remember to pack some sunscreen, your GoPro, and your smartphone with a data roaming plan, so you can post the photos or video clips of all your adventures realtime.
7. Stay in a nice neighborhood. Choose your hotel wisely. As good hotels are located in nice neighborhoods, it is easier to find good restaurants, shops, and ATMs. Bangkok-centric apps such as EZ Table, Bangkok in MyPocket, WongNai and WTF BKK offer good listings and recommendations for restaurants, bars, and clubs.
8. Download a good translator app. It is always better and safer to have Google Translate (and a reliable mobile data plan) on your phone just in case.
9. Dress appropriately. Wear conservative clothing especially if you plan on visiting temples. High heels and open-toed flats are a bad idea as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Comfortable (and stylish!) sneakers are best.
10. Carry your mobile phone at all times. Whether you’re looking for a hidden restaurant, craving a cocktail, in need of an instant Baht to Peso converter, downloading the perfect filter, or separated from your friends, it is safe to stay online, especially in a city of 6.3 million people.
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