10 Things to do in Bangkok

By Elizabeth May
Posted at 08/05/2014

Bangkok is one of the world's most populous cities, and with good reason.  Anything you can think of, you will find in Bangkok. It became the capital of Thailand in 1782 under the King Rama I, before that, Ayutthaya was the kingdom's capital, and also merits a visit.

If you are looking for phenomenal food, kind people, ancient temple ruins, buddhist culture, beautiful nature, and cheap shopping you needn't look any further.  You've found the city that captures and keeps a hold of so many foreigners.  While visiting, you must try: Som tam (spicy papaya salad), Tom Yum (spicy and sour soup with your choice of meat), laab (pork or chicken cooked with lime and flavored with mint) and khao soi* (spicy coconut soup with soft as well as crispy noodles and your choice of meat *recommended).

So the adventure begins!  Let's begin with things you can do during the day, then move into things for the afternoon/evening and leave the nightlife for the finale.  Here are 10 recommendations for Bangkok:

  1. Wat Pho
    There are tons of temples in Bangkok, the most famous is the grand palace, called Wat Phra Kaew.  There are always so many people there, which means that it can be a bit tiresome. Wat Pho is a good alternative to experience the intricate details of the art and craftsmanship of a Thai temple.  This specific temple is home to the golden reclining buddha.  If it's a hot day and all the walking has become taxing, the temple offers massages.  They are slightly more expensive than those outside the temple, but are well worth the money.

  2. Chatuchak
    This outside market is like a city in and of itself.  It is a HUGE, hot and winding market full of fantastic finds.  There are little alleys of clothing, jewelry, house decor, souvenirs, shoes, sunglasses, food, furniture and pretty much anything else you are looking for.  Make sure you bargain, the first price mentioned is always double for foreigners.  It's also a good idea to know the conversion rates from Baht to your home currency, this will help you decide how much you are willing to spend.

  3. Krua Romai
    There isn't a better place to try authentic Thai food.  Although pretty well hidden, it's located only 5 minutes walking distance from the BTS station Thong Lo, down Sukhumvit 36.   It's an outside restaurant complete with tranquil fish swimming in small ponds, singing birds to replace the sounds of traffic, vines to cover the surrounding buildings, and other greenery to give you the total escape from the city, while still being in the city.

  4. Chao Phraya River Tour
    The point of embarkation for this tour is the Saphan Taksin BTS station.  Once you get to the river you can choose the sights you'd like to see.  Obviously it's more expensive with a tour guide, but if you're in it for the scenery and a nice afternoon on a boat, go with some friends, hire your own personal long tail boat, and it's both enjoyable and affordable.

  5. Soi 38
    This is probably one of the most authentic scenes of everyday life in Bangkok.  Around 5pm the street comes to life with vendors selling the different typical foods of Thailand.  The food is cooked right in front of you.  It's cheap, clean and delicious.  Here, the Khao Soi and Khao Man Gai is recommended.

  6. Face Bar and Restaurant
    This place is a bit more upscale and offers Indian, Japanese and Thai cuisine.  It is an antique structure built with Teak, a traditional Thai wood that is ideal for humidity resistance.  The lavish interior is the perfect place to spend an evening with a date.  The ambiance is romantic and chic.  http://www.bangkok.com/restaurant-reviews/the-face.htm

  7. Asiatique
    You can get to this place by taking the free ferry from saphan taksin BTS station.  Here you can wander around and check out the little artisan shops.  It has recently become the hot spot for locals to hang out as well.  There are restaurants and bars where you can sit and watch the boats go by.  Good spot to meet up with friends in the evening.

  8. Grease Bar
    This is a multi-floor, all-in-one hang out spot.  You can have dinner in the stylish restaurant, then move on to the dance floor where there are thousands of dizzying LED ceiling lights.  If that's not your thing, move on to the upper floor (gallery) and have drinks while discussing the meaning of art hanging on the walls.  Overall fabulous nightclub, more locals than foreigners.

  9. Patpong
    Okay okay, so it's a little grungy, but everyone who comes to Bangkok should at least spend an hour here.  This is the "red light district" where you can see all kinds of curious "shows".  Maybe you don't need to spend any money here, but you should go for the experience.  You can grab a few drinks in the bars that line the alley, take in a "show", talk to a ladyboy or do a little late night shopping for the knockoff sunglasses, belts and handbags.  It's well lighted, so there's no need to feel afraid, just relax and take it all in!

  10. Wong's Place
    This is a very local, after-hours, dive bar.  It's small, but has vast character.  Arrive here around 12 and you'll get a table, any later and you'll be crammed in like sardines, but possibly meeting your new "best friend".  The music/music videos that are played will bring you back to your "good ol’ days," of youth and jollification. Maybe that's why no one leaves sober.

    *Other noteworthy places include: Jim Thompson house, Khaosan Road, Bombay Blues, Cheap Charlies, Above 11, Nest, and Q bar.