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Top things to do in Bangkok, Thailand

Top things to do in Bangkok


Bangkok! The city everyone described to us by using the word hate:

'To be honest with you, I hate Bangkok.'
'I hated Bangkok the first time, but learned to love it after the third or fourth time.'
'I guarantee you will hate Bangkok'.

Well, we are happy to say that we LOVED it! We loved it after only being there for 30 minutes. We loved it so much we've already returned 3 times and predict lots more visits in the future.  

We totally understand why some (most) people hate Bangkok the first time, so we are here to help you out:

What you'll get from this post:
  • 10 top things to do in Bangkok
  • Why people hate Bangkok 
  • How to take a taxi in Bangkok
  • Where to stay in Bangkok
  • How to not get sick in Bangkok
But most importantly: how to love Bangkok!

Top things to do in Bangkok
There are so many things to do in Bangkok, how do you make sure you see the best bits in a short amount of time? With all the different colours, smells and noises Bangkok can be a bit overwhelming, but we think the best way to deal with that is to jump head-first into it and do as much as possible! 

1. Visit a Buddhist Temple
Buddhist Temple Thailand

















With over 40,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand and 400 in Bangkok alone, it's hard to miss them, and a shame if you do because they are so beautiful! 

The 3 most famous temples in Bangkok are Wat Pra Kaew (the one with the jade Buddha), Wat Arun (the one next to the river) and Wat Pho (the one with the reclining Buddha). (By the way, Wat means temple in Thai.)

Our favourite temple in Bangkok though, was Wat Saket - the Golden Mount. There are great views of Bangkok from the top, and unlike the famous ones, it's not too crowded with tourists.

Make sure you cover your shoulders and knees to be respectful, and it's best to go early in the morning (so you don't faint from covering your shoulders and knees in the heat). 

2. Hit a rooftop bar at sunset
Rooftop Bar views Bangkok
Photo thanks to Yvette from whirlofwanderlust.com, follow her on Instagram!



Speaking of great views, with Thailand's insanely incredible sunsets and Bangkok's abundance of lights, you must get up high at night for the best views. 

The best way to do this is to go for a cocktail (or three) just before sunset, trust us, you will feel like the Queen/King of the world! Partly because of the cocktail of course, but mostly because of the views. 

We personally enjoyed the Octave Rooftop Lounge and Bar, though it may not be the absolute best rooftop bar in Bangkok. (Do you have a favourite rooftop bar in Bangkok? Let us know in the comments below and we'll add your favourites here!)

3. Stuff your face with street Food
Thai Street Food
Thai food is great. And nothing is more authentic that sitting down for a good Pad Thai/ fried rice/ soy noddles by the side of the road. 

We didn't really have any tummy issues when we were in Thailand, possibly because we followed a simple rule:


To avoid getting sick in Thailand: find the washing up bowl.

We found that judging a street-food seller's cleanliness by the state of their washing up bowl really worked. If the bowl has pretty clean water and everything's stacked in a neat-ish way, you're good to go. If the water looks disgusting and there are flies everywhere, give it a miss.

This is easier said than done when they're trying to make you sit down and order your food, but we found it was worth the hassle. There are probably lots of street-food carts with bad washing up that don't make you sick, but if you're being cautious it's a good rule to have. 

If you want to be extra careful, only eat at places where women and children are eating. If they're eating there you've an even greater chance that the food is 'safe'. 

4. Get crazy (or not) on Khao San Road
Khao San Road is the infamous backpacker/tourist road where everyone stays/eats/drinks. Khao San Road is packed with (surprisingly cheap) street food, touristy merchandise, bars, restaurants, people asking if you want to see a sex show.. and, of course, backpackers

Although we are convinced Khao San Road is responsible for a lot of people's hatred to Bangkok, we still think it's a place you should see, just once. We wouldn't recommend staying here as we imagine that would kind of suck, especially after a couple of nights. But it is fun to visit for an hour or so. 

Just like Times Square, it's somewhere where you have to visit, just to be able to have an opinion on it. (Note, we're not big fans of Khao San Road or Times Square, but it's just our opinion, not a fact.) 

As for whether Khao San Road is 'authentic' or not, the jury is out, personally we think this a great example of where the (bad parts of the) West meet the (bad parts of the) East. You can probably blame the West for that, we seem to bring out the worst in everyone. Soz. 

Finally, if someone makes a weird 'pop' noise with their mouth at you, walk away - they're asking if you want to see a sex show. 


5. Market shopping
Market Shopping Bangkok Thailand

Whether it's a floating market, a flower market, a food market, a clothes market, it doesn't matter - you've got to visit some kind of market when you go to Bangkok. Like most of Bangkok they are vibrant and fun and, if you're lucky, you might be able to pick up a bargain.

It is true that, as a visitor, you will almost certainly be given a tourist price. Don't make the mistake I made and offer way, way below what they were asking for. In desperation not to be ripped off I was rude and undervalued what they were selling.. and got shouted at... ANYWAY, the prices are cheap so you'll always get a good deal, but as for bartering down to get a really good deal, we don't really know how to do that.. again, sorry. 

Bangkok is actually perfect for shopping, be it for super cheap bargains (see above) or top of the range, latest fashion, designer labels. Even if you're not in the market for buying labels, go and give these shops a look - they are fascinating.

6. See a Traditional Thai Puppet Show
Traditional Thai Puppet Show

Watching a Thai puppet show is an authentic and exciting experience. The puppets are ornately decorated and the puppeteers are incredibly talented. I'm not really a fan of puppets (thanks to the film 'the Conjuring') but even I loved watching the puppet show. The show comes with a story and traditional Thai music. 

The puppets will probably come into the crowd at the end of the show (so you can take selfies). The puppets also accept (expect) tips. 


7. Flowboard at Flow House
Flowboarding Flow House Bangkok

Sure Bangkok is nowhere near good waves, but that shouldn't stop you if you want to surf! We had an awesome afternoon surfing and chilling at Flow House Bangkok, which is incidentally also a bar. 

Surfing was completely different to surfing on 'real' waves, but still a really cool, fun experience. 

If (like me) you don't really enjoy surfing, but DO enjoy drinking and watching people fall over, then this is still the place for you! 

8. Go on a canal tour
Canal Tour Bangkok



















Canal life, or rather klong life, used to be how the majority of Bangkok lived, until the skyscrapers and (awesome) rooftop bars took over. 

Taking a tour through the canals is like leaving one world and entering a new world, you can really imagine what it was like 'back in the day'.

Our tour was on a traditional Thai long boat and included entry to a puppet show. For more information, check out this post: Canal Tour in Bangkok.


9. Relax (maybe) with a Thai Massage 
Try a Thai massage, it's a weird mixture of being beaten up/doing passive yoga, so for me (as someone who loves kickboxing and yoga) it was perfect. For Tanbay, not so much. At some points it really does hurt A LOT, but afterwards it feels amazing. 

We had lots of massages all over SE Asia, some were high-end , expensive ones, some were really cheap. All were amazing. Don't leave Bangkok without having one! 



10. Treat yourself to a luxury hotel. 
Luxury Hotel Pool Bangkok

















I think the main reason we didn't get culture shock/home sickness/freaked out when we went to Bangkok, was because we got the chance to stay in some very nice hotels, like the Citadines Apartment-Hotels, Bangkok is chaotic, and stepping into one of these luxury hotels is like instantly transporting yourself to somewhere more serene. 

If you're on a budget, consider timing your trip to Bangkok with a special date - we went there for Valentine's day and then again to celebrate our ten year anniversary. Alternatively (or additionally) have a look at Agoda.com or Booking.com for the best deals on your favourite hotels.


Why does everyone hate Bangkok?
So we've already given you a few tips for not hating Bangkok: avoid Khao San Road, search for the washing up bowl, stay in a fancy hotel, but there has to be more to it than that right?

Bangkok is a lot of people's first impression of South East Asia, and jetlag combined with home sickness can make people biased against a place, especially when exacerbated with things like:
  • How busy it is: There are over 10 million people in Bangkok
  • How dirty it is: Stinky drains, coakroaches, rats, even certain street food stalls, stinky tuk tuks
  • How loud it is: traffic, people trying to sell you things, tuk tuks..

Fruit Bangkok Thailand

Bangkok is the most contrasting city we've ever come across: bright pink, orange, green and yellow cabs running alongside dirty grey telephone cables, ladies of the night strolling near(ish) monks, super high-end hotels raised above super slums... It can be extremely overwhelming for all your senses. Pair that with a bad taxi experience and/or a bad hotel and Bangkok will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.  But Bangkok is also the most fun city we've ever come across. We want to help you to love Bangkok like we do. So let us help you deal with taxis: 

Tips for using taxis in Bangkok

Taxis Bangkok Thailand


Should you take the pink taxi or the orange taxi or the green/yellow taxis? Don't worry about any of that just remember this one thing:
*Take a metered taxi* 

Metered taxis have an obvious red light sign in the bottom-right corner of the windscreen.

Ask if they will switch the metre on, if they refuse find another taxi, there are SO MANY taxis in Bangkok, but sometimes you might have to take the second or third one you flag down.

It's always better to flag down a taxi, because the ones which are stood still (especially in front of hotels) are going to be looking for non-metered passengers. 

Most metered journeys in Bangkok will cost you less than 100 baht, and most trips through Bangkok to one of there airports will be about 300 baht. Here are some examples:

  • Khao San Road to National Stadium BTS Skytrain: 75 Baht
  • Ratchathewi Station to Rajadamnern Stadium: 80 Baht
  • Amari Watergate to Don Mueang Airport: 200 baht
  • Maduzi Hotel to Suvarnabhumi Airport: 280 baht

These are all rough guides, when you get in the taxi (after asking them to put the metre on) the fair will already be at 35 baht, it then goes up slowly in a weird combo of mileage and time (when the taxi's stood still it charges you 2 baht/minute). 

Taxis are super cheap and super convenient, but if traffic's really bad or if you're squeezing every penny, get the BTS as far as you can, and take a taxi for the last bit. 

The BTS is really easy to use, it's actually a much better system than most European tube systems (looking at you London). But, like most metros it does get crowded at peak times. 

The BTS also unfortunately doesn't go across the whole city, places like Wat Pho, Khao San Road and even Don Mueang Airport are impossible to reach without a taxi, and plenty of hotels are more than a 20 minute walk from the station (which will feel like a 200 minute walk if you're carrying your luggage). 


(For more information on Bangkok public transport, try www.bangkok.com/information-travel-around/www.transitbangkok.com/ and rome2rio.com


Finally, and perhaps most importantly: TAXIS IN BANGKOK DON'T KNOW ANY PLACES IN BANGKOK! Even having the address in Thai never seemed to help.. It's infuriating. In the end we just took a taxi to a famous landmark or a BTS station and directed them for the last bit or just gave up and walked, which brings me onto my next point very nicely:


Where to stay in Bangkok
If you take just one thing away from this post let it be this:

*Book accommodation near the BTS Skytrain or a well known tourist attraction *

Near meaning 5-10 minutes walk from it. You don't want to be right on top of said station or attraction (no sleep) but you don't want to be too far either:

Being near the BTS/attraction will guarantee that your taxi will always find where it it. Because trust us, the taxi won't know where your accommodation is otherwise.

Even if it's a nice hotel (which I hope it is), most taxi drivers probably haven't heard of it, and even having the address in Thai never seemed to help us much. 

SO, grab a hotel nearish a BTS station/attraction for ease of taxi use and for travelling round the city. 

Which area should I stay in in Bangkok?
Lots of backpackers head straight to Khao San Road and set up camp. Khao San Road is great for meeting other backpackers and for buying lots of touristy souvenirs (which I love btw).

But if you're looking for something less backpackery head over to the Sukhumvit area. This is a more ex-pat like area, full of business people looking posh, it also has some perfect hotels. Here are some of them:

Bangkok Hotels - Where to stay 
Amari Watergate Bangkok 
Amari Watergate Hotel Bangkok
Prices from £78/night for a Grand Deluxe King Room






















We stayed at the Amari Watergate for Valentines Day and it was perfect. It's centrally located and super near the best shopping in Bangkok.  As for the hotel itself; it's luxurious and comfortable and they have the best spa area ever with a sauna and a steam room!

For up-to-date rates and availability compare prices on Agoda | Booking.com | TripAdvisor



Oriental Residence Bangkok
Oriental residence Bangkok
prices from £91/night for a Grand Deluxe Twin  

The Oriental Residence is perfect if you want those home comforts (like a kitchen!) but still want the luxuries and conveniences of a hotel. It's also in the safest location in Bangkok. 

For up-to-date rates and availability compare prices on Agoda | Booking.com | TripAdvisor

Ma Du Zi Hotel
MA DU ZI Hotel Bangkok
Prices from £75/night for a Deluxe




















The Maduzi is probably our favourite hotel in Bangkok, they go out of their way to do everything they can to make your life easier: eg check-in and check-out is at any time, as is your welcome drink! 

For up-to-date rates and availability compare prices on Agoda | Booking.com | TripAdvisor


Other
If you're travelling on a budget, you might want to try out these hotels: 

Grand Mandarin Residence
prices from £7.50/night for a Standard Room

Pros: the price, fast wifi 
Cons: outside of the touristy area (though this COULD be considered a pro AND it's only 100 baht to get to the touristy areas) 

For up-to-date rates and availability compare prices on Agoda | Booking.com | TripAdvisor

The Overstay Hostel
prices from £4.50/night for a Double Room

Pros: Cheap, local food nearby, good wifi 
Cons: Smells like cats(?) 
  For up-to-date rates and availability compare prices on Agoda | TripAdvisor


We haven't personally stayed at these two places, but the reviews seem pretty positive, if you do stay at the Overstay, please let us know what the reviews mean by 'smells like cats' - what do cats smell of? 

AirBnB



















AirBnB is also a good option in Bangkok, because they offer everything from cheap stays on someone's sofa, all the way up to your own luxury apartment with a private swimming pool. We haven't actually used AirBnB in Bangkok yet, but have used it in many other cities including Chiang Mai, Ho Chi Minh and Manila and we've always loved the experience. If you've never used AirBnB before, click here for a £20 Voucher off AirBnB!


Further Information
Find out more about What To Do In Bangkok

Conclusion
Bangkok is one of our absolute favourite cities in the whole world and we sincerely hope that you love it too. Don't forget our tips: 
  • stay in nice hotels 
  • only take metred taxis
  • find the washing up bowl 
  • stay near-ish a BTS station/ famous site
Also don't just take our word for it! Other travel bloggers love Bangkok too, check out our friends' post: 10 Things We Love About Bangkok

If you've enjoyed what you've seen here, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube for more useful tips and advice. 


Top things to do in Bangkok Pin
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Finally, let us know in the comments below - have you been to Bangkok? Did you love it or loath it? What would be your advice for first timers? 



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ABOUTME

We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!

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