While it may be difficult to term Bangkok as the most ideal city in the world due to its political instability, pollution and crowded streets, it’s definitely not possible to dismiss it. Bangkok is loved for its insatiable appetite for delicious and weird food, its grit and character and best in the world modernism. There’s a certain magnetism in its air, its people and its culture that bring millions of tourists every year to this splendid land.
While the shopping craze here is beyond expression, Bangkok is full of beautiful, spiritual, and architectural marvels that are a must visit.
Here’s an exclusive list of some of the best things to do in Bangkok and Thailand for an inquisitive traveler like you.
1. The Reclining Buddha Temple – Wat Pho
Also known as Wat PhraChetuphon, Wat Pho temple is one of the main attractions of Thailand. The temple is nicknamed after its main attraction- the giant gold leaf covered 46-meter reclining Buddha statue. Whether or not you are a spiritual person, Wat Pho is a must visit place for experiencing relaxed bliss and enjoying authentic and traditional Thai massages.
2. Take the Grand Palace Tour
Constructed in the awe-inspiring traditional Thai architecture, the Grand Palace is one of the famous tourist attractions of Bangkok, and included in almost all the Thailand tour packages. Once the official home to the Kings of Siam, the palace is still used for special ceremonial occasions and festivals. The 45-centimeter Emerald Buddha is the main attraction of the palace and worth the visit.
3. A Day at the Chatuchak Weekend Market
One of the largest markets in the world, the Chatuchak weekend market seems to be home to everything buyable; right from baby squirrels to vintage items. To soak in the vibrancy of this market will require almost a full day’s time. The entire market is coherently sectioned with food courts, schematic maps, and toilets; but once you go deep into the market, the hustle-bustle gives a feeling of no escape.
4. The Experience of the Floating Market
Whether or not you are interested in buying fresh veggies or fruits, visiting the world famous floating market of Thailand is a must. A market aimed more for the tourists than for the locals, floating market of Bangkok fills you up with yummy treats from floating kitchens and coconut cocktails made fresh on the boat for you.
5. Cheat Your Diet Routine at Chinatown
Arguably the best place to eat sumptuous street food of Thailand, Chinatown is loved by foodies and aspiring chefs. The place serves fresh fruits and vegetables and is lined with authentic food stalls and restaurants that capture the essence of the traditional Thai cuisine. Almost always crowded, the energy and vibrancy of the place is infectious.
6. Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn
One of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, Wat Arun is also known as Wat Chaeng. Loved for its riverside location and a significantly different design from the other traditional Thai temples, Wat Arun is created with decorated colorful spires. The beauty of the temple is at its peak when the low light of the sun rays hit it at dawn.
7. Chao Phraya River and Canals
Ancient wood houses and centuries-old bridges adorn the few remaining canals (Khlong) of Thailand. Some of the most prominent ones to visit are Khlong Bangkok Yai, Khlong Bangkok Noi, and Khlong Moi.
Another way to explore the beauty of Thailand is through the Chao Phraya River. Surrounded by soaring skyscrapers of the modern Thailand, Chao Phraya River goes long back in history when the early settlers chose it because of its abundant fish and favorable location for trade. Today, a thriving place for exclusive dinner cruises for tourists and mode of transportation by ferries for the locals, the Chao Phraya river is a must visit.
8. Soi Cowboy
Not a place to go with children, Soi Cowboy should definitely be experienced even if you are not inclined to mingle with Thai girls in its red light area. The place is thriving with neon lights, vibrant crowd, and Thai girls and is visited by tourists to experience its carnival-like feel.
9. Soi Rambuttri
Giving a feel of a completely different world sans ultra modern buildings, Soi Rambuttri is your chance to experience Bangkok as it was before the arrival of the skyscrapers. Walk along the horse shoe shaped road passing by decorated stalls, restaurants, guesthouses, bars etc. This is a good place to buy souvenirs too.
10. Explore the City On a Tuktuk
The famous three wheeler of Bangkok also known as ‘Sam lor’ in Thai language is the most recognizable transport feature of the capital city of Thailand. A motorized version of the old-time rickshaw, tuktuk is easily the best way to go around the city. Though not the cheapest, it’s definitely been very cost effective, especially for tourists on a tight budget. Such is the popularity of tuktuks that tourists treat it as one of the must things to do in Bangkok.
11. Watch a Muay Thai Match
Muay Thai famously known as Thai boxing is quite an experience. Very different from the regular boxing in its style, a Muay Thai match is full of ecstatic crowd, neon lights, deafening cheer of Thai classical instruments and a pair of undistracted warriors aimed at providing full entertainment to the crowd from their bloody combat.
12. Visit Jim Thompson’s House for Rare Collectibles
An enchanting garden encloses a compound as beautiful as its surroundings; the residential enclave of middle aged American Jim Thompson, who had a passion of collecting the best of art and cultural souvenirs of Thailand during his 30 year stay in Bangkok. His love affair with rare antiques blossomed while he was reviving the Thai cottage industry. An architect by profession, his house speaks volumes of his professional brilliance. The place is no less than a museum for art and culture lovers.
Tracing its roots from the early Ayutthaya Kingdom, Bangkok deserves to be in everyone’s bucket list. This proud capital city of Thailand captivates your imagination with its surreal beauty and astonishes you with its humility.
Top Photo by Uwe Schwarzbach