Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and the biggest city in South East Asia. It’s also the cultural center of the region and home to some of the most exquisite Buddhist temples and palaces, such as the magnificent Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
Bangkok doesn’t have an off-season. The city lives 24/7, 12 months a year. Still, it can get pretty humid and super warm in some parts of the year. Pick the November-to-January period for the most bearable weather conditions. From March to May it can get extremely hot, so skip it if you can’t stand intense heat. The rainy season starts in late May and lasts until November. I decided to travel during mid-November and it was perfect in my opinion!
1. CHAO PHRAYA RIVER
A trip to Bangkok is not complete without a boat ride down the Chao Phraya River. Many refer to Bangkok as the Venice of the East because of this river and the many canals that flow off of it. Plenty of locals still use this river to get to work daily. I was able to experience this first hand. Use this as your mode of transportation to get around and experience the diverse way of life in Bangkok. You can see everything from the luxurious hotels to little shacks along the river.
2. GRAND PALACE
For about 150 years, this place was not only the home of the king and his court, but also the entire administrative seat of the government. By the turn of the 20th century, Thai kings had stopped living in this palace, and it primarily became a public museum. Despite this the complex remains the seat of power as well as the heart of the Thai kingdom with several royal offices still situated inside.
3. WAT ARUN
Named after Arun, the God of the Dawn, Wat Arun stands at 79 meters tall beside the Chao Phraya River and is one of the best attractions in Bangkok. The tower is beautiful at any time of day, but it’s extra gorgeous when you catch the ceramic and colored porcelain tiles in the right light. The main tower is guarded by two giants that are indeed a sight!
4. WAT PHO
Wat Pho is home to the famous Reclining Buddha that lays at 15 meters tall and 46 meters long and is covered in gold leaf. It’s hard to picture its true size so a visit in person is a must. The entire complex is more than just the Reclining Buddha though. Wat Pho also holds the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. You’ll want to spend some time roaming around in awe of the colorful and intricate details of the temples as Wat Pho is one of the best places to visit in Bangkok.
5. STREET FOOD
Food stalls along the street on your way to Wat Pho offer a wide range of snacks and local dishes. Go for a fresh fruit smoothie, Roti pancakes, Mango Sticky Rice, Fried Bananas…(I am drooling) or Cool off with a Thai Iced Tea from the locals. The food is so delicious and so cheap here!
6. THAI COOKING CLASS
Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines in the world! So why not learn to make it at home? This cooking class will teach you how to prepare traditional dishes using ingredients you’ve gathered from a nearby market. Come hungry because this class was a feast! I even got my meal to go! Enjoy a delicious meal with your hosts & other people you will meet around the world while learning about Thai culinary and cultural heritage. I recommend Silom Thai Cooking School. They even give you a recipe book of the dishes you cooked and chopsticks to take home 🙂
We finished off the class by being served Mango Sticky Rice. My favorite dish in Thailand! This type of rice is made from a long grain that contains more starch. It was cooked in a bamboo basket and sits for about 3 hours. It takes some time but it is worth it!
7. PAD THAI & TOM YUM SOUP
You’re already super hungry by now, and when in Bangkok don’t miss Thailand’s most famous dish – Pad Thai & famous soup Tom Yum. Pad Thai is a local stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food. Tom yum or tom yam is a type of hot and sour Thai soup, usually cooked with shrimp. Whether you pick up some at the food stalls, local eateries, or if you get some at a nice restaurant, in Bangkok it’s usually super delicious no matter where you get it!
This is me making homemade Pad Thai & Tom Yum Soup! The Pad Thai was the freshest I’ve ever tasted. The noodles were so fresh they melted in my mouth. I still dream about it to this day! I enjoyed both dishes with Shrimp.
8. BRUNCH IN THE SKY
My stay at the Amara Bangkok was spectacular. Every morning I would head to the roof in my robe and lay out on the deck where I would be waited on like a queen! I ordered some coffee & breakfast and just took in that incredible view. Bangkok mornings are so peaceful & quiet (since everyone is still sleeping from being out late and partying).
9. ROOFTOP POOL
Nothing like relaxing in a pool in Bangkok’s sky! The views of Bangkok are absolutely incredible, and the pool feels refreshing in the hot Thai heat! I am enjoying Amara Bangkok’s infinity pool and its incredible view.
10. THAI MASSAGE
There’s no better place to experience a Thai massage than in the land where it originated. Massages can be as simple as a half hour foot massage or a full body massage with stretching. Your best bet is to ask the hotel where the best places are near you to get a massage, but there will be plenty throughout the city! I couldn’t believe how alive the city is at night. It became a nightly routine of mine to end the night with a foot massage.
11. STREET MARKETS
Whether they sell food, clothes, accessories, or all of those, you’ll always bump into a street market no matter where you’re going. The Chatuchak Market is the biggest of its kind in the whole country. It’s open on weekends only and it takes hours to explore it. The Chinatown market is also a fun market if you are more limited on time.
11. RIDE IN A TUK TUK
Tuk tuks are everywhere and are fun to take at least once just to say you did it, but they’re also a great and inexpensive way to get around the city. Some have bright colors and upbeat music playing. During rush hour it may even be faster to get where you’re going in a tuk tuk because they’re smaller and can weave in and out of traffic. It’s exhilarating! The tuk tuks are notorious for trying to overcharge you, so be sure to ask up front how much it will cost and make a counter offer. I found it helpful to research before on Grab (Uber in Asia) and see what the quote was for a ride to get an idea of how much it costs.
12. DINNER AT THE BLUE ELEPHANT
Blue Elephant is an upscale Thai restaurant housed in a beautiful old Chinese-style building built in 1903. This is one seriously charming Thai restaurant; the decor, the atmosphere, the cutlery, the service, and of course the delicious authentic Thai food. The prices are a bit higher here than normal… nothing compared to the US though! This is a place for special occasions or if you are just looking for a nice night out. I had the lamb with purple potatoes and it was absolutely incredible.
Bangkok is one of the best shopping cities in the world. Whatever you’re wanting to shop for, whether it’s Chanel, a quirky market piece, or contemporary pieces from designers you’ve never heard of, you can certainly find it here in Bangkok! I enjoyed shopping at the street markets the most where you could find a lot of merchandise handmade from the locals.
15. UNICORN CAFÉ
Are you a unicorn fan like myself? A visit to one of Bangkok’s unicorn café’s is a must if you enjoy pastel colors and sweet little treats! They serve food like rainbow spaghetti, unicorn waffles, rainbow crepe cake, cotton candy and fruit punch with glitter. Have you ever seen such a magical café?!
Of course there are endless amounts to do in Bangkok. If I had more time I would love to add more to this list. These were my top picks for the essential Bangkok experience!
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