Guide to Bangkok
Most people start or end their journey in Bangkok but some don’t leave nearly enough time for this magical city!
I would definitely recommend staying in the backpacker area, Khao San Road. This is relatively cheap, but can be even cheaper if you find a place one street back. I had imagined this well known street to be huge, however it is just a few hundred meters long. Despite this, a lot of action is cram packed into it. You don’t need to book a hostel until you arrive; it took me 3 minutes of walking around to find a private room with A/C for $5 a night (there was much cheaper if I had have spent more time looking).
What to see and do
So much!! I don’t even know where to begin. Before you start I would recommend getting a clear map of the whole city, marking all the places you want to see and group them into areas. This way you can make a few easy self-guided walking tours. Keep in mind it is always really muggy and hot there, so you don’t want to be walking 3km in between each stopping point or you’ll give up pretty quickly.
1. Royal Palace
To visit this you have to have shoulders and knees covered; so bring a change of clothes! I missed out 8 times before I brought the right clothing and it was SO worth it. It also closes around 4pm so it is best to be the first thing on your day list just in case.
Entrance costs around $12 and you can easily spend a fair bit of time there gazing at the humongous and stunning carvings and temples.
2. Wat Po and the Lying Buddha
This is a really cool temple that has a giant Buddha lying on his side, and when I say giant i mean it. There are also some beautiful colourful temples and gardens surrounding it which are definitely worth seeing.
3. Do a river cruise
This is an awesome 2hr cruise along Chao Phraya river which weaves through canals and farms you would never otherwise see in Bangkok! To book, go to Chang Pier near the Thammasat University (and you can do so on the spot). You can book a big cruise ship, but it will be ridiculously expensive and not worth it. Book the crappiest little wooden boat you can find, I guarantee it makes no difference and is way more fun. The more people you have in the group to book, the cheaper it will be. We had about seven people and it was around $8 each.
4. Go to Chatachuk weekend market
This is literally the biggest market I’ve ever been to. It has over 8000 stalls and 20000 visitors each weekend. To get there, take the skytrain to Mo Chit station and explore away! Make sure you wear sunscreen and prepare for an adventure; here you will find everything from puppies to bicycles to watermelon shakes.
5. Get lost in the Chinatown streets
This area is so interesting and is full of popup markets on every corner. It has some amazing street food to try and is a great spot to walk around between sightseeing spots.
6. Visit the Big Buddha
This is a 32m high Buddha near Khao San Road and is VERY impressive.
You don’t need to go far for this one because everything happens on Khao San Road! There are numerous bars and clubs down the street that liven up at about 9pm until 6am every night. Most restaurants turn into bars, my favourite being called ‘Cheap Drinks, Strong Buckets, We Don’t Check No ID’- yes that is literally it’s name and it is 100% accurate.
Here is where all the backpackers you have so far met on your South East Asian trip will be- I couldn’t spend more than 10 minutes there without running into someone else I knew! As the night winds down and you’re craving drunk food, look no further than the bug stands selling crickets, scorpions and cockroaches in a fried soy sauce. I never tried them, but all my friends did and I don’t regret my choice by the looks on their faces afterwards!
There are also some awesome bars with a little less craziness one street back from Khao San Road. Here they have a lot of live music and slightly cheaper drinks. I ended up staying at one of them until 4am without even realising because it was such a good time.
How long to spend there
A lot of people use Bangkok as a quick stopover before venturing on, and admittedly I did too many times. However recently I spent a full five days there and really discovered place. I would recommend spending a full three days minimum there; it’s a huge city and has so many different areas, which can take a while to get between.