Bangkok was the hub of our Southeast Asia travels this summer. We flew into and out of BKK airport, and used the smaller airport (DMG) to take quick flights to Myanmar and Cambodia. At the beginning of our trip, we spent several days in the city, and here are some of the fun things we experienced.
1. The Grand Palace – The heart of Bangkok is the Royal Palace. As the former residence of the king, the palace is huge, ornate, and beautiful. It’s definitely worth the visit, but be forewarned; every other tourist in Bangkok will be there, too!
2. Visiting Temples –With dozens of major temples and hundreds of smaller ones, you could literally spend weeks roaming Bangkok's Buddhist temples known as wats. We didn’t have weeks, and I can easily get “templed out,” so we only visited Wat Pho on this trip. Wat Pho is within walking distance of the Grand Palace and is home to the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand measuring in at over 150 feet long!
3. The Jim Thompson House – Jim Thompson was an American architect who moved to Bangkok after World War II and was instrumental in globalizing the modern Thai Silk trade. He built a house in the heart of the city by taking multiple traditional Thai houses and combining them together. Then, in 1967, he disappeared never to be heard from again – rumor has it, he was a spy! Fully furnished with artifacts from around the region and complete with a beautiful garden it’s worth a few hours to take the guided tour to learn about Jim Thompson’s life and impact on the region.
4. Floating Markets – While in Bangkok, we took a tour of Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market with Pattaratida from LocalGuddy (disclosure below). More "built right up to the edges of the river" than really floating, Klong Lat Mayom is a bustling, local market away from the main tourist path. We rode a river boat out to a few traditional residences, spent lots of time people-watching, and asked lots of questions about Bangkok and Thailand. Klong Lat Mayom’s highlight, though, is the food! Pad Thai, fish, squid, duck, papayas, mangoes, durian and anything else you can imagine was there for the taking. Thanks to Pattaratida, we were treated to tons of local delicacies we’d have probably been too afraid to try and purchase on our own. We even tried durian, the world's smelliest fruit, for the first time! It was a fun afternoon not too far out of the city!
5. Food – Speaking of food, food itself might very well be the number one attraction in Bangkok. Anytime we’d get into a taxi or meet someone on the street, we’d ask what their favorite, must-see or do thing in Bangkok was. Without fail, every person said that eating was of utmost importance. So when in Bangkok, be sure to dive into the local food scene!
6. Chinatown – If you get tired of Thai food (how could you!), or you just want to mix things up a bit, Chinatown and its little markets are fun to explore. Random trinkets in the night market and great street food make for a fun evening out.
7. Khao San Road – Known as the “center of the backpacker universe,” Khao San Road is an amalgamation of restaurants, bars, clubs, tourist shops, hostels, and street vendors. Shops are open in the day, but by night they give way to the street vendors and bars that keep the entertainment level high on this crowded, loud, and touristy street. Advice: While fun to visit, I don’t recommend staying on Khao San Road unless you’re able to sleep through absolutely anything.
8. Thai Massages – We had our first (of several) Thai massages in Bangkok. Thai massages are slow, with lots of pressure, and the masseuse uses their whole body (i.e. hands, elbows, knees, and feet) to make you snap crackle and pop for at least an hour. It’s wonderful. Plus, in Thailand, they’re inexpensive enough that this “treat yo self” splurge will fit just about anyone’s budget!
Disclosure: We received a complimentary tour from Local Guddy. There were no expectations that we’d mention them in our blog (or anywhere), and our opinions here, like always, are our honest thoughts!