I was lucky enough to grow up in this amazing city and, even though I’ve been living in the States for years now, I’ve been able to visit it many times since but it has been 7 years since I’ve been back, the longest I’ve ever been away. So, when I saw plane tickets from JFK starting at around $575 I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go back. I also visited Cambodia and Vietnam, which I will fill you in on in a different post.
Whenever I take that first step onto Bangkok soil after the plane lands, it’s a bit like coming home. I love so much about Thailand and though I don’t live there now, it will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s changed a lot since I lived there, but in many ways it’s still the same. On my latest visit last month, I spent time visiting old friends, my old neighborhood, shopping and of course, eating my favorite foods. But, if it’s your first time visiting the city, chances are you’re going to want to check out the “must sees and dos”.
There’s so much to see and do in Bangkok and I won’t be able to go into detail on all of them in this post. However, if it is your first time in Bangkok, here’s what I recommend. These are all things I’ve done/visited many times.
Bangkok must sees:
1. Chatuchak aka the Weekend Market – This is always my first stop when I visit Bangkok. Just amazing and an absolute must-do in my opinion. It’s a massive outdoor market unlike any other in the world. GREAT shopping and just a fun experience. Don’t be afraid to barter. It’s expected and you can get great deals. They literally sell everything in this market, from food, to clothing, to furniture, to exotic animals (although I’ve been told in recent years they’ve moved the animals to a different section). Open Friday-Sunday.
2. The Grand Palace – It’s pretty dazzling. It’s full of beautiful, jeweled details and architecture unique to Thailand. A must see.
3. Temples – The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is probably the most famous and within the grounds of the Grand Palace. In my opinion, the Temple of Reclining Buddha, is much more impressive. It’s also near the Grand Palace. There are lots of other temples to check out as well, but those two are a must see. Note, when you go to the palace and the temples, you need to dress appropriately. It’s HOT in Bangkok, but they will not let you in if your knees and shoulders are not covered.
4. The snake farm & The crocodile farm – I remember visiting as a kid and really loving it. You can hold some of the snakes (if you’re not scared) and it’s pretty informative. At the crocodile farm they put on a pretty cool show and I think you can feed the crocodiles (if I remember correctly). Both sites are fun for kids.
5. Klongs & River tours – I loved to walk along the klongs as a kid. You can take a Chao Praya River cruise or a klong, aka the canals that run throughout Bangkok, tour. I’ve also heard the floating market is fun, although I’ve never actually done that in all my years and visits in and to Bangkok.
6. Eat Street Food – But make sure it’s heated up, or they cook it in front of you. Street food is so much a part of experiencing Bangkok. You will have the BEST Thai food of your life for about $1.50 (or less). Khao pad gai (fried rice), moo ping (pork on a stick), pad see ew (stir fried noodles) are just a few of my favorites.
Some other fun sites/places/things to do/try are:
– The Rose Garden – you can take a short ride on an elephant here and they also do a Thai cultural show.
– Jim Thompson House, which I actually just visited for the first time this last trip. I really enjoyed the tour.
– Walk around the Victory Monument
– Siam Paragon Shopping Center – Nice mall, lots of restaurants, cool aquarium
– Bangkok Zoo
– Ride a tuktuk (for the experience)
– Take the BTS Sky Train – It’s really well managed, super affordable and easy to figure out. The AC works great, which is awesome, because Bangkok is HOT and you can get to many of the major attractions in the city.
As far as hotels go, Bangkok offers some of the world’s best. If you do your research, you can find some really amazing deals for 4 and 5 star hotels. We recently stayed at the Chatrium Riverside Hotel and really enjoyed it. I would recommend springing for a river-view room. The rooms are large and comfortable, the staff are friendly and helpful, and the breakfast buffet was AMAZING. The hotel is located directly on the river and they provide free river shuttles to the nearby BTS station so you can get pretty much anywhere you need to go very easily.
If you’re luck enough to go, I hope you enjoy the crazy, magical, wonderful city of Bangkok as much as I do.