Man… Bangkok is something else. Some people fall in love with the chaos. Others can’t stand it. Regardless, you’re already here, aren’t you? You might as well make the most of your time in this hectic, muggy, death trap of a city that has a character unlike any other.
1. Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace
This was the first thing I did in Bangkok and boy did it blow my mind. Honestly, maybe you should save this for last because every other temple in comparison will just seem a bit subpar. This place is magnificent, and it is undoubtedly the number one thing you have to do in Bangkok. The architecture, the details, and the sheer size of the grounds will have you gaping in awe for hours and hours. I was there for over two hours and could have stayed for much longer just admiring the vast painting that spanned the entire wall of this place.
2. Wat Pho
Close to Wat Phra Kaew is Wat Pho, another mind-blowing temple, but with a more relaxed pace than Wat Phra Kaew. Compared to Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho is desolate when it comes to tourists. It felt like Wat Phra Kaew had ten thousand tourists within the grounds at any given time, whereas Wat Pho maybe had a couple hundred. Wat Pho is home to hundreds of Buddhas, including some famous ones like the massive reclining Buddha. It is also home to its world famous massage school, and getting a massage there after exploring the temple grounds was like heaven. Just kidding, it was a Thai massage. So it hurt. A lot.
3. Wat Arun
The Temple Of Dawn is one of Bangkok’s most recognizable structures. Situated across the river from Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, it towers above pretty much everything on that side. A quick ferry ride will take you there, and although it was under heavy construction during my time in Bangkok, you can tell that it is truly magnificent. Climbing to the top will provide a view of Bangkok unlike anywhere else in the city.
4. See A Floating Market
Okay, let’s take a break from the temples for a bit. Bangkok is also famous for its floating markets. These are basically markets that are on boats, and it is crazy. It gives a glimpse into the quirky things that make Bangkok a city that simultaneously makes people shake their heads in confusion while gaping in awe at its unique character.
5. Eat Street Food Until You Go Into A Coma
I just did this today actually. I’m supposed to be going out since it’s a Friday night and I’m staying on Khaosan Road, but instead, I am laying in bed unable to move, which is why I’m writing this. Let’s just recap for a second all of the stuff I ate today. Shrimp shumai for 20 baht. Shrimp fried rice for 50 baht. Steamed pork dumplings for 30 baht. Rice with two mystery meat dishes that I still haven’t deciphered for 45 baht. Basically, I had a metric h*ckton of food for just under $5 US. I could do this every day, and I probably will.
6. Watch A Real Muay Thai Fight
Going down south by the islands, I heard a lot about the Muay Thai fights held there. However, if you want to experience authentic Muay Thai fights by professionals rather than drunk tourists, then Bangkok is the place you need to be. This sport is Thailand’s most popular behind football, and it is safe to say that it is probably a lot more entertaining than football. It’s worth going at least once to catch one of these epic duels between Thailand’s most talented fighters.
7. Get Belligerently Sh*tfaced on Khaosan Road
Khaosan Road is backpacker central, so while you won’t get the most authentic experience here, you will get a wild night out of it. The street is lined with bar after bar with nightclubs dotted in between. People will be dancing wildly on the streets throughout the night, and with an abundance of vendors selling buckets, beers, and street food, you will have everything you need for a proper night out in Bangkok.
8. Hike Up Golden Mount (Wat Saket)
Bangkok’s highest point is also one of its most recognizable landmarks. It’s a beautiful temple situated upon a hill, which you can climb up to get an amazing panoramic view of Bangkok. The hike up is pretty easy, but it can get really hot. Mostly because Bangkok is always hot. Out of all the temples I went to, Wat Saket gave me the best glimpse into the customs and traditions of Buddhists. There were bells and gongs and candles and roses and robes and statues and tons of other stuff that was both confusing and extremely intriguing.
9. See The City By Boat
If you want a local view of Bangkok, then there is no better way to do it than by boat. It really gives you an interesting perspective of a city whose highways are severely overpopulated almost 24/7. Although they will be cramped, local boats are much cheaper than paying for a river tour of Bangkok. Just hop on one and ride out the entire route for a different way of exploring Bangkok.
10. Chill At Lumpini Park
One of the parts of Bangkok that makes people hate it is that it is undeniably a dirty, grimy, greasy, muggy, urban jungle. That makes Lumpini Park a welcome escape for both locals and tourists. It is Bangkok’s largest green area and a beautiful place to exercise, go for a run, or just sit and people watch.
I’ll admit that Bangkok is one of those places that might take a while to get used to, let alone begin liking. The traffic jams, the noise, the heat, and the chaos often had me just rushing to get back to the air-conditioned quietness of my room. Despite this, Bangkok has an insane amount of things to offer to all sorts of travelers. People told me that I should get out of Bangkok as quickly as I could, but getting lost in the city and basking in the chaos is what traveling is all about.