Travels

Bangkok, Thailand Travel Guide

March 12, 2017

Want to visit Bangkok, Thailand? It’s a great city to see popular cultural sights and enjoy great food. Here’s what I learned, researched, and experienced from my trip.


WHY VISIT BANGKOK?

Chances are, if you’re visiting Thailand, you’ll be flying in and out of Bangkok. While there are certainly more beautiful scenery elsewhere in Thailand, I think a couple of days in Bangkok is a good idea for your trip. You’ll get a feel for the city life and there are many beautiful, historic sights to see in Bangkok.


QUICK TIPS

Leave time for traffic. We had one scheduled meal that we were late for because we didn’t know traffic would be as bad as it would be before lunch. We also sat in traffic a lot in route.

WEATHER

The best time to visit Bangkok is October to March when it’s not so hot and drier, though high temperatures are close to the 90s year-round.

GETTING THERE

The main airport for flying in and out of Thailand is Suvarnahumi Airport, also known as Bangkok International Airport (BKK). Most domestic flights and flights to Asian countries are in and out of Don Mueang International Airport (DMX). We flew AsiaAir here. Get to the airport two hours before your flight leaves.

GETTING AROUND

  • Use Uber. No need to get frustrated with taxis or tuk tuks!
  • Try out the subway system. It’s fairly clean and direct.
  • Taxis and open air tuk tuks are available. Flag these down as you see them.
  • Negotiate a price or ask to use the taxi meter before you get in. During rush hour, taxi drivers will refuse to use the meter, so know the estimated cost of getting to where you’re going to negotiate a price. Expect traffic always!

WHERE TO STAY

Mandarin Hotel
We arrived to Thailand late at night, so we happily went straight to our hotel and ordered a late night snack. We also did room service breakfast since we were going straight to the airport to Chiang Mai that morning. It was a quick stay but we were able to relax in this quiet hotel. The room was a comfortable size with a nice view of Bangkok. While our interactions with staff were minimal, each was friendly.

Centra Central Station Hotel
Bangkok was the last leg of our trip before heading back to the U.S. so we stayed at a centrally located hotel. This modern hotel was recommended by a friend, and we were very pleased with the room, restaurant, and front desk service. They also have a nice spa that we indulged in. We each got two-hour treatments for about $40 each! The hotel is near a subway stop though getting a taxi was difficult downstairs. I would definitely recommend staying here while in Bangkok.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK

Nahm
We had an incredible Thai meal at Nahm, one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. Every detail from the plating to the service was flawless and it was one of our best meals in Thailand. Read all about our experience here.

Gaggan
I tried to make a reservation at Gaggan, another one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. I made a request online five months before our trip thinking it was a reservation but got an email a month later saying they were full. We tried calling day-of to fill a cancellation but no luck there either. I hear the restaurant is exceptional Indian cuisine, and they were featured in an episode of Chef’s Table.

Thip Samai Pad Thai
The most incredible pad thai I’ve ever had! I’m pretty sure no other pad thai will ever come close. It was served wrapped in an egg like an omelette. This place is “legendary” for their pad thai.

Ann Guay Tiew Kua Gai
The stir-fried noodles with chicken and a runny egg was mouth-watering good! The dish is called Guay Tiew Kua Gai Aob Kai.

Craft
We arrived here when we were in search of craft beer! They have craft beers from all over the world here, and it’s pretty interesting to see all the destinations. We also enjoyed a Thai version of chili fries here. They have two locations.

Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel
This is said to be one of the best views of Bangkok!

Junker and Bar
This is a craft beer bar where you can get local crafts, including Pheebok Beer.

Tan-Yu Tofu
You can get a popular jelly dessert here.

Steve Café and Cuisine
This place is hard to find but has great Thai food.

Rocket Coffee Bar
Such a cute place with pastries galore! They have a few locations but go to Rocket S.49.

Khao San Road
This is a very touristy road known as a backpackers hang-out (watch out for scammers) but it’s a huge mix of cultures with its restaurants and bars. If you want to see the nightlife, you can do it here.

Want to see what kind of dishes to expect in Thailand? Check out this post about the best things to eat and drink in Thailand!

Craft

 

WHAT TO DO

Grand Palace
This place is incredible and so crowded! We went before lunch time and while it wasn’t shoulder to shoulder all the time, the number of people visiting at the same time was astounding. It was also about a month after the king passed, so locals were lined up to pay their respects, though that was a separate area and line. See intricate buildings with colorful detail.


Wat Pho
We visited this well-known temple complex at night (during a private tour) and during the day. It’s expansive and around every corner is a new view. You’ll look up a lot to marvel at the tall structures, wondering how they built them. If you can, get a guide (a person or a narrative from the internet) to share all the details of what you’re seeing.


Bangkok Food Tour
As foodies, the Best Eats Midnight Food Tour was one of our favorite parts of visiting Bangkok. Our tour guide was very informative about Thai food and culture. We went to A+ spots that had us holding our stomachs from eating too much by the end. Also, your transportation is by tuk tuk! As with any food tour, I liked that we tried the best dishes and didn’t need to wait long for food after arriving at each restaurant. We also got detailed explanations of the dishes and saw behind-the-scenes looks. I would recommend this!


Wat Arun
The other popular temple in Bangkok is Wat Arun. It is one of the oldest temples in Thailand.

Khao Yai National Park
Thailand’s first national park is now its third largest. It’s three hours away from Bangkok, and it’s filled with wildlife, waterfalls, and beauty.

Shopping Mall
The mega malls are insane in Bangkok. Multiple stories (seven plus!), TONS of vendors, and things to see. I recommend going to CentralWorld, the largest mall in Thailand. Come here hungry and you will be VERY satisfied because there are more than 100 restaurants and photo-worthy food everywhere. You’ll also find trendy stores like Zara here.

If you’re looking for cheap and affordable souvenirs like keychains and t-shirts, go to MBK Center. It has more than 2,000 vendors, and it made me want to throw away everything in my house. Aisles and aisles of…stuff, and most of the vendors had the same stuff. It was baffling and sad. Consumerism at its ugliest.


Floating Market Tour
We went on a half-day floating market tour with Tour with Tong. It was very cool to see the train market in motion. Vendors have their stalls set up on the train tracks and four times a day, they move their stalls so the train can go through. You are literally an arm’s distance away from the train rumbling through. We also went to the floating market that let us ride in a gondola, observe the market, and visit a coconut sugar plantation. The destination is about an hour away from Bangkok, but we went by a private car so the whole sight-seeing was very efficient.


Jim Thompson House
One thing we ran out of time for was visiting the Jim Thompson House. This museum shows the art collection of Jim Thompson, an American businessman and architect that disappeared in 1967. This sight is popular because of the architecture and the air of mystery.

And that’s Bangkok! You’ve got to see this city for at least two or three days on your trip to Thailand, especially to go see the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

P.S. The Thailand fun doesn’t stop here! Check out all my Thailand posts here.

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