The Best Things To Do In Bangkok

Written By: Sofia Jackson

By the 18th century it was a humble trading post. Today, it is one of the world’s most exciting holiday destinations. Which makes it a modern-day Cinderella of sorts. We are of course referring to the bubbly, exciting fusion of color, boisterous activity and sunshine otherwise known as Bangkok. The city once referred to as the Venus of the East, sits in the Chao Phraya Delta, relatively close to the Gulf of Thailand. This national crown jewel also happens to be ensconced between Samut Prakan to the south, Nonthaburi and Pathum-Thani to the north while Samut Sakhon lies to its south west and Chachoengsao to its east.

A visit to Bangkok means setting foot in one of the few cities which can boast of having a watery highway – the Chao Phraya river, and the opportunity to enjoy a ride on it too. It also means finding yourself within reach of some of the most tempting dishes on the globe, delicately styled traditional architecture and one of the largest markets in the world – the vast Chatuchak Market. If you have ever dreamed of jetting off to a beautiful place of eternal sunshine, unforgettable dishes and loads of shopping, Bangkok is one holiday destination you are bound to fall in love with.

Thanks to its numerous places such as its vast markets, highly popular watery commuting route and exquisite traditional architecture, Bangkok is quite able to deliver when it comes to ensuring visitors have a great time there. The fact that it is also rather close to a number of other highly popular destinations means that extending your Thai adventure is likely to be quite convenient. The pristine island cluster of Krabi and sedate cultural haven of Chiang Mai are both relatively close since they are each about a 75-minute flight away while tourist favourite and seaside paradise, Phuket however is approximately a 90-minute trip away by air. On your arrival at the ultramodern Suvarnabhumi Airport or the older Dong Muan, you will be able to take the Airport Rail Link and arrive safe and sound in the city centre. Once in the city, you will be able to explore it by means of the skytrain, the metro or taxi. You will also be able to take a river taxi or express boat for a ride on the Chao Phraya River.

Although Bangkok is just one city away from the coast, it is certainly a city of water, thanks to the vast Chao Phraya which is actually one of its popular commuting routes. A trip on this riverine highway is a great means of feeling the city’s heartbeat and can be done via one of the many tours available. You will be able to admire stately temples, an imposing museum and even get to see a floating market. Speaking of markets, a visit to this delightful city also comes with the opportunity to shop in one of the largest on the globe, Chatuchak Market. The proof of its size is the handy map newcomers often need to navigate its maze of stalls. Another highlight of your visit is certain to be a tour of the Grand Palace. Here you will get to admire one of the most exquisite examples of Thai architecture and also enjoy a glimpse of the plush lifestyle enjoyed by the Thai monarchs who called the sprawling complex home.


Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)

Just a ten-minute walk from the Grand Palace, don’t miss a visit to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), one of the oldest Buddhist Temple complexes in the country. The main attraction is the statue from which the temple takes its name; decorated in gold leaf, forty-six metres long and fifteen metres high, it is nothing short of awe-inspiring! As you explore the rest of the complex, you will also see many other additional statues, as well as beautiful architecture throughout. The temple is the also the birthplace of traditional massage, and sessions can be booked at your leisure!


Grand Palace

The most famous and popular landmark in Bangkok is the Grand Palace, a stunning complex of temples and buildings with beautiful architecture and awe-inspiring decorations. Dating back to the late 1700’s, this complex has been the official residence of the monarch, and is still used today for many important ceremonies. As you explore the many buildings and the gardens, make sure you visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and see the expertly crafted Buddha carved from jade!


Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun)

Towering nearly eighty-metres above the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, the Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun) is beautiful and ornate, with spires reaching for the sky. There are amazing views from the top, stretching right across the river to the Grand Palace, but the stairs are steep, so watch out! As for the inside, the magnificence of the architecture outside is certainly matched by the murals and decorations as you enter. And if you’re looking for a truly mystical experience, visit the Temple at either the sunrise or sunset!


Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)

When you visit the Grand Palace and explore the grounds, don’t miss a visit to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This temple is the most important Buddhist temple in the country, and houses the magnificent Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew Morakot), carved out of solid jade. Dating back to the fourteenth century, the statue’s cloak is changed three times per year to bring luck to the country!


Chao Phraya River (Mae Nam Chao Phraya)

As you visit Bangkok, you will no doubt use the Chao Phraya River (Mae Nam Chao Phraya); a major river that flows through the city and into the Gulf of Thailand. The river has always been an important contributor to the life of Bangkok, and it’s a great way to get around. With roads often clogged, the ferries and water taxis can be much quicker, so take a ride explore the city sights today!


MBK Center

If it’s time to do some shopping, the MBK Centre (Ma Boon Khrong Centre) is the place for you. With over 2000 shops and restaurants – spread over eight stories – you can bargain for practically anything, from clothes to electronics. Take your time – you’ll probably get lost in the tangled maze of shops, but just relax and enjoy the vitality of the experience. When you’re finished and want to put your feet up for a while, stop for break and have a meal at one of the multitudes of eateries on offer.


Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

A day-trip exploring the surrounds of Bangkok really needs to include the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. As the country modernises, these traditional markets are quickly fading away, so it’s a unique opportunity to experience a bygone era while you still can. Hire a boat and drift through the floating stalls, or explore the shops that hug the banks on foot. In the past – with so many rivers in Thailand – transport and floating markets were naturally one and the same, so see it while you can!


Khao San Road

If you are a budget conscious backpacker looking for a great time amongst kindred spirits, you can be sure to end up at Khao San Road. Famous for its cheap accommodation, markets, bars, and stalls, this is backpacker heaven! Stretching one crazy kilometre, the atmosphere is infectious, and you will be sure to find everything you need!


Golden Mount (Wat Saket)

Take a trip to the top of the Golden Mount (Wat Saket); climb 300 stairs that curl around the stunning gold chedi, and enjoy some of the most spectacular views in Bangkok. Admire the design and beauty of the chedi, which is built on a manmade hill that dates to the eighteenth century. Once the site of the city’s crematorium, today it is a sacred place of pilgrimage, and if you visit in November you are likely to see the ceremonies underway.


Calypso Cabaret

Come down to the Asia Hotel and enjoy a celebration of transsexual culture, with a live lady-boy show. This is a night of fun and excitement, full of singing and dancing, and even an ostrich parade! The energy of this show is fantastic, so why not make a night of it and have dinner too, while this crazy show rolls on before your eyes.


Rajdamnoen Stadium

For a night of exciting Muay Thai Kickboxing, head down to the Rajdamnnoen Stadium and join the locals as they cheer on their favourites, four nights per week. Take a tour or just turn up, and experience authentic Thai sport, as the fighters perform a pre-fight ceremony to honour the sport, and then contest the unique and vigorous battle that is Muay Thai Kickboxing.

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