Bangkok, Thailand — A quick and dirty list of lists: What to do, things to see, and where to eat in the Land of Smiles

Where to stay in Bangkok:

History

Originally a small trading post along the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok became the capital of the Kingdom of Siam in 1767. It played a crucial role in the modernization of Thailand under King Rama IV and King Rama V. The city expanded rapidly during the 20th century, and despite avoiding European colonization, it embraced modernity and became a bustling metropolis.

Best time to visit

The cool and dry season from November to February is the most popular time to visit Bangkok. The weather is comfortable, and it’s a great time to explore the city’s temples, markets, and cultural sites.

Highlights

  • Asiatique the Riverfront: Shop, dine, and enjoy entertainment along the river in this night market.
  • Lumpini Park: Relax in the green oasis of Bangkok with jogging paths and paddle boats.
  • Yaowarat (Chinatown): Indulge in street food, explore markets, and experience the bustling neighborhood.
  • Siam Paragon: Shop at one of Bangkok’s upscale malls, known for its luxury brands.
  • Grand Palaces and Temples: The Grand Palace, an opulent complex of buildings, houses the revered Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). This iconic site showcases intricate architecture, exquisite murals, and a sense of spiritual reverence.
  • Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha): Home to one of the world’s largest reclining Buddha statues, Wat Pho is also a center of traditional Thai massage and a serene oasis in the heart of the city.
  • Floating Markets: Bangkok’s floating markets, such as Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa, offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life along the city’s canals. Vendors sell fresh produce, local food, and handmade crafts from their boats.
  • Modern Skyscrapers: The city’s skyline is dominated by contemporary skyscrapers, including the distinctive Baiyoke Tower II, which offers panoramic views from its observation deck.
  • Khao San Road: A hub for backpackers and travelers, Khao San Road is famous for its lively nightlife, street food stalls, and bustling markets selling everything from clothes to souvenirs.
  • Chao Phraya River: The Chao Phraya River winds through Bangkok, offering a network of waterways that connect different parts of the city. River cruises and ferries provide scenic views of temples, markets, and traditional wooden houses.
  • Night Markets and Street Food: Bangkok’s night markets, such as Asiatique and Rod Fai Market, come alive after sunset with shopping, entertainment, and a variety of delectable street food offerings.
  • Jim Thompson House: This historic house-turned-museum pays homage to the American entrepreneur who revitalized Thailand’s silk industry. The museum showcases traditional Thai architecture and lush gardens.
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market: One of the world’s largest markets, Chatuchak offers a sprawling maze of stalls selling everything from clothing and accessories to antiques and plants.
  • Cultural Performances: Siam Niramit and other cultural venues offer performances that showcase Thailand’s rich cultural heritage through dance, music, and storytelling.
  • Culinary Delights: Bangkok is a culinary haven, with street food vendors and high-end restaurants offering a wide range of Thai cuisine, from the fiery flavors of som tam (papaya salad) to fragrant dishes like pad thai and green curry.
  • Art and Contemporary Scene: Bangkok’s art scene has been flourishing, with galleries, exhibitions, and creative spaces like Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) and Soi Nana Arts District showcasing contemporary Thai and international art. Bangkok is a city of contrasts, where ancient temples stand alongside modern skyscrapers, bustling markets coexist with tranquil river views, and traditional customs harmonize with cosmopolitan influences. Its diverse offerings make it a captivating destination that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.

Walking Tours

Shopping

  • Chatuchak Weekend Market: One of the world’s largest markets, offering a diverse range of goods and handicrafts.
  • MBK Center: A popular mall known for its electronics, fashion, and affordable shopping options.
  • Siam Paragon: An upscale shopping complex with luxury brands, entertainment, and dining.
  • CentralWorld: A large mall featuring international and local fashion, electronics, and more.
  • Asiatique the Riverfront: A night market and shopping complex by the Chao Phraya River.
  • Terminal 21: A unique shopping mall with themed floors representing different world cities.
  • Platinum Fashion Mall: Specializes in wholesale fashion, accessories, and streetwear.
  • Pratunam Market: A bustling market area known for clothing, textiles, and fashion.
  • Emporium and EmQuartier: Luxury malls with high-end brands, fashion, and lifestyle products.
  • Talad Rot Fai: The Train Night Market offering retro and vintage items, fashion, and food.

Date Night

  • Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise: Enjoy a romantic dinner on a boat while cruising along the majestic Chao Phraya River.
  • Lumpini Park: Have a leisurely walk, rent a paddleboat, or enjoy a picnic in this serene urban oasis.
  • Rooftop Bars: Experience the city’s vibrant nightlife and stunning views from rooftop bars like Sky Bar or Octave.
  • Jim Thompson House: Explore the traditional Thai-style house and learn about Thai silk and culture.
  • Bangkok Art and Culture Center: Discover contemporary art exhibitions and cultural activities.
  • Asiatique the Riverfront: Enjoy shopping, dining, and entertainment by the river, especially in the evening.
  • Benjakitti Park: Rent a tandem bicycle and cycle around the scenic lake in this peaceful park.
  • Thai Cooking Class: Learn to cook traditional Thai dishes together at a cooking school.
  • Erawan Shrine: Visit this colorful shrine and witness Thai traditional dance performances.
  • Rattanakosin Island: Explore the historic district with landmarks like the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

Strange and Bizarre

  • Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant: Dine in a restaurant adorned with various condom-themed decorations, promoting safe sex awareness.
  • Siriraj Medical Museum (Museum of Death): Explore a collection of medical oddities, preserved specimens, and exhibits related to forensic science and pathology.
  • Erawan Museum: Visit a museum with a gigantic three-headed elephant sculpture as its entrance, housing an eclectic collection of art and artifacts.
  • David Beckham Temple (Wat Pariwat): See a Buddhist temple featuring a unique mural of the football star David Beckham among traditional religious art.
  • Mystical Unicorn Cafe: Immerse yourself in a fantasy world filled with unicorn-themed decorations, colorful desserts, and an otherworldly atmosphere.
  • Hanging Airplane Restaurant: Dine inside a decommissioned airplane suspended in the air, offering a unique dining experience.
  • Talad Rot Fai Srinakarin Night Market: Explore a night market known for its vintage and retro items, including unusual antiques, toys, and curiosities.
  • Golden Mount Ghost Tower: Witness the abandoned Sathorn Unique Tower, often referred to as the “Ghost Tower,” which offers eerie views of the city.

Hotels

  • Slumber Party Hostel: Known for its lively and social atmosphere in the Sukhumvit area.
  • NapPark Hostel at Khao San: Located near Khao San Road, offering affordable dormitory rooms.
  • Siamaze Hostel: Budget-friendly hostel near the BTS Skytrain and popular shopping areas.
  • Bed Station Hostel: Modern and affordable hostel with a convenient location near Asoke BTS.
  • Here Hostel: Offers stylish and comfortable dormitory accommodations.
  • The Yard Hostel: Known for its relaxing garden and outdoor communal areas.
  • Mad Monkey Hostel Bangkok: Social and lively hostel with a rooftop bar and pool.
  • Lub d Bangkok Silom: Offers a fun and vibrant atmosphere with affordable dormitory beds.
  • The Cube Hostel: Modern and unique design with budget-friendly dorms and private rooms.
  • Suneta Hostel Khaosan: Located near Khao San Road, offering affordable and clean accommodations.

Restaurants

  • Cabbages & Condoms: Offers Thai cuisine in a unique garden setting with a social cause.
  • Supanniga Eating Room: Known for its traditional Thai dishes and stylish ambiance.
  • Gaggan: Renowned for its innovative and progressive Indian cuisine.
  • Thip Samai Pad Thai: Famous for its authentic and delicious pad Thai.
  • Baan Khanitha: Offers a range of traditional Thai dishes in a charming atmosphere.
  • Bo.Lan: Known for its modern take on traditional Thai flavors and sustainability.
  • Err: Offers a mix of traditional and modern Thai dishes in a relaxed setting.
  • Sorn: Renowned for its Southern Thai cuisine and intricate flavors.
  • Sala Rim Naam: Offers a luxurious setting and traditional Thai cuisine along the Chao Phraya River.
  • Nahm: Known for its fine-dining Thai cuisine and creative interpretations of classics.

Neighborhoods and Areas to Visit

  • Sukhumvit: Modern shopping, dining, and nightlife hub.
  • Siam Square: Shopping complexes, entertainment, and cultural sites.
  • Khao San Road: Backpacker’s haven with street food and lively atmosphere.
  • Silom: Business district with markets, street food, and Patpong Night Market.
  • Chinatown (Yaowarat): Bustling streets, markets, and traditional food stalls.
  • Pratunam: Bargain shopping, wholesale markets, and fashion finds.
  • Chatuchak: Massive weekend market with diverse goods and local crafts.
  • Riverside (Chao Phraya): Riverfront promenade, temples, and river cruises.
  • Thonglor/Ekkamai: Trendy area with cafes, boutiques, and nightlife.
  • Ari: Quaint neighborhood with eateries, coffee shops, and local shops.

Nightclubs

  • Onyx Bangkok: Known for its impressive lighting, sound system, and electronic music.
  • Levels Club & Lounge: Multi-level club with diverse music genres and a rooftop terrace.
  • Sing Sing Theater: Unique club with an Asian-inspired design and energetic vibe.
  • Beam: Underground club with electronic and techno music.
  • Route 66: A lively and popular club with various music rooms.
  • Insanity Nightclub: Offers a mix of hip-hop, EDM, and dance music.
  • Glow: Known for its focus on underground electronic music.
  • Sugar Club Bangkok: Offers a range of music styles, including hip-hop and EDM.
  • Safe Room: Intimate club with a focus on techno and house music.
  • DND Club Bangkok: Stylish nightclub with a mix of music genres.

Cuisine / Popular Dishes

  • Pad Thai: Stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, tofu, eggs, and peanuts in a tamarind-based sauce.
  • Tom Yum Goong: Spicy and sour prawn soup with lemongrass, lime leaves, and galangal.
  • Green Curry: Creamy and aromatic curry made with green chilies, coconut milk, and chicken or beef.
  • Som Tum: Spicy green papaya salad with a combination of flavors including chili, lime, and fish sauce.
  • Massaman Curry: Rich and flavorful curry with tender meat (often beef) and potatoes, influenced by Indian spices.
  • Pad Krapow Moo: Stir-fried minced pork with Thai basil and chilies, served over rice with a fried egg.
  • Mango Sticky Rice: Sweet glutinous rice served with ripe mango slices and drizzled with coconut milk.
  • Tom Kha Gai: Creamy chicken soup with coconut milk, galangal, and aromatic herbs.
  • Khao Pad: Thai-style fried rice with a choice of meats, vegetables, and eggs.
  • Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang): Marinated and grilled chicken served with dipping sauces, often enjoyed with sticky rice.

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