Thailand Tour Guide: Places to Go and Things Should Do in Bangkok

Bangkok has dominated Thailand’s urban hierarchy as well as its political, commercial and cultural life since the late 18th century. Distinctly modern and Westernised, Bangkok is still a sleepy Thai village with a louder soundtrack of traffic and nightlife. Here is our top Thai hot list top 10 Bangkok must-do’s.

1. Dine out on street food

An essential ingredient that adds undeniable spice to life in Bangkok is its stunning variety of street food. Bangkok just teams with street stalls serving a bewildering array of culinary delights.

Any visitor to the city is strongly advised to forego the flashy restaurants and opt for a cheap and cheerful street treat. Almost everywhere, enterprising vendors have established regular pitches on the pavements. They all have one thing in common; their food is cheap, freshly cooked, tasty and ready in minutes.

Whether you are looking for an al fresco breakfast, a full-blown lunch, a tempting in-between-meals nibble or something to soak up the ale, the street vendors have it all, 24 hours a day.

2. Browse and shop at Chatuchak Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market, known as JJ to the locals, has to be seen to be believed! Whatever you are looking for, this sprawling open-air market has it.

JJ sells crafts made in all regions of Thailand, antiques, silk and textiles, jewellery, clothing, books, pets and plants – you name it.

There are plenty of places to eat too so you can make a day of the experience. And with over 6,000 shops and stalls from which to choose, you’ll need plenty of time.

The market is open on Fridays for wholesale customers, and Saturday and Sunday from 8am. till around 7pm.

If you are travelling by the BTS Skytrain, get off at Mor Chit station or at Kampaengphet Station on the MRT underground.

3. Sip cocktails and soak up the view at Red Sky

Dining venues in Bangkok don’t come much more dramatic and stylish than Red Sky, the stunning new alfresco rooftop restaurant on the 55th floor of Centara Grand Hotel at Central World.

Located in the heart of the metropolis, this chic bistro and bar takes dining to new heights and provides guests with the best view in the city. Whether dining or just stopping by for a cocktail and to soak up the view, Red Sky is a must for visitors to Bangkok.

Other sky-high venues in Bangkok include Vertigo at the Banyan Tree on Sathorn Road and Skybar at State Tower on Silom Road.

4. Pay a visit to the penis shrine

Any visitor to Bangkok will soon notice a proliferation of shrines outside almost every building.

One of the more unusual is Chao Mae Tuptim, which has become known as the penis shrine. Located in a small park at the rear of the Nai Lert Park hotel on Wireless Road, the shrine includes dozens of enormous carved phalli and a spirit house.

As you may expect, the shrine has a strong connection to fertility and many people who visit make offers here because they want a child. The nearest skytrain station is Ploen Chit.

Other memorable shrines in Bangkok include the fabulous Erawan Shrine at the crossroads close to Chidlom skytrain station.

5. Hook a monster Mekong catfish at a fishing lake

It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Thailand but the country is increasingly popular as a fishing destination.

Surprisingly, Bangkok has no shortage of lakes stocked to the gills with fish. And we are not talking tiddlers here; enthusiasts come to hook 100 pound giant Mekong catfish, giant Siamese carp and other monsters of the deep.

Fishing lakes have all the gear and bait, and many offer lakeside accommodation.

One of the most well-known is Bungsamran Lake. A much cheaper option popular with Thai is Gnao Nam, or Shadow Lake. There are also plenty of companies offering guide fishing trips such as Mega Fishing Thailand.

6. Visit Wat Pho

With so many outstanding religious sites in Bangkok it’s easy to get ‘templed-out’.

The answer is to the problem is be selective. If you only visit one temple in the city, make sure it is Wat Pho. The temple is famous for a huge reclining Buddha housed with a beautifully decorated hall.

The 46 metre long and 15 metre high figure was constructed in 1832 during the reign of King Rama III. Designed to illustrate the passing of the Buddha into nirvana, the enormous feet feature mother-of-pearl inlay decoration showing the 108 auspicious characteristics of the Buddha. The inner and outer galleries at Wat Pho are also lined with 788 Buddha images, the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand.

Wat Pho is located on Chetuphon in the Rattanakosin area and can be reached by taxi or by a river taxi down the Chao Phraya, alighting at Tha Tien Pier.

A word of warning; Wat Pho may be one of Bangkok’s most revered religious sites but the streets around it attract their fare share of unsavoury characters looking to scam unsuspecting visitors. The usual trick is to approach tourists and inform them that the temple is closed for the day and offer to take them somewhere else. You are about to be scammed… Temples in Thailand are open every day.

7. Visit the Bangkok flower market

If you intend to head upriver to Wat Pho make a morning of it and jump off the boat a couple of stops before Tha Tien at Memorial Bridge (Saphan Phut) and have a look around Talat Pak Khlong, one of the best wholesale markets in Bangkok. Wandering markets in Bangkok is fascinating and offers up many great photographic opportunities.

Mainly known for fruits, vegetables and flowers, the market offers a vibrant snapshot of life.

By 2 am trade is well under way and the market is heaving with buyers and sellers. Buckets full of roses, and chrysanthemums, orchids hanging from stalls… it is as pretty a sight as you find in Bangkok…and the sweetest smelling market in the city!

Take a ferry from Saphan Thaksin Pier for just 13 baht. When you are done at the market you can walk to Wat Pho or jump in a tuk-tuk for 30 baht.

8. Early morning tai chi in Lumpini Park

If you think Bangkok always moves at full speed, rise early and head along to Lumpini Park and watch the old Chinese locals practicing their controlled tai chi moves in the shade. If you are not used to an early start you can get a shot of fresh snake blood from vendors around the outside of the park. It’s considered a tonic by the Chinese and is guaranteed to wake you up! The closest station to Lumpini Park is the MRT underground Lumpini or BTS skytrain Sala Daeng.

9. Watch lads play takraw in the park

Thailand may be renowned for muay Thai boxing but takraw is popular with young lads. The game is incredibly athletic – a kind of full-on, no holds barred volleyball.

After work, groups of office workers gather to knock around a rattan ball using head, hands, arms and feet. Watching them leap in the air and kick the ball over a net with pin-point accuracy is spectacular.

A good place to watch takraw is in Benjasiri Park, also known as Queen’s Park, sandwiched between the Emporium shopping centre and the Queen’s Park Imperial Hotel, and a short distance from BTS Phom Phrong skytrain station. Go along at around 7pm. The park closes at 9pm.

10. Get a traditional massage

No visit to the Bangkok is complete without experiencing a massage.

Vigorous in nature, Thai massage reaches deep into the muscle tissue, relieving tension and tightness in the body. At the hands of an expert, there is no better way to unwind at the end of a long day of sightseeing.

Forget the overpriced spas in five-star hotels, try one of the many local parlours.

A first rate traditional massage experience can be found at Arima Onsen on Suriwong Road, not far from the Silom BTS Skytrain station. Arima Onsen is renowned for high quality at a very reasonable price. Two-hour traditional Thai massage is around 380 baht.

Be sure to tip the masseuse another 100 baht if you enjoy experience.

Foot, face, and oil massage is also available. For further information visit Arima Onsen.

You can also enjoy a traditional massage or take a course to learn the art at Wat Pho Massage.

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