So you’re planning a trip to Thailand, and you inevitably have to land in Bangkok. You’re considering skipping it altogether and hopping the next flight to Koh Samui or Chang Mai, but something keeps nagging and says, “Maybe you should check out Bangkok.”
That nagging feeling is right.
Though many chock it up to just another big city, Bangkok has a lot going for it. It is a metropolis that is far different from the rest of the country, but you should plan to spend at least a few days exploring either on your arrival or just before you leave. If you do these five things, you surely won’t regret your decision:
The Weekend Market
Also known as Jatujak/Chatuchak or simply J.J. Market, this is the world’s largest open air market where you can find just about anything your heart desires. Want a new pet? Check. Some new luggage or clothes to fill it? Check. Home furnishings? Kitchenware? Souvenirs? Check, check, check. This place is worth saving up for, and haggling is encouraged. Barter for the best price in the city, and then have it shipped to your doorstep back home! If you decide to stay in Bangkok on arrival, your stuff could be waiting for you when you return.
Sky Bar from Hangover II
Perhaps the best view of the metropolitan skyline is the Sky Bar on the 63rd floor of the State Tower, which is the filming location for the boys in the Hollywood hit, Hangover II. The circular bar is on the rooftop, with color-changing lights glowing all around and glass panes for a railing. There is a dress code to enter (no shorts or sandals for men; dresses are requested for the ladies) and the cheapest drink is around $15 (concocted by world-class mixologists) but consider it your ticket to the VIP section of Bangkok’s hippest bars, arrive at sunset, and enjoy every sip of your specialty concoction. You won’t be sorry.
A Boat Ride on the Chao Phraya River
Previously referred to as the “Venice of the East” for scenic boat rides on the Chao Phraya River and surrounding canals, Bangkok is best seen from the water. The river runs through the city and past the Grand Palace, making it a more relaxed way to see the city.
The Grand Palace
Within walking distance from Khao San Road, the Grand Palace is worth a gander, even if you’ve saved the city for the end of your trip and you’re “templed out.” As the official residence for the King of Thailand and its location just off the Chao Phraya River, the palace is at the top of the tourist trail for good reason. Its red roof and gold spires give it a prominent look, and its asymmetry adds to the design. Though the King no longer resides here, it is still used for large government functions.
Khao San Road
Though it’s typically known as the backpacker hangout, Khao San (pronounced “cow-sahn”) has a few good things going for it. For starters, it’s great people watching. It’s one of the locations where the party doesn’t ever stop, and thousands of people from all over the world congregate to participate in cheap beer and strong buckets had sitting on stools in the street. It’s also a great area for cheap souvenirs or t-shirts. There’s even a used bookstore and a salon where one can get nearly everything imaginable bleached, waxed, cut, tattooed or lasered. Add to this the cheapest accommodations in the city, and you’re sure to while your time away without a hitch, err…unless you combine the buckets with any of the above. Be careful!
So backup your planning and schedule Bangkok into your itinerary for two or three days. All of the above can easily be seen in that time, and who knows, you just might want to stay longer. The hardest part of coming to Thailand is always leaving.