Guide to Bangkok with Transport, Experiences, Food and reviews
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the world’s most visited city and no wonder.
Bangkok is a busy and vibrant city, the traffic is a nightmare and the heat is intense, but at the same time it is a city that offers a myriad of wonderful experiences that you certainly should not miss.
Bangkok evening skyline
Bangkok is full of history, culture, traditions, temples, markets, shopping and great street kitchens. You may not be a big city fan, but still, take a few days in the city – it’s easy to get around, it’s here you shop the cheapest and you can stay in luxury for very little money.
Below you will find a guide with inspiration for some of the many experiences waiting in Bangkok.
Transportation to and around Bangkok
Getting around in Bangkok may seem a bit daunting for the first time, but actually it’s pretty easy to get around in Bangkok.
Depending on where you are going to Thailand, you can use Bangkoks BTS Skytrain or you can drive with the underground MRT.. Both trains are clean, fast and easy to use and are advertised in English at all stations.
Bangkok is packed with a / c taxis that drive you wherever you want. Always remember to ask for price before you enter and if you want to drive by taximeter, ask the driver to turn it on.
Tuk-tuk is also found throughout the city and it’s a fun way to get around. Here, too, remember to agree on the price before entering.
Be aware that traffic in Bangkok is horrendous and using taxi and tuk-tuk from A to B can take hours. If you have the opportunity during the day to walk, or to use the train / metro, it will often be a lot faster.
If you travel only one person, you can also choose to embark a scooter taxi – they are fast, cheap and slip straight between the cars. A scooter taxi can be known by the neon-colored vests that most of them wear.
Guide to Bangkok’s interesting temples
There are countless temples in Bangkok and in all sizes. You can hardly walk around Bangkok without having to pass a temple sooner or later.
The most famous temples, however, are those that you (at least as first-time visitors) must pass by.
The Grand Palace was built in 1782 and is Bangkok’s most visited attraction.
The Grand Palace is the Thai monarch’s former residence and the castle is, like the area, stunning with its gold-plated walls, Buddhist sculptures, beautiful paintings, pavilions and beautiful gardens.
It’s also in the Grand Palace that you can experience the world’s longest painting of Ramayana.
The Grand Palace is a religious place, so be sure to wear long pants and a blouse that hides your shoulders.
Architecturally, Wat Arun stands out from other temples in Bangkok. The temple is very beautiful with a 79 m high spire decorated with colored glass, ceramic tiles and Chinese porcelain mosaic.
You can climb the steep and high spiers where you get the most amazing views of Bangkok’s skyline.
It’s advisable to visit the temple in the evening, where both spiers and Bangkok are full illuminated.
Wat Pho is the temple with the 15 meter high and 45 meter long resting Buddha.
The Buddha is covered in gold leaf and is an impressive sight. In the temple, 108 bowls are placed and on the way into the temple you can buy coins to put in the bowls.
The story behind the 108 bowls and coins is that the Buddha performed 108 good actions on his way to the perfect.
We highly recommend booking a guided tour where you visit all 3 temples – Click Here.
River trip on Chao Phraya
The wide and muddy Chao Phraya River is the heart and soul of Bangkok.
It’s a must to take a boat trip down the river, where you alternately see local apartment blocks and luxury hotels, as well as small private wooden cabins with the laundry hanging outside and the kids playing in the river.
You can buy both single tickets and several days of hop on / off tickets for very cheap money, but be aware that there is a big difference between tour boats (which they will probably try to sell to you) and the raft barges.
The river trip with the barges boats is by far the cheapest and the most traditional, and in addition they are ideal as transportation to the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, among others.
Bangkok National Museum
The museum is primarily an exhibition of King Rama V’s gifts from his father. The exhibition is interesting and shows both Chinese weapons, precious stones, dolls, clothes, textiles and Khon masks.
On Thursdays, the tours take place around the museum in English, which for most will give a greater understanding of the exhibition.
If you love museums, you can see the location of several of Bangkok’s museums and galleries on the map above.
Shopping and Markets in Bangkok
Thailand is renowned for its excellent shopping opportunities and its many beautiful markets.
There is plenty of choice with everything from small outdoor markets, large centers, evening / night markets to authentic floating markets.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is not just Bangkok’s largest, it’s the world’s largest market!
The market has a size of 14 hectares, has over 15,000 stalls and receives approx. 200,000 visitors every weekend.
The range of items sold is huge and here everything can be bought – food & drinks, antiques, things for the garden, clothes, crafts, books, furniture, art galleries and puppies.
If you don’t like chaos – stay away! But if you love to shop and bargain prices then you will love the Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Asiatique evening market
Asiatique is an outdoor night market that opens at 17 pm.
Asiatique is of a slightly higher standard than most other markets. The market is next to the river and has no less than 1,500 shops and 40 restaurants.
In addition to the many shops – including several delicious specialty shops – the market also offers various entertainment in the form of a Ferris wheel, a Calypso Ladyboy Cabaret, Thai Doll Games and wonderful river restaurants.
The market is cozy, family-friendly and with a really good atmosphere.
The Floating Market
A visit to the floating markets is truly a different experience – and an experience reserved for Southeast Asia only.
Just outside Bangkok’s borders you will find several “floating markets”.
Wat Sai Floating Market
Only half an hour’s drive from Bangkok city center is the Wat Sai market.
Years back the market was almost extinct, due to the establishment of far more roads and the blooming and many shopping centers.
Fortunately, the market has got a comeback and there is life in the old area again.
Visit the bustling market and get close to life among the locals. The food in particular – with lots of fresh local produce, is for this particular market worth a visit.
Khlong Lat Mayom
Khlong Lat Mayom has – despite being one of Bangkok’s newer floating market – a very traditional feel.
That this market is so popular is largely due to the many tourists who visit the area and it’s therefore also interesting for the local people to sell their goods here.
Go on a boat trip and experience the local country life.
It’s with pride that the Thais in this market are selling their organic and locally produced goods.
On weekends as well as on holidays, you are wise to arrive early. Already from 8am where the market opens, it’s well visited.
Spend some hours walking along the river and have a look at the many items sold from both land and water, and also visit the associated fruit garden.
If you set even more hours off, you also have the option of 90 minutes boat ride down the river that really takes you through the local countryside.
There are several “floating markets” around Bangkok and several of them have the opportunity to go on a short boat trip.
It is a wonderful experience either to sit on a boat or somewhere near the market – with some good home-made food from one of the boats – and look at life that takes place on these markets or along the river.
Be aware that most places by rivers have many mosquitoes. Buy some tiger balm that works really well against mosquitoes and as an ointment on the itchy mosquito bites.
The world’s largest Chinatown is in Bangkok
Any big city has its own Chinatown, but nowhere else as big as Bangkok’s Chinatown.
Located at the end of Yaowarat Road, Chinatown welcomes you of the great traditional Chinese gate at the entrance to Chinatown.
In Chinatown you will find an infinite maze of streets packed with stalls spread over entire areas with bags, shoes, gold, kitchen equipment etc.
Everything you can buy from Chinese stuff is available here incl. Bangkok’s largest selection of Chinese food – and all at spot prices.
You can also try delicious fried insects.
Siam Paragon – The fashionable shopping mall
Siam Paragon is Bangkok’s most fashionable and very popular shopping mall. The center houses more than 250 stores, the majority of which are by well-known brands and designers.
In Siam Paragon you will also find Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium, a huge cinema and countless restaurants.
If you are into fancy cars, then the center also has showrooms for, among others, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
MBK shopping center
The MBK shopping center is probably Bangkok’s busiest shopping mall. Spread over 7 floors, you will find more than 2,000 shops, restaurants and various kinds of entertainment such as cinemas, a bowling alley and a 3D art museum.
MBK is the total opposite of Siam Paragon – especially when it comes to price levels.
From the countless small shops and stalls you can buy everything from clothes, beauty products, electronics and jewelry, to crafts, bags, shoes and souvenirs.
As in all other markets, you have to bargain prices and if you are good at negotiating (and with a smile on the lip) then you can get the prices very far down – especially if you buy more than one thing.
Street food at MBK shopping center
On the ground floor in an outdoor plan there is a wonderful food market, which is definitely worth a visit.
Food in Bangkok
There is everything edible in Bangkok and a myriad of restaurants. There are restaurants in all price ranges, sizes and standards and they are everywhere.
No matter where you are in Bangkok, a restaurant will be close by.
In this guide we will not go into depth with various restaurants but only point out the most authentic ones.
Street Food – when it comes to being fresh, tasteful and cheap
Streetfood is very popular – not only among tourists, but also among the Thais themselves, who almost always eat out.
Everywhere you find street food sold from both scooter kitchens, markets, small fixed stalls etc.
The prejudices about Streetfood are many, do not listen to them – Streetfood is one of the most well-prepared and tasty foods you can get.
It’s fresh products, it’s cheap and in many ways also social. Sitting and consuming a delicious, tasteful meal among locals and other tourists is actually both social and gives a good insight into the Thai people’s daily life.
The rule of thumb is – If there are many guests at the street food place, then the food is usually good – in fact, it applies to most restaurants.
Drinks and panoramic views
If you like good cocktails and beautiful panoramic views, then you have to visit some of Bangkok’s amazing sky bars.
Moon Bar is located on 61st floor and Lebua Skybar on 64th floor.
Both bars have an amazing 360 degree panoramic view of Bangkok and both bars have associated restaurants.
Be aware that both bars have strict dress codes and age restrictions.
Islands and beaches close to Bangkok
With just a few hours drive from Bangkok, you can reach several islands and beaches.
In our other guides from Thailand, we go into much more detail about the islands and beaches, but here you can see a list of the nearest islands and beaches.
Islands close to Bangkok
Paradise Islands such as Koh Samet, Koh Chang, Koh Mak and Koh Kood are located approx. 5 hour drive in minivan from Bangkok.
Beaches close to Bangkok
If you want to stay on the mainland you can reach beaches like Koh Laan (Pattaya), Hua Hin, Pranburi, Cha-Am in a few hours
If you have questions or more good suggestions for what to see and experience in and around Bangkok, then you are welcome to write in the comments below.