Five not-to-be-missed Experiences in Bangkok

Golden Buddha

Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

A city of contrasts, of diversity, of excitement. A city where culture meets fashion meets fun. A city that is hot yet cool, is modern yet ancient, is vibrant yet grungy. Bangkok cannot be summed up in a few words. Bangkok is a place that you have to experience, a place that you have to feel.

And Bangkok, my friend, is our brand new Destination of the Month for September. This means that I will be creating a mini Bangkok travel guide over this month, with information about where to go, what to see and how to go about it.

Let’s start with five not-to-be-missed experiences in Bangkok.

Khao San Road

Yeah, I know that Khao San Road is the most touristy street on the planet, but this is for a reason: because it is worth going.

Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok

This small and narrow street is an experience in itself: the hustle, the bustle and the madness; the sights, the sounds, the smells. It is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, and the contrasts are astounding: massage parlours sharing space with bars; restaurants, street food stalls, shops and places to stay all fighting for their tiny patch of the road.

Many travellers turn their noses up at Khao San Road, saying that it is not the real Bangkok, but don’t be put off by their snobbery; the whole essence of Bangkok is summed up in this one street: people living on top of each other, organised chaos, tourists, locals and everybody in between. Not to mention the constant flow of movement up and down the street of wide-eyed visitors, food sellers, street vendors, motorbikes, beggars and crazies.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a whole lot more to Bangkok than Khao San Road, but trust me, this is a great place to start.

Bangkok

Selecting street-food on Khao San Road

Chao Phraya River

The Chao Praya River is the main artery winding through the centre of Bangkok and is used as a water source, a way of transporting people and goods and as a base for many riverside dwellings.

Wat Arun, Bangkok Wat Arun, Bangkok Wat Arun, Bangkok

The river provides respite from the heaving and overcrowded city as well as providing an alternative way of getting from A to B in Bangkok. Taxi boats and bus boats can easily be hailed as well as much more expensive tourist boats.

Leading off the river are klongs (canals) where the floating market can be found.

For first timers in Bangkok an evening river cruise is a must, showing off the best angles of the city’s landmarks lit up beautifully. It might be very touristy but it’s good fun.

river bangkok asiatique

Bangkok skyline from Chao Phraya River

Grand Palace

No visit to Bangkok is complete without a visit to the Grand Palace. I have been twice now and I wouldn’t hesitate to return. It is one of the highlights of a visit to Thailand and if like me, you are into photography, it is a gem of a place to visit. It is well worth the increasingly steep entrance fees.

Grand Palace, Bangkok Grand Palace, Bangkok Grand Palace, Bangkok

The Grand Palace is the current official residence of the Thai king and is full of history, with construction having begun in 1782.

The venerated Emerald Buddha, housed in the central and most prominent shrine in this enormous complex is what attracts the Thai tourists and pilgrims, while the foreign tourists are more than astounded by the excessively gaudy decoration of the whole magical place, something that one soon gets used to after having spent a while visiting the temples and shrines of Thailand. It’s a popular decoration trait of the Thais who are die-hard lovers of all that glitters.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

Entrance to the Grand Palace, Bangkok

Wat-Hopping

You have to take in a few wats during a visit to Bangkok. “A few what?” you ask. Yes, a few wats.

Wat Pho, Bangkok Wat Pho, Bangkok Wat Rajanadda, Bangkok

Wat is the name given to a temple, such as Wat Arun, Wat Pho and many unpronounceable and unspellable wats that can be found all over the city.

Temples and shrines can be found all over Bangkok: right next to a department store, beside a brothel or in any other surprising place. They are a part of every day life and are as much a part of the skyline as the huge commercial buildings are.

It’s not unusual to see monks clad in orange coloured robes wandering from wat to wat either.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

Traditional vs modern at Wat Phra Kaew

Shopping

Many first timers in Bangkok don’t believe it when they are told that you don’t need to take ANYTHING on a trip to Bangkok – everything can be bought. And trust me, you will buy it. Whether you visit one of the huge shopping malls, a market or two, or simply when you stop on the street shopping in Bangkok is unavoidable.

Bangkok

Bangkok is shopping heaven!

And you really can buy anything and everything that you will need for your vacation or trip: toiletries and towels, backpacks and suitcases and clothes. Oh the clothes! Do not take any clothes with you to Bangkok, save them for another trip to somewhere else, because when you see the clothes in Bangkok you will not want to have to resist.

You have been warned!

Shopping is a lovely experience in Bangkok. Everything is so cheap and so readily available. Make sure you reserve yourself at least a day to do it!

What’s your favourite experience in Bangkok? What makes Bangkok so unique for you? Please share in the comments.

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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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  1. Paramveer Singh says:

    Beautiful description of the trip in Bangkok. I agree with everything. Except for the cheap shopping as I’m an Indian it’s still cheaper here in India than in Bangkok unlike you 😉

    Seeing all the wats, I guess we saw three in a day. It was tiring, very tiring phewww. Intense heat, humidity and long walks just gets to u.

    • Lisa says:

      Ah thank you my dear, trust you to focus on the heat and humidity! Thought you were Indian, surely you can handle a little Bangkok heat!

      It might not have been that cheap compared to what you are used to but that didn’t stop you did it, Mr Hat Guy!

  2. susan sykes says:

    Really enjoyed reading this, the photos are wonderful, is this the destination of the month.?

    • Lisa says:

      It is, as stated in the second paragraph. Are you up for a visit to Bangkok?

      I’m glad you like the photos; it took me ages to choose less-obvious pics for this post… Stay tuned!

  3. susan sykes says:

    Ah yes it is the destination of the month, Yes when I retire we will go to Thailand for about 4 weeks, as it is now we can only go for 2 weeks and we would rather go for longer. Looking forward to the posts over the next month.

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