Bangkok was the first city I traveled solo in South East Asia. I’ve been so excited to visit Thailand as I heard and read so many good stuff about it. But when I got to Bangkok, I was shocked- big time. I literally was shaking out of fear and landing in a country that I know not a single soul, couldn’t talk to the locals because they didn’t speak English and worse, I couldn’t read Thai signs. I was also not used to carrying a backpack and the weight really weigh me down. The first night I was there, I stayed at a private room because I wasn’t used to staying at hostel dorms yet. Then the next day, I stayed at a dorm and met so many cool travelers and got out of that “scared” phase. I met people who have similar travel interests and encouraged me to go on with my travels. I couldn’t have chosen any other city to start my adventures as a solo traveler.
Bangkok is a very big city and a week or two won’t be enough to explore everything that it has to offer. Not only is it a shopping haven, a home of many Buddhist temples, it is also a great city to try out authentic Thai food, watch Muay Thai boxing, join cooking classes, learn meditation or visit the red light district (if you fancy that kind of adventure).
Below are my recommendations on things to do in Bangkok:
1. See the Famous Temples
A visit to Bangkok is not complete without vising the most famous temples around the Ko Ratanakosin area.
2. Visit and/or shop in Khao San Road
Khao San Road is the ultimate backpacker haven. Not only are the accommodations cheap in this area, it is also a place to shop for really cheap stuff- souvenirs, gifts, clothes, etc. I only stayed here once when I took an overnight bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. I’m not a fan of the accommodations in this area though so I don’t recommend staying here. I also find the food to be overpriced, tiny portions and low quality. But the shopping in this area is one of the cheapest in Bangkok.
3. Go for the Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you love to shop, chatuchak market is the best place to go when in Bangkok. I find it to be the cheapest and best place to haggle for stuff and has the most varied selection of goods. I’m not big in shopping because I like to keep my pack light and save money for future travels than buying stuff, but I do like checking prices and comparing them from my home country. Chatuchak is hands down the cheapest place to buy stuff. From clothes to home goods to pets, whatever you fancy, they have it here. They are open only during the weekend. I recommend shoppers to come in early 10 am onwards because by 12 noon the stalls are packed and it can be extremely hot and humid. Also, wear cool and comfortable clothes.
4. Eat Street foods
The best place to eat in Thailand is in the streets. I have found that not only are restaurants in Thailand charge overpriced foods, the foods in the streets are way tastier and cheaper. You really can’t go wrong with street foods.
5. Ride the Long tail boats
Long tail boats are not only famous in the south but they can also be found in the river banks surrounding Bangkok. I rode one on the way to one of the temples across the river and it was my first long tail boat experience in Thailand.
6. Ride the tuktuks
Tutuks are one of the main transportation in Bangkok and the most famous transportation in Thailand. But when in Bangkok, be careful with the tuktuk gem scam. Unfortunately, I was one of the vicitims of this scam, particularly with this driver (at least I got lucky to have taken his picture). At least now I can tell what you should know before riding one. Tuktuk drivers would say that the temple that you’d like to visit is close and will recommend another one. They would charge only THB 30 and you can get to see as many temples as you wish but under their condition of visiting gem stores and maybe buying from them. The tuktuk drivers get free gas and commission ever time they do it that’s why they charge such a low price. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Tuktuk drivers charge at least THB150 normally. Sometimes it is better to ride a taxi cab with meter than ride a tuktuk.
7. Have a drink at one of the Rooftop Bars
If you’re in Bangkok, I highly recommend going to a nice hotel to experience hanging out on the rooftop bars. The best/ cheapest way to see this is to buy a drink. The drinks here are not cheap but being able to see such an amazing view is sure worth it. This picture is taken from the Dome bar, where the movie Hangover 2 was shot.
*8. Thai Massage
I have tried Thai and foot massage in Bangkok and they are okay. But if you have more time and will explore Northern Thailand/ Chiang Mai, I recommend to do it there because the massage therapists there are really good and Chiang Mai is the home of Thai massage schools.
Where I stayed
(Bangkok skyline view from the rooftop of HI- Sukhumvit)
HI- Sukhumvit was the first ever hostel that I stayed at. It came quite a shock for me as I was used to the whole tourist thing and staying at a hotel. The first day I was in Bangkok, I wasn’t too sure of what I was doing so I booked a private room. I prepped a little bit before I stayed at the hostel. The next night that I was there, it was just the best decision I’ve done. Not only was it cheaper, it was also more social and fun. I met a lot of travelers staying at that 8 bed female dorm room and who are now friends for life.
Why I recommend it for beginner travelers:
1. It is very social
-The dorm room and the common area are great places to meet other travelers
2. It is reasonably priced
-The private room was B900 but the 8 bed dorm room was B330 ($10). It is airconditioned (essential especially with Bangkok’s heat) and includes breakfast
3. The rooms are clean and the shared bathroom is spanking clean
- I noticed that the staff clean the bathroom at least 3x a day. I’m quite picky with cleanliness and all and this hostel sure has one of the cleanest shared bathrooms I’ve ever seen.
4. It is very convenient
- The hostel is located very close to Thong Lo station (BTS train) that can take you to a lot of places in the city. Sukhumvit area is the more “posh” side of Bangkok and you will notice a lot of high rise fancy condominium in the area. It definitely is easy to get to even from the airport- there’s no need for taxi.
5. Amazing Street Food Market at Night
-Soi 38 in Sukhumvit has the most amazing street food night market and it’s a 2 minute walk from the hostel. You simply can’t go wrong with that. The picture of the lady selling mango sticky rice on top can be found in that soi (street).
There are a lot more things to do in Bangkok but the ones that I listed are my recommendations for beginner travelers that I have personally tried. The next posts will be on excursions outside Bangkok. Tata for now!