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42 In Thailand/ Travel

Top 10 in Bangkok

Thailand’s capital is a common jumping off point for travelers. The problem is that many times that’s all people see Bangkok as – a jumping off point. When I was in Thailand the first time, I didn’t really dig deep. Luckily, Matt and I rectified that by spending a few weeks in Thailand’s incredibly diverse capital which gave us the opportunity to really explore and give you guys For the Love of Wanderlust’s top 10 in Bangkok.

EAT ALL THE FOOD

 

Thailand is world-famous for its cuisine. They have some amazing creations that combine intense flavors that invigorate all parts of your palate. Luckily for travelers, street food is king here. No need to pay $50 for a Thai dish in a fancy restaurant because you have access to it all simply walking down the street for just a few bucks for a feast. Not sure where to start? You can even take a street food tour. We did the tuk tuk food adventure with Expique and loved it. I am less than adventurous when it comes to eating meat, so it was great having someone order for you because it really gets you outside your normal bubble of foods. Plus, having a local guide means they know what foods are must-eats and you get to experience local gems that you may have otherwise missed out on.

VISIT AS MANY OF THE BUDDHIST TEMPLES AS POSSIBLE   

Buddhism is a huge part of Thai culture and Bangkok has some of the most beautiful temples. Some temples are very popular and touristy for various reasons (Wat Pho would be my Bangkok must-see temple). However, if you get up early and get there right when they open their doors you’ll be amazed to find you’re often alone or only there with a few other visitors. In addition to the big ones, find some smaller temples too. In these you’re very likely to meet local practitioners and monks who are often up for a quick conversation and it really enhances your experiences and understanding of Buddhism.

EXPLORE THE CITY PARKS

Bangkok has some of the most beautiful city parks I’ve ever seen. They’re exquisitely landscaped and filled with tropical flowers. Some have fountains and workout equipment, some have lakes and swan boats, but each one is different. My favorite was Saranrom Park by Wat Pho. There were little cultural huts, a huge fountain that glistened, lotus-adorned ponds with bridges over them and even a little orchid nursery. Matt’s favorite park was Lumphini Park because it had more open spaces and water. I was so glad that Matt discovered this park because it started a trend of scoping the different parks. The parks were the only places in Bangkok that we saw monitor lizards, so just be aware of them because Matt almost stepped on a really big one, and just let them be. Don’t try to pick them up or catch them.

GET A THAI MASSAGE

I had never had the pleasure of experiencing a Thai massage before our recent trip there. Let me tell you, I’m hooked! It’s so different from any other massage experience I had ever had, but one of the best. You get dressed up in a little cotton outfit that they provide and then it’s an hour of what feels like a combo of co-yoga, stretching, massage and maybe a smidge of torture. Haha. It was such an interesting experience. My masseur informed me that I was a masochist because I liked a rough massage and that she was fighting me to give me a massage. This totally cracked me up, especially when she went downstairs and informed my husband of this! Haha

TAKE A COOKING CLASS

I didn’t do this the first time I went to Bangkok, but I felt like I had such a better understanding of the foods I ate in Thailand after making different dishes myself. We partnered with The Market Experience for our cooking class and it’s one of my favorite moments from the 3.5 months we spent abroad. Plus, we got to bring the recipes home and now we can make these for ourselves and loved ones – that’s a “souvenir” that you’ll get to keep for life.

SRI MAHA MARIAMMAN

 

Even though Buddhism is the major religion in Thailand, Bangkok is an incredibly diverse city and visit this temple is a great opportunity to get a taste of Hinduism, especially if it’s a religion you’ve never encountered before. This temple is very welcoming, everyone I spoke to was extremely willing to talk and answer questions and it’s absolutely stunning. Plus, just outside of it are awesome Indian + Nepali????  restaurants and vendors selling some of the most beautiful offerings I’ve ever seen.

SHOP IN THE LOCAL MARKETS

There are so many markets in Bangkok. They have weekend markets, train markets, night markets, floating markets and more! It was so hard for me to stroll through a market without walking away with something. My favorites were Lhong 1919, The Flower Market and the daily market on Soi Silom 20. Lhong 1919 is basically brand new. It doesn’t have the cheap trinkets you find many other places. Instead, they were exquisitely handmade arts and crafts. Plus there are restaurants and food vendors in the courtyard and by the river. The Flower Market is open 24/7. It’s filled with stunning, exotic flowers along with a sections of different foods. The daily market we found because we stayed at PanPan Hostel nearby. This was a perfect spot to get fresh fruits and delicious street food.

JUST TAKE A NICE, LONG WALK

 

Bangkok is beautiful and each neighborhood/area is unique. It’s an interesting of old and new and traditional and ultra-modern. In one 1-hour walk you can see skyscrapers, decrepit buildings, ornate temples and alleys lined with food vendors. Keep an eye out for amazing works of street art, monks strolling down sidewalks in their bright orange robes and so much more. Most days Matt and I walked hours and hours through the city (good for the budget and the body) and we both feel like it enhanced our experience in Bangkok.

CHECK OUT THE MASSIVE MALLS

 

There are some of the most unique malls I’ve ever seen in Bangkok. They’re all massive and full of stores and restaurants from all over the world. (I’m not ashamed to say that I had Auntie Anne’s twice at Central World.) Terminal 21 has the wicked cool theme of a different city on each floor. Central World has some seriously epic Christmas decor up and each mall had a grocery store in it as well. So you can stock up on unique snacks while you’re there as well.

RESEARCH FESTIVALS/CELEBRATIONS

 

You never know what you’ll be in town for. Bangkok is a massive city and is full of such rich traditions that you would hate to miss out on a unique experience. We almost missed out on Loi Krathong because we didn’t do our research.

 

THINGS ON MANY OTHER TOP LISTS:

THE GRAND PALACE – On our first round in Bangkok the King’s funeral was going on, and there were massive crowds of Thai mourners visiting the temple, so we decided to skip it to ,et them have some extra space. It was on our list for the day I ended up having emery you surgery instead, so next time we want to give this a go.

FLOATING MARKETS – I wanted to visit the floating markets, but the more I asked locals about them, the more I heard that they aren’t a local thing anymore.  It became more of a beautiful photo-op for tourists and that the goods sold there are of lesser quality or marked way up. I’d love to find a more authentic one someday though.

HOSTELS/HOTELS WE RECOMMEND FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:

PANPAN HOSTEL – This hostel has both dorm + private rooms. It’s just off of Pan Road close to Sri Maha Mariamman. It’s quiet and they have free coffee, tea and toast at any time of day. This is my favorite place to stay in Bangkok.

OLDTOWN HOSTEL – This hostel is wonderful as well. The beds are just a bit less comfortable than those at PanPan. Their free Sunday breakfast is great and it’s walking distance from the Hua Lamphong Railway Station.

AIM HOUSE BANGKOK – This hotel is a ways away from all the action (across the river) but it’s an easy SkyTrain back to town. It’s reasonably priced, very comfortable and is in a part of town that not many people explore. The awesome Lhong 1919 Market I mentioned above is a short walk from here. 



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42 Comments

  • Reply
    Hannah
    December 31, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Funny, I think you’re so right about Bangkok just being a jumping off point, so it was great to read about some of the places to visit in the city. The food tour and the Market Experience are definitely activities I would consider doing – thai food is a favourite! It is a shame the floating markets have become just a thing for the tourists – like so many activities in foreign countries that have become over-popular and not authentic anymore. So sad. Bangkok looks like a beautiful, vibrant place – I must stop there one day.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for reading, Hannah. It is unfortunate when beautiful local customs get overrun by tourism, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy Bangkok when you make it there and get the chance to really experience the city. It’s a pretty great place!

  • Reply
    Elaine J Masters
    December 31, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Wonderful post, Paige. Bangkok can be so overwhelming that having a guide like this is priceless. I wish I’d spent more time in parks and walked. We had a chance to join locals on a river barge and it was a revealation. That water was so polluted even then – in the 90’s. When I return it will be to more temples outside of the big complex and parks for sure.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 1, 2018 at 9:53 pm

      Thanks, Elaine! It definitely is a busy city with loads to do, and even though we spent all kinds of time there I know that we left so much untouched. It’s so sad to hear that the river has been so polluted for that long. Hopefully, a change will happen.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    December 31, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    There’s so much to do in Bangkok! I’ve heard mixed reviews about the city, but it’s good to know that you can just go walk around and wander. The city parks, markets, it all sounds great to me. I’d love to visit the temples, too!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 1, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      There really is! I really loved Bangkok even though a lot of people tend to hate on it. The temples are really amazing!

  • Reply
    Nathalie Caty
    December 31, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Several years I visited Thailand (Bangkok) and I have to agree with the Thai Massage. I think I had one every day. They are the best. Also, the temples are phenomenal. Seeing the great buddha was an experience.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 1, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      Haha! I should’ve taken advantage of the massages more! It’s a really unique city, isn’t it?

  • Reply
    Anuradha Goyal
    January 1, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Paige – I love the dry Thai massage that takes out all the exhaustion out of the day. This is the only massage that I enjoy. Temple are of course beautiful and markets of Thailand are probably the liveliest in the world. Great roundup.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 1, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Thank you so much, Anuradha. It’s a wonderful city to explore indeed! The Thai massages definitely make you feel rejuvenated, don’t they?

  • Reply
    Kerri
    January 1, 2018 at 1:54 am

    Gorgeous photos Paige – took me back to my time in Bangkok instantly. I still have such fond memories of the food in Thailand, perhaps my fave asian cuisine ever and still am forever cooking it back home. I did a food tour in Thailand with a group of chefs and restaurant owners from Australia and absolutely loved it, but I think if I went back now, I’d love to do a tuk tuk tour like you have mentioned. Would be great fun and a way to get involved in the street food scene. Like you, Wat Pho is my favourite too, although I also loved Wat Arun, especially sitting across the river from it having a cocktail at sunset! The shopping centres were huge weren’t they? I didn’t do much shopping but just had to explore them.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 6, 2018 at 12:42 am

      Thank you so much, Kerri! Like you, I didn’t do much shopping, just stood in awe! Haha. (Sounds like we could travel together with our similar taste!) I had Wat Arun on the list before needed emergency surgery. Bangkok really is such an awesome destination.

  • Reply
    Mei
    January 1, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Good to know! We’ve never been to Thailand, and would definitely spend a day or two in Bangkok when we go there. I would avoid the malls though, because I hate shopping. lol! But I would try out all the food, visit some temples and explore the city parks filled with tropical flowers.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 1, 2018 at 9:59 pm

      I’m not a huge shopper either. We didn’t buy a single thing at the malls, they’re just insane to see! The food is definitely the top list, for sure. Bangkok is a pretty incredible city, you’ll have to check it out.

  • Reply
    Valerie Wheatley
    January 1, 2018 at 11:26 am

    I was so happy to see the title of this post! I feel like most people that have visited Thailand hate Bangkok and my husband and I actually love it and are trying to figure out a way to move there! It is crazy and hectic and smelly but all of the things you listed are totally on point. The food scene is insane and I love visiting all the temples and even wandering through the malls (MBK is my personal fave). And I’m definitely looking forward to checking out Lhong 1919 next time I go – sounds like I’ll need to buy an extra suitcase to get all of my treasures home!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 1, 2018 at 10:01 pm

      I’m happy to hear that there is another couple out there that fell in love with it. We really liked Chiang Mai, but said that this would be where we would want to live if we lived in Thailand. The food is absolutely incredible! I missed out on MBK, but I’ll make sure not to miss it next time. Seriously, Lhong 1919 was amazing. I’m not a huge souvenir person, but EVERYTHING I saw there I loved.

  • Reply
    Sarah K
    January 1, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Omg this brings me back to Bangkok, especially for #1– the food! I actually enjoyed eating at the street carts better than the restaurants. I didn’t think the restaurants I went to were all that great. Wish I had a local guide when I went!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 6, 2018 at 12:43 am

      I totally agree! The street food is totally where it’s at!

  • Reply
    Paige Wunder
    January 1, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I agree that the street food was a million times better than any restaurant we visited. I loved that that’s where the local guides took us too. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it…

  • Reply
    Cathy Salvador Mendoza
    January 2, 2018 at 1:50 am

    I agree to all of the things you’ve listed down here. Bangkok is such a huge city, temples here, shopping malls there. I’ve been living in Bangkok now but actually haven’t been to any of those parks, I don’t know why. haha Thai massage is so good right? Especially when you’ve found the one that does very well as Bangkok has amazing massage. And I have a favourite guesthouse, it is Siam Journey Guesthouse!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 6, 2018 at 12:44 am

      I’ll have to check that guest house out when I’m there next time! Too bad we didn’t have an opportunity to meet up! I love connecting with fellow-travelers!

  • Reply
    Jenna Kvidt
    January 2, 2018 at 3:28 am

    We are hoping to finally make it to Thailand this year—long overdue but looks like such a great country and we’d love to spend some time in Bangkok. The food certainly looks amazing and a cooking class would be a lot of fun! It’s fun you were able to take the recipes home. What a great souvenir! The temples and markets would be a must too and would be fun to time our visit with a festival! I didn’t realize there were so many parks in the city—they look so peaceful and relaxing! Great suggestions!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 6, 2018 at 12:46 am

      We were able to bring recipes with us, but haven’t really been home enough to cook them, but we totally plan to as soon as possible! I highly recommend the cooking class with The Market Experience. I loved it and it was so unique!

  • Reply
    Seeking the Spanish Sun
    January 2, 2018 at 4:26 am

    I haven’t visited Bangkok in a long time and would love to travel there again soon. The fabulous food and vibrant markets are what I remember most. Those gardens look lovely and would definitely be worth exploring and there are so many amazing photo opportunities around the temples. I must admit my thai massage experience freaked me out a bit, they are so rough! haha but I would give it another try 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 7, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Bangkok definitely has a lot to offer and so much to photograph. It’s so vibrant, full of culture and varied in its culture as well! The Thai massage is definitely unique, but worth giving a try. Just be sure to let them know if you need it a little softer.

  • Reply
    Ashwini Neetan
    January 2, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I so needed this post! My dad is holidaying in Thailand right now and I drooling over the pics he’s sending over the phone. I’m seriously considering Thailand for my next vacation and your post is an answer to many of the questions in my mind. Can’t thank you enough for this!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      January 7, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      No problem, Ashwini! Thanks for reading I hope that you get to visit Thailand and that your dad is enjoying his trip as well!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    January 2, 2018 at 10:00 am

    You are right, Bangkok tends to get ignored as people transit to the more exotic locales of Thailand. We spent a few days there and really loved the vibes of the place. There is so much to see and experience in the city. I love the fact that it is such a fascinating blend of heritage and modern lifestyles. Mystical Buddhist temples merge seamlessly with the massive and glitzy malls. Indeed Bangkok should figure prominently in any traveler’s itinerary.

  • Reply
    natashagabrielle4
    January 2, 2018 at 10:30 am

    You have me wanting to head back to Thailand ASAP for the markets and food. I love this guide—Bangkok has so much to do and see! 🙂

  • Reply
    Mizhelle
    January 2, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Yes to Thai food! And massage! It’s a shame floating markets are losing their authenticity, but I still hope to find myself in one, one day.

  • Reply
    Meg Jerrard
    January 3, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I can’t wait to visit Thailand, mainly for it’s cuisine! Going to eat so much street food! I like your suggestion of taking a streetfood tour, and I like the idea of a cooking class. Temples are also on our list, temple hopping and Thai food sounds like my perfect vacation!

  • Reply
    Claudia Laroye
    January 6, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Your post certainly did make me want to take a cooking class and then eat all the food! I’ve done that at home, but it would be perfect to do it in Thailand. I can’t wait to visit the country, especially to visit the temples. Oh, and to eat – did I mention that?! 😉 Thanks for all the activity tips.

  • Reply
    Natasha
    January 7, 2018 at 4:23 am

    I went to Bangkok for the first time 2.5 years ago, and since then have been 5 times as I need to leave Myanmar for visa runs. The city has grown on my over that time, as the food is great, and the shopping is second to none.

    You are right that too many people simply use it as a launch pad, but the city really does have a lot to offer. Massages, facials, shopping and food…. And 7/11 toasties. I actually look forward to my trips there now.

  • Reply
    bye:myself
    January 7, 2018 at 11:27 am

    It’s so funny: I just posted about Bangkok two weeks ago and yesterday about Thailand. I agree: I skipped the floating markets, too, since I heard there are just touristy now. It was the same in Viet Nam, though. It’s a shame how these places change there traditions to tourist attractions.

  • Reply
    Holly
    January 7, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    My mom really want to go to Thailand. I would love a massage. I feel like I would get one everyday. Hopefully I get there soon. If not this year that top of next. The markets look really cool and just relaxing on a beach or something would be nice.

  • Reply
    eatlivetraveldrink
    January 8, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Such a great article! Been thinking about visiting during March/April and going directly for the food and temples – which I think are synonymous with Bangkok

  • Reply
    Suruchi Mittal
    January 9, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    We have done majority of these activities mentioned in your post. Visiting temples, shopping from local markets, trying local food were our favorites.

  • Reply
    mags
    January 9, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Looks like you had a incredible time. I loved Bangkok, but unfortunately I only got one good day of exploring before I got food poisoning and was hotel bound for the next few days. I’m jonesing for a do-over.

  • Reply
    Buddy The Traveling Monkey
    January 9, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    I spent a few days in Bangkok so I was able to see a bit, but there was definitely more I could have done and seen. I think the city can be overwhelming for some, but I would love to go back. The food alone is reason enough! lol

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Flying Fluskey
    January 12, 2018 at 6:05 am

    Oh gosh, could Thai food be any better. I love that you can eat so well, so cheaply in Bangkok as well as joining in during cooking lessons! We saw Lou Krathong one year. We hadn’t researched it either but just happened to be the day we flew in! We are lucky aren’t we lol.

  • Reply
    Danik
    January 13, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Thailand is one country I want to visit. Claire has done Bangkok and loved chilling out in the luxury hotels there and checking out the street markets. For me I would probably want to do everything on this list and stay there for quite a while as I love not to rush and check out how locals do things in their city. Havent tried Thai food yet but it sounds yummy 🙂 Interesting and informative post and have bookmarked this for the future.

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