To be entirely honest, when I decided to make Thailand my first stop in Asia, I had little to no interest in visiting Bangkok. I was much more interested in the stunning beaches and gorgeous hikes than sweating around a crowded, expensive city. Thankfully, my friends felt differently and we booked three days to spend exploring Bangkok. There’s lots to see and do and I ended up liking it much more than I thought I would (the strong A/C in the hotel didn’t hurt either).
Where to stay
Since flights were cheapest in and out of Bangkok, we ended up spending two weekends in the city at two different hotels. We did our research and it paid off, we ended up loving both of them! Check them out below.
Baiyoke Sky Hotel is the tallest hotel in Bangkok, which, in a city with a lot of really tall buildings, is pretty impressive. We would actually see tour groups come in the hotel to see the views from the top floor sky deck, a whooping 84 floors up (we only saw this once, would have been annoying if it happened a lot). The hotel itself was beautiful, clean and had every amenity you could possibly want! They have nine different restaurants including a rotating restaurant, a full spa, huge gym, an outdoor pool, rooftop observatory deck and their own indoor floating markets. You could spend an entire day just exploring the inside of the hotel.
Warning: I would not suggest booking any activities or tours through the hotel. We booked transportation to and from the floating markets for what we thought was a great price. However, when we arrived, the driver had been told to take us to a very small area 15 minutes outside the markets where they tried to charge us upwards of 90 EUR to rent a boat for only an hour. It took us almost 20 minutes of arguing to convince him to bring us directly to the floating markets (where a boat costs 5 EUR).
VIE Hotel might be the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The entire hotel was stunning and immaculately clean, the staff were super friendly and accommodating and our room was enormous with both a bathtub and a rain shower! It was definitely the priciest accommodation we booked in Thailand, but worth it to feel like royalty for a couple of nights. I would definitely recommend staying in this hotel, especially if you’re only in Bangkok for a couple nights and don’t mind a little splurge.
What to do?
Now that you’ve got a place to sleep, what should you see in Bangkok? Although you could spend weeks getting familiar with this fascinating city, here are some suggestions if you can only scrape together a few days.
Wat Arun was my first temple visited in Thailand and it was everything I had hoped it would be! Although the temple is located pretty far from the center of Bangkok and our hotel, a Grab Taxi only cost us about $5 in 30 min of rush hour traffic.
The temple costs 50 Baht to enter (about $1.5). Girls, be sure to cover your knees and shoulders or they won’t let you inside.
Corgi in the Garden
I love all dogs, but I have a slight obsession with corgis. When I learned there was a Corgi cafe in Bangkok, it moved straight to the top of my Thailand bucket list. Corgi in the Garden is also pretty far from the city center, but is conveniently pretty close to Wat Arun. Worth it to cuddle with sweet little corgis for a full hour ❤
Corgi in the Garden only serves coffee and desserts, but if you’re in the area and hungry there’s a great restaurant across the street called Noodle Bar. We ordered fish balls and sausage, pork and rice, fried noodles with chicken and fried wontons and only paid around $6.
Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)
Another temple not to miss during your time in Bangkok is Wat Pho, famous for it’s enormous Reclining Buddha. Entrance is only 200 Baht or around $6.5 and there’s many little temples to explore around the grounds. Wat Pho is right next to The Grand Palace, so I would suggest seeing both in the same day.
The Grand Palace
Although it’s a bit pricer than the other temples at 500 Baht (or $16) per person, The Grand Palace was my favorite of all the temples we saw in Thailand. The pic below was taken in the Chapel of the Emerald Buddha (or Phra Ubosoth) and was covered completely in gold and mosaics. The chapel was built by King Rama I in 1782 and it is considered the most important building in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha himself was carved from a block of jasper and is regarded as the most important Buddha image in the entire country. Unfortunately they didn’t allow pictures inside the temple.
The spooky guy pictured below is one of the 12 Demon Guardians in the temple. They stand facing the Emerald Buddha and are said to guard the Buddha from all evil spirits.
The photo below depicts Chakri Maha Prasat Hall in The Grand Palace. The building was originally the royal residence built by King Rama V in 1877. Today, it is used for state banquets.
Ratchada Rot Fai (The Train Market)
Always in search of more local cuisine, this was our favorite street food market in Bangkok. Rows and rows of stands filled with every type of street food you could possibly dream of give way into a cluster of bars with loud music and dancing in the streets. The Train Market also has plenty of affordable shopping, including many “nail stands” where you can get a manicure for less than $10!
Get Thai Massages
Always make time for Thai massages no matter where you are in Thailand. We found a few great places in Bangkok but my favorite was Dariya Health Massage. We paid only 400 Baht ($13) for an hour long oil massage.
Amphawa Floating Markets
Once we finally convinced our driver to take us to the actual floating markets, we had a great time floating down the river and browsing the different street food options being cooked on the water. If you do want to make it to Amphawa to see the markets, make sure to give yourself plenty of time. It was at least an hour and a half drive each way from Bangkok.
Go to a rooftop bar
As expected, the first thing we did after arriving in Bangkok was find the closest rooftop bar with the cheapest drinks. Heaven Rooftop Bar was the pick of the night and, although it wasn’t as close as we would have hoped, the drinks and the views were fantastic. We also ordered a yummy dinner which ended up being incredibly cheap considering we were eating with a view of the Bangkok skyline.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
This market taught me that my wallet could take a punch. The Chatuchak Weekend Market was our favorite market for clothes shopping. We spent five hours here on our last day in Bangkok and I have no idea how any of us got our suitcases home (actually I do know how, we bought more suitcases). The market also has many street food stands to choose from, including mango sticky ice cream!
As the name suggests, the market is only open Saturday and Sunday, so make sure to plan ahead.
As mentioned in my previous post, Four days in Phuket, Thailand, we absolutely loved the pub crawl we booked through Bodega Hostels. For 450 Baht ($14.5), you’ll get a free bucket drink, dinner, pub crawl t-shirt and transportation to the first bar. Even better? The pub crawl takes you to Khaosan Road, which is the craziest and best place to go out any night in Bangkok!
Ride the sky train
Bangkok’s sky train is famous for being cheap, spotless and fast. Now that I’ve experienced it firsthand, that seems pretty accurate. They actually don’t allow you to bring any drinks at all on the train so there won’t be any trash (very misleading since the entrance is filled with bubble tea stands). If you’re sick of Grab, or it’s the middle of rush hour traffic, the sky train is a great and affordable option to get around the city.
We made the most of our time in Bangkok, but that doesn’t mean I’m not already itching to go back. There’s no shortage of things to do and see in this magical city. Hopefully you’ll try out some of my suggestions during your next trip and stay tuned for my next post about my time in Chiang Mai!