To be honest, when I decided to make Thailand my first trip to Asia, I had very little interest in visiting Bangkok. I was much more interested in the sunny beaches and gorgeous hikes than sweating around a crowded, expensive city. Fortunately, my friends disagreed 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 hotels didn’t hurt either).
Simple Thai Phrases and Tips for Visiting Thailand
For a quick lesson on some basic Thai phrases and some general advice for traveling through Thailand, check out my post Four Days in Phuket, Thailand.
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 clearly paid off because we ended up loving both of them! Check them out below.
Baiyoke Sky Hotel
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 into the hotel to see the views from the Sky Deck, a whooping 84 floors up. Thankfully we only witnessed this once (it would have been annoying if it happened a lot). The hotel itself was beautiful, clean and offered every amenity you could possibly imagine! There are 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 this 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. When we arrived, we found out that 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 $100 for a boat tour of the markets. It took us almost 20 minutes of arguing to convince the driver to bring us directly to the floating markets (where a boat tour costs $5/hour).
VIE Hotel Bangkok
VIE Hotel Bangkok could be the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The entire hotel was beautiful 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 few days and don’t mind a little splurging.
What to Do in Bangkok
Now that you’ve got a place to sleep, how should you spend your time in Bangkok? Although you could spend weeks getting familiar with this fascinating city, below are some great activities to fill up a couple days.
Wat Arun was the first temple I ever visited and it was everything I had hoped it would be! Although the temple is pretty far from the center of Bangkok and our hotel, a Grab Taxi only cost us about $5 (even though the ride took 30 minutes in rush hour traffic).
It costs 50 Baht to enter Wat Arun (about $1.50). 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 some people might say I’m slightly obsessed with corgis. When I learned there was a Corgi cafe in Bangkok, it shot straight to the top of my bucket list. Corgi in the Garden is also pretty far from the city center, but is conveniently pretty close to Wat Arun. If you plan on seeing both, it makes the most sense to plan both visits for the same day.
Worth it to cuddle with sweet little corgis for a full hour!
Corgi in the Garden doesn’t serve meals, only coffee and desserts. If you’re in the area and get 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 for our entire meal!
Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha)
Another must-see temple during your time in Bangkok is Wat Pho, famous for it’s enormous Reclining Buddha. Entrance is only 200 Baht or around $6.50 and there’s lots of 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 of the Emerald Buddha. 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)
Ratchada Rot Fai was easily our favorite street food market in Bangkok. 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. I was very tempted by the “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.*
*The oil massages in Thailand are always more expensive than the traditional Thai 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 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.
Drink on a Rooftop Bar
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 both the drinks and views were fantastic. We also ordered 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 and souvenir shopping. We spent five full hours here on our last day in Bangkok! I have no idea how any of us got our suitcases home (actually I do, 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.
Pub Crawl and Khaosan Road
As I mentioned in my previous post, Four days in Phuket, Thailand, we are a huge fan of the Bodega Hostel pub crawls. For 450 Baht ($14.50), you’ll get a free bucket drink, a buffet-style dinner, a pub crawl t-shirt and transportation to the first bar. The best part is the Bangkok pub crawl takes you to Khaosan Road: 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 reputation is pretty accurate. They don’t even allow you to bring any food or drink on the train so there won’t be any trash. (This is very misleading since the entrance is filled with bubble tea stands). If you’re sick of Grab, the sky train is a great and affordable option to get around the city. It’s also the much faster option in the middle of rush hour!
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. If you plan on stopping in Chiang Mai or Phuket during your time in Thailand, check out my related posts What to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Four Days in Phuket, Thailand.
If you enjoyed my tips for Bangkok, make sure to follow my adventures on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps!
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