Bangkok is a big and chaotic city. The roads are full of traffic, the pavements are jammed with people and the air is often polluted. Add to this the fact that it is always hot and humid. These conditions can deter people from fully experiencing the delights of Bangkok. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your time in Bangkok.
If it is your first visit to Bangkok you will surely want to visit the main cultural sites of the city. The best way to do this is by the Chao Phraya Express that runs up and down the main river in the city. It is a refreshing and cheap way to get around; besides the overhead train and metro don’t run to these places. It is possible to see Wat Pho, the Grand Palace, the famous reclining Buddha and Wat Arun in a day using the boat to get from one location to the next. If you are staying in Sukhumvit catch the ferry at Saphan Taksin. If your hotel is in Khao San then the nearest ferry pier is Phra Athit.
Bangkok is a great city to splurge on better accommodation. Hotels are cheap. You can often get a room in a 4 star hotel for as little as $60 a night. To complete your Bangkok experience it is a fantastic idea to stay in a hotel with an extra something rather than an identikit chain hotel. There are some great riverside hotels such as Sala Arun, Chakrabongse Villas (a converted Royal residence), Loy La Long Hotel and Navalai River Resort. There are also some ultra contemporary and stylish places to stay such as Siam@Siam Design Hotel, MaDuZi and the Metropolitan.
For something really unique there is Imm Fusion that has a Moroccan theme or Shanghai Mansion that has a strong 1930s Shanghai art deco interior design.
It is worth paying a bit extra to not only get creature comforts while staying in Bangkok but also a unique experience.
People fly to Bangkok just to do their shopping. It is a place with thousands of great bargains to be found. There is also a growing trend, especially in Sukhumvit, for lifestyle malls that combine designer label shops, spas, café culture and fine dining options.
For those looking for souvenirs, clothes and just about anything there is one of Bangkok’s largest shopping mall called the MBK. It is also connected to Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery shopping centres. MBK is reached via Siam or National Stadium BTS stations.
If you want cheap electronic goods or just enjoy seeing bucket after bucket full of computer parts, the place to go is the Pantip Plaza. It also contains every game, movie and software program imaginable most of it in flagrant disregard for copyrighting laws.
A great shopping day out is to be had at Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is 27 acres of shopping heaven. The market consists of a warren of walkways between stalls selling textiles, souvenirs, pets, house ware, glassware and clothes. Professional shoppers come here to buy in bulk. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the edge of the market. It is fun to take a break and watch the numerous performances by street musicians in this lively market.
Bangkok is famous for its nightlife, and rightly so. It is safe to walk the streets of Bangkok at night. Even in the red light districts it is no problem to stroll along the main drags and watch the demi-monde cast its spell over the punters.
Soi Cowboy and Patpong are the two most famous places to try a go go bar or see a performance that is hard to forget. For those not keen to see this side of Bangkok there are several great clubs and music venues to check out. These include Bed Supperclub, Q Bar and Glow.
Visitors to Bangkok are also spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants. There are excellent Thai restaurants such as Cabbages and Condoms as well Vietnamese, Laotian, French, Scandinavian, Italian and Indian cuisine to enjoy.
With a little bit of research about what Bangkok has to offer as well as a quick look at a city map you can easily plan some fantastic daytime and night time adventures in the City of Angels in the East.
Joe K. Johnson currently lives in Bangkok. He works as a freelance writer and website designer. He writes extensively about Bangkok boutique accommodation and things to do in the city, as well as keeping several blogs about his experiences in Thailand.