The ultimate guide | Bangkok
Bangkok is a city of contrasts, where the strong Thai tradition lives together with modernity and business, high buildings and shopping malls.
Bangkok’s temples, traffic, street food and people make this city great.
You cannot say you’ve seen the world if you’ve never been to Bangkok. Here’s our guide to discover it!
Get up early in the morning, take the Chao Phraya Express Boat towards the richest area of the capital, in terms of cultural patrimony. Visit Wat Arun temple, its colors will stun you. Visit the majestic Wat Phra Kaew, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, where you can see the famous reclining Buddha. Jump on the boat again and end your visit walking around the charming Market of Amulets.
Admire the entire art collection of Jim Thompson House
During the weekend don’t miss the Chatuchak Market, one of the biggest markets I’ve ever seen, various and captivating. Food, clothing, souvenirs of all sorts, you can also get a massage!
Don’t forget to discover Chinatown: hectic, eclectic and extremely fascinating. Check the markets out and don’t miss the Golden Buddha.
If you love architecture, the Dusit Palace Park is a must see.
Want to discover something incredible? Walk along the Thanon Bamrung Meuang Road, one of the most ancient streets of Bangkok where all the Buddha are produced.
Climb on Golden Mount top, from where you can enjoy a 360 degrees view on the city and don’t miss Wat Saket, one of the most ancient temples of Bangkok.
Spend an evening at the Pak Khlong Talat, along the river. It’s the market of flowers, open 24 hours. When the sun sets it’s the best moment to visit and enjoy the atmosphere (less tourists around!).
Bangkok is a city that never sleeps. Gaze upon Bangkok in the evening, make a toast from a cozy spot on the last floors of a skyscraper: our favourite is Moon Bar.
Want to discover the real Thai? Consider attending a match of Thai Box.
Bangkok is an international city. If you want to experience it like an expat, get a nice massage and enjoy thai food in a food court. Our favourite is the one in the Central Chidlom: great food choice at affordable prices.
If you spent enough time exploring the capital, also consider a field trip. Ayutthaya it’s only 80 km away and it was the old capital of the Reign of Siam. Its ruins are Unesco heritage.
KO RATANAKOSIN & THONBURI
The bubbly center of the city, here you can find the main attractions and the best known temples. A must see of the area is the Market of Amulets.
Defined as the quintessence of Bangkok. Extremely well known by the backpackers thanks to Khao San Road, a street full of bohemian bars, pubs, restaurants of any kind and guest houses. Banglamphu hosts several points of interest: first of all the Golden Mount, Wat Suthat and Wat Saket. The traffic is particularly dense and we suggest you to consider taking a boat to reach Banglamphu. Don’t miss Ban Bat, the last of the three villages built by King Rama I and where baht are still produced nowadays (baht are the bowls where to put the offers for the monks).
Like a real chinese city in the middle of Bangkok. Chinatown will transport you to a chaotic atmosphere, neon signs and Chinese characters everywhere. The restaurants and the gold stores are so many you would never be able to count them all. Some sellers exclusively interact in chinese, a good idea is to visit this area with someone who knows the language. The most interesting part of Chinatown is the culinary one, dare to explore!
Don’t miss the Wat Traimit (where you can find the Golden Buddha), the markets (including the Pak Klong Talat, the market of flowers and Talat Mai, the biggest market). In the area there is also a district called Phaurat, which is the Little India in Bangkok and, as any other respectful Little India, it’ll fill your day of magnificent colors, promise!
RIVERSIDE, SILOM E LUMPHINI
Silom is the financial district and the portrait of a modern Bangkok, here you can find luxurious hotels and restaurants. This area is well connected with the rest of the city by the two main transport lines: BTS and MRT.
Riverside on the other hand is the traditional part of the city where you can still admire temples and shophouses.
These two district are close to each other, and the Lamphini Park is the green lung that keeps them breathing in rhythm (rent a swan boat and embark on a little tour on the lake, such a fun experience!). This is one of our favorite areas (our Oriental Residence is right here).
SIAM SQUARE, PRATUNAM & PLOENCHIT
Huge shopping malls, outlets and bazar. Here is the commercial side of Bangkok. It’s one of the most chaotic and colorful areas, it’s like you imagine a real metropoli. Don’t miss the food courts in the malls and the Jim Thompson House (Central Chidlom is the very best).
This area is named after its main street, the longest of Thailand. This was once the “rice fields and temples” area of the city, while today is the international center, with its malls, restaurants of any kind, huge hotels and middle class residences. It’s here where you can find the majority of the expats and this residential vibe makes it the perfect area for a Sunday brunch. Contrary to the other areas, there are not many touristic attractions here, but the Khlong Toey Market is worth a visit, it’s one of the biggest markets of the entire city.
WHERE TO SLEEP
We stayed at the Oriental Residence and we found it the perfect solution for a holiday in the capital. Great location in the business district, only two steps from the metro stop BTS Skytrain - Metro is a great idea in a city like this, where traffic jam is pretty common.
The residence is a peaceful oasis to regain your energies after a long day, in the middle of a metropoli. A pool, for both adults and children (no doubts Teo and Lia appreciated it, and we did too, thank you Oriental ;-)). The kindness of the personnel let us spend thoughtless and distended moments. Possibly one of the best stay since we left for our adventure.
Our dream came true thanks to the view from our room on the 18th floor and to the warm atmosphere of Café Claire (the restaurant of the residence, where you can experience that parisian dreamy charme). Our room was furnished like a tiny apartment, including washing machine and a DVD library - facilities that are not insignificant, especially in a city like Bangkok. We spent many nights ordering food delivery and watching movies all together on the couch, unforgettable.
Pool with a view, great food, warm hospitality. This stay really raised the quality of our visit in Bangkok, we warmly invite you to consider the Oriental Residence, whether you’re a couple or a family.
BEST PERIOD TO VISIT
The best period to visit Bangkok is from December to February, because it’s not crazy hot. Don’t forget that the temperature hardly drops under 20 Celsius degrees, it’s a very hot city, 365 days per year. From March to June it’s so hot that even walking in the streets becomes a challenge, while from July to October there’s a high risk of monsoonal rains.
HOW TO ARRIVE
There are two airports in Bangkok. The Suvarnabhumi is the international airport and the biggest of all Thailand; it’s very well connected to the city and perhaps the taxi meter is the best way to reach downtown quickly (around 40 minutes) for a fair price of 350-400 baht. Otherwise you might consider the Bangkok Airport Rail Link, a good option to reach the city center: only 6 stops from the airport to Phayathai Station and the entire run lasts 30 minutes only and costs 45 baht max.
ABOUT THE TRANSPORT
Bangkok is an extremely congested city. Every time you take a cab consider the additional time you will spend waiting for it and the time you will probably spend stuck in traffic. To move from district to district the best lines are BTS and MRT. The boat, in particular the Chao Phraya Express is often an ideal solution to move around the most touristic areas. Try to avoid the tuc tuc, the price is high for the service. If necessary consider it for short traits.
Baht is the Thai currency. It is simple to withdraw at the ATMs, especially in the touristic areas. Sometimes credit cards might be rejected, it’s a good idea to have some cash with you.
GOOD TO KNOW
if you want to visit the temples, dress in a proper way: shorts and miniskirts are not accepted
Thailand is a Monarchy, the pictures of the king can be found anywhere: in restaurants, hotels, shops. Do never talk poor words about the king or the royal family, it is extremely unrespectful.
Buddha is a religious and spiritual figure, taking pictures is allowed but do not overdo it, and always be respectful
Before planning any visit double check the closure schedule, for instance on Mondays many attractions and sellers in Chinatown are closed.
When eating in a bar or in a restaurant keep in mind that an additional 10% tax will be added to your bill, manage your expectations accordingly
Culturally, the Thai Boxe is very important, it can be interesting to find out more about it
In Bangkok you will not find a lot of attractions for your children, but it’s still a child friendly city. Diapers, powder milk, dummies and toys can be found in the many malls and shopping centers, including the brand Pampers, even if it’s very expensive. In Thailand children are seen in such a positive way, they are almost spiritual creatures: it might happen, especially if your kids are very young, that people will touch them, get closer to them (in such a way that for a westerner might even be disturbing) and ask to take pictures with them. It’s just a cultural difference, just let them know that you don’t like it, politely and with a smile, and they will understand.
Bangkok is a very chaotic city, the quality of the air is not ideal for the littles: visit the city freely but allow yourself moments of rest, especially after visiting crowded areas such as Chinatown. A good hotel will help you with this, perhaps with a pool and all the facilities you need (check the section Where to Sleep). Vaccine is not necessary to visit the great capital of Thailand, so… let the adventure begin!