I felt so overwhelmed by Bangkok when I first arrived. It’s no surprise considering well over 10 million people live condensed in the city centre.
Spend too long in Bangkok, and you will hate it by the end. Spend too little time here, and you won’t see enough. As a guide for you, I spent 6 days which left me not wanting to return anytime soon… I would advise 4 days as plenty.
What to Do in Bangkok
The Grand Palace
I actually missed the Grand Palace because I arrived too late (it only opens until 3.30pm). But I’m glad I did. Everyone I met on my trip who had gone all said the same thing: it’s too overcrowded. Although it’s a well known tourist attraction, there are far better ways to spend your time and 500 baht (£11)!
Wat Pho and Wat Arun
Wander around the temple grounds of Wat Pho where you will find the impressive 46-meter long reclining Buddha. It doesn’t take long to see, but it’s worth appreciating the architecture for 100 baht. Make sure to visit in the morning at 8am to avoid the crowds.
Take a boat from the port near Wat Pho to Wat Arun for only 3 baht. Entrance to this temple is 100 baht again. Although the grounds aren’t very big, you can climb to the top for an incredible view!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the dirt, smoke and chaotic streets of Bangkok, Lumpini Park is a peaceful getaway. Take a walk around to admire the golden shrines, watch people practice Tai Chi, rent a rowing boat or peddle a swan in the lakes.
Don’t be surprised to see giant lizards (monitors, NOT komodo dragons) lazing about on the grass. Before September 2016, there were 400 in this park! Since then, officials have been trying to remove most of them.
Tip: Be sure to stay in the park at 6pm if you want a cultural shock. I won’t ruin the surprise!
If you’re looking for cheap street food, say 40 baht (£1), then make your way to Chinatown.
Another culture shock was the popularity of shark fin soup. Almost every restaurant here advertised it. Like many other seemingly harmless novelties (such as elephant riding), it’s so important to educate yourself before buying them. Otherwise, you could unknowingly be adding to a very serious underlying problem.
Watch how they make coconut ice cream. I’m warning you now though, it looks more impressive than it tastes!
Tip: You’ll usually find the cheapest options at stalls down side streets off the main road.
Muay Thai Fighting
This was probably my favourite thing to do in Bangkok. Catch a taxi to Ratchadamnoen stadium for a Muay Thai boxing fight. For the Championship, we paid 1600 baht to sit beside the ring.
Note: Expect to be charged the special tourist price!
There were 9 fights lasting a total of 4 hours. It was madness! One boxer got KO’d with one punch to the head. The paramedics dragged him onto the stretcher while tourists took pictures as close as possible to his unconscious face. As soon as he was brought out of the arena, the next match begun, and the crowd began chanting all over again!
Tip: Keep in mind that you can find cheaper matches throughout Thailand rather than Bangkok.
If you want another break from the city, visit Chatuchak Park. Read a book on the grass, rent a rowing boat or blow off steam at one of the outdoor gyms!
Markets in Bangkok
Visit one of the largest weekend markets in the world! Chatuchak market has 15,000 stalls with vendors selling pretty much everything you can think of. Since it’s a well-known tourist attraction, vendors will try to charge you more. Make sure you barter! Tip: Start off at half the asking price, and then negotiate from there.
Visit one of the top-rated floating markets in Bangkok during the day: Khlong Lat Mayom, Kwan-Riam, Bang Nam Phueng or Taling Chan.
Another one to visit is the Pak Khlong flower market. There are thousands of different varieties of flowers, all very cheap. Vegetables are also sold here. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, it’s nice just to see the streets paved with beautiful vibrant colours. Tip: 2am is the best time to visit.