I had no idea what to expect from Bangkok, having seen The Hangover II, I expected a party city with danger around every corner. That is a possibility, but there are lots of other things to do in Bangkok too!
We went in April, the hottest time of year where temperature regularly hit 40°c. It’s very cheap this time of year but it is also very hot, on balance I’d probably go at a cooler time of year unless you are there for Songkran. Which we were.
Songkran is definitely worth the heat, super fun especially in Chiang Mai. Songkran is Thailand’s national New Year’s Holiday and involves a LOT of water to cleanse the soul, ready for the year ahead. The water washes away the sins and bad luck ready for the new year, it is also a welcome relief from the blazing heat.
Even though it was hot I really liked Bangkok, lots of things to do and easy to get around via tuk tuk or public transport. It’s definitely worth adding it to your Thailand visit!
Things to do in Bangkok – Street food
Phil of Somebody feed Phil did an episode there, but sadly it was after I’d been so I couldn’t follow in his footsteps. Definitely worth a watch though as there are some gems on it. There is also a show on Netflix (Street Food) about a Michelin Star street food chef in Bangkok, that is also worth watching.
We ate in china town at Fikeaw Yao Wa-Rat (Soi Yaowarat 11), it had the biggest queue – my go to for choosing a street food place! To find it walk up Yaowarat Road until you find a side street full of stalls, it backs onto the Old Market. It’s the stall almost at the end of the street on the left-hand side with the green signage.
We waited about 30 minutes for a table and it was so worth it. The food was delicious, the seafood very fresh and the cost was very reasonable. If you can find it, go, queue and enjoy.
Things to do in Bangkok – Temples
Wat Arun is one of the most beautiful temples I’ve ever seen and living in SEA for nearly 2 years I visited a lot of temples. The detail in the tiles, the number of Buddhas and the general atmosphere, even though busy, felt calm. Also, home to one of the largest reclining Buddhas at 150 metres in length!
Things to do in Bangkok – Drinks with a view
There are lots of sky bars in Bangkok, some within expensive hotels offering expensive drinks, and some more affordable places. We chose a bar that was within walking distance of our hotel as we wanted to watch the sunset on the river and time was a factor! Alfresco 64 – A Chivas Bar has a fantastic view, beautiful terrace and the drinks are fabulous. The Lebua is also home to the Sky Bar, where the Hangover was filmed and the Dome another fabulous bar.
As people say, Khaosan Road is crazy but worth it. I think the fact that it was Songkran made it more hectic, trying to dodge the buckets of water being thrown at you as you walked by, is no easy feat. We found a less busy road that runs parallel, Soi Rambuttri, ordered some beers and watched the world go by. Still a busy bar street but a bit easier to navigate.
Things to do in Bangkok – Shopping
Chatuchak Weekend Market
I could write a whole post about this place. You could easily spend a whole day wandering around the stalls and I set up 3 different shops in my head that I could start with stock from it. Beautiful homeware, art and ceramics never mind the jewellery, clothes and food stalls. We went for a few hours and were completely exhausted at the end, sensory overload at its finest!
This was an unexpected find. Looking for food we went to the huge shopping centre next door and stumbled upon this gem. Beautifully designed and full of lovely things. They even had a Loft, those who’ve been to Japan and experienced it in Shibuya will understand my delight.
How to get to Bangkok
Flights to Bangkok
Direct flights from London are around eleven and a half hours and stopovers are around 16. Shopping around you will find prices are around the same whichever way you choose. I personally, like to settle, try sleep and get it over with rather than get off and stretch my legs, but everyone is different.
Thai airways get mixed reviews, but they do use the A380 which is a good plane for long haul. British Airways is OK but no better than other airlines in terms of service and seats. They do have a Premium Economy option though which can be not much more money for more legroom and a better seat. I do think the service, food and entertainment is always good on Emirates, so if you don’t mind the stop in the middle that is a good option. Swiss is another recommended airline, there is a stopover but only an hour in so you can then settle into the journey it takes about 14 hours.
Travelling on a Tuesday or Wednesday is the way to get the best prices. Be flexible about time as if you have no need to be specific you can save a lot by looking at all the options. As a rule, flights are cheap when they go on sale about a year before and rise in price until about 6 weeks before when they can be reduced in price.
Thailand has a good train service, meaning you can get from some of the major cities easily. We took a sleeper train from Chiang Mai and paid for the first-class option which gives you a private sleeper cabin based on 2 sharing. It wasn’t the orient express, there are no vegetarian options in the buffet cart but it was a fun way to get from one city to another.
Where to stay in Bangkok
There is somewhere for every budget in Bangkok. Backpacker hostels to 5-star hotels, you can find anything you want.We stayed at The Express Hostel. It was clean, well located for the MRT station and affordable.
If I were going for a special occasion or wanted a treat, I would choose Ad Lib as it looks beautiful and has a killer pool (above), you will want a pool ideally to cool down after hot sightseeing. It is also in a good location and has great reviews.
So there you go, my favourite things to do in Bangkok. I wasn’t sure how much I would like it when we went. Having been to quite a few South East Asian cities, I thought I knew what to expect, but I was wrong. It was completely unique, with some fantastic things to do.