Tips for Planning your trip to Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is an incredible city filled with so much culture – old and new. The people of Bangkok are the very best part. They call it the city of smiles for a reason. Most everyone you meet is happy and especially happy to help you.
I’ve compiled my very best tips for visiting Bangkok for you!
1. Hotel rooms are very inexpensive. I would recommend spending $50-$100 USD per night and book your hotel based on the best location for you. We stayed at Vic 3 hotel and liked the location because it was close to a train stop. The accommodations were only 3 star but the free breakfast and hospitality made up for it.
Our hotel accommodations were booked through Intertrips so we didn’t get to pick our hotel. We were perfectly happy with it though, especially because our entire trip was so inexpensive. Check out my post on finding a deal to Thailand to see how much we paid.
If I were to go back and need to book my own hotel, I would book closer to the city center, near the Siam Center and MBK (see below). Some suggestions are Siam@Siam Design Hotel, Ibis Bangkok, Novotel Kangkok and Hua Chang Heritage Hotel.
2. I think one of the greatest things about Bangkok is the public transportation, so use it! We rode tuk tuk’s a lot. And we rode the BTS train several times a day. It was so easy to use and easy to figure out where to go. We also took a boat bus one day that was quite the experience! I don’t think I have ever felt more prodded like a herd of cattle in my life.
3. If you plan to do any tours, book this one! Actually, just book this tour and I promise you won’t regret it. It’s a night lights tuk tuk tour. Try not to book it your first night if you can help it, because you don’t want to be jetlagged for it. Bangkok at night is amazing and this is the perfect way to see it. We not only got to see the sights of the city at night, but we really got to immerse into the local culture and taste the most amazing local food that I would have never ordered on my own. You can book at Expique.com. And for more details, check out my post about it.
4. Unless you have a full week in Bangkok, you probably won’t be able to see all the temples so make sure to pick which ones you want to see first and make those a priority. At the top of your list should be Wat Pho. Home of a giant, gold reclining Buddha. It is definitely way bigger in person than you think it will be. Don’t miss it!
5. Next, make sure you see The Grand Palace. It is full of amazing decoration and design. My best piece of advice here is to take the train to the marina and then purchase an express boat ticket for $.50 USD. The boats all get you there about the same, I think. This one is drastically cheaper and quite an experience. You will really get to know your neighbor and it is amazing to see how many people they can pack on the boat without it sinking. Try to go early to avoid the afternoon heat and crowds!
6. If you have time, try to fit in Wat Arun or Temple of the Dawn. It is beautiful and best seen at sunset if you can time it right! You can also climb the central tower if you want.
7. Take time to walk through the flower market. If you happen to take a tour, I’m sure this will be on your intinerary. It is beautiful and it is quite amazing to think about all the time and money that goes into making these delicate arrangements. You will find these these flowers all over the country as they pay respect to sacred spots and to ancestors that have passed on. They even believe that some spirits of those that have died are living in the trees so you will often find trees draped in clothes and flower shrines.
8. Take a day trip to Ayutthaya. It is the old capital of Thailand and I loved seeing the old temples and Buddhas covering the ancient city. We hired a taxi driver for the day for about $50 USD. She took us to as many places as we wanted and even took us to the famed floating market afterward.
9. Shopping! I was surprised at how amazing the shopping is in Bangkok. You can find almost anything you want. Most things are inexpensive but you can also find designer brands that are quite pricey too. The Siam Center is full of really cool shops that include nearly every designer you can think of plus a few you have never heard of. It was really fun just to look around here.
I loved MBK, it is like a giant flea market full of knock-offs, Thai clothing and so many other cool things that you can only find in Thailand. I could have spent the whole day here.
10. There are so many great street markets too. I think the best one is the Chatuchak weekend market. You can literally find anything here! And you will probably get lost doing it. So… let yourself get lost! And eat some yummy food along the way. And do yourself a favor and stop in for a 30 minute leg massage. They only cost about $3-4 USD and are in an air conditioned room. Totally worth it. If you are in Bangkok on a weekend, this is a must stop!
Tip: go when the temps are a little cooler in the morning if you can. If you are there in the afternoon, bring a fan!
11. Speaking of massages, do not leave Bangkok without one! They are typically about $6 for an hour. You can pick an oil massage or a Thai massage. I think you can’t go wrong with either. With the Thai massage, you wear a special outfit that is 10 sizes too big. The massage is a cross between a deep tissue and a visit to the chiropractor. I know that probably sounds painful but it is awesome. The next day, I felt like I had had a really good workout. If you opt for the oil massage, it is more American with a little bit of moving you around.
12. Food - Oh. My. Goodness. I never expected the food in Thailand to be so amazing. We did not have one bad meal there and never got sick. The pad thai is amazing along with every tradional thai dish. The mango sticky rice is to die for. I grabbed that every chance I got. I fell in love with the fruit. Especially the pomelo grapefruit. I crave it. I still check my grocery store every day to see if they have them in the exotic fruit section.
13) Restaurants can seem a little daunting to find. But when in doubt, ask the concierge at your hotel. They are so helpful! And yelp is a great resource even in another country. I got a tip to eat at the Siam Center food court, Food Republic and it was spot on! It was not a traditional food court. You pay a cashier at the entrance for how much you think you will spend (you can add $ or get your $ back if you don’t spend it all) and they put it on a special card. Then you visit as many of the little restaurants as you want and just present your card. We got several small plates to share. Again, the food was amazing and it was such a cool way to do it.
The bathrooms in the food court were pretty fun too.
14) It can be very hot and humid in the city, so it’s super important to be prepared. Check out my post on what to bring and my post on what to wear that I will post this week. These should be pretty helpful in making sure you are prepared. It’s so important to be modest here. Your knees and shoulders need to be covered to visit any temple. And the culture as a whole is more modest so they appreciate it when you dress modest too. Being modest in the humid heat is tricky!
I would also add that you bring a fan! I have an accordian fan that I bought in Seville that came in handy. This is another good one!
Comment with any questions you might have, I would love to help you plan your trip to Bangkok! And don't forget to check out my other posts on Thailand!