• Lisa

Bangkok, Thailand: City Guide

Updated: Jul 1

The hustle and bustle of this capital city is so thrilling and inviting, you'll never want to leave (at least I didn't!). With so much to offer, Bangkok will keep you busy from sun up to sun down. Wake up and start with temples, relax with some unique street food for lunch, and shop till you drop all afternoon before heading out to trendy bars and restaurants.

Know Before You Go:

  • The native language of Thailand is Thai - however, most everyone speaks English (especially in the tourist industry).

  • Thai Baht (THB) is the only currency in Thailand. Cash is used far more than credit cards so I advise always having some on you.

  • Try to only take metered taxis. Otherwise, the cab driver will charge you way more than needed. If your taxi isn't metered, or you are taking a tuk tuk, be sure to determine the price of the ride before getting in the car.

  • Tipping 10% is customary for good service.

  • Ladies, be sure not to bump into or touch Monks walking around the city. If a Monk touches a female, they have to go through an extensive cleansing.

  • Thailand Packing List - everything you'll need while in Thailand

  • Read more about my Thailand tips here!

Where to Stay:

  • Aloft Bangkok: This trendy SPG/Marriott hotel is located in the perfect spot for exploring Bangkok nightlife! Walk just outside of the hotel to find a street filled with restaurants, bars, and shopping! The hotel itself features a Vegas-like club on the 5th Floor called Levels. Be sure to ask for a room with a city view because you'll have the most beautiful view of the city skyline!

  • Royal Orchard Sheraton Hotel & Tower: This hotel is right along the river which is the focal point to Bangkok's most impressive temples! Every room offers unobstructed views of the Chao Phraya River. The hotel features a complimentary boat shuttle which is so helpful! Relax at either of the two resort style pools or take a stroll through the meditative gardens.

  • Avani Riverside Hotel Bangkok: Talk about pool GOALS! This rooftop infinity pool over looks the Chao Phraya River with amazing views

What to Do:

1. Grand Palace

If you only have time for one thing in Bangkok, make sure you go to the Grand Palace. This beautiful ornate palace was home to the Thai Kings for almost 150 years dating back to 1782. Today, it is still home to the iconic Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). Head here first thing in the morning to avoid as many crowds as possible (as well as the heat). The palace is located directly on the Chao Phraya River and is open daily from 8:30AM to 3:30PM. Tickets costs 500 THB. Please note - the dress code is VERY STRICT. Cover your shoulders, knees, and dress modestly. The best outfit to wear is pants (no tight pants or leggings) and a short sleeve tshirt. Be prepared to take your shoes off for some of the temples, particularly when visiting Emerald Buddha!

2. Wat Pho & the Reclining Buddha

Near the Grand Palace, you'll find Wat Pho, another iconic temple in Bangkok. With more than one thousand buddhas located inside this temple, the most popular and well known is the 46 meter Reclining Buddha. This temple is where the art of the Thai Massage and Thai medicine began - you can still get a massage here at the school. The cost to enter the temple is 100 baht which includes a free bottled water. It is open 8AM to 5PM daily.

3. River Boat

Taking a boat ride through the Chao Phraya River is not only relaxing and picturesque, but also convenient! With so many of the famous temples just steps away from the river, this is the best way to navigate the city. There are few options for boats - water taxis, long tail boats, canal boats, and ferries. My favorite is the Long Tail Boat - you feel like you are gliding inches above the water. They vary in price and don't always stop at each dock, so be sure to ask before buying a ticket. To cross the river, you can find a long tail boat for 4 baht to take you to the other side.

4. Weekend Market (only open Saturday & Sunday)

Find everything from local and unique gifts for loved ones to boutique clothing shops to restaurants and street food within this market. You could get lost in here for hours and finish all of your Christmas shopping for all of your loved ones with amazing souvenirs. This market is open 6AM to 6PM

5. Khao San Road

Over the last 20 years, this road has become a bustling nightlife for backpackers and travelers wanting to experience a glimpse into local Thai life. You can find everything from street food to cheap bars and souvenir shops. Stop for a cheap Thai massage or Foot massage along the road.

6. Muay Thai Fight

Check out the national sport of Thailand called Muay Thai. This boxing-like sport is fun to watch and experience. The best stadium is the Rajadamnern Stadium with events Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday. It costs about 2000 baht and usually starts around 6PM and goes til 10PM. You can buy drinks and snacks within the stadium but no outside food is permitted.

7. Sing up for a cooking class at Mailwan Thai Cooking School! After enjoying all of the amazing Thai cuisine, you'll want to learn how to recreate it at home! There are tons of cooking classes all over Thailand that are geared towards tourists. My favorite option in Bangkok is the Mailwan Thai Cooking School, located near Khao San Road. They have a variety of hands on classes and limit each class to just 8 people, so you are guaranteed to have a personalized experience!

Where to Eat & Drink:

  • Street Food - You have to try the Street Food in Thailand; it's part of the authentic experience! I recommend going to Khao San Road to find the best variety and most classic options. Since this is a bit of a touristy location, you can find many Western treats like Nutella Crepes. If you're feeling adventurous, try a Cricket or other bug

  • Sky Bar - This is a MUST DO while in Thailand! It is one of the highest rooftop bars in the world and has a breathtaking view of the city. This bar is open daily from 6PM to 1AM. You may recognize it from the Hangover II, in which case you should try their Hangovertini drink! They also have Popsicle cocktails to cool you down in the summer.

  • Levels Club & Lounge - Talk about a little piece of Vegas in Bangkok! This place knows how to party! It is located inside the Aloft Hotel and has an outdoor patio overlooking the street with an indoor party zone with a DJ, live dancers, and sometimes live performers.

Without a doubt, you will love spending time in the bustling city we know and love as Bangkok. There is so much history and tradition to explore while still having plenty new adventures. I've created a Bucketlist of all Bangkok items - how many can you check off the list?

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