Bangkok, Thailand: A Basic Travel Guide To This Bustling City! ✓
The capital ★ city of Thailand.
Known in Thai as: Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep.
Named by Forbes to be the “most visited city in the world!”
HOW TO ENTER & WHAT TO EXPECT.
✦ Like many places you travel to visit, enter Thailand with an open heart ♥︎ & with the expectation of having to being flexible. You’re experiencing new culture, food, customs, a new pace of life…this requires patience & openness.
✦ Be wise & aware of your surroundings/belongings; travel lightly throughout the day because temperatures are hot ☀︎ & you will find many people walking the streets in close proximity.
✦ Traffic. You will see it, you will sit in it, you will have to cross streets to get around it! Patterns are different than most & you will quickly find that that there are seemingly few rules of the road! Factor in travel time to your itinerary!
✦ $. Bangkok is overall pretty inexpensive, however as a tourist especially, be aware of being conned into paying a higher ⬆︎ price! Pricing is dependent on how you choose to spend & how good you are at the bargaining game!
✦ Speaking of spending$, Thailand in general is all about the CASH flow. We found that many places, even restaurants, require a minimum of spending before they accept any credit card. Always travel with THB or “Thai Baht” to cover your costs! You won’t have trouble finding ATMs & locations for exchange.
✦ Do your research on Thai culture & maintaining peace ✌︎ in communication; after all, you are a visitor in another’s country, dress yourself in respect & humility. Purchasing a pocket-size travel book or simply googling information on the web!
WHERE TO STAY.
Like most major cities in the world today, you have many options on where to rest your furry head in Bangkok. Hotels, Airbnb & even hostels! We scoped out all options & felt the most secure with staying at a hotel for our 1st experience here in the city because lets face it, the last place I want to have worry is where I find my rest!
Bangkok is such a BIG city, it can be overwhelming when do research on what part exactly to stay, especially when you’re halfway around the world ✈︎ (& it’s your first time visiting!). From experience, I think it’s good to start off with researching WHAT you want to do/see & go from there based off of location; taking into account transportation options, if that is important to you. For example, if you choose a sector in Bangkok to stay & considered taking the train to & from during your explorations, you should first check out the locational maps for the “BTS Skytrain” before settling on arrangements!
OUR HOTEL RECOMMENDATION
Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11: Trusted & known hotel chain woldwide, in association with Marriott. Earn points + at a multitude of Marriott Hotel associations if you sign up to be an SPG (★ Starwood Preferred Guest) member! Click here to sign up now!
Other perks: amazing breakfast buffet, rooftop infinity pool overlooking city views, 24-hour in-house snack service for purchase, walking distance to restaurants, stores, BTS Sky Train, MRT Subway stations, & Terminal 21 shopping mall! A great experience staying somewhere central within the city!
In such a busy & bustling city, whatever your choice of accommodation be, you are bound to find something nearby to do! Whether staying in a hostel & meeting new friends from around the world, or enjoying room service at your hotel of choice, ultimately do your research, read the REVIEWS, oh, & be open to adventure!
WHAT TO EAT.
STREET FOOD, STREET FOOD, STREET FOOD! Basically any block you walk down in Bangkok, you will find a local food stand or a simple table top set up with tasty food on it, run by a Thai local/family themselves. From sausage on a stick, to grilled chicken kabobs, fresh fish (of all kinds), pad tai, fried chicken, dim sum, dumplings, mango sticky rice, fresh fruit, fresh fruit juices, coconut ice cream- YOU. NAME. IT ☺︎! Anyone looking for an authentic Thai experience & taste is sure to find it here in this big city!
FEASTING ON A BUDGET.
If you’re spending an extended amount of time traveling or just overall trying to stick to a more strict budget, you’ve come to the right place! I wouldn’t say that I’m cheap, BUT I do know how to save some pennie$ & make my money stretch! I have two words for you: “7 Eleven.” As in the USA, we quickly discovered the many chain businesses in Thailand, 7 Eleven being one of them! It’s the perfect place (among other chain “corner stores”) to get the local prices for anything from personal hygiene products like shampoo/conditioner, to basic medicines, to cheap drinks, & snacks! We recommend going to 7 Eleven for the basics, particularly water & snacks for the hotel room & to keep on you throughout your days of adventure! It honestly saves you SO much money in the long run as opposed to eating out at restaurants for every single meal or in between! Believe me, that adds up quickly!
Pricing example: a bottle of water at 7 Eleven cost us 7 THB which is equivalent to $0.22 USD! Buying a bottle of water from your hotel room or a restaurant could cost you anywhere from $2-4 average! Savings is savings! (Just sayin’!)
To be honest, we really didn’t establish food joints that were our jam while we were in Bangkok, primarily because our time in Bangkok was brief & everything was so spread out & honestly difficult to get to do without spending money to transport there. We kept it local to our hotel & the vicinity of where we were staying, using Trip Advisor & other reviews at times. A few places that were recommended to us in the “Lumpini Park” sector of Bangkok were:
“Le Boeuf” - French cuisine
As seen on Netflix’s “Chef’s Table”:
“Gaggan” - Rated Asia’s #1 restaurant; progressive Indian/asian fusion & fine cuisine; reservation needed at least one month in advance! Note it is pricey $$$$ but SO worth the once in lifetime experience!
“Bo Lan” - Thai spicy dishes; don’t ask them to adjust because they won't change their traditional flavoring! ♨︎
We don’t have a huge list of restaurants from this time around because honestly, not sure if I stressed it enough, but…
BANGKOK = STREET FOOD!
WHAT TO DO.
We did A LOT of research on Thailand before traveling there & if there is one thing we could advise about getting a massage it’s: be wise & mindful of where you go! You’ll quickly come to see that many massage parlors seem unusual & ultimately do not really intend to offer you the massage you may be anticipating (awkward!). We went to a place that we can highly recommended which is called “Hapa Spa,” & it was AMAZING (& actually my 1st massage EVER)! Another trusted spa in Bangkok goes by the name “Orchid Massage and Spa.” So while in Bangkok (& Thailand in general), definitely take advantage of the prices for a spa service, but do you research before hand to be safe!
When in Bangkok, it’s only right to scope out one of the many rooftop bars in the city to catch a glimpse of the beautiful skyline views. Sky Bar is a popular hot spot (as seen in the film Hangover 2), however only go here if you don’t mind paying a whopping $20 a drink! Other great places to check out include: Above Eleven (we went here!), Vertigo, Red Sky, CRU, Vanilla Sky, Sirocco, & more!
LONG TAIL BOAT TOUR.
Take a tour down the Chao Phraya River where you will get to see different wats (temples) & architecture of Bangkok. This experience also gives you an inside look into the places where the locals live as you glide down connecting canals on your way to a floating market. You will spend some allocated time shopping & eating (if you choose) at the market. The only downside to this tour is that we felt it was not enough time for us to explore fully! There are ways by other means of transportation to get to a floating market on your own time if you so choose to have a more relaxed & self-discovery tour experience! Where to find this tour? Honestly, for us & the people we met on the tour, we each discovered it from the locals in town! Ask around (from trusted sources) once you are in Bangkok!
HOP ON-HOP OFF BOAT TOUR.
This is a different type of tour (which we did not personally experience), that also travels down the Chao Phraya River. It’s hop on-hop off option allows you to purchase a day pass & get on & off at appointed attractions including: Asiatique, China Town (“Ratchawongse”), and Wat Arun (to name a few!). Get tickets online in advance here!
At the floating market itself you will find multiple locals on board their personal long tail boat, all lined up to the docks where you can walk & observe the merchandise or produce they are selling. You can purchase many things from clothing, to plants, to even live snakes & turtles! Maybe a take-home pet would tickle your fancy? I found this article which may help you decide which floating market location fits your interest best! Click here!
VISIT A WAT.
A “wat” is a: “Buddhist monastery or temple.” There are many wats & temples in Bangkok, some of the more popular ones on the tourist “must see” list are: “Wat Phra Kaew,” “Wat Pho” (reclining Buddha) & “Wat Arun.” Check out a list of wats in Bangkok here.
Take a stroll in Lumpini- one of Bangkok’s city parks! It’s a pretty large park with outdoor workout equipment, a senior citizens complex, workout center, beautiful greenery all around, & food vendors set up around the perimeter! As a nature lover, this was a great activity to do with my husband because we were able to find some peace from the city life, spend some intentional time together & see the city locals in their natural habitat!
In need of a new customized suit? Thai silks to bring home? In Bangkok there is a lot of opportunity to pick up some new goodies to take back home! From night markets, to weekend markets, to railway markets, street markets, floating markets & shopping malls…there is A LOT to browse through! Some of the more well-known shopping extravaganzanzas include:
Chatuchak Market (weekends)
Asiatique (The Riverfront)
Pratnum (We were told this market has the best prices!)
Click here for further shopping deets of Bangkok!
TRY NEW FOODS.
Bangkok is a hub for amazing bites that will EXCITE your taste buds! Take advantage of the prices & walk around trying new foods! Maybe grilled scorpion on a stick will be just the thrill you were looking for!!!
Many cities in the world host their very own version of “China Town!” Bangkok’s China Town is found to be a large hub for shopping & street food, jam packed with people! You’ll find the China Town gate near a central roundabout off of Yaowarat Road as well as the largest gold Buddha at War Traimit. Hop on a bicycle tour with Spice Roads Cycling & take a spin around the town with your very own local guide to show you the ins & outs of this area in the city
HOW TO GET AROUND.
A great way to get around the city for a reasonable price! Check out the maps here to see what routes to take to get to your destination! Single journey tickets range from 15-52 THB (dependent on zones crossed) & 130 THB for a day pass ($4 USD, not bad!)!
Taxis are always around & easy to flag down on the side of the road or called by your hotel if need be. As a tourist, be aware of the tricks of the trade! To get the most fair pricing out of this mode of transport, request that the taxi use a meter to measure your payment as opposed to a set rate. Typically, with a set rate you will be overcharged, making other options more favorable.
GRAB. (Aka the Uber or Lift of Thailand)
This is the mode of transportation we used most often! For one, it is a safe & familiar concept because it is the equivalent to Uber or Lift! It provides you with a fair set rate which means no bargaining needed, & you can select exactly where you want to go all while tracking your journey live on your phone. This option proved to be the most reasonable in price, the most secure & most reliable. Upon comparison, there were times when Grab was more expensive or there simply weren't any Grab drivers nearby depending on where we were in Thailand, but differing to a taxi didn't happen too often! Download the app here!
MOTORCYCLE TAXI. (Available as an option on Grab)
I have to say I was too chicken to rent or jump on one of these bad boys in such a busy city as Bangkok! However, if this is up your alley you can rent your own motorcycle or jump on the back of a motor taxi (or Grab) that will take you where you need to be- with the capability to weave through the bad traffic jams & all!
Tuk-tuks are the mode of transportation that every tourist wants to try because that is what you see when you look up photos of Thailand! I’ll admit it is intriguing! These motorized vehicles are pretty fun to ride in & from our single experience, not too overpriced! I wouldn’t take a tuk-tuk everywhere during my stay because it is bumpy & exposed, but definitely worth a one-time experience if you get the chance!
To be fair, there are many different types of boats, water taxis, ferries, etc. that take you where you need to be down the rivers of Bangkok! You can read all about these available options here! I have found this to be an inexpensive option (lowest prices I’ve seen can range from 10-20 THB or $0.30-0.60 USD), & possibly a cool way to see a few sights along your journey to & fro!
RENTING A VEHICLE.
Renting a vehicle from a trusted company is the way to go if you so choose this route, whether through the airport or a location near where you're staying. I only recommend this option if you are ok driving in chaos, traffic, all while being on the other side of the road (depending on where you're from)! This can be overwhelming on top of the pressures of returning the car without a scratch upon it! Having a car is nice to be able to do what you want, on your time, but the risk may be high in such a busy city! Suggestions on where to rent: Expedia, Avis, Hertz, etc.
There is SO much to learn, see, experience, taste, smell, encounter, BUT the whole picture will come together after YOU personally take the steps to travel Bangkok yourself! Please message me for any further travel questions here! ALSO- Be on the lookout for my general Thailand blog which goes into more detail about the culture, people & currency (coming soon!)!