Are you travelling to Thailand for the first time, then quite obviously your first stop would be Bangkok. As a first time visitor it is a must to be spend at least 2-3 days in Bangkok before heading out to the islands.
Bangkok is an exciting city which fascinates me every time I visit. There is so much to do and see here that even a week is not enough in this bustling city. It’s been known to be a city which never sleeps and after visiting here a few times I feel at home here.
Here’s my list of things to see and do in Bangkok on a short stay.
VISIT THE GRAND PALACE :
No doubt the first place that anyone would tell you to visit would be the Grand Palace as it is among the top tourist attractions in Thailand. Aptly named this historical attraction is stunning for its architectural as well as cultural value. Though this attraction is filled with tourists all year round it is a must visit for the beautiful artefacts and exquisite architecture all across the palace complex. Be aware of potential scammers and hawkers when outside the palace and only pay the entrance fee when you are actually going in.
Getting there – It is located in Bangkok old section, quite near to the Chao Phraya river. You can get there by river ferry, bus or taxi. When you’re coming from Sukhumvit, Sathorn, and Silom areas, you can reach Saphan Thaksin via the Skytrain. From there take a boat or ferry across the Chao Phraya river to the Grand Palace.
VISIT WAT PHO TO SEE THE RECLINING BUDDHA :
Another must visit for any first time traveler to Bangkok is the home of the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. It is the oldest Wat plus a learning centre. The Reclining Buddha is fifteen metres tall and forty six metres long and covered in gold. Inside the temple there are 108 bowls and the history behind this is that Buddha completed 108 positive actions on his way to becoming perfect. One can coins for the bowls before heading inside the temple.
Getting there – There are various ways of getting to the Wat Pho. Remember it is located near the Grand Palace.
WAT ARUN :
While the above two attractions have its appeal, there is something about the towering spires of the Wat Arun which is mesmerising especially when light up at night. Wat Arun also known as Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or the Temple of Dawn is one of the best known temples in Bangkok and among the world’s most recognisable temples. It is named after the Aruna, the God of Dawn and stands at 79 meters tall. The temple is made of ceramic tiles and coloured porcelain which is what highlights its beauty when the sun is setting on the horizon. The temple is supposedly guarded by a pair of mythical giants that keep watch over the temple grounds.
Getting there -Wat Arun is situated opposite to the Grand Palace, across the Chao Phraya River. There are several ways of getting to Wat Arun. The most common is from Sukhumvit to Saphan Taksin via Skytrain. Then take a shuttle boat across the river to Wat Arun.
BANGKOK NATIONAL MUSEUM :
Opened in the year 1874, The Bangkok National Museum is the largest museum in SE Asia and houses the largest collection of art in Thailand. From precious stones, art collections, ceremonial artefacts to gifts received by the King this museum gives an insight about the country’s rich heritage and history. Ideally you would need to spend a few hours here and even better if you visit on a Thursday as you can head for the English tour.
RIDING THE SKYTRAIN :
There is no easier way to get around Bangkok other than the Skytrain. From the locals to the tourists, the Skytrain is used by all to avoid the traffic and reach their destination in quick time. This above ground network of trains connect almost all parts of the city especially the tourist areas and malls.
The two lines of the Skytrain are: The Silom Line and the Sukhumvit Line. Skytrain will cross at the Siam Square and then connect to the ferry system at the Saphan Thaksin. Ideally get the day passes on Skytrain which would cost around 120 baht. Drinks and food items are strictly prohibited.
SHOPPING AT CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET :
Bangkok is home to some of the best shopping and this market is said to be the best experience with close to 15,000 stalls and almost 2,00,000 visitors a day. This is the most happening shopping destination in Bangkok which is open only on weekends and is popular among the tourist as well as locals. You will find anything and everything at the stalls here and most of it is quite affordable as it is meant even for the locals to shop. Still don’t forget to haggle over prices as this is the expected thing to do here. It can get quite crowded so the earlier you get here the better to avoid the heat and the crowds.
BOATING ON CHAO PHRAYA RIVER :
Chao Phyaya River flows through the heart of Bangkok and is said to be the lifeline of the city which the locals use almost every day to get to and from work. Once you have had your fill of visiting the above mentioned attractions, get on the ferry or a boat and take a break from the crowd and the heat. It is a good way to explore the city as the ferries also take you from hotels to the attractions in some instances. On a romantic trip, you cannot miss a dinner cruise on a teakwood boat or a luxurious yacht and watch the city as the sun goes down with the beautifully light Wat Arun in the background.
SHOPPING AT SIAM PARAGON AND MBK :
Siam Paragon defines what luxury is at its best. This high end shopper’s paradise is host to high end fashion designers, The ground floor may be described as its main floor that houses all major design brands like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Prada among others. Its first floor is a shopping paradise for every fashionista with famous fashion brands that include H&M, Gap, Armani, Paul Smith among others. Also, you’ll find different sections for books, home decor, furniture, and electronics.The mall also has Asia’s largest aquarium, Ferrari and Lamborghini showrooms, a multiplex and restaurants.
Not everyone wants to spend money on designer wear and many come to Bangkok looking for value for money deals. MBK Centre is one of the best shopping malls where you can pick up electronics, watches , beauty products and leather goods at very reasonable prices. The electronics stores are situated on the 4th floor and you will find every brand possible here.. They also have a food court on the 6th floor. Ideally for tourists, the best time to visit would be during the weekdays as it can get very crowded with the locals also converging on weekends. This mall is easily accessible. Exit the Bangkok Skytrain at National Stadium BTS Station. Take exit 4 and follow the Skywalk to MBK Center.
ENJOY STREET FOOD :
Thai people love to eat and from my various trips I have noticed that it is probably cheaper for them to eat every single meal outside than at home. There is food everywhere you go from the restaurants at every corner to the street food vendors. I do not think street food is this popular anywhere else in the World and the vendors are friendly and happy to offer their food to locals and tourist alike. Take a walk around before deciding on which vendors food catches your fancy and more importantly come hungry!
INDULGE IN A THAI MASSAGE :
Massage is synonymous with Thai massage and no matter where you come from you know how popular it is here. Almost every street has it’s fair share of massage parlours with women standing outside welcoming you in for a relaxing massage. Depending on which area you are in the costs for the massages can vary and so can the experience. The foot massages are the best in between shopping and sight seeing trips which is cheap and perfect way to relax in between.
WALK DOWN SOI COWBOY
This red light area may not be on the agenda for a family trip but I would suggest not to be afraid and to take a walk and stop and have a drink at one of the bars in this lane. Soi Cowboy named after the cowboy hat-wearing African-American who opened the first bar here in 1970s is a colourful street with flashing neon lights lined with bars. Everyone is friendly here and there are tons of tourists roaming this lane that you have nothing to worry about here. It is located next to Terminal 21 shopping mall so drop by here as it not something you will see every day!
VISIT CHINA TOWN :
A must visit in Bangkok is also China Town which is filled with street stalls and restaurants where you can get to taste many different kinds of Chinese food at cheap prices. This vibrant place is best explored on foot where you can see all that Chinatown has to offer.
The simplest way you are going to reach this place is by boat. You alight at Ratchawong Pier and then you walk up the Ratchawong Road all the way to Yaowarat Road or Sampeng Lane. Also, you may alight at Harbor Department Pier near Odeon Circle. You may also use Memorial Bridge Tower, which is found right at flower market.
VISIT ERAWAN SHRINE :
Erawan Shrine is a Hindu shrine located in one of the busiest areas of Bangkok in front of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. Constructed in 1950’s the shrine is a four faced Bramha God and was supposedly made when the constructions workers refused to continue work as they thought the land spirits were unhappy. The shrine attracts many visitors who come to worship and pay homage.
STROLL THROUGH ASIATIQUE RIVERFRONT :
Asiatique is a casual street market which combines a shopping experience as well as a upscale riverside dining experience that is packed with entertainment. With over 1500 boutiques and 40 restaurants, this is an ideal way to end the day browsing through boutiques, picking up gifts for loved ones, catching a meal at one of the restaurants taking in one of the many shows performed nightly.
Bangkok has something for everyone, from its temples to its shopping malls, museums, palaces, markets and street food so if you’re stuck for what to do in Bangkok I suggest just pick a few of the above or try to fit them all if you feel up to it and get a feel of what Bangkok is all about.
Image sources: Pixabay, Bangkok.com, Flickr.com, Wikipedia.