I would allocate at least two days in Bangkok but you could easily fill four to five days visiting the temples, shopping up a storm and eating and drinking your way around town.
WHERE TO STAY?
Most travellers want to stay near Khao San Road which is a young and vibrant area with lots of options for all budgets. It is a quick tuk-tuk ride to the iconic temples.
I usually stay off Sukhumvit Road (or Rama I road) where there is a plethora of modern hotel options and offers easy access to the sky train.
MY TOP 5 SIGHTS WHILE IN BANGKOK
Named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn, this Buddhist temple is an incredible place to photograph and explore. Overlooking the Chao Phraya River, this temple is my favourite place to watch the sunrise or sunset.
If you are not scared of heights, climb the unbelievably narrow and steep steps up Wat Arun! I loved it!
Buddhists believe there are 108 actions and symbols that lead Buddha to perfection, for 20 Baht you can buy cups with 108 coins to drop in each pot, I found it to be a very cathartic ritual whether the meaning resonates with your religion or not.
An easy walk from the Grand Palace, expect crowds but be consoled with the free water you receive on entry!
Allocate at least half a day to visiting the Outer Court buildings and dress conservatively. The complex closes at 3:30pm.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
Within the walls of the Grand Palace, this royal chapel is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The seated meditating Buddha glows in golden costumes which are changed seasonally by the King, the statue is said to be made of jade or jasper – not emerald as the name suggests.
Every time I have a stop-over in Bangkok I head straight to this market and indulge in some shopping nirvana!
Located on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, there are 15,000 stalls selling endless clothing items, books, furniture, food options, pets, antiques, plants and tourist knick-knacks.
Spend at least half a day wandering the labyrinth and keep up your water intake, the sheer amount of stalls and people make the heat unbearable in the summer.
As the name suggests, it is best to visit on the weekend. On Wednesday it is mostly flowers on sale and on Friday it is a wholesale market.
If Bangkok is the hub of South East Asia, Khao San Road is the hub of Bangkok’s tourist scene.
Hotels, bars, restaurants, delicious street food, shops, tour operators, money exchanges all operate from this pulsing area of town. Everything you need will be found along Khao San Road.
MY BEST ADVICE…
If you have some time in this busy city, head to a shopping mall called Terminal 21. I stumbled upon it several years ago and always head back when I can.
Each floor is designed to transport you to a different city in the world such as London or Istanbul with the decor and architecture emulating the country as well as their clothing brand stores.
There are also great food options and most importantly air-conditioning when you need to escape the hot streets for a few hours.
The Buddhist Temples enforce a strict dress code and shoes are not normally allowed inside.
Wear long flowing pants or a skirt for women and carry a sarong to cover your shoulders. Sometimes long garments are available to rent at the entrance.
Did you know it is considered offensive to point your feet towards the Buddha? If you are in a room where Buddhists are praying, be sure to sit on your feet if you are able to.
My favourite place to sip a cocktail as the city lights sparkle. Sky Bar is on the 64th floor of the State Tower, the second tallest building in Thailand.
They have a very strict dress code, be sure to check their website before arriving.
CABBAGES & CONDOMS
One of those ‘everyone is talking about it, so I better check it out’ restaurants. This aptly named restaurant supports and promotes family planning options and boasts their ‘food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy’.
It is a lot of fun and a unique experience, try to sit at a table under the outside canopy area which is lit with christmas lights and, of course, decorated with condoms.
Get your weekly dose of travel stories directly into your inbox!
So who am I…? Hi! My name is India.
I am a nomadic Australian who has wandered the world full time exploring over 60 countries and 5/7 continents.
After ten years on the road, I have launched my own website – Travelling Notebook – to share the knowledge I have gained on the road and the images I have collected over the years with fellow adventurers. Keep reading…
I am a freelance travel writer, photography and videographer, based in London. If you need specific travel advice or would like to collaborate please send an email my way!
Always say yes to adventure!