Bangkok Travel Guide

I really wanted to get this Bangkok travel guide out whilst Bangkok is fresh in my head. As I sit writing this in Don Mueang airport, I can reflect on our time in Bangkok as two weeks really well spent. Read on for a quick Bangkok travel guide. Find out what’s worth seeing in Bangkok and how to maximise your time in this great city.

Bangkok is one of those cities that really surprised us. We’ve seen a few capital cities so far and generally disliked them. Delhi was too hectic and Vientiane was a little sleepy. It’s fair to say that so far, we’ve learned not to expect too much from capitals. All that changes here though – we have loved Bangkok.

The contrast of the old and the new, along with the sheer amount there is to do and see here, has left us with a poignant sense of sadness as we depart.

The following is an account of what I think is worth seeing and what you might want to skip – a Bangkok travel guide.

Temples

Ok, I’m gonna start this with a confession. We actually only visited one temple in Bangkok 😂. The Golden Mount is incredible and you should definitely visit. However, we were templed out by the time we got to Bangkok. We’d seen so many in the weeks before, we were really looking for other things to do.

I’ve heard the Emerald Buddha, Reclining Buddha and Grand Palace are really great, but I try not to recommend things personally unless I’ve actually visited. Even if you’re like us and a bit templed out by South East Asia, be sure to visit at least one temple in Bangkok. It’s important to see that contrast between the old of the temples and the new of the malls and sky train.

Markets

Alright, here are the real highlights of this Bangkok travel guide. The markets in Bangkok are really special. Unquestionably, they’re the cheapest way to eat the best food – find out more about that here. Note that the Bangkok markets are experts in selling you crap you don’t need.

Chatuchak market is excellent. Someone told me it’s one of the biggest markets in the world – you can really feel it when you’re there. Thousands and thousands of stalls, all with surprisingly reasonable prices. If you need clothes as we did (9 weeks of travelling takes a hit on your clothes – especially white items!) there’s no better place than here. T shirts will cost you $2-3. Shirts $4-5 and trousers $7-8. Not bad quality either. Surprisingly, most of the vendors aren’t open to a bit of bartering here. I think they’ve all come to some kind of agreement not to negotiate. There’s even signs in a few places asking you not to try. We still tried and knocked off 10-20 baht in most places.

Rot Fai night market is awesome. There’s clothes and bars, but you need to go for the food. Hundreds and hundreds of stalls, all selling the widest variety of foods around. I tried all kinds of weird meats – I actually stopped asking what I was eating by the end. The mealworms and cockroach stalls were a step to far for me, but some people rave about them! If that’s not your speed, you can easily grab fresh chicken with french fries.

Food

Definitely eat at the markets and street vendors. The food is often just as good as restaurants, but at a fraction of the price. I read that all the street stalls are regulated by the government – if that’s true, it’s actually not surprising. They’re all clean and use fresh ingredients. Get the Pad Thai whenever you can.

Our favourite restaurant was Eat Sight Story. It’s great for a treat and offers breathtaking views of the Chao Phraya river and Wat Arun. We got two starters, mains and drinks for $40. So certainly on the expensive side, but if you’re looking for somewhere on a special occasion or a special treat you can’t go wrong here.

We also really liked Kinkao restaurant. Excellent authentic Thai food. We dined with a Thai friend so apologies, I have no idea what the dishes we had were called 😂. We had this huge fish that looked like it was killed 5 minutes before we ate it. All kinds of curries and meats – it was really great. Our friend said it was her favourite Thai food in the city. Three of us ate a veritable feast for around $35, so pretty well priced all in all.

Nightlife

Even if you’re not usually one for bars and nightclubs, you have to see some of Bangkok’s nightlife.

I didn’t see any rooftop bars myself, but Mary met a friend in Octave Rooftop Lounge. The views look incredible, and Mary hasn’t stopped raving about how great it was. It’s a little pricey, but I’m being told to type it’s “worth every penny.”

We also had a night in Sukhumvit. This place felt like the cool, young, hip place to be seen out in Bangkok. There’s loads of nice bars to spend a night hopping around in. The live music in Sukhumvit was the bad side of average, so it’s best to visit somewhere like the Australian Bar where you can have a dance. It’s not exactly cheap, but it had a really cool feel (perhaps too cool if you get turned away from hip hop clubs like we did – our shoes weren’t “cool” enough 🤓😅).

Khaosan Road is a must – a backpackers paradise. Cheap clothes, with cheap bars and even cheaper drinks. You can get huge buckets of alcohol for $2-3. 2-3 of those will sort you out big time. Khaosan road isn’t clean, it’s not fancy and it’s really not a good example of Thai culture (I did eat a scorpion there if that counts 🙄). But if you’re looking for a cheap night out that’s guaranteed to be fun, spend a big night here.

Khaosan Road We also had a great night at the Calypso Ladyboys cabaret. Know that the lip syncing and singing is truly awful. However, staring at their crotches and trying to find where they hide it is great fun.

Beyoncé Calypso Ladyboys of BangkokFree Your Mind Calypso Ladyboys of Bangkok

Lumphini Park

Spend a few hours in Lumphini Park. It’s one of the real highlights in this Bangkok travel guide. The equivalent of Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London, Lumphini Park is a nice break from the concrete jungle. Go when we did at 6pm to see all the free exercises classes. Join in with a ballroom dancing class if you’re feeling adventurous. Be warned, there’s about a million joggers who will not stop to let you pass (quite right too). Go during the day too, take a picnic and admire the swan pedalos on the lakes. We didn’t see any, but we’ve heard there are massive monitor lizards roaming the park, so watch out!

Lumphini Park - Bangkok Travel Guide
Lumphini Park

Transport

This section should help you get around the city. Here’s a transport in Bangkok travel guide.

If you’re not careful, transport around Bangkok can be a nightmare. If you can help it, don’t try to get anywhere between 5-7pm.

Your first choice should be public transport. Get the BTS Skytrain or metro if you can. They’re extremely reasonably priced and have a lot of convenient stations around the city. Make sure you get the boat on the Chao Phraya river at least once. The boat is a cool activity in itself, but at rush hour actually becomes the fastest way to get around the city.

If you have to use the hugely congested roads, use a ride hailing app like Uber first. You’re guaranteed a reasonable price – it’ll be much cheaper than the price quoted by tuk tuk drivers.

Asiatique - Bangkok Travel Guide
Asiatique

Bangkok is a really special city and I hope this Bangkok travel guide entices you into it.

If you’re used to just breezing over capital cities, consider giving this one a little more attention. Some of our friends from the UK have actually settled here, and after visiting we’re not surprised.

Yes it’s crowded and yes it’s a little dirty. It’s not the perfect city, but it really doesn’t try to be. Bangkok embraces the old and the new, the tacky and the stylish, the poor and the rich.

Bangkok and it’s people will welcome you with open arms – that seems to be the real essence of its character.

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38 Comments Add yours

  1. Surply says:

    Bangkok definitely is my top 5 of cities I want to visit the soonest as possible. Even though I am not that kind of tourist who likes to enjoys nightlife when travelling (too tired to even take it into account!), reading your post intrigued me! I must give it a chance in the future 😉

    1. Zac says:

      I’m glad to hear it, it’s definitely worth a visit. See the old stuff, see the new stuff – it’s a great combination 😊

  2. Miriam says:

    Great post Zac with lots of terrific information about Bangkok.

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks Miriam 😊

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    Thanks for visiting my place, Zac 🙂

    1. Zac says:

      You too Tish 😊

  4. Oh wow this sounds brilliant! The markets and the nightlife sound right up my street; will definitely need to add Bangkok to my hitlist

    1. Zac says:

      You definitely should!

  5. Therese says:

    Just been there over the night, two times, and haven’t had the urge to explore it. Have always been on my way home so the mood haven’t been the best either. Went to the big big mall in the city center and felt it too crowded and just an amount of high houses. We’ll see, perhaps I give it a chance some day

    1. Zac says:

      We were similar the first time we passed through it. It’s worth giving a chance though!

  6. Yumi says:

    Nice post Zac 🙂 I love bangkok! It is one of my favourite city in south east asia 🙂 the city is so happening and things are cheap over there. I am always happy to come back 😀

    1. Zac says:

      Sorry I missed this comment Yumi! I love Bangkok too!! There’s so much going on, it’s a great place to visit. Happily every flight in SE Asia seems to go through Bangkok so I’m sure we’ll both be back soon 😊

  7. Awesome post! I love your blogs <3 – I have not been to South Asia yet and your blogs really help out to make decisions on where to go.

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you’re getting value out of my posts. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at zac@zacmoyle.com 🙂

  8. Cesebon says:

    “We still tried and knocked off 10-20 baht in most places.” haha well done Zac! Bangkok has changed a lot over the years, in terms of culture too. Nowadays, most shops and vendors don’t want bargaining, guess they’ve realised ‘their worth’ and how they are still relatively cheapest in Asia! I also prefer fixed price tho. Unlike my experience in Bali, Ubud (years back) at a local market where a piece of wooden display can go from USD200 to USD20!! Ridiculous for me and seriously, if they are so ready to come down so much, why bother to price it so high in the first place?! I really had a ‘culture shock then. Anyway, great posts!

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks Cesebon! Yeah it’s really frustrating, I got a pair of sunglasses down from 1000 baht to 180 baht in Phuket – if they’re gonna start so high it just worries me how many people they’re ripping off. Just put a price sticker on there and get on with it! I’ll be on red alert in Bali 😂 thanks for reading 😊

      1. Cesebon says:

        Yeah, Bali’s ‘tourist-ripping’ culture is even more ‘sophisticated’;). Just be careful and believe you guys will do fine!;) Still, you cannot have visited South East Asia, without visiting Bali! Have a good one!

        1. Zac says:

          Yeah I think it’s the last place we’ll see before Aus! Did you see much else in Indonesia?

          1. Cesebon says:

            If you get a chance, detour to Surabaya to visit Borobudur, it’s simply, magical. All the best!

          2. Zac says:

            Ah thanks for the tip! It seems like everywhere you go in Asia you need to pass through Bangkok so perhaps next time! What is at Borobudur?

          3. Cesebon says:

            Hi Zac, Borobudur is a collection of Indonesia’s ancient temple and historical sites. But if you’re
            ‘templed out’ as you’ve mentioned, then take your time. Thought if you’re going Bali, Surabaya/Yjogjarkata is only a domestic city away. Cheers.

          4. Zac says:

            After a while in rural Cambodia, I think we’ll be ready for some more temples when we start travelling again 😂 Thanks for the tips and information Cesebon – I’m going to go and do some googling of Borobudur now! 😂😊

  9. Mel Tan says:

    How many days were you visiting for? Bangkok is definitely not for everyone but it’s good for a couple of weeks. You’ll definitely need to travel up North to Chiang Mai! I’ll be posting about the cuisine soon!

    1. Zac says:

      We had around 10 days in total I Bangkok. Visited Chiang Mai and Pai after that, loved those places too 😊 How did you enjoy Bangkok and Chiang Mai?

      1. Mel Tan says:

        Well I’ve been basically living in Chiang Mai for the last 4 years and have visited Bangkok several times so it’s a different experience from you. I’m actually in Bangkok for a short trip now!

        1. Zac says:

          That’s great, hope you enjoy it! How do you like living in Chiang Mai? Really liked that city

          1. Mel Tan says:

            It’s a really chilled, laid-back & welcoming city. Although I’m not originally from Chiang Mai, it’s definitely like my second home. You should come back and visit soon!

          2. Zac says:

            Yeah we really enjoyed our time there, I hope we get to come back soon 😊

  10. AndonisR says:

    You know I’ve never yet visited that side of the world. Your post got me more interested Zac, and will definitely use it some day soon. I liked the fact that you didn’t seek perfection in the city and that you realise that big cities, whether in Asia, Europe or America can offer you a lot more if you stop looking for perfection and comparing it with your home city!
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks for that reflection Andonis, this was something I realised early on, but I wish I’d written about that now! Have you plans to travel anywhere soon? Thanks for reading 😊

      1. AndonisR says:

        Hey Zac, maybe this can be then a new post 😊? I also just came back from a massive road trip from Portugal and Spain. Will be busy writing about over the next couple of weeks! It’s always a pleasure reading your blog! 😎

        1. Zac says:

          Perhaps it will be, I’ve been looking for inspiration for a new post 😊 It’s also a pleasure wresting your blog Andonis, I look forward to seeing your posts about that!

  11. I enjoyed reading this guide of one of my favorite cities on Earth. I totally second the recommendation of Ratchada’s Talad Rot Fai – not only for the food, but also for some cool independent designer’s clothes. Same with the rooftop bars, which. though mot cheap, are really great value. Very interesting to read about the bargaining (or lack thereof) in Chatuchak. It’s weird – while in August 2016 I bargained a lot and managed to bring asking prices down by quite a bit, in August 2017 I had zero luck. So I’m wondering if this is a recent development…would anybody know?

    1. Zac says:

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. I should have mentioned the cool clothes on offer at Rot Fai, so thanks for including that :). I agree, I thought it was weird – I’d read a lot about all the bargaining in Chatuchak, but was amazed when vendors were letting me walk away lol. It must be a recent thing, I saw a few signs around the place. It’s as if they all got together and decided collectively to stop. Takes some of the fun away, but I can see why they would do it.

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