With a population of over 8.2 million, Bangkok is living, breathing, and constantly moving. From cooking classes to canal tours, Muay Thai boxing to meditation lessons, and shopping to street food, this is one city where it’s impossible to see it all. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
When to Go?
If you want to take advantage of pleasantly warm temperatures and virtually no rain, then the best time to visit Bangkok is from mid-November to mid-February. After that, and until the end of May, is the hot season where humidity is high and temperatures regularly push 40 degrees Celsius. The rainy season then follows with daily downpours from June until November.
The ultra-sleek and modern Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) lies 25 kilometres east of downtown Bangkok and has excellent public transport links into the city. It handles dozens of major airlines while Don Muang International Airport (DMK), 30 kilometres north of Bangkok, is used by several low-cost carriers.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the market to end all markets and a full day or more can easily be devoted to exploring its labyrinthine aisles. It is “the place where you can find everything you look for” so be prepared for some wear and tear on your wallet.
Used now for ceremonial purposes by the Thai royal family, the buildings of the Grand Palace sparkle in the sunlight. As a sign of respect you should dress appropriately, but if you’re deemed inappropriate, you will be loaned loose-fitting clothing to cover yourself.
Just south of the Grand Palace is Wat Pho, one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok. The Buddhist monastery on the temple grounds houses and educates monks and there is also an open-air centre where traditional Thai massage is taught.
Siam Square is the apex of shopping in Bangkok. From the colourful and trendy shops of Siam Center to the exclusive boutiques of Siam Paragon, you won’t leave empty-handed.
Author Alex Garland described Khao San Road as “the centre of the backpacking universe” in his book, The Beach. Even if you’re more of an upmarket traveller, an evening spent on Khao San Road will be a lively, eye opening experience.
After dark, vibrant neon signs light up the streets of Bangkok’s Chinatown and the alleys are filled with all sorts of street food culinary surprises.
Eat and Drink
It’s an unusual choice of name for a restaurant but Cabbages and Condoms serves authentically delicious Thai food while income generated goes toward promoting a better understanding of family planning.
There is a reason why Nahm is number 32 on the 2013 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Known for obscure but big flavour dishes it goes without saying that reservations should be made well in advance.
The view of Bangkok from the Vertigo and Moon Bar is spectacular. Located in the open-air on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel and Resort, no trip to the city is complete without sipping a few cocktails in the sky.
A room at Buddy Lodge will put you right in the middle of the weird and wonderful backpacker paradise, Khao San Road. Its convenient location near ‘Old Bangkok’ and the historical temples and monuments is a definite plus, as is the rooftop pool and wallet-friendly prices.
For something more stylish in the trendy Sukhumvit district, Hotel Gulliver’s Tavern is a boutique hotel that always smells like fresh lemons. The beds are soft and fluffy and a fabulous breakfast is included in your room rate.
Siam at Siam Design Hotel & Spa is perfect for those who want to indulge. It’s located near luxury shopping centres and has its own spa, Spa Ten, as well as a rooftop restaurant and champagne and wine bar.
Here are additional options for where to stay in Bangkok.