Bangkok is a city that divides opinion. Some travellers fall in love with it, others despise it and long to leave. If you’re in Thailand it would be remiss to avoid the capital city and I highly recommend that you take the time to visit Bangkok.
Why? Because, if you set aside enough time and make the effort to explore the lives of the locals, I think you will find Bangkok enthralling and charming.
A week would be a great amount of time to immerse yourself in the city so here’s a guide to what to see and do if you decide to visit Bangkok.
TOP REASONS TO VISIT BANGKOK
See The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
‘Wat Pho’ is a temple that is famous for the Golden Reclining Buddha. Buddhism is a religion I find fascinating and I adore the ways in which they celebrate their deities. The scale of the Buddha is jaw-dropping and the sumptuously designed room in which he resides is gorgeous to look at!
The ‘Wat Pho’ temple complex takes up an entire street and I spent an enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine wandering around the gardens.
Explore Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace
‘The Grand Palace’ was built in 1782 and has been a magnificent royal residence and place of national celebration for many years. It is stunning and if you saw just one thing in this sprawling city, I would suggest making it here.
The architecture is gorgeous, gold-tipped towers and tapered spires rise into the sky and look especially splendid at night when lit up by a warm light.
While simply looking at the incredible craftsmanship would be enough to thrill, I hired a tour guide to explain the history. His stories and quirky facts really brought the palace to life.
Within the temple complex, you will find ‘Wat Phra Kaeo Temple’, the home of the iconic Jade Buddha. It’s a bold and vibrant temple that has an energetic and colourful vibe.
The Grand Palace is popular with tourists and locals alike and can get very busy. I was determined to take some excellent photos, so I arrived very early to enjoy the ambiance without the crowds.
Visit Wat Arun Temple
On the shores of the Phraya River sit the 17th-century towers of Wat Arun Temple. I saw it from the deck of a boat on a sunset cruise and was blown away by the porcelain coated central tower stabbing high into the pink sky.
Inside the temple, there are intricate murals that were commissioned by King Rama V and a grand ordination hall.
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Visit Jim Thompson House
So, who was Jim Thompson?! He was a powerful man who operated in the silk industry. He is loved and remembered because of the massive positive impact his business had on the Thai economy.
His house is a wonderful relic of the past and has been turned into a museum that explains the story of the silk industry. Jim Thompson’s possessions are still on display and it feels like you have just walked into a scene from his life.
Shop at Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
The floating markets that operate around the city are the very best way to explore from a local’s point of view. Visit Bangkok and spend at least a couple of hours amongst the noise and colour of these markets. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Thai life.
Khlong Lat Mayom is one of the busiest markets and, in this instance, lots of people are a good thing! Happily, it’s also the place where you will meet more locals than tourists.
The joyous chaos, incessant noise, and delicious smells are thrilling. I arrived in the morning and was served my breakfast from a lady who was merrily cooking and selling from her boat.
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Watch Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a brutal combat spot which involves full-body contact. It’s a national sport in Thailand and is taken very seriously by both fighters and spectators.
There are lots of Muay Thai bouts that are arranged for tourists to watch. I took a guide’s advice and avoided them as I wanted to see the real thing.
Book a night at the Rajadamnern Stadium to see Muay Thai done right. The fighters train for years and the fight was heart-stopping! I left feeling exhilarated.
Take a Thai cooking class
A visit to Bangkok is only complete after you have eaten lots of unusual, authentic, and mouth-watering food. The street food in the city is fantastic and unbelievably cheap.
Travelling means collecting souvenirs and memories, why not take home a new skill too?! Learning to cook the traditional Thai dish of Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry) was fab!
Many restaurants are proud to share their skills by teaching cooking classes. May Kaidee’s on the Khao San Road is highly recommended.
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