Welcome to the crown jewel of Orient – welcome to the city of Bangkok! This place casts a new light and different image with every shade of light directed to it: you can enjoy marvelous nature, parks and wildlife scenery, visit Thai cultural heritage, try peculiar food, relax under skilled hands of Thai masseuse, visit temples and yoga resorts, explore hippie routes, or enjoy colorful markets, busy shopping streets, beaches, flashing nightlife and create countless astonishing memories from one of the most interesting places in the world.
Cost of Living:
When to Visit
November – March High season; be prepared for crowds and average high temperatures. Makha Bucha Day is a public holiday and an important Buddhist lunar festival held in February.
April – June Bangkok’s hottest months with thin crowds. Cheaper prices on accommodation and flights. The Songkran (The Thai New Year) is a three-day holiday in April whose festivities last all week long.
July – August Low tourist season; fewer crowds and travel deals due to the monsoon season which brings short bouts of intense rain. In July, the Asana Bucha and Khao Pansa are two important Buddhist holidays, accompanied by a Buddhist Lent Festival that features parades through the streets.
Bangkok Canals are the reason why this city was once known as “The Venice of the East”. Canals were built on the Chao Phraya River as the main route for transportation, but nowadays most of the eastern side of them are filled and transformed into roads. Western side, however, still remains, and it is one of the best ways to explore city, enjoy its landscapes, and even shorten your transportation route and avoid tuk tuk taxies to reach certain sightseeing spots, such as Wat Arun. Whether you just choose the river bus, or book an organized tour with refreshments and stops at floating markets, ride through canals is a must have experience in Bangkok.
Riding in tuk-tuk taxi is a special experience in Bangkok, but it is recommended to keep in mind that this kind of transportation is highly unreliable, since the driver might take you to some jewelry shop or tailor’s quite distant from your destination because he had some deal with the owners; and bargaining beforehand is a must, otherwise you might get an unpleasant surprise with price at the end of the adventure ride.
Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew were built in 18 th century as a royal palace and place for the most famous Buddha image in Thailand, at the time when Bangkok became the capital of Thailand. Wat Phra Kaew is also known as The Temple of Emerald Buddha, named after the picture of Buddha in meditating state carved into one large piece of jade stone, dating from 15th century. Although the tourists can visit the temple, it is not possible to see the Buddha, since it is covered by special seasonal cloth, touched and changed during rituals only by the Thai king. Complex has been a residence of royal family until 20th century, but today is the spiritual center of Thailand and the most popular sight to enjoy Thai art and architecture.
Daily 08:30AM-03:30PM (a guide is on duty 10:00AM-02:00PM, and there is Personal Audio Guide available)
National Museum shows the history of Thailand, displayed through rich collection of artifacts that include scripts, sculptures, attires and textiles, masks, puppets, weapons, as well as musical instruments and examples of architecture such as the Buddhaisawan chapel, a teak or “red” house called Tam Nak Deang and several beautiful pavilions. Artifacts include numerous treasures, such as precious stones, golden objects, woodcrafts etc., and the exhibition is displayed in three areas following Thai history periods. There are free tours in English, as well as German (Thursdays) French and Japanese (Wednesdays) volunteer guides. For more information visit www.bangkoksite.com
Open: Wednesday-Sunday 09:00AM-04:00PM
Ayutthaya was an old capital until it was attacked by Burmese in their raids in the middle of 18 th century. Nowadays, it is an ancient ruined city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it was a role model for building a new capital down the river – Bangkok, since it was built by the masons and architects who survived sacking Ayutthaya. The size of ruined monasteries, towers and other constructions witness the city’s former glory, and give the opportunity to the visitors to imagine it vividly, while walking through this active archeological site. You can take a boat or a bicycle ride to the site, or you can visit Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre that includes museum, library, and exhibition displaying city’s history, development and culture.
Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre:
Open: Daily 09:00AM-04:30PM
Wat Chai Wattanaram was a huge Buddhist temple located at Ayutthaya, and it represents magnificent example of Cambodian architecture, since it was built by King Prasat Thong as homage to his mother’s origins. Although ruined, it still shows the glimpses of beauty it once owned, dominating the view in form of one grand Prang, surrounded with towers and smaller prangs. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions, and a mandatory visit for all those interested in Thai history and tradition.
Thailand is famous for its traditional massage technique, so it is an absolute must to experience visit to spa and enjoy Thai massage. It is recommendable to visit official and more expensive resorts, such as “Health Land” spa center, since unregistered or cheap massage offers often include poor hygiene, masseuse who is not trained enough, or will offer you other kinds of services.
This is one of the oldest temples in the city, dating from the times of city founding, and it changed purpose and name over time. You can explore numerous sightseeing spots here, such as main temple hall, pagoda, the scripture hall, and the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, as well as climb 320 steps to the top of the artificial hill called Golden Mount, with marvelous bright golden stupa on top of it. The most amazing experience is visiting this place during annual temple fair in November, when you can witness breathtaking parade of candlelit over the steps to the sumit.
Open: Daily 08:00AM-04:00PM
Wat Pho is the oldest temple in Bangkok, and a home to the most famous 46 meters Reclining Buddha. A place for pilgrimage as well as enjoying typical Thai temple esthetics, here you can see the residents of monks who preserve teachings of traditional Thai medicine and massage, since the time of Rama III. Spreading on more than 8 hectares, this is the largest temple in Bangkok, with the largest Buddha statue, and the greatest number of Buddha images, as well as the first Thai center for education.
Open: Daily 08:30AM-06:30PM
Also known as “The Temple of Dawn” Wat Arun is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bangkok as well, built in 18 th century on the Chao Phraya River, across from the Palace, and it was one of the symbols of the new kingdom. It was actually built upon ruins of older temple, dating back from Ayutthaya era, and renovated once more during the reign of Rama II when it got its current name Wat Arun Rajwararam, shortly Wat Arun. It is one of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks all over the world, and the pearl of Thai architecture and design. For more information visit www.watarun.net
Open: Daily 08:30AM-05:30PM
Price: B30 (free for Thai citizens)
Safari World and Marine Park are ideal destinations for a fun day to spend with family. There are numerous shows that can be seen in Marine Park, like Elephant Show, White World, the Orangutan Show, the Amazon River Thrill Ride and the Sea Lions Show, as well as exciting ride through safari that resembles the African one in Safari World, with an opportunity to see wild animals up close and personal, and make incredible photos of rhinos, giraffes, bears, zebras and tropical birds in natural habitat, and the most popular attraction – feeding the tigers.
Open: Daily 09:00AM-05:00PM
Price: Adult B1500/Children less than 140cm height B1400/Children less than 100cm height – free
Prices vary depending on the selected attraction; for more information about ticket packages, show hours and other visit www.safariworld.com
You can visit The Tiger Temple and Elephant Village to experience close encounter with these magnificent animals, but please be aware that these sites are infamous for mistreating animals, torturing them into unnatural behavior in purpose of display, and providing them with ill living conditions, so it’s upon your own judgment.
Visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is one of the essential ways to experience Thailand: starting from early morning hours you can see floating boats full of fruits, vegetables and other food, mostly grown domestically, coloring the entire canal route. You can see vendors selling or exchanging goods in traditional Thai attires, buy food and souvenirs, and enjoy a trip down the memory lane, since this kind of trade existed as long as the canal itself.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is called weekend because it’s open on Saturdays and Sundays, and it is unimaginably crowded. This is the most popular place for those who enjoy shopping, as well as those who’d like to experience every aspect of life in Bangkok. Here you can find and buy literally anything, and sections are well organized, so you can bring a map (recommendable Nancy Chandler’s map of Bangkok) and start your adventure early in the morning, to avoid afternoon heat and humidity, or visit Dream Section and enjoy air-conditioned restaurants. For more information you can visit the website www.chatuchakmarket.org
Open: Wednesday-Thursday 07:00AM-06:00PM (Plant section only); Friday 06:00PM-12:00PM (Wholesale only); Saturday and Sunday 06:00AM-06:00PM (Whole market open)
Closed: Monday and Tuesday
MBK Mall, or Mahboonkrong Center is the biggest shopping mall in Bangkok, and a perfect place to spend a rainy day, alone, with friends or family. It is eight stories building, housing crowded shops, boutiques, supermarkets, restaurants, food courts, both local and international, entertainment places like 3D Trick Art Museum, computer game houses, multi screen cinema, karaoke and much more. It offers you a great bargain and discount on clothes, shoes, fashion accessories, leather, household, electronics and all the other things money can buy. You can find more information on www.mbk-center.co.th
Open: Daily 10:00AM-10:00PM
This is a very special experience to try in Bangkok, since there are several places where you can enjoy dining or drinking while enjoying magnificent panoramic views, during daytime or evening lights. The most famous are Sirocco that has excellent Mediterranean cuisine, expensive wines and live jazz performances and Sky Bar located at the 63rd floor of State Tower, which is ideal for enjoying sunset with a view to kill for; and Moon Bar, set on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel, that offers wide range of cocktails, whose prices are actually worth of a view.
Aksra Theatre is the pride and joy of Thai culture, being the unique fusion of traditional Thai architecture and modern design, decorated in typical Asian baroque style, but empowered by the latest in stage technology. Here you can see traditional displays of folk plays, Puppet Theater, traditional Thai and Japanese songs, as well as royalty and high-class society members sitting in the audience. For more information about shows and prices visit www.aksratheatre.com
Tuesday-Friday: 07:30PM; Weekend: 01:30PM, 07:30PM
Siam Niramit is an extraordinary show which displays the origins and beauty of Thai culture and art. This monumental show includes fantastic special effects, numerous costumes that represent work of art themselves for hundred performers, as well as stunning stage production – simply put: this show will amaze you in every aspect. For more information about preshow offers, seats, ticket reservations and prices visit www.siamniramit.com
Show time: Daily 08:00PM
This kind of entertainment is not popular only for locals, but for tourists as well. Since Muay Thai is a world famous martial art, especially practiced by MMA and UFC fighters quite often, a visit to Bangkok should definitely include a stop at a boxing match. While enjoying the magnificent strength competition, you can also see unique and strange dances performed by fighters, and wild cheering from excited crowd, and all combined, it will give you an evening to remember at the oldest and the greatest boxing stadium in country.
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 06:00PM
For fight night details, prices of tickets and seat reservations visit www.rajadamnern.com
Patpong is sort of a Red Light District of Bangkok. It was established as narrow lanes with go-go bars during Vietnam War, since most of the customers which made it popular were US soldiers on leave. The place had its highlight during the ‘80ties, when Thailand in general and especially Bangkok became a famous tourist destination. Nowadays, you can go shopping, buy souvenirs and visit go-go bars for live music or even enjoy sex tourism, but you have to be cautious: many bars have upstairs joints which are often a good place for customers to get ripped off, usually heavily intoxicated with tempered drinks.
Daily 06:00PM-01:00AM (markets and bars)
Be careful about sex show scams. A lot of times beautiful women openly flirting with you, or dancers who spontaneously come over to give you a show for only 100 baht; you might get a highly priced bill in the end and won’t be allowed to exit the bar until you pay. These and similar kind of schemes are a downside of enjoying that kind of entertainment, so keep a good sense about it.
Khao San Road is a short street in central Bangkok which is the absolute pearl of the city for foreigners, and a paradise for every traveler, especially young backpackers. In this less than half a kilometer long street you will find reasonable if not cheap accommodation, bargaining shopping prices at all retailers’, have delicious meals at great restaurants, and enjoy endless dancing nights at some of the most popular nightclubs in Bangkok such as Lava Club and Gazebo. Here you can also find busy streets, swarming with locals who socialize with foreigners, and enjoy the cosmopolitan vibe at the best place in the city perfect for memorable vacation.
Pattaya is located around 150km away of Bangkok and is equally infamous as Patpong for swarming with prostitutes and transvestites in discos, go-go bars, cabarets and similar, this quarter underwent a few attempts of cleaning. So nowadays you can enjoy several tourist attractions here, such as shopping, delicious seafood restaurants, water sports and golf, and even some family time attractions, like Elephant Village, Underwater World and similar.
Another trick that a lot of cabarets do is to lure customers into a place with a young, good looking girl and then suddenly make her unavailable and substitute with an older, less attractive woman if the customer wants sex.