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Thailand's bustling capital city of, Bangkok, is an exciting destination to explore. Bangkok has everything from its vibrant nightlife to its rich cultural heritage. But, of course, there are also plenty of activities to keep you entertained. From shopping in the bustling markets to exploring the city's historic temples. We've put together this comprehensive travel guide to help you make the most of your time in Bangkok. Here, you'll find all the tips and advice you need to plan the perfect trip to Bangkok.
Today's Bangkok was quite different from Bangkok 100 years ago. Then, it was a trading post located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Anonymously, Bang Makok was once a village. Then, in 1782, King "Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke," or simply Rama 1 (King Ramathibodi), transferred the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. Next, he began construction on the Grand Palace.
Bangkok was originally an island city through constructing a network of canals connected to the Chao Phraya River. This earned it the title "Venice of the East." The main mode of transport was canals. There were also many water roads, so there were a lot of floating homes.
Bangkok is now home to the Royal family and the capital of Thailand. It is Thailand's largest port and aviation gateway. It also houses 15% of Thailand's population.
The three seasons that govern Thailand's climate are rainy (roughly May to Oct), cool (Nov to Feb), and hot (March to May). The best time to visit is during the cool season. While it is cooler than the rest of the year, Bangkok can still be hot in the middle of the day. It's also the busiest time of the year, so planning is important.
Things to Do and Places to See
Bangkok is a unique, fascinating, and exciting city. It is like many capital cities — it never sleeps. There's always activity because people work 24 hours daily in different professions. Moreover, eight million people live in the city.
Let's look at some of the most popular things to do in Bangkok and the top places to visit.
Bangkok city guides will tell you Ratanakosin is the best place to begin. It's the royal island located on the east bank of Chao Phraya. You will find the city's most famous and extraordinary sights here.
Wat Pho, Bangkok's most famous temple, is a must-see for all tourists. It is home to the Reclining Buddha, which stands fifteen meters high and forty-six meters long. It is also amazing to see the statue up close.
Besides, inside the temple are 108 bowls. You can also buy coins to purchase the bowls on your way into the temple. This is because Buddha did 108 positive acts on his path to perfection. Furthermore, you can stop by the temple to get a traditional Thai massage while you're there.
This museum houses the most extensive collection of Thai artifacts in Thailand. King Rama V opened the museum to display his father's gifts for the first time. The museum has many interesting items, including Chinese weapons, precious stones, and puppets. It also houses clothing, textiles, and Khon masks. Moreover, you can get a tour of the museum in English if you visit it on a Thursday.
Chinatown, a Chinese neighborhood for over two centuries, is now the largest in the country. It's a sprawling area of narrow alleyways and temples sandwiched between the river and Charoen Krung (New Road). It is an excellent place to live.
This is Bangkok's most popular attraction. Do not move on to another city if you have not visited this place. At one time, the palace was both the home of the King and the place where the government carried out its work. The palace covers more than 214,000 square feet, so that a trip can take hours. However, there are also more than 214,000 square meters to cover. Also, be aware of possible scams outside the palace.
Dusit is a large, lush area. It is a royal neighborhood. Rama V, Thailand's first monarch to visit Europe, returned to modernize his capital. The fruits of these plans are most evident in Dusit at Vimanmek Palace, Wat Benjamabophit, and the "Marble temple."
Dusit hosts the annual Trooping the Colour. This is a spectacle where many Royal Guards parade around Royal Plaza to show their loyalty to the King. Dusit Zoo is also an excellent place for kids to visit. It's across from Chitralada Palace.
This place is for you if you love shopping. The market has over 8000 stalls and covers 27 acres. It is open every Saturday and Sunday and attracts almost 200,000 people daily. You will find everything you can imagine here. But, to avoid getting lost, buy a map.
This shoppers' paradise is a highly-rated shopping mall with many shops for top-end fashion designers. It also houses Southeast Asia's largest aquarium and multiplex cinemas. Besides, there are enough restaurants to eat for you for the rest of your life. The mall also has over 250 shops. There are even showrooms for many car manufacturers, including Lamborghini and Ferrari.
In Bangkok and Thailand, specific standards must be observed. Thais are proud of their monarchy. So, it is essential to show respect for the Thai Royal Family.
Bangkok is home to Buddhism, with monks and temples, Buddha images, and statues all over the city. You are expected to wear appropriate clothing in your temples and take off your shoes before you enter. A sizeable Muslim minority is in the city and is 100% Thai in every respect.
Bangkokians also believe it is essential to maintain a calm, peaceful, and harmonious attitude. Moreover, avoiding outward displays of anger, aggression, threatening gestures, criticism, and raised voices is necessary. In Thai society, such behavior is not acceptable.
You can use Wai to show respect and greetings. Wai means that the person must use both hands to pray in front of his face. It is also a sign of respect to hold the head lower than the level of an older or senior person when speaking to them or passing them. But, tourists should not attempt to Wai other people as it is complicated. It is sufficient to smile or nod and acknowledge Wai from the hotel staff. It is also customary to take off your shoes when entering a private home.
Bangkok is known for being one of the most popular food destinations in the world. Bangkok is a great place to eat Thai food. Bangkok has many Thai restaurants, including street food and Thai cuisine. However, the number of street food vendors, restaurants, and food stalls that line the streets might overwhelm travelers.
Thai Fried Chicken is a must-taste. It is even more delicious and addictive than fast-food chicken!
Pad Thai is also a colorful dish. It comes with shrimp, green cilantro, pepper flakes, noodles, and yellow limes. Moreover, these stir-fried rice noodles are a national dish of Thailand. The prime minister created Pad Thai in Bangkok to alleviate the nation's rice shortage. Pad Thai is Bangkok's favorite comfort food. The perfect combination of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour flavors in Pad Thai will be a savior to your taste buds.
Also, a plate of dumplings is a must-have. Thai dumplings won't disappoint. They come in a wrapper made of dough. There is also Kanom Jeeb. It is a combination of water chestnuts and crab meat. It also contains shrimp, pork, and shrimp. This is the ideal street food item in Bangkok to grab and go.
Furthermore, Bangkok's most loved and popular salad is Som Tam. This spicy and sour green papaya salad with sweet tomatoes, lemongrass, dried shrimp, fish sauce, and peanuts. You will find this dish in every corner of Bangkok. This dish is also low in calories and rich in flavor, making it a win-win situation for everyone!
Thai tea is a spicy, refreshing tea made with black tea leaves. It's flavored with star anise, orange blossom water, and vanilla. Moreover, to give the tea a creamy texture, they add milk. This tea is excellent with a Youtiao (fried breadstick).
Lastly, there is I-dim Mat Phrao coconut ice cream. It isn't your typical coconut ice cream. It's far from your average coconut ice cream! Bangkok has given a unique twist to plain coconut ice cream. Coconut milk is used to make it. It's served with boiled corn kernels and peanuts.
These are the top places to stay in the Thai capital. The 5-star hotels offer spacious rooms with river views, marble bathrooms, swimming pools, and Michelin Star restaurants.
Siam is Bangkok's most popular shopping destination. It has the important shopping centers in Bangkok - MBK and Siam Paragon as well as Central World, Siam Center, and Siam Discovery. These shopping centers are easy to walk between, and you can shop until your heart's content or credit cards catch fire.
Khao San is Bangkok's most famous street. Anyone traveling through SE Asia should pass through it at least once. Khao San is also the best place to be if you're in Bangkok to party! There are "happy hours" every day. Enjoy a cold Chang beer in one of the street bars and enjoy the chaos.
You will also find street food, trendy clothes, and shoes for sale on the bustling streets of Khao San Road. Young Thais love this area, especially on weekends. They come here to shop and enjoy the nightlife and market atmosphere.
The riverside of Bangkok is stunning, especially at night, thanks to its many shrines and temples. This area is where you can discover Bangkok's historical roots. Chinese immigrants along the Chao Phraya River established the first settlements of Bangkok's capital. This is where you will find the best 5-star hotels in Bangkok. You will also find a few art deco boutique hotels along the river with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Sukhumvit is a modern, cosmopolitan neighborhood in Bangkok located along Sukhumvit Road. This is a great area to stay in. It's also a great place to live, with easy access to public transportation (Skytrain, MRT), great shopping, and many excellent restaurants.
Silom is Bangkok's business district. It is one of the best places to stay. You will find Bangkok's largest green park, Lumpini Park. There are also great shopping opportunities and excellent Thai restaurants. This area is easily accessible by Sky train or Subway, making it an ideal base for exploring the city.
This is one of the oldest areas of Bangkok. Chinatown was home to Chinese traders before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand in 1782. Moreover, Chinatown's buildings date back to the old Chinese architecture style. Small shops also sell traditional Chinese goods such as gold, spices, and herbs.
Skytrain and Metro are the best ways to travel around Bangkok. They are fast and easy to navigate for tourists. Bangkok also has an extensive network of buses, but they are subject to traffic jams. This is something the city is known for. However, taxis are the easiest to travel from the airport into the heart of Bangkok.
As with any major city, knowing what you see and how you react is essential. It's very safe in this city, and there is little risk of serious harm. But most likely, you will encounter small scams.
Public areas are not a place where you show off your wealth. Also, tell tuk-tuk drivers your exact destination. And do some research if you are told that an attraction is closed. Be aware of fake tourism officials as well.
Scams aside, Thai people are friendly, and tourists often return to Bangkok without incident.