Bucket List Worthy Traveler's Toolbox
Bangkok is the world’s most visited city, and there are far more than 15 reasons to visit it. From the unbeatable street food to the temples, markets and over-the-top luxury, the capital city of Thailand can be whatever you want it to be. These are some of my top reasons to join the roughly 16 million tourists who visit the city every year, but it’s guaranteed you’ll return home with a list of reasons all your own.
Bangkok’s street food scene is nothing shy of incredible. From the J.J. Market to outside the 7/11 and in the tiniest alleyways, you’ll find some of the best food in the city served up street-side. And germophobes needn’t be worried, as long as you see your meal being cooked up fresh, it’s generally fine to eat. You can’t beat the fun outdoor atmosphere and affordable prices either.
Shoppers beware. The Chatuchak Market, also known as the J.J. Market, will suck you into hours upon hours of shopping and snacking. The market spans 6.8 hectares and is one of the largest weekend markets in the world. You can purchase anything from purses to puppies, so bring a full wallet and be prepared to get a little lost.
Getting around town is never an issue in Bangkok. From the clean, fast and easy-to-use (stops are announced in English) BTS Skytrain and underground MRT systems to the bounty of taxis, tuk tuks and motorbikes, getting from one point to another is always affordable and fun.
Luxury comes at a much more affordable price in Bangkok than most other cosmopolitan cities. Massages, manicures, pedicures, five-star hotels and private drivers won’t set you back as much as you’d expect. Luxury hotels run around $100 per night on discount websites, and with legitimate massages costing less than $10 per hour, why not get one every day?
Whether you’re into staying up all night (Khao San Road) or sipping swanky drinks in a sky bar, Bangkok has nightlife options for every type of party animal. Sukhumvit’s numerous famous streets are packed with nightclubs, bars and restaurants to make any night on the town a memorable one.
Chinatown is one of the most culturally rich parts of Bangkok where shopping, dining and roaming the tiny alleyways can make a fulfilling day. Bring your camera for snapping photos of the Chinese temples, gold shops and street-side vendor stalls.
Getting at least one traditional Thai massage is a must on your visit to Bangkok. This semi-painful form of massage is known around the world for its health benefits. Endure an hour or two of stretching, pulling and pushing on your muscles, and you’ll sleep better than you ever have before. Even better, you’ll wake up the next day feeling rejuvenated and ready for another day in the city.
The Central Park of Bangkok, Lumphini Park, is an oasis for locals and visitors seeking a little green space. Walk, bike or rent a paddle boat and take in the park’s sights (including an outdoor gym, tennis courts and plenty of Bangkok people watching).
Enclosed sky bars and rooftop lounges are a dime a dozen in Bangkok, and they’re some of the best places to admire one of the most impressive skylines in the world. Why see the city at eye level, when you can watch its many wonders (and non-stop traffic) from above?
Emerge onto the bustling streets of Bangkok at night, and you’ll see night markets just about everywhere you go. Shop for anything from freshly-cooked duck soup to knock-off Ray Bans and under garments, or simply wind through the stalls taking in the sights.
Bangkok is known for going over the top, and a trip to the movies is just one more place to see it in action. Indulgent reclining seats with pillows and blankets can be purchased for the same price as a regular ticket in Canada and the U.S. And some theaters even offer 4-D movies, allowing viewers to feel the movie with smells, breezes and other elements.
The Grand Palace is Bangkok’s most visited attraction, and once you see it for yourself, you’ll quickly understand why. The gorgeous former home of the Thai monarch features gold-plated walls, sculptures, pavilions, gardens and the longest wall painting in the world. Also within the complex grounds is the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the royal offices and ceremonial halls. The Grand Palace is considered a religious site, so don’t forget to wear long pants and a top that covers your shoulders.
It may not be your sole reason for visiting Bangkok, but Thailand’s affordable and top-notch medical facilities may convince you to visit the doctor or dentist while you’re there. Bangkok is known for its promotion of medical tourism, and when you see the state-of-the-art practices offered for a fraction of the western price, you’ll understand why medical tourists flock in from around the world.
Think you’re landlocked in Bangkok? Short trips to nearby beaches, including Koh Samet, Koh Chang, Koh Mat and numerous others, are always an affordable possibility. Some beaches can be reached in as little as two hours by bus, so you can be from the concrete jungle to a pristine beach in no time.
Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River has been the city’s lifeline since the beginning, and its one of the best places to escape the bustling city streets. Riverside hotels, restaurants, dinner cruises and water taxis make this muddy working river an ideal place to enjoy a relaxing day or night on the town. Bring your camera because the historic Thai river boats and riverside dwellings are picturesque at all times of day.