Oh how excited I was to go to Bangkok. From what I saw & read about it, it looked amazing – crowded, busy, noisy, lots of traffic, skyscrapers, new sounds, new smells. And this is what I want when I travel, new experiences. As soon as I booked the flights, I was frantically Googling “top things to see in Bangkok” because there is SO much to see and do, and not enough time. So, compiling the research and my personal experience in Bangkok, here are my top 5 things to see in Bangkok.
Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is close to the Grand Palace, in the Old City of Bangkok, and it’s a must have for any visitor in Bangkok. It’s famous for being one of the largest temple complexes in the city and its giant 46-meter long reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf. These were the reasons I wanted to visit. and I surely wasn’t disappointed by the amazing architecture and detailed design. Even if the weather was hot, we managed to take our time and take regular breaks inside where it was cool. We did not have a guide, or a map, so we just explored and followed the streams of tourists
While in the temple of the reclining Buddha, you can put a coin in each of the 108 bronze bowls along the wall. 108 is the number of positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to perfection.
Tip: you have to have your knees covered, so if you don’t want to melt under the Thai sun, wear your shorts, but bring a light opaque scarf to wear as a skirt on top.
Grand palace and Wat Phra Kew
We were in Thailand during October, a month where the Thai were preparing for the Royal Cremation Ceremony of the late King Bhumibol. Most of the tourist attractions were open, except the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kew, who were closed the entire month. I hope to certainly visit Thailand again in the future to visit them!
Khao San Road
During the first part of our stay in Bangkok, we stayed very close to Khao San Road, at the Mad Monkey Hostel . Khao San Road is said to be the centre of the backpacking universe. Full of affordable hostels, street vendors selling anything from amazing food to clothing, and loud music from all restaurants – Khao San Road is an experience not to be missed. Simply walking around the streets will fill you with excitement and mesmerise you. I advise you spend some time enjoying this – have a beer at a terrace, have a foot massage at many and try food you never thought of trying before (fried insects!).
Tip: there will be many people selling you suits or inviting you into their restaurants. If you are truly not interested, just ignore them (if you continue walking) or say a firm no (if you are stopping nearby). This can get annoying, but I didn’t let it ruin my time there.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Take a tuk tuk or a taxi from the old centre and back. It’s fast and will save you a lot of time and energy. We were planning on walking there, but once we got at the piers, we were defeated by the heat and decided to try tuk tuks. They may end up being more expensive that the taxi, but then the tuk tuks are an experience themselves. They can sneak into the traffic super easy and you win lots of time. You may also take the boat across the river – ignore the people trying to offer you boat cruises!
Wat Arun is one of the most famous landmarks of Bangkok. Its spire is 70 metres high, decorated with pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain. If you can stand the heat, explore around. There’s stairs everywhere, so take advantage of the different angles and views you get from the highest ones. It is possible to climb the stair on it, but while we were there, there were some renovations taking place. We did not have the chance to see Wat Arun at night, but from the photos it looks breathtaking!
MBK (and the other shopping centers around Bangkok) are perfect for taking a break from the heat, checking out some traditional Thai food an souvenir shopping. Check out the Thai crafts market on the 6th floor, full of Thai souvenirs to bring back home! If you are a lover of mango, the same floor hosts a mango cafe Yenly Yours where you have everything from sticky rice with mango, mango pudding, mango ice cream, and various types of mango smoothies.
I believe that 2 days in Bangkok should be enough to cover these and give you a quick glimpse into Bangkok. I was so mesmerised by Bangkok, with its charming Old City, and modern buildings in Sukhumvit, tuk tuks and cars rushing, delicious food everywhere and hot weather. We stayed there around 1 week, we liked to enjoy exploring, walking around, not overly stressing about sightseeing. It is such an amazing city that I am sure a lifetime is not enough to discover it.
If you are passing through Bangkok and are looking for the perfect combo of comfort, affordability and location, check out the Mad Monkey Hostel! They have a pool, guys – no need for expensive hotels to have this.
Have you been to Bangkok? What are your top 5 things to see in Bangkok?