Bangkok is an incredible city that combines religion, cultural experiences, a metropolitan city vibe and the best of both for luxury and budget travellers.
On a trip taken in 2012, I had just 48 hours in Bangkok and a jam packed itinerary of sight-seeing around the city with a mix of markets, shopping malls, massages, tuk-tuks and more.
Having visited Bangkok a few years ago, I already had a good idea of where I wanted to go and the things that I would like to see or do however on this occasion I visited with a group of friends. Below are my highlights to make the most of a group or solo trip to the vibrant city of Bangkok.
Patpong Night Market: The market is a short walk from the Glow Trinity Silom hotel and provides a great way to start exploring the local area. With a mix of clothing stalls, food carts and of course ping pong shows galore, the market has so many depths to be explored. Start by heading for Pad Thai from a stall at a cost of 50 baht each, yes that really is equivalent to just £1.00 for a full sized portion.
We followed this up be attending a ping pong show purely for the experience – and what an experience it proved to be. 500 baht for a five minute show and a drink that none of us enjoyed… We put it down to experience and moved on.
We did however manage to find some real treats in the form of accessories and lanterns on one of the many stands, already making a dent in our spending money!
Top tip: If you aren’t interested in the ping pong shows then be firm and walk away. We weren’t overly keen but went along on the basis that we would leave when we wanted. The idea is that once you’re in then you will pay.
Siam Paragon Plaza: A fantastic shopping centre with high end fashion stores if that is your thing. Easily accessible by the Skytrain which stops on the fourth floor. There is a food court and a range of high street stores however a further selection is offered at Central World which is a short walk next door.
Brioni Fashion House: One of the benefits of Thailand is having readily available clothing tailors that will offer any selection of fabrics and clothing. When you enter any of these stores, you will be immediately seated, offered a drink and catalogues to browse for a style that suits you. I’ve shopped at Brioni on two occasions now, the first time for a three piece suit and the second for a jacket and dress. On both occasions I considered other stores but returned here.
The quality is good, the choice of fabric is always vast and the turn around of products certainly aims to make your feel valued. It takes a few days and at least a couple of fittings to get it perfect, but if your are in Bangkok as we were before travelling on and returning to the city before departure then there are ways to work around your schedule. Bonus is that they are open from 9am to 10pm daily.
Floating Market: Everybody loves a bargain, a chance to shop at a discounted rate and doing so in Thailand can typically offer this. We ventured to the market on a sunday morning having arranged a taxi for the return trip. It involved an early start as the market is open from 7am to 12pm. It literally operates as a market on a river, have a browse and don’t be shy to tell the boat operator when your are easy to move on to another stall or have had enough all together.
Top tip: Haggle on the entry price of 3000 baht. We refused to pay what equates to nearly £60 to float along a market. After some negotiation, the rate was reduced to 1000 baht each.
Khao San Road: This widely known stretch of road offers a great vibrancy of nightlife in Bangkok. After attending the Muay Thai boxing show, we went straight there on the Sunday evening. The road offers anything from yet more cheap food from fruit and noodles to crickets (deep fried). There is also the usual selection of fast food, clothing stalls and massage houses. We stopped off at Charlie Beauty house for foot massages all round. A half hour massage is just 100 baht. This a fantastic way to destress after the flight and get a thorough massage as part of the process.
Muay Thai boxing at Rajadamnern Stadium: As we have two keen fighters amongst our group, we wanted to see live fighting which we got for 2000 baht each. This is equivalent to around £40 for ringside seats. As it was a Sunday show, there were eight fights arranged for the packed stadium across a mix of age groups. The level of skill was good with a mix of combinations being used but it is a demanding sport and at times the fighters were evidently starting to tire.
Temples in and around Bangkok: There are plenty across the city varying in size with meticulous architecture. They all differ in the crafted detail that must be seen to be appreciated. Make the chance to fit in a trip and you aren’t likely to regret it.
Whilst we all love the city of Bangkok, it is a very busy place with a fast pace of life. With an itinerary to visit Bangkok, Koh Samui and then return to the capital, we were naturally looking forward to our trip to Koh Samui before an additional 36 hours in Bangkok.
Have you visited Bangkok? Share your experiences of the city in the comments below.