When every country in the world is on your bucket list, you are constantly scouring the Internet for travel deals for anywhere and everywhere! When we saw a deal to Thailand appear, we felt like we won the lottery. Not only did we find an amazing deal (round trip tickets from Chicago for $459/pp), thanks to our favorite website @ Thrifty Traveler, but Thailand has always been on our shortlist of travel destinations.
The first stop on our Thailand adventure was Bangkok city. Bangkok is one of the most bustling cities in the world with an energy that attracts more than 16 million tourists per year. There is no shortage of things to eat, things to see and things to do in Bangkok, but if you’re limited on time here are some of our favorite memories and places while visiting Bangkok:
The Grand Palace
During our visit to the Grand Palace, the Thais were honoring the life of their revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed in October of 2016. There were tens of thousands of Thais in all black (despite the summer heat) at the Grand Palace paying their respects to their beloved leader. It was quite an amazing and humbling experience.
While we were not allowed inside the palace during these ceremonies, we had an amazing time touring the grounds of the colossal Grand Palace. The grounds are home to wats (temples); the Emerald Buddha, museums, and beautiful statues including Kinnara.
All sacred places in Thailand require pants for men and long dresses for women. In addition, tops should have sleeves (no tanks) and women should dress conservatively.
Security at the Grand Palace required a check of Passports for all tourists; don’t forget to carry it with you.
It is hot in Thailand so make sure you stay hydrated! We recommend stopping at 7 Eleven (stores are everywhere) to get some cheap water (7 Baht for 16.9 oz bottles).
In addition to the apparel, the Thai culture requires the removal of shoes before entering a holy area. There are plenty of shoe racks (unlocked) at the entrances of most wats (temples), but if you’re nervous about leaving your Louboutins unattended, bring an extra plastic bag for your shoes which you can place inside your daypack.
It is estimated that close to 93% of Thailand’s population practices the religion of Buddhism so it should come as no surprise that it is home to some of the most breathtaking temples in the world. While there is no way to visit the thousands of temples in Bangkok alone, we recommend reserving at least one day for temple hopping.
Wat Pho is home to the reclining Buddha and located adjacent to the Grand Palace. This is one of the most visited Temples in Bangkok and an epic photo opp (bring your wide angle lens or GoPro).
The Golden Buddha, which is shrouded in its own rich history, can be found residing at this temple.
Wat Hua Lamphong
This temple was recommended by our Tuk Tuk driver and is a less visited spot by tourists so we decided to stop in. The entrance to the temple is enshrined in an ornate gold design which shimmers in the sun and makes for a beautiful photo without all the people in the shot. There is also a small market at the foot of the stairs to buy incense and other religious offerings.
You can’t visit Bangkok without taking in the city’s amazing markets. We had the opportunity to visit a night market and one of the infamous floating markets during our vacation.
This was easily our favorite market in Bangkok (we went twice). Asiatique offers the unique combination of an outdoor Western mall with all of the hustle and bustle of a street market. There are a multitude of shops here that sell everything from cheap trinkets to high-end leather bags and jewelry. You are sure to find something you’ll love to take back home.
A few tips:
- Always negotiate (except food) – start off by offering 50% of the asking price and begin to walk away if the vendor does not comply. Most times you are able to meet somewhere in the middle on the price. If not, there are plenty of vendors selling very similar items so you can try your luck at the next stall.
- The market is accessible by boat. If your hotel is located anywhere alongside the Chao Praya River, you may be able to take the river ferry to the market enjoying the landscape of Bangkok from a completely different perspective.
Damnoen Floating Market
It was blistering hot the day we went to the market but we still enjoyed the craziness including a stop at the coconut farm, a gondola ride through the crowded canals, and delicious Thai foods.
We booked a tour that included pick-up and drop-off; the market is approximately 90 mins away from the city. You can also arrange for a taxi or tuk tuk to take you but make sure to compare the pricing before you decide which option is best for you.
We heard a lot of great things about this market and were bummed we didn’t get to visit since its only open on the weekends. If you’re in Bangkok over a weekend, make sure to add it to your itinerary.
It is truly incredible how good the food is here and it costs nearly nothing. If there was ever the city to skip the fine dining and eat off the street, this is the place. There are street vendors that sell anything the stomach desires.
Some of our best meals in Bangkok were eaten on the road with the smell of petroleum from the passing motorbikes adding to the ambience. You can easily eat a full meal for less than 100 Baht per person ($3 USD) so save that money to stay an additional nights in Bangkok.
Charoen Krung Rd
This has to be one of the most memorable meals of our Bangkok trip. We found a street cart serving up noodles with chicken and fried egg for breakfast so we had to try it.
We both received heaping portions of Thai deliciousness, which still makes our mouths water at just the thought, served with coffee for only 80 Baht Total ($2.40 USD). Don’t be shy to try the street food in Bangkok, you’ll love it!
After breakfast, you can explore Ni Chong Sawat Alley which is crawling with street vendors even very early in the day.
Cheng Sim Ei
We loved this dessert spot which was introduced to us by our good friend Naruepon who is a Bangkok native. You get to select your favorite fruit toppings to mix into a frozen, milky, sugary concoction that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth out there!
While Asiatique does offer several sit-down, Western-styled, restaurants we most enjoyed the Thai Bubble team with boba! You can find this at one of many food/drink stalls serving the market.
If you have never tried this ambrosia, you haven’t lived!
Things to Do
Khao San Road
Although we knew that there is nothing truly “local” about this place, we still decided to visit this “backpacker’s paradise”. This is definitely a cool place to experience if you’re looking for a wild, party scene and cheap booze. You will also find all of the crazy foods you see on Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” show including scorpion, bat, and other creepy crawlies.
We didn’t spend too much time here but it was still a fun experience.
There are massage parlors on nearly every block in Bangkok, most offering hourly rates of 200-500 Baht ($6-$15 USD). You can easily afford to start every morning with a nice massage because it won’t be this cheap back at home.
We opted for a slightly more luxe option indulging ourselves in a couples massage @ Lets Relax Spa in Siam Square. Our 60 minute treatment included a relaxing foot scrub, traditional Thai massage, and a relaxing Thai tea and snacks at the end. We paid 1200 Baht for our royal treatment and it was totally worth it!
Tuk Tuk Ride
Get the GoPro ready and hang on for dear life. These boys (and occasional girls) really love their Tokyo drift because they will give you quite the adventure. Our drivers loved to weave through traffic narrowly missing pedestrians and other motorists all while treating traffic lights as optional.
We didn’t complain and just enjoyed the ride. In the end, it made for some epic footage. If you’re faint at heart, you may want to stick to the traditional taxis or Uber!
If you are planning a trip to Thailand soon, don't forget our Thailand Packing List!
Have you been to Bangkok? How was your experience?