We LOVED Bangkok. I rarely visit the same place twice because there is so much to see in the world, but I could see myself going back to Bangkok. In fact, we’re considering going back as part of this trip. The street food is cheap and amazing. There are so many markets to visit, things to do, and temples to see!
We spent 4 full days in Bangkok, and I thought it was a good amount of time. You could for sure stay longer or probably see most of the main tourist attractions in 3 days, but 4 days is a good starting point.
We stayed at Sunflower Place in Silom. We thought it was a great place to stay. There is a ton of authentic Thai food in the area as well as markets and a huge park (Lumphini). Silom is east of most of the temples you’d be visiting, but you can visit all of them in one day. Silom is a good location to get around because it’s close to the metro lines. However, depending on which hotel you’re in, it may get pretty noisy at night. Silom is home to the streets Patpong 1 and Patpong 2 – party streets. There are lots of late night bars, strip clubs, prostitutes and “ping-pong shows” (I’ll explain that later). Sunflower Place was far enough away from the party area though that it was nice and quiet at night.
One of the main attractions in Bangkok are the temples. We went to Wat Sraket (Golden Mount), Wat Suthat, and Wat Pho. We didn’t make it to Wat Arun, but we meant to. You could see so many more, but those are some of the big ones (I get tired of seeing too many temples). You can also go to The Grand Palace and The Royal Pantheon, but when we walked in, it was tour bus central and we couldn’t even walk through the crowds. Maybe going in the morning when it first opens would be better?
You need to be cognizant of what you are wearing on the day you are going to visit the temples as there is a strict dress code. You definitely need to cover both your knees and your shoulders (males and females). They say you should cover your ankles, but I was in long capri pants and never got scolded. Some temples say they won’t let you in with a T-shirt on, so you may want to look a little nicer, but we saw a lot of people in T-shirts. Wear shoes that are you can easily take on and off because you have to take your shoes off for some of the temples you go into. However, some of them say no flip flops. Better safe than sorry on all of these!
Another one of the main attractions in Bangkok are the markets. Our favorite one was the Chatuchak Market which is only open on weekends. You’ll want to plan at least a half a day to wander around, and you still can’t see everything. They have sections of the market with little tourist trinkets, but a lot of Thai people also do their shopping here. There are fruits and vegetables, furniture, light fixtures, clothes, and even pets (hundreds and hundreds of puppies, kittens, sugar gliders, birds, reptiles, and anything else you want to see). Come hungry because there are a ton of smoothie and street food stands!
Another one is the Amulet Market. To me, this sounds cooler than it is. There are rows and rows of old coins and little Buddhas. And other little things that I don’t really know about. The floating markets also sound cooler than they were. However, we went to a smaller one closer to town (Taling Chan). There is supposed to be a much larger one that’s an hour to an hour and a half west of town. If you have time, you may want to check it out because I saw pictures that looked super cool. There were very few floats at Taling Chan – just a couple of little boats. It was still a cute market, but not worth the 30 minute cab ride from our hotel to get there.
You can also go to the Jim Thompson House (a museum of sorts). Jim Thompson was an architect from the United States who fell in love with Thailand. He moved there in the late 1940’s and saw the international potential of the almost forgotten cottage industry of silk weaving. He is largely credited with reviving the lost art and attracting attention from around the world to silk from Thailand. The museum is in his house which he finished only 2 years before his mysterious disappearance. His personal art collection is also on display. I enjoyed it, and I think it’s worth a visit. I couldn’t afford to buy any souvenirs from here, but they are beautiful.
Ok, so let’s talk a little more about the party streets in Silom, Patpong 1 and Patpong 2. All we knew at first was that there was a night market in Patpong, so we went there the first night in Bangkok. We shopped around for a bit, but the market isn’t very big. All up and down the rows of the market there are guys showing you laminated papers (of prices I think? I didn’t look closely) and asking “ping-pong show?” We never went to one, but I have heard they are… interesting. According to Wikipedia (my favorite source), “a ping pong show is a form of stage entertainment that takes place in strip clubs. The show consists of women using their pelvic muscles to either hold, eject, or blow objects from their vaginal cavity. Ping pong balls are the most iconic objects used.” They are officially prohibited in Thailand, but that doesn’t stop them apparently. The shows do raise concerns regarding human trafficking and sex tourism in Thailand, so be careful what you’re possibly supporting if you do go to one.
If you want something to do at night that’s a tad more classy (okay, a lot more classy), you should visit one of the rooftop bars for sunset. I recommend the Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar at the Marriot in Sukhumvit. The drinks are expensive (you could only buy one and nurse it), but the photo above is from the 49th floor of Octave. Enough said.
We got some of our needed travel vaccines at the Thai Travel Clinic. They were cheap and professional. See more in our post on getting your vaccinations in Thailand here. If you need to visit a doctor while you’re in Bangkok, I have a family friend (and have heard from others) who routinely visits Bumrungrad International Hospital for all of his medical needs. Hopefully you don’t need to though :)
A couple of places that I’d suggest eating: Jack’s Bar – get the red curry. It has a nice view of the river, so it’s a nice spot just to grab a few beers and sit watching the boats go by. I was expecting it to be expensive for the view and the food being delicious, but it’s actually pretty cheap.
Also, if you’re craving a great brunch (but not a cheap one), you have to go to (Not Just) Another Cup. Good coffee, good smoothies (omg yes the smoothies), and good everything else.
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.