Backpackers will advise that you avoid Bangkok like the plague. They will tell you that it stinks, that it’s too hot and that there are too many people. And while this is of course all true, it’s part of Bangkok’s unique charm and there is honestly so much that this city has to offer. Also, let me tell you that two nights down Khao San Road isn’t going to show you that!
The “Big Mango”, its vast, bustling, vibrant, and absolutely beautiful… in its own way obviously, and as a traveller it’s a fantastic place to start your trip in Asia. It’s pretty international so you can ease yourself into the regions culture, and there’s also a really good variety of transport links to the rest of the country and the rest of the region.
“But what should I do with my two days there before I head down to Krabi” I hear you ask? Well there’s something for everyone in Bangkok, and you might feel a little overwhelmed with options so, here we are – my recommendations for seeing The City of Angel’s like a local.
Accommodation in Bangkok
Avoid Khao San Road! Okay, I know, it’s where everyone stays, and the hostels are cheap, and it’s featured in the “The Beach” but honestly you can do so much better than that, and if really you want to go there, I’d stay for two hours max. Khao San Road (Khao San is a type of rice), is a tourist enclave, and you won’t find authenticity there. What you will find though, is a bubble of western backpacker culture, rowdy tourists and taxi’s that refuse to use the meter.
There are so many other parts of Bangkok that have better transport links, better street food and most likely nicer people too. For a place to stay, I would firstly recommend somewhere within walking distance to a BTS or MRT station. Neighbourhoods such as Ari and Ratchetewi have a really local feel to them while still being very close to some main attractions. If you are staying in Ratchetewi and love street food, I’d visit Phetchaburi Soi 5 and Soi 10 for some authentic street food – trust me you will not be disappointed.
Asoke and Thong Lor are also pretty cool places to stay. Asoke is busy and you will see a lot of tourists but it has really good transport links as there is a BTS and MRT station, there’s loads of malls and loads of food. Thong Lor is associated with being a really trendy part of town, so you will find tonnes of independent shops and cafes, as well as some really cool bars and clubs.
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- The Yard Hostel – Ari
- Siam Eco Hostel – Ratchetewi
- Hostel at Thong Lor – Thong Lor
- 3Howw Hostel – Asoke
Bars and Nightlife
The Saxophone is an inconspicuous blues and Jazz bar in Victory monument (Close to Ari and Ratchetewi) and is one of the city’s best live music venues. I’ve honestly been blown away by every single performance that I’ve seen here. The beer is recommended – food and cocktails not so much.
Fantastic food, delicious cocktails, live music, unique décor and secret rooms… I’m not going to give much more away because it’s pretty magical so refrain from googling any pictures of it and just go there!
This is one of my favourite rooftop bars in Bangkok. The views are stunning, the Japanese and Peruvian fusion food is absolutely delicious and the cocktails are great, it’s a great place to come if you want to visit somewhere a bit more special. Above 11 is frequently visited by live performers and you may also see some people who come to practice salsa! Don’t forget to check the dress code and book a table before arriving.
Oh boy where do I begin? If you are struggling with the heat – some of the malls have really good food courts, and their prices won’t be too much higher than that of street vendors. If you can brave the crowds, Siam Paragon has as an amazing food court – I’ve never been disappointed as everything I’ve had there has been freshly made and is pretty authentic. Next door to the Paragon is Siam Centre which is quite a bit less crowded and also delicious, I’d recommend the Pad Thai here!
Some of my favourite restaurants for Thai food are Som Tum Dur in Silom, where you can find the most delicious Somtum (papaya salad) and authentic cuisine from the Isaan region in north-eastern Thailand. The Supanigga Eating Room is also delicious, there are 3 outlets, one in Thong Lor, one in Silom and one in Tha Tian. If you’re feeling fancy you can even get on the Supanigga Eating Room river cruise down the Chao Praya River, which is a really magical way of seeing Bangkok, especially after sundown.
- Pizza Pala Romana
- Khao Soi Silom Soi 3
- Tai Seng
Things to do
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre or BACC is one of my favourite places to go to if I want a bit of a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The building is huge and has a Guggenheim-esque feel to it. There’s several independent cafes and shops selling gifts, arts and crafts, art supplies, books, jewellery and loads more. If you want to buy any souvenirs, the BACC could be a great place to do so as you’d be helping to support Bangkok’s arts and crafts scene.
Another place I enjoy going for some peace and quiet is Lumpini Park. Here, you can find monitor lizards, some shade and paddleboats! It costs almost nothing to rent a 2-person paddleboat and gives you a very different view of the city during the day. I’d also recommend checking for events that might be on at Lumpini park, as its often made the venue for arts and crafts and music festivals.
Jim Thompson’s house
This is seriously the house of my dreams and I desperately wish that I lived in it. It’s so beautiful. Honestly. Jim Thompson was an American businessman who is known for being responsible for introducing beauty of Thai Silk to the west in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He had absolutely amazing taste and also was a collector of south-east Asian art. He sadly disappeared mysteriously in in 1967, and to this day we don’t know what happened to him. The tour is about 45 minutes long and tickets are half price if you are under the age of 22!
Text by guest blogger Evie Harris.
Evie loves traveling, culture, art and food – especially in East and South-East Asia, as she was born in Thailand. She is deeply passionated about traveling responsibly and is inspired to work towards positive change in tourism. She really believes that responsible travel can provide a means to reduce poverty and inequality, as well as increase wellbeing for both host communities and fragile environments.