Bangkok has a reputation as a backpacker paradise and it has been the scene of countless films, pop culture moments, and first stops on many travelers’ trails around Southeast Asia or even the world. Whether it is the best choice to come to avoid culture shock is debatable, but Bangkok is one of the most exciting, fast paced and vibrant cities in the world.
Khao San Road
A legend in its own right, Khao San Road is not everyone’s idea of a good time but you should still come here and experience it anyway just to see what the fuss is all about. Not only can you buy just about anything on the Khao San Road, but it will give you the chance to see Thailand’s backpacker culture up close, and although it may be tacky, it is also a good place to start if you need a guesthouse, a travel agent, or a money changer.
Located near to Khao San Road is another of Bangkok’s most famous features, you find the Wat Pho Temple which is home to the mighty statue of the Reclining Buddha, also the largest reclining Buddha in Bangkok. If you haven’t had a chance to see anything like this before then it is truly breathtaking.
The entire grounds of Wat Pho are spread over 8 hectares and monks still live on the property and there is a working monastery on the south side. The real hidden gem here however is the fantastic massage school that sits on the complex and the massage here is performed by students of the school. Be warned however that Thai massage can be rather hard compared to other kinds so make sure you let your therapist know before they start.
Not all visitors to Bangkok make the effort to go for a boat ride which is a real shame, as it is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable experiences you can have in this busy city. Bangkok’s canals are called ‘klongs’ and run all over the city. They are full of passenger ferries as well as private boats that sell produce like fruit and vegetables. One of the best things to do is go down to one of the piers like Nonthanburi and check out the boats selling food and flag one down. Many sell bowls of noodles and others can be rented for a tour of the waterways. Again all you need to do is flag one down (probably they will find you before you find them) and negotiate a price before going for a leisurely drive around the neighborhood. It’s definitely a completely different perspective on Bangkok if you want to explore outside of the main tourist areas.
One of the main areas in Bangkok for shopping and eating is Sukhumvit Road, which is a great place to check out the local tourist market and pick up some souvenirs. The market starts around sunset which is the best time to come here and you can also grab a bite to eat or get a cool drink at one of the many restaurants and bars in the area.
Bangkok is busy and can seem overwhelming when you arrive, and much of it is simply geared towards tourists and nothing else. That said, the pace and size of this city alone is exciting and if you are coming to Thailand then you can’t miss this monster. Whatever you are looking for you will find here, be it shopping, partying, backpacking havens, local sites, or just about anything else.