Welcoming more visitors than any other city in the world, the bustling Thai capital of Bangkok features something for everyone and action at every corner. From floating markets to underground bars, countless temples and more, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy Bangkok! I ticked Bangkok off the bucket list during the annual Thai New Year celebration Songkran and finally got a taste of this bustling city. Here are five Rad things to do during your first visit to Bangkok.
The Largest Reclining Buddha in Thailand
Bangkok has countless temples and the Grand Palace is one of the city’s biggest attractions; however, it is not ideal when travelling with a toddler as it’s simply too big to see it all. We picked Wat Pho because of the reclining Buddha, the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. The temple is great for families as kids can run around and explore the sight, as well as the various Buddha statues, shrines, fountains and more. The temple also has a tradition where you can donate 20 baht in exchange for a cup of coins. 108 bronze bowls that line the hall of the reclining Buddha, representing the sacred number of Buddhism. If you drop a coin in each of the 108 bowls, it is believed to bring you good luck and long life.
We took the BTS to the city centre followed by a long tail boat to the temple. You need to sit evenly in the boat so it does not tip over during the journey, which would not be a fun experience considering the speed of the boat as it travels down the river! Arriving at the temple by boat is a very special experience and the temple is located just a short walk from the private pier.
Bangkok from Above
For a picturesque sunset and night time view over Bangkok, we headed to Mahanakohn SkyWalk. It’s currently tricky to catch a nice sunset in Bangkok at the moment as the city is so polluted but Mahanakhon SkyWalk gives you one of the best views of the city. Standing at 314 meters, this is Thailand’s highest observation deck. You can walk along the glass floors of the observation deck and see the entire city below you. People with vertigo should steer away from the glass bottom attraction; however, our two-year-old was absolutely fearless and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about!
Just a short tuk-tuk ride away, you can find Above Eleven, a chilled out bar and restaurant above the hustle and bustle of Sukhumvit. This attraction is well worth checking out during the sunset and having a drink before heading into the town for a bite to eat; with stunning views of the city and significantly less tourists.
Perfect your Flow
Missing the surf, I found out there was a FlowRider in Bangkok and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Located in Sukhumvit 26 Alley, the Flow House is an artificial standing wave the resembles skateboarding or snowboarding more than actual surfing.
We arrived just after it opened at 11 am and practically had the whole place to ourselves. I got quite the flogging coming off off the one-inch deep water a couple of times but would definitely go again next time I’m in the city. This would be a really fun activity to do as a group as you can watch everyone eat it when they come off the water!
Thai Boxing in Bangkok
On our last night in Bangkok, we decided to hop in a taxi and head over to Rajadamnern Stadium, the oldest and greatest boxing stadium in Thailand. This was high up on my Bangkok bucket list before coming to Thailand and it did not disappoint!
We didn’t have tickets in advance but managed to get some at the door. Watch out for hagglers outside who try and sell you ringside seats, which are 2000 baht. Standard 3rd class seats are 1000 baht and give you a very good view plus access to walk around the stadium, sit with the locals and gamble on which fighter is going to win.
It was a little like going to a baseball game in the sense that they served popcorn, beer and hot dogs; although the stadium, atmosphere, traditional Thai music, competitor warm-up rituals and overall vibe of the place would say otherwise. Thai boxing is an amazing experience and something that must be seen when in Bangkok!
Authentic Thai Food Heaven
Having eaten in many local eateries, we managed to avoid the more touristy looking places and find some amazing local food; including quite possibly the best Pad Thai ever! Our little one loved the rice and noodles and was in absolute food heaven!
You can find countless street food markets located throughout the entire city; however, there are a number of hotspots. Chinatown and Bang Rak are the two most popular areas in Bangkok for authentic Thai street food, offering countless options from noodles to barbecued seafood, dessert and more. The Old City (Rattanakosin) also features legendary street food including some of the finest Pad Thai in Bangkok. If you’re undecided on what to try, some of the most popular street food dishes include Som Tam (papaya salad), Khao Pad (fried rice), Pad Thai Kung (noodles with shrimp) and Gai/Moo Bing (grilled chicken/pork skewers).
Getting around Bangkok: Getting around via the BTS is quick and easy. Taxis are easy to catch but it’s important to make sure the driver correctly understands the destination and puts on the meter to avoid getting ripped off, particularly near the main tourist destinations.
Walking Around: Walking around the city is a free and fun way to check out the sites and get a feel of the place. Many of the attractions are within walking distance of each other and you can discover a range of food, vendors and more along the way. Walking around at night is relatively safe, especially in areas with street food stalls; however, it is recommended not to walk in quiet and low-light areas.
Street Food: You can find street food almost anywhere at any time in Bangkok; however, the official street cleaning time is Monday so many vendors are not allowed to operate throughout the day. While street food can still be found on Monday, there will be significantly fewer options.
A lot of people don’t have Bangkok on their list of places to visit, but we would absolutely recommend it. It offers something for everyone; sights, culture, action sports, friendly people, great food and plenty to do for the young and old.
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