It’s wild, vivid and plain roaring relentless restlessness. The chaos is inescapable and embraces you almost immediately upon landing in the Thai capital. In sharp contrast to the nasty infamous reputation it holds, the country is far from merely a heap of prostitution, twenty-something party-goers, and middle aged men in crisis. If you’re in Bangkok, here are five must do attractions! Cliché as some may be, you can’t miss these!
VEGANS: Note, traditionally Thais add fish paste/sauce to food, even vegetable dishes. Be wary, and don’t forget to explicitly express that you would like your meal to exclude all animal derived ingredients-especially fish paste/sauce.
The Grand Palace
Would you visit Egypt and not see The Pyramids? India and not see the Taj Mahal? You really can’t visit Thailand and skip on the Grand Palace. This majestic complex of buildings oozes gaudiness and glitzy architecture, and is ten times worth the 5oo Baht entrance fee. The Palace opens at 8:30 AM daily and is usually swarming with tourists.
Note: Dress appropriately and cover your shoulders. This is a sign of respect, and this rule should be followed when visiting other Thai landmarks and temples too. You won’t be allowed entry otherwise. You can visit the official site here: https://www.royalgrandpalace.th/en/home.
Wat Arun: Temple of Dawn.
Bonus: This beautiful temple is directly opposite The Grand Palace, so you can stop at this worldly all-white temple along the Chao Phraya River on the same day. One day, two amazing architectural and cultural delights. You can take a boat across from The Grand Palace just like I did, and they’re super cheap too.
A Floating Market
Yep. A floating market. Float down a river, with vendors lined up on the sides, or who cruise by you in boats. I admit, hiring a boat to get this trendy Thai experience is a bit pricey and totally a tourist magnet. Rip-off, really, but still, you really can’t miss this. Once you get over your annoyance at shelling out a few thousand Baht, drifting down the river is serene and it’s fun witnessing the market vendors trying to hustle, rope you in and sell you their wares. Try to avoid buying souvenirs here though, they’re more expensive than the markets in the city. If you MUST buy something, don’t forget to bargain. There are a handful of major floating markets, and you’ll have to choose one that suits you best. I visited the Damnoen Saduak Market, one of the most popular ones.
Take A Cooking Class
Food is such an important, intertwined part of travel and such a necessary cultural excursion. Thailand knows this, and feeds off the fact that its cuisine is AMAZZZZZZIIIIINNNNGG. For this reason, there are dozens of cooking classes on offer, and they lend an enlightening insight into the ingredients and methods responsible for creating crazily delicious foods. You can find classes simply via a Google search or AirBnB experiences. I did my cooking class with Sompong Thai Cooking School, and found the class to be simple and interactive, and the end result to be delicious. The class included a trip to the market with explanations on Thai ingredients, recipe book, all ingredients and, of course, we got to eat the dishes at the end. They’re relatively decently priced, and, importantly, effortlessly offered me alternate vegan ingredients for food we were cooking that day (Check out my simmering tofu below!)
Wander The Streets & Markets
You can spend hours…several days, in fact..weaving your way through the crazy streets and interesting markets, soaking up the electric Thai atmosphere and brilliant Bangkok spirit. There are SO many markets-but hey, it’s South-East Asia so that’s expected. You can find anything you’re looking for at a tenth of what you’d pay back home, just DON’T FORGET TO BARGAIN for cheaper prices. Here’s a link to a post I found with a list of markets you should see: https://nerdnomads.com/6-markets-in-bangkok-you-should-not-miss
That’s it! Five Must-Dos when visiting Bangkok!
First, ALL taxi drivers and Tuk-Tuks will try to scam you. Never agree on the first price, always make sure the meter is on, and pre-agree on a price before you even get in the vehicle.
Second, you HAVE to sample Pad Thai, the national dish. Simply a taste explosion. Of course, as cautioned, don’t forget to express that seafood (traditionally an ingredient in Pad Thai), AND fish paste/sauce needs to be excluded from yours.