Bangkok; what a city. There truly is no way to describe Thailand's capital, full of an infectious energy, tuk-tuks zipping around every corner, and lines of food stalls clanking and buzzing as they open for the nightly markets. A treasury of temples and history mixes with the eclectic and wonderful quirks of this massive city. It may seem impossible to discover a city so large in just a short trip, but we've collected some of our favorite spots should you have a quick stopover in Bangkok. Here a list of the must-see things on a short trip to Bangkok (with a few insider tips from a fellow traveler):
The Grand Palace
The massive royal, grand palace is a must-see while in Bangkok. It's an ornately decorated complex of temples and spectacular buildings used to house the Thai King, his court, and the royal governing bodies. This architectural wonder retains centuries of regal magnificence and continues to act as the grounds for several cultural occasions and religious celebrations that take place in Bangkok. Traveler trip: visit the Grand Palace early in the morning, after opening to avoid the crowds and mid-day heat.
This famous Buddhist temple complex is known for housing the city's largest reclining Buddha. It's one of Bangkok's oldest temples and arguably one of the most spectacular. Traveler Tip: You can (and should) visit the grounds of Wat Pho at night for free! There are no crowds and the decorated stupas are lit up at night—making for an unforgettable visit to the famous temple.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
If your visit falls on a Saturday or Sunday you're in luck! This world-famous weekend market is 27-acres with a swirling maze of streets and aisles selling everything you could ever imagine. With over 15,000 booths, you are sure to find local art, clothing, jewelry and food—basically, if it exists on the planet you will find it here. Make a note of where you enter the market because getting lost is easier than you'd think. Traveler Tip: Be prepared to haggle for what you want. In many cases, you can pay up to 50% less than the first price you were told.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
One of the best known Thai landmarks, this temple is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The Buddhist temple is decorated with colorful mosaics that create a warm brilliance during sunset and sunrise. The active monastery is made up of five tall towers, and for the more adventurous traveler, you can climb to the top of the central stupa (tower) for stunning views of the city. Traveler Tip: at night, the temple is lit up with lights and a spectacular view of the temple can be seen from secret rooftop bars directly across the river. Ask your local guides for tips on the best one to visit.
Floating markets are common in Thailand, but the most famous is the Damnoen Saduk in the Ratchaburi province right outside of Bangkok. On a boat of your own, float down a canal as you negotiate with vendors selling canoes full of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other foods. Traveler Tip: Visit the market in the morning, when it's the liveliest. Don't forget your camera, as this is a cultural wonder and experience you won't want to miss.
Bangkok's Flower Market is open 24 hours a day and is a visually stunning and culturally stimulating experience. You can find hundreds of stalls selling vibrant flowers for all occasions, as well as stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Flowers have great significance in Thailand and are used in a wide array of situations, ranging from religious purposes to decorative use. Traveler Tip: The busiest time at the Flower Market is from just before midnight to the early hours of the morning, as that is when the flower deliveries arrive. If you care to witness the frenzied, energetic charm of this market it's best to visit in those peak hours, however, it's a fun sight to see during the day as well.
Thai Cooking Lesson
If time allows, enjoy an evening of food and culture with cooking lessons for some of your favorite Thai dishes. The sights, smells, sounds, and tastes you encountered at local markets will come together to create the emblematic Thai dishes we all know and love. Learn traditional food preparation techniques and discover the secret to making the perfect green curry and mango sticky rice.
Bangkok is a city worth visiting for its vibrant energy and captivating culture. Should you find yourself traveling to Thailand, check out our trip extension to explore Bangkok and all the city has to offer.