Voya’s guide to the capital of the 'Land of Smiles'
Bangkok is a bustling, vibrant city, that despite the humidity, charms everyone who visits. Part of its charm is the huge amount of culture and history waiting for visitors to discover, but a big part are the helpful and friendly locals. Nothing is ever too much trouble in Bangkok, and the locals truly care that you have the best possible experience in their city.
Trying the local dishes is a huge part of taking in the culture of the city. Thai food is extremely fresh and flavourful, perfect for cooling down in the hot and humid weather. Stay away from the tourist traps and eat in small, hidden away restaurants and market stalls. One of the must-do things while you’re in Bangkok is to try some of their street food. Head to one of the many street food markets and follow your nose. This is the best way to try as many of the local dishes and snacks as possible and get a taste for the local flavours. One of the best Thai phrases you can learn is pet nit noiwhich means “only a little spicy” even the biggest spice lovers will struggle with fiery Thai cuisine.
While there are plenty of temples and museums for culture lovers to explore, there are many other fun activities you can do to get a feel for the city. One of the first things to do after landing is to take a cruise on Chao Phraya River. The river cuts through the centre of the city and offers a unique vantage point of the Royal Palace and some of the famous temples. It is a great way to see the city while you jetlagged and unprepared for the bustling streets. Bangkok is also one of the best places to see a Muay Thai fight. While it is popular on the islands, Bangkok’s Muay Thai is for the locals rather than tourists. When you are booking your trip, check out what fights are on at Rajadamnern Stadium.
Bangkok is world-famous for stupidly fun nightlife. There’s the notorious Khaosan Road which is a hub for backpackers wanting a cheap bar crawl. You will meet people from all over the world while you drink beer by the bucket and dance in the streets. Sukhumvit is the place to go if you are undecided about what kind of night out you want. There is something for every taste, wine bars, clubs, and go-go bars right next to each other. It is also home to the red light district and some fantastic ladyboy shows. If your ideal night out is more refined, then there are plenty of trendy establishments around the city. One of the most famous is the Lebua Skybar which is the highest open-air bar in the world. It offers amazing views over Bangkok, delicious cocktails, and some fantastic live jazz music. You may recognise it as the bar from the Hangover which has made it even popular in recent years.
Because of Bangkok’s tropical climate, the weather is generally always hot and humid. Instead of four seasons, there are two: cool season and monsoon season. Cool-season, November to February is the best time to visit Bangkok as the weather is drier and less humid. During March to June the humidity can be unbearable for those not used to it, and June to November is usually extremely rainy.
Thai is the official language of Thailand and the first language of most of the residents in Bangkok. However, with booming tourism, a lot of Thai people, especially in big cities like Bangkok, speak English to some degree. Chinese is another language that a lot of Thai people will be able to speak a little.
VOYA’S FAVOURITE PLACES TO VISIT INCLUDE
Floating markets are a must-see in Bangkok, but because of this, a lot of tourists do them. If you’re going to floating markets, be sure to get up early so you are mingling with the locals as they go about their routine. There are so many sights and smells to capture your attention, so be sure to go with a fully charged camera, and an empty stomach.
Wat Benchamabophit is one of the prettiest temples in Bangkok and the perfect backdrop for Instagram photos. It is designed in a mix of European and Thai architecture, creating a beautiful, ornate temple. There are so many amazing temples to visit in Bangkok, but make sure this one is top of your list.
VOYA'S FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY INCLUDE
The Mode Sathorn in Bangkok is a great value modern hotel. It’s rooms are spacious and comfortable, the rooftop restaurant and bar is a great spot to enjoy cocktails and tapas in the evening. The best feature, though, is the heated infinity-edge pool which offers gorgeous views over the city.
The Sofitel So Bangkok is so beautiful that you will not want to leave the hotel to explore the city. The design combines the precise aesthetics of French style and the ornate beauty of Thai design to create a visual feast. The staff uniforms and executive lounge were even designed by French fashion designer Christian Lacroix. Aside from the look of the hotel, expect high end facilities like an infinity pool overlooking Lumpini Park, and an iPad in each of the suites.
VOYA'S FAVOURITE DISHES TO TRY
If you can handle spicy dishes, then Pad Krapow is flavourful dish you have to try. A meat of your choice, or tofu, is stir-fried with chillies and fresh basil to create an aromatic and peppery dish which is served on top of rice with a runny fried egg.
Pad See Eiw is a great dish if you don’t like spicy food. Thick rice noodles are stir-fried with your choice of meat, Chinese broccoli, and cabbage. It is a filling and flavorful dish that is typically Thai and found everywhere.