Bangkok is the famous hotspot for backpackers. Even though I knew this, I was still surprised to see the amount of people when I arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. All these travelers had the same idea; “Let’s discover Thailand!”.
They had probably more time than me. I had only one weekend to explore Bangkok. Luckily this is possible and in this blog we will show how!
Bangkok rule number 1: hide your Buddha
While waiting for customs, my eye spotted a poster about Buddha. I knew that Buddhism is followed by more than 90% in Thailand, but I never knew that it is absolutely forbidden to show your Buddha tattoos, images, statues etc. If you do so, you will get a big fine. So, hide your Buddhas before entering Thailand because starting a holiday with a fine is definitely a no go!
Bangkok’s taxi efficiency
After I got my luggage I started to walk straight to the taxi stand. Oh my, I was so happy! This is the most efficient taxi stand I have ever seen in Asia. There are four machines where you can get your ticket and seventy taxi lanes! The machines show you exactly how many people are waiting in line and before you know, it is your turn to jump in a taxi.
In Bangkok it is not needed to negotiate the fare because all taxis are using a meter. If you catch a taxi without a meter, it could be a suspicious one!
In some taxis you can pay by card, but to be on the safe side it is better to withdraw some cash as well.
Even though Thailand is a very tourist-oriented country, the knowledge of the English language is terrible. If you want to go somewhere, make sure that you write the place down. Taxi and tuktuk drivers often understand what you mean when the place is written down (otherwise it could be a surprise for you).
If you take the taxi, ask the taxi driver to use the meter. If you prefer to use the tuktuk, negotiate the price before you get in! It is a fact that you will pay too much if you don’t negotiate. You will probably get the same fights as I had with the tuktuk drivers.
Fun fact from the locals: it’s a men’s world
I was lucky enough to spend some time with the locals and to learn more about the Thai culture and the way they see visitors coming into their country. I quickly learned that they see Thailand as a men’s world. Everything here is focused on men. The locals told me that it is not good to send married men to Thailand because there will be a divorce. In Thailand, there are simply too many temptations for a man.
Spending the weekend in Bangkok
Of course it will be quite challenging to see every corner of Bangkok in one weekend, but we are sure that the following highlights will give you a great impression of this city!
Bang Nam Pheung market
Visiting a floating market was on my bucketlist and I was told that I had to visit the Bang Nam Pheung market. Honestly, I haven’t seen any boats here, but I loved the vibe, food and energy of this place!
All these restaurants make the most delicious meals, so skip your breakfast in the hotel and order something here. Don’t forget to buy some souvenirs before you leave.
Another tip: arrange a taxi for pick up. I had to wait such a long time in the heat; it took like forever before I could catch a taxi.
After spending some time at the market, it is time to go to Wat Saket (only a 40 minutes’ drive from the Bang Nam Pheung market). Wat Saket is a Buddhist temple and is also known as the Golden Mount or Phu Khao Thong. In the 18th century Wat Saket used to be the city’s crematorium. The story is that more than 60.000 bodies were burned here. To reach the top of the temple 300 steps needs to be taken, but the view is absolutely amazing!
When you leave Wat Saket, please don’t forget to hit the gong nine times! Nine times means good luck.
From Wat Saket you can easily travel by tuktuk to the Grand Palace and the other temples. Make sure you negotiate the price! If you feel like an explorer, it is possible to walk, but it ony costs you a little bit more time.
Last year, the King of Thailand passed away. The country had to be in mourning for one year and therefore the locals had to wear black clothes or a black bow. The King was honored everywhere and you could find paintings and pictures of him in every street corner. There was even a small “museum” of him in a shopping mall.
The King’s house is the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace is a fifteen minutes’ drive from Wat Saket and is definitely a must visit. The palace is so beautiful!
If you want to visit the Grand Palace, make sure you have covered your shoulders. Scarfs can be bought on the streets for a lot of money, so it is better to bring something. It is also possible to “rent” clothes at the Grand Palace. For 500 baht you can rent shirts and pants. You will get your money back when you return the clothes.
Wat Pho is definitely my favorite and probably thé must see of Bangkok! This is the oldest and largest temple of Bangkok and is only a ten minutes’ walk from the Grand Palace. Most people know this place as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and the temple where the art of Thai massage was developed. Old recipes of medication are kept here and you can follow five-day massage courses or (even better) get your own massage here. If you have plans to get a massage at Wat Pho, please make sure you book your treatment in advance!
The Reclining Buddha has a length of more than 46 meter and a height of 15 meter. The lying posture symbolizes the highest level that a Buddhist can achieve; the transition to nirvana.
The neighborhood in which Wat Pho is located is Khao San. This is the district for backpackers. Khao San Road is home to many hostels, restaurants and cool coffee shops. Perfect place to relax with a cup of coffee, fresh coconuts or a delicious Thai lunch!
From Wat Pho you can easily walk to Wat Arun since it is almost directly opposite Wat Pho.
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, is one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok. Not only because of its location, but also because of the architecture. You will see the temple with its colorfully decorated spires from far!
Walk to the Sapphan Taksin boat pier to take the boat to Wat Arun. Be aware that there are also private boats and they love to charge you much more than the regular “shuttle boats”. The regular shuttle boats charge you around three baht. The temple entry fee is 100 baht and is open daily from 8.30AM to 6.30PM.
Optional walk: Bang Rak street art and Chinatown
If you have time enough and you wish to explore more and wander around in these little streets, you could choose to walk from Wat Pho to Wat Arun via Chinatown and Bang Rak.
This walk is 14,5 kilometers (if you don’t get lost) and is of course a great way to see more of Bangkok. Chinatown is like you literally walk in China and Bang Rak is known for its commercial area. You can find here night markets, pubs, go-go markets and a red light district. For the street art lovers; this is the perfect place to see some awesome street art.
The best place to end your weekend is the Chatuchak market. This is the weekend market of Bangkok. Worldwide it is one of the biggest markets and is therefore it is also known as “the mother of all markets”; 3.500 shops are located here and you can find literally every product you need! Shoes, clothing, phone accessories, home accessories, food, ice cream, drinks, souvenirs, make up, sunglasses, belts..
You can even drink a beer or cocktail in one of the bars (incl. free WiFi!) or get a relaxing massage for a few euros at one of the salons. The prices at this market are reasonable, but it is recommened to negotiate the price..
The best coconut ice cream can also be found at the Chatuchak market. Don’t forget to buy one (or more) before you leave.
More time and feel like shopping?
If you still have time left and you feel like shopping, you could go to one of the shopping malls. One of the biggest shopping malls in Bangkok is Siam mall. Here you can find international and Western brands. The Palladium mall is the place to be if you are looking for cheap(er) telecom products and computers. If you are more into clothes, Platinum would be the mall for you. In this mall you can find shoes, souvenirs and lots of clothes!
We hope we inspired you with this blog. If you have any questions or you want to see more of Thailand, please feel free to contact us or check our Thailand video.
If you are staying longer in Thailand than one weekend, the Khao Sok National Park would definately be a must visit!