Top 3 Ways to See Bangkok
Before discussing the sights of the city themselves, there are three very interesting and unique ways to see the grit, splendour and contradictions of Bangkok up close and personal. Bangkok offers its sights to visitors in the form of bicycle tours, canal tours or tuk-tuk tours proving that occasionally, the journey is in fact the destination when exploring.
Cycling Tours – Pedal Your Way Around
Cycling around the city is a fun, exciting and gloriously independent way of unearthing Bangkok’s hidden local gems, tucked away alleyways and countryside.
Many tour companies offer bicycle rental and although not a safe option for the chaotic streets of Bangkok itself, cycling leisurely through temples, parks, markets and the more residential areas makes for an excellent afternoon. A few companies offer various packages, some with a meal included and as well as guided tours.
For those who are looking for self-directed freedom, 'Go' Bangkok Bicycle Tours, offers full day, half day and hourly bike rental for self-guided exploration. Bicycles are rented at THB 300 for the day or THB 50 per hour including a helmet, lights, lock and carry bag.
Canal Tours – See the City from Water
Canal tours of Bangkok city are also fun ways to see the city from a different vantage point and take in the scenery while being gently transported down the Chao Phraya River.
Although somewhat expensive at around THB 1000, visitors can also hop in a public express boat for a much cheaper rate. The majority of the canal boat trips begin on the eastern bank and journey along the currents of Thonburi. Passengers will be able to see Wat Arun, a floating market as well as the Royal Barges National Museum from the water and can even head all the way to Nonthaburi on a morning trip.
Tuk-tuk tours – Go Local Style
The much-loathed and much-adored iconic tuk-tuks are also a fine means of sightseeing while in Bangkok.
Visitors can easily arrange a city-tour in a rattling tuk-tuk by negotiating a price with any tuk-tuk driver on any street corner. Alternatively, many of the tour operators will usually own a tuk-tuk themselves or know a friend who has one, who can take you on a tour.
Top 3 Local Experiences in Bangkok
Muay Thai – Enjoy the Ancient Martial Art
Combining electrifying entertainment with an ancient martial art, Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is an exhilarating means of diving into one of the multifaceted dimensions that make up authentic Thai culture.
Muay Thai is the country’s national sport and being a cheering (or cringing!) spectator at one of the 90-minute shows is an excellent experience for sport enthusiasts or visitors looking for a thrilling night out in Bangkok. The electric atmosphere of a jam-packed stadium with a cheering crowd and loud, rhythmic music is a truly unique experience.
While there are many stadiums all across the city, the biggest fights where the Thai champions compete, take place at the Lumpini and Ratchadamnoen stadiums in Bangkok. Each night several fight competitions occur in either of the stadiums with different age and weight classes competing. Doors open from 6pm onwards and tickets cost between THB 1000 and THB 2000 depending on closeness to the boxing ring.
Cultural performances – Learn the Fascinating History of Thailand
Conducted in the massive 2,000-seat Ratchada Theatre, Siam Niramit in Ratchadaphisek features the world’s highest stage and it is here that over 100 performers portray the fascinating history of Thailand in a breathtaking and dazzling performance. An artistic masterpiece and a true depiction of the vibrancy, history and legacy of the different regions in Thailand, this show is astoundingly magical and makes for a beautiful night out in Thailand’s capital.
Located on Tiamruammit Road, opposite Thailand Cultural Centre, tickets cost between THB 1500 and THB 2,850 depending on the class of seat and whether dinner is included.
Floating markets – Traditional Way of Shopping
The final must-see local experience in Bangkok is hands down the weekend Amphawa Floating Market on the picturesque Amphawa canal.
Although increasing in popularity over recent years, this market still boasts a beautiful air of authenticity and with the traditional wooden boats floating merrily down the river with fresh produce piled in, this spot is a photographer’s paradise. Boat trips to nearby temples are on offer as well as evening firefly boat rides. With the local food stalls and affordable and local cuisine, this is an excellent opportunity to people-watch and get a true sense of the everyday culture.
Top 3 Temples to Visit in Bangkok
Wat Arun – the Temple of Dawn
Engraved on the back of all the 10 baht coins, is easily our favourite temple in all of Bangkok – Wat Arun, also known as Temple of Dawn.
Located on the west bank of the famous Chao Phraya River the stunning Buddhist temple’s spires are adorned with exquisite pieces of fragmented Chinese porcelain, and with its riverside location Wat Arun possesses an air of grandeur across the water. Temple-goers will need to hop into a riverboat headed to Pier 8 at Sapphan Taksin pier. From Pier 8 a shuttle boat will take you across the river for a very meagre fee. Wat Arun is open daily from 8:30am until 5:30pm, entrance into the temple is charged at TBH 100 per person.
Wat Pho – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Across from Wat Arun lies another beautiful Buddhist temple, Wat Pho, home to the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world and Thailand’s greatest collection of Buddha images.
Wat Pho is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, a school of Thai medicine and is also known as the leading school of massage in the whole country. With the impressive 46 meter, gold leaf covered Buddha and tranquil atmosphere of the temple complex, a visit to Wat Pho is a wonderful way to while away an hour or so away from the busy city. Open from 8am until 5pm, entrance costs TBH 100.
Wat Phra Kaeo – the Temple of the Emerald Buggha
The last of the must-see Bangkok temples, is the world-renowned Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Place situated at Na Phra Lan Road in the heart of the capital.
The palace was the former home to King Rama I to King Rama V but in recent years is used to host royal ceremonies. The whole complex is divided into two main sections, namely, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo), which contains a Buddha statue carved from solid jade, and the royal home consisting of the Outer, Middle and Inner Court. Arguably the most spectacular temple in all of Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaeo is open from 8:30am until 3:30pm with a rather steep entrance fee of TBH 500.
Top 3 Viewpoints in Bangkok
Park Society Terrace at SO Sofitel Bangkok – Sathon Road
Overlooking the gorgeous Manhatten-esque Lumphini Park, lives Park Society Terrace on the 29th floor rooftop of the SO Sofitel Bangkok on Sathorn Road.
This exquisite open-air restaurant and bar is as sophisticated as they come. For those with generous entertainment budgets and an appreciation for the finer things in life, this is the ideal spot to soak up the splendor of the city.
Sky Bar at Lebua – Silom Road
Boasting the glory of being one of the highest open-air bars in the world is the swanky Sky Bar at Lebua on Silom Road.
This spot is known famously as being a key feature in the Hangover Part 2 movie, has won numerous awards and gained worldwide recognition. With the sunset glinting off the glass and metallic skyline followed by twinkling city lights and starry skies, the phrase ‘the high life’ will take on a whole new meaning.
River Vibe at the River View Guest House
For those with smaller budgets and catering more for the backpacker crowd, River Vibe atop the River View Guest House is a gorgeous spot to take in the city surrounds without any bothersome dress code with very reasonable priced drinks.
River Vibe overlooks a lovely stretch of the Chao Phraya River and with its cheerful atmosphere and friendly crowd, this open-air restaurant and bar gets two big thumbs up.