- 3 days
Things To Do
- Iwane 1975 – Great for healthy food options that are fresh. Excellent coffee.
- Kuppadeli – Great for breakfast, healthier options. Excellent coffee.
- Firehouse Pub – Awesome burgers, cheap happy hour beers.
- Gedhawa – Excellent thai food. Fresh and delicious in a great spot. I can’t remember what we had but it was all good.
- Bkk Fatty – Great blog for finding all types of food options in Bangkok.
- Eating Thai Food – The name is pretty straight forward. Solid blog about where to find the best Thai food stuffs.
I guess I was wrong; according to Wikipedia, Bangkok is NOT on the surface of the sun? Could have fooled me.
Prior to arriving in Bangkok we had spent 2 weeks in Hong Kong. It was hot in Hong Kong and we expected it to be, but we didn’t think it would be too bad in Bangkok at the beginning of November. We were wrong. It was seriously hot and humid. I couldn’t be outside for more than 5 minutes without breaking a sweat.
This put a damper on things. It wasn’t too pleasant to go exploring much so we really didn’t do a whole lot while in Bangkok. Regardless of the heat, we still had a great time and did some fun things.
During our time there we stayed at SmartSuites, right in the heart of the touristy neighborhood of Lower Sukhumvit. SmartSuites was everything you could want from a budget hotel. The staff and location were great. Our room was comfortable, clean, and cool (probably the most important attribute). From there we could easily set out to explore more of the city.
We didn’t spend a lot of time visiting temples or any of the usual cultural sights many come to Thailand for while in Bangkok. We figured we’d get plenty of that during our time in Chiang Mai, and we did. Instead we wandered around, eating and checking out what the city had to offer.
Here are some of the things we recommend when visiting Bangkok.
Sounds silly, I know, but Bangkok has some of the best movie theaters in the world. Seriously; they are no joke. For the price of an iMax showing in the US we got a 2 person pod with reclining lounge chairs in a theatre that sat no more than 20 people. Prior to the showing you sit in a separate lounge area where drinks and food are served and they usher you into the theater when it is time for the movie. It is the first-class theater experience (ours actually happened to be sponsored by an airline, oddly enough). A drink and popcorn are complementary and it is a great escape from the heat. The movies tend to be in English with Thai subtitles so no language barrier here.
We have been to a lot of markets throughout Asia and frankly they all start to look the same. They sell cheap wares to tourists that think they are getting some crazy deal. The Weekend Market in Bangkok is different. It is a huge marketplace with permanent stalls for merchants selling everything from clothing to housewares to artwork. It has its fair share of cheap crap, but there is a surprising amount of well-made, unique, and inexpensive items. Many of the stalls are owned and operated by independent designers. Aside from the high quality and low cost, there are also postal services located throughout the market, making shipping stuff home convenient. Even if you aren’t looking to buy anything, it is a good time. There are many food vendors, even some cafes and restaurants where you can sit and have a meal. Make sure to grab a fruit smoothie if you go.
The market is located just of the MRT at the Kamphaeng Phet exit making it incredibly easy to get to. Even though the internet says it opens at 9, we were there closer to 10 and some stalls were just opening up.
We by no means recommend going to Bangkok to check out the malls. However, if you are in Bangkok, the malls are pretty much unavoidable. They are everywhere. They are also another great place to escape the heat, but what is really great is checking out the food options. Many of the malls have excellent food courts with a huge array of options. Lastly, the malls are just a spectacle. Bangkok takes their malls very seriously and some of them are very well designed.
Wander the Side Streets
The main streets aren’t very interesting and they are clogged with foot traffic. Venture off of them and check out the side streets where you will find some hidden gems. Make sure to have at least some sense of where you are going, though. The layout of side streets is not logical and many streets will randomly come to and end. It is very easy to get completely lost if you don’t have a map. I’d recommend just using Google Maps on your phone.
Bangkok is a major city and there are tons of food options. You can get all kinds of food items as well, not just Thai. At this point in our trip we were looking to take advantage of the variety of food while we had the opportunity. Although we did have some great Thai food in Bangkok, specifically at Gedhawa, we also ate one of the best burgers we have had on our entire trip at Firehouse Pub and some desperately needed greens at Iwane 1975.
Bangkok likes to party. I mean seriously party. We aren’t partiers so we didn’t explore that side of the city, especially since we had no interest in watching shows involving ping pong balls (don’t act like you didn’t know that was a thing here). Yeah, Bangkok can be fucking nuts. Drinking is not a problem in Bangkok and can be pretty inexpensive. There are a lot of options, but mostly basic beer and cheap watery cocktails. Of course, there’s more this international city than ladyboy cabaret or strip clubs. Everything from upscale cocktail bars to beer slinging Irish pubs are available.
Let’s dispel one thing right away, Thai Iced Tea and Coffee are American inventions and aren’t widely available. When you do find them, you will notice they are identical to what you find at home.
Bangkok has a surprising number of good coffee spots. Yes, there are tons of Starbucks and Black Canyon Coffee, but there are lots of small independent cafés serving some excellent coffee, such as Iwane 1975 and Kuppadeli. And don’t worry, iced coffee is available everywhere.
As we mentioned before, it was oppressively hot and we had limited time in Bangkok, so we didn’t do much. Regardless, here are some things we didn’t do, but that come highly recommended:
Get a Custom Tailored Suit, Jacket and or Shirts
I actually considered this because it is such an excellent deal and comes so highly regarded (its also something I’ve always wanted to do). Throughout Bangkok there are tailors offering custom tailored suits for $99 and completed in a day. These are NOT the tailors I’m referring to. The ones I’m talking about are ones like Empire Tailors. The suits cost around $400 USD and take a week to create, requiring multiple fittings. I don’t wear suits often, nor did I have enough time in Bangkok, but I did still consider this.
Not something we normally seek out (so we didn’t), but apparently this is a highlight for many who visit Bangkok. I’m not sure which shows are best, but I’m sure there are lots of recommendations out on the web. Note: it probably isn’t a good idea to research this at work.
Ok, so there are multiple in Thailand, but as you will notice, taxis only advertise the one and refer to it as “The Floating Market”. Check out the link below to sort out which one you want to visit.
Originally, this seemed like a cool thing to check out, but upon arriving we decided against it. Maybe it was all off the annoying taxi drivers hawking this trip or the fact that we were about to head into a more “authentic” part of Thailand (whatever the hell that means), but we didn’t go. From what we understand, it is essentially a destination for tourists although there are parts that are still used by locals. Basically, it’s a market on the water where items are sold along the delta as well as from boats on the water. Tourists love this shit (I think for the photo ops), so prepare to wade through ridiculous camera lenses and locals hawking random crap. Getting there is a bit tricky and requires a taxi or a shuttle provided by a tour company.
Temples and Wats
There are a lot of them scattered throughout Thailand and Bangkok is no exception. If it hadn’t been so fucking hot while we were in town, we would have checked some out. Instead we waited until we got to Chiang Mai to explore some of Thailand’s temples and wats. If you have no plans of going elsewhere in Thailand, or are just looking for something to do while in Bangkok, go check some of them out. They are extraordinary structures and all offer something unique (new or old).
Have you been to Bangkok? Share your thoughts and experiences here or on Twitter @retreat2movefwd.