Bangkok is like no other. We arrived to the airport in the evening, greeted by Bank, a high school friend of Davids who grew up and lives in Bangkok. The city is filled with skyscrapers, malls, and unique experiences that only Southeast Asia could think to offer. Here is our activity list – a collection put together by myself and Bank and enjoyed with David.
1. Visit the Grand Palace
You can take a ferry or water taxi there, which offers a great view of the city and a break from the traffic. Make a day of it by first going to Mandarin Oriental for high tea (more on this later) and after enjoy their hotel operated wooden ferry boat that will drop you off at the closest taxi dock.
The Grand Palace houses a large temple and is the home of the king. He had just passed the week before we arrived in Bangkok, so many Thais were coming to pay their respect. A large (4+ hour) line outside the palace entrance was filled with individuals wearing all black.
We did not go in. If you visit later in the year the wait should go down. Plan to wear black around the temple for the next year.
2. Erawan Shrine
There are shrines all over Bangkok but the one to not miss is Erawan. This shine houses the Hindu god of creation. People come here to pray for good health, to do well on a test, to win the lottery, etc. Once your prayer has been answered you are supposed to return with a gift of thanks.
The shrine also has a building just behind it that houses 10 women who will bless your prayer. You pay a fee and the group dressed in traditional clothing will dance while you pray. This is a unique experience and I have not seen anything else quite like it in Asia.
3. Malls malls and oh yeah… malls!
Their downtown is filled with places you can spend your money! From high end designer retailers to people selling “I ❤️ Bangkok” shirts. Malls are where the locals hangout. There are dozens of giant malls all connected by trains and walkways (it’s possible to not touch foot outside all day). In addition to stores they also host some great restaurants and nice grocery stores. We suggest going to the food courts, they are often located on the bottom floor and have samples of some of the best food in Asia. These food courts are quaint and well thought out, no Taco Bell or A&W here! Live like a local and hangout and eat at the mall. **our favorites were Siam Paragon, Terminal 21, CentralWorld.
4. Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a combat sport that is a full-body workout. We went to a beginner course at Big Box gym right in downtown Bangkok. The class was a great workout, beginning with a short warm up run, then followed by some ab work.
The instructor then led us through how to deliver proper kicks and punches. We used these combination techniques with partners and soon got the hang of it.
Strap on a pair of boxing gloves, get a great workout, and feel like a thai fighter for an hour. We loved it!
5. Epic Movie Theaters
6. Floating markets
7. Chatuchak Market
8. Skytrain (BTS) and Airport Rail Link
Both are elevated transit systems. Airport Link connects you from the airport or anywhere north of Bangkok to the BTS and is rather easy to use. Be mindful of the signs, if a monk is riding it is customary to give your seat to him.
Tip – you need coins to purchase tickets. The service desk is willing to break bills if you need to.
Bangkok is amazing and so different from Chiang Mai and Phuket. If you are looking for the big city feel in Thailand, you can’t beat it here!