The capital of this beautiful kingdom is absolutely bustling with activity – which also means it’s packed with people, upwards of 22 million within the Central and Metropolitan Regions. Fortunately, it’s a relatively cheap country to visit, with $1 USD = 35฿ Baht. Bangkok, Thailand has so many things to see and do, that it would be near impossible to include it all in anything shorter than a book. That being said, this is going to be a quick rundown of some activities to keep in mind to help you delve into their culture while visiting.
1. Temples, Temples, Temples
When wandering around the city, it seems as though there are temples on every street corner. Nearly all of them are very ornate, and golden Buddhas are not an uncommon sight. Many of these structures are hundreds of years old, but the people take good care of them to keep them in tip-top shape. Depending on the length of your stay, it may be impossible to see them all, but it’s definitely worth spending a couple days on. Here are some famous ones:
- Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)
- Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
- Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit)
- Grand Palace – this one isn’t a temple, but it is arguably the most famous site in the country. With the building being where the king, court, and royal government were based until 1925, this site gets Disney level crowded, so prepare to go as close to opening as possible.
There are street vendors EVERYWHERE, and they’re all ready to give you a quick, delicious and fresh meal or drink for as little as 30฿. They all seem to be family run, so it’s the equivalent of eating local. Since it’s safe to assume you probably can’t read their alphabet (ตัวอักษรไทย), they often have pictures and simple english menus to help customers with ordering. Note: Many Thai people are happy to help you learn a little of their language and will do their best to help you say it properly, should you ask. There are also plenty of restaurants with all types of food to check out – this is the big city after all. Delicious food is never far away.
An educational stop worth considering is the Red Cross Snake Farm. Thailand has a lot of snakes, many which are poisonous, so the Red Cross uses this site to collect venom for antivenom, give snake demonstrations, and educate anyone willing to come by. They have a small on-site snake building visitors can walk through, as well as an outdoor area. A few times a day, they also give a live snake demonstration with various cobras (the King Cobra included), and other poisonous snakes, teaching listeners what to look out for, how to avoid being bitten, and what happens if you are. Don’t worry, the speaker gives the presentation in English as well as Thai, and you get the opportunity to hold a live Burmese Python!
4. Local Transportation
Tuk-tuks everywhere! In much of Southeastern Asian countries, tuk-tuks or motorbikes are the most efficient way to get around because they’re cheap to buy and maintain, and don’t take up much space on the road. If they can tell you’re a foreigner, the moment you walk into a busy area, you’ll probably head, “Aye tuk-tuk?” Shouted at you from more than one direction. Make sure the driver understands where you’re trying to go (a lot of them know enough english to get by) and it’s not a bad idea to settle on what you’ll pay them before you get in. Prices vary depending on time of day and distance, and even though it’s cheap, try not to let them cheat you out of your money.
Look out when crossing the street! There are crosswalks in many places, but sometimes there isn’t and you just have to go and be aware because people are NOT likely to stop for you, they’ll just go around.
There’s also boat rides to enjoy on the canal if you want a nice breeze to break up the heat, and the metro to get out of the sun while you’re going long distances. The Skytrain is said to be the most popular way to get around the city and will give you a ride above the smaller buildings and around the skyscrapers.
As I said before, there is so much to see, do, and experience in Bangkok. If you get the chance to visit places outside the city, do it. The countryside is beautiful and very different from the cityscape.