Every year many thousands of foreign visitors either visit or pass through Bangkok, and most will be busy with the typical tourist attractions like visiting the Golden Buddha, shopping in Khao San Road, and possibly taking a stroll through the infamous evening entertainment area of Patpong. While those places are very popular and definitely worth a look if they appeal, there’s so much more that Bangkok has to offer those who choose to veer away from the standard guide book recommendations and selling focused bus tours.
Even with just a few days to explore and enjoy this fascinating capital city it is possible to get glimpses of what lays beneath the façade, and experience a more authentic Bangkok than you would have otherwise.
1 – Cruise the River
The Chao Phraya River is popular with visitors and worth a visit, but by choosing to get on a regular water taxi as the locals do, you get to avoid the expensive organized tourist tours.
2 – Explore the Suburbs
At the edge of Bangkok, you can find Koh Kret Island, a place with fields and stilt houses but no cars at all. Locally made pottery would make a great souvenir or keepsake.
3 – Stay in a Nice Hostel
Avoid the anonymous experience of hotel rooms by opting for a backpacker hostel in Bangkok instead. Once the domain of low budget travellers, these days affordable but classy boutique backpacking hostels have rewritten the rules, offering comfortable rooms along with instant access to information and insight on things to do and see.
4 – See the City by Bike
This is one case where an organized tour is wisest, as experienced guides can lead you on a tour of a Bangkok most tourists will never see. From back streets and flower markets to snack stalls and abandoned buildings way off the beaten track, this is a definite ‘to do’ for the adventurous visitor.
5 – Shop at Old Siam Plaza
This is the indoor market of choice for Thai people, so although you won’t find souvenirs and other items aimed at tourists there are plenty of other things to buy, including clothes, purses and Thai candies. It’s open from 9am until 7 in the evening, every day of the week.
6 – Enjoy an Evening in the Trendy Part of Town
For a change from noisy bars and cheap drink offers, check out Thong Lor, the trendy area where Thai professionals come out to play. The upmarket bars, nightclubs, restaurants and music venues do have dress codes so this is the perfect excuse to dress up.
These are just a few of the many ways to experience aspects of the city which typical visitors may not. Bangkok is a treasure chest of culture, fun and history so why settle for doing the same old things as every other visitor when there is so much more open to those who care to find it.