48 Hours In Bangkok, Thailand

Above: The Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand
Above: The Royal Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

As the home to more than 8 million people, Bangkok, Thailand is an absolute zoo of a city. The sweltering Thai capital is chaotic in every sense of the word, but it also happens to be one of the most exciting cities in the world, and one very much worth exploring.

Here’s everything you need to know before checking Bangkok out for yourself.

What to do:
At one point or another, all of Thailand’s neighbouring countries were colonized by England or France. Thailand itself, however, is the only South East Asian country to have never been colonized by a European power, and as such, it’s home to an undiluted and truly riveting national history. Much of this history is in Bangkok. Visitors with an interest in history will enjoy the city’s Grand Palace, the glimmering gold residence of the King of Siam, as well as a long list of ancient temples such as Wat Arun, Wat Pho and best of all, Wat Prakeaw, which is regarded as the most sacred of the countless Buddhist temples in Thailand.

Other must-see attractions in Bangkok include a famous floating market, the mighty Chao Phraya River, China town, and of course, the infamous Khao San Road.  Be warned though, Khao San Road is absolutely crawling with backpackers. It is a hive of Western adventurers, pleasure-seekers and snake-blood drinkers, which means it won’t give you a very accurate picture of the real Bangkok.

Last but not least, there’s Muay Thai, the ultra violent national sport of Thailand, which can be witnessed inside venues all of the city, and most notably, inside Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.

Where to eat:
Bangkok – and Thailand as a whole – is home to some of the best goddamn eating on earth. You can quote us on that. Pad Thai, fried rice, delicious soups… you will find it all in Bangkok, both in charming restaurants, and cooked fresh on sizzling grills by friendly street vendors.

Of course, as a bona fide cosmopolitan city, Bangkok is also home to some truly inspired, gourmet cuisine. The city’s downtown is littered with restaurants that have dazzled some of the world’s most refined and respected palates – such as Anthony Bourdain. Some of the most famous are JP, Rock, and Punjab Grill.

Then, of course, there’s the Toastie, a staple in the diet of nearly all young travelers in the Thailand. This beloved snack, which is essentially a cheese and meat sandwich, is sold at 7-Elevens all across the country. That said, its ingredients are so processed that it’s difficult to confidently call this snack real food. Eat it at your peril.

Where to drink:
If you’re looking for somewhere to drink in Bangkok, you could literally throw a dart at a map of the city and end up somewhere good. This Thai metropolis is crammed to the edges with fantastic watering holes of all types and descriptions.

There are, of course, the many bars and nightclubs on Khao San Road, though the prevalence of young backpackers in these places will leave you feeling like you’re on a North American university campus, not in Thailand.

Off Khao San, try Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar, Vertigo Bar, Opus Wine Bar, The Bamboo Bar, or Sky Bar for something a little swankier, and The Clubhouse Sports Bar & Grill, The Rock Pub and The Sportsman for a more casual vibe. Or simply deke into any of restaurant on any Bangkok street for cheap bottles of Chang and Tiger Beer.

Where to shop:
Though Bangkok is home to thousands of interesting shops, you should head to a mall if if you’re looking for a higher end shopping experience. Some of the city’s most popular malls include Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, EmQuartier, Siam Discovery, and Central Embassy Shopping Mall, each of which houses outlets for your favorite luxury brands.

Bangkok is also home to dozens of enchanting markets, throughout which you’ll find unique, artisan products not available anywhere else in the world. If this sounds like your cup of tea, try Pratunam Market, Klongsan Market and most importantly, Chatuchak Market. Just be sure to hang onto your wallet and personal belongings. While pickpocketing isn’t a huge problem in Bangkok, it’s always best to be wary in crowded, tourist-dense destinations like the markets listed above.

Where to stay:
Where you stay in Bangkok will depend on the kind of experience you’re hoping to have in the city, and more importantly, on your budget.

If you’re fine with traveling on a shoestring budget, and you aren’t opposed to crashing in multi-person dorms, set your sites on one of the countless hostels on Khao San Road. Some of our favorites are Warm White Hostel, Buddy Lodge and Sleep Tight Hostel.

If you’re traveling on a bigger budget, well, take your pick from a seemingly endless number of luxury hotels. There’s the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. There’s the Peninsula Bangkok Hotel. There’s the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort. There’s the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok. For the big-budget visitor to beautiful Bangkok, the options are limitless.

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor is a globetrotting writer currently based in Ottawa, Canada. He covers mixed martial arts for Fightland and Vice Sports, and freelances for a number of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TomTayMMA.

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