Bangkok is a great destination for international travelers and for regional travelers from around Asia. Whether you’re coming for business or pleasure, for an extended stay or a weekend getaway, Bangkok has lots to offer. And since so many in the Asia Rising community rank Thailand as one of their top destinations, we thought we’d continue our best of series with Bangkok. We recently profiled Hong Kong.
You don’t have to exhaust yourself doing everything in a tourist guide to get a real sense of the Thai capital. We suggest you focus on pleasing all your five senses during your outings in Bangkok, the city that has something for everyone.
Here are our suggestions on how to indulge your senses in the City of Angels.
See the real Bangkok by doing a trip along its canals (referred to as Klongs, in Thai). Life in Bangkok, once upon a time, revolved completely around its waterways, which were the main means of transportation, and the lifeblood of the city. Today, obviously, things are a bit different, and much of urban lifestyle in Bangkok is located off the riverbanks. That’s what makes a canal tour all the more worth your while – so you can get off the tourist track (in a sense) and observe how life once was in Krung Thep (the Thai phrase for Bangkok), and continues to be: slow-paced, yet efficient, and undoubtedly full of culture and smiles.
Bangkok is famous for its street food. You can’t miss Sukhumvit Soi 38 (Thong Lo BTS station), which is a collection of about 20 street stalls and casual restaurants, and is especially popular with the after-clubbing crowd. Still, you can go there earlier for dinner. Be sure to try the yellow curries half-way down the street on the left side, and finish off with the incredible mango sticky rice near the start of the road.
No trip to Bangkok is complete without a Thai massage, which is world-renowned for being able to significantly improve one’s health by removing knots and blockages that build up throughout the body. Head to Health Land (www.healthlandspa.com), which has locations throughout the city (Silom, Sukhumvit, Ekkamai, etc.), for a traditional two-hour Thai massage (450 THB for a private room) by some of the best masseuses in town.
Bangkok’s Flower Market, AKA Pak Klong Talad, is extremely popular amongst locals and visitors alike. It’s possible to buy a bouquet of orchids or long-stemmed red roses here for just 100 THB (about $3 USD). You’ll find all the local species of flowers, including jasmine, chrysanthemum, gerbera, orchids, lilies, and roses, as well as imported flowers, such as tulips, snapdragons, irises, and delphiniums. It’s open 24 hours, though the best times to go are early morning and late night, to avoid the crowds and get the best deals. It’s located at Chak Phet Road, the Memorial Bridge, or Saphan Phut Chao Phraya pier.
To really get a feel for the culture, check out Thailand’s folk music bars. Luk Thung music was developed in the early 20th century in central Thailand, and is comparable to Western country music. There are music halls throughout Bangkok that host performances all week long, and are especially crowded on the weekends. As the night ticks onwards, different singers perform, and the beat gets progressively faster. Best to show up later in the evening. Try: Isaan Tawandaeng, 484 Pattanakarn Road, near intersection of Phetchaburi Road and Phra Khanon Road. +66 (0) 2 717 2320. Open weekdays, 8 p.m.–midnight and 8 p.m.–3 a.m. on weekends.