Beyond the Khao San road! Bangkok city guide

Night streets of Bangkok. Bangkok city guide
Night streets of Bangkok. Bangkok city guide

For We hardly know anyone who hasn’t been to Thailand. In the beginning I was quite skeptic about Thailand in general, after years of traveling the last place you want to go is one of the most touristy countries in the world. But! I really liked Thailand and won’t mind to go back one day. Here is our Bangkok city guide.

Being not big fans of big cities we actually liked Bangkok, specially the area we were staying, near Lumpini park because of the park itself and a small food market nearby with good and cheap Thai food and fruit.

Giant lizards in Lumpini park, Bangkok city guide

Giant lizards in Lumpini park, Bangkok

Top things to see. Bangkok city guide

Let’s start from the places we liked the most, maybe they are not the most popular or famous but it’s even better.

Lumpini park

We stayed just 10 min. walk from this place. I liked it from the moment I saw huge lizards walking around or chilling in the water. The park is very nice, green, with two lakes, open air ‘gyms’ and playgrounds. Good place to escape city noise and midday heat or go for an evening run. One day we rented a swan-boat (40 Bhat/1$ + 40 deposit) and paddled around a lake for 30 min. Interesting view on the city from the water, while paddling we saw many small turtles and some big fish. Except for all already mentioned wild life in the park you can see many different birds and squirrels. The entrance is free, park opened from early morning till 9pm every day, nearest metro station – Lumpini.

Bangkok from the swan, Lumpini park. Bangkok city guide
Bangkok from the swan, Lumpini park. Bangkok city guide

Bangkok Art and Culture center

I love this kind of modern art spaces, with big empty halls, a lot of natural light, minimalist design, ready to be filled with arty artifacts. The center is quite big with many halls, huge spiral staircase, some restaurants and souvenir shops. All kind of installation and performances will look very harmonic here. The exposition is temporary and is changed from time to time, once in 3-6 months. The entrance is free, opening hours from 9am to 9pm. It’s located right in front of MBK center.

Modern Art and Culture center, Bangkok city guide
Modern Art and Culture center, Bangkok city guide

Chatuchak weekend market

We love markets, specially ones with food, so many interesting exotic things to try! From the name is quite clear that the market is opened only on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am to 6pm, no sense to go there in a week. Here you can find basically anything from clothes to souvenirs, from books to food. Our favorite was gastronomic part with all these durian ice creams, fried squid’s eggs, giant prawns, chicken kebabs and many other delicious and not things to try and taste. To get there is easy by metro, Chatuchak park station is right at the market.

Me trying durian ice-cream, Chatuchak market. After test is quite nice, sweet and fruity
Me trying durian ice-cream, Chatuchak market. After test is quite nice, sweet and fruity
Grilled squids stuffed with squids eggs, delicacy!
Grilled squids stuffed with squids eggs, delicacy!

Chinatown

Every single city in South East Asia (not only) has its own Chinatown and Bangkok is not an exclusion. The area wakes up after the sunset, with lights, music, food stands and cafes opened till late. Nice place to walk on vibrant city streets, try out some Chinese delicacy and watch master chefs juggling knifes and cooking seafood in splashing pans and pots. Food prices vary from noodle soup for 50 to grilled prawns for 200 Bhat/1,5-5$. The nearest metro station is  Hua Lamphong, still will have to walk for about 20 min.

Night streets of Chinatown, Bangkok
Night streets of Chinatown, Bangkok

Little India

Like Chinatown you can find it anywhere. It has some temples, Indian food and clothes shops and street food stands. The most interesting for us was a Sikh temple Sri Guri Singh, where if you come in the morning you can get free Indian food for breakfast. It’s quite common for Sikhs temples (gurudwaras) everywhere. Unlike neighboring China town Little India is very quite at nighttime, all stands and cafes close early, not the best place for a night walk.

Little India, view from a river boat, Bangkok
Little India, view from a river boat, Bangkok

Now about traditional sights, kind of must see when in Bangkok.

Wat (temple) Po

One of the main attractions in Bangkok and definitely worth of visit, the entrance fee is not that expensive, 100 Bhat/3$. Absolutely magnificent complex, very elaborated with many temples, towers, Buddha statues, gardens etc. Can easily spend couple of hours wandering around and admiring its beauty. By the way the famous reclining Buddha ‘lays’ here in the main temple.

Reclining Buddha, Wat Po, Bangkok city guide
Reclining Buddha, Wat Po, Bangkok city guide

Grand Palace

We saw it only from the outside, it looked impressive. The palace was out of our budget, 500 Bhat/14$ the entrance. If you decide to go inside wear some proper clothing, no short skirts/shorts allowed. Opened from 8am to 4pm, 5 min. walk from Wat Po.

Grand palace, view from the outside. Bangkok city guide
Grand palace, view from the outside. Bangkok city guide

Golden mountain

Great view on Bangkok from the top, interesting building, different from other temples, many bells and gongs you can ring and  bang. On the top there is a temple and the view point with free wi-fi, in case you need to post some photos  on your page or check in. Beautiful, definitely worth of visit. The entrance fee is only 20 Bhat/0,5$.

Golden cupola of Golden mountain
Golden cupola of Golden mountain

Marble temple

Very lovely small temple in traditional Thai style with one difference the entire building is from marble, not any random marble but real Italian Carrara marble. Looks very fragile and refined with its snow white marble walls, terracotta roofs and golden ornamentation. Entrance fee 20 Bhat/0,5$, actually you can see it form the garden if don’t want to pay.

Marble temple, Bangkok city guide
Marble temple, Bangkok city guide

Antanata Samakhom Throne Hall

The name is almost like one of those volcanoes in Iceland, very difficult even to read never mind remember! Not far from the Marble temple, very different from other sights in Bangkok,  absolutely western architect style, I’d say Renaissance. Looks like an alien, some giant hand took it from its place somewhere in Italy and placed it there. We didn’t go inside, it was too late for visitors.  Opened  Tue – Sun from 9:30 until 16:00, entrance fee 50 Bhat/1,5$.

Antanata Samakhom Throne Hall, Bangkok city guide
Antanata Samakhom Throne Hall, Bangkok city guide

And now endless Wats of Bangkok…

Wat Saket

Right next to the Golden Mountain, typical Thai temple, beautiful as always, in perfect conditions, probably just renovated, with spacious yard, good for taking photos. Entrance is free.

Wat Saket, Bangkok
Wat Saket, Bangkok

Wat Suthat Thep Wararam

Big complex, was partly on maintenance, the main temple is quite impressive, huge building with massive windows and doors, all decorated with golden ornamentation. At the main entrance you can get free cool drinks or water. We saw some food stands but were too shy to ask for free food, there were mostly monks eating, maybe it’s their canteen or so.

Standing Buddha

Giant statue of Buddha, 32m and Wat Intharawihan, interesting but the statue was a bit disappointing, looked more like giant decoration from the building than outstanding statue.

Wat Hua Lamphong

We went past this temple every day on bus and every time I wanted to jump off and have a look from close by. On our last day we finally went there, the complex is beautiful, specially the pavilion, white color, with some decoration and sculptures, looks like a huge meringue.

Of course there are hundreds of places, palaces and temples to see in Bangkok, we mentioned only a part of it, how much of Bangkok you’ll be able to see depends on time you have but we’d definitely recommend to spend 3 or 4 days in the city, it’ll keep you quite busy.

Infamous Khao San road

To be honest I didn’t like this area at all, looks like a tourist ghetto with all these fried scorpions and cockroaches that nobody eats in Thailand except for tourist, sellers, people trying to put a snake or monkey on you for the photo, annoying taxi drivers and so on… If you are into the party then Khao San road is the right place for you just forget about sleeping at night, too noisy, every second building is a bar or a club. The best thing about Khao San is its location, walking distance from the main attractions. As well as easiness to organize bus, tour, visa etc. to any place in Thailand or nearby countries, it will cost more but for people on holiday paying 2$ extra to skip the hassle in not a big deal.

Khao San road, Bangkok city guide
Khao San road, Bangkok city guide

If you like meeting new people  you can attend a couchsurfing meeting, which takes place every Wednesday in one of Bangkok bars.  We went for one meeting and had a very good time there, met many locals and other tourists, got some advice and tips. All the details at couchsurfing.com.

Shopping malls

We don’t like shopping but had to spend some time in malls searching for a new camera/service center.

MBK shopping center

The most famous mall in Bangkok, in my opinion it’s a bit chaotic, with all sort of random shops, looks more like a market under the roof then a modern mall, not easy to get out, most exits for to the parking area. Fortunately we found here Canon service center and they did very good job repairing our camera in two days and for not expensive. Two things we liked about the mall; first of all, if you’re a foreign tourist (need to show your passport) on the fifth floor in Food court you can get a free cool drink, Thai cold tea. In addition, on the forth floor near escalator you can buy delicious fresh baked Thai sweets, thin waffles with soft meringue inside.

Delicious waffles in MBK shopping center. Bangkok city guide
Delicious waffles in MBK shopping center. Bangkok city guide

SIAM Discovery

Modern shopping mall with original concept, something like shopping with elements of entertainment, many big brands can be found here, plus big variety of food restaurants and cafes. Located across the street from MBK.

Basically all street Ploenchit from the stadium to Lumpini park and on is a big shopping mall, so shopaholics will be satisfied.

Accommodation in Bangkok

We stayed in four different places, nomads we are, three of them on the same street, near Lumpini park and one at Ratchaprarop station.

First Home Hug hostel. I stayed here for two nights while waiting for Campbell to arrive, 200 Bhat/5,5$ for a bed in dorm. Nice place, friendly staff, female dorm was spacious, with a big window, other dorms were quite small, with no windows. AC everywhere, toilet and hot shower on each floor, breakfast (just toasts, jam, tea/coffee), good wi-fi, free drinking water, kitchen with microwave and kettle. 5 min. walk from Rajprarop MRT station, easy to get from Suvarnabhumi airport by train for 40 Bhat.

Second place was Miggy guesthouse, where we moved together. Very nice place if it hadn’t been always fully book we’d have stayed here all the time. Rooms are quite big, with AC, ensuite bathroom, hot shower, small fridge, wi-fi. Very friendly and helpful staff. Located not in the center, in a new part of the city, near Lumpini MRT station, Soi Si Bamphen street. To get to the historical part catch bus 47, can take a while in rush hours. For our double room we paid 400 Bhat/11$.

Near Lumpini park, modern part of Bangkok
Near Lumpini park, modern part of Bangkok

Both places we found in booking.com

After two days we moved out from Miggy to our third place, Mama guesthouse/restaurant, on the same street, one block away. Everything the same, except TV instead of fridge and price difference, here for a double we paid 500 Bhat/14$.

Our forth place was not far from the previous two, closer to 7-elenev, guesthouse with a poetic name Moon house. It was 100 Bhat cheaper, 400/11$. The room wasn’t as nice and neat but quite spacious, clean, with good wi-fi. Downstairs restaurant was ok but portions were a bit small and it was more expensive than to eat street food. In the kitchen we could get hot water for tea, coffee or noodles.

All four places were very quite at night time.

Beautiful decoration on one of the temples at Wat Po
Beautiful decoration on one of the temples at Wat Po

Transport in Bangkok

The fastest way to move in the city is MRT/sky train, no traffic jam, very convenient, AC trains, clean and safe but quite expensive for Thailand. Average price for a trip (depending on distance) from 20 to 40 Bhat/0,50-1$.

Tuk tuk, the easiest to find, they actually find you, tuk tuk drivers are always around. Not the safest way and can be expensive if you’re only one or two passengers. Average price is 100 Bhat/3$.

Taxis, we never use them, too expensive to move around.

Local buses, our favorite in Bangkok, very cheap, not always fast but interesting. For example one trip costs between 8 – 10 Bhat/0,30$, some buses are free. By bus you can get anywhere in Bangkok just a chance to get stuck is quite big. Surprisingly google.maps shows all routes and bus numbers quite precisely

Public bus, Bangkok city guide
Public bus, Bangkok city guide

Food

Often for breakfast we ate 7-eleven sandwiches with cold coffee. For lunch and dinner usually was street food, cheap and good, noodle soup, rice with chicken and vegetables,\ or Pad Thai for about 30-40 Bhat/1$.

Around the corner from our guest houses there was a night food market, not big but with good variety of food, vegetables and fruit. We went there almost every night to buy some takeaway chicken, rice, vegetables, noodles etc.

Again on our street during the day there were many stands with  street food; noodle soup, fried rice, chicken, for about 40 Bhat/1$.

Me eating noodle soup in one of nearby places
Me eating noodle soup in one of nearby places

In conclusion I want to say that you always can find interesting places and go off the beaten track even in a very touristy place or city if you know where to search.

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