There are a hundred and one things to do in Bangkok even during a short holiday. Here are just six of them!
Enjoying Streetfood at Yaowaraj
Yaowaraj is the main artery of Bangkok’s Chinatown. While this area is hardly on top of the foreign visitor’s Bangkok to-do lists, local love this area of their city, especially in the evening when the gigantic neon signs are really alluring, and the streets are filled with food stalls, carts, and makeshift restaurants offering various goods and delicacies. If you like Chinese, try to find Soi Phadung Dao (Soi Texas) for the city’s best selection of Chinese restaurants. If you’re not that squeamish, just on a tight budget, or simply willing to try what the locals do, take a seat in one of the numerous street restaurants and enjoy eating for no more than Bt50. You might enjoy yourself! You can even just go there for an exploratory walk, immersing yourself in the ambience and atmosphere, as our friend, the regional country manager of Japan Airlines Toshikatsu Kitano sometimes does on his free time because, “It’s fun, and interesting!” he said. You can take buses – 508, 48, 25, etc — easily from anywhere in Bangkok to Yaowaraj; or you can take a boat from Saphan Taksin and get off at the Talingchan Pier.
Malling for arts and shopping
Bangkok’s fame as a shopping haven is quite justified, and with the proliferation of new trendy, plush mega malls within easy reach of tourists, shopping in Bangkok has become all the more an appealing proposition. Two of the major shopping venues that rank high as tourist favorites are CentralWorld on Ratchaprasong District, and Mah Boon Kong (MBK) on Phaya Thai Road. CentralWorld is on the heart of the city’s major tourist hub, where other glitzy shopping malls and five-star hotels are also located, and has a direct access to the sky train via a connecting sky bridge. Dubbed as a lifestyle-shopping destination of Bangkok, it is great even for just taking a break from the Bangkok heat. Both chic international brands and top-flight Thai brands are represented here, along with many other kinds of shops and stores. It also boasts a wide range of eateries, and there’s a cinema complex on the 7th floor. CentralWorld regularly holds events and exhibits that add to the pleasure of visiting it. Also, don’t forget to check out Gaysorn Plaza, Erawan Shopping Mall, Amarin Plaza, Central Chidlom, Central Embassy, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, and The EmDistrict malls – all along the skytrain route. MBK is very tourist oriented, and indeed, it can be crowded day in and day out especially during the peak season of tourists. There’s a dedicated Thai arts and crafts section, aside from the department store, as well as sections devoted to computer, cell phones and other electronic gadgets. There’s a cinema complex as well and a number of restaurants to complete the “malling” experience. Some people say that prices of goods here are more inexpensive compared to other major malls on the route, but it really depends on what you are buying. These shopping centers are all accessible via the BTS skytrain.
Get trendy in Thonglor
They say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well, when in Bangkok, go where the Bangkokians go for dining, drinking, shopping and sheer fun. And where is it today, but in Thonglor? Thonglor – more officially Sukhumvit 55 — is the new hip street for entertainment as far as young Thai professionals congregate and the city’s chic crowd, including discerning expats and tourists are increasingly getting attracted to. Once simple known as Bangkok’s “Beverly Hills “of sorts – meaning the place where a great many well-placed, high-heeled people live — Thonglor today (and by extension, Ekamai) has become a veritable true-blue entertainment hub with restaurants, stores, bar and clubs – often described as hip, trendy, chic — proliferating since the 1990s. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it, “Thonglor considers itself as a place for a residential/commercial/artistic zone with eclectic neighborhood, creative designer, fashionable retailer, conceptual boutique mall, prime residential and entertainment district, surrounded by hip shopping venues, first-class supermarkets, cool entertainment spots, prominent restaurants and leading hospitals.” The main access to Thonglor, if you’re a visitor, is by the BTS skytrain (Thonglor Station), but many streets from main Sukhumvit Road actually cut through it.
Chill-out in Khao Sarn
Who hasn’t heard of Khao San Road? This famous destination for travelers and budget tourists is like an icon in the world’s backpacker culture, that it is even said that missing Khao Sarn on a trip to Bangkok is akin to missing the Eiffel Tower on a trip to Paris. This short street on Bangkok’s Banglamphu area – dubbed as “The Place to Disappear” by Susan Orlean, offers relatively cheap accommodation (hotels and guesthouses), restaurants, pubs, clubs, shops selling all kinds of night bazaar items; travel agents, etc. It is very near the city’s major tourist landmarks (The Grand Palace is just 1 km away), and it is said that you can arrange your entire Asian trip from here. “Khaosan” translates as “milled rice” and indeed the street was a former major rice market. The street has become a popular chill-out place among local residents in recent years, and especially among young Thais probably because it is close to Silpakorn and Thammasat universities, and probably because they have been infected by its growing fun reputation. One Thai writer has described Khaosan as “a short road that has the longest dream in the world.”
Cruising along the Chao Phraya River
Bangkok at night certainly dazzles but nowhere is this more spectacular than from a river cruise along the Chao Phraya River. Imagine watching those shimmering temples, glistening skyscrapers, not to mention a rich stream of nocturnal traffic that greets the eye from all corners while you wine and dine in luxurious surroundings. Rivers and canals have always been vital forms of communication for Thais and the Chao Phraya River is especially central to the kingdom’s history. It was on this river that the Bangkokians first settled before gradually spreading into the core of the country. Traces of this past history can be seen in the varying architectural landmarks along the river. As well, visitors can still get a glimpse of the Thais’ traditional riverine lifestyle even though Bangkok has become an ultra modern city. The river throbs with many river cruises that offer not only magnificent views but also delectable Thai food, topnotch service, and sometimes, even great live music. Tourists can book such a river cruise through travel agents or rent a boat at Tha Chang (Tel: 02 225-6179, 02 623-6169), a pier near the Grand Palace, or Tha Si Phraya (Tel: 02 235-3108) near the River City Shopping Complex.
Take in the view – up on the rooftop restaurants
Scaling the heights is a continuing trend in the Bangkok wine and dine scene. Proof? The excellent rooftop bars and restaurants that have been mushrooming around the city, and there are many. Some of these fun places with great views are located at the major hotels – Vertigo and Moon Bar of Banyan Bangkok, 360 Degrees of Millennium Hilton, Red Sky of Centara CentralWorld, Rib Room of Landmark Bangkok, Rooftop Gastro of Siam at Siam, among others – but there are also stand alone places that offer unique experiences and justify being a bit extravagant during your trip, such as The Long Table. Besides the awesome city views of these rooftop venues, many also boasts stunning décor, fabulous food and drinks, and gracious service. One particular place to enjoy rooftop bliss, in a manner of speaking, is The Dome and Lebua at State Tower, which hosts a number of bars and restaurants with different names and themes such as Sirocco, billed as the world’s highest open-air restaurant.
Of course, we can list some more, but as travel experts say, “Bangkok has many faces and exploring everything it has to offer is a lifetime endeavor.” It cannot be all accommodated in any simple 10 things to do list! Enjoy!