For anyone who’s visited Bangkok it won’t be a surprise to know that the dynamic metropolis is by far and away Asia’s most visited city. From historical sites such as the spectacular Grand Palace to the ultra-modern shopping malls of Siam, the City Of Angels’ offers an unrivaled diversity of attractions that appeal to every traveler. Bangkok’s most popular tourist sites are well known but how do locals enjoy life in their home city? In our latest blog post we give some insider tips on how to see Bangkok through local eyes; from where to escape the hustle and bustle and find quiet green spaces to where to find the tastiest street food.
Chatuchak beyond the market: Undoubtedly a Bangkok institution, Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest in Thailand, and home to no less than 15,000 different shops and stalls that sell everything from t-shirts to rare antiques. Situated in the north of the city, just 15 minutes from the center on the super-efficient BTS, it’s a mecca for those wishing to head home with suitcases bursting at the seams. It can though get notoriously busy towards the middle of the day and so for a calmer experience we suggest heading outside the confines of the market, where a less hectic atmosphere awaits. On the corner of Kamphaeng Phet Rd sits a series of vintage shops that are filled with retro items and replica furniture from different eras and this area is home to some of Bangkok’s most talented and creative individuals. Across the road sits Or Tor Kor Market, a fresh food and flower market which sells an array of fruit and vegetables from the region. Watch the locals shop for their supplies or pick up some for yourself and head to Chatuchak Park to enjoy the vast green space whilst feasting on your picnic. Here you can hire bikes and explore the park’s expanse and unique sculptures. Don’t forget to pop into the Bangkok Butterfly Garden to get close to some of Thailand’s prettiest Butterfly species.
Travel over or underground: Although Bangkok’s traffic problems are on the whole exaggerated, it is still best to avoid the roads whenever possible by either traveling above or beneath ground on Bangkok’s ever evolving silky-smooth mass transit network. The futuristic ‘Skytrain’ effortlessly glides above the city offering great views from up high. Travel from Siam to the Chao Phraya River to get fantastic vistas across the exclusive Royal Bangkok Sports Club and the vast Lumphini Park, before snaking around the skyscrapers of Silom and Sathorn. Underground, the MRT circles the city ensuring popular areas like China Town are easily accessible.
Street eats to savor: Bangkok’s streets are alive with activity 24/7 thanks to the city’s street vendor’s whipping up taste sensations from their “mobile” kitchens throughout the day and night. The range and quality of food on offer is simply extraordinary and you’ll rarely have to pay much more than $1 for a tasty bowl of pork noodle soup, a spicy beef salad or mango sticky rice. Great street food can be found everywhere in Bangkok but we particularly recommend heading to Soi (street) 38 off Sukhumvit Road which is famed for its incredible choice. Situated next to Thong Lor BTS station, it’s a great place to spend an evening. Try the different foods on offer whilst enjoying a cool local beer or two, all the while soaking up the buzzing local atmosphere. Or why not hop on the BTS in the other direction to Ari in the north of the city. Popular with locals, Soi Ari, has an excellent choice of street food and is particularly known for its superb Isaan food. Isaan Food originates from Northeast Thailand and includes fragrant dishes such as Som Tam (Papaya Salad) and Laab (minced pork). In recent years Ari has become a place for fashionable and creative Thais to hang out and the area is full of quirky local bars to drink the night away in.
Scala Cinema:Situated across the road from the shoppers’ paradise of Siam, Scala Cinema was built almost 50 years ago and has managed to retain its original features and charm. With a retro vintage feel, it shows a selection of films from blockbusters to independent films at a bargain ticket price. The foyer is worth the admission price alone, with its vaulted ceiling, huge five tiered chandelier and the 10 meter sculptured mural that sits above the entrance to the auditorium. Don’t forget to pack your sweater though as Thailand’s cinemas are notorious for their air conditioning, and more importantly, don’t forgot to stand up before the film starts when the National Anthem is being played!
A slice of rural Thailand: Bangkok isn’t known for its green spaces but a five-minute boat ride across the Chao Phraya River from Klong Toey Temple sits the protected area of Bang Kao Chao. Known as the ‘Green Lung’, the area is protected from high rise development which results in a peaceful part of Bangkok that makes you feel you’ve well and truly left the city, giving a taste of what life is like in rural Thailand. Hire a bike or book a guided bike tour, and meander along the raised pathways, exploring the rich tropical jungle. The area is teaming with wildlife so don’t be surprised if you see a monitor lizard or two on your adventure! If you come at the weekend be sure to visit the Talad Bang Nampung for a taste of a floating market and for a very different experience why not spend the night here at the chic nature resort, the Bangkok Tree House.
If you’re planning a trip to Bangkok and would like more advice on what to see and where to go, be sure to contact our Thailand Travel Specialists who will be happy to tailor any of our Thailand Tours to your personal preferences.