There are some countries in the world that someone has to visit at least once, and I think Thailand is one of them. It’s a country that offers a little bit of everything: rich history and culture, amazing food, cheap accommodations/food/activities, mountains, beach, temples, etc. It’s also a country that has a vibrant tourism industry based on all the reasons above. Even some of my friends are planning a trip there recently.
Usually everyone flies into Bangkok at the start of their trip and go from there. Bangkok is a vibrant city in itself, but personally I think 2 days is enough to see the highlights before moving onto other cities such as Chiang Mai or Phuket.
Start your day early with a trip to the Grand Palace. This complex of building is both breathtaking and historical. It used to be the official residence of the king; even nowadays, it’s sometimes used for official events. I suggest going early during the day to beat the tour buses as it can get really hot and really crowded in there.
There is a strict dress code for visitors to the Grand Palace; you will be required to cover your shoulder and knees upon entering. But don’t worry if you don’t have the appropriate clothes, you can rent them outside of the palace for really cheap, however you may not like how they look on you (I didn’t!)
After visiting the Grand Palace, slowly make your way over to the famous Wat Pho, which is located not too far away from The Grand Palace. It’s otherwise known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, because there is a huge reclining Buddha inside. When you visit, remember to take your shoes off when walking inside the temple as a sign of respect.
After lunch, relax with a river cruise on the Chao Phraya River. We booked it while walking to Wat Pho from The Grand Palace, but you can also ask your hotel to help you book. I enjoyed seeing the grand palace and some temples from the river as they are located right by the river.We heard quite a bit of the history of Bangkok on this boat tour too.
Depends on the river cruise tour you take, some are nice enough to drop you off at the beautiful Wat Arun, otherwise known as the Temple of the Dawn. You will have to do some steep climbing but the view and the sunset is totally worth it.
Bangkok has a very vibrant night life, but I am more of a rooftop bar type of girl. If you have ever watched Hangover 2, you probably remember the scene towards the end where Chow and the rest of the boys went to a rooftop brunch for some fund transfers. That is the famous Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel. I was so excited to go check it out.
Another really nice rooftop bar we checked out in Bangkok was the Vertigo and Moon Bar at Banyan Tree hotel. Similar to the Sky Bar, it offers an amazing view of the city, but both bars are quite expensive. The price for a drink was similar to the price in New York or Hong Kong. But you are paying for the view right?
Khaosan Road is a famous street that everyone must visit in Bangkok. “Khaosan” means milled rice, so you can assume that in the older times, this used to be a rice market. Nowadays, it’s where all the backpackers stay, there is cheap accommodation, tons of shops and stalls. There are also lots of bars open at night, so make sure to stop by.
Wake up early to go on a tour of the world famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market outside of Bangkok. Our hotel helped us arrange the tours but there are plenty of them online. The bus picked us up bright and early from our hotel and drove to the floating market. We switched to a speed boat to get to the entrance of the market and heard history of the area and the market itself. If you have never heard of the floating market, it’s basically a small “river” full of stalls that sell food and souvenirs on boats.
But besides sitting on these boats, you can also get off and walk around the market. I had an interesting experience there taking photos with a snake.
Chinatown seems to be a tourist attraction everywhere and Bangkok is no exception. The area is busy day and night with tons of shops, market stalls, restaurants etc. Have a stroll if you have time after the floating market.
For those who want to just relax, stop by a massage parlor (they are everywhere) and get a cheap and authentic 60 minute or 90 minute Thai massage. Be aware, these ladies do not show mercy but you will feel so refreshed afterwards. Not up for a full body massage? They often offer other types of massages such as foot massage.
After an early dinner, head to either the Lumpini Stadium or the Ratchadamnoen stadium for an intense Muay Thai match. It is the national sport of Thailand so you will not find it anywhere else. When we visited, only the Lumpini Stadium had the fight so we took a long taxi ride there. It’s located near the Don Mueang airport and we got the “foreigner” ticket when we got there. Tickets have different prices and it’s a lot cheaper to buy it in person rather than booking a tour online. Also, if you don’t want to pay 2000 Baht for the “foreigner” ticket, you can try to get the cheapest one for the upper rings. We didn’t mind paying a little bit more to get front row seats, but most locals are all watching from the upper rings.
The fights we watched that night were mostly kids/young adults fighting. But there are certain nights that feature older or more famous fighters, so check the schedules online before you go!
Things to know when visiting Thailand
There were a few things I wish I knew before I visited:
- The best time to go is January and February. The weather is a nice 70-80F (21 – 27C) degrees. April is the hottest month there, the temperature was around 90-100F depending on the city you visit and it was extremely humid.
- March may not be a good time to go if you plan to visit northern Thailand because farmers near Chiang Mai burn fields to get ready for a new season of crop. So the air quality may be extremely bad
- Get hotel address in Thai before you leave, as we experienced some difficulties communicating to the driver after the Muay Thai match
- Taxis will most likely try to rip you off, so do some research and negotiate prices before getting in
- Bring insect repellent; there are a lot of mosquitoes around
- Money changers are everywhere and when I went the rates were quite good. Bring cash everywhere with you
- Buy a cheap sim card at the airport, it will make things much easier when you travel
- Be aware of taking photos of lady boys, they may charge you for those
- Don’t miss getting those Thai massages! I think I got one every day ha.
- Cities I would recommend visiting: Bangkok, Chiang mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket (briefly), Krabi & the other islands
- Pack sunscreen as the sun are pretty strong and enjoy the beach!