I touched base recently with long-time Bangkok resident David Barrett, CEO DBC ASIA of Premier Incoming Group Services DMC, and asked him what’s on his list of favourites?
Here’s David’s list of top things to do in Bangkok with his own comments:
- Visit the Grand Palace – this is very touristy but a must. In recent years, with the flood of Chinese group tours descending on tourist sites, at peak times, visitors have to jostle through the palace grounds and it can get pretty hot. No shorts or open shoes.
- Reclining Buddha – if you’re going to visit a Thai temple, this is THE one to see for that selfie by the giant golden reclining Buddha statue.
- A canal cruise is a must, as Bangkok was the Venice of the East, and whilst most of the canals are not visible today, on the Thonburi side, the city remains less developed; you step into a time-warp and experience the local Thai way of riverside life.
- Drinks on a rooftop – Sirocco’s rooftop bar atop Le Bua Hotel is the place to have a drink around sunset (6:30pm). It’s also very pricey. Vertigo at the Banyan Tree is still pricey but not stratospherically expensive like Sirocco.
- Local temple and local community – there are some wonderful hidden treasures where you can still see the essence of Thai village life and a serene temple at the centre of the community, tucked away down side streets of Bangkok.
- If you like seafood and you’re up for a culinary caper, the spicy and fragrant Tom Yum shrimp or mixed seafood soup, an iconic Thai dish, is a must to savour. Some of the best are served up by street-side vendors.
- Market, market and markets! Thais love shopping as do most tourists and there’s countless options for shopping. The brand-new riverside modern Iconsiam mall and nighttime Asiatique are both riverside and offer good retail therapy. My two favourites are still Chatuchak Weekend Market with its endless stalls and sauna-like covered side alleys. Go local and visit the Siam Rot Fai night market.
- Try a Thai massage on your first day to soothe any jetlag, either by a blind masseuse at Wat Po,
or in more modern surrounds of Healthland. For a few extra baht, it’s well worth a visit to Oasia Spa on Sukhumvit Rd. For me the ultimate spa in
Bangkok is Mandarin Oriental’s spa, which comes with a higher price tag, but a totally luxuriating experience.
- Few visitors do this, but a visit to the Scala cinema to catch the latest movie makes for an authentic and modern Thai experience. Soak up the seventies vibe, as you climb the sweeping staircase.
- Jump aboard the train packed with locals for the Wong Wian Yai station to Mahachai market.
If you’re up for a pretty busy day, you could pack in the following: canal cruise, Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha Temple (Wat Po), Golden Mount, a massage, back to the hotel to freshen up and then sunset drinks at Sky Bar, Sirocco, then head to bustling Chinatown for a bowl of Tom Yum soup.
You’d certainly capture the best sites in one day, feel like you walked a mini-marathon and burnt some serious calories.
Andrew J Wood