Bangkok, Thailand, offers an exotic escape with a seemingly endless range of delights. From the Buddhist temples scattered liberally throughout the city to the bright, colorful cabs darting around the streets, it’s almost impossible not to get pulled in to the excitement. Pack light and stay hydrated for your adventures in this sweltering city. The food is as hot as the rest of Bangkok with classic picks like pad Thai made fresh in front of you and jasmine rice piled on the side. Get a taste of it all on your stay in this city.

Early Morning: Dine at Brekkie

Start your day with a decadent breakfast at Brekkie. This trendy restaurant became an instant hit on its opening in January 2016. Brekkie specializes in healthy dishes like its superfood bowls with mixed fruit and house-made granola. If you need to kick-start your day, the extensive menu of espresso drinks serves up all the caffeine you could need. Fuel up right for a big day of exploring Bangkok.

wat pho
The Wat Pho.

Midmorning: Explore Wat Pho

The Wat Pho temple complex is one of the largest in the city. It’s best known for featuring the largest reclining Buddha in Bangkok, measuring over 150 feet long. The Buddha is covered in gold leaf with feet decorated in mother-of-pearl laksanas. Purchase a bowl of coins at the entrance, and you can put them in the 108 bronze bowls lining the room for good luck.

Take some time to explore the rest of the complex while you’re at Wat Pho as well. There are nearly 400 gilded Buddha images in the four chapels. The courtyards feature Chinese statues that served as ballasts on ships. The complex houses the national headquarters for teaching and preserving Thai massage as well, if you’d like to try this traditional service. It’s best to book treatments in advance to avoid a long wait.

Noon: Shop and Dine at the Floating Markets

Bangkok’s floating markets are one of its most distinctive attractions. Many are located far outside the city, but there are a few delightful spots located closer in as well for tourists who want the perfect blend of convenience and charm. The Taling Chen floating market is a prime pick. You can shop for distinctive souvenirs, enjoy a foot massage by the shore, and take in picturesque views of a market that hasn’t yet been completely consumed by tourist kitsch.

No visit to a floating market is complete without getting a bite to eat. Enjoy the novelty of freshly grilled fish or giant barbecued prawns served right from the boats. Low tables and wooden platforms line the water, or you can eat reclining on the lawn. If you just can’t get enough of the festive air of the markets, head to Khlong Lat Mayom nearby. Though this market is much smaller, it sees very few tourists and offers a refreshingly authentic experience.

Afternoon: See the National Museum

Indulge your inner history buff with a visit to the National Museum, which was the only one in the country until the mid-1970s. Exhibits are labeled in both Thai and English, so this is an ideal pick for those who like to browse at their leisure. You can view the country’s art and architecture from prehistory through modern masterpieces. Don’t miss the oldest record of Thai writing inscribed on King Ramkhamhaeng’s stone pillar or the throne of King Taksin. The museum itself is housed in the former Wang Na Palace, constructed in 1782.

royal barges museum
The Royal Barges Museum in Bangkok.

Late Afternoon: Check Out the Royal Barges Museum

Home to eight breathtaking royal barges, this museum features regal boats carved from massive pieces of teak, gilded in gold, and accented with pieces of glass. Each barge’s prow features a carving of a mythical creature leading the way as it glides through the water. These characters are vehicles of the Hindu god Rama. The barges are sheltered in a large warehouse and only leave for special occasions. It takes around 50 oarsmen to row each craft. The museum also houses 40 smaller barges in a separate warehouse. These are less intricate but still fascinating for those interested in the culture and history of Thai watercraft.

Dinnertime: Enjoy the Sensory Delights of Dinner in the Dark

Enjoy the Dine in the Dark experience at BarSu in Bangkok. This distinctive meal takes place in a completely dark environment where you’re led through the meal by visually impaired guides. For every dinner served at Dine in the Dark, the hotel makes a donation to the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand.

You’ll choose from four four-course menus for a meal that’s either Asian, western, vegetarian, or a surprise. You can also choose the wine pairings menu which features three courses with wine pairings for each. Though you’ll have to explore your chosen menu by taste alone during the meal, it’s revealed to you in the light at the end of the dining experience.

Khao san road
Khao San Road.

Late Night: Explore Khao San Road

Khao San Road has one of the hottest nightlife scenes in Bangkok. You can easily hop from one bar or club to another all night and never get bored of the variety and vibrancy. Pop into The Brick Bar for live music and a diverse gathering of backpackers, locals, and college students. For something more laid-back, Tak Sura is a chill pick with a retro vibe. Looking for blues? Adhere the 13th is small and friendly with some of the best-priced beers in Bangkok.

If you want to get your dance on, include some of the lively Khao San Road clubs in your late-night rotation. The Club has a reliably energetic atmosphere with a skilled DJ who will warm up the dance floor with techno then keep dancers moving with dance remixes. Though the Superflow City Beach Club is open both day and night, it takes on a new vibe around midnight. Cheap cocktails fuel the fun at this club with a tropical feel.

A day in Bangkok is hardly enough to truly enjoy all the highlights of the city. Plan for several days in the city to round out your visit with more temples, museums, and markets, so you can really absorb the rich culture that Thailand has to offer.

jm thompson
The Jim Thompson House.

Airport Guide

Suvarnabhumi Airport, so named for “The Golden Land,” is less than 20 miles from Bangkok, making it the best option for a flight into the city. The airport has two runways and 120 parking bays that can handle 76 flight operations an hour. More than 500 domestic, international, and freighter airlines operate at this airport, so you can easily find a flight that meets your needs.

Approximately 50 million passengers travel through the Suvarnabhumi Airport each year. This is both the international arrival point for Thailand and an important transfer airport for South East Asia.

Arriving

Arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport, passengers must complete Passenger Arrival Document 6 from the Immigration Bureau. Airline staff will distribute this document on your flight. Passengers must complete the form before their arrival in Thailand. Arriving passengers must also declare all applicable items to customs and complete the appropriate paperwork. If undeclared items are found, you will be responsible for a fee of four times the item’s value.

Departing

Departing passengers cannot leave Thailand with any prohibited items including pornographic books or photos, counterfeit or pirated items, and preserved wildlife. Passengers who are found with prohibited items can be fined, prosecuted, and even given the death penalty.

To carry restricted items, passengers must have written consent from the appropriate government agency. Restricted items include plants, live animals, vehicle parts, Buddha statues, food, and medicine.

Amenities

The Suvarnabhumi Airport has many outstanding amenities that make travel as comfortable as possible for its passengers. The airport has free Wi-Fi for your convenience, so you can always stay connected. Concourses C and D have recreation areas that let you stretch your legs. A sauna and spa are located in concourse three. Ample shopping and dining are available throughout the airport, including several duty-free shops.

Transportation

Bangkok visitors should have no trouble arranging transportation to and from the Suvarnabhumi Airport. You’ll find a bus terminal, taxi services, and limo services. The airport rail link offers service on the Suvarnabhumi Airport City Line with stops at Rajprarop Station, Makkasan Station, Ramkhamhaeng Station, Hua Mark Station, Lad Kreband Station, and Thab Chang Station. The city line has five trains with a capacity of 745 passengers on each.

If you prefer the convenience of a car rental, you’ll find vehicles available from 11 rental companies including Avis, Budget, Sixt, and Europcar. If you choose to drive in Bangkok, plan your route ahead of time. The roads and signage can be confusing in the city, so it’s best to have a good idea of where you’re going and which directions you’ll follow before you hit the crowded streets.

siam
The Siam Hotel in Bangkok.

Where to Stay

Bangkok is a vast and sprawling city with a diverse range of options to suit travelers of all stripes. Whether you’re looking for a cheap room for a night or a luxury hotel for a week, you can find what you’re after. The trick is simply knowing where to look. Head to the right neighborhoods, and you’ll have a wealth of options laid before you with something for every budget and taste.

Affordable Hostels

Bangkok is a backpacker’s paradise, offering an abundance of hostels for comfortable beds at low price points. If you want the hostel experience with a welcome touch of privacy, head to the Once Again Hostel. Bunks here are equipped with curtains and private bed lights. Personal lockers keep your belongings safe. At the One Day Hostel, you’ll enjoy plenty of room to spread out and relax with a theater room, reading corner, and kitchen.

If you’re after a party vibe, head for the Bodega Hostel Bangkok. These colorful accommodations offer a vibrant celebratory feel. For hostel accommodations, Bangkok has a little of everything, so guests here can get just the experience they’re looking for.

Boutique Hotels

If you’re after a romantic retreat in Bangkok, try the boutique hotels in Rattanakosin. Overlooking the Chao Phraya toward the Temple of Dawn, these destinations offer the perfect touch of charm and breathtaking beauty. Guests who want quiet, privacy, and a home away from home should try the Chakrabongse Villas. These spacious accommodations include amenities like cotton bath robes, slippers, and aromatherapy bath products.

At the Sala Arun, rooms have either a view of the Temple of Dawn or Reclining Buddha Temple. From the teak floors to the warm color palette, everything is carefully designed to please and pamper. Amenities include iPod docks, minibars, LCD televisions, and DVD players.

lumphini park
The Lumphini Park in Bangkok.

Trendy Digs

Travelers looking for a trendy hotel should head to Bangkok’s Chinatown, where there are chic picks at any price point. Shanghai Mansion is an opulent boutique hotel. Rooms include complimentary Wi-Fi, bathrobes, slippers, DVD players, and minibars. You’ll even receive an umbrella to keep you dry and shaded during your stay.

For something at a lower price point, try the Pho Place Guesthouse. These streamlined rooms feature a simple black and white color palette and convenient amenities like a refrigerator, cable television, and balcony.

Luxury Picks

If you’re in the market for upscale pampering and the utmost in luxury, head to Bangrak for high-end options like the Mandarin Hotel or The Peninsula Bangkok. The Peninsula offers perks like walk-in closets and a daily fruit basket delivered to the door. Silom is another popular pick for luxury hotels. The Tower Club at Iebua is a must if you want to really indulge. The spacious suites offer unparalleled views from the 51st through the 59th floors. Guests enjoy access to a continental breakfast, luncheon, high tea, and evening canapes and drinks.

Whether you’re backpacking through Bangkok on a dime or you’re indulging in luxury suites, you’ll find Thailand is a welcoming destination that serves up a memorable experience to all who seek out her charms. Bangkok has a bright and bustling atmosphere that’s easy to get lost in. Plan the highlights of your stay ahead of time to make sure you hit them all.