I love to go Bangkok whenever I have a chance and I'm sure many Singaporeans share the same sentiment. It's so close to Singapore (only a 2-hour flight) and makes for a great destination to eat, shop and play.
Thai people are a lovely bunch as well, always smiley and polite, making it a tourist-friendly destination. While Bangkok might not be new to most of us, there are still plenty of hidden gems to discover and in this Bangkok Travel Guide, we at GET.com will show you the best things to see, eat, and do as well as the hottest places to shop so that you can make the most of your time there!
Top Things To See In Bangkok
If you've always been to Bangkok for shopping and food, how about injecting a little bit of culture to your visit the next time you are there?
The Wat Pho, also known as the temple of the reclining buddha, makes for a great visit for someone who hasn't seen much of the magnificent temples in Thailand.
It's one of the largest temples in Bangkok and famous for its giant reclining Buddha measuring 15 metres tall and 46 metres long, with just the Buddha's feet measuring 4.5 metres long.
A few rules to respect here: take your shoes off before you enter and all visitors are to wear appropriate attire with shoulders covered and pants/skirts longer than knee-length.
There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor representing the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Visitors can purchase a bowl of coins at the entrance of the hall where you can drop a coin in each of the 108 bronze bowls.
Dropping the small coins is believed to bring good fortune and also helps the monks in preserving the temple. The Wat Pho is near enough to the Grand Palace which is another sight that you won't want to miss!
You can find lots of night markets in Bangkok but none like the Art Box Bangkok. If you are not a fan of the haphazard and crowded nature of most of the night markets around here, you'll be sure to appreciate the Art box.
The concept of the Art Box market is rather interesting - shops are housed in shipping containers instead of the usual tents and the vibe here is quite different from the other night markets - it's a younger and more chilled-out vibe.
You can find local designer products such as handcrafted jewellery, unique T-shirt concepts and food trucks.
Thais are really into taking photos, so you'll see lots of people stopping in their tracks with food in one hand and their mobile phone in the other.
Expect more "hipster" street food such as gourmet burgers, grilled meats and strange cocktail concoctions quite different from the ones you'll see along the street.
The place is not very accessible so make sure to check out the website to ensure the market is open before you head there.
Location: Queen Sirikit Convention Centre MRT
Just like in Singapore, Bangkok has its fair share of roof-top bars to check out. Of these, I went to the Moon Bar on the 61st storey of the Banyan Tree Hotel on a friend's recommendation.
It's a nice place to have a drink or bring a date because of its magnificent view, but the price of a drink here is quite off-putting. Expect to pay around 300++ baht for a beer and you'll find service a little lacking.
We opened a bottle of wine only to find that the bar was closing in half an hour and the staff were rushing us to leave. Although if you want a place away from the crowd, it still makes a good place to enjoy the skyline of Bangkok.
Top Things To Do In Bangkok
A trip to Bangkok for me will never be complete without a massage! Depending on what you're looking for, you can find a body massage from as little as 300 baht to a luxurious spa at 3000 baht.
Personally, I try to get a foot massage almost every day to soothe my tired legs after a day's shopping. You will find many massage parlours along the roads and I typically choose one that has a few tourists inside.
If you are planning on enjoying a proper spa day, Healthland has got quite a good reputation, a reasonable price and many outlets around Bangkok.
Get A Tailored Suit/Dress
It's not a secret but many foreigners who visit Bangkok schedule a trip to the tailors. On my trip, one of our friends planned to make his wedding suit at of the tailors near Nana BTS and I must say we were all impressed with how quickly the suit was made and with the suit's quality.
It's best to check out recommendations from friends and have at least 3 full days or even 4 days to ensure you get a good fitting for your suit and business shirts.
Compared to Singapore, your suit will probably be less than half the price of a made-to-measure one and finished in less than half the time.
What To Eat in Bangkok
Bangkok is a food lover's paradise, and food can be found at such a cheap price! You can find a variety of Thai food as well as international cuisine. From street food to hipster cafes, there's something for everyone.
Thai Street Food
If you have a weak stomach, you might want to stay clear of street food. Otherwise, it offers a great way to try a variety of humble Thai food at pocket-friendly prices.
Some of my favourite food includes Pad Thai, Som Tum (Thai Papaya Salad), Tom Yum noodles, oyster omelette and mango sticky rice.
One of the best places to find street food is at the famed Sukhumvit Soi 38 where you can find mobile hawkers on trolleys with plenty of small tables and seats where you can eat along the streets.
If you prefer a more comfortable place to enjoy your food, there are food courts aplenty in most of the big malls, or try one of my favourite Thai restaurants called Inter at Siam Square.
Or Tor Kor Market
The Or Tor Kor Market is quite a hidden gem; the funny thing is that most tourists head to the famous Chatuchak market for shopping and food but miss out on the Or Tok Kor Market just across the street.
The market is very local and feels a bit like our local wet market with a section for hawker food. Be assured it's a very clean and comfortable place to eat and walk around in!
I enjoy this market very much because you will find plenty of seats to eat comfortably and you get great and cheap local food as well.
Along the side, you'll see stalls selling a variety of food and foodstuff – dried food ingredients, Thai desserts, dried fruits and nuts to bring home to as well as food for takeaway.
If you love shrimps or crabs, here's a great place to eat freshly steamed ones which have been shelled – a great idea for sharing!
Come for a breakfast around 9 a.m. before you head over to shop-till-you-drop at the Chatuchak market.
Cabbages And Condoms
As one of the most unique dining concepts in Bangkok, the Cabbages & Condoms restaurant will either shock you or ensure an evening of giggles throughout dinner.
The restaurant was conceptualized in part to promote better understanding of family planning and to generate income to support various social development programmes of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA).
Not only does the restaurant offer great food, it also promotes the health and safety aspects
of condom use in a fun and amusing way.
You'll find many types of decorations that make use of condoms. While it can be pretty funny to have something so taboo in Asian society in full public display, you got to give it to them for coming up with such a fun concept!
Where to Shop in Bangkok
I must admit, one of the greatest reasons for me to keep returning to Bangkok is for the cheap shopping.
I can literally shop for 6 to 8-hours a day with a coffee break or lunch in between for 3 days in a row! You might ask, what's the draw?
Well, the price point is obviously attractive, but also the fact that clothes at some of the bargain malls are very fashionable, with many even providing wholesale to some of the local blogshops in Singapore. So why not get them in Bangkok directly at less than half the price?
Bargain Shopping Malls
If you are shopping for apparel and accessories, you won't want to miss Platinum Mall. For the uninitiated, this is 6 levels of paradise for those who love to shop.
This is a must-go for shopaholics who are looking for cheap bargains. It acts as a wholesale centre for many other street stores that pick up their wares in Singapore.
For those who have not been there yet, there are two buildings to cover, with mostly ladies' apparel from level 1 to 3, shoes and accessories on level 4 and 5 and there are even quite a few shops with male apparel.
You can try bargaining at a slightly cheaper rate than the price tag but it usually will only work if you are buying more than 1 piece.
Union Mall is touted as the latest bargain mall in Bangkok. Apparently, it's the new favourite of Thailand's fashion-forward youth. The place is more spacious and less crowded, making shopping a better experience.
I made a trip there this time but was a little disappointed. Prices were much higher here, although you would probably find more shops with slightly better quality stuff.
But for shopping at places where I'm making a bet with the clothing (you can't try the items on), I'm a little unwilling to pay a price similar to those that blogshops are offering in Singapore, since the latter actually provides measurements.
Union Mall is located above MRT Phahon Yothin, just a stop away from Chatuchak Weekend Market. To cut down travelling time, you should perhaps schedule both on the same day.
If you're a shopaholic who frequents Bangkok, you will be no stranger to the Chatuchak weekend market. Describing the market as humongous is not an understatement.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the world's largest weekend markets, covering an area of 27 acres divided into 27 sections and containing more than 15,000 booths selling all kinds of things.
Expect clothes, ceramics, accessories, antiques, foodstuff, aromatherapy items and even plants and pets. Trust me, it will take you more than two days to cover the entire market.
If you prefer to shop in luxury shopping malls, there's no shortage of them in Bangkok either. Well-mentioned names on travel blogs include Siam Paragon, Central World Plaza, Gaysorn and Terminal 21.
These malls usually come with an anchor department store here and other big brand names that are too familiar to Singaporeans – Zara, Levi's and Mango.
While you may not be too interested in shopping brands that you can buy in Singapore, I typically visit these malls for 2 good reasons – food and lingerie.
For the latter, you can find great bargains for brand name lingerie such as Triumph and Wacoal at almost half the price of what you'd find in Singapore.
Visit the lingerie department at Siam paragon and you can easily spend a good 2 to 3 hours there and stock up for the entire year! There's also brand names such as Morgan, Elle, Playboy and Guy Laroche lingerie which you will not find here in Singapore.
For food, you can try out the food courts but I much prefer the quality and pricing of Thai street food. What's nice is to visit the supermarkets if you intend to get some local foodstuff to bring home that's not much more expensive than what you can find at the markets.
Something else that you might find interesting is to visit the Naraya store at Central World Plaza. I'm not really a big fan of the brand but my mum and aunties never fail to get me to pick up something for them there.
The shop is always crowded so if you are a fan or looking to buy a souvenir for someone back home you could find something here.
Money Tips for Bangkok
There are plenty of hotels in Bangkok and as most people spend their time out of the hotel (or at least I do), I try to keep my budget under $50 per person per night.
It's a good idea to plan your lodging according to where you think you might spend most of your time. I usually try to stay near the Pratunam area (nearby Platinum Mall) for its proximity to lots of street food and shopping.
But say if your main goal was to tailor a suit (usually near Nana BTS area), you might want to stay nearby as you'd probably need to make a trip there every day for fitting.
Use a hotel portal such as booking.com, Expedia or Agoda to filter out the area you want. Some travel credit cards even let you earn special rewards or benefit from discounts when using your card to book a hotel through certain travel websites.
Here you can find the cheapest hotel rates in Bangkok at Agoda.com.
Remember to bring more cash to exchange for Thai Baht as most bargain malls and markets only accept cash. When getting a cab, either go by metre or bargain a price for your destination before you get on.
To help you save even more on your trip, here are 5 money-saving tips for a great holiday.