Bangkok has a bustling nightlife, some of the best market shopping and is a backpacker hotspot. Plus its historical sites and vibrant culture make it a well-rounded and fascinating place to visit. This city also has some of the most varied, spiciest and tastiest street food I have ever tried. Here's my ultimate Bangkok travel guide to help you plan your Thailand experience!
What to Expect in Bangkok
Language: Thai is the local language, although all young people are taught basic English at school, and many signs are written in English.
Currency: Thai Baht is the local currency, exchanging at around 33 baht per 1 USD.
Credit Cards and Banks: ATMs are common. While most places accept credit cards, it is wise to use cash where possible as card fraud can be a big problem.
Climate: Bangkok is hot and humid throughout the year, with average highs above 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) and lows around 70 degrees (F) throughout the year. April is the hottest month, September is the wettest and December is the coldest.
Rainy Season: Rain is most common between May and October, meaning most visitors come between November and April.
Culture: It’s considered crude to eat directly off a fork. It’s customary to use a fork to push food onto a spoon and eat from that. Also be sure to cover up your elbows and knees when visiting temples out of respect!
Water: Don’t drink the tap water, stick to bottles.
Getting Around in Bangkok
Sukhumvit: Home to the upmarket business center of the city and many of the most popular night life venues.
Khao San Road: This is backpacker central in Bangkok, and is home to some popular cheap hostels, a range of bars, along with the historic Phra Sumen Fort (one of the oldest remaining fortifications in the city).
Rattanakosin: This is where many of the historic sights of the city are located, including the Grand Palace and the amazing Buddha statue at Wat Pho.
Silom: During the day this part of the city is another busy financial district, but at night it transforms, with vibrant and illicit night life.
Dusit: This part of the city is where King Rama V built his sprawling Dusit Palace complex. The district is home to most of the political and administrative buildings of the government, along with a wide range of museums and temples.
Banyan Tree (Luxury)
An amazing resort at the heart of the city, the Banyan Tree has wonderful views from the rooftop restaurant, luxury rooms, an amazing health center and outdoor swimming pool with its own great city views.
Location: Central Business District
Shangri-La Hotel (Luxury)
This large resort offers more amenities, restaurants and services than you could believe! Situated on the Chao Praya river and just a short train ride away from downtown, the Shangri-La Hotel offers a grand and luxurious stay.
Location: Central Business District
The Peninsula (Luxury)
This riverside accommodation offers great views with a classical luxurious interior. Check out the spa, the fitness center (plus sauna) and the three-tiered pool! Dine at the restaurant that overlooks the river or take a traditional Thai cooking class.
Location: Central Business District
Mandarin Oriental (Luxury)
A spectacular luxury hotel with its own gardens, waterfront location and sumptuously decorated rooms. The Mandarin Oriental is a top end luxury hotel in Bangkok.
Modern amenities, Wi-Fi, Spa. This five-star central Bangkok hotel lies in the heart of Sukhumvit- the Thai capital’s stylish epicenter for fashion, entertainment, and nightlife. Best thing about Dream Hotel? Rooms from 2,100 baht.
Luxx XL (Budget)
This upscale boutique hotel will fool you into thinking it will break the bank. With rooms starting at $50 USD per night, you can enjoy all the amenities you need in a sleek and comfortable space. It’s also in a great location to walk to restaurants and bars.
Location: Lang Suan
Movenpick Hotel Sukhumit 15 (Budget)
The interior design of Movenpick Hotel is based on the modern Asian trends and the symbol of water (you’ll find ponds and waterfalls all over). Be sure to check out the rooftop infinity pool, in-room massages, fitness center and the daily “Chocolate Hour” where you can enjoy free treats!
Street Food Stalls
With a countless food stalls and markets throughout the city, you can’t come to Bangkok without trying a few of the local favorites. Unfortunately, last April, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced that Bangkok would ban street food vendors — in order to make sidewalks more accessible. While we don’t know exactly what will happen, it’s safe to say that street food is a huge part of local culture and something not to be missed!
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit intimidated by the offerings of street vendors upon arriving in Thailand. This street food guide will provide first-time travelers some insight into Thai street food culture.
Sukhumvit Soi 33 (More Street Food)
Offering superb Thai food at great prices, this vibrant area of the city is where many locals mix with visitors to grab a bite to eat before hitting the town.
What to Try: Right on the corner of Sukhimvit Soi 33 across from The Londoner Pub, you will find some of the best Pad Thai in all of Thailand.
Asiatique Riverfront (Local High End)
A lovely place to enjoy some of the best restaurants in town with nice river views, the area also has a wealth of shops to enjoy before heading home for the evening.
Iron Fairies (Unique Bar)
Offering great American cuisine with amazing surroundings, this is a must-visit. Enjoy trendy cocktails and drinks!
Bonita Cafe (Best Vegetarian)
This Vegan cafe offers excellent fresh food made with wonderful local ingredients that are tasty enough to satisfy even the most carnivorous meat eater.
What to Order: Japanese style curry.
Sirocco at Lebua (Best Date Spot)
While the international cuisine here is tasty, it is a little on the pricier side (especially by Thai standards). But, the amazing views make this the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or two.
Nang Gin Kui (Ultimate Private Dining Experience)
Known by many as the best dining experience in Bangkok, this small and cozy restaurant is in a city apartment offering some great river views. It really feels like you are a guest at a friend’s house for dinner. It’s the perfect place to have excellent Thai food and meet other travelers.
There is no better way to get a full tour of the neighborhoods in Bangkok than by taking a tour on one of the various sightseeing riverboat tours.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
With over 15,000 stalls, the Chatuchak Weekend Market offers everything from clothing and counterfeit football shirts to fresh food and souvenirs. It’s a great introduction to Thai shopping.
Island of Koh Kret
Having once been a part of the surrounding countryside, this island has become a river island refuge for the Mon tribe and offers some wonderful cultural experiences. Check out this half-day excursion to Ko Kret Island from Bangkok.
Visit The Jim Thompson House
The home of the greatest American entrepreneur in Thailand from the 1950-60s, the house of Silk magnate Jim Thompson is now a museum and is surrounded by beautiful natural gardens.
Explore Bangkok’s Parks
The tropical surroundings of Bangkok are ideal for parks and gardens. The Lumphini Park in Silom is the largest in the city. Those around Phra Sumen Fort also offer a nice escape from the busy atmosphere of the city.
The Thai national sport is more than just kickboxing, it is an amazing blend of martial arts and fighting techniques. Muay Thai matches are regularly held in stadiums around the city. There are also classes offered for those looking to learn the basics.
Grand Palace & Wat Pho
At the heart of Bangkok’s historic attractions, these spectacular buildings show off the wealth and privilege enjoyed by old Thai kings. It also shows off some of the best architecture and ornate decorations in the country.
Amita’s Thai Cooking Class
While most visitors get to just taste the excellent Thai food, a visit to see Amita offers an insight into how to make the tastiest Thai dishes. She also has a lovely herb garden where fresh ingredients are picked for the dishes.
Take a Food Tour
If you let your stomach dictate your travels, there’s no better way to explore Bangkok than with a guided food tour! I can’t recommend a Bangkok nighttime temples, markets and food tour enough — you’ll get to taste some of Thailand’s most iconic dishes and explore the city’s vibrant night markets.
Visit the Weekend Night Vintage/Train Market
This is the best place to find vintage and pre-loved clothing and items in Bangkok. The Rod Fai Market has everything from antiques to vintage car parts and a great selection of street food stalls.
People Watch in Soi Cowboy
Home to some of the seediest bars in the city, this red-light district is near Sukhumvit Street and has a range of bars and cafes. It’s a great place to see the night life of the city go by.
Shop My Travel Essentials
Each month, on the night of the full moon, thousands of people come from all over the world to partake in the Full Moon Party and dance all night long!Read More >
If you are thinking of taking your first trip to the region, here are travel tips for first-timers interested in backpacking Southeast Asia!Read More >