We get it – Bangkok has a bit of a reputation for being a stop-over destination or a first port of call before travelling to Thailand’s beaches or jungles. In this exciting city, though, there’s plenty to see and do on a thrilling getaway. Need a few ideas that are a little bit different to the usual tourist suggestions? Here are five fabulous experiences to inspire a trip to Thailand’s buzzing capital.
Order a nightcap at Teens of Thailand
Hidden behind a deceptive Indian-style door, the playfully named Teens of Thailand is where you’ll find the who’s who of Bangkok’s local nightlife and art scene. One of the city’s hippest watering holes, this grungy den stocks an impressive collection of gin (about 30 different brands in total), earning itself the reputation as probably Thailand’s first dedicated gin bar. If you like your modern art, the extensive display of racy pieces hung on the bar’s walls are guaranteed to be conversation-starters, while those fascinated by inventive concoctions will be tempted to try everything (or at least a few really stand-out options) on the drinks menu that changes daily.
Related article: 48 Hours in Bangkok
Dinner at UNO MAS
One thing you wouldn’t usually expect to discover in Bangkok is authentic Spanish cuisine. But at UNO MAS on the 54th floor of CentralWorld’s Centara Grand, you’ll come across fare that rivals that of any restaurant in Barcelona. Stopping in for tapas quickly becomes a fantastic feast here. Order yourselves the Uno Mas Bravas (the restaurant’s version of patatas bravas – soft and crisp potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and aioli mayo), Paella, and the 36-month-cured ham and wild porcini mushroom croquetas. If you’re really looking to indulge, you can’t go past the grilled rack of suckling lamb, imported from the Pyrenees. Spanish for “one more”, UNO MAS is the sort of place that will have you saying just that.
Explore the city with a local
No matter where you travel to, you’re almost always guaranteed to get more out of a destination when you explore it with a local. With a range of tours available (from temple tours to visits to the famous floating markets), Withlocals organises private tours that are, as the name suggests, conducted by locals who really know Bangkok. With this friendly group you can discover hidden gems, try unique flavours and get insider knowledge on an expedition personalised for you.
Keen cyclists? Take on Bangkok’s off-the-beaten tracks and beautiful botanic gardens on an action-packed cycling tour. Passionate foodies? Eat your way through the city and visit Gordon Ramsay’s favourite Thai restaurants (as listed in his book World Food) with a cuisine-loving local. There are even tours available that allow you to join the city’s monks for their daily rituals.
Take in the sights with a river cruise
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Chao Phraya River with a river cruise on a meticulously restored antique rice barge provided by Manohra Cruises. As you sail during dusk, you will be treated to stunning views of royal palaces, magnificent temples, and iconic landmarks. Indulge in a delightful selection of authentic Thai cuisine and sip on refreshing drinks while enjoying the cool river breeze in the intimate setting of the barge. These historic vessels were once the primary mode of transportation during Bangkok’s golden trading era in the 18th century. Departing every night from 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm, the Manohra Cruises offer an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss the chance to embark on this enchanting journey and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the Chao Phraya River while in Bankgok – truly a unique way to see the city in all its glory.
Marvel at the Grand Palace
It’s a bit of an obvious go-to, but Bangkok’s Grand Palace really is a must-visit. If you head here first thing in the morning (8.30am) and avoid the crowds, you’ll be rewarded with a scene that’s utterly spellbinding. Gilded statues and spires catch the early morning light in a display that you have to see for yourself, but it’s the palace’s exquisite architecture that will have you happy-snapping away. While here, wander down the road to Wat Pho and see the iconic Golden Buddha. Measuring 46-metres long, the mind-boggling statue features (on the soles of Buddha’s feet) 108 mother of pearl segments depicting Buddha’s lakshanas (auspicious characteristics).
Related article: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Thailand for Couples