Bangkok surprised us in many different ways. It is a large and very busy city. Many interesting things to see and experience. It had this duality between some insanely rich and high-end areas and super poor neighborhoods. It almost felt like there was no middle ground there. Either you are very rich in Bangkok or you are at the other extreme it seemed. We spend the last days of our trip exploring the city and doing day trips to various other attractions. The traffic is quite heavy so have that in mind. Plan on waiting in lots of lines as well for most of the attractions. In some cases hours if you do not go at the right time.
Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometers (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in central Thailand and has a population of over eight million, 12.6 percent of the country’s population. Over fourteen million people (22.2 percent) lived within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region at the 2010 census, making Bangkok the nation’s primate city, dwarfing Thailand’s other urban centers in both size and importance to the national economy.
In retrospect the hotel we stayed in in Bangkok was ok but nothing extraordinary for a 5 start hotel. It just felt small and cramped. The area could have been better around the hotel as well. Options were few when we were booking so that was the best option at the time. We used taxies to travel around and do day trips.
Things to See
Every day in Bangkok we either explored the attractions of the city or we had a day trip to something that was recommended to us to see. We loved the temples and the Grand Castle. We never expected those places to be so busy so have that in mind. The castle and temples get almost empty after 3 PM since most of the tourist buses leave around that time. We were almost alone in most of them after that time. Also if you look at the map you would notice that most of the main attractions are very close by. So in a day, you could visit the Grand Castle, The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Temple of the Dawn for example.
The skywalk for us was a must-see. You get this stunning 360-degree view of the entire Bangkok. There is a bar and a transparent walkway which felt super scary to some of us :). Also, there is a gift shop and an amazing mall build into the 78 stories tall building. Have in mind that tripods and obviously drones are not allowed at all.
Here is a link to the official attraction web site: https://kingpowermahanakhon.co.th/skywalk/
Thailand’s highest outdoor observation area, with its highest point located at The Peak, 314 meters above ground level.
Wat Phra Kaew, Temple of the Emerald Buddha & Grand Castle
Probably the most impressive set of buildings you would see in entire Thailand. The temple resides on the territory of the Grand Castle which itself is a must-see. Insanely busy attractions. We have never in our lives seen so many people packed in one place at the same time. Make sure you go in the afternoon when it gets less crowded. You can’t go wrong visiting either of those. We explored both the temple and the castle. Have in mind that both have very strict dress code rules and would return anyone who does not follow them.
Built within the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew or ‘The Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ is the most important and most visited temple in Bangkok. One of the most significant features of Wat Phra Kaew is the Emerald Buddha, carved from a 66 cm tall block of jade.
Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Another interesting temple nearby is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. This one left an impression on us due to the Buddha size. It is located within walking distance from the Grand Palace.
Wat Pho, named after a monastery in India where Buddha is believed to have lived, is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It is also known as ‘The Temple of the Reclining Buddha’ thanks to the 15-meter-high, 43-meter-long Buddha image it shelters, covered with gold leaf and baring 4-meter-long feet encrusted with exquisite mother-of-pearl (or nacre) decorations.
Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn
This one is better to be seen when it is dark outside. They turn on the lights surrounding the temple and the view is pretty awesome. Very different than the other temples which you see during the day. Worth the wait.
We were quite tired from a full day of exploring other attractions and waiting on the grass to get dark felt relaxing. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view.
There are not many places in the world that offer close proximity to elephants and tigers. After we found from a brochure in one of the taxies we took about the Tiger Park we knew we are not missing that experience. It was not initially planned in our itinerary and was totally improvised. It was awesome! You have a choice between baby/small/medium and large tigers with which you share a large cell. You can play/touch the baby and the small tigers where the medium and large ones you kind of do not want to even if you could. The time per session is 30 minutes and you can buy as many sessions as you want.
We have never in our life witnessed bigger and more majestic animals than the ones we saw in this Tiger Park. Some of the large ones felt as big as some of the elephants we played with the previous day. Size-wise we spent time with the baby and the small tigers. You have plenty of time to take photos and also enjoy the experience. The prices were reasonable overall. Here is a link to their web site: http://tigerpark.co.th/
Floating markets are quite a popular tourist attraction in Thailand. There are multiple ones in the country and each is somewhat unique. We went to one that was recommended by our concierge at the hotel. It was not very close but the drive was worth it. Quite a unique experience. You are on one of Thailand’s famous motorized small boats shopping through these water canals, surrounded from every side by merchants. All prices are negotiable. Make sure you negotiate the time on the boat. We had to argue to have two trips around the entire market. One was not enough to really get the feel since we were there early and most of the shops were closed.