Take a River Cruise
Night or day, a ride down the Chao Phraya River is a refreshing way to view life along the water in Bangkok.
The Chao Phraya Express boats are an economical and fun way to get to several attractions, including Khao San Road, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the National Museum, River City, Asiatique and the Pak Khlong Flower Market.
You can find more details about how to use the ferry system and some great attractions along the way on Getting Around Bangkok
Also on the River Front is Wat Arun, one of the nation’s most decadent temples. The best way to see Wat Arun is near sunset from the deck of a slow-moving river boat. Don’t forget your camera because the view will take your breath away.
River boat cruises are offered by many local businesses. Most last two hours, include a meal and are very affordable.
You can find details at Chao Phraya River Cruise Guide
Enjoy a Thai Massage
Coming to Thailand and not getting a massage is like going to Italy and not tasting the wine.
A WORD OF CAUTION:
- 5-STAR SPA PACKAGES – Most high-end hotels offer Thai massages along with spa packages. If you come from a country where enjoying a day like this would cost you a month’s wages, you will be pleasantly surprised with the price of a day at the spa in a 5-star hotel in Thailand. Most hotels give you a pick-and-choose menu of treatments and special packages. You can easily spend an entire day getting pampered for $100 to $200.
- STREET MASSEUSES – If you’re not into face masks and steam baths and just want to feel better after that 13-hour flight you just endured, walk along any street or market area, and you will find your oasis awaiting. Many night markets offer seats along the street where you can sit comfortably in a reclining chair amongst other weary travelers and get your feet and legs rubbed for 30 minutes to an hour. These little comfort zones usually cost 100-200 baht - depending on how long you decide to stay!
- LOCAL MASSAGE PARLORS – One of the best Thai massages you will receive is from one of the small shops you will find throughout the city. Just look for signs that say “Thai Massage.” Most shops have price listings for services outside the shop, so you can browse around before committing. Honestly, they’re all good.
A traditional Thai massage is meant to be felt. Your legs may be bent in positions you didn’t know they would go. You may get walked on. If you’re a bit tender, just ask your masseuse to be soft. But if you want the ache of jet lag to melt away, go for the full two-hour package! It should cost about 300-500 baht ($10-$15). Seriously.
Visit the Royal Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha
The Royal Grand Palace is the ultimate place to learn about Thai history and experience close-up views of ancient Thai architecture. The palace grounds are intricately woven around temples and historic buildings. You can hire a tour guide who can tell you about the significance of special locations, or you can wander around the grounds with your tourist brochure.
Inside the palace grounds is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, built in the late 18th century especially to house a statue of Buddha carved from one solid piece of green jadeite. The figure symbolizes the restored nationhood of Siam, or ancient Thailand, and was taken from Laos as a symbol of victory by King Rama I.
The Royal Palace is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. General admission is 500 baht.
It’s advisable to take an umbrella or protect yourself from the sun in some manner. The temple grounds have few shaded areas.
STRICT DRESS CODE:
Sleeveless shirts and shorts are strictly forbidden on the Royal Palace grounds. Shoulders and legs must be fully covered. You can wear short sleeves, but no tank tops. If you happen to forget the dress code, you can rent traditional Thai wrap-around skirts, appropriate for temple sightseeing, from any local vendor near the palace grounds. The rental fee is usually around 100-200 baht. You can return the skirt and get your money back or just keep it as a souvenir. They come in handy at the beach!
Try Some Street Food
Sai krak isaan. Koi Tiaw Mu. Khao mok gai. Mu ping. Gai yang.
These words might look and sound a bit strange right now, but they are your ticket to the some of the best food on earth.
Thailand is not famous for its food for no reason. The flavors are real.
Street food vendors are everywhere. You don’t have to be in any specific area to find a piping hot meal and a seat along the sidewalk. Most street food is available for around 30-50 baht per meal. If you don’t know how to say what you want, just point.
If you’re at a booth that prepares food as you order and you’re not a big fan of Thai fire, er, spice, just tell your chef “mai phet,” and she’ll tone it down a notch. If you like walking around with fire in the belly, “phet mak” is the favor to ask.
Enjoy Live Music and a Brew
Loud bars. Quaint Bars. Packed Bars.
There’s nothing better than a cold beer and some great music after a day of sightseeing, and you’ll find no better selection than in Bangkok.
Pubs and bars can be found anywhere in the city. Many feature great food and live music when the sun goes down. Names of pubs generally reveal what kind of places they are and what kind of music they feature.
Rooftop bars are one of Bangkok’s newest attractions. They offer open-air seating, fantastic views of downtown and a variety of musical selections.
Karaoke also is fantastically popular in Thailand.
Some excellent places can be found near Asoke and Sala Daeng BTS stations. These districts both have awesome night market areas and a fine selection of pubs, music and true Bangkok nightlife.
If you smoke, just pick a spot outside. There’s always a table out front. Restaurants and pubs in Thailand are subject to a 20,000 baht fine if customers are caught smoking inside.
Nothing will make your visit to Thailand more fulfilling than being able to speak to locals in their own language. Check out Learn Thai in Thailand
to learn how to take a few lessons.
Look Both Ways before Crossing the Street
There is really only one word that best describes Bangkok traffic – CRAZY!
You most likely will be walking a lot during your stay, and that means you will be crossing lots of busy streets. You’ll find yourself weaving around everything from red buses and garbage trucks to tuk tuks and little grandpas peddling food wagons.
And while the streets are wildly busy, the sidewalks can be just as jam-packed!
Be aware of motorbikes and bicyclists because they often use the city sidewalks as their streets.
Traffic rules in Thailand do exist, but the basic rule of thumb is that it’s every man for himself.
Be cautious as you explore.
Buy a Fabulous “Designer” Brand
From sunglasses to handbags, you can find your designer brand of choice most anywhere in the city.
Many shops inside malls feature brand names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Tommy Hilfiger at fantastically discounted prices.
While the products may not be authentic, they generally are pretty good quality, and they make stylish souvenirs to pack back home with you.