Gloriously Chaotic Bangkok Thailand: Travel Tips, Adventures and How To Navigate

Bangkok’s glittering skyline can only be matched by the splendor of the city’s Grand Palace and many temples. It’s one of the most visited cities in the world and for many, the gateway to Southeast Asia. While it can be hectic, it’s worth hanging around for at least a few days before you venture further into the region. From some of the best street food in the world to shopping at luxury brand flagships, Bangkok Thailand has something for everyone.

Wat Arun Bangkok fountainof30 photo
Grand Palace Wat Arun Bangkok Thailand
Traditional outfits at Wat Arun Bangkok
Traditional outfits at Wat Arun
Jaqueline Zen Wat Arun Bangkok
Visiting Wat Arun Bangkok

Bangkok Thailand Highlights

The Grand Palace and Wat Arun are the two most commonly visited sites, and for good reason! The ornate details, abundance of gold everything, and Buddhist shrines are gorgeous. You can also see the emerald Buddha, perhaps the most sacred symbol of Thailand.

The Emerald Buddah bankok Thailand fountainof30
The Emerald Buddah



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Grand Palace bangkok fountainof30
The Grand Palace
Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
Grand Palace bankok thailand
Statue at the Grand Palace

Even if you are not in shopping mode, visiting Bangkok’s many night markets, floating markets like Damnoen Saduak where vendors sell right from their boats as you glide alongside them, and the Mae Klong railway market which features a train running through it can be an incredible experience.

Floating market
Floating market
Railway Market in Bankok fountainof30
Railway Market in Bankok

See how locals shop, cook, and eat and get a slice of Bangkok life. While you can find markets every day of the week, the Chinatown night market might be the most vibrant and it’s open every day after 6:30pm or so. Sample various treats, pick up a pair of elephant pants, and discover the world’s largest Chinatown.

Veggies at the railway market Bangkok
Veggies at the railway market

For more global brands, Bangkok has several high end malls like Icon Siam and Siam Paragon that are total experiences, with food courts that rival any street fair and every label you could hope for.

If you’re into skincare and high-end spas (and if you’re reading this site, you probably are!) Bangkok is a paradise! If you’re spending dollars, pounds, or Euros, your cash will go far, so why not splurge on a 24/7k gold facial with gua sha or the best Thai massage you’ll ever have? We visited the Loft Thai spa but there are plenty of options.

Spirit houses
Spirit houses

Regardless of where you go and what you do, keep an eye for the many, many spirit houses in Bangkok and throughout Thailand! Spirit houses, or the shrine to the protective spirits of a dwelling, are ubiquitous and unique. You’ll see them outside every home — even on the balconies of high rises!

Rooftop at Icon Siam
Rooftop at Icon Siam

Bangkok Logistics

You’ll fly into the ultra-modern Suvarnabhumi airport and go from there. The city is massive and regardless of where you are staying, you’ll want to visit other neighborhoods and areas of town. Grab — Southeast Asia’s version of Uber — is readily accessible and you can get a car or even a ride on a motorbike if you’re brave.

Many of the popular hotels are situated along the Chao Phraya river that runs through the heart of Bangkok, or near the luxury shops and malls. Khao San Road is backpacker central and worth a visit, but the hostels in that area are perhaps best left to the twenty-somethings. We stayed in the Riva Surya, and the riverfront balconies along with the pool deck were a great place to relax after a day of exploring.

Golden Stupa Wat Saket Temple

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, you might already be aware that 7-11 has everything you need. Pick up bottled water to sunscreen and bug spray (which will be useful later if you are exploring the rainforests). You can find ATMs to get Thai Baht easily and also change your money at the malls for a fair rate (look for a Superrich). Credit cards are accepted in many places, but you’ll want Baht for the markets and street food.

jacueline Zenn in orange linen travel outfir banlkok fountainof30
What to wear in Bankok

What to Pack for Bangkok

You can go full glam for a Michelin-starred dinner and night out or wear shorts and a tank to explore the markets, or anything in between. Bangkok allows you to come as you are with one caveat. If you are visiting temples or the Grand Palace, you’ll need to keep your shoulders and chest covered, and stick to pants or skirts with hemlines below the knee.

Otherwise, you’ll want to dress for the heat and humidity (leave your blow dryer at home) and wear shoes you can walk miles in.

Mango sticky rice in bangkok
Mango sticky rice

What to Eat in Bangkok Thailand

If you are an adventurous eater, this is your time to enjoy! Try classic Thai dishes like Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, Som Tom (papaya salad),Tom Yum soup, and all kinds of curries, stir fries, and noodle dishes. Don’t forget mango sticky rice for dessert! Fresh fruit of all kinds is especially delicious in Thailand (and the rest of Southeast Asia) as well. So don’t miss on trying things like dragon fruit, rambutan, or mangosteen that you might not find locally.

Floating market foof boat
Dining at the Floating market

It’s hard to have a truly bad meal in this city, so pop into stalls, cafes, and restaurants that look interesting and try things out! Street food is particularly affordable (you’d be hard pressed to spend more than $5 a person for a huge array of items), so it’s also easy on the wallet. Note that you should stick to bottled water and choose cafes and vendors that are busy (popularity = high turnover and fresher ingredients).

Ayutthaya day trip buddah fountainof30
Ayutthaya day trip
Ayutthaya day trip

Bangkok Day Trips

There are a number of day trip options you can easily do from Bangkok, but perhaps the most spectacular is Ayutthaya, the former capital that is now a Unesco World Heritage site. Explore the temple complex, visit the famous reclining Buddha and Buddha head in tree roots, and grab lunch at one of the cafes near the ruins before heading back to Bangkok for the evening.

Ayutthaya reclining Buddah
Reclining Buddah
Buddha head in tree roots bangkok fountainof30 travel
Buddha head in tree roots

Are you considering a trip to Thailand, or have you already been? Have you been to Bangkok? What did you do, where did you stay, and perhaps most importantly, what did you eat? Let us know in the comments or in our Growing Younger Facebook group.

– Jacqueline Zenn

You may also like to read more of Jacqueline’s travel adventures. See Travel Tips and Adventures in South Africa: The Safari Edition and Travel Into The Wild: The Best Ways To Explore Patagonia.

Photos: Jacqueline Zenn for Fountain Of 30

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