Visiting Bangkok can be extremely rewarding but it can also be confusing and sometimes downright frustrating due to the extreme tropical heat, the numerous traffic jams and the confusing layout of the city. However, by planning ahead, it is possible to take the most out of this city.
What to See in Bangkok
Most of the sightseeing in the Thai capital takes place in the historic part of the city, along the Chao Phraya river. The three most famous sights are the Grand Palace, Wat Po and Wat Arun, also called the Temple of Dawn.
The Grand Palace is the official home of the Thai Royal family. Next to the Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew which is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Thailand. It is home to the Emerald Buddha, a statue made, according to the legend, entirely out of this precious stone. Visitors should make sure to read about the fascinating history of that particular artifact.
Close to the Grand Palace is Wat Po, which is an extremely large complex with, at its center, the main temple and its world-renowned reclining Buddha statue. Wat Po is also home to the most famous traditional Thai massage school in the country.
The Temple of Dawn, or Wat Arun, is located on the opposite side of the river and is reachable by boat. It is the oldest temple in Bangkok and its chedis (Buddhist towers), entirely made out of crushed porcelain, are breathtaking.
Shopping Centers and Markets in Bangkok
The most famous market in Bangkok is by far the Chatuchak weekend market. It is open only on Saturdays and Sundays and is reachable by MRT Subway (Station: Chatuchak) and BTS Skytrain (Station: Mo Chit). The market in itself contains more than 8000 different stalls, selling just about everything, from kitchenware to clothes and food. Visitors should be aware that many pickpockets operate at Chatuchak and mostly target foreigners.
Another popular market is the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, located next to Lumpini Park, in the heart of Bangkok. It is open every day after dawn and it caters mostly to tourists. Most goods on offer at Suan Lum are either clothes or decorative items.
Several shopping centers can be found throughout the city. More information can be found in this Suite101 article about Bangkok malls.
Where to Eat and Drink in the Thai Capital
Thai food can be found anywhere throughout the city. However, gourmet restaurants and Western restaurants tend to be located around Sukhumvit Road, in the area between Chidlom and Thong Lor. This area is easily reachable by Skytrain and subway. However, visitors should be aware that eating Western food in Bangkok can be extremely expensive due to import taxes on foreign ingredients.