I dug my nail’s into the motortaxi driver’s shoulder, leaving small creases in his gray shirt. I held onto my GoPro with my other hand, hoping I wouldn’t suddenly lose it from smashing it into another car.
The driver wove between buses, cars, and vans, leaving no more than a few inches in between my body and the other vehicles. I squeezed my legs into the side of the motorbike, hoping to avoid side sweeping a car and losing my leg. I spent a majority of the ride praying I would make it back in one piece, while at the same time loving the adrenaline rush.
The driver revved the motortaxi’s engine as we sped through traffic lights and towards my Couchsurfing host’s apartment, ignoring all common sense and rules of the road.
I nearly kissed the ground when he dropped me off. Once I was 100% sure I was still alive, I started laughing. Taking a motortaxi in Bangkok is one of the most common forms of transportation, and here I was, freaking out over something that is so commonplace to so many people that live here.
If you’re not on a motorbike and weaving between cars in bumper to bumper traffic, then you’re most likely in a tuk-tuk, speeding through the city on a motorbike with a wagon attached.
Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s strange, busy, exciting, and exhilarating. There’s always something new to experience, and the people that live there are some of the nicest I’ve ever met.
It’s pure craziness as well. Half of the time you feel like you’re playing Frogger trying to cross the street to avoid getting hit. and the other half you’re closing your eyes as you bite into whatever the hell it was you just bought off a food stand on the street.
There are so many things to do in Bangkok. I spent two weeks in this city, and still feel like I haven’t even skimmed the surface. However, here are quite a few things that I did that, in my opinion, are a must!
Here is my ultimate guide to Bangkok.
Visit the Temples
This one is a given. There are a ton (and I mean a ton) of temples around Bangkok. The most famous one is Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Nearby is the Grand Palace, another beautiful landmark in Bangkok. If you go, make sure you wear long pants, cover your arms, and wear closed toe shoes. Also make sure you get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is another must see. Here is a more detailed list of temples worth the visit in Bangkok. Don’t worry about trying to see them all, either! Pick a few and really explore them.
One of my favorite temples was Wat Hualamphong (first one I saw), it was absolutely beautiful and I was one of the only tourists walking around.
There are also free meditation classes you can attend at Wat Mahathat, which will give you a personal, hands on experience with a monk inside one of the buildings. These meditation classes take place every day at 7 a.m., 1 p.m., and 6 p.m. My experience at this meditation class did not happen without me embarrassing myself, however…
This is a super touristy part of Bangkok, however, I have had some of the best nights of my life on this road. It’s full of cheap Pad Thai, Ladyboys, clubs and bars (You’ll feel like you’ve walked into a competition between the bars: who can blast music the loudest?), bugs to munch on, and young backpackers. And don’t forget the liquor filled buckets, which goes hand in hand with the laughing gas for sale.
Another road is Soi Cowboy, the Red Light District of Bangkok. See for yourself what makes this road so… interesting.
The weekend market is full of local Thai food and street vendors, all in one place. It’s a sensory overload, but definitely worth the visit. Here, you can get the cheapest food, clothes, and random trinkets to collect that will probably sit at the bottom of your backpack.
Get a massage
The famous $6 Thai massages are everywhere. Every other shop seems to offer traditional Thai massages for an hour. I’ve gotten two of them so far and have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
Getting a Thai massage is an experience within itself. The Thai women will sit on top of you and bend you in ways you didn’t think possible. One of the women made my body crack in certain places that I wondered if it were safe to do so. But it felt great!
I got a massage at Shewa Spa on Khaosan Road and highly recommend them. It cost 250 baht for a one hour Thai massage.
Get ready to indulge in delicious dumplings, noodles, various meat dishes, and anything else that will have your mouth watering as you walk into this section of Bangkok. The shopping is incredible, and you will find some of the oddest items and trinkets for sale in this part of town.
Even though you’re already in Asia, visiting Bangkok’s Chinatown is a must.
Ride a tuk-tuk and motortaxi
I’ll be honest, riding the motortaxi is going to be terrifying, but is definitely worth the experience. Tuk-tuk’s are also everywhere and are definitely a must, since it’s such a big part of the culture in Southeast Asia (even though I keep fearing that the tuk-tuk is going to flip over…)
If you’re looking to escape the bustling streets of Bangkok, visit Ayutthaya for a day or two. It’s a town in northern Thailand that is easily accessible by train. The ride costs 15 baht, the cheapest option. Ayutthaya was a Siamese Kingdom from 1351-1767, and used to be one of the wealthiest cities in the East. There are a ton of ancient temples spread sporadically throughout the town, which are remnants from the old city.
My friends and I went and ended up staying for two nights. I recommend renting a motorbike for 150 baht (roughly $4) and spending a couple days riding around and visiting all of the temples. I had the greatest time doing this! Even though I crashed my motorbike into a fence within the first ten minutes…
The food is delicious and cheap, and the guesthouses are perfect for the budget backpacker (we stayed at Somjai Place). Though it wasn’t necessarily the cleanest or greatest guesthouse I’ve ever been in, it was suitable and very cheap.
The nightlife is a hit or a miss. There were a few bars (Cowboy Bar) and one club my friends and I discovered that were a lot of fun. We were pretty much the only non-Thai people!
Where to Stay
Nasa Vegas Hotel
The Nasa Vegas Hotel is not only conveniently located near the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link, but it also offers spacious, comfortable rooms at an affordable price. They have air-conditioning, room service, and a 24-hour front desk to make your stay at easy and care free as possible. They also have a bar and restaurant on-site. Rooms start at around $15 a night.
The Key Bangkok Hotel by Compass Hospitality
The Key Bangkok Hotel by Compass Hospitality is a boutique hotel in the heart of Bangkok and conveniently located near the Asok BTS Sky train station and Sukhumvit MRT station. The rooms are stylish and modern, offering guests optimal comfort and relaxation. Each room has a kitchenette, bathroom, and wifi. Rooms start at around $144 a night.
Born Free Hostel Vista
This hostel is clean, social, and convenitenly located right near Khaosan Road. The beds are comfortable, and there is a relaxing hippy lounge on the first floor, with soft mats and relaxing tribal music that plays throughout the day. Dorms start at around $6 a night here.
The LUBD hostel is one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed in. The beds are huge and comfortable, and you get your own personal light. The showers are clean, the water is hot, and the water pressure is wonderful. It’s conveniently located near Silom Road as well, which has a ton of cheap food options and a few nice bars.
There is a nice social area on the first floor where there is also a bar that serves food and coffee. Though the wifi wasn’t the greatest, I still really enjoyed my stay here. Dorms start at around $9 a night.
I went Couchsurfing the first few nights that I was in Bangkok. Both of my hosts were very friendly and accomodating, and I had the best time living like a local at such an early stage of my trip. There are a TON of Couchsurfing hosts in Bangkok, and I highly recommend having this experience, even if it’s only for a night or two.
Need I say more? It’s everywhere. Fried noodles, chicken, and vegetables for the price of a Starbucks coffee in New York. It’s also the perfect drunk food.
If you have a low spicy tolerance, beware. There was one night where my friend and I had to chug chocolate milk from 7/11 for half an hour so our mouths would stop burning. No one warned us of how spicy that certain Pad Thai was.
I’ve eaten green curry every day for the past ten days straight (and there are no signs of stopping). It’s flavorful, healthy, and extremely cheap.
Similar to green curry, but not as spicy. Full of coconut milk, herbs, vegetables, and protein,
Mango Sticky Rice
The thought of mango sticky rice has my mouth watering. They use coconut milk on the rice and, paired with mangos, it makes the perfect snack or dessert (or meal).
Tom Yum Soup
This soup is full of herbs and shrimp (you can sub for chicken). It’s a bit sour and so delicious!
Fruit stands are everywhere. You can get pineapple, papaya, watermelon, and various other fruits from these stands. I’ve eaten at a fruit stand every single day! Everything is so fresh, and they cut it up for you right there and even give you a wooden stick to eat it with.
Those of you who have fallen in love with Thailand and want to stay long term are now in luck! Language Express is a language school in Bangkok and a wonderful option for those of you who want to learn Thai. You can choose between private, semi-private, or group classes. It’s centrally located in Bangkok near the Phloenchit BTS Station.
Follow me on Snapchat to see live videos and pictures from my trip! Username is @globetrottica.