*I’ve been to Bangkok 3 times for a total of 15 days spent around the city. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. Inside of this Bangkok Guide, you’ll hear about my experiences and get tips for culture, food, nightlife, and things to do.
Bangkok definitely lives up to it’s hype. It’s one of the all-around craziest cities on earth – and I love it.
The city is much bigger and eye-opening than I originally thought. I had the impression that it was unsafe and dirty, because so many people had told me to watch out for scams.. But donn’t listen to them and wait to see the city for yourself.
Before I visited Thailand, I didn’t realize that the county is governed by a monarchy. It’s a constitutional monarchy, so the King acts as the head of state. And The King of Thailand is literally shown everywhere on the streets. His face is on every single currency bill. He is recognized on nearly every poster, billboard and picture in Thailand. And be careful with what you said, because it’s illegal to speak badly about him or to even laugh at a picture of him. If you go to see a movie in Thailand, there is always a short tribute clip to honor the King before the movie, and everyone is expected to stand up and pay respect.
Another thing that I quickly realized about Thailand is that it’s a corrupt country. In other words, anything goes.
Literally anything, or at least that’s how it felt. If you have a little bit of money, you can pretty much do whatever you want, including paying off the police if you get busted for something. Locals will always try to wheel you in for your money, whether that means begging you to walk inside their store, bribing you to buy something, or selling you fake goods. Basically, I felt like a walking ATM machine at all times.
Public transportation is quite good around the city. There is an underground and overground metro system that covers almost all areas of the city. Don’t ever take a taxi, because the traffic is so bad it will take you hours to get around the city. I prefer to take a motorbike taxi — they are fun and cheaper!
Bargaining in the markets has never been more necessary. Don’t pay for anything until you’ve knocked down the price at least 50%. Even with taxis! I bargained things a ridiculous amount until I got what I asked for. It’s fun and cheap!
Alright, let’s dive into some quick facts:
– Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
– Language: Thai
– Population: 8 million (city), 15 Million (metro)
– Bangkok is the #1 most visited city in the world (Forbes 2013)
– 95% of the population is Buddhist
– The official name of Bangkok is over 50 syllables long, making it the longest city name in the world (Guinness Book).
– Bangkok has the record for the largest gold buddha, worth over U.S. $20 Million
– The King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has been ruling Thailand since 1946 making it the longest serving head of state in history.
Culture and People
Thai people are beyond friendly. They are very used to seeing tourists in their everyday life, so don’t expect them to be shocked when they see a white person (like many other countries in SE Asia). They’ll always greet you with a huge smile from ear to ear.
Also, expect to see lots of monks roaming the streets and around the Buddhist temples. It’s cool to see a mix of Buddhist culture when there are so many tourists around the city.
When greeting someone In Thailand, it’s customary to put your hands together under your chin, give a bow and say “Swa-dee Krah” for boys and “Swa-dee Ka” for girls.
Something to be aware of about the culture in Bangkok is the sex industry. It’s a huge draw in Thailand. All kinds of sex – red light districts, prostitutes, toys, and anything beyond your imagination. Watch out for lady boys – men that are cross dressed as women- because they are EVERYWERE. There is even a legit website about the ladyboys of Bangkok…
I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make some new local Thai friends! Click this link to learn the Top 10 Thai Words to keep in your back pocket 😉
What To Do?
There are many amazing things to do in Bangkok!
The architecture all around the city is majestic. There are so many buddhist temples surround the city limits with amazing designs, colors and patterns. The famous buddhist temples that you must see are the Grand Palace, Temple of Dawn, Sleeping Buddha and Wat Pho.
While you’re in Bangkok, you must get a Thai massage! I got one every single day, something two and one day I even got three. They are 200 Bhat ($6) for an hour long massage of your choice: foot massage, head and shoulders, facial, hand massage or a traditional Thai massage. It’s purely amazing. They are like trained professionals and know exactly how to make your body feel like heaven.
If you are a more adventurous person, then check out a motorbike tour in Thailand. You can cover a lot more ground in a shorter time, and see the beautiful countryside!
For a more complete list, check out my post on 10 Amazing Things to Do in Bangkok!
Thai Food is amazing, and it’s my second favorite cuisine in the world behind Korean food!
I ate pad Thai, fried rice and Thai curry for every meal until I got sick of it. Thai cuisine uses coconut milk in many of the curries, which make them so flavorful and unique. And rumor has it that The Thai’s invented rice, so it’s always made fresh and usually prepared with delicious spices. My only concern was the small portion sizes (they are so small), so sometimes I ordered 2 meals to fill me up.
All the food is super cheap, as long as you avoid tourist traps. Eat as much street food as you can! I spent about $2-3 USD for every meal. Also, drink fruit smoothies, as they are freshly prepared! Thailand is the best tropical climate to grow fresh, so the smoothies are better than you can find anywhere.
If you want to know some more of the best local dishes, then please read my post on 7 Thai Foods to Try.
The nightlife in Bangkok is easily one of the best in Asia.
There are many fun streets and districts to go out. Whether you like to go clubbing or sip on a beer with some friends, there’s something for everyone.
The best areas to go out are Khao Son Road (backpackers district), Soi 11 (a fun hipster street) and Soi Cowboy (the red light district).
For all you guys out there, take my advice and watch out for lady boys. There are many men that are cross dressed as women and it’s hard to tell!!
Where to Stay
My favorite hostel to stay at in Bangkok is called Lub D — it’s one of the best maintained hostels I’ve ever stayed at. It’s located in Silom – a centrally located area that has many bars, cafes and restaurants.
The hostel is clean, the staff is friendly and the prices are affordable! You can book a room on their website 🙂
Thanks for reading my Bangkok guide, and I hope you have a wonderful time in Thailand’s capital city 🙂