10 Reasons Why Bangkok is Great for Every College Tourist
Every year Thailand’s capital city attracts millions of travelers from around the world. From golden shimmering temples and gigantic skyscrapers to beautiful parks and colorful floating markets. Bangkok is a fascinating city full of contrasts. Here are 10 reasons why you will love Bangkok just like I do.
One of the highlights of Thailand is the cuisine, and there’s no better way to experience Thai food than eating it on the streets! The most famous street food destination among Westerners is Sukhumvit Soi 38. Open from 6pm until the early morning, you can find a wide range of typical Thai dishes on this busy street. The ingredients are fresh and the food is tasty and cheap. Another great place to sample Thai street food is Yaowarat, Bangkok’s beautiful Chinatown. Yaowarat road is packed with market stalls and street-side restaurants.
2. Floating Markets
If you want to experience a real slice of Thai life, you shouldn’t leave Bangkok without visiting a floating market. Floating markets have a long history in Bangkok. In older times, the city was connected by a complex system of canals and much of life was lived along the waterways. Today, most of the canals have been paved over to make roads but some of the traditional floating markets still exist. One of them is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, the most popular floating market in Thailand. Tropical fruits and vegetables, fresh coconut juice and a great selection of Thai dishes like the famous boat noodles are sold on the boats. It is a fun colorful event that will give you an insight into the Thai culinary culture and provides fantastic photo opportunities! Be sure to visit the market early in the morning, before the entire place gets crowded.
If you are looking for temples in Bangkok, you will definitely not be disappointed. There are more than 400 wats (temples) in the Thai capital. Many of them are worth visiting, but if your time is limited there are three temples you should definitely see:
Wat Phra Kaew is located in the historic centre of Bangkok, on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It is regarded as the most important and sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The entire compound consists of over 100 impressive buildings, golden figures, colorful mosaics, wall paintings and dates back to 1782, when the Thai capital was founded.
Wat Pho is one of the largest temples in Bangkok and mainly famous for the giant reclining Buddha statue it houses. Covered in gold leaf, the highly impressive Buddha statue is 46 meters long and 15 meters high and illustrates the passing of the Buddha into Nirvana. Wat Pho is also known as the location where the original Thai massage was created and therefore a great place to experience a traditional Thai massage!
Another impressive temple you don’t want to miss is Wat Arun, the temple of dawn. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, this temple is one of Bangkok’s most unique and stunning ones. If you want to take the red sky sunset photo of Wat Arun that’s on all the postcards, you need to watch the spectacle from the opposite side of the river. Sunset in Bangkok is around 6pm- 7pm at any time of the year.
4. It’s cheap!
One of the best reasons why Bangkok is great for every College tourist is that it’s cheap! You can eat delicious street food meals for $1 or $2, get a beer for $2 and expect quality accommodations for $10/ night, and even a long taxi ride around Bangkok will probably not cost you more than $5.
The currency used in Thailand is the Baht (THB). In Bangkok there are plenty of exchange facilities in public areas, shopping malls and at any bank. It is also possible to exchange your money at the Bangkok airport, but exchange rates may not be the best. Instead of bringing your home currency and then changing it to baht, try to withdraw money from your debit or credit card as rates are usually better. The only negative point is that ATMs incur a 150 or 180 baht fee in addition to the fees added by your home bank.
The city, with its traffic, noise, and smells, can be overwhelming by itself. The best place to escape the hectic city life and enjoy the beauty of nature is Lumphini park, located in the center of Bangkok . Here you can go for a long walk around the artificial lake, have a picnic under a tree or join free aerobic classes in the afternoon. It has a really nice atmosphere and is a world away from everyday city life!
Another lovely place to relax without actually leaving town is Phu Khao Thong, the golden mountain. On top of this artificial there is a wonderful view across the city and its skyline. You’ll be surprised by how much greenery Bangkok can have!
Shopping is one of the most popular reasons why people come to Bangkok, and for good reason. Prices are low, quality is generally high and the range and variety of products is just amazing!
Siam Paragon: Siam Paragon is one of the largest shopping centers in Asia and includes a host of international high-end fashion brands, a giant movie theater, bowling alley, concert hall and South East Asia’s largest aquarium. Siam Paragon is located just next to two other massive malls, Siam Square and MBK Center.
Terminal 21: This unique shopping mall brings the dream of traveling the world to Bangkok! It is designed based on the concept of an international airport, where each floor represents a different city. You will find yourself wandering through a maze of shops in Istanbul, ambling down the Champs-Elysées in Paris, drinking a cappuccino in Rome or enjoying a delicious sushi meal in Tokyo. There is even a miniature Golden Gate Bridge within the mall!
Chatuchak weekend market: Known as the biggest outdoor market in the world, Chatuchak weekend market is the ultimate shopping destination in Bangkok! The range of products on sale is extensive and includes clothing, furnitures, art, plants, animals, books, music, … You should definitely plan to spend a full day here, as there is so much to see, do and buy!
Thailand is popularly known as the “Land of Smiles”. The Thais are always friendly, polite and extremely helpful. In fact, you can expect a hospitable welcome almost everywhere you go. As a tourist it is important that you learn how to communicate with people. Thais greet each other using a “wai“. To do this, bend your head a litte bit, push your palms against one another and touch your nose with your fingertips. By making this polite gesture, you will show and receive respect.
8. Easy to get around
Bangkok is surprisingly easy to get around thanks to a efficient and clean public transport system. Around the central part of Bangkok, the BTS Skytrain and the MRT underground offer access to many corners. If you want to go to places not accessible by the BTS or MRT, it’s best to take a taxi. By international standards they are very cheap and appear on every corner and at almost any time. Nevertheless, your trip to Bangkok wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t ride in a Tuk Tuk (so named because of the sound of their engine). It is more an experience rather than a practical way to get around but it’s by far the most fun travel option in Bangkok. Just make sure to agree on a price beforehand!
9. Rooftop Bars
To get a better glimpse of Bangkok, you should fly up to one of the many rooftop bars the ’City of Angels’ has to offer.
Known as that fancy rooftop bar from Hangover 2, the Sky Bar is one of the highest outdoor bars in all of Asia and offers a breathtaking view over the Chao Phraya river, which is particularly impressive to see at sunset.
Moon Bar located on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel is a another perfect place for a chic and classy night out. The bar offers fabulous 360-degree views of the city. Note that the dress code for both bars doesn’t allow access to those wearing shorts and sandals.
If you are looking for a more casual and also cheaper place to go, check out Cloud 47 located at the top of the United Center office tower. The bar area is comfortably appointed with white stool sofas and there’s a live band that plays until midnight.
10. Cooking Classes
Have you ever eaten a Thai dish and said to yourself “I wish I could cook this myself?” A visit to a Thai cooking school has become a must-do for many tourists and can easily become the highlight of your trip. Nearly all lessons include a visit to a fresh market and an introduction to Thai ingredients and flavors as well as a set of printed recipes so you can easily bring the taste of Thailand back home and amaze your friends and your family with your new cooking skills!
The following links can help you finding a the cooking school you are looking for:
Cooking with Poo: www.cookingwithpoo.com
Blue Elephant Thai Cooking School: www.blueelephant.com
Silom Thai Cooking School: www.bangkokthaicooking.com
Khao Cooking School : www.khaocookingschool.com