LOADS TO FLOAT YOUR BOAT
For most travellers heading to Thailand, your stay begins and ends in Bangkok. A sprawling metropolis, which can be incredibly daunting to first-timers, the capital balances Buddhist traditions with a relentless charge into the future.
As a guide with Wendy Wu Tours for many years, Yotpisai Namutawong, says, “I never imagined it would be this busy.
“I grew up in Bangkok and have seen it grow from a small town to a big concrete jungle.”
This pulsating energy is what makes the city one of the most exciting in the world to visit. And beyond the gilt temples, floating markets, scooters and street food – and after you’ve shopped in the mega malls and cradled cocktails atop skyscrapers – Yotpisai has these local tips to help you see another side of Bangkok.
FIRST PORT OF CALL
Chinatown is a must-visit – both by day to experience the market and at night for tonnes of street food. I rate this as some of the best food in the city. Don’t be shy, try everything.
BEST CULTURE HIT
The Museum of Siam and Nitasrattanakosin museum offer some of the best cultural presentations in the city.
To watch history unfold on the streets, I love Nang Leong. It’s a real locals’ market and is still run in a very traditional way.
You can experience the atmosphere of the old days of Bangkok, buy Thai sweets and watch locals going about their daily business. I really hope it stays this way and does not change too much by tourism.
WHERE TO EAT
Most restaurants in Bangkok are incredible and where you head for dinner will depend on your budget.
For a more high-end experience, I recommend Baan Khanitha, Bolan (under the helm of Australian-born chef Dylan “Lan” Jones and his wife, Duangporn “Bo” Songvisava), Nahm (awarded one Michelin star in 2017, the first time the guide has included restaurants from Thailand), and Taling-pling.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Using local transport to get around is a great way to blend in with the locals. You can travel by public boat, skytrain, subway or even use the public bus.
Just make sure you have some small change on you to buy your ticket on the spot.
SPEND A DAY LIKE A LOCAL
If I was showing friends around the city, I would drive to a local temple on the outskirts of Bangkok and spend time at the floating markets, enjoying the local food, then come back to Chinatown for a little bit of shopping until night falls and it’s time to tuck in at the street food markets.
ESCAPE THE CITY
If you feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city I think the nearby beaches, like Cha-am or Hua Hin are a wonderful choice. They’re both within a two-hour drive. If you prefer to immerse yourself in the forest, go to Khao Yai National Park. You might be lucky enough to spot hornbill, monkey, deer, porcupines and elephants.
From its gilt temples to floating markets and unlimited food options, Bangkok is an exciting destination.