It’s true that all roads lead to Bangkok, so I feel like I’ve spent more time in Bangkok than the rest of Southeast Asia. Which makes it extremely difficult to narrow down to my top 5 things for backpackers to do in this city. You may notice that I haven’t included a whole lot of the tourist sights in this list, but I wanted to focus on the appeal of this city to backpackers in particular. You’ll see what I mean. Here it is folks.
1) The Grand Palace The Grand Palace is one of the main tourist attractions in Bangkok. This is the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government, so it’s a pretty big deal. It’s main appeal is the pretty architecture with gorgeous intricate details, and it’s just really nice to walk around and soak up the Thai culture. There’s also the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in there which is pretty cool. Tickets are 400 baht (about £8) so not too bad for a day out. And the best part is you get to buy those sick printed trousers from the stall outside! You don’t really have to but I think it adds to the experience. And remember you have to cover your shoulders and knees kids!
2) River Boat Tour including Wat Po and Wat Arun This is a little river boat ride I did that combined a few of the sights and it was just a really nice day. The boat travels down the Chao Phraya River so you can see the communities of people living along the river banks. You can also feed bread to some catfish which is a pretty terrifying experience to be honest! It then loops back to Wat Arun, a really pretty temple with VERY steep steps! You then get back on the boat and cross the river to Wat Po, one of my favourite temples and the one with the giant golden buddha statue laying down. From here I took the tuk tuk back to my hotel, so I managed to tick off a lot of the things I wanted to see/do in one trip! It’s quite a cheap trip (under a tenner) and you can book this from your hostel reception. I hear there are quite a lot of scammers along the river trying to rip you off so I would definitely go with your hostel or guesthouse’s recommendation!
3) Khao San Road at Night You have officially arrived at BACKPACKER HEAVEN. Khao San Road is everything you want when you’re a backpacker. Sure it’s over-priced compared to the rest of Bangkok but it’s totally worth it. Markets full of trinkets, bars full of buckets of whiskey and the most amazing street food ever (Pad Thai is less than £1 and the best I’ve ever eaten). Best of all, this is a place to meet other backpackers. Or simply grab a Chang beer and a table facing the road and watch the world go by. It’s just as amazing in the day but at after dark it’s a fabulous night out. I just love it here, can you tell?
4) Thai Massage and Spa Treatments Spa Treatments are cheap in Thailand. So much so that I once had a full body massage one day, only to return and have another one the very next day. Yes I know that is particularly indulgent of me, but at £5 a pop how could I resist?! Bangkok is a great place for a facial and a foot massage for a little R&R in the middle of a bustling city. There’s a great little one on Rambuttri, near Sawasdee House guesthouse, that I would definitely recommend. Go on, treat yourself.
5) Recharge and Top-Up on the Necessities This is what i meant when I said I was low on the tourist-trail variety of activities. Because the majority of visits to Bangkok tend to be en route to somewhere else, with very few backpackers staying beyond a couple of days. So when I’m passing through, I like to take the opportunity to restock. With a Boots on Khao San Road, I always top up the beauty supplies and toiletries. If anything has broken on your trip, this is the place to replace it. I also like to pick up a new bikini or dress here as they’re so cheap, and throw a couple of things in my backpack away. It’s basically where I like to rotate my wardrobe. I also like a bit of me-time in Bangkok. It’s quite weird when you think about it, that one of the most amazing cities is where I like to watch the StarWorld channel in my guesthouse, but it’s how I prepare for my next destination! No judgement.
So what do you think? Should I have said visiting MKR or the Floating Market was more important than getting a massage? I realise my priorities are a bit strange when it comes to Bangkok. Tell me what you think!