Bangkok, one of Asia’s biggest tourist hubs, is a hubbub of sights, sounds, and smells. Lying just above the equator, Bangkok’s tropical climate assails the senses. But wearing light, airy clothing, battling a handful of mosquitoes, and getting a little sweaty is a fair exchange for visiting a city where plants take hold, growing from every possible surface and ripe, juicy tropical fruit is sold on nearly every street corner.
For the traveler on a budget, Khao San Road is a backpacker Mecca, complete with a multitude of street vendors peddling anything from t-shirts to fried crickets with soy sauce. Rooms range from 100 to well over 1,000 baht per night, with just as much of a fluctuation in quality. At 30 baht to 1USD, Bangkok can be a very budget-friendly city.
But what it lacks in luxury it makes up for in location: it’s just a 10-minute walk from Rattanakosin, Bangkok’s Old City and original capital. On the way, stop off at the National Museum for a quick intro to Thai history and culture, then make a quick detour through Yaowarat and Phahurat, the city’s Chinatown and Little India, before coming to the main entrance to the Grand Palace (350 baht).
The Grand Palace is a massive, sprawling complex displaying a veritable timeline of Thai architecture, sure to take up a full morning or afternoon. Stop through Wat Phra Kaeo, which houses the most holy of all Thai Buddha statues: the emerald Buddha. Strict dress code applies; shoulders and knees must be covered. In a pinch, clothing can be rented and purchased outside the Palace walls. Also worth a look is nearby Wat Pho, home to the world’s largest reclining Buddha (100 baht).
If shopping is your thing, Siam Square, situated at the intersection of the two BTS lines, is home to a large number of upscale malls, all of which sell fashions well below western prices. And for those who like to bargain, Chatuchak, located at the Mo Chit BTS station, is the world’s largest open-air market, a seemingly endless labyrinth where one can find anything from food to shoes to household goods at incredible prices.
If you’re in the market for nightlife, Bangkok guarantees something to suit your needs. Tourist-packed Khao San is lined with makeshift bars made up of numerous plastic stools crowding out into the street, the perfect place to get a big Chang beer (100 baht) two-for-one buckets of mixed drinks that pack a punch (200-300 baht), as well as clubs flashing neon and pumping bass. Or if you’re looking for the naughtier side of the city, take the BTS to Silom district’s Patpong market and drop in on one of the city’s notorious adult entertainment joints, provided you buy at least one (overpriced) drink.
Streets packed full of three-wheeled tuk-tuks and hot pink taxis, motos driving on the sidewalks, glistening Buddhist temples nestled in between towering skyscrapers, savory street food, yellow-robed monks, garish neon signs, and an active (if infamous) nightlife make Bangkok a unique, and uniquely overwhelming, destination full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
Flights on Kenya Airways to Bangkok cost approximately $1200. The exchange rate is 1USD = 30 Thai Baht(THB)