Bangkok: Take A Gander
Hey there friends, Jana here. I’ve found my rhythm since moving back to Thailand, traveling occasionally and diving into as much as possible. Thailand has something to offer for anyone and everyone. Are luxurious shopping centers your jam? Combined with modern shopping centers and seven class hotels? We’ve got you covered. Are you more of a private island, exotic beaches, infinity pool kind of traveler? Yeah, we’ve got that too. Oh I know, you’re into the environmentally immersive retreat—the jungles, hill tribes, and street food. Yes, we have you covered too. Really, regardless of what you’re looking for, we have it. Aside from snow, don’t come to Thailand looking for snow. Ummm, duh.
Anyway, more tourists visiting Thailand stop in Bangkok than any other city in the country. So naturally, I’d love to share a beginner’s guide on my hometown.
Bangkok is a hustle and bustle city; we have over ten million residents within Bangkok and every one of them is a hustlin’. I promise you that. I know you’ve probably heard that New York is the city that never sleeps; well they lied to you, because Bangkok is the OG city that never sleeps. There are sample sales that start in the early a.m. hours, and there’s no shortage of restaurants, bars, and clubs at any time of day. If you’re looking for street food, bargaining/haggling for sport, and local markets, Bangkok is your city. It’s also a great starting point for countless temples, sightseeing, and historic architecture.
As for transportation, we have a strong public transit infrastructure. The cabs are cheap fare, and the motorcycles are even cheaper! As you explore Bangkok you’ll see that the Chao Phraya River runs deep and wide throughout Bangkok city; creating several canals at (nearly) every turn. Over the years, the canals have become a defining part of Bangkok’s culture. Each day, thousands of commuters travel by motorized boats on the canals Chao Praya River, which runs through the center of the city. Hence, Bangkok is known by some as the “Venice of the East.”
Here’s the run down on some of our neighborhoods/districts within Bangkok:
*each hyperlink provides additional information if you’re interested!
Ratanakosin Island- When the city was founded, a canal was dug around its original perimeter as a defense mechanism; therefore creating an island within Bangkok city. Ratanakosin Island was defended with walls and fortress to protect the city; some of these forts can still be found today. Ratanakosin is home to some of Bangkok’s major sights, such as The Grand Palace, Wat Po and the National Museum. Wat Po is especially delightful, and one of Jenny’s favorite sights within Bangkok. I highly recommend visiting Ratanakosin Island whenever in Bangkok. Although a bit touristy, it’s just one of those things that “has” to be checked off the list.
Dusit- Dusit was established as the new royal city by King Rama V after a trip to Europe at the end of the 19th century. Dusit has a distinctly European feel to it.
Banglampu / Khaosan- Along the river between the old royal city and the Dusit Palace you will find the Banglampu area. For many years, Banglampu has served as a hotspot for budget hotels and guest houses; backpackers from all over the world flocked to Banglampu. However, in the last few years, Banglampu has “discovered” by the middle-class and the area has been gentrified considerably. For now, backpackers are still present but are (unfortunately) being gradually pushed out.
*Khao San Road – not to fear backpackers! Khao San Road is home to countless budget guesthouses and mid-range hotels; backpackers have found an oasis on Khao San Road due to swanky bars and clubs, restaurants, travel agents, bookshops, market stalls, tattoo shops and much, much more.
Chinatown- There is a massive Chinese community within Bangkok. In fact, their presence predates the founding of Bangkok as Thailand’s Capital! As a matter of fact, the land where the grand palace is today was originally a community of Chinese traders. When King Rama I decided to establish the capital on the site of the village of Bangkok, he asked the traders to move. They settled to the east of the new city, along the river. Chinatown is a unique experience within Bangkok; the food is authentically Chinese while served within the Thai perspective—make sure to go at night. Trust me.
Riverside- Between Chinatown and the Taskin bridge is the Riverside area; this is where find the vestiges of the first foreign presences in Thailand. The area is home to the French and Portuguese Embassies, the Oriental Hotel and the East Asiatic Company.
Business District- The area along Silom Road, and the parallel streets of Sathorn and Suriwong, are the closest thing Bangkok has to a central business district. Here, you’ll find the offices of many banks as well as some of the country’s biggest companies. There are great views to be found here of the city; if you wake up early, the sunrise reflects of all the glass within the business districts and offers a calming experience amidst the chaos. The city’s infamous Patpong can be found smack dab in the middle of the Business district. Smack in the middle of this area is the city’s infamous Patpong, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Siam Square Shopping Area- If nothing else, Bangkok certainly does not have a shortage of opportunities for shopping. However, the strongest concentration of shops, restaurants, and department stores can be found in the Siam Square area. If you’re in Bangkok and you enjoy shopping, visiting Siam Square is a must!
Chatuchak- Chatuchak is far removed from the rest of Bangkok; you’ll find it’s a bit of a retreat if you want to be on the outskirts. However on the weekends, a very large market is hosted at Chatuchak ParkSo, there it is– a beginner’s guide to Bangkok. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below! Bangkok has so much to offer, I hope anyone who is interested makes the trip over here. Thanks for reading!