The city that never sleeps. The lost city. An epicentre of culture. No, I’m not talking about New York, Sichuan, or Venice. I’m talking about the city of endless possibilities: Bangkok. Its continuous vibrant movement of life weaves its way between its streets, in its art and, of course, through its food. Built upon the grassroots of Buddhist values, this ‘hangover’ city gained international notoriety for its ‘late night entertainment’ shows, going so far as to cement itself as the backpacking district of the world. With planeloads of backpackers arriving daily in the legendary Khao San Road, otherwise known as the ‘gateway to Asia’, few see the authenticity of Thai culture. Until now. Here’s how to spend one day in Bangkok.
Location: Silom Road, Bangkok
Forget everything you thought you knew about this backpacking mecca, Bangkok is the street food district of the world. Giving validity to this claim, Timeout Magazine crowned it the ‘Worlds Street Food Capital’ and it doesn’t disappoint!
The central business district of Bangkok transforms overnight, once the bustle of commuters has faded, only a few people remain. Sleeves are rolled up and tom yum is greedily eaten at the side of the road. Silom is the perfect example of Thai culture – fast paced, communal and no fear of getting their hands dirty. Eating for under £1.00 makes it taste sweeter.
Address: Si Lom, Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500
Location: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
After losing your street food virginity, it’s time to sit at the big boy table. Damnoen Saduak. Located in the Saduak District, Damnoen floating market remains the most renowned throughout Thailand.
Taken by longboat through the backwaters of Saduak, visitors shop, eat and interact with market traders, all from within the comfort of your own private longboat.
Despite being over an hours drive from Bangkok, it is a must-see for any traveller as the drive allows you to see Bangkok’s shift from a modern city, to the old town, to the backwaters of Saduak.
Check out more of Bangkok’s markets here.
Address: 9 Tambon Damnoen Saduak, Amphoe Damnoen Saduak, Chang Wat Ratchaburi 70130
Location: Wat Saket
Having satisfied your thirst for food and art, it’s time to head back to Bangkok with a visit to Wat Saket. Whilst this temple is often overlooked by tourists due to its old town location, it is home to the iconic, golden Chedi of ‘Phu Khao Thong’, otherwise known as the Golden Mountain. Built on top of a high hill in the old city of Bangkok, this forgotten temple has a long and troubled history serving as the capital’s crematorium and the dumping ground for some 60,000 plague victims.
The temples rich history makes for an enlightening experience, welcomed by walls of bells, upon a winding staircase leading to its golden peak. Just be sure to take in its panoramic view of this ancient city on the way up.
On the way down The Golden Mount gong is open for visitors to chime, but you must do it three times with a long pause in between, it’s the Buddhist way! For a small donation, on the way down bracelets are woven and given to visitors. Like any Buddhist temple, legs and shoulders need to be covered and shoes removed when meditating.
Located between: Boriphat road and Lan Luang Road, off Ratchadamnoen Klang road. Price: 50 Baht per person.
Location: China Town
Known as ‘Yaowarat’ by locals, Bangkok is home to one of the largest China Towns in the world. Yaowarat road (spanning 1km) is the artery of Chinatown, with several side roads rearing off, allowing visitors to immerse themselves into what was originally the first Chinese settlement in the city.
What was once the red-light district and opium den of Bangkok now has a more humble notoriety for being the most popular district to visit by travellers. China towns commercial prominence launched itself into Travellers guidebooks in the 20th century when Chinese crafts, food and religion separated it from mainstream Thai culture.
The district is a living reminder for travellers of how communities were once separated and remains a celebration of Asia’s growth towards cultural integration. Despite its pivotal role in the Thai- Chinese community, it is a siren call for travels to see while it remains. In 2010 the Thai government announced construction plans that threaten its very existence. Despite calls for urban conservation, the veins of this once forbidden town continue to move throughout the heart of Bangkok.
Address: Yaowarat Rd, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.
Location: Patpong Market
Bangkok’s urban city is fuelled by more than its notorious nightlife, to come to the labelled ‘Hangover city’ and not witness its underworld first-hand would be an opportunity wasted. If you have one night in the Thai capital, it must be spent here. This infamous street is an assault on the senses, and within the first 10 minutes will leave you speechless. This is the only road in the city where you can have a meal, souvenir shop, find an Irish pub, all whilst being offered to watch a woman pick up a ping pong ball with a pair of chopsticks… we’ll let you fill in the gaps.
Despite its often-sordid representation, it remains one of the few places that families flock to, to experience the reality of a culture’s embracement of sexuality, an aspect which shocks most visitors. With plenty of bars to spend the night in, most of which host the best live bands in the city, Patpong is a sight you will not see in any other country.
Tip: If you stay late enough you may catch wind of a street race location that takes place throughout the city every week, that is if the police haven’t shut it down by then!
Address: Silom and Surawong Roads, Bangkok, Thailand
Your time in the city of endless possibilities is over. Just be sure to get a yellow or pink taxi back to the airport, that is unless you want to be caught amid the uber war that has become an epidemic in this town
You survived 24 hrs in what is the most notorious in the world.
It’s time to plan your next adventure.