Sure, Bangkok has, for long, been the capital of shopping in Southeast Asia. From flea markets and wholesale bazaars to plush shopping malls and designer stores, the city fulfills every kind of shopping fantasy. But, here’s the dilemma—what about those travellers who don’t think retail is a good form of therapy? Should visitors who’re averse to malls and markets skip Thailand’s capital? What about those who would like to spend their time, money and energy doing other things? Is there anything Bangkok has to offer for those who don’t want to shop? Fret not, this list answers all of these questions! Here are 10 things to do in Bangkok that go beyond shopping!
For architecture lovers, Bangkok’s ethereal Wat Arun complex is a must-visit. Also called the ‘Temple of Dawn’, it’s located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and can be accessed by a short 2-minute ferry that takes you across the water channel. The temple flaunts colourful spires, intricate mosaics made with coloured glass and gorgeous Chinese porcelain artwork. Make sure to climb some of its spires—the view is worth it. Don’t forget to try the delicious coconut ice cream that’s sold by the pier! A short walk away is the Wat Pho or ‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’ that makes for a mandatory stop on your Bangkok itinerary.
When in Bangkok, you can’t miss out on the fun backpacker’s district. The book, The Beach, that inspired the Leonardo Di Caprio starrer movie of the same name, describes Bangkok’s Khao San Road as ‘the centre of the backpacking universe’ and there are no prizes for guessing why! Bustling, eclectic and downright crazy, this street features backpackers from across the world who come to enjoy its nightlife and buzzing vibe. Here, you can check into a hostel, visit the National Gallery, chill at various pubs, visit the October 14 memorial and spend time at Buddhist temples like Wat Chana Songkhram and Wat Bowonniwet.
Well, not in real life, but in waxy statue form! Yes, the famed Madame Tussauds has opened its doors to Bangkok. Located in Siam Discovery, it’s a place to have some good old fashioned fun as you hobnob with life-like statues of the rich and the famous. Be prepared to get up close and personal and click pictures with Cristiano Ronaldo, Angelina Jolie, Vin Diesel, Jackie Chan, Lady Gaga, Shah Rukh Khan, Mahatma Gandhi, Beyonce, and many more!
Thailand and spa treatments go hand-in-hand. When you’re in its capital, rest assured that your vacation will ooze ‘rest and recuperation’. There are standalone boutique spa brands, thematic spas in hotels, street-side massage chairs in markets, fish spas, and lots more to suit every budget. Adventurous travellers can try the bone-cracking traditional Thai massages, too! Whether you’ve walked around for lots of sightseeing or just want to calm your travel-weary mind, check into any of these spas for guaranteed bliss.
Give an eco-friendly twist to your vacation by visiting the Sampran Riverside Resort. At this 70-acre riverside paradise, you can spend time learning unique local arts and crafts and enjoy a traditional Thai meal. Some of the crafts you can learn include clay pottery, garland making, tie-and-dye, Thai umbrella painting, coconut leaf weaving, and decorative vegetable cutting. End the day with a dip in the pool or a relaxing evening at its organic farm.
One of Bangkok’s old trading ports has been converted into a vibrant riverside entertainment complex. Asiatique The Riverfront is a thriving evening leisure spot by the Chao Phraya River and is perfect for a solo travel sojourn, romantic date or family fun. While there are shopping options here, those who wish to skip that part completely won’t be disappointed given that there are over 40 restaurants to choose from, live entertainment to be enjoyed and a gigantic Sky Ferris Wheel that provides gorgeous vistas of the sparkling city below!
Much of Bangkok’s entertainment options are focused on the magnanimous Chao Phraya River that flows through it. One of the best ways to take in its calming waters is to go on a dinner cruise. This also makes for a great way to see Bangkok’s iconic landmarks as you sail past them while enjoying a delectable meal. There are a variety of companies offering cruises for all budgets in the city.
Learn the tale of the life and times, and the eventual mysterious disappearance of Thai silk revolutionary, Jim Thompson, who was also known as the ‘Thai Silk King’. His former residence, the ‘House on the Klong’, has now been converted into a museum where guided tours are organized to showcase his lifestyle and gorgeous art collection. The Jim Thompson Art Centre is located in the same compound and warrants a visit as does the shop selling Thai silk products.
You have got to try your hand at cooking some of the country’s delicacies if you love Thai food. Bangkok is brimming with classes for all budgets that will teach you how to make the perfect Pad Thai, green/red Thai curry and mango with sticky rice. These classes offer courses for different levels of expertise. Try the Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy on Sukhumvit Road for a hands-on training session.
Bangkok’s not all about high-rises and crammed markets. If you look closely, you will find secret green spots that are beckoning you to get on a bike and explore! Some of these include Bang Krachao (also known as Bangkok’s ‘green lung’), the lake-laden Benjakiti Park, downtown Bangkok’s Lumpini Park, and the Rot Fai Park which is said to have one of Bangkok’s longest cycling paths. Most of these have cycle rental vendors.
Now that you’ve gone through the perfect itinerary for Bangkok to experience the best of best, let us know who you’d like to go to Bangkok with in the comments below.