Bangkok is a city with something for everyone, which is convenient as when you first step off the plane, it feels like everyone in the world is already there. Whether you want to get off the beaten track a little, or to get stuck into the colourful party scene, Bangkok has exactly what you’re looking for and plenty more that you didn’t even know you wanted…from the smiling ladies selling refreshing “mango sweet”, to the stunning architectural feat that is the Rama VIII suspension bridge, to watching the sun set over panoramic views of the city from the welcoming Sky Bar, Bangkok’s energy and beauty never fails to entice first time and repeat visitors alike.
Bangkok Zoo For those on a budget or travelling with families, Bangkok Zoo offers an excellent day out for 100 baht – around £2 – for adults, and 50 baht for kids. It is also conveniently located near the centre. There are over 2,400 animals housed at the zoo and features a pleasant “jungle walk” from which you can view crocodiles, hippos and turtles from above. Many of the bigger animals have allotted feeding times, where for a few baht, you can buy veggies and hand-feed hippos and deer yourself! Kids will love riding the pedalos around the lake in which a variety of fish species reside and the nocturnal animal exhibit.
Boat trips If you fancy a stress-free alternative to the hectic roads of the city, and a chance to see often-overlooked sights such as the enchanting flower market or the countless beautiful riverside temples, the easiest, and cheapest, is to hop on at one of the many ferry ports dotted along the banks of the Chao Phraya. Depending on the route the ferries take, denoted by the coloured flags on the sides of the boat, you can travel from the centre all the way to Nonthaburi in the North to Rat Burana in the South of the city from as little as 15 baht (around £0.35).
However, if you have more time or are prepared to spend a little extra, longboats can be hired privately so you can tailor your journey, or you take the chance to dress up and dine on one of the luxurious evening cruisers from around £20 per head. These can usually be arranged at the water’s edge or by your hotel.
Khaosan Road If you’re looking for a party, you’ll always find several going on here – in fact, so many that the whole street almost pulsates with bright lights, people dancing, eating, shopping, drinking and laughing. Khaosan Road is the street that doesn’t sleep and has everything a good party-goer needs – clubs, pubs, restaurants, street food, fast food, market stands selling everything from bikinis to glow sticks, hotels, a chemist (for the inevitable paracetamol the next morning!)…even fortune tellers. If you want a good night’s sleep, you may wish to base yourself in one of the quieter streets sprouting from the Khaosan Road, but you will more than likely find yourself having such a good time, sleep will be the last thing on your mind!
Chinatown Although Thai food is unquestionably delicious, if you fancy a change, Chinatown is a must. Some of the cheapest yet most tasty snacks and meals in Bangkok can be found here, sold on little stands in the warren of tiny streets. Piles of steaming noodles and freshly-cooked fried dumplings await you here.
Chinatown is not just all about the food; the packed markets throughout the area are very much worth a visit to pick up inexpensive souvenirs, clothes, gold jewellery and beautiful patterned textiles, as are the temples and rows of wooden-fronted shops selling traditional Chinese medicine, imported spices and vegetables from China.
Thai massage There are many spas throughout Bangkok offering relaxing massages, pedicures, facials and a whole range of treatments guaranteed to provide a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city for as little as 100 baht. An enjoyable way to unwind – literally – is a Thai massage, a form of massage that has been perfected by the Thais for hundreds of years, involving stretching of the muscles and pressure on various key points of the body. This is a particularly good option for weary travellers arriving to the city after a long flight or bus journey.