Bangkok has always been like a transit city for me ever since I started to travel to Thailand. It is always the last city in my travel itinerary while transiting or travelling in and around Thailand. But this time I got a chance to stay for almost 5 full days in Bangkok. And, I have to say that this was by far one of my most informative trip to Bangkok so far. With the visa exemptions getting extended till Oct’2019, there is absolutely plenty of reason to visit to this Land of Smiles again and again with Thai Smile Airways , a fully own subsidiary airlines of Thai Airways launching its flight operations from various cities in India. As the Thai capital is infamously known for its pulsating nightlife, temples and palaces . This city is fast emerging as one of the most popular cities in the world. Here are few list of places and things that you can opt for , if you have more than 2-3 days in Bangkok.
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Bangkok’s newest iconic landmark and most talked about destination, Mahanakhon Skywalk is Thailand’s highest observation deck, offering 360- degree panoramic views of Bangkok at 314 meters from the ground, one of the world’s largest glass tray floors, and Thailand’s highest rooftop bar.
This swanky Lego like building has a whopping 78 floors in total ,which boasts King Power Duty Free shops, Five star hotel, premium residences and a square to host performances and events .You can travel upto 74th floor in just 50 secs in the digitally themed fastest elevator which takes you on a digital visual representation of Bangkok. Also, the glass floor on the top floor is definitely not for the faint hearted , as it will make you feel like standing in the highest point in Bangkok with clear view of 310 meters beneath your feet. Fun or scary , I leave it upto to you to decide. The peak gives a panoramic view of the city and to sip a cocktail will definitely be a must when you visit this place.
Ticket Price – 726 Baht (23 USD approx.) per ticket
2. Art in Paradise , Bangkok
Another tourist attraction which has gained popularity apart from also being popular in Pattaya and Chiang Mai is Art in Paradise, Bangkok. It is a 3D art gallery where the painters have done an interesting job in creating interesting illusion effect with 3D painting. The gallery has over 100 individual art pieces in 10 themed sections, covering optical illusions, wild animals, nature, past civilization and reproductions of classic art with witty additions of eclectic mix of colors. This 3D art gallery can make you take some real nice quirky shots (especially for those who are Instagram frenzy). But you need at least 2 hours minimum to go around this gallery to cover all the exhibits properly.
Ticket Price – 290 Baht (10 USD approx.)
3. Maeklong Railway Market
Samut Songkhram formerly known as Mueang Mae Klong is situated in the Central Province of Thailand and is at a distance of about 80 kms from Bangkok which takes about 1 hour to reach by bus or cab. One of the most interesting tourist attractions is the Maeklong Railway Market (Talad Rom Hub).
The area is surrounded by small canals and the Mae Klong River which flows out to the ocean in the Gulf of Thailand.
So, in order to visit this market, it is best to know the train timings, as this is the most interesting part when while the slow train passes through a thriving local market, each time all the vendor have to remove their shop belongings in order to let the train pass through and place it back once it passes. There are about 8 times in a day when the train passes through. I have mentioned below the train timings:
The Maeklong Railway Market train Schedule in 2019 is:
–Train Arrival times: 8.30 a.m., 11.10 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 5.40 p.m.
–Train Departure times: 6.20 a.m., 9.00 a.m., 11.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m.
This market sells mostly the sea food and local produce such as fruits, vegetables and different variety of spices in wholesale prices. There are clothes and souvenir shops as well, which sells the same at dirt cheap prices (as compared to the swanky malls in Bangkok).
Pro Tips –
-To get there one can hire a minivan or bus from Bangkok and combine it as a day trip along with a visit to the nearby Damnoen Saduak floating market.
-You can also opt for a Half day tour by booking through tour company locally.
4. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Once in Thailand, it is almost a sin not to visit a floating Market. Damnoen Saduak is one of the famous and prominent morning floating market in Ratchaburi Province. It is located about few kms distance from Maeklong Railway Market. Damnoen Saduak canal is one of the longest canal which was dug 32 kms long, 12 mts wide connecting Thachin River in Samut Sakhon Province and the Kaeklong River in Samut Songkharm Province. Although the best way to get around the market is by row boat, but you can choose alternatively to just walk around the market on either side of the same. The colorful boats selling local food, fresh fruits and vegetables will definitely make your photographic instinct tickle to take many lovely shots.
Pro Tips– Beware of tourist traps as the prices are almost more than double. One can book a minivan to visit the same from Bangkok. Or alternatively, choose to book a half day tour to visit both the above mentioned places along with an authentic Thai cuisine lunch.
5. Baan Bang Plub- The Village to the World
An initiative of Amazing Thailand , Tourism authority of Thailand has designed number of village community development model in order to create awareness about community tourism and sustainability through promoting village farming and pushing awareness to the future generation. These tourism model is specially designed for the young adults to involve them into natural activities like Pomelo plantation, bicycling through the Pomelo garden , witnessing the sugar extraction from coconut trees and how to make fruit charcoal which are useful in odour removal etc which actually helps them to understand the thai local way of village life. One can spend 3-4 hours here after spending time in other attractions in Samut Songkhran.
There are about 7 such communities spread across Thailand and the closest to Bangkok is Baan Bang Plub which is near Samut Sonkhran province.
More about this can be found in https://www.villagetotheworld.com/thevillageexplorer/en/
6. Visiting the Temples
6.1. Wat Arun
Also known as the Temple of Dawn , sitting majestically on the Thonburi side of Chayo Phraya River , it is known to be one of the most remarkable temples which is definitely not to be missed while in Bangkok . The sunset capture is known to be spectacular . And, it is one of the most iconic landmark to be seen from the riverside . The long, elongated, Khmer-style Prang or tower, and four minor towers symbolize the terrestrial representation of the thirty-three heavens. It is possible to walk a limited way up the very steep stairs of the main prang, which gives a reasonable view of the Chao Phraya river.
Ticket price – 50 Baht
6.2 Wat Pho
Or also known as Temple of the Reclining Buddha , is another important Temples which is a must visit while in Bangkok. If you are commuting by the boat, then Wat Pho and Wat Arun are almost situated just on the opposite banks of Chayo Phraya River. It is one of the largest complexes in the city and famed for its giant Reclining Buddha that measures 46 meters long and is actually made of gold leaf. There is also a Traditional Thai massage school inside the temple complex where one can get authentic Thai massage from certified masseur. Also, one can also learn or do courses to learn the art of Thai Massage.
Here is the link for the same : http://www.watpomassage.com/
Ticket Price- 200 Baht (Adult)
6.3 Wat Phra Kaew & The Grand Palace
Commonly known as Temple of the Emerald Buddha is regarded as the most sacred buddhist temple which is located on the same grounds of the Grand Palace where the former king resided. Wat Phra Kaew was a royal chapel to the King Rama 1. It was built by the end of the 18th century, inside the grounds of the Royal Palace close to the banks of the Chao Phraya river and it consists of a series of structures, all enclosed by a perimeter wall. The highly revered emerald buddha is actually carved from a single block of Jade.
And, Grand Palace is the complex of buildings built in 1782, which was formerly the residence of Kings of Siam. But, now it is like a huge museum which is one of the most important tourist attractions in Bangkok . It not only served as a royal residence but also had administrative buildings inside it.
Ticket Price- 500 Baht (which includes entrance to both Palace and the temple)
One of the latest and most talked about high end mega mall which has recently opened its doors on the banks of Chayo Phraya River . Housing all the niche luxury brands , one can actually spend hours doing virtual or actual retail therapy depending on how much one wants to spend. It not only attracts attention from the shopaholics but also attracts a large number of tourists looking for cultural and heritage experience . As it also has a huge national heritage art gallery showcasing valuable artefacts and antiques. There is a huge auditorium for state of the art performances and shows. Well, last not the least it houses few good restaurants which includes one of the famous Michelin Rated Thai restaurant called Baan Khanitha the Heritage . One of the highly recommended restaurants where one can have a Royal Thai culinary experience.
8. Flower Market
Pak Klong Talad or Bangkok flower market is the biggest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in Bangkok. This market is the hub for buying all kinds of fresh flowers like roses, lilies , orchids and other exotic flowers at a bulk quantity in dirt cheap price. It is again worth to visit and witness the place as the same is a photographers paradise . Part of the Old City, Bangkok Flower market is located on Chak Phet Road near Saphan Phut or the Memorial Bridge. The market lies just south of Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and has access to a river pier, so it makes for a great one-day trip when combined with other historical attractions in the Old City.
9. Chayo Phraya Dinner Cruise
I had been to Bangkok several times but somehow missed out on the river cruise in my previous trips. This time , I got the chance to experience the dinner cruise on Chayo Phraya River. There are many river cruises which are plying for two hours in Chayo Phraya River serving dinner and live musical entertainment onboard. I went for Chayo Phraya Cruise which started from Siphraya/ Charoenkrung Soi 30 sharp at 7pm.
There was a grand welcome as the cruise approached the pier with a traditional Thai dancers dancing and singing to welcome us onboard. Next two hours was pure entertainment with live professional singers , Thai and other international cuisine buffet spread along with refreshments /beverages served . The main attraction for me was the spectacular Bangkok skyline by the night along with witnessing the illuminated Wat Arun , Grand Palaces and many other temples which were quite bedazzling. Definitely highly recommended if you are not on a strict budget and are looking for some luxury . For more details , please visit https://chaophrayacruise.com/
Pocket Pinch- 1700 Baht (per adult) for 2 hours including dinner .
10. Asiatique The Riverfront
I would have talked about it along with all the other night markets in my next point. But ,why I wanted to highlight this is because I feel it can be rightly defined as a perfect combination of a mall and night bazaar. Most importantly because of its stunning location along with its upscale ambience, this place surely gives a sophisticated charm . Situated strategically on the riverside , it can be well accessed by Saphan Taksin Pier. Housing many medium to high end boutiques , it is also a great place to satiate your appetite for it has over 40 restaurants and bars. Perfect place just to chill, roam around sipping your beer/ iced coffee and may be you can watch Muay Thai Live fights , Calypso Cabaret or Thai puppets performances as well.
One of the major attraction there, is the Bangkok version of London Eye, a huge giant wheel to give a nice bird’s eye view of the city . (guess the pocket pinch is about 300 baht/person) . And there are other fun rides, entertainment zones for the kids and adults too. So, if you are looking for an open air mall with a riverside view along with the thoughts of shopping some cutting edge fashion garments or accessories, an evening there is not all that bad as per me.
11. Shopping at Night Markets around the city
Depending on which part of the city you are in you can visit one of the many night markets / bazaar which are a daily affair in Bangkok. The famous one which are highly recommended are Chatuchak weekend market which is one of the largest weekend wholesale market in Asia selling vegetables to clothes to everything, J.J.Green , Patpong night market around Silom , Palladium night market around Pratunam, Rot Fai Market near Ratchada and also the one near to Srinakarin Road.
Whether, you want to shop cheap clothes, bags , shoes , gifts or anything , exploring any of the night market are a must. Infact, I would say one can also check out cool street local Thai food while exploring these places. Not all market have as cheap prices like the others but price negotiation is acceptable depending on one’s bargaining skills. I went to Palladium market for its cheap super cheap stuff’s and Rod Fai Market for exploring the delectable food and drink options. Oh sometimes they are a good place to enjoy drinks and music.
12. Khaosan Road
Considered to be as a Mecca of Backpacker’s hub, this part of Bangkok is pretty colourful and vibrant specially for the nocturnals. The local Thai, foreign tourists head to Khaosan road for it has some of the best options to party and socialise. However, for more elite clubbing , one can head to Sukhumvit area. Many foreigners comes specially to stay around Khaosan road because of its chilled out vibes, cheap food options, vibrant party scenes and also a great place to shop as well. So even if one is heading there solo, one can end up making many friends at the end of the party. There are super cheap hostel options which makes it more luring for the tourist to throng there. So, a must for all party animals!!
13. Lumphini Park
A mention of this quaint tranquil park in the middle of business district of Bangkok is a must as it was quite a surprise for me, while I visited there last time. Named after the birthplace of Lord Buddha , this park caters to all the segments of people. Whether just to laze around in the sunny afternoon , for morning walks or for a peaceful evening stroll , this park has a large lake inside it making it even more serene . Strategically located in Sathorn /Silom area , this park is a perfect place to have a peaceful recreation for self rejuvenation for those who wants to head away from the city chaos . Apparently the lake has many monitor lizard, snakes and swans inside it. So, don’t freak out if you spot one or two while chilling in the park.
14. Thai Massage
I guess even without a mention, I would know how many of you would agree on this that a nice Thai massage is a must when in Thailand . Bangkok has apparently more Thai massage parlours than medicine shops or any other essential apart from food stall of course. But, it is definitely recommended to go to a standard and a proper Thai massage also only after agreeing on the rates. However, for an authentic Thai Massage , one can head to Wat Pho Thai massage centre as there is a certified school for the same. Although the price is bit upwards but experience is worth the price .
15. Jim Thompson House
Named after the American businessman and an architect ,who was also known to be Thai Silk king at one point of time. From his collection of artefacts and sculptures around South East Asia. His house then in 1958 , has now become an important art museum for all art lovers and a must visit place while in central Bangkok. It showcases wood carvings, sculptures , various other collections of Buddhist statues and other traditional Thai Paintings.
16. China Town (Yaowarat Road)
Bangkok has the largest China town in the world. This place is a home to the large population of Chinese immigrants, but now has become almost the second largest population in Bangkok after Thai’s. This little China will take you on a food galore literally, as the thriving bustling market sells everything Chinese from food to ingredients to desserts. There is a michelin starred restaurant Jay Fai’s shop also in this area which has a daily serpentine queue of foodies.
Wat Traimit and Wat Mangkon Kamalawat are two temples found in Bangkok Chinatown. Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, houses the world’s largest gold statue.
There are many hotels and bars around China Town, if one wants to be around the old town area to dig into one of the best eats in the city at easy price. It is also known for its strange desserts like the one I had was made of Bird’s nest and Ginko which was very interesting too.
A little about my travel-
Thai Smile Airways Review
This time I got a chance to fly Thai Smile Airways, a fully owned subsidiary of Thai Airways operating under “WE” code, for they have introduced their maiden flight routes to four cities in India including Kolkata. And for passenger, traveling from India to Bangkok can also plan their trips to other major cities throughout Thailand and connecting 17 international destinations outside Thailand as well.
But, what I liked best was the timing of the flight operation as the same is not a red eye flight. The flight departs during afternoon and arrives at a very comfortable time by Bangkok hours, which makes it possible to catch up on night’s sleep to wake up fresh the next day. It has a five flights a week operations currently from Kolkata. It is not a low cost carrier, which means at economy price tickets, you get to choose seats of choice, free baggage allowance up to 30kgs and free meals/ beverages which includes alcoholic options like beer or whiskey. Thai Smile is also offering special discount for round trip tickets on the new route, Kolkata – Bangkok (CCU-BKK) to promote their sale currently. So, in case you are planning a quick trip to Bangkok now, I would highly recommend Thai Smile Airways for its time convenience, luxury and in-flight comforts.
Good news continues which is Thailand has waived off Visa charges for many countries including India. And the same is exempted till Oct’2019 as per latest news. So, if you are OK to stand in queue for 2 hours in getting your visa done, you can get it by paying nothing. However, for those who may not like the idea of the same, can avail an E-VOA online prior with nominal charges of 1300 INR in this visa charges waiver period, so as to avoid the unnecessary wait at the airport.A detailed article on how to apply for visa on arrival is mentioned below.
My Accommodation –
I stayed in Amari Watergate Bangkok, which is in Pratunam district for the first three days, as the same was arranged by Thai Smile Airways and Tourism Authority of India, New Delhi as a part of my FAM trip. The hotel is very conveniently located in the heart of the city and is at a walkable distance from lots of tourist attractions like Pratunam Mall, Erawan Shrine, Siam Paragon etc. It has a large buffet breakfast spread which boasts variety of cuisines. Swimming Pool on the third floor gives a nice panoramic view of Bangkok Skies.
For the next two days, I opted to stay in Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Riverside , Bangkok which is also a five star hotel and is situated on the banks of Chayo River. One of the main reason to opt for this hotel was the enchanting view of the river. Upon check-in, I was upgraded to a river facing deluxe room which was a pure bliss. I loved having breakfast every morning by the river. It has Jacuzzi, steam/ sauna facilities for all in house guest. It also has free shuttle boat service which leaves every half an hour to ferry the guest to the nearest pier Saphan Taksin , absolutely free of cost.
Overall I had a very relaxing weekend before I headed back to Kolkata.
So, do you have any further questions about your trip to Thailand, then hit me up in the comments below.
Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this article, however, I was invited to be part of joint familiarization trip by Tourism Authority of Thailand and as well as Thai Smile Airways to witness the New Shade of Bangkok. All photographs are copyrighted with the author of this blog, hence copying of the same is strictly prohibited.