With Bangkok’s international airport providing a gateway to South East Asia, you’d be forgiven for thinking of the bustling city as nothing more than a stop-over destination. A whirlwind 24 to 72 hour visit to stretch the legs, see the sights, try the cuisine and indulge in the shopping before heading on to your next port of call. While there’s nothing wrong with a quick stop-over, if you want to experience awesome shopping outside of the mega-malls, breakfasts that don’t involve your hotel buffet, rooftop bars that will blow your mind, and ancient ruins that will feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of an Indiana Jones movie, you’re going need more time.
Plan and time your visit right, and you might just be able to fit these four amazing places into a three day trip. But add an extra day or two, and you’ll soon see why Bangkok is one of the busiest and most popular cities in Asia:
1. Lebua at State Tower
Perched high on the edge of a skyscraper in Bangkok, Thailand is one of the city’s most famous bars. Located on the 63rd floor of the State Tower, Sky Bar offers epic panoramic views over Bangkok and Chao Phrayariver. While they didn’t get creative with the name, they certainly did with the architecture. Greco-Roman influenced design dominates the landscape, with the pièce de résistance being a huge gold-pillared dome that lights up as the sun goes down. If you’ve seen the Hangover 2, you’ll know where I’m talking about. Part of the movie was filmed there and since then it’s become quite the scene. It’s pretty over the top, but it’s also pretty cool. Read more.
2. Chatachuk Weekend Markets
The Chatuchak Weekend Market (or Jatujak in Thai) in Bangkok is not only one of the biggest markets in the world; it’s also one of the best. Set out over 35 acres and home to over 15,000 stalls, the market sells everything from baby turtles to musical instruments. But the real draw card is the section devoted entirely to vintage fashion.
Rumour has it that this is where the majority of the vintage clothing stores in Australia get their stock. They head over on regular buying trips and snap up some of the coolest vintage clothes and accessories around. Chambray shirts in every shade imaginable, vintage Levi’s 501s, snakeskin lighter holders, old school Ray-Bans and more leather than your suitcase can carry. If you’re in the market for a perfectly beaten up leather jacket, boots or satchel bag, this is where you need to be. Read more.
A few hours drive out of the city, lies the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya. Once one of the most beautiful cities on earth, Ayutthaya was founded in the fourteenth century and was the capital of Thailand for over 400 years. The city was built on an island surrounded by three rivers (the Chao Phraya, the Pa Sak and the Lopburi River) that provided a natural barrier against invaders.
In its glory days, Ayutthaya’s illustrious reputation was legendary. It was the center of high culture in the east, mesmerising foreign diplomats and traders with its spectacular architecture and incredible wealth. Home to three palaces, 400 temple monasteries, and valuable art and treasures, Ayutthaya’s wealth and size was often compared to Paris. Read more.
4. The Floating Markets
Back in the day, Bangkok’s canals served as the city’s main channels of transportation and the city’s way of life developed around them with an array of markets on the waterways. But as the city modernised, the canals were filled to make way for new roads, and as the canals disappeared, so too did the markets.
We headed 100kms out of the city to visit one of the most popular ones left – the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – where we were able to experience Bangkok’s traditional way of life. The best time to get there before the hordes of tourists descend is when it opens at 6am. There is a smorgasbord of incredible food on offer, and it’s all super fresh and deliciously tasty. We feasted on everything from coconut pancakes served hot on banana leaves, to chicken satay skewers, fried bananas, fresh coconuts and crispy spring rolls. Read more.