The colourful cabs that dot the city are tempting due to their affordability, but to save time and avoid traffic jams, take the Bangkok Sky Train (BTS) instead.
Markets and malls
To score a bigger bargain, step away from the wildly popular Platinum Fashion Mall and check out the nearby Pratunam Market, where clothes are sold at wholesale prices. Jostle with the crowds of locals as street hawkers push their trolleys of cut fruit or cooked food through the narrow alleys.
Visit Chatuchak Weekend Market, a sprawling bazaar selling everything from souvenirs to quirky decorative items.
Many people head to Bangkok for reasonably priced, quality made-to-measure shirts that can be ready for collection in a week. Rajawongse Clothier is one of the most famous tailors in the area, boasting an impressive clientele ranging from political leaders to celebrities. Also highly recommended is Pinky Tailor.
For breakfast or tea, try Mont Nom Sod at MBK Center. My favourite treat here is the fluffy steamed bread with pandan coconut custard.
Travellers have been known to fly specially to Bangkok just to indulge in After You’s famous Shibuya Toast – a crispy thick toast topped with honey and vanilla ice cream.
Another favourite is SabX2 Wanton Noodles in Pratunam (4/32-33 Soi Petchburi 19, Tel: 66 2 653 9618). Most diners would order a plate of pig trotters to go with their bowl of sinful, lard-laden noodles.
After dark, the street vendors outside CentralWorld give way to makeshift hawker stalls. Settling down for a seafood dinner at one of these stalls makes for an authentic Thai experience. One of the most popular dishes is the salt-coated grilled fish. The flesh beneath the charred fish skin is extremely tender and tasty. Dip it in the fiery seafood sauce made of bird’s eye chillies – definitely not for the faint-hearted!
For a breathtaking view of the city coupled with sumptuous Mediterranean fare, try one of Thailand’s best restaurants – Sirocco. It’s situated on the 63rd floor, and you can enjoy an unobstructed view of the Bangkok skyline on the breezy rooftop.
Although touristy, a visit to Thailand is not complete without a trip to the floating markets. Head to Khlong Lat Mayom, where you can ride a boat down a small klong (canal) and immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere unique to riverside markets. Set off early in the morning to avoid the crowd and heat.
Bangkok is famous for its vibrant party scene. Make your way to Khao San road for a night of music, drinking and revelry.
One of the most popular nightclubs there, is The Club. Also, Brick Bar is popular among the locals, while another trendy spot is the Shamrock Irish Pub (2nd Floor, Khao San Centre, Tel: 66 86 027 2431), which is particularly well-received by tourists. Keep an eye on your belongings at crowded night spots.
Among all the temples in Bangkok, my favourite is Wat Pho. The majestic gold plated reclining Buddha, 15m high and 46m long, is the main attraction. Wat Pho was also the first public university in Thailand and houses a Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School. Visitors can pay approximately 260 baht (US$8) to enjoy half an hour of Thai massage.
The Grand Palace is also a must-see. Its vast compound, which used to be the king’s residence, showcases the best of Thai architecture and amazing attention to detail. Do wear appropriate clothing that covers your arms and legs if you are heading to Wat Pho or the Grand Palace as both are sacred sites.
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.