Bangkok is the city for exploring everything you call ‘street’, shopping, or food. For me, a layover in Bangkok is never complete without visiting a market or two and tasting some authentic Thai flavors.
While I am in the city, I love exploring my inner self by delving into spirituality. The place is sprawled with Buddhist shrines and temples. A self-guided tour to these is a terrific way of self-exploration.
Finally, I love indulging in a Thai Massage. Now after having several relaxing moments, I know why it is considered one of the most relaxing massages in the entire world!
All these comforting ingredients concoct into a rejuvenating layover. All you need to do is flow with the city’s charming pace.
Spirituality and Relaxation in Bangkok
When you are in Bangkok, plunge yourself into eastern mysticism. Explore spirituality and give your body a well-deserved break. Below could be some reviving experiences that will breathe life into you.
A Therapeutic Thai Massage:
If you want each part of your body to feel alive again, head for a traditional Thai massage. You can find a budget, studio, and luxury spas all over Bangkok.
Thai massage transports you into a different world. Its rhythmic, acupressure motions, combined with stretching yoga postures will make your aching body supple as a bough.
My favorite places to get a traditional Thai massage are Heera Thai Massage & Aroma Therapy and Lavender Massage by Arunda. These affordable salons offer spa-like experiences without burning a hole in your pocket. However, make sure you don’t forget to leave the customary tip for the masseuse.
Temples & Shrines:
A layover in Bangkok is an exploration of Buddhist philosophy. I wouldn’t suggest you visit all the temples and shrines in one layover. Pick just one to experience the holy and peaceful vibes thoroughly.
Wat Pho & The Reclining Buddha
A visit to Wat Pho goes without saying on your first Bangkok visit. The temple is home to the majestic reclining gold-leaf Buddha statue. Its grand stature of 46 meters long and 15 meters tall brings alive the divine spirit. The temple even has several other gold idols. Overall, Wat Pho is one of the top spots to experience Buddhism in all its divinity.
Wat Arun & the Sunset Boat Ride
Combine a sunset boat tour with a spiritual endeavor while you head to Wat Arun on a late afternoon. Catch any one of the tourist boats and enjoy a cruise-like experience in the Chao Phraya River once you reach the temple, hop off, and explore the shrine.
The temple has beautiful architecture, marked by Khmer-style prang towers. The tallest of them is 104 meters high. Decorated with Chinese porcelain, these towers look breathtaking during sunset, although that’s a little ironic because the temple is the home to the Hindu God of Dawn.
We were very grateful to our hotel receptionist, who guided us well on the dress code and local customs for temple visits.
Street Food and Quirky Markets
Bangkok is best explored on a tuk-tuk or a motorcycle taxi that can get you through narrow alleys and get you to the best spots of street markets. Some of my favorite markets on a layover in Bangkok are:
If you have only a one-day layover, you have to spend it here. The place offers a glimpse into all of Bangkok in one place. You can visit the Wat Traimit to awe at the largest gold Buddha statue in the world.
However, the best of Chinatown is experienced at the Yaowarat at night, when it becomes the busiest street food hub of the city. You will be spoilt for choice as you sample through the delicious dim sums, flat noodles, oyster omelets, homemade ice creams, and freshest seafood delicacies. Even reminiscing makes my mouth water!
Also, if you are a calorie-conscious traveler like me, you can take a bike tour of the market. As you explore the delicious street food, you can burn all the unwanted calories.
Bangkok has so many floating markets that you can get confused about deciding which one will be the most fun for you. Many would suggest that you go to the best ones, such as Damnoen Saduak or Amphawa floating markets, but I want to warn you that these get very crowded and are close to 100 km away from Bangkok.
If you want something closer and less crowded, then Taling Chan is the just-right option. It is perfect for a short layover as it is just 12km away from downtown. Also, it is that it’s open all day.
This is the ultimate destination for fresh-from-farm food lovers. You get delicious seasonal fruits, vegetables, and seafood preparations, as you cruise through Bangkok’s extensive canal network. No wonder the city is called, ‘The Venice of the East.’ Also, Thai street-food prices will make you never want to stop.
Bangkok can’t be complete till you haven’t stepped foot in one of the largest markets in the world! Chatuchak is home to a whopping 8000 shops and stalls, all in one gigantic space.
This is your best chance to grab souvenirs for everyone back home. Also, you can sample some delicious Pad Thai. The only drawback is that this market is accessible only over the weekends.
The market is a wonderful experience for buying handicrafts, jewelry, art, and collectibles. So brush up your haggling skills and conquer the Chatuchak till you drop dead.
Unique Events and Attractions in Bangkok
Bangkok is not like most other cities. It offers some terrific unique attractions that can make your layover memorable. Some must-experience special activities are:
Muay Thai (Kickboxing):
If you are a sports lover like me, you can definitely go for a traditional Kickboxing bout at the Lumpinee Stadium. This Karate-cum-Boxing is an exciting sport that you wouldn’t find in many other places. So, while you are in Bangkok, go for a high-energy fight and experience the thrill of who gets the prestigious belt.
Namg Yai (Puppet Show):
If you want to experience something unique, you must go for a traditional puppet show in Bangkok. This highly entertaining story-telling art form will blow your mind away. You can catch a show on various festivals or even all year round at Artist’s House Theater. Although the story is narrated in Thai, the narrator provides interim explanations
Famous Bangkok Nightlife & Local Delicacies
Bangkok offers some breathtaking rooftop views and attractive nightlife venues. Even the local food and restaurants have their unique style. So, when you are in Bangkok, it’s worth indulging in these beautiful local attractions.
Rooftop Bars, Khao San Road Nightlife & City Views
Khao San Road is full of cheap drinking and dancing places to enjoy the nightlife to the fullest. My favorite place is the Rooftop café called At-mosphere, just above the Secret Service hostel. You get some delicious yet cheap beers and cocktails along with stunning city views.
I can never have enough of their delicious Thai preparations, and the café makes the night more memorable with soothing live music.
As I simply love rooftop bars, I have explored many. Another favorite one in Bangkok is the Sky Bar situated on the 64th floor of Lebua Tower. Although dinner is beyond my means here, that’s way overcompensated by their fantastic beverage menu. On top of that, you get an absolutely breathtaking city view from the top! So much so, that it has appeared in Hollywood movies such as Hangover 2.
Our crew stays at the Windsor Hotel; I always look forward to getting the corner suites because of the breathtaking view straight from my bed.
Traditional Restaurants & Authentic Flavors
Bangkok never fails to offer something unique. Be it the food, the culture, or the ambiance. I love eating at The Long Table. It offers stunning 25th-floor views, and you can sit at the 25-meter long table to dine with 50 other people! With contemporary video art all around, it is a fantastic place to dine.
You get to eat Thai-inspired cuisine but with their signature twist. With a sprawling terrace, a wide cocktails selection & international DJs, you will definitely have a fun evening.
As I love Asian cuisine, I always look forward to eating at The Face while in Bangkok. The food here is very authentic and delicious and makes the layover worth it.
Laa Gorn Bangkok – I Will be back soon!
On each layover in Bangkok, I have explored something new, yet there is so much left to explore. There are some beautiful villas across the city, including the Grand Palace and the Vimanmek Mansion. I would definitely want to check them out on my next layover.
Also, a little out of Bangkok, there is the Koh Kret Pottery Village, a riverside market offering some exquisite pottery objects and locally brewed Chit Beer. That’s an exciting bucket-list item, too, for my upcoming layover!
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