If you’re looking to get off the beaten path during your visit to Bangkok, there are plenty of hidden gems in this bustling city.
Start off your adventure by exploring the streets and canals of Thailand’s sleepy Phasi Charoen district on a boat trip. This authentic neighborhood has much to offer.
Floating Markets of Bangkok
The floating markets of Bangkok are a must-visit destination when visiting the city.
They are a unique feature of Thailand’s shopping culture and a great way to experience the authentic Thai lifestyle. These markets were developed largely due to the vast network of canals in and around Bangkok.
These waters also gave the city the nickname of ‘Venice of the East’. Traditionally, communities based along waterways would trade goods directly from their boats and congregate in floating markets. Today, these markets are mainly used for tourist attractions and as a form of entertainment.
There are many different floating markets in and around Bangkok, but some of the most popular include Damnoen Saduak, Amphawa, and Bang Phli. Floating markets can be reached by public transportation or through long-tail boat tours.
Getting to the market can be easy and inexpensive, with public transportation costing less than five dollars one way. However, if you are visiting a smaller floating market such as Taling Chan, it may be best to hire a taxi.
While you can find a number of shops selling souvenirs here, you’ll probably want to haggle over the price to avoid paying too much. There are plenty of local people who work at these markets, and they’ll be happy to help you bargain.
The ambiance of these markets is what makes them so special and it is a true experience to wander around on foot or by long-tail boat. You’ll get a glimpse of the unique lifestyle of local Thais as you shop for everything from handmade trinkets to fresh seafood.
Unique Cuisine and Street Food of Bangkok
Bangkok is home to an array of unique cuisine and street food that are both mouthwatering and affordable. These dishes reflect the rich culinary heritage of Thailand and are a great way to experience the culture and lifestyle of Thai people.
One of the most popular types of street foods is som tam, a green papaya salad that has a sour, sweet and spicy flavor. The ingredients include fish sauce, lemongrass, crunchy peanuts and tomatoes. The dish is a healthy low-calorie meal that is easy to enjoy on the go.
Another famous dish is kway teow rua, or boat noodles, which are served from the boats that ply the canals of Bangkok. The noodles are served in a broth made with soy sauce, fermented bean curd and pig’s or cow’s blood, creating a complex noodle dish.
Some of the best kway teow rua can be found in Khao San Road, where street food stalls line the streets. You can find a wide variety of noodle dishes here, from pad Thai to grilled seafood and exotic fruits.
While most of the Thai street food is savory, there are some that are more dessert-oriented. Some popular options are sticky rice with mango and fried insects like water bugs, which taste delicious when eaten with chili paste.
Yaa Dong, a rice whiskey infused with herbs, is another popular street food item that can be easily purchased from vendors in the city. The drink is commonly paired with an unripe sour mango to add a refreshing twist to the traditional snack.
Hidden Cultural Sites of Bangkok
One of the most unique Bangkok travel sites is Wat Phra Dhammakaya, or more commonly known as the UFO Temple. The temple complex is a sight to behold, and can be seen from the air when you’re landing at Don Mueang Airport or driving down highways around Bangkok.
The temple’s golden dome is surrounded by 300,000 Buddha statues. Its symmetry is breathtaking, and photographers are sure to admire it.
Another secret cultural site that’s worth visiting is the Ban Baat baht market, which specializes in the production of the traditional Buddhist bowls that monks use to receive alms from visitors. You can buy one for a reasonable price and watch artisans make it for you as they demonstrate the process.
A great way to learn about Thailand’s storied past is by visiting the National Museum, which offers plenty of fascinating history. It’s also home to several interactive learning experiences that can help you explore Thai culture in a more hands-on way.
If you’re interested in contemporary art, the MOCA is an excellent place to visit. It features a stunning collection of artworks from local, regional and international artists.
This unique cultural site is home to the largest hand-carved elephant in the world, which serves as a shrine and a museum for Erawan, a legendary Hindu god that is revered throughout Thailand. The imposing structure is divided into three levels that represent Earth, Heaven and the Underworld, with each level featuring elaborate sculptures.
Outdoor Escapades Outside the City Limits of Bangkok
There’s no denying that Bangkok is a busy cosmopolitan metropolis, but every now and then it’s nice to escape the city for some R&R. Fortunately, the country has no shortage of quaint and intriguing places to unwind. From a luxurious resort in the heart of downtown to an eco-friendly hotel in a scenic hill town, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a break from the urban buzz.
The best place to stay is the Anantara Riverside, which boasts 11 acres of verdant gardens, a kids’ club and an impressive outdoor pool to boot. The resort also nabs an award for the best food and beverage experience in the city.
The other big wig is the aforementioned airplane-shaped bar in the lounge, a true connoisseur’s delight. The one in the photo is a bit of a stretch, but well worth the journey. The most difficult decision will be which cocktail to try first, if you can manage to choose one in the first place.
Exciting Events and Festivals of Bangkok
The most famous and popular festival in Thailand is Songkran or Thai New Year which lasts for 3 days and is celebrated all across the country. This festival brings people together to splash each other with water, pay respects to elders and usher in the new year with a lot of energy and enthusiasm!
Another big event is the Loy Krathong or Festival of Lights. This is one of the largest festivals in the country and thousands of banana leaf boats float down the river with flowers, incense and candles on them.
It is a traditional celebration that is meant to pay homage to the Water Goddess Pra Mae Khongra and ask for her forgiveness for using too much water in agriculture and for misfortune in the past year.
During this festival, Thai devotees abstain from eating meat to show their devotion to their gods. They also practice self-mutilation such as walking on burning coals, piercing their cheeks with swords and climbing blade ladders.
This festival is held all over the country and it is a great way to get an insight into the Buddhist culture of Thailand. It is also a great opportunity to try local Thai dishes that are made in a unique and traditional way.
Besides these major festivals, you can also attend some local street fairs. These are a fun and affordable way to spend time with the locals. They often feature entertainment like live music, dance performances and other activities.
Exploring Bangkok is a truly special experience. Its bustling night markets, hidden gems, and culinary delights make Bangkok worth exploring.