With an abundance of natural elegance and holistic attractions, alongside an incomprehensible nocturnal extravaganza that not even the best of us can keep up with, Bangkok seems to be the perfect amalgamation of sin and beauty, accommodating for those both young and old. After spending a large portion of my South East Asian backpacking experience in Thailand, I’ve come to the conclusion that no amount of words could describe the anarchic capital better than “organised chaos”. To prevent depicting a heavily one sided view on Bangkok, i’ve decided to structure this guide into 6 main attractions. Below will be an illustration of both the sin, and the beauty that Bangkok has to offer, split into 3 respective attractions of each.
1- Royal City Avenue.
The RCA (Royal Street Avenue) is Bangkok’s largest clubbing area, and has become somewhat notorious over recent years for it’s unique array of different genre clubs where late night antics usually end up culminating into roadside spill-outs. Two of the “must go” clubs that should definitely end up on you’re list of “sin thing’s to do in Bangkok” would definitely be “Onyx” and “Route 66”. While both ask for a hefty 500 baht entry fee (usually including a free drink voucher), I can guarantee that you it will be an experience imprinted into your mind forever, and most likely give you a few stories to tell back home. Be sure to keep in mind that Royal Street Avenue is too far to travel to using public transport, so make sure you have enough money on you to fetch a cab ride home (using the metre of course!) sometime during the night, or morning depending how well you faired…
2- Khao San Road.
Renowned for it’s multitude of cheap hostels and vast array of street food, Khao San Road barely skims into the sin category, based on it’s frenetic nightlife shenanigans. Easily being the most backpacker populated area in all of Bangkok, Khao San Road has plenty of overpriced clothes, knick knacks, and more, but what it lacks in bargains, it makes up for with a purely euphoric vibe that resonates within the majority of the people you will meet. As you can imagine, there are plenty of cheap hostel options, ranging from 200 baht a night for the less luxurious dorms, up to around 450 baht a night for those with air-conditioning and daily cleaners. Additionally if you would like to stay in some more upmarket accommodation, there are a few hotels scattered along Khao San Road with relatively reasonable prices such as the “D&D Inn”.
Just as a warning, or perhaps just a point of notice, after roughly 8pm, the whole relaxed vibe of the streets disappears alongside all of the small stall holders, as they make way for pop up street bars, raves, and “balloon” stalls. As Khao San Road transforms into a party district, people begin to flow into the street from overfull bars, and the whole street becomes one big dance floor for backpackers and locals alike. Clubs and other pubs are open until 3am, with the most popular being “The Club” and the “Brick Bar”. The biggest benefit of immersing yourself in the Khao San Road street life aside from the cheaper alcohol, would have to be the either free, or minimal entry fee’s into clubs and bars.
3 Thonglor Soi 10.
While being an absolutely amazing nightlife experience, Thonglor Soi 10 has previously been known more so to accommodate for the more affluent members of society who are visiting Bangkok. However in recent times, with an influx of new clubs and bars within quite a small proximity, Thonglor Soi 10 has come into a whole new light for young travellers who although love to party, don’t mind saving a dime or two at the same token. Now don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying it’s a cheap option in comparison to other clubs around Bangkok, but i’m sure for many travellers that 500 baht entry is quite an affordable price for a one off clubbing experience.
The most iconic clubs would have to be either “Demo” or “Funky Villa” which refreshingly offer the option between an EDM area, and a live music area. Additionally Thonglor Soi 10 is only on average a 20 minute Tuk Tuk ride from the backpacking metropolis Khao San Road, making it an affordable night trip for a majority of backpackers. However, as a warning, take caution in all the clubbing areas of Bangkok, be weary of which local women you associate with in and outside of the club, as lady boy’s and prostitution are plentiful.
1- Wat Pho Temple.
The Wat Pho Buddhist Temple is a must do for any first time Bangkok visitor. Located just a short ten minute walk from the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is one of the largest temple complexes in the city, and is world renowned for its 46 metre long reclining buddha. From the entrance of the temple, you will find yourself consumed by the serenity and placidity of your surroundings, its as if a sense of ataraxia is oozing from the walls.
To add to the tranquility, traditional thai massages are available within the complex, and are conducted under complete silence. The temple is open between 8am and 5pm, with the entry fee just 100 baht. I highly recommend purchasing a bowl of coins at the entrance which are used for dropping into the 108 bronze bowls that line the walls in which you can make a wish and attain good luck. Whether your wish comes true or not, the good karma of donating money to the monks is enough to satisfy the soul.
2- Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park, referred to as the “green lung” of Bangkok, is known to be one of the best ways for travellers to connect to nature and escape the buzzing city metropolis of Bangkok. Activities ranging from paddle boating the serene centring lake, to sports on the grassland, or even just a relaxing picnic amongst the flora and fauna are all up for grabs, and are all equally rewarding. There’s just something so surreal about this natural paradise, the way it’s stowed away in amongst the city infrastructure making it so much more of a haven.
Along the banks of the lake you’ll often spot water monitors (lizards) lazing around, and on the occasion even going for a swim. There’s also an open area for sports which accommodate visitors with basketball rings, miniature soccer goals and an extensive playground for the little ones (and us big kids). The best part of all is that this national park is free of charge, meaning you can stock up on even more snacks from the 7 eleven across the street to make your picnic lunch even better! Overall, whatever the reason you’re visiting Bangkok for, business or pleasure, Lumpini Park is a must see, and truly a gem in Bangkok that must be experienced.
3- Meditation Retreats
Lets face it, many of us live lives that are so fast paced, and geared around constant work that we barely get a chance to stop and think. We go on holiday, yet still worry about things back home that are out of our control, and therefore never truly get the time to stop, relax, and think. Bangkok has many Buddhist meditation retreats, which in essence offer courses on traditional meditation methods. The ability to be able to control your thoughts, and enter a state of tranquility is something that I wish everyone to experience, or at least attempt, as it is a beautiful way of soothing the soul.
Many classes offered in Bangkok, such as “The Middle Way Meditation Retreat” are taught at temples by Buddhist monks, and whether or not you familiarise yourself with the feeling of true meditation or not, it is a Thai experience that you do not want to miss. Sessions generally run for three hours per day, and the majority of courses are not profit orientated so you are only charged enough to cover costs. I genuinely urge all of you reading to consider participating in a meditation course, as it is culturally enlightening, and equally self pleasing to partake in.