Bangkok Travel Guide: Hotels, Attractions, Bars & Restaurants

As the capital of Thailand, Bangkok is a bustling city with a vibrant culture. Bangkok has beautiful temples, historical sites, massive shopping malls and is known to be a food paradise. The city that never sleeps is a well-rounded and fascinating place to visit. Here is my ultimate travel guide for your trip to Bangkok!

STAY

The Peninsula Bangkok

When I first visited Bangkok, I stayed at The Peninsula. The beautiful hotel is located right next to the Chao Phraya River, right opposite the Mandarin Oriental. The ICON SIAM Shopping mall is a short 5 minutes walk away from the hotel. What I loved about The Peninsula is the beautiful pool area right next to the river. A really beautiful stay!

Mandarin Oriental

The Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok is the brand’s flagship hotel. For more than 140 years, the hotel has been the top address for all kinds of celebrities or the Thai royal family. The Mandarin Oriental has many different restaurants, which you can also enjoy as a non-hotel guest. Try the afternoon tea – it’s really gorgeous! If you want to cross the river as a hotel guest, you can do so via the boat shuttle shared between the Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula hotel.

SIGHTSEEING

Wat Arun

Bangkok is famous for its temples (denoted as ‘Wat’). Wat Arun is one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok – no doubt about that! Not only does Wat Arun stand right next to Bangkok’s river, but it is made up of colourfully decorated spires – setting itself apart from all other temples in the city. No wonder, that Wat Arun is one of the most photographed landmarks in Bangkok – especially during sunset. You can reach the temple easily with a riverboat that stops at the Wat Arun Pier (only 3 baht). Entrance fee is 100 baht and the temple is open daily from 8.30am to 5.30pm. 

Grand Palace 

Undoubtedly the cities most visited landmark, the Grand Palace was built in 1782 and was the main residence of the Thai Royal family for 150 years. Within the complex are several impressive buildings, including the ‘Temple of the Emerald Buddha’. Until today, the robes of the Emerald Buddha are changed with the seasons by the King of Thailand. The Palace is still used for ceremonial events and has significant meaning to the Thai people. Please note that a strict dress code applies at the Grand Palace: Women cannot wear see-through clothes, have bare shoulders, etc. Officers near the entrance will inspect you and will provide you with clothes to cover you up if necessary (deposit required). Do take note that the Grand Palace closes daily at 3.30pm. 

Wat Pho

Another top site to visit is Wat Pho, a temple with a giant, 46 meters long, reclining Buddha in gold leaf. I tried to get the whole Buddha on one picture, but it’s impossible as he’s so gigantic. Opening hours are between 8:00am and 5.00pm. 

Boat Ride though Canals

Another way to explore Bangkok is by boat. We rented a private long-tailed speedboat at our hotel. The boat took us for 1.5 hours along the Chao Phrayah River and then into the different smaller canals. You will see some floating markets and more impressively the massive divide between the rich and the poor in Bangkok. You will pass shabby stilt houses of the locals who are bathing or washing their clothes in the river. Then, 200 meters further, you will see a mansion with security guards and with its own private jetty. Just crazy!

Flower Market (Pak Klong Talad)

If you want to see something else than the beautiful temples and historic sites, I recommend stopping at Bangkok’s largest Flower Market, the Pak Along Talad. Open 24 hours, the market has all kinds of beautiful flowers. Apparently, it is busiest at night, but we went during the day and loved it nonetheless. Who can resist the smell of lovely fresh flowers…

SHOPPING

If there is one thing you can do very well in Bangkok, then it is shopping! Bangkok’s malls are so modern and filled not only with international brands but also fun, local brands to explore.

Siam Paragon

The Siam Paragon shopping mall can be compared to the ones in Dubai or London. The Siam Paragon mall has everything from gourmet restaurants (try the Mandarin Oriental or Harrods Coffee Shop), to Art Galleries, an aquarium, a cinema, car showrooms, or simply fashion outlets.

Shopping Bangkok

IconSiam

The IconSiam mall is located 5 walking minutes from The Peninsula on the left riverbank of the Chao Phraya River. As Thailand’s biggest shopping mall, it has everything you need. What I found quite stunning was the mall’s indoor floating market, selling fresh food and local crafts on a traditional sampans (boat). The whole floor looks like a street market but all air-conditioned, clean, and beautifully decorated. Definitely worth a visit!

AFTER-HOUR DRINKS

Sirocco at Lebua State Tower

Famously known from the Hangover movie, the rooftop bar and restaurant at the Lebua is probably the most hyped after-hour place in Bangkok. If you are looking for stunning views over the city with a beautiful dome on the rooftop bar, then this is definitely a place you can enjoy a drink. However, I don’t entirely agree with the hype on social media about this place. It seems that the Lebua is highly focussed on profit-making, from directing you to a separate bar before dinner (one glass of pretty standard wine around 60 SGD, which is ridiculous!), to literally ‘hiding’ the vegetarian menu at the ‘Sirocco’ restaurant so that guests can order the higher-priced non-vegetarian options. Rather than exceeding in high-quality service, the waiters are specialised in taking minute-long photoshoots of any guest (while blocking the way for other guests) to make sure that the restaurant is promoted well on social media. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me! If you are deciding to visit the place nonetheless, make sure you just go for a drink at the main rooftop terrace, not at the separate small bar they’ll direct you to first.

Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental

The Bamboo bar is a great place to hang out when the sun goes down. They have beautiful live jazz music from 9pm onwards. Famous for their cocktails, the drinks menu is called ‘Compass’ inviting guests to taste flavours of different parts of Thailand. There is a smart dress code for all guests, meaning elegant attire and proper footwear.

This is not a sponsored post or any advertisement. The above information reflects my own opinion based on first-hand experiences. 

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