5 things you CANNOT miss when you land in Bangkok
Bangkok is a bucket-list city of epic proportions. It also happens to be the capital of a nation that’s up there with the biggest TEFL markets in Southeast Asia. Thousands of teachers will touch down in the town every single year, some to start new jobs, others to continue their EFL career. We’ll say this: If you’re one of them, you won’t be disappointed. Bangkok offers electrifying markets, otherworldly Buddhist temples, and nightlife streets to shame anywhere on the globe. Here’s a taster of just five things we think you should begin with…
First time in Bangkok? Everyone heads to Khaosan Road. This 400-meter-long strip that carves through the heart of the Banglamphu district along the river has gained mythic status in the backpacker world. A lot of that is down to its cameo in the 2000 Danny Boyle cult hit The Beach – Leonardo DiCaprio came here to start his Thai adventure. Anyway, expect to find a rambunctious run of ad hoc beer stalls, street-food sellers touting deep-fried insects, tailoring shops, and clubs. Grab yourself a Chang beer during the happy hour and settle in for some people watching. Who knows where the night will take you?
Wat Arun – or Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, to give it its full name – is one of Bangkok’s most eye-catching religious sites. It looms large against the meanders of the Cho Phraya River, sprouting a colossal stupa at its center that’s clad in multicolored tiles and glowing white marble. Built between the 17th and 19th centuries to mimic the sacred Mount Meru of the Hindu myths, it’s now a Buddhist shrine replete with golden Buddha effigies and meditation halls. You can visit for 100 THB on the cross-river ferries. Or settle in one of the rooftop bars on the banks opposite to get the best view of the temple during the sunset.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Cue the biggest market in the whole of Asia. Yep – the WHOLE OF ASIA. Chatuchak Weekend Market spans a complete segment of the Chatuchak district in northern Bangkok. By some estimations, there are a whopping 15,000 stalls and sellers. We haven’t counted to verify that but will agree that there’s a lot. You can buy just about anything, from incense sticks to knock-off designer underwear to vintage candelabras and even puppies. The action starts on Thursday afternoon but the best night to visit has to be the Friday evening, when the whole place is abuzz with street-food cooks touting satay sticks off the BBQ and tamarind-laced pad Thai noodles.
The Reclining Buddha
The Reclining Buddha is just as its name implies – a statue of the Buddha that’s reclining. But it’s also a whole load more impressive than that, since this particular Reclining Buddha spans 46 meters in length and several meters in height. It also happens to have jade-inlayed feet and comes covered in glimmering gold leaf. The attraction is nestled in a huge hall in the Wat Pho temple complex, which is one of the most important temple complexes in the whole of Thailand. In fact, the site is said to be the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Entry is 200 THB per person and you’ll need to dress appropriately (no exposed legs and whatnot).
Sukhumvit is one of the most famous districts of Bangkok. It’s a huge area, spanning the whole length of its namesake road as it runs away from the historic center of the city in the west to the outskirts in the east. Some parts are forests of steel-glimmering skyscrapers with cocktail bars at their top. Others are gritty nightlife strips with rowdy sports bars aplenty. We especially love the area around Sukhumvit 23 – a hip and happening neighborhood with Japanese sushi restaurants and hipster coffee joints – and Sukhumvit 39 – where there are loads of authentic Thai food stalls spilling on to the street sides. It’s local Bangkok at its best.
If you can think of any more must-see things to add to this list of the top five draws you simply cannot miss in Bangkok, be sure to add them into the comments below. Or, if you’re interested in teaching in this amazing country, check out our Teach in Thailand program right now!