Destinations · Thailand · Things to Do
August 20, 2023 Words: Susan Hanson

6 Ways to Spend a Day in Bangkok

How to make the most of your time in Thailand’s vibrant capital.

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Bangkok moves at a frenetic pace, with a constant cacophony of tuk-tuks-and taxicabs, temple bells and sizzling woks in street vendors’ carts. Yet all that bustle belies a realm of regal splendor and refinement, from the city’s royal palaces and gilded temples to the graceful movements of Thai dancers and morning chants of Buddhist monks.

Many Seabourn voyages to Asia feature an overnight in Laem Chabang, the main port for Bangkok, while others offer optional overland journeys there. While exploring the “City of Angels” in may seem daunting, these must-do experiences will help you fully appreciate the always-fascinating Thai capital.

UNCOVER PALACE INTRIGUE

Home to Thailand’s kings from 1782 until 1925, the Grand Palace lies at the heart of Bangkok and Thai culture itself. The sprawling, walled compound comprises more than 50 acres jam-packed with ornate ceremonial halls, administrative offices, gilded pavilions and golden stupas. The must-see here is Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which houses the country’s most venerated image of the meditating Buddha; carved from a single piece of jade, the sacred figure is draped in golden attire that changes with the seasons. Also check out the Ramakien murals—considered the world’s largest painting—which comprise 178 colorfully detailed panels depicting the Thai version of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana story. One of the palace’s most curious treasures is a large-scale model of the Angkor Wat complex, built as a symbol of Thailand’s former relationship with Cambodia.

SEE WHAT’S WAT

Wat Phra Kaew is just one of more than 400 temples scattered across Bangkok. Among the most iconic: Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan —better known as Wat Pho—enshrines a 150-foot-long, gold-plated reclining Buddha, while the expansive grounds feature more than 1,000 marble inscriptions of ancient medical and other scientific principles. Set across the Chao Phraya River, Arun Ratchawararam (Temple of Dawn) is recognized for its 269-foot-high prahng (Khmer-style tower), and unique white stupas decorated with seashells and pieces of Bejarong porcelain; take a selfie next to the temple’s two mythical demon guards. Visit Wat Traimit Wittayaram to ogle the world’s largest solid-gold seated Buddha statue, which weighs in at a whopping six tons.

CURRY FAVOR

Bangkok’s street food scene is legendary, with vendors on nearly every corner dishing up Massaman curry, Tom yum (lemongrass soup), and Tub Tim Grob (coconut milk dessert). And while ordering can be a bit intimidating, especially if you don’t speak the language, it is hard to go wrong with pad Thai, chicken satay, mango sticky rice, or a steaming bowl of Thai green curry. For the more adventurous try ordering your food some local favorites including Guay Teow, Kai Kon Pu (crab omelette) and Khao Kha Moo (pork leg with rice).

FLOAT THIS

A vast network of canals (klongs) crisscrosses the Thai capital, known as the “Venice of the East.” Although many waterways have been filled in and paved over, they still serve as an important means of transport for many locals. Get a peek into their daily life while taking a longtail boat ride along the Chao Phraya River and klongs, cruising past traditional teak houses built on stilts, floating shops, and many of the city’s most important monuments.

CORNER THE MARKETS

Speaking of stores on the water, Bangkok is home to some of the best floating markets in Asia. Damnoen Saduak, the city’s oldest and most famous, features hundreds of flat-bottom wooden boats jostling for position to sell their fresh produce, flowers and souvenirs. Locals prefer the market at Amphawa just outside the city, where fresh prawns, squid and other seafood is grilled and served directly from the bobbing vessels, as well as nearby food stalls and restaurants.

Markets on terra firma include Mae Klong Railway Market, which is worth a stop if only to witness the organized chaos that happens whenever a train runs past, with vendors scrambling to pack up their canvas-covered stalls (hence the market’s nickname, Siang Tai or “life-risking”). One of the city’s oldest, Nang Loeng Food Market is the place to sample everything from fresh coconut milk and pad Thai to pickled garlic and fried grasshoppers. And if you are lucky enough to be in Bangkok on a weekend, be sure to check out the Chatuchak Market; known locally as the JJ Market, it’s the world’s largest weekend bazaar with an eye-popping 8,000-plus stalls spread across some 35 acres. You can find everything imaginable for sale here, and it is a great place to pick up unique souvenirs such as silk items, ceramics, lacquerware, spices (including curries) and traditional Thai artworks.

PARK IT HERE

Bangkok has a softer side with many pleasant green spaces offering residents some leafy respite. Lumphini Park is a lush, 124-acre oasis known as the “Central Park of Bangkok”; watch locals practice tai chi, join them for a free afternoon aerobics class, or rent a swan-shaped boat for a leisurely paddle around the artificial lake. A 120-acre expansion to Benchakitti Forest Park, just completed in 2021, added a mile-plus-long elevated skywalk that offers bird’s-eye views over the wetlands and blossoming lotus ponds.

Spend your perfect day in Bangkok while exploring Asia on an ultra-luxury Seabourn voyage. Consider one of our 14-day voyages that to this remarkable and endlessly fascinating region.

Ready to set sail?

Consider these upcoming voyages:

17-Day World Cruise: Lands Of Silk & Spice

DEPARTS: Hong Kong, China
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Apr 15, 2024

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*Per Person, USD. Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses are included. Additional terms apply.

22-Day World Cruise: Southeastern Asian Splendors

DEPARTS: Shanghai, China
ARRIVES: Singapore

Apr 10, 2024

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*Per Person, USD. Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses are included. Additional terms apply.

Demons at Thailand's Grand Palace in Bangkok
Lumphini Park in downtown Bangkok Thailand
View of Benjakiti Park in the evening Bangkok, Thailand
Floating market thailand

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