Before I arrived in Bangkok I did a lot of Googling, Pinterest searching and Tripadvisor browsing to try and figure out the best things to do and see while I was there. And you want to know what I found? The exact same list on about 50 different websites. So I decided to put together my own list. There are no temples on this list, the Flower Market is not on it (I found it highly overrated and honestly wouldn’t recommend), and you’ll notice the famous Kao San Road is also missing (gravely overrated, overpriced and touristy). This is a list of things that I personally loved and did while in Bangkok.
So, let’s start with the first photo you saw in this post.
LET YOURSELF WANDER IN CHINATOWN
Maybe it’s just me, but it did not occur to me to visit Chinatown in Thailand’s bustling capital, but I am so glad I did. Unlike the shops and street vendors you find on Kao San Road, each and every shop and merchant in Chinatown is unique. We enjoyed every minute trying to navigate the crowded back alleys of Chinatown in the pouring rain. Everything felt so much more authentic and we found everything to be far more diverse rather than a billion street vendors selling Nike and Adidas jumpsuits and cricket noisemakers.
A PICTURE PERFECT LUNCH AT CAFE REVERIE
Well, this place is Instagram heaven. Though you would probably walk right by it if you weren’t looking for it. Cafe Reverie is shrouded by leafy green plants so the entryway is hard to find, but well worth the search. Marble tables and counters, gold accents, beautiful drinks, delicious food and an awesome playlist – this was easily one of my favorite cafes. They have both Italian and Thai fare and everything is worth trying. They have a banana smoothie that was so fresh and delicious I almost ordered another one to take with me when we left.
TAKE A BREAK AT LUMPINI PARK
Of all the places I’ve ever visited in the world, Bangkok has to rank at number one when it comes to air pollution. If you’ve ever been to LA, it’s like that but magnified about a thousand times. The air is thick from humidity and it’s so polluted that sometimes it makes you feel nauseous just being outside too long. Other than an air conditioned hotel room, a lot of times it’s hard to find relief from this during the day. When I stepped into Lumpini Park, I immediately felt like we could actually take a full breath of air. All of a sudden the air is filled with the sounds of birds, there are people practicing martial arts, joggers, families just relaxing, and freaking swan boats you can rent. Definitely a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, and the best part? It’s smack dab in the middle of downtown.
GET LOST IN WONDERLAND AT PERHAPS RABBITS
I’m a sucker of themed things. Literally anything. Birthday parties, weddings, restaurants, clothing collections. Give it a theme, and I love it ten times more. So naturally, when I learned there was an Alice and Wonderland themed cafe, I about lost my shit. Walking through the front door of Perhaps Rabbits is literally like stepping through the looking glass into another world. And they have AFTERNOON TEA. Sweet Jesus what could we better? My sister and I ordered some refreshing drinks (I got the Pink Lemonade Popsicle drink and it was delicious) and decadent desserts. I’m talking rich. I ordered a banana marshmallow concoction (I don’t remember the clever name it had) and it was so rich that I could only eat about a third of it. As I write this, I have two more days in Bangkok and I am strongly considering going back and trying the little tea party.
SHOP THE GOURMET MARKET AT SIAM PARAGON
There is an area downtown called Siam Square which is a collection of shopping centers, malls, sidewalk vendors and pop up shops. And of course tons of different restaurants. At one point, while wandering around the maze of shopping centers we found ourselves at the bottom floor looking at the most beautiful grocery store we had ever seen. It’s like Whole Foods on crack but a quarter of the price and twice the selection. I bought grapes the size of baby fists and a black croissant just because I COULD. We got fresh produce, fruits, pork buns, pad thai, bakery items – so much food and guess how much it cost us? Twenty five glorious American dollars each. A trip that easily would have been about $90 at Whole Foods or QFC at home. It was a glorious, glorious heaven and if you’re in town for more than few days do yourself a favor and stock up on some groceries here.
BONUS: If you’re from America then the shopping carts will blow your mind… They go ALL DIRECTIONS.
SANRIO LOVERS UNITE AT HELLO KITTY HOUSE
And since you’re in the Siam neighborhood, drop into the Hello Kitty House and die from overwhelming cuteness. Not much to say here, pretty cut and dry. Everything is hello kitty themed, you can sit in a giant plush, pink lounge chair and consume some surprisingly good Pad Thai. Word of caution, they seem to only play one song the whole time… And all it says is “hello HELLO hello kitty” (you’ll get the caps things when you go there).
TAKE IN THE VIEW AT EAT SIGHT STORY
This is a restaurant with deck seating that gives you an amazing view of Wat Arun. We sat on the deck of Eat Sight Story during a thunderstorm and watched the sky light up around Wat Arun. The dinner boats roll by slowly as they try to take in the view. The food was good, but in all honesty you’re really here for the amazing view. On your way here… you may think you’re going the wrong way by the condition of the alleys and backstreets you may be walking through. You’re not. Just keep going.
TIP: If you want to make sure you have deck seating, be sure to call and make a reservation. The best time being obviously, sunset.
COFFEE, BRUNCH AND ALL THE FOOD AT D’ARK
In Bangkok, you will find there is no shortage of good coffee. Keep in mind, I’m from Seattle so at times I can be a bit of a coffee snob. Since being in Bangkok I have not had one disappointing cup of coffee. But the coffee at D’ARK takes the cake. OH! And another amazing thing about Bangkok. There are like a billion restaurants that have ALL. DAY. BRUNCH. Imagine not having to wait until Sunday from 8am to 2pm to have the best meal of the week? Well, D’ARK has killer brunch – everything is good. If I could order every pancake they offer and try all of their over the top milkshakes without gaining fifty pounds, I would. But I did go back several times. (BANANA PANCAKES PEOPLE, TRY THEM) The woman who seems to be the manager or owner here is SO sweet and accommodating.
TIP: Ask to be seated upstairs for some cool ambiance, our first time there we didn’t even realize there was upstairs seating.
ENJOY A RIVERWALK LUNCH AT DUO CUCINA
Yes, more food. An amazing Italian (and Thai!) restaurant hidden away on the second floor of some of the riverside shops near the Flower Market. We found Duo Cucina by accident but were glad we did because the food is amazing, as is the view of the river. We ordered Italian sodas that came in cute little mason jars and had some of the most perfectly executed bruschetta (keep in mind… I’ve been all over Italy). This was our first stop for food in Bangkok and the noodle were literally cooked to perfection.
BONUS: The shops downstairs have more fair prices than Kao San and I bought quite a few pairs of paints and a shirt or two here. Take some time to walk the downstairs shops, if anything it’s at least an interesting walk.
SPEND ONE NIGHT AT LOY LA LONG
Or more if you can. We (My sister and I) were only able to swing one night here due to availability. Honestly if we could do it over, we would stay here our whole time in Bangkok. I have no shortage of good things to say about Loy La Long but I’ll try to cover the basics. First of all, look at that freaking tub. In all of it’s free standing glory. The whole hotel is full of vibrant colored furniture, decorated with paintings and photos, a giant chalkboard wall with a neatly printed menu (of almost anything you can think of), and the living room just opens up onto the river. Literally, stick your foot off the living room deck and you’re in the water.
You’re greeted with a pleasantly sweet cup of Lemonglass Tea (no typo, it tastes like Froot Loops). When the tide rises, water seeps through the cracks in the floor in some areas and it feels magical. Like we stepped back in time. We stayed in the Green Room and I highly recommend it. Our bedroom windows opened right onto the river. The hosts are accommodating and sweet and will help you in any way they can. The food? The food deserves it’s own post in and of itself. If we had been there longer I would have tried half the menu. We ate on the upstairs deck (another awesome view) and we were all alone up there. Sipping fresh smoothies while listening to the soft sounds of cooking from downstairs. It was amazing and unlike any hotel I have ever been to. You must stay at least one night, but it’s worth staying many more.