Over my many visits in Bangkok, it’s turned into one of my favorite cities in the world. While at first glance it might not be the most charming, its messy vibe dissipates after spending a full day here and then experiencing its nighttime.
Beyond the crazy traffic, the Thai capital is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the region, and you’ll be in full vacation mode despite the insane amount of people! Wherever you go, you are met by a smile and behind the shabby facades you will find the coolest bars, restaurants and clubs. With a massage salon in every corner and an infinity pool on every rooftop it is also the perfect place to wind down and enjoy some sun bathing among the skyscrapers!
Precisely because of the city’s size, there are endless things to do in Bangkok. You can visit ancient temples, enjoy the wild nightlife and the many rooftops, and much more! There’s something for all types of travelers, and you can experience so much in this great metropolis.
This is a city to shop, to get drunk on culture and enjoy the sun while surrounded by the urban jungle! Below you will find my favorite spots in Bangkok, some of which you will find the the traditional travel guides but also my favorite hidden gems.
Traveling – How to Get There?
Bangkok is a major hub in southeast Asia, so there are direct flights from everywhere, especially major European cities.
Due to how crowded the airport is, it’s a good idea to book a taxi in advance. Depending on traffic, the airport is between 20 and 40 minutes away from downtown.
Living – Where to Stay when in Bangkok?
Located in Thonglor, an area beyond the most touristic hoods with many of my favorite bars and restaurants, the Akyra recently went through a metamorphosis: from small business hotel to boutique experience. I have stayed here so many times it almost feels like my second home in Bangkok!
The hotel’s design is simple and well thought-out, with a mix of contemporary and Asian inspired elements and all rooms are big and spacious with its own kitchenette. With the new owner the bathrooms have been upgraded and I loved the marble based design.
However, my favorite spot in this hotel is the rooftop with the pool and a big jacuzzi with Bangkok’s skyline in the background. The prefect oasis after a night or day out in bustling Bangkok! Read all about this boutique hotel in my Hotel Review Post.
The Thai capital is full of breathtaking hotels, and I’ve visited a few without staying in them. Be warned: these aren’t boutique!
Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit
As luxurious as you would expect from the Marriott, this hotel is contemporary to its bone. It’s also located in Thonglor, my favorite neighborhood in town! This place happens to be home to one of the best Bangkok rooftops: Octave. With its 360 view it is the perfect sunset place.
A city icon by the river, this was the very first hotel built in the Thailand capital, back in 1876. A magnificent structure that’s very modern despite its age, any Bangkok travel guide will recommend you to visit the Mandarin Oriental.
Even though you are not staying here, a visit is a must. Walk all the way through this luxurious resort to the river side and find a silent and peaceful spot surrounded by sky scrapers. Have a drink or dinner at the terrace or at Ciao, the perfect river side bar and dining place!
Eating & Drinking – Where?
When I visit, I always try to take advantage of the unique views – by eating at the best Bangkok rooftops!
Vertigo and Moon Bar
Due to its height and design, the Vertigo rooftop is not for the faints of heart! Located above the luxurious Banyan Tree Hotel, this bar and grill towers at a 62nd floor. Its tornedau alone puts it among the best Bangkok restaurants!
Built to resemble a ship, this is a beautiful spot to enjoy the urban scenery with a drink. Sail across the stars and skyscrapers with a loved one in this lovely spot. Did I mention this is the most romantic rooftop I’ve visited?
Among the best Bangkok restaurants (its Peruvian flavors are top notch), this is my favorite rooftop in town. On a 32nd floor, the vibe in Above Eleven is fantastic, with just the right mix of locals and tourists. We had our New Year’s Eve dinner here, among the stars. Party lovers can keep going until early morning downstairs at the Sukhumvit Soi 11, one of the most popular party areas with plenty of bars and nightclubs.
A new favorite atop the Marriott, Octave offers an astounding 360° view of the city. It’s a great place for a drink with the sunset as your background! Fantastic view, lounge style.
Sirocco at Lebua
The most famous rooftop in Bangkok. Iconic as it is, Sirocco is usually full of tourists, and that’s made it lose some authenticity. Still, this rooftop’s majestic view is definitely worth the visit. It was also the backdrop for a few scenes in The Hangover Part II!
Restaurants in the Thonglor area:
Although they may look shabby from the outside, there are a lot of fantastic Bangkok restaurants and bars in Thonglor. You’ll feel almost like you’re walking into speakeasies!
Also known as Sukhumvit Soi 55, Thonglor is oozing with cool places to hang out, particularly around the Akyra Hotel.
A cool combination of bar, restaurant and art gallery, this cosy eatery offers a delicious Thai menu. Foodies can enjoy a lot of spice and some interesting designer cocktails here. Also, Badmotel has a small backyard where you can eat outdoors while getting away from the street noise.
The coolest place in Bangkok! A community mall consisting of bars, restaurants and shops, the vibe at The Commons is oozing future. Here you will find the hip and young crowd in Bangkok, all with the same interest and passion for design, ingredients and sustainability.
My favorite spot here is Roast, on the top floor. A brunch and lunch place with a fantastic and healthy menu. I am partial to their particularly yummy avocado toast, their smoothies and fantastic omelettes.
Since the restaurant is pretty popular, you might have to wait 15 to 20 minutes for a table, but it’s definitely worth it. Hip hangout with a huge local crowd to really feel the city! Instagramable and a great place for some blogger time!
Exploring – What to Do?
The capital of Thailand is one of the most thrilling cities in the world, and as such, there are endless things to do in Bangkok. And, as it happens in most large cities, there are multiple faces to it! There’s something special for every kind of traveler, from professional partygoers to yogis and everything in between.
You should take into account that, although taxis are super cheap, traffic can be a nightmare, particularly on rush hour. Other options to get around include tuk tuks and motorbikes. Last but not least is the Skytrain, the city’s public transport system. This is an elevated train where you can see Bangkok as you move around, without having to suffer the infamous traffic.
Temples & Culture
Mindful and spiritual travelers might benefit from a visit to the downtown island of Rattanakosin, often dubbed the Old City. The most important Buddhist temples in the country are here, and a Bangkok visit is not complete without visiting them. The biggest attraction there is Wat Phra Kaew or the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred temple in Thailand. Another impressive sight is Wat Pho, allegedly the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world.
Nearby Rattanakosin island stands the city’s own Chinatown, a popular place on any Bangkok travel guide. The stand-outs are the picturesque markets, street food vendors, exotic vendors and the mix of two ancient Asian cultures.
Massage & Well-Being
Thai massage, an ancient healing system, is from here, and there are massage and yoga places everywhere you turn. While very crowded, Bangkok offers a lot of great places to invest in your inner well-being!
Surrounding Chao Phraya, the biggest river in Thailand, you can find a lot of lovely activities – particularly for couples! It’s always intoxicating to walk along the river or take a boat, seeing the skyscrapers from a completely different angle. For evenings of peace and quiet, go to the Ciao Terrazza, mentioned above at the Mandarin Oriental, for a delicious cocktail!
Another must in Bangkok? Shopping! The city is really focused on shopping, and there are malls everywhere. Siam is the biggest and most popular one. Meanwhile, Siam Paragon offers a more luxurious experience, and it’s where the international high-end designer stores are mostly located. I for one prefer to go deep into the Siam Center, where you can find both local and international design. Even if you don’t buy anything, there’s inspiration to go around here!
Thonglor – The Hip Area
After a day of heavy tourism and walking around the city, you can escape to Thonglor, my favorite area in Bangkok. This is a long street with a vibrant social life, where you feel at the center of the local and hip vibe. Here, you can see where the real Thai trends are! Spend your evenings with a drink, surrounded by local young people and a growing amount of Japanese visitors and expats. This is whereThe Commons, the cool community mall, is located – so don’t forget to visit!
The Night Life
And, of course, there’s that one iconic Bangkok activity everyone who visits engages in: partying! The Thai capital might just be the party capital of Southeast Asia, or among the top 3. You can find plenty of bars, rooftops and nightclubs to feel the celebration energy of the city. Don’t forget to dance until the sun is up! There are many places in the Thonglor area or go to the more crowded party place at the Sukhumvit Soi 11, next to Above Eleven.
Bangkok is one of a kind, a city with so much to offer! I am sure you will get as swept away as I always do when I visit this cosmopolitan diamond of mine!