Excited friend: Hey Ploy! I’m going to Bangkok for a week. What should I do there?
Me: Oh there a lots of things to do there! Just give me a second….
Of course, as someone who is actually from Bangkok, I know a few places that first time travelers should visit. But as a person who hasn’t lived in Bangkok for 10 years now–that’s a decade, you know–this isn’t a question that I can answer right away. There is also another dilemma: as a local, I don’t go to touristy places and so whenever I visit home myself, I have absolutely no clue what other people actually do in daily life. I can only imagine that if I ever move back, it’d be quite a bit of an adjustment.
Over the past few years, whenever I go home, I started to explore the city a little, by having my friends take me to places, suggest cool things to do in Bangkok, along with doing a bit of googling myself. Of course, just sitting at the computer isn’t going to do the trick, either. Bangkok has definitely gotten more interesting − there are lots of new cool activities to do. But I guess there are a lot more things I can do now as a 27 year-old as opposed to being a 17 year-old, my age when I left the metropolis.
Now, after a few long visits home, I can give you a list of places worth visiting, though I claim to be no expert. Note that the list is from a perspective of a local who is not living in Bangkok so this might be perfect for someone who has been to Bangkok before or have gone to tourist attractions and looking for something new to do, or just chill. Obviously, I’ve tried doing a lot of things in my recent trips but I’ll summarize those that I find interesting & worth sharing.
Things to do in Bangkok
Drink and paint?
Bangkok Paint Bar
This, I enjoyed very much. Basically, you can go and paint without having to have any painting skills. They have a set of paintings for you to choose as your model and you can modify the colors or items in the painting however you’d like. There are teachers there to help you so surely, you bring home a really nice painting you can be proud of. Food and drinks are available too. What can be better than that?
Address: 6th floor – Piman 49
46/4 Sukhumvit soi 49 Klhong Tan Watthana, Bangkok 10110
Theme Cafe Hopping
There are lots of cafes in Bangkok to go to. I will list out a few that I liked.
I loved this cafe in Bangkok’s old town.
Floral Cafe at Napasorn
Like its name, what special about this place is the fact that it’s filled with flowers, everywhere in the cafe. Real fresh flowers − the whole place is just beautiful, one of a kind − I was impressed. This might not be a place for you if you have pollen allergy, unfortunately. On top of that, they change the flowers every month!
It’s also quiet and their drinks and cakes are delicious. It’s located around Bangkok’s old town, near the famous Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Pak khlong market and many other attractions so this might be a perfect place for when you want to rest for a day of exploring the area. Click on the link here for a map
There’s also this place, I found by accident, which I liked as well.
This cafe is an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe. The decorations are great and the menus are all in line with the theme.
Address: Ekkamai 10, Bangkok, Thailand
For afternoon tea lovers, you can also try Thai afternoon tea offered at many hotels and cafes in Bangkok. One that I was recommended by a friend is this one in Huachang Heritage Hotel. Apparently, they have special offers available at the moment.
Address: 400 Phayathai Rd, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Foodie paradise (with a view)
There are so many rooftop restaurants and bar in Bangkok lately. Honestly, I haven’t tried one. This time, I’d like to recommend this place with great food and great view of Bangkok that you’ll never forget. The restaurant is located on the bank of Chao Phraya river, the heart of the country, with Wat Arun on the opposite side of the river. What special about this view is the view of the sun setting over Wat Arun − it’s so picturesque. I made a slideshow for you to get the picture of how amazing it can be. Did I also mention the food? It was not disappointing.
Address: 36-38 Soi Pratoo Nokyoong Maharaj road , Phrabarommaharachawang , Phranakorn, Bangkok
*This place is also just less than 10 minutes walk from the Floral Cafe mentioned above.
Burn off calories and cool down. Try this Hotel gym & pool
After eating so much, gym time is needed. I went to a few hotel gyms with nice pool. It feels really great after exercising. One of my favorites is Renaissance Ratchaprasong Hotel, the gym is great and the pool is pretty quiet as well.
Thai Massage and Spas
This is absolutely a must. One of the most famous places to go is Health Land. They have many locations, too. Try reserving in advance as it is rather popular. I’ve gone to the one opposite the Perhaps Rabbits’ cafe above.
In one of my recent trips, I’ve also gone to Kashikiri Onsen and Spa – a spa adapted from a Japanese onsen (hot spring) concept. You can choose to have both a massage and some time in the onsen or either one. I quite enjoyed it although it is a little pricey. Given that it is located in a Japanese area of Bangkok, with a Japanese concept, most of the customers are also Japanese.
A more serious types of massage are available as well if you want more than a relaxation massage. For this most recent trip, I tried a place called Ploenchit Hatasart, located right where Ploenchit BTS station is (we found it by chance). According to the staff, 70% of the customers are Japanese. I had 30 minutes foot massage and let me tell you, it was all about ‘OUCH’. Well, I heard…it’s supposed to be good for you.
Board Game Cafe
Apparently, there are a few of these in Bangkok. My friends and I went to the one near Ploenchit BTS (right around the massage place – Ploenchit Hatasart). At a board game cafe, you can either buy board games or play there − with food and drink too if you’d like. There’s a game master stationed at board game cafe to help guide you about the rules of any board game of your choice. I thought the game master is pretty amazing, since he is able to remember all that as there were so many games there. They charge per hour; I thought the price was reasonable as well. Oh and…I won (!!!). Sorry, friends.
Location: BTS Ploenchit near Matatun building
Dance till you drop–swing or salsa
Swing Dancing – This is what I’ve been wanting to try since I met a couple of people from Bangkok’s swing group at a friend’s wedding last year. They all seem like really great people and they sure do have a lot of fun. I learned a few moves at the wedding. Apparently, they started as a small group but have now expanded. Their fun energy is likely additive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time this time round but I won’t miss it when I have a chance. Check out their website.
Salsa Club – Instead of going for swing dance, I went to a salsa club this time. I was a bar called Revolucion Cocktail, located in Sathorn Soi 10. It’s also on the same street as a Thai restaurant called Supanniga, where I still cannot forget the taste of their divine Thai tea panacotta dessert. It was a Wednesday night when my friends and I visited Revolucion Cocktail so it was very quiet, no one was on the dance floor. As we were about to leave at, however, people started coming. Apparently, the bar starts teaching salsa dance at 10pm then social dancing happens after. When do people go to sleep??
These days in Bangkok, there are a lot of hip new sports I see some of my friends like to try. I have to say that I haven’t tried yet but I’m writing here in case you’d like to. They really do look like fun but for me, I prefer to stick to my gym/pool routine and maybe some yoga and pilates. I do not wish to break my bones.
There are some numbers of interesting sport activities like indoor surf board, bringing the whole beach to you. One I passed by mistake is trampoline sport. If you’re interested, try Bounce. I went to see the actual place, it looked like a lot of fun but this would be energy draining for sure.
Location: Emquartier Department Store – BTS Phrom phong station
Suggestions by friends
I still have loads of places people said are worth visiting. I haven’t done these on my own but a lot of people added more to mine. I’m excited to go do some of these next time I’m in town.
Exploring China Town – Yaowarat
I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been to China town in Bangkok. According to my sources, if you want to eat amazing cuisine, this is one of the places to visit. There are also new cafes that they like including the one that opens from the evening, a cafe decorated with dim red light like the old China.
Exploring Bangkok’s old town
–Chao Phraya River cruise: This river is the heart of the country so why not take a boat ride along the river.
–Lhong 1919: This is newly opened in November 2017. According to my friends and family back home, this area used to be the area where Chinese immigrants lived in Bangkok years ago. This was a port and warehouse for a Chinese-Thai family and now it has been turned into the newest riverside development that offers a walk down the memory lane. The building is of an old Chinese architecture with Chinese murals and in the same area, there is even a Chinese temple of about 167 years old. I’m excited to go to this place next time.
–Temples: I will say that this is a must.
Go to the library
Yes, I mean it. If you like to study and read like me, sometimes you’d find yourself wanting a quiet place to just sit and do your things. One of my friends back home suggested The Bank of Thailand’s library.
Bank of Thailand retrofitted a banknote printing factory and turned it into a museum, library, co-working space, coffee shops, and conference rooms. I’d like to visit it once as it looks amazing from the photos and it’s also overlooking the river.
Pottery making, jewelry making, fruit carving, water color painting, soap making, Thai food and sweets classes, you name it, there’s somewhere teaching it. Try anything you’d like. For me, it’s still a challenge to cook Thai food from scratch. I’d like to take a class at Blue Elephant. Hopefully, if I can learn to cook my native cuisine, I can impress some people in the future.
All kinds of animal cafes
For animal lovers, don’t worry. Bangkok has all of that already. A couple of friends actually went to a dog cafe recently. As someone with dog phobia, I’ll never go but they seemed to have fun.
Follow the events
Like other Metropolises, Bangkok is full of events as well. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when there are traditional festivals worth experiencing. If not, google ‘Bangkok events’ and you may find something that might interest you.
Sing your heart out at Japanese karaoke
Been there, done that, not for me. But if you enjoy singing, why not?