Bangkok is flush with can’t-miss landmarks and attractions, so we hope you brought your walking shoes! Bright golds contrast with subdued pastels at The Grand Palace, where you can visit the Emerald Buddha (but don’t touch him, unless you’re the king!). Vishnu himself helped make this Buddha, and you definitely don’t want to make him mad.
On your way out, learn about another kingly symbol at the three-headed pink elephant statue, which symbolises royal power. Then see some pink elephants of your own with a trip to Khao San Road, where you’ll find boozy hangouts catering to all types—and we mean all types.
Accommodation near Chatuchak Market is a great choice if looking for deals is your deal. Barter for everything from Buddhist amulets to silk scarves, book an afternoon for reading rare novels or “hang around” the clothing section looking for that perfect hill tribe outfit at Thailand’s largest market. You won’t have to choose just one favourite co-worker who gets a souvenir—you can stock up for the whole office.
When it comes time to dine, whether you’re looking for the best food in Bangkok or want to get adventurous with some bugs on a stick, you won’t leave hungry. Chatuchak calls itself “The Place Where You Can Find Everything”—and much like the rest of Bangkok, they aren’t kidding.
Flights to Bangkok will land 30km east of the city at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). The Airport Rail Link runs from the airport to downtown’s Phaya Thai station. However, if you’re getting in late or can’t tell up from down on a map, you can also take a taxi to accommodation in Bangkok—just make sure you hail one at an official cab stand.
Once you’ve dropped your bags, fly above the traffic on the SkyTrain to attractions like Siam Square. Use it to hook up with the Express Boat on the Chao Phraya River and ferry your way to Rattanakosin, where you’ll find major landmarks like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
When was the last time you howled at the moon? Never? Bangkok holidays are here to fix that. You’ve probably heard of the parties on Ko Pha Ngan, but you don’t have to leave the city to enjoy full moon festivities. On the night of the full moon in the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar, the Loi Krathong Festival takes place (confused? It’s usually in November).
Once you know it roughly translates to "floating a basket", the events of the festival become clearer. Hundreds of people give thanks for the rice harvest by freeing elaborate rafts of flowers and candles into the lakes and rivers. Get out that camera—your newsfeed has never seen anything like it.
Want more of a party? Book Bangkok hotels in Yaowaraj in February. The what neighbourhood? It’s the city’s Chinatown, and February is the Chinese New Year. With dragon dancers, exploding fireworks and plenty of delicious food, it’s the rowdy Bangkok you picture. If you really want to get into the spirit, don’t wash your hair, use knives or scissors, break anything or do any work at all (Yes, these are actual rules). Now it’s a party!
All right, technically Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium does have a roof, but it will feel like you’re outside. Plus, that just makes it even more perfect if the sky dares rain on your parade for a few minutes. As fluttering Siam tree nymphs and golden birdwings alight on your shoulders, you just may forget the bustling city outside.
Speaking of dreamlike fantasies, Queen Sirikit Gardens will make you feel like you’re in Alice in Wonderland—without the hookah-smoking caterpillar, unfortunately. But the hedgerow mazes, dizzyingly colourful flower beds and lily-padded ponds are all there. You can even rent a bike and fly through the park like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Just keep your eyes open.
One more great way to get away from it all, without really getting away from it all: the Chao Phraya River Express Boat. You could really cruise this 21km route all day, and it’ll take you to many of the major attractions. In the mood for something offbeat? Get off at Rachawong and browse for the latest pop music and spell-casting amulets in Chinatown.
We hate to say it, but everything in Bangkok is pretty great. If you have to narrow it down, first thing’s first: With Bangkok accommodation near the Grand Palace, you’ll be central to many of the major attractions. Aside from the former royal residence, the famous giant reclining Buddha at Wat Pho and many museums are within walking distance, and Wat Arun shines like a beacon across the river.
Just don’t know how you’re going to cram thousands of years of history into one day in Bangkok? Well, the Siam Niramit Show has you covered. If you like pyrotechnics, acrobatics and elephants—and who doesn’t?—this extravaganza won’t disappoint.
Whether you love a good night on the town or aren’t planning on staying up too late, Khao San Road is a must-see (and if you’re the first, it’s a must-stay-and-party). “Khao san” may mean “milled rice”, but there’s more going on here these days. Bangkok’s main nightlife district has bars, stores, street food—and street beer—and plenty of flashing neon lights.
Pack your sense of adventure and prepare for a holiday that can truly be whatever you want it to be. Let Wotif help you find the best places to stay in Bangkok, and all you’ll have to worry about is whether or not to visit the mummy museum.
Hotels in Bangkok start at NZ$56 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.