by Ellen Curham
Bangkok, Thailand’s capital and most populous city, is the definition of bustling. With over eight million residents in the city alone, and millions more visitors every year, finding something to do in this unique city isn’t difficult. Even if you don’t love being a tourist, this Asian metropolis offers plenty of unusual and offbeat sites and activities.
Read on for some of HostelBookers’ favourite things to see and do in this mesmerising city.
For most Westerners, even everyday items and activities can seem unusual in Bangkok. It’s a truly great place to visit to learn about a different culture and quickly become immersed in it.
Wang Saen Suk
This place is Hell, quite literally. On the outskirts of the downtown core, you will find this garden full of statues depicting Buddhist Hell. Normally Buddhism is seen as a peaceful religion but its hell is quite torturous, as demonstrated by statues of sinners acting out a variety of gruesome scenes like being ripped apart by dogs or burning in a pot. There are English descriptions below each set-up so you can learn more.
Entry is by donation and you can get to the Chon Buri area by taking a bus from the Eastern Bus Terminal Ekkami Skytrain station and a taxi from the stop for Wan Saen Suk.
Museum of Counterfeit Goods
Head to the law firm Tilleke & Gibbins in Cognnosi to see this quirky little museum. Thailand in general is notorious for counterfeit goods from fashion to electronics to medicine. This display hosts some of the many items that have tried to pass as originals. Whatever your feelings on counterfeits, you will learn more about how they affect the economy in the country and how to spot good and bad imitations the next time you head to a market.
The best way to get here is by taxi and you’ll need to book an appointment to see this display.
Bangkok is chaotic and that can be both a good and a bad thing. For visitors, the pace of life and the crowds in the urban centres can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Luckily, there are quite a few places nearby where one can relax and take it easy for a few hours.
Escape the City
Being the biggest green space in the Bangkok area, King Rama IX Park is hardly a secret, but the tranquillity there will make you feel like it is. Locals flock here on their days off to explore the botanic gardens, rent pedal boats or simply laze around in the sun with some street food from vendors that set up in the park. There is also a small art gallery on an island in the lake.
The easiest way to get here is to get the Skytrain to Udom Suk station, and from here take a taxi which is approximately 15 minutes.
Nearly 95% of the population in Thailand consider themselves to be practicing Buddhists. Meditation is a big part of this, and whether you are a member of the religion or not, it is something you can partake in to relax. Mediation classes happen in centres and temples all over the city and you can choose to do a one-off session or, if you are staying in the city for a while, you could even take an English-speaking course or go on a retreat.
The website LittleBang.org lists meditation events happening in the city in English.
Food is big news in Bangkok—the city is famous for its amazing street food. On every sidewalk you’ll find vendors selling aromatic and flavourful snacks and meals for seriously low prices. While we highly recommend indulging in this, why not try out some other dining options in Bangkok as well?
Bangkok’s gourmet restaurants aren’t cheap like its street food counterparts but the great thing about staying in hostels is that you can save money on accommodation and use it on other interesting experiences like a multi-course meal at an exclusive spot.
Eat Me comes up on all the best restaurant lists in Bangkok and is frequently cited as one of the best in the world. This place serves up modern, international cuisine to high-profile customers and is naturally pretty pricy but the food is unbelievable. Be sure to make a reservation to avoid disappointment.
Cabbages & Condoms
While a restaurant with the word ‘condom’ in its name wouldn’t appeal to most at first glance, this place actually doubles up as an eatery and an educational centre. The interior features plenty of condoms in the form of lanterns and other decorations and you even get a few free with your bill.
This is all to raise awareness for sexually transmitted infections like HIV and it helps support various family-planning organizations in the community. Serving up local dishes, the food at Cabbages & Condoms is cheap and delicious and the atmosphere is fun and lively.