Sightseeing Tours to Experience the Best of Bangkok

If you are visiting Bangkok as a tourist there is so much to see and do that it’s very unlikely that you’ll even begin to scratch the surface of a must see list in a single visit (which is a very good excuse to come back again) And while there is a lot to be said of the adventure involved in discovering things all by yourself, a guided tour or planned excursion can be a great way to see some of the best of Bangkok and learn from the people who live and work there.

There are lots of these kinds of tours on offer, and it really will pay to explore your options, but to get you started here are some excellent choices we can recommend.

Bangkok City Temples Tour


There are a great many beautiful temples in Bangkok, but this tour is an especially good choice as it allows you to visit three of the most important and spectacular of them; Wat Trimitr, Wat Pho and Wat Benjabophit in a single day.

Wat Traimit is home to an astonishing five ton statue of the Golden Buddha that is literally crafted only from solid gold. Wat Pho boasts a world famous massage school and the much lauded Reclining Buddha statue and Wat Benjabophit is famed for the beautiful images that line the cloister walls behind its shining white marble facade.

In addition to the three temples, this three and a half hour tour takes in the most holy of the religious sites in the city, The Grand Palace, which, among the many other wonders and treasures housed within its 61 acres, is home to the great Emerald Buddha, a spiritual icon crafted completely from jade.

Ayutthaya by River Sun Cruise


Between the 14th and 18th centuries the Siamese city of Ayutthaya was the political and trade capital of Southeast Asia. Although decimated by war it still houses some of the most spectacular ruins and crumbling places. Walking the streets is an awesome experience, as it is easy to envision just how grand and dominant these buildings must have been before they were sacked and burned by the Burmese.

The great appeal of this particular tour is that it is enjoyable and informative but also supremely relaxing. The morning is spent exploring the city with experts who can paint an even more vivid picture of the city’s former splendor for you, while the afternoon is spent on a luxury cruiser and you can eat, drink or just sunbathe and meditate to your heart’s content.

Bangkok River Kwai Tour


The land of Kanchanaburi is steeped in history, both ancient and modern, and this ten hour tour guides visitors through much of it without ever making them feel rushed (the mark of a really good tour.)

Many Westerners are excited to see the famed Bridge over the River Kwai and the Death Railway. What they are less prepared for though is just how verdant and beautiful that surrounds these historic landmarks is. Part of this tour involves boarding a traditional longboat for a lazy ride down the idyllic Kwai Noi River that takes visitors through dense tropical jungle lands, past shimmering waterfalls and through breathtaking caverns.

Tour participants then board a train for a ride along the Death Railway itself, a journey that leads you to realize that despite it’s ominous name the tracks over one of the most scenic railways journeys to be found anywhere in the world.

Siam Ocean World


Siam Ocean World is home to one of the largest underground aquariums in the world, so even spending the whole day here will mean seeing less than half of it. But no mind, as what you do manage to see will dazzle you more than you could have imagined a visit to a marine park ever could.

Over 30,000 curious and beautiful looking creatures inhabit the waters of Siam Ocean World. They all live in one of seven special sections, each of which is themed appropriately depending upon where the creatures originate from.

You will see everything from tiny anemones to big sharks, striped frogfish to blind cave fish and a myriad of aquatic wonders in between. Expert guides will teach you all about what the creatures are and how they live, giving you an insight that goes far beyond reading information off a card.

You don’t have to just look at the exhibits though. For slightly braver souls there is the ‘Open Ocean’ , a place where you can dive right in and interact with the aquariums residents directly.

Bangkok Beauty Secrets Revealed

The seemingly timeless beauty of Thai women of all ages is something that is remarked upon often in beauty and style magazines all over the world as well as by Western visitors to Thailand, especially when visiting Bangkok where it seems a beautiful woman is always just in front of you.

So what is it that Bangkok women do that makes them look so beautiful at any age? What are their tricks for that dewy looking skin and beautifully enhanced eyes? Here we can let you in on just a few of their ‘secrets’.

The Double Cleanse

Double Cleanse

Women in the East are always very concerned about the importance of a clean visage, so much so that on average a woman in Thailand will happily spend four times more than her Western counterparts on cleansers, toners and moisturizers. And one cleanse every session is never considered enough.

The ‘Double Cleanse‘ begins with massaging a cleansing oil onto the skin of the face and neck (there are lots of great options available in Bangkok). Once this has been allowed to absorb for a few minutes a face wash, usually one containing natural ingredients, is used and washed off. Then the face and neck area is washed with plain lukewarm water. After drying off an exfoliating powder, often containing things like green tea and papaya extract is used to remove any last traces of dead skin and helps achieve the ‘porcelain doll’ looking skin that Thai women are so famous for.

BB Creams

BB Cream


BB Creams have been around in Thailand for years, but it is only very recently that they have begun appearing in the West and although the Westernized versions are OK the original Asian products are usually still the best.

What are BB Creams? The BB stands for Blemish Balm but essentially this is an all in one, foundation like formula that basically takes the place of a number of other cosmetics, including moisturizer, primer, sunscreen, skin treatment, concealer, and foundation. The finished ‘look’ is not as heavy as a traditional foundation produces though and so it tends to be a more natural looking effect.

Pearl Powder


Another very old Thai beauty secret (this one is centuries old) is the use of pearl powder. Pearl powder is, in actual fact, both taken internally, in capsule form, and applied topically as a finishing powder. When ingested it provides minerals and amino acids that are essential for healthy, youthful skin.

When used as a powder, pearl powder actually diffuses the light as it hits the skin, blurring little imperfections and balancing out any unevenness in skin tone. It’s best when used in conjunction with a BB cream as the combination of the two creates an effect that really is rather stunning.

Blended, Stunning Shadows


Perfectly blended eyeshadow is a trick that takes a little practice but it is an art in which Thai women are well versed, creating an eye look that is flawless, with two or three colors blending together to create a beautiful whole.

Abundant eyelashes are important to the Thai woman’s look as well. Younger women still tend to make great use of luxuriously long false lashes while older ladies opt for a dark mascara and apply several coats. Ask for free makeup samples to practice!

Bold, Bright Lips


Bold lip colors are another hallmark of the ‘Thai look’. In the past reds have been the popular and commonly seen choice but thanks to the likes of the 28 year old Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, the Thai princess who is also a fashion designer and style icon for the nation, darker colors are currently in vogue, especially since the Princess has often been seen sporting to great effect.

Unusual Bangkok Sites for the More Adventurous Traveler to Visit

For some seeing the most common sights when they visit a country is simply not enough. They actively want to see the unusual, slightly strange (or maybe even very strange) sights that a foreign land might have to offer. And if you are one of those people rest assured that Bangkok has plenty to offer you.

From the wild and weird, to the just plain bizarre here are some of the sights that we suggest you seek out if you visit this most wondrous of cities.

The Elephant Building


As many of you probably know the elephant is Thailand’s national animal and very much a revered symbol in Bangkok. You will find the elephant building in the n the Chatuchak district of Bangkok and it’s worth the time to seek it out. The building, which houses a condominium development and a language school, is so named because despite the fact that it is a very modern structure it’s three towers literally form an elephant shape and if you view it from the right edge you can even see the eyes and the tusks!

David Beckham Temple


No, we’re not kidding and we didn’t make a mistake. If you head to Riverside – Rama III Road in Bangkok you will find a temple that used to be known as Wat Pariwat but is now more commonly known as the David Beckham Temple.

Why? Because in 1998 a football (soccer) mad abbot agreed to let a fellow fan who frequented the temple place the golden sculpture he has created of the then Manchester United star next to all of the other icons in the building and the temple now draws in thousands more visitors a year than it used because of it!

Riverside Forensic Museum


This is definitely not a place for the fainted-hearted but if you are the kind of person who is fascinated by the ghoulish then you will love it. The museum houses all manner of strangely fascinating scientific artifacts including the corpses of cannibals, glass jars filled with deformed babies preserved in formaldehyde, some record breaking tape worms (that are dead thank goodness) and many other, slightly gross exhibits.

‘Sathorn Unique’ Ghost Skyscraper

Ghost Tower

Speaking of creepy, although there is no real evidence to suggest there is anything supernatural or haunted about it, this ominous abandoned structure certainly has a rather ghostly air about it.

It was built in the early 90s when the local economy was booming. It was intended to be a luxury condominium complex with the 50th story penthouses being particularly ornate. It was not completed by the time a big economic crisis hit in 1997 though, so work stopped on it and it has been abandoned ever since. It now serves no purpose other than to be a strange tourist attraction and occasionally host large advertising banners.

Shrine Of Goddess Tubtim

Goddess Tubtim

This may not be a place to bring your grandparents or the easily offended, but as quirky, unique places in Bangkok go this shrine is certainly hard to beat.

Dedicated to the fertility goddess Chao Mae Tubtim it is basically an old, very large Sai (Ficus) tree that has been surrounded by various different giant, and often very colorful phalluses over the years. And not only is it a popular tourist attraction but also a place that those, both locals and people from abroad, who are trying to conceive still head, hoping for a little extra help from the goddess.

Food Court Cuisine, A Bangkok Specialty

There are literally hundreds of restaurants in Bangkok and many of them offer some truly world class cuisines. There is another side to the ‘foodie’ scene in the city though, one that most locals tend to prefer to frequent; the food court.

Offering up all kinds of delicious foods and treats in a far less expensive environment visitors to Bangkok will find that they are never too far from a food court and that they can satisfy even a ravenous appetite without breaking their travel budget.

There are some food courts that are so well known that they have found fame alongside the finest 5 star restaurants in town. Here is a brief look at some of them.

Best for All the Family

Pier 21 at Terminal 21


One of the best things about food courts anywhere in the world is that you do tend to be able to find something for everyone to eat when dining as a family without having to deal with too many tantrums and arguments. That is certainly true of Pier 21 Food Court.

Modeled, oddly enough, after a San Francisco fisherman’s wharf and complete with nautical decor and faux palm trees, the sprawling food court is located inside Terminal 21, a relatively new ‘lifestyle mall’ located in downtown Bangkok.

As you might expect from one of the biggest food courts in the city the menu is extensive and covers Thai, Chinese, Indian and Western cuisines in almost equal measures. That means if you really must have pizza or a burger you can, but that would be such a shame given everything else that is on offer.

Dishes known as particular specialties at Pier 21 include Bet Yang (pan roasted duck with rice) the delicately flavored but very tasty vegetarian massaman curry, hearty chicken steak and fries and of course chicken Pad Thai. The biggest food crime you can commit at Pier 21 though? Leaving without having the delectable combination of sticky rice and mango that is khao nee-ow ma mueng.

The Trendy Choice

Food Loft – Central Chidlom


Some might say that Food Loft is just a food court that got a hipster makeover, while others would call it a whole new dining experience altogether. Whatever your personal opinion though, eating here really is truly memorable.

The Food Loft is based around a series of theater kitchens that allow diners to watch as their food is prepared from scratch. As many of the city’s best known restaurants actually maintain a spot at Food Loft, that does mean you will be seeing some of the best chefs in Bangkok in action at any given time.

You will also get to enjoy some of the most diverse food choices. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean and Italian cuisines are all very well represented and in addition to the amazing array of food there are also lots of great wines, beers, cocktails and soft drinks to choose from to accompany it all.

Another highlight at Food Loft is the dessert kitchen. While at many other food courts desserts are often mere afterthoughts and tend to be very generic, here they get to be stars of their own sweet show. If you are looking for suggestions, the glass jellies in sweet syrup, hand churned ice creams and black sesame dumplings are all amazing.

The Legendary Choice

Food Courts at MBK Center

There are well known food courts in Bangkok and then there is the multi level extravaganza that is the Food Courts at MBK Center. Essentially two different establishments both are open 24 hours a day to ensure that none of the thousands of shoppers who flock to the mall ever have to go hungry.

The Fifth Food Avenue, located obviously on the mall’s fifth floor, is the pricier half of the food court. Here meals are prepared in open to the public kitchens and the emphasis is on full entrees and cuisines that include Arabic, Vietnamese, Hainese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Italian.

A floor up you will find the main food court, a place where the prices decrease and the food becomes a little more casual, although still just as delicious. Here you will find great rice and noodle dishes, fresh and tasty salads and even prepackaged takeaway dishes to grab on the go if you are really in a hurry.

A Final Word About Food Court Etiquette

A first visit to any of Bangkok’s many food courts can be a bit disconcerting if you don’t know the basics. The first thing you will need to do is pick up a payment voucher when you enter. You won’t be charged yet though. At every stand or stall you visit and pick up food from your voucher will be marked with the cost and a grand total will be added up and charged when you finally leave.

Most menus are in several different languages and in most cases the staff are long serving and very experienced when it comes to dealing with tourists, so it is very unlikely that you will go misunderstood or confused for too long.

Take the Shopping Trip of a Lifetime Around Bangkok

If you will be travelling to Bangkok, or even just passing through on your way to another destination as many people do, the one thing you may want to make sure, if your are in anyway into fashion, you have with you is an empty suitcase. Why? Because whatever your budget, or your style, you will find that Bangkok is shopping paradise and the chances are very good that you’ll need all the carrying room you can get for your purchases.

But saying that Bangkok is a fashion shopper’s paradise, while very true, is a little vague. Just where should you head, especially if your time in the city is limited? Here are just a few suggestions:

For the Bargain Hunter

Pratunaum Market


You love beautiful clothes and accessories, and the more unusual the better, but you really don’t have a lot of money to spare. Or maybe bargain hunting is simply something that is in your blood. The very place you should head to shop then is Pratunaum Market. Just make sure you are wearing comfy clothing and sensible shoes, as when you head there you can truly shop until you drop.

Terchnically Pratunaum is not a market it all, it is three rather large indoor malls that interconnect via a series of elevators, escalators and walkways (see what we mean about shopping ’til you drop?) The attraction here is that everything is on offer at wholesale prices, so you can score some real deals.

You will have to buy more than one of each item to get the best price, but most retailers only make you buy two, or maybe three, pieces to qualify for the best wholesale deal and when you hear that you can buy four of a sweater that can be found in H&M for the cost of one there then you get an idea of just how much you can save and yet still get the fashion forward clothing you are looking for.

MBK Shopping Center


Not too far away from the Pratunaum market you will find its sister mall the MBK Shopping Center. Here though the focus is not just on fashion but on gadgetry of all kinds as well.

Spread over eight floors are a cornucopia of clothing, shoes, home decor and tech offerings. It’s a place where you can score a mega deal on a formal gown one minute and an unbelievable price on a ‘has all the bells and whistles’ smartphone the next.

The MBK Shopping Center is also a great place to enjoy a little downtime, as it boasts some of the best restaurants in the area, viewing stations with some pretty amazing vistas of the city to offer and even a friendly little cinema that is literally a great place to chill.

For The High End Shopper

Siam Paragon

Siam Paragon

For those with cash to burn (and maybe a valet to carry the shopping bags) then the Siam Paragon is a must visit destination. Smaller in size than the Pratunaum or the MBK this is a mall for the wealthy and famous.

On the first floor you will find a selection of the biggest European designer boutiques nestled nest to a full scale Lamborghini showroom. Venture up a level and you’ll be faced with all the Jimmy Choo shoes your heart (and feet) ever desired and the kind of furniture the likes of Donald Trump probably have in their living rooms.

The third floor is a paradise of spas and beauty salons and the fourth is the kind of tech playground that most of us only ever saw in our dreams. Oh yes, and a handful of five star restaurants and a 15 theater Cineplex on the fifth and final floor. Even if you don’t really have the cash to flash if you can spend at least a little bit of time at the Siam Paragon, because at the very least it will be the window shopping experience of a lifetime.

For the Adventurous

Khao San Road


The Khao San Road is what seasoned travelers might call a tourist trap market but it is a lot of fun, especially at night. And while its true that most of the goods on offer are cheap trinkets designed only to part tourists and the last of their money from one another you can still score some great deals and bargaining with the quirky traders is an experience in itself.

Patpong Night-Bazaar


The Patpong Night-Bazaar is probably the closest thing to the expectations that movies have given Westerners about Bangkok that still exists in real life. Go go dancers mingle with the traders selling some admittedly pretty dodgy looking ‘designer’ merchandise and if you happen to be hungry there is food available almost everywhere you turn. A trip here is only really for the more adventurous but if you do make one then it’s one you won’t soon forget.