Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in the world. There are plenty of things to see — from beautifully serene temples to the colourful hustle and bustle of the city. While the city can be touristy with all the comforts of home and more, there is so much more to see. If you’re looking for a different experience, you’ve come to the right place. Here's 5 ways you can experience the land of smiles like a local and immerse yourself in the breathtaking charms of the Thai capital.
Eat on the Bangkok streets
One of the best ways to experience any culture is through their food – and Bangkok is a world-renowned street food haven. Eat like a local, as it will only cost you a few baht to gorge at the various markets. Delicious satays along with custardy khanom krok tarts are just some of the many treats the street market have in store for foodies.
Choosing the best markets to eat in can be hard, but a general rule of thumb is to check out if locals, especially the elderly, are buying from the shops you’re eyeing up. Additionally, the best stalls to check out are those that specialise in a single dish, as they have likely cultivated that recipe over the years. Try heading out to Silom Road in the central business district and follow the hoards of office workers during lunch hours to authentic cafeterias and stalls.
Visit a floating market
Floating markets are a unique shopping experience. Take a long-tail boat down winding waterways and take a look at the wares surrounding you. Don't forget to keep your eyes on both the boats and at the market stalls! These floating markets sell everything, from souvenirs and handmade products, to fresh seafood and locally harvested fruit. Visit the largest and oldest floating market, Damnoen Saduak, or choose Klong Lat Mayom to avoid the crowds.
See live horse racing
Live horse racing is popular among Thais as they get to watch exciting races, socialise, and make bets. It’s both a serious enterprise and a favourite pastime for Thais with 188bet pointing out that while most players place a few bets on their favourite horses for fun, others will really take the time to scope out the competition and research the horses’ competing and their form. But don’t think you need to understand the intricacies of betting to enjoy live events. On a casual afternoon, head on over to one of the two horse racing courses in the city, the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, and the Royal Turf Club.
Watch (or join) a Muay Thai class
Muay Thai, or Thai kickboxing, is the national sport. You can even find it practiced on more remote islands such as Koh Lanta, Koh Yao Noi, and Koh Pha Ngan — that’s how popular it is. There are plenty of places in Bangkok where you can take classes. Check out classes at the gym frequented by Thai royalty, the Siam Hotel. Or learn from a master at the Muay Thai Academy, run by Grand Master Toddy. He has a long history of training the very best kickboxing champions.
Ride a motorbike taxi across Bangkok
Often referred to as motorsai, one of the best ways to get around Bangkok is through riding a motorbike taxi. Of course, there are still the tourist-y tuktuks that you can take. But if you’re aiming to get to your destination quickly, then motorsais are the way to go.
There are commonly lined up near tourist spots and malls and the drivers wear numbered orange vests. Motorbike taxis around Bangkok don’t cost that much, as the Bangkok Post states that for the first 2 kilometres, you don’t need to pay more than 25 baht. You’ll only have to pay an extra 5 baht for the next 3-5 kilometres. Then 10 baht for the next 6 to 10.
Enjoy Thai culture
With something new around every corner, Bangkok can offer you a trip that surprises you every time. Be a local, practice your Thai, and immerse yourself in a rich culture. Enjoy a holiday filled with exciting activities, beautiful markets, and delicious food. Don't forget to go to an evening show of the local dances – it gives a fascinating insight into the culture.
Have you been to Bangkok? What was your favourite Thai cultural experience?