Bangkok is a city city.
With a population of more than 8 million people, Bangkok has the typical traits of a metropolitan area – the crowds, the constant round-the-clock busyness, the traffic jams, and the premium prices.
Bustling cities, such as Bangkok, have the allure of convenience, and the excitement of always being on.
There’s no shortage of things to do…or people to do it with, for that matter. It’s a great place for anyone who desires to be in the center of the action.
But, one thing big cities aren’t known for, is making visitors feel welcome.
I learned very quickly that I am definitely not a city girl. As someone who has never lived in a city with more than 500,000 people, it’s safe to say that I was way out of my element.
Luckily, I found a few ways to feel more comfortable exploring the city.
If you find yourself in the city of the Hangover, and much like myself, are overwhelmed, here are some things that you can do:
Visit malls and temples early in the morning
I read horror stories about how busy the MBK Shopping Centre could get, especially on weekends, and after lunch time. I avoided this by going on a weekday at 10am, just as the shops were opening.
On another note, if anyone stops you on your way to the malls or the temples, telling you that it is closed, or opening late due to a “Buddhist holiday,” ignore them, and continue walking. A few persons identified as tourist officers attempted to stop us. Instead, offering to take us to other points of interest that happened to be open, but we just smiled and declined. We kept walking, and found that the mall was very much open.
Go on a guided food tour
I went on an evening food tour with an intimate group of 5 persons and a local host. We were guided around a particular neighborhood, sampling, and learning about popular local street food, and traditional Thai dishes.
Taking part in an experience with a small group helped to make the city feel more manageable.
You’ll not only learn about the food, but also get information on the culture, while connecting with other travelers.
See a cultural show
The Siam Niramit cultural show is a three act performance showcasing Thai history and culture. They also include a fun pre-show performance showcasing local dance, and music.
Go to cozy restaurants
Smaller restaurants and cafes are a great refuge from the hustle and bustle outside in the city. We visited a few during our stay, but the one that stands out is Steps with Theera, who not only had delicious breakfast, and lunch options. But, also provided hospitality training opportunities for persons with Autism and learning disabilities.
Watch the sunset at a rooftop bar
There are dozens of rooftop bars, but we chose Above Eleven, because it was steps away from our hotel. Thirty-six floors above the city, it provided an enchanting view of the city.
Sunset is a popular time for many rooftop bars, so try to make reservations.
Have you ever been to Bangkok, or another city similar in size? Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks for navigating big cities.