Coco Chanel once famously said – “The best things in life are free. The second best things are very, very expensive.”
While she might not have been referring to Bangkok, her exuberant quote definitely applies to this incredible city that is Bangkok.
This chaos-infused sprawling metropolis can prove to be dramatically daunting for the average traveller with a limited amount of time.
Truth be told, this is not a city to while away in if you are here just for a few days – so we will give you valuable pointers.
1. How to make the most of your time in Bangkok
2. How to do it for FREE!
Interested in embarking on a “journey of a lifetime” through colourful Bangkok? Let’s get down to it!
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1. Free photo ops at this uber creative market! – Chang Chui Market
Honestly, with all the airplane stuff that’s been coming up, has anyone ever thought how bizarre it feels to be exploring abandoned planes in the middle of nowhere – much less in the middle of a market?
Get inspired at Chang Chui Market, a new creative hub/market which has recently opened. They’ve plonked a huge airplane in the middle of the market where you can dine and drink inside. And with four acres of open space showing unconventional street art, Bangkok rarely does things halfway.
Chang Chui Market is bursting to the brim with creative spaces all around for you to take great photos at. There’s even this cool taxidermy museum where you get to pose with natural history exhibits. Though it can be quite macabre, it also makes a unique sight, and fantastic place to explore.
Apart from that, look out for interesting sculptures resting along different parts of the market – such as this life-sized bronze skull with smoke oozing out of the orifices. Enjoy!
2. Have a forest beneath your feet! – PTT Reforestation Project
Humans are such a beautiful paradox. 100 years ago Bangkok was nothing but a vast land with gorgeous rice paddies and luxuriant vegetation. Fast forward to present days, and you have an urban jungle – which innovative minds are trying to transform back into a salubrious green space!
When it comes to a company whose name is associated with oil and gas, it is almost impossible to believe that they have created a sustainable endeavour of this magnitude.
But that’s exactly the case with PTT’s green project! A huge metro forest in the heart – liver, to be more accurate – of the city.
What’s so great about the forest, apart from making the city a better place? Well… you can actually stroll above it along a sky walk with a view, so as not to disturb the growth of the saplings. There’s even an observation tower, for you to take a gander at the surroundings from a high vantage point.
And if at any time you feel overly heated from walking in the sun – escape into the indoor exhibition space where air-conditioning not only awaits, but some cool installations too. (It’s a pity most of it is in Thai though!)
Since this project was featured in Monocle Magazine, and visited by the U.S. Ambassador, we are guessing they are doing something right!
3. A prayer from a tree tunnel! – Chom Thong railway station
If you wake up in the mood to visit a Chinese-influenced Thai temple in the back of beyond, then head to this arched tree tunnel that also happens to be over a canal bridge.
It might not be as jaw-dropping as Ukraine’s famous Love Tunnel – but the incredible quietude of the place, disturbed gently by the puffing sound of the train, the orange-clad monks passing over the footbridge, and the ubiquitous green all make for a wonderful little visit.
The best time to traverse this sacred secluded place, is during a clear-sky morning of the rainy season. This is when the canopied tunnel is at its greenest, and the sunrays catapult its magical setting into pure perfection!
Otherwise it can be quite uninspiring, some might say – and the dry season will make the tunnel look rather withered too.
Get there in the morning, between 10am to 12pm, and you will have a few shots at the train passing through. As you can see from our pictures – it looks pretty awesome!
4. Have your Disney moment at this abandoned Sleeping Beauty Castle – Magic Land
Bring your princess/prince, and live out your Disney fantasies before this castle that looks very similar to Sleeping Beauty’s castle!
It’s been abandoned for awhile, but it’s still great for exploring, and for those photo-worthy moments.
Also, if you’re lucky, you might find an event being held here when you visit! There are some fun events that are held here occasionally that revolve around art, food and music too. A Songkran Festival has also been held here previously!
PS: We hear go-kart racing is available here too. Feel free to check that out!
5. Step into a gorgeous literary mansion with old and rare books – Neilson Hays Library
Providing one of the largest selections of English books in Bangkok, Neilson Hays Library is one picturesque discovery.
Located in a vintage European-style mansion, this library provides a wonderful selection of approximately 20,000 books with a wide collection of English titles ranging from contemporary fiction to children’s books.
There are several reading nooks around, including a children’s corner. Otherwise, head to the glass house connected to the main building where you’ll find the Garden Cafe and Gallery. Coffee, small bites and eye-opening exhibitions can be found here!
Apart from that, the library regularly holds book sales (that includes old and rare books), and other events such as monthly book clubs and more.
For travellers, do note that many books on the Southeast Asian region (including some early editions) can be found here that are difficult to find elsewhere.
6. Watch people surf… in a bar! – Flow House
Imagine the perfervid grip of the feral surfs in Bali, aggressively yet tenderly making you one with the nature – and taking your senses beyond the imaginable! Who needs that? Instead, let’s do it Bangkok-style!
There are few inland urban spaces, maybe around 4 in the world, where you can eat, drink and surf at the same time – with a little break in-between, we might say!
Flow House is a hippie and trendy two-floor facility that boasts such unique credentials.
Although this is a no-brainer, the time of the day dictates immensely whether this activity is suited for a family or for a group of revellers.
Throw in some tapas, that even a Spaniard will rave about, some music that will raise your splashy spirits – and you have the perfect recipe for a great day/night out.
Arguably, the ones having the most fun, are the audience gawking at inexperienced surf-struck wannabes bruising themselves, or marvelling at the sight of experienced athletic silhouettes who can really bust a move… well… a surf!
Order a reasonably priced drink and get your smartphone ready for photos – fun is guaranteed!
7. Pay your respects to flying in the good old days – Airplane Graveyard
In our series of trespassing abandoned private properties, we give you the post-apocalyptic-looking set of an airplane graveyard – right in the middle of the city. Well, sort of.
Rarely documented, mainly by photojournalists or bloggers, this off-the-radar aircraft cemetery supports nowadays an off-the-grid living for its “residents” – homeless locals squatting in decaying metal-stripped airplane hulls. Regardless, the Boeing 747 fuselage is quite an eye-catcher, and you will enjoy exploring this airplane graveyard.
The great news about this whimsical tourist attraction? It is relatively easy to get to, and it can be photographed right from the side of the road.
Whatever angle you point the camera in, it will look like you were the first to have discovered this “disaster movie set”!
The not so great news?
You might be asked by a “security guard” to pay an “entrance fee”, which would be around 100-200 Baht / USD $3-6.
Once you are in, what in the past used to be deemed as donations for visiting the families, now is an upfront charge of up to 500 Baht / USD $15 for a sneak peek into their ‘homes’.
8. Right out of a fairy tale… – Chocolate Ville
Have you ever imagined yourself waiting for your Prince Charming in one of Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, but with more flamingo birds and Dutch windmills? We cannot make that happen, but…
In a realm, far, far away, out in the boondocks – where you can still take a taxi – there is a visually inebriating theme park restaurant called Chocolate Ville, where you can find great delectable dishes, yet very little chocolate in fact!
The evocative European-style village with enchanting pavilions, statues and capacious indoor and outdoor dining areas – will quench your thirst for spruced up romantic décor and authentic German beer!
Although not exactly on the tourist map, if you come here during weekends or public holidays, get ready to share your fairy tale fantasy with thousands – yes, thousands! – of city dwellers coming here to enjoy a pseudo-countryside experience.
9. Marvel at the “Hanging Gardens”! – EmQuartier
We know that if you had a time machine, your first priority as an adventurer… might be going back a few thousand years to marvel at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon – or maybe it’s just us!
At EmQuartier, Bangkok’s newest addition to its range of high-end luxury shopping centers – you’ll find something almost similar.
Let’s start from the beginning – a red carpet à la Hollywood awaits you at the entrance!
Keep walking on – ignore all the glitzy designer brands, and stunning cutting-edge architecture, or the occasional Thai celebrities/models – and head for the third section, the Waterfall Quartier.
There in all their glory, you have the hanging gardens and a decently sized 40-meter high cascade, as a bonus!
Not to be missed, in the Helix Quartier, at the 5th floor – admire some unique tropical flora including orchids and lush ferns in the Water Garden, all under the suave influence of the beautifully illuminated pond!
Looking for more to do at EmQuartier? How about the Sky Cliff and its awesome panoramic views in the Glass Quartier at the 45th floor?
10. Let your imagination flap its wings! – Butterfly Garden
Isn’t true happiness all about the small things in life? Or isn’t life so precious because it is so
short? Donald Trump might beg to differ, but…
To those of you whose minds frequently linger in this pensive disposition, or to those who appreciate the fragile touch of life – we present the Butterfly Garden!
Right beneath the naturally lit glass dome, and within a delightful greenery of ferns and exotic flowers, lies the natural habitat of a few species of butterflies trying to enjoy life at its fullest…
Walk around – this lively insectarium will surprise you with its little gems in the form of sheepish butterflies and even a waterfall!
And if you wish to learn more about the precious lifecycles of these metamorphosing insects, then an indoor display will offer you plenty of information.
But that’s not all! If more verdant spaces are your thing, head to Queen Sirikit Park just a stone’s throw away.
With manicured trees and gardens that will fully satisfy your innate need for chasing beauty in the nature, your need for verdant greenery will be well and fully satisfied!
11. Get your spook on – Sathorn Unique Ghost Tower
Towering majestically over Chao Praya River like a Phoenix that has yet to rise from its ashes, this abandoned 49-storey complex can definitely send chills down your spine at a first glance!
Photo via Just One Way Ticket