Exploring Bangkok: Street Food, Night Markets and $11 Massages

Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital, is home to over six million people, and among them you’ll find a thriving expat community. The low cost of living here is a big draw—you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for about $800—and visitors flock from all over to savour the world-class street food and exotic culture.

Whatever has drawn you to “The Land of Smiles”, it’s worth checking out my top picks when you’re next in ‘The Big Mango’.

Nature lovers should head for Lumpini Park, where they can stroll or bike through the verdant surroundings or row paddleboats on the impressive lake. If you’ve still got energy to burn there’s also an outdoor gym, which is free to locals but costs under $1 for visitors to pump the ancient iron weights in the afternoon shade. You’ll also find a library here and the park regularly plays host to music festivals and events. And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for giant monitor lizards meandering through the long grass.

Bangkok

You might be surprised to find a small-town vibe in the midst of a vast city like Bangkok, but it’s here. Walking the quaint streets of Rim Sathorn village with its welcoming boutiques, inviting coffee shops, tiny restaurants and street food carts is a pleasure.

When you need a break from the heat, duck into my favourite massage joint, The Orchid Massage and Nails Spa. Fiona, the soft-spoken, smiling owner speaks excellent English and will match you with the perfect therapist. You can even pick out your favourite essential massage oil from a plethora of exotic scents (one-hour massages start at $11).

Bangkok is home to some of the most exciting markets in Southeast Asia. My favourite is the JJ Green Night market where you can spend a balmy evening sifting through souvenirs, antiques, vintage clothes, jewellery and more, bargaining with friendly Thai vendors.

The Flower Market will invigorate your sense of smell as you breathe in wafting scents of orchids, lilies and more. Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is just down the street, so you can combine your floral visit with a stop to see the impressive 46 metre-long, gilded structure.

It wouldn’t be Thailand without street food on every corner. For beginners, simple logic is best: if it looks delicious and fresh, get it! Experienced foodies should try the food stalls at Chinatown, an attack on the senses, with intense smells of Durian fruit and fried lard, shouting vendors rushing past. Watch your step—they even cook on the ground here. Those new to the street food scene should opt for some mango with sticky rice or fresh fruit smoothies on backpacker street Khao San Road or some Pad Thai (less than $2) along the alleys of Charoen Krung (one of the city’s oldest streets).

For more established eats, Queen of Curry is the clear choice for curry dishes—the sweet bursts of Penang and spicy Green curry kicks will have you sweating in no time. Nalin Kitchen’s savoury rice dishes are ideal for those easing into the world of spice. You can easily dine at either of these spots for less than $10 a person.

Rooftop bars are popping up all over Bangkok and for the best bird’s-eye views, avoid the pricier hotel rooftops and instead head over to Cloud 47, which has an almost 360-degree view of Bangkok and offers Chang or Singha beers for under $3. Jham-Jun Pranakorn rooftop bar is a neat alternative to the more mainstream snazzy rooftops, opting instead for funky floor seating and a local band to match the epic views of the city lights and the impressive Rama VIII Bridge.

Image: ©iStock.com/PhotoBylove 

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