Bangkok, one of the most visited cities in the world today, is probably included in everyone’s bucket list. There’s a plethora of things to see and do, but the best way to experience the city is through its local cuisine. Satisfy your hunger pangs with our 3-day suggested foodie itinerary of Bangkok, while learning Thailand’s history and cultural heritage. If this is your first time in the city, you may fine tune this itinerary to include some tourist attractions in between the suggested foodie destinations.
Things to consider before traveling to Bangkok, Thailand:
Language – Thai is the official language of Thailand. In Bangkok and other main tourist destinations, some Thai can speak English, specially the young people. Although English is taught in schools, it is not widely used by the locals. It is recommended to learn some Thai if you are heading towards rural areas where you can expect that a lot of people cannot speak any English.
Currency exchange – The official currency used in Thailand is the Thai baht (THB). ATMs can be found at airports, most tourist centers and shopping malls across the country. Exchanging money in Bangkok is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Southeast Asia. International credit cards are widely accepted in upscale venue and international chains, though small businesses, especially stores and restaurants may not accept them.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for Thailand. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Avoid non-essential travel to Thailand-Myanmar border, especially the provinces of Tak and Mae Hong Son, and the Muslim-majority southernmost provinces of Thailand. Bangkok is a safe city to travel in. Scam is the most common problem in tourists’ areas and remains the number one source of complaints from foreign visitors. Every traveler should take safety precautions because there has been incidence of petty crimes like pick pocketing and snatching, ATM scams, taxi or tuk-tuk scams and other opportunistic crimes targeting tourists.
Where to stay – Thailand has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary, we recommend hotel option in Sukhumvit and Khao San Road to get easy access to most attractions. If you’ve been to Bangkok once before, and would like to venture away from the historic centre, then we suggest the Riverside.
Hotel to consider in Bangkok:
Getting around – Getting around Bangkok and taking public transportation might be a shocking experience to foreign visitors. Transportation options include small minivans (tuk-tuks), BTS Sky Train, local buses (songthaew), motorbike sidecar taxis (Săhm·lór), motorbikes and rental cars. Although renting a motorbike is one of the most popular ways to get around, we do not recommend it to non-experienced drivers. Since traffic congestion has become a normal scenario in Bangkok, we recommend getting around by BTS Sky Train, which is inexpensive and fast.
Detailed itinerary: 3 days in and around Bangkok for the food lovers
Day 1: Self Guided Bangkok Food Tour
On your first day, start early and eat at one of the sidewalk restaurants in Bangkok. There’s no better way to start the day than slurping down a bowl of steaming hot Khao Tom Thai Rice Soup. It is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in Thailand made from rice cooked right in the broth with shallots, lemongrass, garlic, and with the delightful addition of seafood or ground pork, fresh vegetables and various herbs. Where to eat this dish? Just go down the streets and look for a place that you see a large number of local people gathering.
After breakfast, make your way to the Chinatown. It is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world and is one of the most popular tourist attractions for travelers and gourmands. It boasts not only the best and authentic Chinese cuisine but also rich history and heritage. You can taste variety of most mouth-watering fares at Yaowarat Road. Take a quick coffee break and get an authentic local experience at Nahim Cafe & Handcraft.
For lunch, make your way to the Jay Fai Restaurant, located in the 327 Mahachai Road, and order seafood drunken noodles, another popular dish in Thailand made from jumbo prawns and crab meat in addition with drunken noodles. The name of the dish was derived because of its intense flavors that anyone will actually feel drunk. But fret not, there’s no alcohol added into this dish.
In the evening, watch a local Thai kickboxing match. Not only this a good alternative to shopping and sight-seeing, it will also provide great entertainment as well as an opportunity to learn about Thailand’s national sport. What makes this the centuries-old martial art amazing is that it is distinctly Thai – the ‘art of the eight limbs’. To get fully immersed with the match, you may consider joining a private tour with VIP ringside seats and a local guide. After the match, head to Sukhumvit for some drinks.
Day 2: Ayutthaya
On day 2, embark on one of the most interesting day trips out of the city by heading to Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. It is perhaps the most famous tourist attraction in Thailand, but it is no wonder why. This picturesque destination is rich with religious and historical diversity enough to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.While package tours to Ayutthaya remain quite popular for foreign visitors, the best way to explore it is by renting a bike and get around on your own. You may also just hire one of the tuk-tuk drivers waiting at the train station. A standard day tour normally costs 600 baht (around 15 to 20 USD), so make sure to negotiate the price before you engage with the tuk-tuk driver. Make sure to visit a traditional Thai-house style restaurant by the river, and enjoy some freshly grilled monster river prawn for lunch.
Tip: If you prefer a fully guided tour or you do not want to be bothered with logistics and everything else involved in planing a trip to Ayutthaya you can contact Tour with Tong (request Pam and her driver, the”Captain”, if you want to have lots of fun during the tour).
Day 3: Bangkok Guided Food Tour or Cooking Class
On day 3, continue your self-guided Bangkok food tour. Our first matter of business is breakfast. Obviously, breakfast of every trip should be solid. So, we recommend some famous Jok (Thai-style rice porridge). This popular breakfast dish is made from rice combined with pork or chicken, and chopped ginger, garlic, Thai soy sauce and fish sauce. It also comes with chopped garlic, green onions, ginger and shrimp as toppings.
Enjoy a seafood meal for lunch. Somboon Seafood at Siam Square One has been serving their iconic Poo Phad Phong Karee (Fried Curry Crab) since 1969, and everything you have heard about them is true. Their fried curry crab is stir fried and drenched with curry gravy. You can also order crab fried rice to go along this dish. After lunch, buy some pomegranate juice from one of the roadside fruits stalls. This juice is known to improve digestion and regulate bowel movement. When you buy in Bangkok, make sure to get the freshly squeezed ones or ask the vendor to process the drink on the spot. Some stalls in the street prepare their juices with only 40% Pomegranate.
For your last dinner in Bangkok, try the Pratu Phi Pad Thai (charcoal fired stir fried pad Thai) in Thip Samai Pad Thai Restaurant located at 313 Mahachai Road. This legendary dish is made from thick handfuls of dry rice noodles and loaded with shrimps, tofu, bean sprouts, leeks and other special ingredients. After it’s done, the freshly cooked Pad Thai will be swirled around like a crepe with beaten egg.
If you want to learn more about Thai Cuisine, then join a food tour which lasts for about 3 hours. Bangkok Food Tours, Taste of Thailand Food Tours, Withlocals and Expique – Bangkok Tours and Experiences are some of the top-rated tour companies in Bangkok offering excellent food tours. These food tours have excellent reviews in TripAdvisor, so you might want to check out what travelers say.
If you want a more in-depth food experience, then you may consider joining a traditional cooking class, wherein you will learn how to cook the most popular Thai cuisines and know its history and origin. You will also be introduced to traditional Bangkok flavors and learn the simplest way to cook them. There are plenty of tours offered online, so make sure to read reviews first before you make your reservation. Chef LeeZ Thai Cooking Class, Sompong Thai Cooking School, Silom Thai Cooking School and Baipai Thai Cooking School offer some of the best cooking classes in Bangkok based on TripAdvisor reviews.
Have you experienced the food in Bangkok? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: The iconic Temple of Dawn Wat Arun along the Chao Phraya river (pius99 / Bigstockphoto)