We’ve talked about some of the off-beaten paths in Southeast Asia before, including Thailand. However, there are so many places to discover in the Land of Smiles that Bangkok off the beaten path deserves its own piece.
When talking about Thailand’s destinations, Bangkok takes the top spot. As there are so many things to do in Bangkok, people usually visit Bangkok for three things: night markets, street eats, and the Wat Arun or the temple of dawn. But this city of modernity-meets-culture is home to many other fun activities for those who are willing to give up the tours and walk its untrodden paths instead. Below are some of them, and as always, if you have questions, simply leave us a comment below.
Ride Hang Yao around Thonburi
Thonburi isn’t exactly a non-tourist spot, but it’s one that’s easily overlooked since it’s out-of-way for most city activities. Much like Venice, Italy, its locals get around using the hang yao, or long-tail speedboats. However, people privately own hang yao, so they are just like personal cars. If you wish to get your own ride, head to one of the major tourist piers in the area, such as Taksin or Maharaj, and they will have these boats (and a navigator) readily for hire.
Explore the Contemporary Art Scene
Modern art is a huge thing in Thailand at the moment, and you’ll find its influence in most cities. In Bangkok, there are two art stops, if you’re interested: the CityCity Gallery, which hosts a lot of art-related events, and the Art and Culture Centre, which cycles through a variety of exhibitions. Recently, they showcased some of the best artworks by modern artist, Vasan Sitthiket, which revolve around themes of politics and societal issues.
Pray at Tuptim’s Shrine
If you’ve ever watched a rendition of the famous musical The King and I, then you probably know of Tuptim. She is one of the King’s many wives and Prince Chulalongkorn’s love interest. Here’s an interesting tidbit: not many viewers know that her character is based out of Chao Mae Tuptim, a female fertility spirit. Lots of women (and men) visit the Phallic Shrine – definitely Bangkok off the beaten path – to pray for successful conceivement and safe deliveries. And if you are prone to believe local rumors, you ought to seriously consider praying at this shrine.
Scope the Local Gaming Culture
Thailand is home to a thriving gaming culture, not that you’ll hear much about it outside of the Southeast. For locals, their interest in gaming is both traditional and modern. And, while gambling in Thailand is illegal (except for betting on horse racing and playing the lottery), a number of sites that are legal in other Asian countries have popped up locally in the form of the top free online casinos for those willing to take advantage of the currently ambiguous Thai laws. It also goes without saying, but the prevalence of Muay Thai matches also lends to a plethora of under the table sports-betting — a common occurrence in Bangkok. The big matches happen in Rajadamnern and New Lumpinee Boxing Stadiums, both of which stand proudly in the capital and attract hundreds (if not thousands) of sports fans and enthusiasts from around the world.
Climb the Infamous Ghost Tower
Every city has its own horror story. Bangkok’s is that of an architect who was killed for conspiring in a political assassination plot. This is why locals know to avoid the Sathorn Unique Condominium along Chao Phraya River, due to rumors of his spirit lurking in the area. But if you’re feeling particularly brave, this building is one of the best places at which to watch the Bangkok sunset. The climb is quite narrow, so be careful.
Trek Through The Night Safari
Animals can be pretty exciting during the day. However, it’s only at night where you’ll truly see them in their natural elements. There are a bunch of national parks and zoos that offer this one-of-a-kind experience, but in Bangkok, you go to Khao Yai. If you’re concerned about getting mauled or injured, don’t worry, you’ll have an expert guiding you through the area.
Watch a Ladyboy Performance
Online guides will tell you to watch the Siam Niramit — Thailand’s own version of Broadway. But for something truly unique and offbeat, make your way to the Calypso Cabaret, in the entertainment area of Asiatique. Thais are huge fans of ladyboy performances, and after a colorful, exciting night, you too will see why.
Check Out Rooftop Bars
Now of course this is titled 7 Activities You Shouldn’t Miss, but everyone loves a freebie! So, the last thing in Bangkok you shouldn’t miss are these amazing rooftop bars of Bangkok!
Secrets are always fun to explore. And Bangkok, as small of a city it may be, has a lot of them waiting to be discovered.