Photo by Taylor Weidman / Getty Images
Go if you: want beaches and colorful street life. There’s not much on the planet that compares to Bangkok, with its floating markets, wealth of temples, and sprawling urban center. You’ll be hard-pressed to sit still here, as there’s an immense amount to do, from food crawls to Buddhist sites and to beaches. Yes, at times it can feel like a dense, haphazard maze, but the beautiful historic sights combined with urban adventure keep Bangkok a city people are continually drawn to.
Where to stay: Again we recommend Airbnb. While you can find reasonable hotels in the $100 range, you can find amazing spaces for a third of the price on Airbnb. One cursory search we did turned up a trendy one-bedroom apartment with access to a pool and gym for $31 a night. Yeah, we’ll take that.
Must see: Once you breeze by the typical tourist attractions, like the Grand Palace, make sure to spend the time to visit Bangkok’s floating markets. There are several, all piled high with tropical fruits, vegetables, fresh coconut water, and freshly cooked food. While foreigners overrun some, Bang Namphueng (more of a riverside market and not a full-on floating one), has remained local-heavy, and is worth the trek.
Must eat: Pad thai, duh. We often forget how different dishes can taste when made in their country of origin, and pad thai is no different. It’s a Bangkok street food staple, with stir-fried rice noodles, dried or fresh shrimps, bean sprouts, tofu, egg, and more, whirled up into the perfect firecracker combo of spicy, sour, sweet, and savory. A plate of this deliciousness can be as cheap as $1.50.
Pro tip: Popular tourist spots often have their fair share of scammers lingering around. If someone tells you a location is closed for a few hours for lunch or is under construction, do not listen. Chances are, they’re trying to lure you to their tuk-tuk so they can charge you for a ride to a temple that’s out of the way. Keep your wits about you when engaged in unsolicited conversation.