Travel Guide: Food, Culture And Responsible Tourism In Bangkok, Thailand

Aspara Dinner cruise

Aspara Dinner cruise. Photo courtesy of Travelling King.

Looking to travel to Bangkok, Thailand? Local travel and food writers Sam and Pete from Travelling King dish on food trends, local culture and must-have experiences in this fascinating city.

1. For those wanting to have a memorable Bangkok experience, head to Chinatown and Silom Road to enjoy some traditional Thai street food (yum!). Also, take a dinner river cruise on one of the small boats. Banyan Tree has their own rice barge that has been made into a beautiful restaurant. It can be a little pricey but worth it, as the service and the food is excellent. It also provides for a better experience than one of the big “party boats.”

Make sure to also go for a ride on the Sky Train. This is probably nothing for people who come from a country with a good public transport system; however, for us coming from Australia where our public transport isn’t very impressive we had a lot of fun riding the Sky Train.

2. For those wanting to experience local culture in Bangkok, street food is must. Also, check out the Royal Grounds and the temples in the city, but be sure to wear the appropriate clothing (pants and a t shirt, no short skirts or singlets). Jump on a little boat and go down the canals that come off of the Chao Phraya River and make sure to visit the float markets. Moreover, visit some of the local markets — the sights and smells are a shock to the senses but it’s an amazing experience.

pad thai

Delicious Pad Thai. Photo courtesy of Luca Nebuloni.

3. No trip to Bangkok would be complete without savoring the local food culture. For someone wanting a traditional meal, I would highly recommend my favorite Thai dish, Pad Thai! Pad Thai is usually served as noodles with tofu (or chicken or beef), bean sprouts, onion and peanuts ground up. If you like something a little hot and spicy I would recommend the Thai Green Curry, although be aware that it does have a bit of a kick. If you don’t like it too hot just ask for a “not spicy” (“mai phet”) or “a little bit spicy” (“phet nit nawy”).

4. Typical Thai cuisine is about strong and subtle flavors and bright colors. I couldn’t find a major difference between the cuisine in Bangkok, Koh Samui or Phuket — the places I have traveled. There is also Western food throughout these areas for people who don’t have the stomach for Thai food, or cant eat it for every meal.

5. For those wanting a culinary experience that goes beyond eating in a restaurant in Bangkok, cooking classes are a great way to experience traditional Thai food, how it’s supposed to be made and how its supposed to taste. Lonely Planet suggests a number of cooking classes. I have heard that Baipai Thai cooking school is excellent. There are also locals who are willing to take strangers into their houses and feed them. The best way to find them is by making friends with street vendors or vendors at markets.

thai woman

Smiling Thai woman. Photo courtesy of Jean-Manuel Fernandez.

6. For those wanting to assimilate into local culture, Thailand has a number of etiquette rules for different situations. Don’t say or do anything disrespectful towards the King or you will land in a lot of trouble. In relation to food and eating, make sure to take your time. It’s not a race. Take only a small amount of food as you will be expected to eat everything on your plate. Moreover, don’t leave your chopsticks in the bowl. It symbolizes death and is very bad luck.

7. For a local accommodation in Bangkok with character, there are a number of B&B’s around Bangkok that can provide an authentic Thai experience.

8. For a drink paired with a beautiful view you’re in luck, as Bangkok is the city of rooftop bars. My favorite Is Vertigo at Banyan Tree which has great city views. Otherwise try Sirocco and Sky Bar Rooftop Bar and Restaurant, where you will get a better view of the Chao Phraya River. I recently updated an article of places to eat/drink in Bangkok.

Ayutthaya Kingdom

Ayutthaya Kingdom. Photo courtesy of Travelling King.

9. For a must-experience day or weekend trip from Bangkok, I would highly recommend the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which is known as “The Ancient Capital of Bangkok.”It’s a place of ancient and modern temples and buildings, some destroyed by the Burmese. There is a lot of history in this area, and it’s highly recommended to go along with a tour guide. You can learn more by clicking here.

10. For those visiting Bangkok concerned about responsible tourism, don’t fall into tourist traps such as visiting the Tiger Temple. This is something we did but wouldn’t recommend to others, as we were silly and didn’t know much about it. We don’t condone animal cruelty. Make sure to bargain so that you aren’t helping to over inflate prices. Bargaining is a way of life in Thailand.

Travelling King

About The Experts

Hi, we are Sam & Pete from Travellingking.com. Travelling King is a luxury travel blog that focuses on affordable luxury travel and fun tourist attractions. It’s our mission to see and promote Luxury travel and all that it has to offer, through our own personal means and our website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Note: The questions above were answered by Samantha Duffield.

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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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