Andrew Zimmern's Top Picks for Things to Do in Bangkok

See why Bangkok is one of Andrew Zimmern's favorite destinations.
509979323

509979323

Temple of the Emerald Buddha at twilight in Bangkok Thailand

Photo by: Chuntarothai/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Chuntarothai/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Bangkok is one of the most beautifully complex cities in the world and its ability to teach a traveler the lessons of life make it one of my favorite destinations. I’ve been about 20 times and just when I think I’ve figured it out, I realize I don’t know a thing about it. The song says, “one night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble” and the common wisdom is that the lyric pays homage to the town's sex trade and adult nightlife, but I don’t see it that way.

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble.

Bangkok has cleaned up its act…a lot. Sure, there are plenty of bar girls in the typical beer joints catering to pathetically lonely male tourists, but compared to the early '90’s when I first visited Thailand, the city resembles Dollywood more than the Sodom and Gomorrah image it's unfairly saddled with. I think the humility comes with trying to navigate a complex city and an even more complex society. And the harder the man the tougher the lesson. Be soft in Bangkok.

Approach the city with an open mind. Throw away your watch; wearing it won’t help your patience levels with the traffic. Walk. The city is vast but the BTS (sky train system) can get you from neighborhood to neighborhood, and walking the neighborhoods is the only way to learn how this place operates. Bangkok is a shopping city, everything is for sale and it's all sold streetside.

Night markets sell fashionable clothes, art, food, electronics, sex, t-shirts, you name it…check it out. Go to the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre on a Friday night and wander the galleries. Eat the street food, it's everywhere and it's where I take most of my meals, Sukhumvit Soi 36 is a street with some superb stalls as is Soi 38 just 2 blocks over, and don’t skip Chinatown, also called Yaowarat. Wander it for a day and you still won't see half of its hidden mysteries. Go to the sporting events, I can't recommend a night of Muay Thai boxing enough. Seats are cheap, the gambling is fun and the food stalls outside the arenas are often the best in town on a night with a good card.

For tonier restaurants I like Soei, Baan, Bo-Lan, Nahm, Le Du, Issaya Siamese Club and a bunch of others. Check out Sra Bua to get some boat noodles at night behind the Victory Market at the stalls, or Wattana Panich for beef noodles and Thip Samai for some good pad thai on the cheap. Stay at the most expensive hotel you can afford. There is nothing in the world like the service at an ultra luxury Bangkok hotel. The Peninsula is a fine choice without getting too crazy.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Sweet and Sour Bangkok Chicken

Watch Andrew Zimmern cook Sweet and Sour Bangkok Chicken. Then prepare the dish in your own kitchen.

Royal Passage to Asia

Royal Caribbean International expertly plans guided cruises through Asia.

Savor Thai Delicacies at Authentic Food Stalls

The long lines at Bangkok's outside food carts let you in on the locals "secret" - tasty street food is a national culinary treasure at a fraction of the price of fancier restaurants.

Thailand's Hidden Beaches

Explore some of Thailand's more secluded spots.

Thailand's Nightlife

Thailand is famous for 2 things: beaches and partying.

Costa Rica's Puerto Viejo Is a Great Off-the-Beaten-Path Pick

Less crowds and more fun on the Caribbean coast.

6 Toronto Food Trends You Need to Know About

Forget passing fads. These developments are changing the food landscape.

Off The Beaten Path: Where to Eat in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Enjoy a taste of the Caribbean in this tiny beach town.

World's Hottest Hotels: Indian Ocean

Explore the Indian Ocean and the luxurious resorts.

Phi Phi Island, Thailand

The exotic Phi Phi Island lies off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.

Food Network Restaurant Guides

Food Network shares their top places to eat across the country.