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These five outstanding curated experiences are designed to help visitors get under the skin of Thailand’s vibrant capital
Bangkok is a wildly varied and multi-faceted city: something that is reflected in the number of multi-faceted tours on offer. On any given day, you can choose between piloting a bicycle along narrow and atmospheric alleys, checking out the city’s eclectic art scene or being given a crash course on the best places for street food. The following selection doesn’t cover everything, but will help any newbie get a handle on at least one aspect of life in the Big Mango.
Lately there’s been a tangible shift towards cyclists in Thailand. One of our favourite ways to bike Bangkok is by signing up for one of Grasshopper Adventures “Bike Historic Bangkok” itineraries. The tour utilises a network of pathways and boardwalks that variously chart the course of the river, past temples and through traditional communities bursting with character and packed with delicious dining options.
Once known as the “Venice of the East”, Bangkok is less reliant on its network of canals these days. However, waterways are still a major feature – especially in Thonburi, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Many of the old teak houses that line the banks have postal addresses on canals rather than roads and boat-bound postmen still do their rounds every weekday morning. Several tour companies can organise a half-day outing where guests will be transported to a tranquil idyll far from the bustle of downtown. We recommend the Small Teak Boat Adventure offered by Pandan Tours.
Bangkok’s art scene has come on leaps and bounds in recent times. While the city’s contingent of galleries is tailor made for browsers, some of the most charismatic visual manna can be found on the streets: courtesy of talented graffiti artists. The cutting-edge work of Bangkok’s graffiti artists is best viewed in the city’s older areas. We are fans of the half-day tour offered by Khiri Travel. With guidance from an expert, guests will witness some striking art while getting an insight to the charismatic communities that continue to thrive in Thailand’s multi-faceted capital.
In the historic enclave of Bang Rak, vendors tend to woks, grills and weathered metal tureens, serving up al-fresco banquets to hungry diners perched on utilitarian plastic chairs. So delicious is the food that you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were encroaching on a world-famous pilgrimage site for visiting gastronomes. The truth of the matter is that culinary wonders like the neighbourhood in question remain very much a local concern. That’s where Bangkok Food Tours come in. Its Bang Rak Food Tasting and Culture Tour offers visitors a comprehensive guide to the culinary treasures of the area.
Like every big city, Bangkok has a good few skeletons in its closet. This tour, based on the book Bizarre Thailand by Bangkok-based Canadian author Jim Algie, lifts the lid on the less savoury side of the capital. Not for the faint hearted, the tour visits macabre museums where serial killers are preserved for posterity before progressing to lighter-hearted attractions such as a sexy shrine and a history-drenched canal.