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By Zarut Suriyaarunroj, born and raised Bangkoker and self-confessed shopaholic Zarut talks cafes, food and solo travel Bangkok.
Edited by Holly Stark
When planning a Bangkok solo travel itinerary, it’s important to feel comfortable, get the most out of the city and ultimately see everything you want to see – since there’s no one else to please! Whether you’re taking the plunge with your first ever trip alone or are already an avid solo traveller, discover how to get the best out of Bangkok’s quirky cafes, world-renowned fusion food, buzzing Khao San nightlife and enchanting cultural spots. Travelling alone can be a daunting yet exciting experience, but travel to Bangkok alone, and you can experience the best of Thailand’s vibrant and friendly capital. From people watching to café hopping to museum tripping, here are my top tips on what to do in Bangkok alone; where to kickstart your trip, eat big, get the best snaps and and connect with others.
What’s better than sipping a hot cup of joe at a beautiful Thai café? Bangkok’s café culture, brimming with positive vibes, feel-good instrumental tunes, tantalising aromas and delicious coffee, secures a spot as one of the top things to do in Bangkok alone. Try coffee with a cute twist at Pooltime Café. Share your cuppa with fluffy friends Bob, Apo and Yee Pun, three cuddly yet cheeky rescued raccoons living the life in Bangkok. The café interior mimics a public swimming pool setting and makes a great place for unique snaps; deck chairs, tiled floors, blue bun burgers and pink ombre milkshakes. Cafe service runs 12pm-8pm and Raccoon service runs 2pm - 6:30pm Tuesday – Sunday. If racoons aren’t your thing, head to ViVi The Coffee Place for top coffee and coconut cake. Take in the beautiful prime views of the must visit Bangkok attraction Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) floating peacefully over the Chao Praya River from the café’s veranda. Check it out at sunset for an extra special solo experience. Open Monday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm.
Wondering where to eat alone in Bangkok? Try Sit and Wonder, a secret hideout tucked in the Thonglor district. It serves local food that’s authentic, delicious, cheap and generously served. Meals are less than 150 baht per person, and the juicy must-eat Bangkok dish of pad thai is well worth it. It’s open daily from 11am to 11pm. If that doesn’t satisfy you, head for decadent dessert at After You which offers incredibly inventive, aesthetically-pleasing and delicious desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth. Basked in sunlight, the chilled Thonglor outlet has a cosy ambience and is perfect for some alone, self-loving, treat time! It’s open daily from 11am to midnight.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok (MOCA) provides a great introduction to Thai culture, through painting, photography and sculpture, and is a must for any art lover. It has everything a world class art gallery should; natural light, well-spaced rooms and thought provoking, beautiful and stimulating art collections. Collections cover funny, political and social issues that the country faces, as well as religion, corruption, prostitution and the loss of traditional values. The museum is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday (closed on Monday), 11am-6pm on weekends, and costs 180 baht for general admission, 80 baht for students and is free for visitors under 15 and over 60. If the history of Thai art is not what you’re looking for, try The Jim Thompson House. Considered one of the top things to do in Bangkok, the museum showcases traditional, beautifully maintained Thai home design, décor, art collections and architecture. Jim Thompson was an American expat, former architect and silk entrepreneur who mysteriously disappeared, his former home is a fascinating jungly compound, open daily from 9am to 6pm and is located at 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, close to the National Stadium.
The off-beat and unique hipster hostel, Tales Khaosan, attracts everyone from digital nomads to enthusiastic backpackers. It’s at the the heart of Bangkok’s well-known Khao San Road; one of the best areas to stay in Bangkok. Wake up to a matcha or Thai Tea Latte at the Tales cafe and a community of locals, travellers, and expats! A rental space is available on 5th floor and 2nd floor; including a night-owl working space for those who work at night. Alternatively, stay at NapPark Hostel, a couple streets away from Khao San Road; great for both proximity and lower noise levels. Rooms have a traditional Thai vibe; white beds and sheets, with colourful with golden ornamental touches. There are all-female dorms available too, so perfect if you’re a Bangkok solo female traveller. Both hostels are within close distance to famous tourist spots like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho temple, both just 2 kilometres away.
Travelling solo and figuring out where to stay in Bangkok can be intimidating and unknown, but also one of the greatest experiences. You have the freedom to tailor and shift your itinerary and be more open to experiences. Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, and the people are friendly and helpful so it is a great place to travel alone, particularly if you’re a Bangkok solo female traveller. That being said, there are a few things to do to ensure everything runs smoothly.
One of the things you need to know before visiting Bangkok is that there are 2 train options available. The BTS Skytrain is above ground and covers a good area in Bangkok downtown, while the MRT is underground and serves a more limited range of distance. Single-use tickets for BTS come in credit-card sizes which you can buy using coins at self-service machines. The MRT’s single-use tickets come in the circular tokens which you scan upon entry, then slot in to return when you leave.
If you’re adventurous and want the Thai tuk tuk travel experience, fares are the same regardless of the number of passengers, so you could team up with a couple of other travellers to save money. Agree the fare before setting off (expect to pay 100-150 baht for short Bangkok hops) and ensure you have the money ready on arrival. If you opt for a taxi, don’t take an unlicensed one.
If you want to meet people, stick to the main backpacker destinations (including those listed above) and choose a dorm room. Bangkok is safe for solo travellers, but as with any major city it’s important to keep your valuables on you and hidden at all times.
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