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Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok  | voxst / Flickr
Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok | voxst / Flickr
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A Guide to Bangkok's Tourist Traps and How to Avoid Them

Picture of Kelly Iverson
Updated: 16 March 2017
While every top attraction in Bangkok is certainly noteworthy, some tend in to draw in the biggest (and oftentimes loudest) of crowds. For travelers hoping to avoid the onslaught of backpacks, umbrellas, and selfie sticks, here is a guide to Bangkok’s biggest tourist traps, and ways to avoid them.

Khao San Road

Do not get it twisted—Khao San Road is one of the most fun stretches of street in the capital. That being said, heading in that direction gives a 100% chance of running into way too many tourists, especially once the sun goes down. Travelers that want to visit Khao San Road and avoid the crowds, should visit Brick Bar or Adhere the 13th. Morning is the best time to visit as well, as hungover backpackers will most likely still be in bed. Those looking to avoid this toxic road altogether should head to a different part of town, for example, Sukhumvit or Silom. Sure, these areas have their fair share of tourists, but on a much smaller scale.

The Grand Palace

While the Grand Palace remains one of the most stunning architectural wonders in all of Thailand, it also remains the number one spot visitors frequent when paying a visit to the capital. Whether they have one day or seven to spend in Bangkok, most people make their way here to see either the Palace or Wat Phra Kaew, which sits amongst its extensive grounds. Though the Grand Palace is the most stunning of them all, those hoping to avoid tourists but still want to see a palace up close and personal, can visit a number of places, such as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall or Phyathai Palace.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is the other equally busy tourist attraction in the capital. The temple, otherwise known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, attracts tourists in herds, all trying to get a good photo with the picturesque Buddha. There are plenty of other exceptional temples in the city, including Wat Traimit, which also houses the largest golden Buddha in the world, in Chinatown. Visitors can opt instead to visit Wat Saket, or Temple of the Golden Mount, which is home to a number of exceptional Buddha paintings.

Selfie addicted tourists at Wat Pho | © Roberto Faccenda / Flickr
Selfie addicted tourists at Wat Pho | © Roberto Faccenda / Flickr

Chatuchak Weekend Market

As the biggest market in Asia, it is no wonder that it also attracts the biggest crowds, with some hundreds of thousands of people making their way here every weekend. It has become a historical landmark of sorts, making the cut for even the most stunted of itineraries. While the shopping scene at the market is certainly hard to compete with, other markets around town have similar goods, cool vendors and stalls, and most importantly, smaller crowds. If visitors want to peak at Chatuchak and then head elsewhere, just adjacent is JJ Green Night Market. The food there is equally noteworthy and there are live bands playing at many of the bars there. Visitors looking for the most local of markets, with just as many goods should head to Pratunam Market, which doesn’t get many tourists. If you’re not interested in souvenirs, then instead head to Pak Klong Talat Flower Market near Chinatown. Though there will not be any momentos available for purchase, there won’t be a single foreigner in sight.

Chatuchak Market Trip| © seanchicoine / Flickr
Chatuchak Market Trip | © seanchicoine / Flickr

Soi Cowboy

Soi Cowboy opened in the mid 1970s. It was named after the first bar owner who ever opened an establishment on this now seedy stretch of half-naked, bar-girl-ridden road. Though a bit more casual than say Patpong or Nana Plaza red light districts, it remains one of the top destinations for curious tourists and paying customers alike. Those tourists looking for a similar stretch of neon road should instead head to Chinatown. What it lacks in sordid affairs, it makes up for with its delicious street food.

Soi Cowboy, Bangkok | © Adam Selwood / Flickr
Soi Cowboy, Bangkok | © Adam Selwood / Flickr

Soi 11

Soi 11 is the stretch of road that reaches the BTS Nana Skytrain Station all the way to the 7-Eleven convenience store, which is usually buzzing with alcohol-thirsty customers. What makes Soi 11 so tourist-friendly are the handful of pubs, clubs, and international restaurants found intertwining with the occasional prostitute or two. Though certainly not as seedy as Soi Cowboy, it has a certain creepy vibe—the kind you get when you see a foreigner with a bar girl half his age. The best advice is to avoid this stretch of road altogether. If Western food is what you are after, there are plenty of restaurants serving up both Thai and Western fusion food that is both delicious and interesting. Nightclubs in Bangkok are in abundance of well, so instead of heading to one of those lining Soi 11, opt for Onyx, Route 66, or Narz.

Nana at night | © Mark Fischer / Flickr
Nana at Night | © Mark Fischer / Flickr

Sky Bar at Lebua at State Tower

Whether because of its stunning dome or for its role in The Hangover Part II, Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower remains one of the sky bars most frequented by tourists in the capital. Though the view is certainly spectacular, there are plenty of towering bars in the city offering equally worthy views. One of the quietest and peaceful sky bars there is River View Restaurant and Bar. It is relatively difficult to find, which is may be why it doesn’t receive that many visitors in the first place. After winding in and out of a few back alleyways, you’ll come across its entrance. Once you get to the rooftop, you can panoramic views of the Chao Phraya River, but without all the tourists.