Many tourists do Bangkok with jaunts to the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha mixed in with a bit of illicit nightlife. But don’t short-shrift this city. Bangkok is also home to incredible experiences like Muay Thai (Thai boxing) classes, Thai cooking classes and blissful massages. These are some of the best.
Bangkok is a city of a thousand smells, sights, sounds and tastes. And to indulge in everything this magical city has to offer, it’s worth going beyond the typical tourist traps. While the Grand Palace is stunning, the Reclining Buddha is jaw-dropping and the street food definitely worth exploring, it’s a whole other thing to experience Thai culture at its core. We’ve scoured the streets of this city to bring you some of the best, most authentic experiences you can have in Bangkok.
Art and culture
Two-hour Manohra dining cruise on a rice barge
One of the best ways to see the city is to embark on a cruise along the Chao Phraya River. But to take things up a notch, grab your significant other for a luxury experience aboard an antique rice barge while dining on decadent Thai delicacies. This two-hour trip takes you past major sites while you drink bubbly under the stars.
If you’re looking for a little Zen in your life, you can learn the art of Buddhist meditation at Wat Mahathat, a temple next door to the Grand Palace. This experience is led by a Buddhist monk who can help you find inner peace in ways you probably didn’t think possible. Namaste.
Thailand is known for its wide range of cuisine and spices, and there’s nothing like taking a little cooking knowledge home with you. This class brings you through Bangkok’s famed flower market, where you’ll buy local ingredients and then learn to cook some of Thailand’s most sumptuous dishes like pad Thai, red curry and miang khum (leaf-wrapped salad).
Ever wondered how make intricate designs out of fruit? Wonder no longer with this mind-blowing class on the art of fruit carving. Fruit carving is an ancient Thai tradition and you’ll be able to learn everything from watermelon flowers and animal carvings to intricate floral designs. When you get home, your dinner parties will be the most Instagrammable of all your friends’.
For the uninitiated, Muay Thai is Thai boxing, a no-holds-barred contact sport where all your appendages do damage to your opponent. This hour-long course gives you a full introduction to this ruthless world as Muay Thai martial artists show you the basics of punching, kicking, blocking, clinching and maybe an elbow shot or two. Prepare to work up a sweat.
Touring Bangkok, you’ll see flowers everywhere. On every shrine, in every shop and at all the temples. This workshop is a flower-focussed tour of the city as you’ll hang out with local artisans, discover how to find lotuses, make Thai Jasmine garlands and even visit the Baan Kudichin Museum, which delves into Thailand’s history and its relationship with Portugal. The tour also includes a visit to Pak Khlong Talad, Bangkok’s famous flower market.
Many tourists complain that Bangkok is too far from the beaches and islands. Well, one way around that is a visit to Flow House. This inner-city beach club has its own wave pool where you can learn to surf or boogie board without leaving town. Instructors are on hand to help, but if you want to just lounge by the water, there are plenty of drinks and snacks to be had as well while you work on your tan.
This 90-minute massage experience is probably unlike any spa day you’ve had back home. The signature treatment uses hot volcanic stones to heal your body at crucial pressure points. The aromatic oils from the stones seep into your skin and the heat of the stones relieves any tension you might be feeling. The treatment is ideal for any soreness after a long flight or a final massage before you leave the country to return home.
This 160-minute Thai massage experience will make you feel like a king or queen. The Royal Thai package includes a 90-minute Thai massage, a 40-minute head massage and a 30-minute foot and leg massage. All the practitioners are trained at elite massage schools, so when they’re bending your body into a pretzel, it’s because they know what they’re doing.
If Thailand’s endless massage options haven’t given you the relaxation you’re looking for, you might want to try floating for a change. Head over to the Float Center Day Spa where you’ll experience weightlessness within a float tank of Epsom salts-infused water. The hour-long session starts with hypnotic Celtic music to help relax you as you hover in your own tank and let the stresses of life float away.
If the real-life sensory overload of Bangkok isn’t enough for you, you might want to try the simulated experience at VR1 instead. With over 170 virtual reality games in a fully immersive space, you’ll be able to shoot, punch and fly your way around virtual worlds in the most state-of-the-art environment.