Visitors who cannot handle one more selfie stick or tourist-infested attraction may be less than impressed with Bangkok, one of the most visited cities in the world. However, as full of visitors as it is, there are a handful of experiences that mainstream tourists have yet to find. Unique, unusual, undiscovered: Bangkok’s got it covered.
A short drive from some of the city’s most luxurious malls and flashy urban décor is Khlong Toei, one of the oldest and biggest slums in the capital. The living conditions here are oftentimes deplorable, but it’s home to the Khlong Toei Market: the largest wet market in Bangkok, full of fresh produce, meat, seafood, and more. Slaughtered chickens lie atop cages of squawking ones. Freshly caught seafood lies on tin racks overflowing with ice. This market, though certainly overwhelming, is one of the coolest areas in the city to photograph as well as find cheap groceries.
Coffee, crepes, cats: you never know what you are going to find at one of the many pet cafes around Bangkok. Crazy cat people should beeline for Caturday Cat Café, equipped with enough fluffy felines to keep even the most avid of kitty-loving coffee drinkers happy. Those looking for something with a bit more fur may instead opt for True Love Café, a husky café located off the BTS Skytrain station Ari. There are plenty of these cafes found around the capital, great for those pet-loving travelers who are missing their furry friends back home.
Caturday Cat Cafe, 10400, 115 Phayathai Rd, Thanon Phetchaburi, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, Thailand, +66 2 656 5247
True Love Cafe, 153 Soi Ari Samphan 2, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok, Thailand, +66 85 908 2777
The skeletal remains of what used to be a high-flying airplane scatter the otherwise abandoned lot known as the airplane graveyard. Graffiti, trash, and miscellaneous and decaying parts of aircraft make up the interior of the decommissioned plane. Located in a lot in the eastern neighborhood of Ramkhamhaeng, this plane is now home to three families, who reside in its severed wings and abandoned aircraft cabin. Visitors can explore the lot, which is entirely off the beaten path. The families living there charge an entrance fee of ฿150 (US $4.40).
Switch off the lights and switch on your senses at Dine in the Dark. With the help of the restaurant’s visually impaired guides, visitors embark on one of the most memorable dining experiences in the capital. Dine in the Dark is a new concept, found at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. It gives diners the chance to experience how the visually impaired dine, and allows them to disengage their sense of sight and enjoy a meal only using taste, smell, and touch. Visitors can choose from a number of four-course meals, including vegetarian, Asian, Western, or special surprise! After removing items that could disrupt the meal (such as cell phones), diners are led by a guide into a pitch-black room. This unique dining experience is available after 6:30 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. The entire experience is ฿1,450 (US$42).
Safe sex is great sex, and there is no better way to appreciate rubbers than at a restaurant dedicated to this contraceptive. Cabbages & Condoms, as the name implies, is one of the most unique restaurants in Bangkok. The idea behind the restaurant is to promote a better understanding and acceptance of family planning. The interior is decked out in colorful contraceptives, with everything from lighting fixtures to foliage covered in condoms. In addition to its cool theme, the food at Cabbages & Condoms is so delicious that diners forget they are dining in a sea of rubbers. Grab a bite, a condom, and more at this unique restaurant in the heart of downtown Bangkok.
Bangkok is a gay-friendly hub in Southeast Asia, and has plenty of LGBT-friendly venues, two of the most noteworthy being Playhouse Theater Cabaret and Calypso Cabaret. Each evening, these venues host bold and unapologetic transgender shows, with epic performances consisting of Bollywood, Broadway, and even Beyoncé lookalikes. Tickets to see one of the transgender shows at Playhouse Theater Cabaret are ฿1,200 (US$35), and shows are at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Calypso Cabaret’s shows are put on daily at 8:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.