Intrepid traveler and AFAR Ambassador Rachel Rudwall reports back from her solo trip to Thailand.
Bangkok is a city of well-balanced contrasts. It’s loud and rushed—teeming with more than 8 million inhabitants—yet also respectful and elegant. Given its vast size, it can be daunting to know where to begin. While visiting solo in August, I looked beyond the typical checklist to try to immerse myself in Thai culture. Along the way, I felt uplifted and connected to locals and discovered that Thailand inhales and exhales kindness. Here are four standout experiences that will help you get the local perspective in Bangkok as well.
From there, cross the Klong Dan canal to reach Wat Absorn Sawan, a community temple revered for its library built on stilts. It’s a testament to the monks’ practice of protecting Buddhist texts by housing them above water—and away from earth-bound insects.
Take a page from the book of Thai youth, and plot a dinner course through the maze. You might begin with pork satay in traditional peanut dipping sauce, or branch out and try khanom buang—a rice flour “crepe” filled with sweet egg yolk threads atop coconut cream or with salty meat and scallions. Continue with pad thai cooked in a steaming wok, a spicy heap of Yum Mama noodles, or a bowl of guay jub, a peppered soup that ostensibly contains every edible part of a pig. End the day on a sweet note with a cup of lod chong, a local favorite that combines rice and mung bean flour noodles (dyed green by pandan leaves) swimming in coconut cream and sugar syrup.