And it is not only during the New Years holidays that Bangkok is filled with life and tourists. Bangkok is the starting point and ending point for most Thailand vacations, and it is with good reason that people choose to spend a few days here on the way.
Shopping is one of Bangkok’s tourist magnets and can be done at Khaosan Road or MBK Mall if you are looking for cheap, fake stuff (most things you need for backpacking). If you want the real deal then “Central World Mall” is the place to go and if you are more into high end brands, and wish to visit the biggest aquarium of Thailand at the same time then you should head to Siam Paragon. Here you can also get to dive with the sharks in the aquarium (5300thb for one tank and full gear), which is something I really regret that I did not do. Should you decide to visit any of these malls, you could take the Sky Train to Siam Station and all of these shopping centers will be within walking distance from there. Getting there (or anywhere) by taxi is also dirt cheap, as long as you get the driver to use the meter.
Food and nightlife is also something that makes the tourists want to spend a few days in B-kok. Of course you have nice restaurants (a lot of them can be found in the Silom area), but if you want cheap and good food I would recommend to go “all in” at the food stands. When in Bangkok I always eat the whole day, picking up fried chicken noodles, corn on cobs, soups and all kinds of barbecued meat on sticks etc that I find at the food carts in the Khaosan Area and the Sukumvit Area (Soi 38). Coming straight from Norway it might feel a bit unsafe at first, but I can ensure you that I have eaten my fare share of even the more dodgy stuff (e.g. the spiders, worms and grasshoppers), and I have never gotten sick from the food here. After eating it is also good to sit down in one of the massage chairs on the open street, where you can get an hour of Thai massage for less than 200thb/40kr.
My biggest activity recommendation is to go on a full day bicycle trip. A really good one is the ABC Amazing Bangkok Cyclist that can be booked through Kilroy and gives you a tour of both the urban jungle and the real jungle outside of Bangkok. The floating markets are also interesting to see, but can be a bit tiresome for people who do not like narrow streets with lots of people. Should you be of the more adventurous type, looking for a genuine cultural experience the VisitBeyond Flavors of Night Time Chinatown is a good way to spend a full evening, where you walk through Chinatown to see how local people live while tasting real Chinese food (including kidneys and pigs stomach) at seven places along the way. Bangkok is huge, and has something for every taste (even a tour for creepy stuff) so you can be sure to find something that will suit your adventure needs.