The capital of Thailand is famous for attracting obese and obese old men to its narrow neon-lit streets lined with bars and nightclubs. If you’re like me, you don’t want to weigh in on impressionable (and slightly innocent) teenagers.
There is no doubt that the notorious element is present when you search for it. But beyond the clichés, Bangkok is really a colorful megacity full of fun for teenagers.
A little over a year ago, I had a ball with my teenage niece and nephew in Bali, so I decided to take them on vacation again, this time in Thailand, starting in Bangkok. We spent hours in multi-storey shopping malls finding activities that didn’t break the bank, exploring historical Buddhist temples, watching a Muay Thai match and filling our faces with more street food than you can imagine!… everything from the goodness of our hearts, so we could bring you this List of 15 best things to do in Bangkok with teenagers.
1. Get to know Bangkok on a walking tour of the city
To familiarize my niece (15) and nephew (16) with Thai history and culture, I booked a 4-hour walking tour to the best of Bangkok: highlights and hidden gems from Withlocals. As with all Withlocals tours, I had to choose my favorite guide when booking (I couldn’t go through Chatchai) and the tour was private – only us and Chatchai, so there was a lot of personal attention and time to ask questions.
Chatchai began with a brief overview of the history of Thailand, explaining the role of the Thai Monarchy and how Bangkok became the capital of the country. During our first stop, the Pak Khlong flower market, he immersed himself in the Thai Buddhist Religion and showed examples of handmade flower sacrifices to thank the protective spirits. The thousands of orchids and marigolds blew waves of sweet perfumes on the modest market.
2. Stocking up on food on the street
You will never go hungry in Bangkok. The gastronomic offer ranges from chic international restaurants such as Argentinean steakhouses and gourmet pizzerias to roadside food stalls selling grilled meat, fish or even insects such as crickets, spiders and scorpions (tip: venture into Chinatown or Khao San Road to taste these scary specialties).
For teenagers who had never tasted Thai food, I chose mid-range restaurants such as local street-side restaurants and catering classes. I couldn’t convince my niece and nephew to snack on a Scorpion, but we ate classic Thai dishes like Phad Thai and Green Curry. A meal for 4 people at a mid-range food court (for example, The Pier 21 food court at Terminal 21 Mall) costs AUD 13 (water included). Your waist bag is going to like this.
3. Watching a Muay Thai action
If you observe the Thai locals on the street, you would think that they are among the nicest, quietest and most calm people in the world, and they are too. Unless you are playing on a Muay Thai Match. I wanted to take my teenage niece and nephew to one of these lively boxing matches, but I also wanted them to understand what was going on, so I booked a Muay Thai action experience with a local expert through Withlocals.
Our Guide Tom took us to the Channel 7 Boxing Stadium to see 4 semi-professional Muay Thai matches. The weekly event is broadcast on television and followed by about 35,000 live residents and 500 live spectators. To secure our VIP seats in the Ring, we had to arrive an hour earlier. While we were waiting, Tom gave tips on how to recognize a good wrestler, explained the rules of Muay Thai and the hand signs that local spectators use to place bets. According to Tom, we witnessed a good Match, because the wrestler did not play, went straight into the Action and performed rare and difficult movements. With every blow, kick and knee in the ribs, the crowd roared in unison.
4. walk on the Mahanakhon SkyWalk
Bangkok is an absolutely huge city, but you can’t understand how massive it really is until you see the city from the highest observation deck, the MahaNakhon SkyWalk. To save a few cents, book your tickets online in advance, then scan your voucher at the ticket office to take the high-speed elevator to the 74th floor.
As you exit the elevator, you will be greeted with an awesome view of the endless city, but don’t stop here. Continue to the roof terrace on the 78th floor, where there is a trendy Bar, comfortable seating, a Live band in the evening and a Skywalk with a glass floor. I suggest arriving early if you want to take a seat, because we arrived at 5:30, at the Time of Bangkok’s smog Version of a sunset, and the place was already full.
5. throwing an ax
No, not a dummy ax. A real one with Super sharp edges, as found at Bunnings or Lowes. Okay, it may not be the safest activity for teenagers in Bangkok, but it’s a lot of fun! One evening, while I was eating at the ARTBOX night markets, I accidentally discovered a sign announcing the launch of the axe at the back of the market and I had to try, both for myself and for the young people. The selection of “weapons” includes large axes, small axes, knives and Ninja stars that throw you at a wooden target fixed to the wall, while a Thai employee notes the score and prevents you from accidentally finishing yourself.
300 Baht will bring you 15 throws with a large ax after a short tutorial and 3 trial throws. My niece immediately picked it up, landed the axe scope by scope in the porthole of the target and unleashed her inner Viking. Now I feel much safer walking with her in the dark alleys!
6. relax with a Thai Massage
Getting a Massage is an important thing on any vacation in Thailand, but when I found out that my nephew had never tried a Massage and was not interested at all, massages increased even more on my list of things to do in Bangkok. I don’t accept a “no” as an answer.
If your teenagers are also beginners in Massage, I suggest that they start with a foot or head and shoulder massage and turn them into an oil or Thai massage. Every street in Bangkok has at least a dozen massage parlors, finding a good one is simply a matter of trial and error. A 60-minute massage should cost no more than 350 baht per person.
7. getting on a Skytrain
The legendary traffic jams in Bangkok add 25 to 50% to an estimate of the travel time from Google Maps. With the amount of cars on the road, it is simply inevitable to get stuck in traffic… unless you are riding on a Skytrain (BTS). It can also be a fun way to get around for Australian teenagers who have probably never seen a Skytrain network.
The Bangkok Skytrains can get quite crowded, so make sure everyone in your group stays close and keep your pockets closed with a zipper or buttons to protect your belongings.
8. buy bargains at the weekend markets in Chatuchak
For teenagers who want to buy souvenirs or gifts for friends and family members, you cannot pass by Chatuchak Weekend Markets, one of the largest outdoor markets in the world. Chatuchak is a maze of colorful stalls selling clothes, accessories, glass sculptures and household items such as coconut lamps and wind chimes made of shells. There are also a lot of restaurants with stalls selling fresh fruit juice, mango sticky rice, Roti, grilled seafood and meat, as well as classic Thai curries.