#LikeALocal: Five Secret Experiences in Bangkok

Ok, so you’ve seen the temple. Or ten of them. You’ve even flambéed your taste buds on Thailand’s best chili dishes. We can sense your mild disappointment… Is this it? Are you kidding? You’re in the capital of Thailand, dudes! And if all you’ve done is temples and spicy dishes (which we think is awesome, by the way) you haven’t toured like a local yet.

And the locals keep the best secrets…



You might think it odd to fill a café with kitties, but for those living in Bangkok, it makes perfect sense. If you think about the living conditions in Bangkok – tiny apartments and high-rise blocks – owning your very own feline is basically impossible. And thus, the cat café concept was born.

One such café is Caturday Cat Café, located on a side street just off the main Phayathai Road. Everything about this place is adorable: From the giant cat welcoming patrons at the door, to the gorgeous kitty-themed décor inside, to the fluffy felines that roam the tables demanding cuddles and treats.

As you can imagine, running a cat café can pose certain risks, especially for their cuddly residents – which is why we love Caturday so much! They’ve earned a reputation for taking excellent care of their kitties, feeding them the best diet, as well as enforcing strict house rules for visiting patrons. On arrival, you will be asked to remove your shoes and disinfect your hands, and picking up the cats is strictly forbidden. There is no doubt as to who the bosses are at Caturday Cat Café!

The cherry on top: Caturday Cat Café serves up mouth-watering food and great coffee, making it a purr-fect afternoon getaway when traveling in Bangkok.



Deep within the Ramkhamhueng District – not that easily accessible due to traffic – lies a surreal graveyard of sprawling, decommissioned aircraft. Most of these old giants have reached the end of their shelf life, and have been abandoned on the open lot, after being stripped for parts.

Although it may not seem much of an ‘attraction’, it’s an eerie experience to walk between the silent barrels of old Boeing’s, which once filled the air with the scream of jet engines and the stench of fumes. Now all that can be heard is the sound of crunching footsteps and the occasional breeze.

The graveyard is actually not technically open to the public. The enormous airplane carcasses serve as homes now, sheltering a few less fortunate families. However, the people who live there will happily receive visitors into the yard for a few hundred baht, and allow visitors to roam the site and to take pictures.

For something a little unusual to post to social media, the Airplane Graveyard more than delivers!



Wait, what?

Yeah, that was our reaction too, and especially when we discovered that this was the official name of a restaurant. Yes, a restaurant, that serves actual food.

No, really.

The eccentric restaurant was founded by a family planning activist named Mechai Viravaidya. He opened the restaurant right beside one of the few family planning clinics in Bangkok that offers abortions to impoverished women.

Determined to make a statement about contraception – which has been a taboo topic and practice in Thailand – Viravaidya has had just about every nook and cranny of the restaurant decorated in condoms and contraceptive pills. What’s more, instead of receiving mints at the end of the meal, patrons depart with a packaged condom each.

Although the bizarre establishment may seem silly and overdone to some, it’s hugely successful both as an eatery and as a community project making a difference.

We dig it.



Not far from Bangkok’s Grand Palace, a corridor is lined with stalls, selling thousands upon thousands of sacred trinkets. This is called the Amulet Market, and much like Disney Princess Sofia’s beloved purple amulet, these little treasures are believed to hold magical powers that ward off evils and welcome blessings.

There’s little that can be done to prove or disprove the powers of these items, as many are said to have come from sacred sites, or blessed by esteemed monks, from far and wide. They’re made from just about anything; some are carved bone, some wood or stone, some are even made from human hair or teeth. The locals that frequent these stalls in search of divine protection are often men whose work entails an element of danger, such as construction site builders or hitmen.

Ok, we’re kidding about the hitmen.

The Amulet Market makes for a fun and fascinating afternoon in the capital of Thailand, as visitors spend hours digging through the trinkets in search of something that speaks to their soul, or looks pretty attached to their keys.



Although watching a Muay Thai boxing match has become a popular experience for travellers, why not go to the next level, and take up a few Muay Thai classes while in Bangkok. Most of the training gyms would welcome the business and are usually happy to impart their fighting wisdom.

If you prefer to eat, rather than exercise, we won’t judge you. Instead, we recommend traditional Thai cooking classes, which are a dime a dozen in and around Bangkok. Irrespective of personal tastes, there is something for everyone – Thai curries, vegan dishes, ISSAN food, market cooking trips, and even traditional desserts.

Some cooking classes are paired with motorbike excursions around the city, while others still are hosted in herb gardens, on organic farms, or out of flower markets. The classes vary in cost, with some being as little as 35 USD per head and some of the higher fees reaching 1525 USD for one-on-one training with a fully trained chef.

Arrive a tourist, and leave as part of the family!


While the capital of Thailand offers tourists endless opportunities to see and experience the unforgettable, the best way to find the city’s hidden gems is to slow down and do what the locals do. Browse the streets, ask around, and see what comes your way. Not all that glitters is gold… sometimes it comes in the form of a cheap enchanted trinket, or a condom, or a smelly set of boxing gloves.

We’d love to hear from you about some of the places that touring like a local has landed you – tell us in the comments section!

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