Imagine a city of 10 million people that’s twice the size of New York with no decent subway and traffic that feels like all 10 million hit the road at once. Maddening, right? Not when it comes to Bangkok, whose unconventional charms make the far larger impression. Instead of little shops or galleries down the alleyways of its old districts, you’ll find neighbors drinking tea and laughing in small plazas where their homes meet. Tuk-tuks feel slightly less safe than you’d like but are a ton of fun (hold on and you’ll be fine). And if you miss that 7 p.m. dinner reservation because you didn’t budget one hour—yes, one hour—for the two-mile drive, there’s a vendor nearby with a table on the street whose spicy noodles will be tastier than any meal at a restaurant that takes credit cards. That being said, you don’t just “wing” Bangkok. You need to plan in order to do it right. That can mean beating the crowds to some of the more popular sites by starting your day early, avoiding others altogether in favor of the places known only to the locals, and always taking the Skytrain when you can. Don’t worry, we road tested all of that. We sat in that traffic, hit all the temples, and ate (and ate and ate) the phenomenal street food to make sure you don’t misstep.