Bangkok, a fascinating city that you either love or hate, there really isn’t much in between. Let me tell you how I fell utterly in love with this vibrant city!
When I first arrived in Bangkok from Mumbai, I had the biggest culture shock ever. You might wonder how? Because surely, going to India from Europe must be more impressive? Yes it was, but I was prepared for India. I wasn’t prepared for Bangkok though! I remember quite well being in the taxi from the airport to my hostel, stunned at the cleanliness and quietness of the city. Anyone that has ever been to Bangkok will probably laugh at this, but believe me, after India I did feel that Bangkok was pretty much like being back in Europe!
So, I arrived at my hostel, put my bags in the dorm and walked down to the chill out area where I picked up a guide book about Bangkok to make a plan. I was soon approached by two lovely girls, Jordan and Kate, who took me out for dinner and a venture through Chinatown!
Bangkok’s Chinatown is huge and filled with tons of food stalls where you can eat really good Chinese and Thai food for bargain prices! You will find these little food stalls with tiny plastic chairs all over Bangkok and Thailand, but I did find that in Bangkok, they had the best quality food for the best prices!
During my trip, I quickly learned the number one street food rule: Eat where the locals eat! Have a look around, find the restaurant with the most locals and just order anything off the menu. My favourite Thai dishes are Pad Thai and Green Curry, yum!
After Chinatown we went for a stroll and found ourselves close to Wat Pho, the most famous temple complex in Bangkok that is the home of the Reclining Buddha. There was a festival on in there, so we were able to go in for free and look at the buildings from the outside when they were magically lightened up and there weren’t many tourists around. We decided to return the next day in the morning as we didn’t want to miss out on the Reclining Buddha!
Wat Pho is one of the most impressive and well preserved temples I have seen in my travels. You will find interesting little details everywhere! The highlight of course, is the golden Reclining Buddha that is 46m long and it is one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand.
I would recommend taking at least 2 hours to explore the complex. There is so much to see and I did find that it gives a really good introduction to Buddhism. The entrance fee was 100 Baht, which equals £2. I found this price very reasonable for what you get.You can get a guide at a higher price, which might be something I would do next time.
Since my hostel was in the centre of Bangkok (find out where I stayed here), near a few malls (MBK, Siam Paragon, Platinum), I would usually go there for lunch or dinner. Bangkok can get insanely hot around 2 pm and you really start to appreciate air conditioning after a while! Most malls in Bangkok have food courts that have good food at street food prices. A firm favourite has to be the MBK food court where I must have had 10+ meals!
If you fancy a change from the backpacking life, I can recommend the cinema in Siam Paragon. Tickets start from 120 Baht, all the films are in English and the cinema is one of the nicest I’ve ever seen! And there is air con! ;-)
If you fancy some beauty shopping, there is a well stocked Sephora in the Siam Center and lots of other brands in other malls. You can find out more about my beauty purchases from Bangkok here. Bangkok really is a heaven for shopping. Apart from the many night markets and malls, there is also the Chatuchak Weekend Market.
I was blown away by the sheer dimensions of this market! It is huge and you can get lost super easily! You will definitely find the best souvenirs here as well as local arts and crafts. They literally have everything you will ever need in your life at this market. Make sure to be there early as it is a hot spot among tourists and gets very busy around lunchtime!
If you need a break from Bangkok, I would suggest a trip to Ayutthaya. This city used to be the capital of the Thai kingdom. There are lots of temples to explore and a lovely floating market. It’s very quiet, so it’s a nice break to the sometimes hectic and crowded Bangkok!
You can easily get there with a mini bus that leaves from the Victory Monument in Bangkok. Just ask around for the bus to Ayutthaya and make sure you know the times of when the bus goes back to Bangkok! Getting there takes 1.5 hours but the journey into Bangkok might be longer because we all know how crazy the traffic there gets!
I hope you enjoyed my little guide to Bangkok. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!
Have you been to Bangkok yet? What are your experiences?