I’ve just spent two full days in Bangkok; Thailand’s hectic capital city. Before arriving, I was told by many people who’d been previously to get out as soon as possible as its not a particularly enjoyable place to be- most people just fly into Bangkok to enter Thailand and then leave to go to the islands or jungle. I partly agree in that I couldn’t have spent much longer there- navigating through the busy streets is quite hard work, but I definitely don’t think you should miss out on Bangkok. It was a buzzing city with thriving night life, amazing street food and a great place to meet fellow travellers. So, what did I get up to?
We’d arrived in Bangkok at 10pm the night before after about 16 hours of travel from London, including a layover in Delhi. We experienced a very safe taxi ride to our guest house, whereby our driver was watching netflix while driving us down a motorway. Very tired, we crashed into bed ready to wake up refreshed in the morning to head out and explore..
First off, we headed to a cafe called “Unicorn Cafe” that we’d seen an article for online as it was only a short walk from our guest house. It was vibrant and colourful with, you guessed it, unicorn themed decor and food and drink, and we spent a while here soaking up the eccentricity of the place. Bangkok has lots of weird and wonderful cafes you can visit, but this one particularly grabbed our attention.
Next, we headed to Lumpini Park where the escape from the city was very rewarding; after only a few hours in Bangkok, I was already quite overwhelmed by the chaos. We spent a couple of hours sitting by the water and wandering around, and also saw lots of water monitors along the banks of a small river running through the park.
After we’d finished at Lumpini Park, we walked to the MBK mall where we browsed the many stalls and had some iced coffee. I bought a watch and a bikini and tried bartering over the price for the first time- I’m still trying to get the hang of this. The MBK mall is a huge multi storey shopping mall selling a lot of market items such as bags, watches and jewellery, as well as phone accessories and good food. After we finished shopping, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and so got in our first tuk tuk. Tuk tuks really aren’t the cheapest mode of transport (a metered taxi seemed to be the best option) but we wanted to give one a go so had a slightly hair-raising ride back to the hotel.
We headed to Chinatown for dinner, a buzzing district lined with neon signs and flocked with street food. This district has been the centre of the Chinese settlement in Bangkok since King Rama I moved here in 1782, and while the 21st century may have changed Chinatown significantly, it still retains a lot of culture. We ate at a street side retaurant before wandering Chinatown’s busy streets and then ventured on to Patpong night market. Patpong was a busy night bazaar hawkering clothing, food and souvenirs as well as being lined with tons of bars- we managed a narrow escape from a particularly sketchy ping pong bar.
After breakfast, we put on our temple pants and hailed a cab to take us to The Grand Palace. A simple task you may think but our driver took us to a tour company and despite our protests that this wasn’t what we wanted, he insisted we pay for a tour. We ended up walking away and decided to walk to the palace ourselves. This proved difficult as the route took us down some pretty dodgy side streets that made us feel uncomfortable, so we tried hailing another cab. Every driver turned us away when we said we wanted the grand palace and so at this point we began to get frustrated. Eventually, a tuk tuk driver pulled up and agreed to take us for a very reasonable fee. God bless that man.
The Grand Palace was certainly worth the arduous mission to get there. It is a huge complex consisting of some 100 buildings and has been the residence of Thai royalty since 1782. The entire complex was absolutely stunning with buildings made from gold and jewels and intricately carved statues of dragons, elephants and Buddha. The complex also houses the famous temple of the Emerald Buddha, which was pretty spectacular. The photos below do not even begin to show how beautiful the complex is.
After we’d explored the palace, we walked down the road towards Wat Pho and picked up some pad Thai on the way (definitely consumed way too much of the stuff). Wat Pho was just as stunning as The Grand Palace and houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, as well as a 46m long reclining golden Buddha statue which was really quite impressive.
I was keen to meet up with my friend Sophie from university and her friend Ella as they were both also in Bangkok. We decided to meet and go for dinner and drinks on Khao San Road, which is pretty much the main backpacker strip in the city and most people traveling Southeast Asia will likely end up here at some point. Khao San Road was vibrant and lively, with markets, bars and restaurants and things like fried scorpions for sale. I had a dinner of pad thai, tried fried scorpion (which tasted like generic fried food) and had my first Chang beer.
Thanks for reading! Have you been to Bangkok? If so, leave a comment about what you got up to.