Mid 80-90F Sunny, Hot and Humid
No Visa required for US citizens
Vaccinations: Hep A, typhoid, and Malaria (be sure to apply bug spray everytime you go out)
Currency: Thai Baht
I am adding this story in at the top of this blog post because I feel like it is important to remember to be safe, not only around strangers, but with something as easy as crossing the street. Here is how I almost landed myself in the hospital or worse: I was in Bangkok over the month of December and my friends and I decided to have a few too many drinks one night. Luckily, I inhaled a plate of pad thai and chugged a large bottle of water before passing out. It is unusual for me to feel as good as I did the next morning, ever since I hit my 30’s, but I woke up around 8am ready to do more sightseeing. My friends groaned when I tried to wake them up and as they rolled over back to sleep for another 5 hours. So I left the hostel to venture off on my own.
I’m from the US and we drive on the “right” side of the road where as in Bangkok, they drive on the left side. There weren’t any crosswalks close to where we were staying so I had to time it out just right and frogger my way across the street. The second I started walking I hear a Thai lady scream and tires screeching to a stop. I whipped my head around in the direction of the tires to find a minivan within inches of me. I had bypassed the universal rule that my parents taught me growing up and I only looked one way before crossing the street. Unfortunately, I was looking the wrong way! I walked over to the sidewalk and held my heart to make sure it was still there. I am so thankful for the angel that was looking down on me at that moment. I will forever look BOTH ways before taking my next step across the street.
My trip to Bangkok, Thailand:
I get off the plane, make way to baggage claim, and head down one floor to the taxis that are lined up below numbers. I’m instructed to walk down the sidewalk and take a number then walk to the cab with the correlating number on my ticket. Previously I had a screenshot of my hostel name and number. The taxi driver is able to call the hostel for directions.
The streets are filled with black and white drapes and pictures of the Late King who recently passed away after ruling for over 70 years. The people of Thailand have entered into a year of mourning for their beloved King. I noticed almost all of the Thai people dressed in dark colors that covered their arms and legs even though it was SO hot outside. It is important to dress appropriately (shoulders and past knees covered, no tattoos showing, no tight clothing, dark colors or white) out of respect for the community. Many temples will not let you enter unless you are dressed appropriately.
We made reservations at two different hostels for our stay. Both places had private rooms with bathrooms. The first one was called Siamaze Hostel. The rooms were very clean and huge compared to most hostels I’ve stayed at. The front desk receptionist was, Patrick, a local who spoke English very well since he had studies in the US. He grew up in Bangkok and was able to give us great tips on how to get around and which temples we HAD to see. The Siamaze Hostel was a quick 10 minute walk to the metro, but wasn’t near any temples, but was a short Tuktuk tide to the Train Night Market. http://siamaze.com
When we came back from Krabi, we made our way to the Niras Hostel. Again we had our own room with private bathroom. This hostel was perfectly located near multiple temples within walking distance and my FAVORITE place to eat, Thip Samai was literally right around the corner. http://nirasbankoc.com
After dropping off my bag at the Hostel, I found my way to the metro station. I asked about purchasing a card for the metro and was told it wasn’t worth it since I was only in Bangkok a few days. There are multiple color lines and you need to purchase a ticket/chip for each line/transfer. This mode of transportation is very cheap, but can get very cramped during rush hour. **I’d like to note that if you are thinking about renting a moped…. DON’T. I talked to too many people who got into accidents (luckily they weren’t hurt) because the moped’s breaks went out or something happened and they lost control. Definitely a use at your own risk form of transportation.Suggestion: There are maps online that show where the temples are located and which metro line will take you closest to that Temple
Here are some temples and museums I went to in Bangkok:
Erawan Museum: 400 Baht (included entrance fee and headset in English giving an explanation of different spots in the museum) it was expensive, but beautiful. The massive elephants were breathtaking. You can walk the stairs inside the elephants to reach a prayer Temple at the top. Outside is a nice garden with statues and a quiet peaceful environment.
Central World: A giant western world mall, but had up Christmas decorations and food tents set up outside. The decorations seemed extravagant to me, but I was told it was toned down out of respect to the late King. In the mall you can take the elevator up to the top floor for a 360 view of Bangkok. CRU Champagne Bar is an upscale bar, so be sure to dress your best.
On the 2nd day we were going to take a boat up the Chao Pharya River to view different temples from the water. When we got off the metro we saw Wat Yannawa and stopped to take a picture. We were approached by a woman and a man who seemed nice and wanted to help up. They said it was cheaper to take a boat from a differed dock and we foolishly jumped into a Tuktuk and were driven to one Temple where more scammers were waiting to tell us about a jewelry and suit store. When we finally made it to the dock the prices were higher than what we would have paid, but decided to just go anyway. They said they would take us to 3 different docks and after driving through the waters for an hour (seeing the temples from the water) we were dropped off at Wat Arun and left there. We made the best of the situation we got ourselves into and jumped on another ferry to Wat Pho. Wat Pho and the Grand Palace are very close to each other, but The Grand Palace closes at 3pm to the public and we were not able to go this day due to the time. We made it another day, but due to ongoing ceremonies for the grieving Thai people, we were not permitted in the actual palace.
Wat Yannawa: Free admission, and old Buddhist Temple built by King Rama lll, is dated back to the Ayutthaya era.Tuktuk: cheaper than cabs. Make sure you haggle the price prior to getting in. Also, hold on tight!Wat Trimit: Free admission. Home to the largest golden Buddha statue weighing 5.5 tonsBoat river tour: 300 Baht/person (was a scam) you can find them cheaper.Wat Arun: 50 Baht Admission, we were charged 35 Baht total for getting off the boat (I’m still not sure if that was a scam or not)Wat Pho: 100 Baht Admission, rebuilt by Rama l, whose ashes are held at this location. It is home to the largest reclining Buddha (46m long) and has the largest collection of Buddha images. This is where one of the first Thai Massages schools opened and you can take a number and pay to get a massage by a student.The Grand Palace: 500 baht/person admission. Closes at 3pm. You will need your passport to enter and go through multiple security checks. Ladies should bring a sarong in case your pants are too tight or your shoulders need to be covered.Wat Ratchanatdaram: Free admissionWat Suthat Thepwararam And Giant Swing: Located next to each other. 20 Baht Admission, construction was started by King Rama l in 2350 BE, but was finally completed by King Rama lll in 2390 BE.Wat Saket (Golden Mount): 20 Baht Admission, Had great views from the top if you can walk the 344 steps. This was the only Temple where we were told to leave our shoes on. (This was my favorite wat)Sri Maha Mariamman Temple: Free admission. This Hindu Temple was built in 1879 by Caitlin Paddy Atchison for the use of the South Indian population in Bangkok.
Food in Bangkok:
There are no words to describe the food in Thailand. Delicious just doesn’t give it justice. Although, if you have a problem with spice it is best to as for “no spicy” and it may still come out a little spicy. My favorite and one of the famous Pad Thai places in Bangkok is called Thip Samai. It was located next to our 2nd hostel we stayed at and we devoured it four times in three days. There is always a line, but it goes fairly fast and it’s worth the wait. It is opened from 5pm-2am and for one dish of vegetable pad thai it only cost 60 baht (or around $1.50 USD). Food in Thailand is very cheap, which made it easy for us to order multiple plates we wanted to try without breaking the bank.
Thip SamaiWe stumbled along Medee Cafe in Siloam after the place we were trying to eat was closed. Again, the food was cheap, but flavorful.My friend told me about a Unicorn themed Cafe. It was so bright and had stuffed animal unicorns, dolls, and onsies or all sized that you could put on. The cafe is located on the corner of a back alley way. You might thin you are lost, but you’re almost there. It was so much fun to not act our age at Unicorn Cafe:Located in the Siam Center Mall is a restaurant I saw on INSIDER FOOD. It’s called Gojuu Sushi. They serve gyoza and sushi covered in cheese! Right next to Gojuu Sushi is a cafe called Moomin Cafe. The food was so cute and you could eat with their themed stuffed animals at your table.After visiting the Pak Klong Flower Market, we came across a place to eat called the River Cafe. It has a great view of the river and a Wat in the background. There was a cool breeze outside and the staff was very friendly. However, don’t go if you are in a hurry. The food took a long time to come out, but when it did, we devoured it. Everything was delicious.Street food can be found all over Thailand. We were never 100% sure what we were eating or if it was safe, but I think it’s something everyone should do to try something new.Go to Khaosan street for good street food, cheap shopping, drinking, live music, dancing, and Thai massages (250 baht). There was a bar, I think it was called Roof Top Bar, that served drinks in buckets for 450 Baht and had awesome live music.Train Night Market Ratchada: was OK. It had different types of street food and sold the same tourist clothing. If you have to choose go to the Khaosan Street Market.
Pak Klong Flower: We were expecting something different, but it was still cool to walk through. The flower market is where flowers are sold in bulk. People working there were putting together flower designs to could be bought and used as offerings at the temples.
Check out my other posts on Ayutthaya, Thailand to see my day trip from Bangkok and Krabi, Thailand for some nice beach relaxation, kayaking, and speed boat tours.