Trips to Thailand often follow a straight forward pattern: Flight arrives in Bangkok; travelers stay there for a night or two and leave for the Islands. Bangkok however is not a city to be overlooked; it is a bustling city that is easy to fall in love with. My recent stop off took me completely by surprise, the city’s vibe was unique, it was a combination of hustle and bustle mixed with a serene calm, I was in love and I didn’t want to leave. But we had to, so off we hopped on to our plane and headed for the Island. If you are planning on passing through this city and do not have much time to spare, here are some first hand recommendations of great places to experience. Where to shop, where to eat and where to visit.
Wat Pho: Wat is the name for a Thai Temple. These striking designs are well noted in Thailand’s architectural heritage, with soaring rooflines and wild colours these Buddhist temples are a dazzling treat for your eyes to feast upon. Although the Wat Pho is not as notorious as the Wat Phra Kaew, it is still an impressive site and most importantly; is a lot less busy! The entry price is also appealing, at a mere 50 Thai Bart (converting too approximately: 1.6 USD, 1GBP, 1.1 Euro), seven times cheaper than its counterpart! The Wat Pho is my personal fave, I love the reclining Buddha that appears so enormous that it could almost burst out of its shelter, being in fact the largest reclining Buddha in the world. Word of warning for your temple visit; dress modestly. Cover your elbows and ankles, the dress code is enforced and there are sarongs on hand for those of you who need to wrap up. I made that mistake!
Markets and Shopping areas
Day or night, in Bangkok you are spoilt for choice with an array of tourist and local markets. Vendors selling food, clothes and items that you could or couldn’t imagine! Walking around local markets, we found ourselves to be almost the only westerners the environment was calm and overflowing with a range of surprising produce that gave hints of the culture you were immersed in. How about used dentures? Animal paws? We encountered friendly faces and respectful greetings at every corner.
Chatuchak Market, an amazing weekend market with over 15,000 stalls. This bustling environment has everything you could imagine, impressive collections from up and coming designers, to pets (including baby squirrels and puppies)! Expect gorgeous, fashionable youths to be battling their way through the best buys.
Siam Square a shopping area, full of fly-by-night boutiques, many of which are the first ventures of young designers. A great people watching area where you can observe teens is their natural habitat. Check out the Thai fashion and get a spot to eat whilst mingling with the locals.
Food and Drink
High end restaurants in phenomenal surroundings or delicious, simple street food. Bangkok has it all. Thanks to our guide we were able to find fantastic delectable treats. The lonely planet would direct us to an area; we would eat and then take a walk getting to know a new part of the city. Each and every time, turned out to be a further insight to Thai life and we became more and more intrigued and excited!
Deck was by far our favourite restaurant. Located slightly off the beaten track, it is not the easiest of venues to get too, so a taxi is probably your best bet. What makes this place stand out is the breathtaking view over Wat Arun, a real treat. The food is fantastic too, with delicious Thai and European dishes to choose from. Once dinner is over, head on up to the roof top bar for a night cap, the perfect end to a perfect evening.
Sky Bar is located on the 63rd floor of the Dome at State Tower. The drink menu is pricey and there is a dress code, however the panoramic view of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River make it all worthwhile.
After our initial stop off in Bangkok, we decided to shorten our island trip and returned to the city earlier than expected. This gave us more time to explore and get a real feel for what the city has to offer. These recommendations are based on experiences that we found to be exceptional and worth sharing!