Bangkok was my last destination during my Southeast Asia trip, on contrary to most travelers! After spending a week in the peaceful North of Thai, another one in its southern paraside-like beaches… getting to Bangkok was a hell of a change! You can draw a picture in your mind! Crowded streets, people running and shouting everywhere, traffic jams, bike jams, tuk tuk jams! Massage! Massage! Ugghhh! Don´t get me wrong, Bangkok is a highlight and a must in your S.E.A travel agenda! But the first impression shock… Wow!
For everyone getting to Thailand by plane will probably land in its main Airport: Suvarnabhumi, one of the main airports in Southeast Asia: expect it as chaotic as it sounds. Don´t you worry! With patience follow the signs in order to get to Migrations & Health Control.
Beware! You will be ask for the yellow fever shot and if you don´t have you won´t pass through! (Check countries are included in this mandatory requirement “Vaccines and other health measures for traveling SEA”).
First of all head to Health Control stands and hand in your certificates, get the stamp and follow the crowd to Migrations Stand.
Fastest way to the city is a public taxi (walk all along until you get to the end of the hall), always check your route to the hotel using Google Maps or similar just in case the driver wants to go around… and around… you know what I mean.
The cheapest way is to take the 554 bus to Synphaet Hospirtal and change to the 60 to Khao San! The third alternative is to take the SRT PTH train until Phaya Thai and change to the 503 or 79 bus to Khao San.
If you are staying somewhere else than Khao San, SRT train crosses almost all the city and you can either change to the MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit/Metro) or a bus!
The main area that most travelers crawl to is the famous Khao San Road, a chaotic area flooded with bars, shops, travel agencies, tuk tuks that will follow you ALL your way, drunk people and of course (its Thailand) prostitution. The problem is that, as everything that becomes popular, isn´t that cheap as it used to be, I recommend to stay in streets nearby to feel the difference in prices.
Bangkok also has high-end metropolitan areas, like the Shopping district! Top shopping malls, fine restaurants, designer brands, 5 star hotels and skyscrapers everywhere!
As every crowded city you should be aware of your belongings, pickpockets are always a concern!
BbBBBBangkok is one of the most westernized cities in the Southeast Asia, so you are going to find all the clothing brands you can image, even the most expensive and exclusives ones. Many of yourfavourite clothing brands manufacture their products in Thailand! That´s why their prices are going to be GREAT! An example is Converse with its shoes and backpacks!
Of course, be reasonable and common sense must be your guide! Buy in shops as street stands with those 5 USD Lacoste shirts are obviously knock offs, doesn´t matter how nice the look. Same goes with shoes and football shirts! Those amazing 10USD Adidas… CR7 Real Madrid home shirt… bad news!
Electronics? There are some differences and of course cheaper than Europe. You can get Go Pro Hero for 70USD for example! Apple products are slightly better marked as well! Try laptops and cameras, always buying in trustworthy shops!
What to do?
Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple)
MUST! Ranked #1 as the most Royal temple in Thailand, Wat Pho is the one that you may see in postcards with its reclining golden Buddha: #1 means entrance fee? Right? It´s 100 THB including a bottle of water: Remember! Fresh water will be your best friend during you S.E.A. trip!
If you “Meh! It´s not that impressive…” you are completely wrong! Once you are there it will definitely shock you!
And you visit isn´t over yet! Next to Wat Pho there´s a map with the points of interest of the complex, one of the most impressive is Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakaran with its four stupas of over 40m high. Around the complex you will find soldier statues with Chinese and Occidental looks! Don´t miss Phra Mondob and its sacred Buddhist scriptures!
Last but not least… the gardens! Pay attention to the beautiful details and how they take care of it!
Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
I´m certain that this one is the most visited in the country, so an hour to recommend your visit won´t be easy as it starts to get crowded from early morning and it keeps like that until it closes! Once you get there you will understand why it´s so popular: impressive architecture, temples and the palace making an outstanding complex. Of course, expect beautiful gardens and beautiful details.
The whole place is a MUST during your stay in Bangkok! However, entrance fee isn´t budget at all… 500 THB!
Without hesitation the rocking star is the Emerald Buddha Temple, where (doh!) you will find a small statue of Buddha in an special environment: decorations are as interesting as complex.
Across the river, in front of Bangkok´s cultural neighborhood, you will encounter Wat Araun, not as crowded as the rest of the temples as most tourists miss it! Take a boat from Tien Pier, end of Thai Wang Ave. between Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho… ride is only 3 THB.
This complex is peaceful and may be your place to relax for a while, escaping from caotic Bangkok. The attraction here is its main stupa of 80m height, you can get to the top using the stairs.. the view is breathtaking! One of the best in the city, in my opinion.
Go there just before sunset and you will be witness when the city starts to light up.
The biggest park in Bangkok! You can get there using the SkyTraing stopping at Sala Deng or alternatively by Metro at Silom Station. Locals enjoy it by going for a run, practicing sports… You may witness a Tai Chi class, gym or even Yoga!
It´s pretty nice to have a walk around and see some green in all these concrete jungle. Oh! Everyday at 18hs the National Anthem will be played, everyone must stop their activities and stand still until it finishes.
One of the most famous markets in Bangkok and certainly one of the biggest! It´s almost impossible to walk all around it! Takes place during weekends and you can easily get there by SkyTrain! If you have been traveling around Thailand you may find some of the same stuff here as well, maybe all of them! But… cheaper!
Go there with lots of patient! It gets super crowded! Of course… lots of water! Use the few stores with A/C to have a breath!
Don´t forget, everything is on bargain! Enjoy the (friendly) price war!
Tip! Take a look on its official web site to know the open hours and get a map, it would be really useful. Chatuchak Market.