Arriving in Bangkok
Is three days enough in this crazy city?
Is three days enough in this crazy city, yes, it is, but you have to add this city to your bucket list. Bangkok is everything you would expect Asia to be like, busy, noisy but unbelievably beautiful. I love Bangkok and I’m so glad we made this our first stop on our backpacking adventure. If you’re in two minds about visiting this fabulous city then read the rest of this article as I attempt to sway you into paying a visit.
We arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport (Bangkok airport) from England at around 7am local time. Everybody left the plane, eager to get their bags and set out on their onward travel but were faced with a queue of around 100 people at border control. We stood patiently, waiting for the Thai border force to allow us through, they were awfully slow. Once we received our 30 day visitor’s visa we ran to our baggage claim, so worried our backpacks weren’t going to appear, they did, thankfully. We walked into the arrivals hall, eyes peeled for our airport pickup. We had booked a tour for our first week in Thailand and they were here to collect and take us to our guesthouse. The tour company we used was Thaintro and I’m so glad we used them because they not only give you an introduction to Thailand but an introduction to Backpacking in general. Our group leader Liam, had organised a taxi to take us back to our guesthouse, he rode with us and got us checked into the Wild Orchid Villa. Naturally, Alex and I crashed out until around 2pm, we had pretty much been awake all night on our flights from London to Dubai and Dubai to Bangkok. We booked our flights with Gapyear.com, it was ever so simple, all done over the phone in a matter of minutes.
Twenty Steps from Something Beautiful
We freshened up and left our hotel room behind for the afternoon, as soon as we stepped out of the guesthouse I was intrigued. The narrow street the guesthouse was situated on was full lovely stalls selling all kinds of colourful clothes, scarfs and gifts. We headed for a main road and walked towards a park which then led us to the Chao Phraya River. We were surround by beautiful building’s almost immediately and the river was spectacular. We continued through the park and to the main road, almost every street you will find a magnificent temple with beautiful designs and paintings on the walls. Roads with flags hanging from every single window, will have you trying not to get run over whilst standing in the middle of the road, attempting to take a picture. The streets are packed full of tuk tuk’s, moped’s and taxi’s with no apparent rules of the road. I would highly recommend a tuk tuk ride around the city, not all of it of course, but some of it!
Travel Agencies in Bangkok
The following day we headed out of the city, Alex, myself and some girls we met from our Thaintro group decided to hire a minivan to take us on a trip. It is very simple to book these and even cheaper if you have a group. Like anywhere of course you have to make sure you’re not paying to much, you should know a rough amount in your head that you’re willing to pay. You can not be afraid to barter with people in Thailand, even in travel agencies, just don’t raise your voice and remain polite. Thai people are very peaceful and hate confrontation, it is very rare you will see them arguing, it is the land of smiles after all.
Back to our first day, we took a ride in a tuk tuk to the Royal Palace, we got dropped off outside and were going to have a look around when we got stopped by a friendly looking Thai man. He began asking us questions like, “where are you from?” and “how long are you in Thailand?”. Then he pretty much forced us into a tuk tuk with the promise that it would take us around all the top tourist points, this he did, with a few additional stops along the way. He dropped us off at two different travel agencies, both of which we walked into looking completely confused because we did not need to book anything. After walking out of the first one in minutes, he took us to another, this one I thought right lets get them to give us some information and just see how it goes. She gave us this and I kindly asked for her name and phone number, told her I would call her the following day after speaking to some friends. She of course agreed and said she could come pick us up tomorrow and bring us back to the booking office, of course we never called.
Eating in Bangkok
Eating in Bangkok is super cheap, in fact, anywhere in Thailand is super cheap! We had a lot of meals at our guesthouse and you will find, no matter where you stay they will most likely have a restaurant or snack bar. Nice home cooked dinners are just what a backpacker needs, however it’s not the home cooked meals you are used to. Instead menu’s include:
- Spring Rolls
- Pad Thai
- Massaman Curry
- Noodle Soup
Of course they have western food on there too, but you are in Thailand, how could you not try the local cuisine? Plus the western food never tastes like what you hope and wish it would taste like, it’s always a let down. Especially breakfast, your better off having noodles or a simple eggs on toast for breakfast, rather than an ‘English Breakfast’ because it isn’t the same and you end up leaving loads and still feeling hungry.
Temple’s in Bangkok
Absolutely a must do when visiting Bangkok, or Thailand in general. We visited ‘Wat Pho’ on our third day in the city, a Buddhist temple situated in the Phra Nakhon district of Bangkok. It is the home to the reclining Buddha, which is magnificently beautiful and so much bigger than you could ever imagine it being. We had a guide show us around the beautiful gold Buddha’s and telling us bits of information about them, however you do not need to have a guide to experience the temples here. Just to walk around them and take in the beautiful art and have a feel for what Buddhism means to Thai people. A couple things to remember when entering temples and walking around them is, ladies you must cover your knee’s and your shoulders, dress modestly and remember to take your shoes off! Also, showing the bottoms of your feet to any Buddhist is a big no, no, as your feet are seen as the dirtiest part of the body and pointing your feet to a Buddhist painting or statue is considered an offensive act. Whilst we are on the subject of Thai culture, it is important not to touch a Thai person on the head, as the head is considered to be spiritually above all else. So don’t go patting cute little kids on the head and if you do any of these by accident, apologize quickly. Also you cannot scrunch up or stand on Thai money, as all notes have a picture of the king on them and the king is extremely important to Thai people. You will see shrine’s to him, pretty much everywhere you go in Thailand.
Whilst visiting temples in Bangkok, we also got the chance to be blessed by a Monk. This is an experience you do not want to miss, you will not understand a word you are repeating back to him but the feeling you get during the blessing is unreal. He wished us safe travels and good health, we gave him an offering in return, a basket full of a Monk’s necessities such as snacks, toothpaste and everyday must haves.
Nightlife in Bangkok
We of course visited Bangkok’s backpacker’s central, Khao San Road. It is just as crazy during the day as it is at night, we headed down of an evening to a traditional Thai bucket bar. Yes, a bucket full of a mix of alcohol and for only 250 Baht (£5), you can’t really say no, but be careful they are extremely strong. The music is crazy, disco lights everyone and night clubs literally on the street. Market stalls selling anything and everything and food stalls selling the traditional deep fried scorpion and tarantulas. After one two many buckets, I built up the courage to eat a scorpion pincer and it honestly wasn’t as bad as I thought, just tasted like over cooked bacon. You can’t really describe Khao San, other than it is overwhelmingly crazy, you have to just come and visit it yourself.
Thai Cooking Lessons
On our final morning in Bangkok before heading to catch an overnight train, we took part in a Thai cooking class with the famous Thai chef Mae Kaidee. She taught us how to make the most common Thai foods and also gave us a Thai dance lesson. It was a fabulous end to our stay in Bangkok and highly suggest taking part in one. Take a look at her website here: Mae Kaidee’s Cooking School.
I really hope I have persuaded you to add this crazy city to your bucket list, I would go back in a heartbeat.