I see you again Bangkok.
Bangkok – A myriad of vibrant colours, bright lights and loud noises, with constant movement and absolute chaos…Organised chaos. I look up and masses of overhead powerlines mesh together as a barefoot electrician swung around the telegraph pole is struggling to find the exact cable he is working on – But he does. Attention back on the street – Hustles and bustles of taxi’s and tuk tuk’s drive past as motorbikes and scooters dodge in and out vicariously. Crossing the street. Perhaps this was too courageous for today. Mangy dogs and cats roam the street. Next to me a monk on his iPhone swings past and soon there is a short gap in the traffic. I quickly cross, with the street-wise monk shielding me as protection – No one is going to run over a monk right! Bangkok you are a beauty.
An 11 hour flight from Sydney to Bangkok including a brief stop over in Singapore, we were pleasantly surprised when on arrival at our hotel Anantara Sathorn Bangkok our room had been upgraded and we were staying in – A large two bedroom suite with magnificent view of the city and a rooftop to watch the sunset (otherwise known as a pimp ass mansion). Instantaneously the city lights seduced us and sucked us right in – We were mesmerised as the sun went down, and the thousands of buildings lit up like glistening stars. Bangkok, you had me at hello.
Bangkok is home to 8 million people, and capital city of Thailand (which used to be known as Siam). Thailand is now run as a military state, since its 2014 coup. Thailand has great respect for its King, and this is clear with many large photographs, and alters to the King, and the royal family all around the city. The city is famous for its landmarks like the Grand Palace, and Buddhist temples of Wat Pho and Wat Arun. As well as a popular nightlife in the busy streets of backpacker haven Khaosan Road and Patpong night markets.
Having visited the Grand Palace (on my last visit to Thailand), this time we thought we’d go to see Wat Arun Temple, on the edge of the Chao Phraya River which runs through Bangkok. For any of the temples, dress appropriately, with covered clothing (longish pants and sleeves, you can check online if unsure). If you are visiting the Grand Palace, watch out for rumours that the Grand Palace is closed, see my article on Best Thailand Travel Scams. The Grand Palace, is made up of beautiful architecture which has been home to the Kings of Siam (Thailand), and is still used for official ceremonies. To get to the Wat Arun Temple, there is option to catch a ferry, or get a canal boat down the river, depending on how much you are happy to spend. We went the cheaper option, and once finally finding the ferry wharf, we giggled as we were packed onto the ferry like sardines. Total trust in the public transport and public safety systems (not put) in place here. Wat Arun, otherwise known as the “Temple of Dawn”, is named after the Hindu god Aruna, who has powers over the light of the day – The temples surface reflects the first sun in the early morning as the first place the light hits, so this is where it gets its name. It is quite beautiful to visit, as well as observing the intricate floral designs all over the walls and roof of the temple, and wandering the grounds, there is also opportunity to receive a blessing from a monk. We arrived slightly too late for a blessing, though I was secretly hoping I could be blessed for my next turn crossing the road.
Other than the sight seeing, our days were spent being whisked away by the scramble of the markets (plenty of options of day/ or night markets), eating delicious (and incredibly cheap!) street-food from the hundreds of food vendors cooking on the sides of the street, getting chased down by someone or other trying to sell us something, or strolling the streets getting lost in the busyness of it all. Beforehand I had sworn never to spend more than a few days in Bangkok – We ended up spending 5, which was just enough to wear us out, ready for the beach. We got a night train out of there, which set out at sunset, as we waved goodbye to Thailand’s crazy, and highly memorable city.
Things to do:
– Sightseeing – Visit any of the beautiful temples around Bangkok, or the beautiful Grand Palace. Bangkok ha more than 400 temples. Famous ones are Wat Pra Kawe, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho, but there is so many, so its worth checking out the less populated ones too!
– Markets – As well as Chatuchak weekend market, Patpong night markets, and Suam Lum Night Bazaar, there is also Amphawa Floating Markets full of fresh fruit and veg, and Pak Klong Talad Flower markets for those who are interested.
– Rooftop Bars to view the city by sunset over a cocktail or two.
Sky Bar Rooftop at Lebua (made famous by Hangover II)
Vertigo and Moon Bar – Banyan Tree Hotel (unusual space ship shaped 61st floor rooftop)
Octave Rooftop Bar – Marriot 57 Hotel (360 degree views. highest rooftop in the city)
Places to stay:
There is plenty of options of Hotels to stay in Bangkok, of all price ranges. We tried a couple at different ends of the spectrum.
Anantara Sathorn Bangkok
Khao San Road – If you are after a budget hotel, backpackers haven, with plenty of atmosphere and things to do, this is the place for you!
What to eat?:
Street food – Bangkok is full of street vendor’s selling all types of delicious street food! You may experience some good, some not so good, but majority of times, it is a winner – And you will be eating a whole meal for cheap $2-3!