I know that Ginet has recapped her trip with her hubby to Thailand recently, but I wanted to put my two cents in on how much I actually really love Bangkok! I was inspired to highlight Bangkok this month because of a friend’s post on Facebook about booking his tickets for the other “City of Angels” for his birthday. It made me miss the city so much.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have gone to Thailand a couple of times and a stop-over in Bangkok was always on the agenda. It’s a fairly easy city to get around in and on my last trip found out that the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS or Skytrain) connects to the Airport Rail Link (bottom floor) which actually gets you in the city from the airport, which makes it really convenient! I remember being a Bangkok rookie and taking a cab in to the city which took about an hour to get in because of traffic. By taking the train system, you can cut the trip to just 15 minutes (if you take the Express Line) and you’ll also just pay a portion of the fare (here’s an awesome article discussing the differences between taking a taxi and taking the Airport Rail Link).
Another pointer about taking public transportation in Bangkok, specifically tuk tuks, don’t get suckered! Tuk tuks are notorious for overcharging and taking you to a different place than where you want to go (usually vendors so that you can buy from them). Obviously, tuk tuks are one of the things that makes Thailand Thailand, but you’ll have to negotiate a price with them first before getting on and you’ll risk being taken to places you didn’t want to go first before finally getting to where you want to go. We’ve also had to negotiate a taxi ride instead of letting the meter run, but we were happy to do that since we were near Khao San Road trying to get home after the New Year’s party on the street.
While researching where to stay in Bangkok, Sukhumvit district seemed the most attractive to me because it was popular to foreign visitors and expats plus it was dubbed as an “exclusive” district. Yeah, yeah I know. You can’t blame me, it was one of my first trips internationally and I wanted to make sure that my friends and I were safe. There’s also plenty of shopping around and the hotel that we stayed at was a short 5 minute walk to the BTS to get you to the other parts of the city.
Getting off at the Siam station of the BTS takes to you one of my favorite malls in Bangkok, Siam Paragon. Not only is the shopping really awesome with many great boutiques and brand names, the food court is something else! The food court kind of reminds me of a college cafeteria where you walk around to pick the dishes you like. You’ll have to pre-purchase a loadable card and load it with money, then you can swipe your card at the stalls of your choice. MBK Center is another mall within the Siam area just a short walk from Siam Paragon. Here you can find a lot of electronics and stalls that sell souvenirs at really good prices, plus there’s always the opportunity to bargain.
Day trips to other cities and sites are very accessible from Bangkok. Many tour companies will even pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. We used Viator Tours and got to ride elephants, hiked to a fall, shopped at the Floating Market, and visited various different temples. We pre-booked all our tours prior to arriving in Bangkok after we did some research. You definitely have the option to wait and take your chances by booking while you’re in Bangkok because there are many different tour companies around, but we wanted to guarantee our tours and to go with a company that we trusted. It was a little more than some other tour companies but I thought it was worth it.
Don’t be scared to try the street food and the exotic fruits you’ll never find in the States. The best food that I have had came from carts on the street. I had the best seafood (yes seafood) pad thai on Khoa San Road during New Years eve and my friend Richelle had the best grilled pork rice plate off a highway on our way to a tour. On all my trips out to Bangkok and eating street food, I can’t recall getting sick. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re eating but you can almost guarantee that all the ingredients that they use are fresh and seriously, how can you resist a $1 pad thai!?!?