We’re finally off on our adventures around South East Asia, starting with the crazy city of Bangkok! Like the majority of people who come over here, we flew into Bangkok so made it our first place to explore. We flew from Gatwick to Kiev, then Kiev to Bangkok with Ukraine Airlines – which was a relatively easy journey and didn’t seem too long. This was the cheapest way of doing it – I was originally put off by a stop over but it actually broke the journey up quite nicely as we only had an hour in Kiev to grab some food and catch up on some work using the wifi.
We arrived into Bangkok at around 10.30am, and after grabbing our bags we went about getting into the city and to our apartment. We searched in maps the address of our apartment, and it came up telling us about an app called GrabCar. This was linked in on maps, telling us the price of the journey if we were to use the app – we worked out that it’s basically the equivalent of Uber around here. We could’ve got a bus or something cheaper but after all the travelling we’d already done we wanted something straightforward, so ordered the car to take us directly to where we needed to go. This was over half an hour, and cost us about 380 baht (inc. tolls) – the equivalent of £9 (which is the most ‘expensive’ journey we’ve taken over here)! It really is amazing how much cheaper everything is compared to the UK – the exchange rate is currently 40 baht to £1… Also, can I take this opportunity to say how CRAZY they drive over here. It’s actually insane! I’ve seen it on TV but it’s not till you’re actually in the car weaving in and out of traffic nearly hitting everything that you realise. If you’re anything like me, this isn’t a journey to look out the window and enjoy scenery (unless you enjoy the thrill of near crashes…).
We arrived at our apartment at the Lumphini 24 which was incredible! Our room was on the 25th floor with the most incredible views and floor length windows. We headed straight up to the roof top pool on floor 41 from which you could see the whole city. We were lucky enough to get the whole pool to ourselves, so we just floated around in silence taking in the surroundings – which was exactly what we needed after all the travelling.
After our swim we went for a wander around the area to get our bearings, then came home to get changed before heading out for the night to Khao San Road! I’d heard a lot about the infamous Khao San Road so was excited to finally see it all for myself. We were lucky enough to be near a Sky Train stop (Phrom Phong), so jumped on this for a couple stops till we were nearer a river then got a boat, then a Tuk Tuk and finally, we were there! This sounds like a super long journey but it actually wasn’t too bad, and was quite fun as we saw a lot of the city.
Once there, the place is full of people all bustling around either buying floaty trousers, eating street food or drinking! We had a browse through the stalls and street food (people eat scorpions!) before sitting down for some Pad Thai (only 50b!) and a beer. A night in Khao San Road can be anything you want it to be really – whether you’re looking for a night out drinking, to grab some food or to do some shopping! We didn’t go with the intention of drinking too much, but we got drawn in with some cheap cocktails (150b for a whole bucket…) and ended up staying a few hours. It’s not like a strip in any other party place I’ve been to – people are trying to draw you in but if you say you’re not interested they soon leave you alone and we didn’t feel at all unsafe. Our night ended with a Tuk Tuk all the way back to our hotel (about 40 mins) – turns out I’m a lot better at haggling when I’ve had a few drinks, and this new found confidence got the driver from 800 baht for the journey down to 300!
The next morning we woke up early for our only full day in Bangkok, which we decided to spend visiting temples and sightseeing. We got the Sky Train to Chit Lom, where we then walked to the boat stop Chidlom to get a river boat, stopping to get some food on the way. When we got to the ferry stop Phanfa Leelard (this is the last stop, and the same one we got off at for Khao San Road), we were stopped by a man telling us we could get a Tuk Tuk for 60 baht that would take us to the Happy Buddha, then to some other places such as the Grand Palace and wait outside whilst we walked around. THIS WAS A SCAM!
Writing it now it definitely sounds too good to be true, but everyone we’d met so far had been so nice and willing to help that my naivety meant I didn’t even think twice about this. We got in the Tuk Tuk (he said this was a special deal for Yellow Tuk Tuks) and went to the Happy Buddha, where we got out to have a look around as the driver waited outside.
James said to me he felt like something wasn’t right about this and it was too good to be true, so we quickly googled ‘Yellow Tuk Tuk, Bangkok’ and the first thing that came up was ‘Bangkok Top Scams’. It was lucky we checked then! I hadn’t been using my phone over here due to costs, but I’m glad I turned on my data just to check that. The scam is they take you to different sites, but then make you go into a gem shop where you’re pretty much forced into buying something expensive. We went back to our Tuk Tuk driver and told him we’d changed our mind and we’d just like to go to the museum, but we’d still pay him the 60 baht. He got very angry and told us no, we had to continue on the tour so he could get free fuel (apparently this is what they get from taking you to the gem shop). We told him we did not want to go anywhere else, and if he couldn’t take us to the museum we’d give him 60 baht now and walk there. He then said he was ringing the police, and got his wallet out (I think he was pretending this was his phone) at which case James just told me to walk away. As we walked off he agreed to take the 60 baht and let us leave.
Him threatening to ring the police really scared me, but as James said to me at the time, they’re just annoyed they’ve been caught out and they know how to scare tourists. Once he realised we weren’t going to get back in the Tuk Tuk with him he did just take the money. Please be careful! I hate to say it, but if something seems too good to be true it usually is – it doesn’t hurt to quickly google and check. On this occasion we were very lucky, but had I been with a girl friend I don’t think we’d have been as brave as James was and would’ve ended up getting ripped off! Anyway – lesson learnt! It could’ve been much worse. After all of this we decided to walk to the museum, rather than get in another Tuk Tuk. I’m glad we did this, as we saw so many beautiful temples and statues!
We ended up deciding not to go to the museum and instead went straight to the Grand Palace. Please note, if you’re going to visit you must be appropriately dressed – this means long trousers and covered shoulders (preferably long sleeve, and no low tops!). We didn’t actually go inside, but if you do it costs 500 baht per person. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is also here, which you also must dress appropriately for. The grand palace building is beautiful! I’d like to go back and go inside, but as it was the start of the trip we didn’t really want to spend too much. We fly out of Bangkok, so can always go when we come back at the end of the trip!
The one thing we did really want to see was the Reclining Buddha, which is at Wat Pho. This was 100 baht to get into, and it was so worth it – the place was huge! We spent a couple hours here exploring the different temples, as well as the statues and other sights in the grounds. The Reclining Buddha itself is incredible – how they managed to create something so huge is beyond me! All the temples we’d seen so far had such intricate detail, they must have taken so long to build. It is no wonder that they are so proud of them, as they are so beautiful! Here the dress code was less strict, certain temples you had to cover your knees but long shorts/skirts and a t shirt was fine. I’d worn long trousers and a t-shirt for the day as it was loose and not too hot but covered up, and this had been fine! Also make sure to wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as you must take them off to go into temples.
We were going to go to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) but by the time we got out of Wat Pho there was only half an hour till it closed, so we decided to leave it for today. A lot of the temples close at around 4pm, so if you want to see them all make sure you plan your day/route with opening times in mind! We decided just to go for a wander around the area, as there was so much to see and explore! We ended up in the vegetable and flower market, which was incredible! They are huge – with hundreds of stalls all selling different flowers or reefs made of flowers, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Coming out of the flower market we found ourselves in the old town of Bangkok, which was worlds away from the other places we’d been. This was really nice to see how life for the city once was, and how there are such contrasting parts of the city. The weird/fascinating thing we found was also how each street seemed to sell exactly the same thing! One street would just be shop after shop selling trophies (who knew you ever needed so many?), then we’d cross to another street which was all electrical shops! It makes you wonder how they make any money with so much competition on the same street.
After all our wandering around we decided to head back, so walked to the river boat stop to do our same route back to our apartment. The river boat stopped one stop from where we were going and told us to switch boats, but the next boat coming was so busy! So we had a look on maps and decided we’d walk it instead.
This walk led us to discover a place called the Neon Market! They were just finishing setting up when we’d got there, and the place was full of food stalls and clothes stalls, but with loads of fairy lights and decorations! We decided to walk around and have a look here as it was so pretty. We also found a cafe with cats, dogs, lizards, snakes, hamsters etc for you to hold whilst you got a drink – it was crazy! I was glad we’d decided to walk as we’d stumbled upon all these things you’d never ever find in the UK.
We walked back from the Neon Market to Chit Mon and got the Sky Train back to Phrom Phong. It was rush hour, and if you think that the tube in London is bad, the Sky Train is next level. They get so so busy! We got on the second one that came, and headed back to our hotel – we wanted to catch the sunset!
We headed up to the rooftop pool as it was getting dark, and managed to just catch the end of the sun setting. Once again, we had the whole pool to ourselves! So took advantage of this and had a night time swim. The city looked even more beautiful with all the lights at night! After exploring it all day, it was amazing to take it in from up here. It’s such a big place, the scale of it is so hard to grasp when you’re walking around. We had our flight down to Surat Thani the next morning, so after getting out the pool we went to McDonalds (oops!) and spent the evening in relaxing. We were knackered after everything we’d done that day!
Bangkok, you were amazing. But I think that 2 days in such a crazy city was enough for us! I know there is still so much there for me to see and do, but after such a long journey from the UK and not having adjusted to the heat yet, Bangkok really wore me out. It was incredible for this to be my first experience of Thailand and to see the culture somewhere where it isn’t just a tourist destination. However, I was very ready to head down to the islands and enjoy a relaxed cocktail on the beach!
Charlotte Rick x
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