It’s been roughly 2 weeks since I returned home from a trip to Thailand and I thought I’d start off this series of blog posts with the first destination of the trip: Bangkok!
Now, I’m really not a city person. Hailing from the midwest of the US, I’m very acclimated to that slow-living lifestyle, surrounded by more trees than people. If you’ve ever been to Bangkok then you would know that those two things do not mix but I feel like I definitely did what I could to embrace it.
Here’s Bangkok in 48 Hours: A Travel Diary:
Flying out of San Francisco at 1:30 in the morning, we arrived in Taiwan nearly 14 hours later for a short layover before heading on to Bangkok. Surprisingly, I had no jet lag whatsoever and I think it was because I slept an almost full night’s sleep on the plane. By the time we got to Bangkok at noon their time, I was rearing to go! We hopped in a cab at the airport and were off to our accommodation.
Booking accommodation in Bangkok is quite overwhelming; there are a million different districts and an endless amount of AirBnb’s, hostels and hotels. I had already planned on visiting Lebua’s Sky Bar while in Bangkok so the decision to pay Lebua at State Tower to host us for a couple of nights was an easy one.
Upon arrival, they informed us that we were upgraded to a 2-bedroom corner suite and it was INSANE. I felt like I was living lavishly and the views of surrounding Bangkok made it even better.
After settling in to Lebua and getting over the initial ‘what did we do to deserve this place’ feeling, we changed our clothes and headed out to explore Bangkok by foot. My dad collects Harley Davidson shirts so every place that Andy and I go throughout the world, we always make it a point to get him one. The Harley was a 3 mile walk from Lebua but we thought it’d be a good opportunity to see some of Bangkok on the way.
As soon as we stepped on to the street, I could instantly see the mayhem that fellow bloggers warned me about. Cars, mopeds and tuk tuks chaotically blared past us like we didn’t even exist. We’d come up to a corner to cross the street (really, I tried to avoid this at all costs after we almost got blasted by a tuk tuk the first time) and would wait for a local to start crossing. Following close behind him, hoping he knew what we he was doing, we’d weave figure 8s around the backed-up traffic trying to make it to safety.
The first big place we stumbled upon on our walk was Sathorn Square, a large, upscale business district that is a polar opposite to the rest of Bangkok. You see a place like this, complete with men in suits and Starbucks decked out in chandeliers and think ‘okay, maybe this city does have some normality to it.’ But, within 30 seconds of walking down the street again, the remnants of century-old buildings, stray cats and beggars remind you that you’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Elevated Pedestrian Walks
I was quite surprised to see Bangkok’s modernism with their elevated pedestrian walks in the busier areas. Truthfully, they could use them throughout the entire city but I definitely welcomed walking up flights of stairs more than having to dodge traffic.
Heading Back to Lebua
After snagging my dad a tee at the Harley store, we took a different route to head the 3 miles back to Lebua, apparently walking through one of the busiest pedestrian areas in Bangkok, the shopping district of Siam Square.
We also walked by Wat Phra Si Maha Utama Devi, a nearly 200 year old Hindu temple.
The predominant religion in Thailand is Buddhism and the King is required by law to practice this religion. Some Thai practice Taoism, an old Chinese religion and very few are Hindus. There are actually more Christians in Thailand than Hindus but not once did I see a Church yet I saw multiple Hindu temples like this one.
It’s SO hot in Bangkok. I see 80 degrees on the forecast and automatically assume that’s a mild summer day in comparison to the 95 degrees I get every day here in California but nope. Bangkok’s 80 degrees is like a sauna met a humidifier and decided to have hell fire as a baby. My clothes were drenched and I’d say I sweated out every ounce of water in my body on that 6 mile round trip walk so we were more than anxious to go for a quick dip in the pool.
Drinks By the Pool
A quick dip and a shower and we were headed down to the poolside crimsoned Café Mozu on the 15th floor of our hotel for some drinks. The environment feels classy but comfortable as we lounged on cabana-style loveseats snacking on our complimentary nuts and drinking our Mai Tai’s, ‘cuz you know, Thailand.
Yaowarat Road in Chinatown
The concierge at our hotel told us the best time to go to Chinatown is at night when all of the street vendors come out. We were less than a mile from it so that was our first stop for the evening. The vibrancy of Chinatown is probably the reason I’d call it my favorite place in the city.
Before we even left for Thailand, Andy claimed he was going to be eating all the crazy stuff so when we stumbled upon a scorpion and cricket stand, I called him out and said he HAD to try it. I tried to get him to go for the big boy scorpion but he wasn’t very receptive to that suggestion. Regardless, watching him crunch down into a cricket on a stick was one of our travel highlights.
Did I try it? Yeah right! Taking photographs of the stuff was enough for me.
Another lively area we were told is fun at nighttime is the Patpong District. There is a night market here, which was our original reason for going, but we never made it to it. As we walked up to the area, a guy stopped us and asked if we’d like to see a show. I know what ya’ll are thinking, these two oblivious tourists have no clue but don’t worry, we were aware. We’ve been to Amsterdam too many times to count and they do the same sort of bit in the Red Light District.
When in Bangkok, right?!
He led us upstairs into a nightclub (or I guess more of a strip club) and, to keep everything PG here, we’ll just say the girls put on some of the most craziest and bizarre acts. Yep, hellooooo Red Light District of Bangkok!
The problem with these clubs is they have people outside corralling you in, falsely quoting a price. Once you enter, the charges start racking up by the minute. We were trying to pay an initial price so they couldn’t scam us out of more money but they wouldn’t allow it. We had 2 drinks a piece, were there maybe 30 minutes, and our bill came to 4500 Baht or, around $140. Andy tipped them generously on top of that amount but they were still badgering him for more. When I walked up next to him at the bar, the girls were yelling at him and he pretty much started pushing me out the door to escape. We go sprinting out of the club and past all of the night markets that I really wanted to see, thinking for sure that some sort of Thai Mafia was going to come after us for more money.
And that, my friends, is how you don’t party in Bangkok! Although it did make for a great story.
Coffee with a View
Never in my life have I had the opportunity to wake up in a highrise overlooking a busy metropolis but how fortunate was I to get that opportunity here!
We paid the extra Baht to have breakfast at Lebua and I’m so glad we did because it was scrumptious. Breakfast was held down in the poolside Café Mozu. It was buffet-style with almost every fruit imaginable, eggs made-to-order and so many muffins, pastries, danishes and scones, along with various types of meat. There was even sushi! They definitely catered to the various cultures of their guests with this breakfast.
Taking a Long Tail Down the Chao Phraya River
For our only full day in Bangkok, we knew exactly where we wanted to go. We walked the short distance to the Sathon Pier and paid 5 Baht a piece for a seat on a long tail boat.
Not even going to lie, I’m a pretty adventurous person but this boat ride was a bit terrifying. We were going SO fast and these enormous barges are passing by us, creating crazy waves that caused us to get air more than once. I couldn’t stop giggling the whole time because that’s what I do when I’m really nervous but needless to say, I was more than happy to plant my feet on the ground at the pier.
→QUICK-TIP!: BEWARE OF SCAMMERS!←
When walking around this area, multiple Thai men approached us with a map in hand. At first, it seems as if they just want to help by explaining the different areas to see around here (Wat Pho, Grand Palace, Happy Buddha, Smiling Buddha, etc.), but then they’ll throw out a lowball number, offering to escort by Tuk Tuk. In reality, they will take you around to these places and then will bring you to a shop where you’re basically forced to buy something before you can leave. Remember, if the price is too low then it’s probably too good to be true!
Within minutes of walking away from the pier, we stumbled upon the beautifully famous temple of Wat Pho.
Ultimately, I decided against going in to Wat Pho for one reason alone: it was way too dang hot. I totally respect the cultures, traditions and religion of the Thai but hot and humid environments and I do not mix and putting pants and sleeves on to enter was out of the question for me. We compromised and took some shots from the outside instead.
The Grand Palace
Located in close proximity to Wat Pho, the area around The Grand Palace is so massive, I couldn’t even imagine having this place as my residence. The intricately-tiled sidewalks, neatly trimmed landscaping and gorgeous golden steeples shining above the white castle-like walls is a far cry from any other area in Bangkok.
Ministry of Defence
This would have to be my favorite building in all of Bangkok. The landscaping is outstanding and the golden details added on to the mustard-yellow columns is so extravagantly stunning.
A Tuk Tuk Ride
I mean, I really couldn’t leave Bangkok without getting a ride on a tuk tuk! While it was so much fun doing this, next time I would definitely wear a mask like our driver did. I spent most of the ride covering my nose and mouth with a shirt because the smog and emissions while in traffic are nauseating.
Chinatown in the Daytime
I really wanted to see Chinatown during the day so that’s where we asked our Tuk Tuk driver to take us.
We spent some time walking through the markets and, since it was Saturday, the entire area was bustling with locals. My blue dress and blonde hair made me stick out like a sore thumb. I got so many looks and stares but most were smiles, as the Thai people always wear one on their face.
Chinatown’s area is quite big, definitely one of the bigger ones I have been to, and the vibrancy of it doesn’t dissipate when the sun is out either. The buildings are so beautifully architected, ornate and detailed, I could only assume it would take years to construct these stunning structures.
A Quick Dip in the Pool
Once again, sweating profusely from this unnecessary humidity, we headed back to Lebua for some drinks and a quick dip in the pool before preparing for our last night in Bangkok.
The Sky Bar
One of my can’t-miss things I had planned for Bangkok was the Sky Bar. Rated as one of the best in Bangkok and the highest rooftop bar in the world at 820 feet, the Sky Bar is elegant, classy and overall amazing.
Leaving Bangkok for the Islands
After the Sky Bar, we retreated back to our hotel and to bed pretty early to wake up for our 5 a.m. cab to the airport. We flew out of Bangkok’s smaller airport, DMK, an hour and a half to the south to Krabi where we hopped on a ferry to Phi Phi.
Read More: Exploring the Phi Phi Islands by Boat
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