Bangkok has become my dream for many years. I heard about a lot of interesting things, good or bad, from my friends who returned from their trip to Thailand.
Is it chaotic? Religious? Crowded? Full of delicious food? Never ending traffic? A shopping paradise? A city with wild nightlife?
It is too charm to me I can tell what is real Bangkok and I can’t wait to lift her veils layer by layer. This July, when I got a six-day holiday, I bought the tickets immediately and flew with my honey to Bangkok, although it is not a perfect time to go because it is in the rainy season.
However, since we have made decision to go, just enjoy it. One of the charm of the travel is you never know what happen next, good or bad.
It was near midnight, when we arrived. The airport is still brightly and bustling. It seems that Bangkok deserve the reputation of cosmopolitan. Our private guide Sern met us at arrival hall with his Thai style gentle smile which is so warm to us from far away. After about 45 minutes, we arrived at Grand Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok. It is a friendly and comfortable hotel located in a lane in the famous Sukhumvit area which is within walking distance to Nana BTS sky train station. There are lots of bars, restaurants and clubs attracting tourists from aboard to stay in here during their visits.
What to do in Bangkok: Day 1, July 19, 2018
The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, sunset over Wat Arun, and China Town at night
A “city of angels” with Buddhist lights sparking around and it is a world-embracing capital of Thailand. When you are strolling around the in Bangkok, you can feel the people’s piety as well as wild night life. But, like others, we started our tour from the Grand Palace. It opens daily from 08:30-15:30. Admission is 500 THB. The loyal family doesn’t live in the palace any more. It is only used for official state functions and you can’t go into any of the buildings. However just wandering the grounds and open temple is quite worthy. It is sparking in the sun and elaborated craftsmanship in the architecture is just amazing. So go as early as possible in the morning to avoid the crowds. It is the most popular attraction in Bangkok. We are lucky enough when we arrived at the gate of the Grand Palace we a procession of young monks passing by.
In the Grand Palace, you will find Wat Phra Kaeo where you will find more and more locals go inside and sit on the ground worshiping the small aquamarine Buddha on the altar. This is the national treasure of Thailand- the jade Buddha. It is only 75cm high, but the altar is 11 meters’ high, so you can see it is really revered. Besides the jade Buddha, the long corridors and the exquisite murals here are what I like most.
Afterwards, we followed our guide Sern wandering down the street to Wat Pho and the famous reclining Buddha also called Golden Buddha. The Wat Pho complex fills a city block. You can spend a solid hour wandering around the maze-ling temple grounds after visiting the statues.
July is truly rainy season. It was raining when we had our lunch. It was so romantic when we had lunch and the rain was beating on the glass. And we were sitting by the table lazily looking at the rain and waited it to stop. Fortunately, the rain lasted not very long.
In the afternoon, we headed across the Chao Phraya River by local ferry to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn). It was great. Thanks to our guide, Sern. We could not experience the local transportation without him. We climbed up to the top the temple and got a wonder bird-eye views of the city. It was amazing.
Before sunset, Sern took us to the Rooftop Bar at sala rattanakosin where can enjoy the stunning views of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun and other historical sites. Having a cup of beer or a glass of wine with some light snacks, empting your mind, just enjoy the sunset. When the afterglow faded from the buildings of different heights gradually, there was an illusion that we were here not to travel but to live. Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is my favorite temple in Bangkok because the view.
The last stop is the China Town. When Sern and the driver sent us to Chinatown, their whole day’s work had finished. Before Sern left he told us how to use the public transportation back to our hotel. We were really hungry when we got Chinatown. Never mind, Chinatown is a culinary feast. On the chaotic vendor-lined streets, we found a ton of vendors selling food we hardly see anywhere else in the city. Although it is busy and crowded, it is my favorites. We got lots of mouth-watering seafood with very low price. In Chinatown, you can also buy lots of useless souvenirs, but to us, the food is most important.
With the instruction of Sern, we took a colorful Tuk-tuk to the train station and then took the BTS sky train back to our hotel. It was a perfect day.
Note: Be sure to wear clothes that cover your shoulders and legs otherwise you will not be allowed to enter the temples. It is regarded disrespectful to wear revealing clothes. If you don’t, you can rent a Sarong at the Grand Palace. At Wat Pho, it was given out for free.
What to do in Bangkok: Day 2, July 20, 2018
MaeKlong Railway Market, Amphawa Floating Market (exploring different markets today)
We were very tired last night so when we got up it was already 8:30am. Sern told us yesterday that we do not need to get up early today as we took a private tour. Private guide and driver. When Sern picked up us, it was already 9:30am. Firstly, he took us to MaeKlong Railway Market. It is about 80km southwest to the city of Bangkok. And we drove about 1.5 hours to get there. It is a most unusual market I have ever seen. There is a train passes through the market four times a day. It is certainly unique. We were quite lucky we experienced the amazing moment once when we were there. When the train comes through, the vendors in the market leap into action to roll back their awnings and push their stalls out of the way of oncoming train. As soon as the train passes, the stalls are pushed back into place and the business as usual just like there was nothing happened. MaeKlong Railway Market become more and more popular so it can get pretty crowded so if you want a good vantage point of the train, grab a seat in one of the local cafes and order a cup of tea or coffee while waiting.
At around 2:30 pm we headed to the Amphawa Floating Market. Another typical Thai style market only opens in the afternoon and evening every weekend from Friday to Sunday which is particularly lively. Actually, we did a snacking tour on some of the amazing Thai street food snacks available throughout the market. You can see some floating market ‘boat restaurants’. They are not really restaurants but the vendors use the boat to sell the various delicious snacks. Our seafood feast was cooked on the boat. We ordered up a selection of Thai seafood in one of it. We had roasted shrimp, grilled crab, grilled fish and grilled squid to complete our entire Thai seafood feast and it is totally cost 890THB ($25.58). Overall the seafood was pretty decent. I especially enjoy the shrimp.
We took a private boat ride out of the market before the night fell. Sern is really kind and knowledgeable. Thanks to him arranged the cruise to the outskirt of Amphawa. When it turned dark, we saw lots of beautiful fireflies flying on the trees on the both sides of the river. The tree were sparking just like the Christmas trees with the decorated lights on them.
( To be continued)
What to do in Bangkok: Day 3, July 21, 2018
World Heritage Site - Ayutthaya
My experience told me that you should read something about it before you are going to visit a historical site whose culture you are not familiar with. So I had little knowledge on the world heritage Ayutthaya before I went there. Ayutthaya Historical Park is located approximately an hour north of Bangkok. It is amazing and I enjoyed the place and learned more history about it. Found around 1350, Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. The ideal location of it between India, China and Malay Archipelago, made it the trading capital of Asia and even the world throughout the centuries. Ayutthaya became the largest city in the world with more than 1 million inhabitants by 1700. During that period, lots of international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as India, China, Japan, Arab world, Portugal, France and Netherlands and it was proclaimed as the finest city ever seen by European merchants. Maps drew by French and Dutch showed the grandeur and glorious the city with large ceremonies, gold-laden palaces, and a visiting flotilla of trading vessels from all around the world. However, all of these came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded in the year of 1767, and the city was almost completely burnt to the ground. Today, only ruins remain there and the former splendor is hard to recognize. Walking around the ruins, I can’t help but hold my breath and move my feet in silence, staring the relics when stop, taking photos quietly. Can you imagine, there was a lot of people here in those old days, but now a silent city, mourned by the visitors. So let’s be quiet and do not disturb those once alive.
What to do in Bangkok: Day 4, July 22, 2018
Visit Bangkok National Museum; Shop and eat at the Chatuchak Weekend Market; Watch a Muay Thai fight;
We spent about 2.5 hours in Bangkok National Museum this morning. It is one of the largest museum in Southeast Asia. This museum focuses on Thai culture, art and history. We saw a large collection of impressive wooden carvings, ornate royal funeral chariots, musical instruments and recorded music, etc. That’s really amazing and we were really attracted by its charm. We have Sern’s help, and he is quite good at explanation and he is quite knowledgeable so we spent a really good time there. However, if you have not got a tour guide, you’d better to go when on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:30am as they offer English tours.
Chatuchak Weekend Market was highlight. We visited it in the afternoon. It is quite large and the size of many football fields but still very crowded. This is a place you will find everything from authentic handicrafts and clothing, ceramics to their fake counterparts to phones to knockoff movies to plants and gardening tools to pets and pet accessories to books to kitchenware to antiques and collectibles. Theirs is a big dining area with great, cheap food and beverage which is a place you must do not miss. When buying goods at Chatuchak, especially ‘antiques’, you should carefully examine it thoroughly to see whether there is any damage, as many vendors sell factory rejects and do not trust the vendors when they tell you it is genuine. Chatuchak is also a perfect place for practicing your bargain skill. We spent a wonderful afternoon here. If you have one weekend in Bangkok, never miss Chatuchak Weekend Market and you will not be disappointed.
Muay Thai also called Thai boxing is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. You can find it everywhere in Thailand and Thai people take it very seriously and the fighters train for years. We were told do not watching Muay Thai fights for tourist in any islands you will visit. Instead, spend a night seeing an authentic match with world-class fighters in Bangkok at Rajadamnern Stadium.
Our Bangkok trip nearly finished and we would fly back the next day. We really enjoyed the tour and we believe that it will be one of our life time memory. Everyone has his own Bangkok in his eye and may different from the others. The city is an onion; it slowly reveals its secrets when you spend some time here. You will find this seemingly ugly city has a lot of beauty. It is a city of food, drinks, history, friend and life. Go and find your own Bangkok!
Travel diary shared by Diana