- Travel Topics
Bangkok is backpacker central. Arriving from Vietnam, we were amazed at how Western the city felt, including a brand new sky train which runs through the heart of the city like a major artery. While it hasn’t lost its charm for small avenues and delicious street food, it complements that with towering skyscrapers and state of the art malls. You might say it has a little bit of everything. We barely scratched the surface of Bangkok and will be heading back at least two more times over the course of this trip, but here were a few of our favorites.
Tourist central? Yes. One of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen in my entire life? Yes. The Grand Palace is unlike any building I’ve seen before. In fact, Thai architecture is very unique from the rest of Asia (as much as we’ve seen) and the Grand Palace takes it to new heights. The golden hue and glass pieces that cover the walls really sparkle beyond belief. The spires that so uniquely define Thai architecture are omnipresent.
Wat Pho Reclining Buddha
We’ve seen a lot of Buddhas. There was the rather large Buddha in Kamakura, as well as the tallest wooden Buddha at the Lama Temple in Beijing. However, there was one reason why we decided to see yet another Buddha in Bangkok…
This one is reclining!
It sounds like I’m joking, but actually it’s pretty cool. Usually Buddha is sitting, sometimes standing, but reclining? I guess it’s kind of like fawning over a child. He really doesn’t do much but whenever he does something different it’s the greatest thing in the world.
It sounds silly to head to Bangkok and just walk around malls, and if that’s ALL we did it would have been silly. However, Bangkok is really a modern city and has some of the most impressive malls I’ve ever set foot in. One of our favorites was Paragon. The bottom floor is usually the best as that’s where all the food shops are. In one mall we went to see The Hobbit, which unfortunately we had to go to twice, as the first time it was playing only in Thai (no one mentioned this when we were buying the tickets). It took us about 10 minutes to make sure it wasn’t some weird elfish language, which spoiled the beginning. Unfortunately, when we went back the second time it wasn’t much better in English.
We kind of stumbled into this park one day while walking around between malls and street food. We were drawn by the very large, Komodo dragon like lizards that were swimming around in the nearby lake. Monitor lizards maybe? They slither and slink about making their way from pond to hole and back again. If you’re daring enough you can run right up to them. If that’s not your thing, maybe you’d rather watch the Stalone impersonators who frequent the outdoor gyms at the park. I’ll stick to lizard watching.
Bangkok is still number #1 for street food. I have to say that having been in a few cities, street food doesn’t always look so appetizing. Sometimes it’s just…out there, sitting somewhat lifeless on a plate like it’s suffering along with me from heat exhaustion. In Bangkok the stalls are one stop shops where you can sit and eat and the food is often cooked right there in a Wok. That’s fresh and tasty, just how I like my street food.
Looking to have your back broken? Vicky and I did our first ever massage while in Bangkok. Personally, I wasn’t a fan. Firstly, I’m a bit ticklish and laughed for the first 20 minutes of my massage (the dreaded feet part). After that I got a trial lesson as a contortionist as this lady walked on me and threw my body in different directions with Hulk like strength. I heard cracks, aches, and moans and I’m not even sure they were all mine. After I got out I had a minor limp due to my left hip bothering me (from when she sat on it?) for three days straight. So do I recommend it? Perhaps if you’re into sadomasochism. As for me, it was likely a first and a last.
Walking Tour(s) Through Yaowoarat (China Town)
After handing in our Burmese visa applications we set off on a brisk walking tour which took us through numerous alleyways filled with food. Chinatowns all over the world are always vibrant, filled with activities and perfect for people watching. We recently went to one in Yangon and it was surprisingly lively and filled with restaurants. The one in Bangkok is no different. As you wriggle your way through people shopping in the markets or going about their everyday lives you’ll really get a great look into this colorful neighborhood.
Grand Palace – When attending the grand palace you should really cover up otherwise you might get turned away, though we did see plenty of people wear things like shorts etc that seemed “against the rules” but no one seemed to mind. If you are turned away you can get a skirt/shirt for free to cover up, but the line is a good 15-20 minutes so it’s worth it to plan in advance. Tickets to the Grand Palace are expensive, but worth it (500 baht or $17). Budget 1.5 hours.
Thai Massage – We went to the spa at the Silom Village in Bangkok and it cost 330 baht ($10). I’ve seen them for cheaper but this one came recommended by Vicky’s cousins and had a great atmosphere. I’m sure it was considered good – I just didn’t enjoy it.
Reclining Buddha – Budget 30-40 minutes. Tickets come with a free small water.
Lumpini Park – Free
Opening Hours: 04:30 – 21:00
Location: Rama IV Road, Pathumwan
MRT: Silom, Lumphini
How to get there: MRT Subway Silom or Lumphini Stations will drop you right opposite the park.
Note: There are many boats that will take you along the river for cheap or even free if you pretend to be a hotel guest (no one will bother you).