Out of the entire trip, Bangkok is the city that pleasantly surprised me the most. We only had 2 days to spend in Bangkok before flying to Phuket – but boy was it not enough. Bangkok is the most dazzling capital city that never sleeps. It has a whizzing whir of people, food carts, skyscrapers, vehicles and even more people. It’s true that Bangkok does not have a lot of tourist attractions like Paris, London or New York, but because of the culture, it doesn’t need to have a lot of things.
As soon as we got off the plane, we took a few trams and the underground to the hotel located in Sukhumvit. Unfortunately I can’t actually remember the name of the hotel – but it was beautiful and had a lovely rooftop swimming pool – perfect after a long day out or for a morning dip.
After finding the hotel and resting for an hour – we decided to get a move on to see as many temples/ attractions as possible.
Cruise Chao Phraya River
After leaving the hotel, we took the sky train to Saphan Taksin and then jumped on a water taxi from Central Pier station. You can ride the water taxi up and down the river for about 20 baht (45p). We went to the end and then came back then voila! You’ve got yourself a cheap river tour. Luckily the rivers and canals are at the heart of Bangkok as the area along the main river used to be the ancient royal district. Because of this, Bangkok’s most famous attractions are located around here. Whilst we were on the water taxi, we saw a woman on a boat trying to sell us items – like they do in the floating markets. We saw quite a few of them actually. We also noticed young boys swimming in the water, (or bathing?) which surprised us as the water was unbelievably dirty and had crocodiles! Brave lads.
We then went to three of the most important temples:
1. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
The Grand Palace is the former home of the monarch and located right next to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. If you have the time, the palace’s grounds contain more than 100 buildings decorated spectacularly with traditional coloured diamonds and gold. The Wat Phra Kaew is regarded by the locals as being the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand
Ticket price: 400 Baht – £9
Estimated time: 2-3 hours.
Opening hours: Everyday 8:30am-3:30pm
What to wear: You must be properly dressed to be allowed entry – e.g. shirts with sleeves/long pants or skirts/shoes (or sandals with socks). If you are improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entry that will provide cover-ups.
2. Wat Pho – The Reclining Buddha
You can either wonder down the street for about 10 minutes or take the ferry to Wat Pho – the amazing gigantic reclining Buddha (as well as the famous Golden Buddha). The sight of it is just breathtaking as it is covered in gold leaf and mother-of-pearl ornaments in his feet. It is 46m long and 15m high. It illustrates Buddha entering death (Nirvana).
The Wat Pho complex fills an entire city blocks – so even though it doesn’t take long to see the reclining Buddha, it might take an hour or so wondering around the temple ground to admire the Chinese statutes that were once used as ballasts on ships. The complex also complains four chapels with around 394 Buddha images and a long line of golden Buddha’s from all over Thailand sitting in lotus positions.
Opening hours: Everyday 8am-5pm
Ticket price: 100 baht – £2.20
Estimated time: 1 hour.
3. Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn
After taking a break and trying out the scrumptious street food around the temple, we crossed the river and jumped on the cross-river ferry from No. 8 Tha Tien to Wat Arun pier (only 3 baht – 7p). This was my favorite temple by far as in the middle of the temple lays a 82m high tower in which you can walk up the steep stairs and admire the view of Bangkok and its rivers. You could also write on some paper they placed on one of the walls so that you could ‘leave your mark’ – as my brother quite happily did.
Ticket price: 100 Baht – £2.20
Estimated time: Around 1-2 hours depending on your fitness levels!
Opening hours: Everyday 8:30am-5:30pm
4. Khao San Road
In the evening, we decided to visit the infamous Khao San Road before calling it a day. This is backpacker capital of the world that was constructed in 1892. Tourists from all over the world come here to find endless bars, shops, street food, international restaurants, vendors and locals. My family and i came here just to sit outside and watch the hustle and bustle of the streets and people watch! The energy really is addictive.
We then went back to the hotel, slept, woke up – dipped in the pool and then went on our merry way to Phuket.
If you have more time, these are the places I highly recommend going to:
Visit the Floating Market
If you get the chance, you can enjoy a half-day visit to the floating markets around the city (Khlong Lat Mayom and Thaling Chan are the two most popular). I recommend going as early as possible to avoid the crowd.
Chinatown in Bangkok is like a massive feast street. You can go shopping here and buy lots of useless souvenirs. GO for a walk through the narrow streets and beautiful buildings in China Town and just watch the lift on the streets. The food here is definitely worth trying out if you do get a chance.
Watch an authentic Muay Thai fight
Muay Thai is famous in Thailand and Thais take that sport seriously! It’s a combat sport involving striking and clinching. I saw this in Phuket but its most likely the touristy one. If I was to return, I definitely want to watch an authentic match with world-class fighters in Bangkok at Rajadamnern Stadium.
Check out the Chatuckhak Market
This weekend market is definitely worth the visit if you have more time. It’s the size of a football field and can be very crowded. However, you will find anything and everything here – from fake design bags/clothes to kitchenware, pets, food etc.