In winter 2011, we had the chance to travel to Asia for our honeymoon. We planed on spending a week enjoying ourselves in Thailand and 3 weeks surfing in an offseason Bali. We spent the 3 first nights in Bangkok a few days before Christmas and that was quite an experience. Bangkok is a huge and animated city with action at every corner : tuk-tuks, street stalls food, luxury malls and knock-off markets.
We stayed at Amari Boulevard Bangkok, they decorated our lovely suite with flower petals and towel-made swans. The hotel was in a small alley, in a central location, a few meters walk from malls, stores, nightlife and the infamous Nana Plaza… The hotel had all the necessary amenities: a rooftop swimming-pool overlooking the city, a sauna, a jacuzzi and a gym. It also offered free transfer from the alley to the main avenue by tuk-tuk. Rooms were well equipped (living room, full kitchen and dining area) and would perfectly suit a longer stay or a couple with a baby. I can only recommend this hotel and its friendly team.
Our first day was dedicated to plain tourism and sightseeing, with the objective of visiting as many temples as possible and being blessed by all the monks around (haha!).
We started with the most important and visited temple in Bangkok: Wat Traimit, the temple of the Golden Buddha, located at the end of Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road and showcasing the world’s largest massive gold Buddha! It measures 5 meters in height and weighing five and a half tons!! Entrance to the temple is free.
Second on the list was the Wat Pho, a temple complex and a massage school that features the Reclining Buddha with 15 meters tall, 46 meters long and 5 meters long feet that are decorated in mother-of-pearl.
You can purchase a bunch of coins at the entrance to drop in the 108 bronze bowls lining besides the wall. The walls themselves are covered in magnificent murals. On the premises of the main temple lay other mini-temples with Buddha statues and some funny looking pillars.
The third and last temple we visited was the Wat Arun, also know as the Temple of Dawn, one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok.
We took the river boat that functions like a river bus on the Chao Phraya. We got a bit confused and missed the station: we got off one station before and had to walk for a long time while trying to reach the temple that was on the other riverside. We had to cross the river from a busy (and safe) bridge, make some detours as we reached closed military areas. At some point and with the post-monsoon heat it got really hot and we felt like melting under the sun.
Our wander got us near some funny city details, like a well equipped boxing ring under a bridge.
The temple itself is a wonder of craftsmanship, it has multiple spires, the taller one is over 70 metres high and is decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain.
You can climb the “pyramids” through steep stairs. Both the climbing and getting down parts were tricky, luckily there is a rail you can hold on to. The view from the highest part is simply beautiful, with an overview of the river and the surrounding temples.
Entrance to the temple was roughly over 20 dh (~$2). To get back to the river boat station
that we missed in the first place you take a shuttle boat that crosses the river back and forth.
To relax from all the sightseeing we spent the evening walking around the city and ended the day in a very special movie theatre located in the very fancy Siam Paragon Mall where we saw Mission Impossible 3. The movie finished a little over 1 a.m. and we decided to get back to our hotel on a tuk-tuk.
The one life gave us was drunk, drove like crazy, almost got us flipped and wanted to take us shopping. We insisted half laughing-half worried that he takes us to our Hotel and that we didn’t want any souvenirs. We arrived safe, with a bit of adrenaline and happy.
Our second day was spent discovering the city and its shopping places. We were recommended to visit a couple of malls: the MBK center that is the largest shopping venture in Bangkok where we drowned under an overwhelming amount of goods (mainly knock-offs and hand-made with some authentic brands here and there), and the Siam Discovery-Siam Paragon a fanciest and an all authentic brands mall. As it was a few days before Christmas and NYE all shopping places had cute decorations.
I was advised against the custom made tailoring (they use some pranks on tourist, selling you the most expensive fabrics and using regular ones for the final products) so I bought an already made suit that I got fitted right there (they can also deliver it at your hotel!). At the Siam Paragon, I got some shoes / clothes from a local brand called Ep, some beauty shopping and some Silk scarfs gifts from Jim Thompson.
We then got back to our hotel to get ready for a bateau mouche dinner. It was a buffet like meal and the boat sailed on the river showcasing the lit monument by its bed side. We were entertained by traditional dances, Thai techno and a music band. Food by itself wasn’t that great but the whole experience was worth it.
For our third and last day we were supposed to get up early and catch a cab to the floating market, but all our walking into the hustling and bustling city got us to oversleep. So we went to the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World instead. When we told the receptionist where we were going, they gave us a discount ticket (told you, best team ever!).
The aquarium is located into the Siam Paragon mall and has a diversity of species. I have already visited Atlanta’s aquarium (which is reputed to be the best in the world), but I still found that one to be pretty interesting and fun, specially with some exclusive experiences like feet-fish spa and shark-seeing through a glass-bottomed boat.
We spent the rest of the day around the Siam complex, had dinner with some Moroccan / Thai friends at a fancy Chinese restaurant and on the road back home stopped at the infamous Nana Plaza metro stop.
We didn’t get inside the red-light district itself, but the surrounding bars and streets were filled with young girls and lady-boys in fancy makeup and party dresses. The spectacle was as colourful as desolating and I felt for the workers and their old, perv clients. We quickly took off back to our hotel and got ready for the second part of our trip Phuket.
Dos and Don’t for your travel in Bangkok
- As soon as you step a foot in the airport you get stalked by some friendly looking “operator tours” they offer some great priced tours but they also take you to shopping places where they push you to buy stuff (jewellery, tailored suits, souvenirs, …) and from where they are commissioned. Some taxis do the same. You can say no, nicely but firmly and go where you choose to go.
- Always bargain, specially in the some fancy jewellery shops. And if you can’t say the difference between a real gem and a piece of glass, avoid going there.
- Never engage in a fight with a Thai. They are always smiling and polite but they almost are all fierce fighters (Thai Boxing rings a bell?).
- Avoid the “red-lights districts” and if you go there, beware of pick-pockets.
- Always keep an eye on your card. Thailand is where the most card frauds are registered.
- Always take advice from your hotel reception counter, they have discount flyers and some great advice about the best way to get everywhere.
- Try public transportations. They are efficient, quick and fun: aerial metro, river boat bus, …
- Keep small change in your pockets for Temple entrance small fees.
- Keep a sarong or big scarf on hands. Most of the temples are cult places that require you cover your shoulders and legs. You can also rent a sarong in most of them.
- Enjoy street food but first check that the locals are eating there and that the lady / man have clean settings.
Bangkok is a lively and exciting city both day and night, enjoy yourself, go shopping and have fun!
Have you ever been to Bangkok? What other things have you experienced? Tell us more on the comment area bellow. Xoxo