Arriving in Bangkok
The city features two airports:
- Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), unofficially known as Bangkok's airport.
Make sure to double check your connections, since the two airports are NOT close to each other (they're about 1 hour distance if you get on a taxi). I was arriving from Europe in BKK and almost booked a flight to Chiang Mai from DMK!
When you arrive
Bangkok can get pretty overwhelming very fast. Your options from the airport are getting an UBER or a GRAB, getting on a VAN/BUS (there is a new shuttle bus that connects BBK to Khao San Road, for example) or getting in line for a cab (which can take a long time).
When should you visit
The best period to visit this area of Thailand is in late November to January.
I personally visited in late October and early November. It rained a lot just before I arrived and the roads were flooded, but during my stay the weather was pretty ok (hot during the day but not THAT HOT, slightly chilly at night).
How long should you stay?
I heard complete different opinions about Bangkok. Some of my friends think that 1-2 days are enough to explore and some others consider 2 weeks not enough time.
The truth for me is that being Bangkok one of the busiest cities in the world (the second for highest traffic after Mexico City) it will take you some time to get around, visit the temples and arrive to the main attractions around town, like the floating market and the railway market.
I'd say 4 days is a good compromise and realistically you'll be able to see most of the famous spots in town (+ consider 1/2 days to visit Ayutthaya).
To me Bangkok wasn't beautiful, but I'm glad I visited because there are some true gems in town.
WHAT TO DO
Keep in mind that I base my trips on the question "Where can I get the best photos"?
So after doing careful research and experiencing Bangkok in person, here's my take on what I think you shouldn't miss!
Walk around Pak Khlong Talat - the Flower and Fruit Market
Get lost at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
What I didn't like about this market:
Since I visited Bangkok on my way back from Cambodia, this market felt a little too unauthentic to me: our boat trip through the canals ended being just a "shops' tour", with locals constantly trying to sell us stuff. It was extremely touristic BUT still worth it.
What I liked about this market:
My mini-tour included a little motorboat trip through the real floating houses as well, which was way more interesting than the main tour.
Also, the "food" section of the market had a very good vibe compared to the shops' section, and was extremely photogenic.
Watch the train running through the Maeklong Railway Market
Even though it's situated 80 km out of Bangkok (in the Samut Songkhram region) and it takes more than an hour to get there, I honestly recommend you to visit this awesome market. It was by far the most incredible experience I've had in Bangkok. You just have to SEE this.
What's unique about this market? Multiple times during the day, when they hear the horn, vendors start pulling their tends back and move their goods away from the track in order to allow the train to pass. The market literally transforms and dwindles. When the train passes, some of the food is literally run over by the train, as you can see from the pictures.
I booked a private tour to get to the location, since I was short on time. I wish I could stay longer since this place is extremely fascinating.
Shop till you drop
Bangkok is THE mecca for shopping: from local markets to luxury city malls, people from all over the world go on a weekend pilgrimage to shop (and eat) in Bangkok.
MALLS: I personally visited Terminal 21, which is a funny mall where you can enter different world's cities and vibes in every floor and corner, and EmQuartier, the heart of luxury shopping in the Sukhumvit area.
On my last day I also wandered around Siam Square, the trendiest area of Bangkok, which doesn't only offer the classical malls but also little street shops that reminded me very much of Europe.
Matchbox PinkPlanter-Siam Square
MARKETS: Besides the train and floating markets which I already talked about, one evening I hanged out with some friends met in Chiang Mai at The New Rot Fai Market Ratchad (the picture below is from Living Nomads).
From tech accessories to street food, this place was truly cool... even though the vendors kept telling us we were "too big" for their sizes so we couldn't buy (or even try!!!) any clothes. Too bad. Sorry if I don't fit an XXS, Thailand.
My friends tried any different kind of insects but I didn't feel like getting sick (for any reason) before going to Dubai, so I preferred avoiding it.
CHINATOWN: too bad I didn't spend a lot of time here, but I managed to walk around Yaowarat Road one evening and get some great shots!
Should you really visit Khao San Road?
Yes, if you're in Bangkok to party, to rock the night out or to get f***** up. ("The Hangover" anybody?)
No, if you are looking for meaningful inspiration (if you ask me).
I'm not that much of a party girl (not anymore at least), so I didn't have any crazy night in Khao San, but I happened to randomly be there twice to eat (real food, not insects FYI). The street looks pretty ok during the day and tends to get crazier once it gets darker.
A couple tips:
CRAZY FOOD: There will be plenty of vendors asking you to try spiders and scorpions. Up to you guys. Thai people don't really eat that stuff, it's just a touristic thing.
PING PONG SHOWS: in Khao San Road there'll be plenty of tuk-tuk drivers offering to take you to a ping pong show (which is *disclaimer* a show where ladies perform crazy things with their va-jay-jay and often have sex in the weirdest and saddest ways). Avoid them. Just trust me on this one.
Looking for Fancy Coffee Shops?
Apparently Bangkok is pretty big on coffee shops as well! Some areas, like Thonglor, have dozens of them. There's literally one for everybody's taste.
The ones I stopped by during my visit were:
- Pink Planter Cafe, a tropical (and obviously very pink!) bar on the 3rd floor of Matchbox PinkPlanter, in the heart of Siam Square. This place features very photogenic and "instagrammable" ice creams and milkshakes, so I wasn't surprised to find 3 other bloggers there when I visited ;)
Pink Planter Cafe (3rd Floor Matchbox)
- Big Knit Cafe (Sukhumvit Area), a creative and inspiring place which is both a restaurant and yarn shop. Clients can learn to saw and embroider helped by a professional teacher, or simply sit in the comfortable living room sipping on a tea and enjoying the vibes.
- Unicorn Cafe, a crazy must see in Silom. The menu includes galaxy drinks, rainbow spaghetti, unicorn burgers and much more!
Relax at Perception-Blind Massage
A true Thailand experience can't be considered complete without having a great massage.. or a million massages. As you prefer ;)
After getting several massages in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya, in Bangkok I wanted to experience something different so I headed over to Perception Blind Massage (which, LOL, is around the corner from the Unicorn Cafe).
This place is very inspiring since it provides employment to blind or visually impaired therapists. My therapist was extremely sweet and did an amazing job.
The environment was a little too cold and loud for me (blame it on other tourists), and prices were a little above normal, but I'm really happy I went since the structure benefits an excellent cause.
The astonishing temples of Bangkok: Wat Arun and Wat Pho
Shame on me, since I spent a lot of time visiting temples in the rest of Thailand I didn't focus too much on Bangkok's ones, but I should have!
I managed to visit Wat Pho and I was blown away by its beauty and sophisticated decorations.
For some mysterious reason, standing in front of the massive and majestic Reclining Buddha was one of the most profound and touching experiences I've ever had. I wasn't expecting it at all, but the depth (and lenght- 46 meters!) of this statue really moved me.
After visiting Wat Pho, I decided to have dinner at Eat Sight Story to wait for Wat Arun to be lighted up (around 7.30 pm). This deck has a wonderful view on the temple and some of the best food I've had in Thailand. Try the spring rolls, they're simply delicious! ;)
Ayutthaya- the city of temples
Head to Hua Lamphong Rail Station to get on a train to the historical city of temples, the ancient and fascinating Ayutthaya, just 80 km from Bangkok.
I'll talk more about this incredible place in my next article!
For my visit in Bangkok I partnered up with Shama Apartments and decided to stay in the Sukhumvit Area, which is extremely central and very close to the BTS line (it's gonna be your best friend due to the craziness of Bangkok's traffic, believe me!).
Key facts about Shama Sukhumvit:
39/1 Soi Sukhumvit 2, Sukhumvit road, Klongtoey, Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand
Serviced apartments with fully-equipped kitchen, modern rooms, outdoor swimming pool
Phloen Chit BTS Station (600 m), Nana BTS Station (400 m), Suvarnabhumi International Airport (27 km)
Bumrungrad International Hospital (900 m), EmQuartier - The EM District (2.5 km), Terminal 21 mall (1.5 km)
Free WiFi, Shama Den, Shama Kids, Gym
"Live Without Boundaries" is the motto of Shama: on my arrival a Thai language card with basic Thai phrases was immediately given to me. Just close to the reception, a very nice tour guide was ready to illustrate to me the best Bangkok's hidden gems and must-sees.
One of the things I appreciated the most about Shama is that is involved in different charity projects which include local donations to foundations in needs and also a personal project, Plan B, where they sell organic honey from Krabi at their front desk to promote entrepreneurship in an impoverished area and to conserve the Asian honeybee population.
To me, staying in an apartment instead of a hotel was a game-changer during my time in Bangkok. To able to have my own washing machine (with a dose of detergent) in the room made me sooo happy, since I was arriving from a long trip and just wanted to relax while cleaning my clothes. Also having a huge refrigerator and a full-furnished kitchen was such a joy!
To have a virtual tour click HERE!
The breakfast buffet was HUGE. Probably one of the most well-furnished and diverse I've ever seen. It featured dishes from Thai, Indian, Arab, Chinese cusines and many many more. On site, a chef was also available to have fresh meals cooked in front of us.
My favorite feature was indeed the terrace's infinity pool! Isn't this amazing? Do you prefer the view by night or by day? ;)
My only tip, if you are staying in this area, is to remember that in Soy 4 you'll find the red-light district of Bangkok, so make sure you get into the hotel by Soy 2, especially if you're with children.
That's all folks! I hope you enjoyed discovering Bangkok with me! If you liked article, don't forget to PIN IT :) See you on the next post!