Bangkok, the first stage of a long journey through Thailand
Bangkok then is special! Its chaos never upsets me… I’m so charmed by it that I do my best to arrange a stopover during every trip to Asia.
My first trip to Thailand was with my brother, in January 2007. The first trip together as adults and only for this it was worth it. I liked both the country and its capital, so much that I went back many times.
We took a bright pink taxi outside the airport and the adventure began, between hysterical laughter and even a bit of fear for the reckless driving – obviously on the left. Not to think too much on the crazy slalom that seemed to entertain both our driver and my brother, I focused on the dash, dotted with Buddhist amulets and several wreaths flowers and his pictures during Muay Thai trainings. A whole world …
After about half an hour in heavy and noisy traffic we arrived in a small and quiet street with low houses. Just what I wanted to feel on vacation. The Samsen 5 Lodge is nothing more than a small house on one floor, with only three rooms decorated with beautiful local handicrafts. The owner is very friendly and helpful and the Pier 18 within walking distance, just down the street.
What to visit in Bangkok
I won’t bore you with descriptions of temples, monuments and sites in the city because you can find this kind of information in any guide, but I want to suggest some visits not to be missed:
The Grand Palace, absolutely awesome for glitz, beauty, size and while spirituality
The Wat Pho, with its huge reclining Buddha and one of the most popular massage centers around the country. Prices are a bit higher than average and the living space scarce, but well worth a try at least once. The herbal massages are special and if you are interested, you can also enroll in 7 or 15 days master.
While visiting the house is practically impossible not to imagine the daily life of those who lived here, the parties, the official receptions and secret conversations … walking along the corridors in gleaming teak was like moving between the pages of a historic novel.
We spent a beautiful morning in this palace moved from overseas following a simple fantastic whim …
Excursions around Bangkok
We left Bangkok on the first train in the morning and the trip lasted about two hours and was worth the € 0.25 ticket 😛 also because it is a journey within a journey, but for details, I suggest you read my interview for the Italian blog Bassa Velocità.
The boats are ideal, fast and scenic.
I wouldn’t recommend the tuk-tuk, both because of the smog and the erratic fares and frequent scams (something rather rare in the north of the country). However, if you decide to get one, I recommend you negotiate the price before boarding it.
Taxis are quick, too quick to be honest, and downtown follow a time fare you can then check on the way. Taxis at the airport have a fixed rate based on the destination and everything must be arranged and paid for at the counter in charge of it.
If you have time, try to walk from one temple to another to live Bangkok more intensely.
Where to eat
Well, hygiene doesn’t always respects our standards, especially that of kiosks offering finger food along the busiest roads, but I can only tell you that in places frequented by Thai I always ate very well and for really small sums of money. I did not attend any venue in the district of Banglamphu, but there are countless and somehow overly touristy (ideal to have western boys and girls getting drunk). The only disappoint dinner I had was in fusion style restaurant in Silom Road.
The best dinner, during my second solo trip however, was the one I had in a “restaurant” en plein air under an overpass that had never hosted a western person before me. I had been treated like a queen 😀 the main and only dish consisted of soup cooked at the table on a tiny individual terracotta braziers and at the end of the meal you pay only the ingredients you actually used. I loved it!
Except personal dislikes, don’t miss them! Among this first stage and the various subsequent stays in Thailand I’ve tried all the options and my favorite is the foot massage I’ve every night after dinner since my arrival in Bangkok. Massages are very cheap and last more or less 45 to 60 minutes. In tourist areas like Banglamphu it happens to walk beside chairs for foot massages for hundreds of meters …
I did not shop in Bangkok, except for my iPhone purchased in the Apple Store at the Emporium in Sukhumvit because of a super offer, but the options are almost limitless, both from the point of view of the location and of the budget. From markets in China Town to maxi mall in Silom Road, from shocking Weekend Market and the tourist stalls in the evening in Banglamphu.
If your itinerary includes the north of Thailand, I suggest you put off shopping to the markets of Chiang Rai.
P.S. The hairdressers in Ayutthaya costs nothing… to give my brother the look of a monk she asked only a few bath 😉
Where to stay
As for shopping, also with regard to accommodation Bangkok offers it all. If you’re like me and to feel on vacation you need micro hotels as local and traditional as possible, I can only commend the Samsen 5 Lodge described at the beginning of the post. Another place I really liked is the Be My Guest B & B, in a very popular and very authentic district.