Bangkok Tour – Waking up
Bangkok Tour Guide in November 2019
We wake up with the noise of the fan; it’s hot, humid, and sticky. Where am I? – I am confused. It takes me a minute to remember that I am in Thailand.
At the Aloft Bangkok, as in many hotels in Thailand, breakfast is included. But you have to make it downstairs before 11 am. What sounds like an easy task, it’s quite a mission after a 20+ hour flight, 14h time difference, jet lag, and many Chang beers – side note, this light, the bubbly refreshing cheap elixir will quickly become the unofficial sponsor of this trip.
It is around 8 am. I am tired, as tired as when I opened my eyes. They burn as I slowly open them. Coffee is much needed. I make some and head down to the gym; I will try to go for a quick run to kick this off. Outside is the pool; it looks amazing.
Quick 5k run on the treadmill, and I make it back to the room, grab the wife, and we head down for breakfast. It is freaking awesome, espresso machine, guava, pineapple, smoothies, eggs, pastries, all included. Fresh, colorful, delicious paradise.
Something I will come to learn is the fruit in Thailand is at a different level. We get ready to head out; the plan is to explore.
Unintended ride to Wat Pho
There is a city loop that the Lonely Planet guide suggests to check out. It starts at Silpakorn University, the fine arts school walk to What Pra and Grand Palace. Check out the map below with all our stops in Bangkok for reference.
We need to get to the first stop, Silpakorn University. We ask the front desk for a cab to get there, he gently waves one for us, the guy gets here he tells him where we are headed, we get in the car and say hi. I immediately noticed the drive’s English is no bueno. We start moving, he drives through tight alleys, around bikes, chats with other cabbies out the window, we are moving quickly. I show him the map and try to say “Sipalkorn University.” He responds, “Wat Phoooo…” (long stretch “o” at the end of the word). We start rushing through tiny streets, more bikes, more people, more pollution. It’s hot.
The guy shows us a sticky map with tour offers. They do that a lot here. I say no, thank you, Silpakorn, please. He says again, Wat Phooooooo… shit are we in trouble?
We keep driving through alleys, tuck tucks, tourists until we get to a place. Parks next to a tall white wall, the guy turns around and looks at me and says. Wat Phooooo. I smile, and I say it back to him, extending the O as much as I can. He liked it. We tip him and get off the car. We will use this joke throughout the trip.
The energy of the city is impressive. People everywhere. Groups of tourists walking in packs, locals carrying shit, kids in school uniforms full the sidewalks, street vendors, cars, and motorcycles. People waiving at you, offering massage, massage, massage! – It’s polluted. An exhaust stink that stays in your throat until you forget about it. Reminds me of Santiago, Chile.
Remember that weird feeling I mentioned while getting off the plane? It is back -Three more weeks of this?
City Walk: Ko Ratanakosin Stroll
It’s getting hotter. More people everywhere, a sea of Chinese tourists getting off tour buses, umbrellas everywhere, it’s chaotic, is busy, it’s overwhelming, did I mention is hot?
We swing uphill like salmon against the current, umbrellas all around right at our eye level, poking our faces while we fight to make it to the next stop. It’s around; it’s11 am late, probably our fault. We should have come here earlier.
As we get into the palace, we find out that we need to cover up before getting any go the temple, I am wearing shorts – I have to buy some Thai pants to get in. They sell them right there, how convenient.
We see buddas crowded temples, crowded plazas, crowded streets; it’s exhausting, overwhelming but worth it. Would I do it again? Probably not.
The best part of the day Tuk Tuk back to the hotel
We are ready to head back, and I feel we have seen enough. The plan is now to eat and shower. We talk to a guy outside of the Palace, he gives us a price, and we are off. He has a freaking fast Tuk Tuk. He charges hard, pedal to the metal, we pass cars and tuk-tuks full with tourists racing back to the Sukhumvit. Fun, speed charged fun. On the one hand, we could have died; on the other, it was freaking fun.
Final day in BKK
After the whole trip was over, we booked one final night in Bangkok to rest up before heading back home. We take it easy and check the final tourist traps. This time we stay at the Marriott Hotel The Surawongse; most of our visit to Thailand was paid off with points. Perhaps I’ll write a post on how to wrack those to pay for vacations. But I feel there is enough info out there to do that. Thailand is a great place to exchange points, as you can get some kick-ass hotels for fewer points than you would need, at least in the US.
The Marriott Hotel The Surawongse did not disappoint. I wish we had more time to spend it there below some glamour shots from the pool.
Do’s and Don’t in Bangkok
- Ko Ratanakosin Stroll
- Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace – be prepared it is crowded
- Wat Pho – not horribly crowded, probably the nicest place
- Rooftop Bar – We had dinner at Lebua, pricey but great
- Japanese food – Tsu at Marriott JW, best sushi I ever had.
- Get a pedicure – just search on yelp, you will not regret
- Get a massage – same.
- Local Walking Markets, there are all over the place.
- Silpakorn University – skip
- Trok tha Wang – just poke your head in, don’t bother walking into crowded trap – skip
- Wat Mahathat – skip
- Amulet Market – your call
- Thammasat University – skip
- Sanam Luang “The Royal fields”- the hottest place on earth, nothing to see – skip
- Wat Arun – we missed it.
10 Lessons Learned in Bangkok
- Be open-minded; it will be very different from what you know. Keep your eyes open, be careful but not paranoid; it’s a pretty safe place. Explore!
- Tuk Tuks are a great place to move around; you have to try it!
- It will be hot, stinky, and polluted, but you will get used to it.
- Thailand is not Bangkok; this is just the first stop. Trust me; it gets better.
- When doing the Ko Ratanakosin Stroll, get there early. Anything past 10 is, you will be like a salmon swimming uphill against the current.
- Get some Thai pants; wrapping a towel around your waist will not do it. There is actually fashion police that kicks you out of the temple if you do this. You will use these through your visit.
- If you can, read a bit about the temples. Pretty straight forward, takeovers, tribes moved around, the big palace and now a Kingdom.
- Be respectful of the King. You could end up in jail if you mess anything with the King’s image. Not my rules, you’ve been warned.
- There are temples everywhere; pick a few. You don’t have to see them all.
- Would you like to see Bangkok, alleys, and like he says, “all it has to offer” check out this ExPat CB Media dude – living and Vlogging from there.
Now off to the next stop, the North of Thailand.
Do you have plans to go to Bangkok soon? Have a question? Feel free to leave a message in the comment section below. You know the drill, like, comment share.
4 thoughts on “A non backpacker traveling guide to Thailand: Bangkok”
Love the map with all of the pinned places cause it can be tough to plan your day without knowing where things are located. Can’t wait to check Thailand out for ourselves.
Thanks Stijn! yeah takes a bit to build those, but I think is a good way to show people where are those places so they can see em them selves 🙂