I’d heard plenty of opinions about Bangkok before we visited. “There’s nothing to do”,”It’s full of prostitutes and pingpong shows”, “There’s protests everywhere”, “It’s the best city in the world”. We decided to stay in Bangkok for the last few days of our belated honeymoon trip to Burma and Thailand back in December. I thought we would enjoy it, but I wasn’t expecting to fall completely in love with the city in just a few days! Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect from Bangkok other than a nice hotel and a bit of market shopping. I found a city that was cosmopolitan, stylish, happy and very liveable. I am now seriously wondering why I didn’t look for a job in Bangkok instead of Beijing… 🙂 I know this post is kind of weird timing but I wanted to take the time to reflect on why I loved visiting Bangkok and definitely want to return.
How to fall in Love with Bangkok in three days
Day one- Weekend Market, Soi Ari and Fancy Cocktails
We arrived on a Saturday evening and did little but eat amazing veggie Thai food and take in the atmosphere of the city. On our first full day (Sunday) we were up early and off to the weekend market (Chatuchak Market)! Wow- how I wish we had this market in Beijing! If you have been to Chatuchak then you will understand why! If you haven’t been, just know it stocks everything! Cute (and very cheap) clothes, awesome home ware and accessories, foodfoodfood, even pets! We spent hours walking around and could easily have stayed longer!
After shopping ourselves out we headed over to the Soi Ari area to eat more amazing food and chill out with a coffee. I can’t deny we are alway interested in looking for cool areas with nice cafes and restaurants. We definitely found it in Soi Ari. We liked the area so, after popping back to our hotel on the sky train and changing into the new clothes bought at the market, we found ourselves back at Soi Ari eating amazing international food and sipping fancy cocktails at Fat Bird! I want to go back there!
Day Two- Temples and VIP Cinema Trips
After our hipster, international night out, we woke up late and thought we’d better experience a temple or two! Of course, we had to stop for some pad thai first so we only made it to one temple– Wat Pho. I’m not always the biggest fan of the large, touristy temples but I did really like this one. It was huge with so many different areas and I liked that there were people from all over the world visiting. The only thing I did not like was the famous reclining Buddha! Honestly, it was just too packed in there and it made for an uncomfortable experience. We nearly didn’t bother going in but thought we should as it’s a ‘must see’. I wish we hadn’t bothered. I was forced to put on a stinky robe to cover up my legs (even though I was wearing knee length shorts. I noticed no men had to cover up their calves) and I was jostled and pushed and told that there were pickpockets lurking everywhere. Great! It kind of spoiled the temple visit for me so I seriously recommend you skip it if it’s really crowded. I’m sure it’s lovely on quieter days.
After heading down to the river and a brief stop by Khao San road (no real need to visit there in my opinion) we decided we felt like seeing some Christmas lights and watching a film. We had randomly bumped into two of my colleagues in the metro station and they told us about the Bangkok Airways VIP cinema at the Paragon Mall. They said it was definitely a worthwhile experience. And they were right. We splashed out on the VIP cinema experience and got to enjoy a special lounge, free massages, drinks and popcorn delivered to our huge reclining seats and pillows and blankets. Another notable Thai cinema moment was standing for the national anthem. I remember doing this in the UK at the theatre when I was really young, but that practise stopped long ago. Not in Thailand where the King is extremely important. If you’re not on a tight budget, I would really recommend the luxury Thai cinema experience at least once! Also, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a pretty good travel film and definitely ignited (even) more wanderlust in me. Greenland and Iceland in the summer anyone?
Day Three- Parks and Massages
We couldn’t leave Thailand without getting an awesome Thai massage. Everyone needs to have their legs walked on by a tiny Thai woman at least once. We had more amazing pad thai and then walked down to Lumpini park. Was that a dragon slithering through the grass? The photos don’t do justice to the size of the huge lizards roaming around the park. It was a lovely end to our stay in Bangkok. We flew back to Beijing that evening and definitely hope to return some day.
The Secret to Loving Bangkok?
I’d heard a few people say they didn’t really care much for Bangkok. I think part of the reason we loved it so much was because we didn’t try to do a lot of touristy things. We did things we would do if we were actually living there– eat great food (both local and international), visit markets, parks and cinemas, drink tea and coffee and explore fun neighbourhoods! We also stayed in a cool, boutique hotel in a more residential area (It’s called Tenface if you fancy trying it). They offer a tuktuk service but we really enjoyed walking through the streets whilst picking out which apartment block we would live in! I could seriously see myself living in Bangkok. I don’t know if it would really be a viable option for us, but I certainly have a new city love and want to return one day!
Did I not mention the weather? Sun and warmth- perfect.
Boots! Not the kind you wear on your feet but the British pharmacy/beauty store. I was able to stock up on beauty products from home, some of which were cheaper than the UK!
Not so good things
Honestly, the seedy side didn’t bother me because we rarely saw it up close. Other than one night when we purposely walked around looking for ladyboys, old white men dating young Thai girls and seeing how many offers for pingpong shows we could get, I didn’t feel like the underbelly of Bangkok really encroached on me. And besides, whilst I am obviously concerned about human trafficking that might happen in Bangkok, other peoples choices on how they run their sex lives, who they date or how they make their money don’t bother me! Each to their own! For me, the worst part of Bangkok was seeing child beggars. That was sad, especially when they had clearly been planted by adults (one boy strategically had his hair tied back and wore no shirt, to show off scars on his face and body). I never give money to child beggars as I don’t believe it helps. In 3 days there wasn’t much I could do about any of this but I would definitely consider how I could have a positive impact if I was ever to return for longer period of time.
What do you think of Bangkok? Which city have you fallen in love with in just a few days?