Hello dear readers!
Guess who’s back?!
I’ve spent the last 3 weeks out there exploring Thailand with my boyfriend, and although I’m slowly getting back to my usual routine, it still feels kind of surreal.
At the same time, I’m so happy that I can finally add a travel-related post to my blog! I really love discovering new countries and different cultures and I hope that the places I visited and my experiences will inspire and guide you if you are planning to go on an adventure too!
So, during our trip, we’ve explored Bangkok, Phuket and the surrounding area, and also spent a few nights on Phi Phi Island; but I feel I had to write a separate post focusing on Bangkok because there is just so much to write about! I will also be uploading another post about our stay in Phuket and Phi Phi Island soon, so stay tuned! I’ve divided this post into different sections so it’s easier to follow, so just scroll down whenever you’re ready! 😉
EXPLORING BANGKOK CITY
I spend most of my time in London and lived in Brazil for 6 years, so I thought I’d be able to handle a big, hot, busy city like Bangkok easily…but boy, was I wrong!
Bangkok is a completely different kind of busy compared to other big cities I’ve visited. Imagine it like a big anthill with plenty of narrow streets that are loaded with merchants setting up their booths and food stalls early in the morning, tourists, schoolgirls and monks wandering up and down. Interestingly, we seemed to be able to walk through the most narrow streets without actually touching or bumping into another person. It’s so different from London, where people don’t mind stepping on your foot or even occasionally elbowing each other to make their way through. It’s such a welcome change!
The first attraction we visited in Bangkok was Grand Palace, which was built in 1782 and functioned as the Royal Family’s residence for about a 150 years. It is probably the most famous place in Bangkok and definitely a must-see. Because it is considered a sacred site, there is a very strict dress code in place, and visitors must make sure to have their shoulders, legs and feet covered before entering the premises. Of course, this is not always easy with the scorching sun and heat in Bangkok, so if you do show up in a tank top and shorts, worry not! There is a booth before the entrance that rents out clothing for a small deposit (be prepared to walk around in an oversized, bright shirt or skirt though!).
The Grand Palace is probably one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. Seriously. Upon entering the Palace, you are hit with immense walls, statues and buildings of shining golden, red and green tones. To think that a place as big as this was built by humans thousands of years ago is almost unimaginable, as is the amount of work and details that went into the design of it. There are not just buildings and temples, but also big, impressive statues of mythological creatures and walls with beautiful drawings telling stories about the past. Walking around, the colours and designs constantly change, and one can spend hours exploring and admiring every single bit of it.
There are also a number of other temples scattered throughout Bangkok that are also worth visiting, and after the Grand Palace we went on to see the Wat Pho, home of the Reclining Buddha, as well as Wat Mahatat, the temple where royal ceremonies usually take place. I was looking forward to visiting Wat Arun as well but unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance works.
All in all, there are more than 40 temples in Bangkok, so I recommend doing some research and decide beforehand which ones are worth visiting!
FOOD & MARKETS
Of course I can’t write about visiting Bangkok without mentioning the food!
Thai food is renowned around the world for it’s exotic dishes featuring ingredients like lemongrass, fruit and coconut milk. Whenever we felt hungry, we would look out for a small food market somewhere and sit down at one of the booths for a quick meal. Most of these smaller stalls offer a simple menu with rice or noodles, soups, a variety of meat such as seafood, chicken or beef and also vegetable dishes. The food is simple but incredibly tasty, with very decent portions, and most of the time we would not pay more than £5 for the both of us – including drinks! Of course there are also proper sit-down restaurants, but if you are looking for a quick, tasty bargain, then the street food is definitely the right choice for you!
Next up we visited Chatuchak Weekend Market, which, as the name already says, is open only on weekends. There are over 15000 different shops and stalls, selling all sort of goods from Thailand. It was a particularly hot and sunny day though, so we ended up not going through the whole market, which is 27 acres big. However, we did get some coconut ice-cream, traditionally served in a coconut with a side of sweet sticky rice. Yummy!
ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE BANGKOK
If the crazy Bangkok life gets a bit overwhelming, there is an option of visiting some famous sites outside the city. They tend to be a lot less crowded and well…busy. On our third day, we took a taxi to Bangkoks train station, where there is a small travel center that offers some tours for attractions outside of Bangkok. Basically, you get assigned a taxi driver that will bring you to the different temples and ruins that you would like to visit (you get a leaflet with all places and descriptions). He then waits there while you explore and then takes you to the next stop. The tour last from approximately 11 am until 5 pm, but of course you can drive back earlier if you like.
The drive to the first temple took us about 1.30 hours, and we surely were grateful for the A/C in the car because it was another hot, sunny day in Thailand. We visited about 3 temples before stopping at a small pseudo-floating market with an adjacent elephant trekking place to get some lunch. We also did a short elephant trekking trip to get a better view of some of the ruins and cuddled with an enormous, adult elephant afterwards!
The last temple we visited was the famous Wat Mahathat. The site used to be temple but was left in ruins after the Burmese invaded and attacked it in 1767. While walking around we noticed that all the Buddhas were missing their heads, which was the act of vandalism by the Burmese troops. However, there is one Buddha head left that makes this place so famous. Somehow, that one head ended up entwined in a tree, making it one of the most iconic images on brochures and posters of Thailand. No one really knows how it ended up there; some think the tree simply grew around it. Another theory suggests that a thief might have taken the head and tried to hide it near the tree. Whichever is true, it surely is a stunning picture, able to tell a story without the need of words.
Obviously, this trip wouldn’t have been a proper adventure if it weren’t for an occasional incident! While on our way back to Bangkok, our taxi suddenly broke down in the middle of the highway. There was a strong smell of gas so we went out of the car and quickly took shelter under a tree on the field besides the highway. Clumsy as I am, I made a wrong step and ended up burying my right food ankle deep in mud! After laughing his head off, the bf kindly helped me clean my foot with some of the water we had brought along. In the meantime, our taxi driver would occasionally wave at us and say “5 more minutes” while trying to cool down the engine with water, but after almost 40 minutes, we were still on the same place. We took it with humour and stayed “Jai Yen” (cool hearted) about it, as there was nothing we could have done anyway. In the end, a different taxi came to pick us up and we made it back to Bangkok safely. Phew!
Last But Not Least…SHOPPING!
I’m sure this part will please all my fellow shopaholics out there…!
Shopping malls are a big thing in Bangkok. In fact, they’re everywhere, and there’s a different one for every need. If you are on the lookout for stylish, yet cheap clothing, Union Mall and Platinum Mall are the places to visit, where you will find hundreds of stalls distributed on multiple floors that sell all kinds of clothes, shoes and accessories. But if you fancy some Western luxury brands such as Gucci or Yves Saint Laurent, you can check out Siam Paragon or Central Plaza for example. Be warned though – the malls are incredibly big and sometimes a bit hard to navigate, with some of them having more than 5 floors, so going for a shopping trip in Bangkok can easily take up a whole day!
Next to – or rather inside one Mall there is also the Sea Life Aquarium that is really worth a visit. There were all sorts of sea creatures, jellyfish, penguins and even sharks swimming above our heads as we walked along the underground aquarium, so it’s great fun especially for children.
We went to some of the more high end malls where I looked out for some skincare products and make-up. I ended up getting a facemask and a cushion compact from Sulwhasoo as well as a liquid blush from Majolica Majorca, as well as some masks from Skinfood, but all that will be on a different post!
All in all, we spent 4 nights in Bangkok, and while I feel we did a good job in visiting some of the most iconic tourist places while still seeing what the “authentic” life in Bangkok is like, there are still plenty of places we haven’t seen and which would probably require a longer stay to be explored thoroughly. At the same time, we felt somehow relieved when we boarded our flight to Phuket, mainly because exploring a city as big and as crazy as Bangkok during the monsoon heat seriously drained us. However, I really loved exploring this buzzing, lively city, learning about the ancient culture and visiting sacred places that reflect just how deep-rooted and important Buddhism is in Thailand.
So, this was my little adventure in Bangkok!
Have you visited Thailand or are you planning too? Make sure to leave me a line in the comment section if you have any question or comment, I would love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading and have an awesome Saturday everyone!