The Delights of Traveling: Bangkok, Thailand
The Delights of Traveling: Bangkok, Thailand
You either love it or you hate it. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. I can't quite a finger on why I love this city so much, but I do. For a big city in Southeast Asia, I quite enjoy it compared to the others. I had to privilege of living there for a while and you would think that because my opinion of Kuala Lumpur was so strong towards the negative, I wouldn't enjoy it.
I have been to Bangkok quite a few times in different situations. I went with my family and stayed in a nice hotel, went on my own and stayed in the a hostel, and actually lived there and each time fell in love with the city even more. When you are just traveling in a place for a few days, you always tend to go to the touristy places because that is what is recommended to you. However, when you live there, you start going to the local joints and really get to know the people who live in the city.
I really am not one for crazy schedules when I travel, I tend to go with the flow when it comes to my plans. However, when I went the first time with my family, our days were literally planned down to the second. And as tedious as that was, I did appreciate it because I was able to see everything in a short amount of time. One of my favorite things when I went was the Chatuchak weekend market, so I have to say if you want to go to Bangkok, definitely go on the weekend so you can experience it. They sell everything from typical traveler beer shirts to pet supplies. I gotta say I definitely bought too much stuff that I really did not need. Another type of "market" that I really enjoyed was Asiatique. You can access it by road or by boat and most of the shops that are there are artisanal markets where people actually make things on the spot and there are also local restaurants and beer gardens where you can enjoy live music. There is also a theater there where you can watch a live show or a Muay Thai show.
For those backpackers who enjoy a drink or two, there are ample places to grab a drink. Khao San Road is a mecca for bucket drinkers and laughing gas takers, if you are very aware of Hangover 2, you would probably recognize that street. Just don't be like them please, because reality is definitely not like the movies. So, just be careful. Over the past few years, there have also been a emergence of hidden bars and craft beers joints. One of my favorites is Hair of the Dog, they have over 15 beers on tap and they actually let you try them all if you have no clue about beer, like me. Another place that I really enjoy is W District, which is basically like a fancy food court with multiple beer gardens and it is a great place to see a good mix of locals and expats that are living in Bangkok.
Food wise, I don't think I spent more than $2 on any meal because as much as restaurants are everywhere, the street food is by far the best in Southeast Asia. Where I was living, you could get a solid bowl of noodles for about $1 and it really filled you up. One of my favorite things to do in the city is just wander around and try all of the street food that was available.
I am not the biggest fan of taking taxis in Bangkok because I feel like you would probably get somewhere quicker walking than if you were to take a taxi. That is the one thing that isn't really the best in Bangkok, the traffic is absolutely horrendous. My suggestion is to either walk everywhere or take the BTS, or if you're adventurous try Grab bike. It actually is the funniest thing I have ever seen, it is like Grab or Uber, but instead of a car coming to pick you up, it is a motorbike.
I feel like for all young travelers that I have met along the way, getting a tattoo in Southeast Asia is like a right of passage. I mean, believe me, I have got quite a few. Anyway, the reason that I was living in Bangkok is because I trained to become a tattoo artist, so I have to say that one of the best places to get a tattoo is Bangkok Ink Tattoo Studio or Thai Tattoo Cafe. I mean, you may be thinking that I am slightly biased, but honestly, they really do a good job. There are local and international artists there that specify in different styles, so no matter what you want, they can do it.
One of the most famous things to go and see while you are in Bangkok is Ayutthaya or the Floating Market. Ayutthaya was the ancient capital of Thailand and is filled with historical buildings and temples that date back to many many years ago. The Floating Market is definitely something that is a must see because it is quite literally what it is. You can go on your own or you can book a tour through the place you are staying. If Thailand is your first destination, you will obviously want to see the temples and the historical buildings, however, if you have been to many other countries, you would tire of them pretty quickly.