Bangkok. Meh. If I’m being honest, it was probably one of our least favorite destinations on our 2 weeks Southeast Asia trip. Despite not loving it, I doubt that it was the last time we ever visit the capital of Thailand since it is such a big hub in SE Asia. I think that the more we visit it may grow on us, but after 3 nights in Bangkok it certainly didn’t charm us.
We took an Air Asia evening flight from Macau to Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) in Bangkok and landed in a rather dramatic fashion. We started feeling increased turbulence within the last half hour of the flight and as we prepared to land we could see lightening streaks in the sky, through the heavy rainfall. My heart was racing fast as we landed on the tarmac at DMK. It was racing even faster as they had us continue to sit in our seats after we landed, while watching the lightening hit the tarmac near us. Normally they would have us walk into the terminal, but due to weather they eventually had a shuttle for us to quickly jump on as I prayed the lightening wouldn’t choose that moment to strike.
It was 8:30 PM by the time we made it to the taxi counter in the terminal. We had to wait another 45 minutes before they even had a taxi ready for us. As our taxi driver navigated through the standing water on the highway it finally hit me. We are in Thailand! The place I have been dreaming about for years. It was late, the air was humid and we were exhausted…but I was ecstatic!
Stay: BelAire Bangkok (Sukhumvit)
Our hotel, BelAire Bangkok was located in a Sukhumvit neighborhood that catered heavily to Arab visitors. All of the signage in our area was in Thai, most in Arabic and some in English. We loved our hotel, but with Bangkok being as hot as it was and with me wearing shorts and tank tops, I have to confess I felt a little uncomfortable in the neighborhood. The majority of the women staying in our hotel were wearing Burqa’s and I felt very under-dressed. My attire wasn’t what I would have packed if I was visiting an Islamic country, but unfortunately it was all I had packed in my bag. The service at BelAire was exceptional though and it was a couple blocks away from the Nana BTS station. We paid $62/night which included a fantastic breakfast.
- The BTS (skytrain) was convenient, affordable and easy to navigate. You can pay per trip, which ranges from 15 to 50 baht or get the all day pass for 140 baht (about $4 USD).
- Tuk-tuks were our favorite way of getting around! It wasn’t the cheapest, but it was certainly the most fun. Make sure to haggle like crazy with the tuk tuk drivers because the price they initially would quote us was often 3x more than what they finally agreed to. Be willing to walk away (there are always other tuk tuks) and agree upon a price before you get in the tuk tuk. Also, make sure to hold tightly to your purse or any belongings, it’s been known for people on motorbikes to snatch a purse and quickly get away before you know it’s even missing
- Chao Phraya River boat: This was another favorite mode of transportation for us, just make sure you know what pier you’re wanting to get off on. Also, not all boats stop at all the piers. There is a flag system, a certain colored flag will corespond to different piers with that same flag on it. Also, don’t take the tourist river boats. They cost up to 100x more than the regular boats. You can read more about our experience on them HERE.
- Taxis: Always have the meter on, unless you plan on going a long distance. In that case ask your hotel what a standard taxi fare to your destination would be before you talk to a taxi driver, then agree on a set price. We only took taxis to and from the airport and when Jake went to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Agreeing on a set price was good in that case since the journey took a really long time due to road construction
I wrote a separate post on how we spent our first day in Bangkok, which was basically how we did everything wrong when visiting the Grand Palace. So if you’re planning on visiting there I would suggest checking out the post so you can have a more enjoyable time then we did!
Koh San Road
Sure it was touristy, but we liked Koh San Road so much we actually went there two nights in a row! We had intended on visiting Chinatown to check out all the good street food we had read about…but we got seriously lost. We eventually decided to head back to Koh San Road since we knew they had good street food there. We had expected Koh San Road to be crazier, filled with drunk backpackers and overpriced food but it was actually fairly mellow when we visited there in the early evening. The food was a little overpriced compared to other areas I’m sure, but when you are only paying $1 USD for amazing Pad Thai who cares if you could have saved $0.50 somewhere else! There were a lot of touristy shops where you can buy trinkets, but we saved that for Krabi Town which was a lot cheaper.
We decided to be daring and ate some fried grasshoppers as well! Jake ate a frog too but didn’t like it as much. He liked the grasshoppers enough to buy a whole bag to bring back to our hotel though. You can check out our bug eating adventures on our YouTube channel HERE.
Shopping at MBK Center
We were tired of the extreme heat so we spent a little time in one of the best shopping centers in Bangkok: MBK Center. It is easily reached by BTS. The higher up the floors you go you see it change from a standard mall with a Krispy Kreme and beauty product shops to more of a street vendor set up. We finally found the fake Oakley glasses and fake Timex watches that Jake was looking for. Both products were already scratched up within a week of returning home. I guess you get what you pay for. It was still a lot of fun to peruse the shops and take advantage of the nice air conditioning.
Damnoek Saduak Floating Market
I wasn’t feeling well on our last morning in Bangkok, so Jake went to go see the floating market by himself. Waiting for him to return was one of the most tense moments of the trip. I had told him the wrong time for our flight, which was actually leaving an hour sooner then expected. There was no way to get a hold of him so after packing up all our belongings and pacing the room he finally arrived, giving us less than 2 hours until take off. We made it in the nick of time! In the end Jake regretted going to the market. He ended up paying 1000 baht for a boat ride through the market, bought some food and snapped some pictures. Overall he didn’t find it worth the time and money and thought it was too touristy.
As you can see we didn’t do a lot in our 3 days in Bangkok. It was nice to be able to escape the heat and relax by the hotel pool, take naps in our lush beds and sample all the Thai food we could! What we saw of Bangkok we didn’t love but I’m sure we will be back someday soon.
You can view our 3 Nights in Bangkok video HERE.
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What was your first impression of Bangkok if you’ve been? Does it grow on you?