This city while once dependent on its waterways for transport, has grown and is filled with top restaurants, nightlife and shopping centers. Of course, the city’s main attractions are still palaces and temples though.
We had three days to soak up this city. Since it is my second visit but Ian’s first, we decided to get in a little bit of the temples and palaces, but also spend our time enjoying the shopping, restaurants and nightlife. These days were not meant to tick off every attraction in Bangkok but allow us a chance to sleep in, leisurely appreciate some of the city, and enjoy some good food and drinks.
We started our visit with a leisurely trip on the BTS Skytrain over to Siam Paragon, one of Bangkok’s great shopping malls, and then wandered over to Central World – less for the shopping and more to head to the top floor and enjoy some taiwanese dumplings at Din Tai Fung. We had a leisurely visit in the malls, enjoyed a few drinks at Cheap Charlies and then headed across town to spend the evening at Asiatique’s – Bangkok’s latest “night market”. Asiatique seems to be on every concierges list, but it really isn’t a market – if you are familiar with Chicago’s Navy Pier or San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, this is Bangkok’s version – stalls of food and shops, a ferris wheel and lots of restaurants make this a family friendly evening activity.
We woke up the next morning to take in some of the culture. We boarded the taxi boat along the river from Pier 3 to 9 to start our morning off at the Grand Palace, the former home to the Thai royal family and Wat Phra Kaew, the Emerald Buddha. Both were filled with tourists, which was a little overwhelming, especially compared to our peaceful temple visits in Myamnar. That said, the structures are well worth the visit, so we braved the crowd, got a local guide, and had a chance to appreciate both.
We then walked over to Wat Pho, Bangkok’s biggest and oldest temple. It is famous for the 151-foot long reclining Buddha with feet made from pearls, but actually, this is a massive complex with about 100 stupas and statues to see. It is also much more peaceful as there are a lot fewer visitors who make this visit.
After enough culture, we opted for some street food – we wandered over Thip Samai, as it is supposed to have the best pad thai around, but it was closed. Fortunately just next door, there was a little place with no sign that seemed to have a constant street of diners and take away orders. They were serving freshly made pad thai, and it didn’t let us down – well spent 50 baht!
We then went for a walk to see City Hall and the democracy monumemt before navigating our way back to the hotel — we first thought it would be simple enough to jump in a taxi, but trying to brave Bangkok’s traffic at rush hour is painful. We sat in a taxi for 20 minutes and moved two blocks before deciding we were better off on foot. We jumped out, started walking, and then discovered some local longtail boats along a nearby canal. So we jumped on! Turns out that we got on the wrong one, so we ended up not making it back to the hotel, but managed to get off at National Stadium and took the BTS Skytrain the rest of the way. It was an adventure and a great way to experience some local transport.
That said, we were ready for a swim. We enjoyed the hotel pool, before heading out to Namsaa Bottle Company for a lovely dinner (and Ian’s birthday celebration), and ended the evening with drinks at Skybar, taking in the view of the city from the 64th floor.
We started off the day with a stroll through Bangkok’s China town, taking in the street market, street eats and general bustle of this area. We continued walking to see the railway station, Hua Lamphong before heading to the Jim Thompson House.
We then made our way to Terminal 21 to see yet another one of Bangkok’s Shopping centers before heading back to the hotel for some swimming and cocktails before dinner.
Dinner was at Rock Restaurant and Bar, our best meal in Bangkok, followed by drinks at a trendy local bar, SALT. We then made a short stop at Patpong market before ending our evening.