Monday, 3 August 2015

bangkok travel diary

For any of you following me on instagram, you may have anticipated this post! I have been travelling South East Asia on my own, over the second week of June. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit 3 countries in only 10 days. And as this article suggests, Bangkok was my first destination.

Arrived late at night through Singapore (from Sydney) the first night in Bangkok was very chilled - I simply got my things out of my luggages and settled into the hotel. I was staying at Centra Central. It's a fairly new hotel so your taxi driver may not know it. Simply mention Hua Lamphong metro station (MRT). 

Some tips to get around Bangkok and avoid some of the "scams" you may have heard of: 
When you arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, you can either go downstairs where the 'official' taxi lane is. If you do so, you will get a ticket (your destination is written on it) but pay the airport access fee. Make sure you insist on the taxi meter to be put on. You can otherwise choose to go upstairs, at the drop-off. It's more local to do so, but you will avoid the airport access fee (only about 50THB). Always carry cash with you. Bangkok is a modern city but nothing like Sydney where you can pay A$1 in credit cards so it's always good to carry small notes with you. You will have to pay the driver for the highway fee if you decide to go through tolls. Finally - avoid tuk tuks unless you are with friends. You really don't want to go to some random stone shop and waste your time arguing with the driver. Again, public transportation is fantastic in Bangkok and you should take advantage of it!

Get familiar with MRT and BTS
Hua Lamphong is situated in the middle of the city (equivalent of Central here in Sydney). Very easy to get to other areas in Bangkok. To catch the BTS (Sky Train) simply go to Si Lom - only two stations from Hua Lamphong and it will connect you everywhere. Siam station will be your favourite stop for all shopping things. You will need coins to buy your tickets. Day tickets are worth it and cheap if you plan on travelling a lot in the same day. MRT unlimited day pass is 120THB (A$4.70) and BTS unlimited day pass is 140THB (A$5.50). You might as well buy both at this rate, right? 

Chao Praya River & Temples 
The next day, I was up early - 35 degrees celsius at 8 am and on the road already. Ready to visit temples I had a very funky itinerary in mind. I will discuss in more details about the activities to do in Bangkok as I plan to give you my insight on the 'Top 5 things to do in Bangkok', especially if you're on a short stay like I was. To reach to the Grand Palace, I headed to Saphan Taksin station, to catch a boat with an orange flag. I was lucky enough to be in low season: no rain and fewer tourists. I think June is an awesome time to visit Bangkok. The single boat ride will cost you 15THB (A$0.60). Stop at Pier 9 (Tha Chang). Given the heat, the boat ride was very much appreciated. If you can't find the Grand Palace... follow the crowd! Announcements around the Palace are made to avoid "scams". But to be honest, I always felt safe and never encountered such issues whilst in Bangkok. 

The next destination was Wat Pho, or the temple of the Reclining Buddha. Breathtaking. I was planning on visiting Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) first but it was being renovated at the time. To get there, you can go on the next Pier by boat if you are lazy to walk but I had decided to keep walking and stretch my legs further from the Grand Palace. You never have enough time to visit the temples - they are majestic and huge!! I knew I only had 3 days in Bangkok so slightly rushed through. You will be given free water when purchasing your entry tickets. More details on prices and access will be given in the must sees - as this is definitely one!

Afternoon break at Yodpiman River Walk 
As stupid and crazy as it may seem, I had walked 7-8 hours and no food in the stomach. I was so distracted by visiting this and that, walking here and there, I forgot to eat. I was making sure I would keep hydrated though. With the heat, the crowd and if you walk a fairly big amount, you will start feeling dizzy by the end of the day. The clock nearly showed 5pm when I realised I was starving. I first did a slight stop at Starbucks (couldn't help it) to cool down with the air-con and I had a delicious Triple Coffee Jelly Frappuccino - definitely so Asian but I loved it. If you love coffee then it's the best refreshement you could treat yourself with: coffee frappé, coffee jelly at the bottom and coffee whip cream on top. Coffee heaven, basically. This was on Yodpiman River Walk (Sathorn Pier). You get a very nice panoramic view over Chao Praya River. I then stopped to a tiny little restaurant - modern and cosy looking to indulge my favourite Thai food (Som Tum/Papaya Salad & homemade roti) with a local beer. Pure bliss. 

LeBua Sky Bar 
Now very famous from The Hangover, I was also told the Sky Bar at LeBua was voted #1 in the world. Believe me, you won't be disappointed with the view. I made sure I would be there on time for the sunset and it was all beyond my expectations. Outdoor couches, candles at dusk and delicious cocktails.... All of this overlooking the beautiful city of Bangkok. Needless to say, cocktails were more expensive then the Opera Bar! The food was average and definitely overrated, so better get yourself some nice drinks and enjoy some street food at a later stage. You will notice that in Bangkok, most shops/mall are open until late (10-11pm) and the street food stalls start going crazy at night.  

Bangkok was probably my favourite place in South East Asia over those 10 days. If you're a foodie like I am, it's heaven: delicious and cheap. It also has crazy shopping malls and affordable prices. Transportation is awesome as every single place is well served. Taxi is not worth it, unless you are going to the airport (very cheap) because there is always some traffic jam. MRT and BTS are even cheaper, more efficient and definitely faster. I can't wait to share with all of you the rest of my experience in Bangkok and the top 5 things to do whilst you are there! 

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