Archives for August 2015

do, eat, see: Bangkok

Can I get a YAAAAAAS for finally being on vacation? *raises hand emoji, confetti emoji, margarita emoji*

We’ve just returned from Thailand and what a wonderful week it was. We (we being the six of us: the fam unit including one of my cousins who has been interning in SG this summer + the beau) started out with a few days in Bangkok, exploring city life and learning more about Buddhist culture and finished our holiday in Phuket resting and enjoying the beautiful beaches. More to come on island life later!

Bangkok was totally new for me: my first time in Asia out of Singapore and my first time in a place here I couldn’t understand the language…at all. Having a working knowledge of English and French got me around most places in Europe just fine and Singapore is an English-speaking country, so seeing writing in different characters and hearing people speak in an entirely undecipherable language was something totally new. It was definitely a shock! Bangkok, however, is pretty urban – luckily for us, most people in the city center speak at least a bit of English.

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Wat Paknam Bangkok

Wat Paknam

Wat Paknam Bangkok

Wat Paknam

As we only had two days/three nights in each city, we wanted to make the most of our short time. If you’re ever planning a visit, here are my recommendations on what to do, eat and see:

– do –

Bangkok canal tours – For our first day in Bangkok, we arranged a tour of the famous canals (also know as klongs) in the city. Sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the East”, Bangkok has an extensive network of canals through more rural parts of the city to access floating markets, temples and homes. We hired a longtail boat, Thailand’s famous cruisers, to get us around. The boats are basically super-long, skinny boats powered by some type of engine that they may or may not have taken out of a truck. The boat took us to two temples, a local weekend market, a Thai orchid garden and an artist’s house for a traditional Thai puppet show. It was a super neat way to see around more of the more rural parts of the city.

Our tour guide, Nui, was absolutely fabulous and was a great guide around our sights – if you’re ever heading to Bangkok, I’d recommend checking out their company, Pandan Tours!

Longtail boat Bangkok

Longtail boat

Floating vendors Bangkok

Floating vendors

Noodle boat Bangkok

Noodle boat!

Chatuchak weekend market – The largest market in all of Thailand, Chatuchak is definitely worth a visit if you’ll be in Bangkok over a weekend. The market has over 8,000 stalls selling everything from plants and antiques to clothes and electronics. You can’t see it all, so pick and choose a few alleyways to wander down and be ready to bargain! You can bring the price down a few hundred baht or so if you a. go in with a price you want to pay (ex: don’t pay more than 200-300 baht for clothing), b. walk away (or act like you will) – there will always be another stall with the exact same item – and c. carry small bills to pay with. We picked up some cute elephant pillowcases, loose pants for plane rides, lots of soccer jerseys and a knockoff Beats pill (Dad…). There are literally thousands of stalls to see, so it’s a perfect place to get inexpensive, cool gifts for your friends and family back home.

– eat –

Everything – Is this an appropriate answer? We tried to get our hands on local cuisine while we were there, as it’s an experience in itself to try different Thai foods. We ate noodles out of a boat that passed us on the canal (cooking right on their boat!), lots of noodles at a weekend market and tried other snacks like homemade ice cream and mango sticky rice.

Pad thai – This seems like the obvious choice, but every time we got pad thai, it was amazing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s looking to have great local food that isn’t tooo adventurous. Just don’t forget to add lots of spice! 🙂

An extra travel tip: since the hotel we stayed at had a stellar concierge lounge, we ate here often. Look to see if the hotel you’re staying in has one and if you can get access – for six people, it saved us a ton of money and we got some great food in the comfort of the hotel!

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Noodle boat noodles

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Pad thai

– see –

Lots of Buddhist temples – While we were there, we got to visit four temples: Wat Paknam, Wat Pa Chaeng Lane, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho. Each was very different, with varying degrees of ornate decorations or a focus on different representations of Buddha. Wat Paknam’s green pagoda was really something – you can see in the photo above that the ceiling was covered with Swarovski crystals. Wat Pho was my other favorite – this is the temple of the leaning Buddha – it’s 46 meters long (HUGE)!

The views from a rooftop bar – Bangkok has tons of awesome rooftop bars to enjoy a few drinks and get an unmatched view of the city. Sky Bar is the most famous now, as it was featured in The Hangover 2, but we tried out one near our hotel called Above Eleven at the suggestion of one of my friends. It was awesome! The view was well worth the excursion.

Soi Cowboy – You didn’t think I was going to write a post about what to see in Bangkok without including Soi Cowboy, did you? Soi Cowboy is a little street in Bangkok that’s famous for its nightlife and bars – mostly gogos – that caters mostly to tourists. Most of the bars have patios to sit outside and take in the sights…or you can go inside and be prepared to see lots of scantily-clad girls dancing. Not the least awkward thing to do with my parents and baby sister, but it’s a popular part of Bangkok culture that you should try to check out while you’re there.

Wat Pho Bangkok

Wat Pho

Tuk Tuk rides Bangkok

Tuk Tuk rides

Wat Paknam Bangkok

Wat Paknam

Wat Paknam Bangkok

Wat Paknam

Above Eleven Bangkok

Above Eleven

Soi Cowboy Bangkok

Soi Cowboy

I would say we definitely made the most of our 2.5 days in Bangkok – lots of exploring, adventuring and trying new things. It was a big change from Singapore, but a cool place to visit nonetheless and somewhere new for me to check off the bucket list. Next post: living the island life in Phuket. There was lots to do, eat and see there too…so check back soon!