My first trip to Bangkok was packed with ornate temples, delectable food, and thankfulness.
Like I’ve posted about before, I had absolutely no interest in Asia (aside from India) growing up. Even when living in Australia, I kept it to OZ and New Zealand while friends flew to Thailand and Japan.
Ten years later find me living in an Asian country and a visitor of five others. You just never know.
I would like to return to Bangkok before leaving the region for good. Right now, Thailand is in an unofficial period of mourning since the king died. As an American, it was very interesting for me to see tons of people wearing black on any given day. Billboards honoring the king were everywhere. Since I’m from a country where it’s not permitted for one person to rule for decades, I couldn’t fully understand what I saw.
I suppose something on an infinitely smaller scale will occur when President Barack Obama passes. But the billboards outside every business, the all black, the pilgrims to the Grand Palace also dressed in black, and the free street food to feed the pilgrims and visitors alike? Won’t happen in the States.
Regardless, here are some suggestions for things to do that I got from 36 Hours in Bangkok.
Visit the Grand Palace EARLY.
I made the mistake of showing up about an hour after the place opened. It’s the first time where I feel like describing the crowd as ‘hordes of people’ actually fits. Tour guides hoisted poles in the air so their groups could track them in the crowd, various languages buzzed about, and the place was just packed. Despite all that, it’s worth the crowds to see the ornate buildings.
Note: Bring your passport or a passport copy (they let me in with that) to get into the place. You also must cover your shoulders and wear bottoms that come below the knee. My rule of thumb now is a short-sleeved shirt and either capris or pants because once in Cambodia long skirts were not allowed to enter a temple. Finally, wear shoes you can take on and off easily since you have to remove shoes when entering religious sites.
500 Baht entrance fee, 200 Baht audio set (must leave a credit card or passport as collateral)
Wander around Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)
Since there’ll be a long line to see the Reclining Buddha, I would suggest starting at the smaller stupas and then ending with the Reclining Buddha. I’m good for getting lost, so (of course) I accidentally walked out of the complex without seeing the statue. Thankfully, the security guard gave me directions for how to re-enter.
100 Baht entrance fee (included a coupon for bottled water)
Peak at Wat Arun aka Temple of the Dawn
Wat Arun is under significant scaffolding right now. That being said, I’m still glad I went to it. By this point in the day, I was “templed out” though, so I didn’t stay long. When waiting in line to board the ferry back, enjoy the fresh fruit and a Thai coconut. The fruit is extraordinary and sweet.
Eat at Chon Thai
OK, I have to be honest. I got terrible motion sickness when using the ferry to get around Bangkok. I loved the cultural experience of it, but sensory overload kicked in. By the time I took Chon Thai’s private boat, I felt nauseous before even boarding. I mean, standing on the cement pier and watching the floating pier bob in the choppy water got me so dizzy I had to turn my back to the water.
At Chon Thai, I nodded at the formal greeting line and had to head straight to the restroom. Hearing the water lap made me sick. I took one bite of my delicious dinner and had to box everything up.
I did meet a lovely Black woman though. So, while she ate, I sipped tea and Spite to calm my stomach. She then gave me a tour of the hotel. It’s stunning, pure and simple.
When the attentive staff asked me if I would like to take the boat back, I had to give a polite no. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a worn taxi and long stretches of highway as I was that night.
Visit Other Temples if Interested
I went to the Golden Mountain though, respectfully, I enjoyed the sound of the bells more than anything about the actual place. I also stumbled into another temple complex when I was trying to find the Golden Mountain because, you know, I always get lost.
Get a Thai Massage at Touch
This was my very first Thai massage, and I loved it. Though at times it feels like you’re wrestling with a stranger on a low-slung mattress, I felt my muscles and joints were more relaxed afterward. I ended up getting three Thai massages in about 10 days. 🙂
Dine at Nahm
Delicious. Elegant. Classy. ’nuff said!
I would highly recommend staying at Loog Choob Homestay. I fell in love with my room and liked that it was a short bus ride (approximately 20 minutes) to the Grand Palace.