I spent 48 hours in Bangkok last month. My daughter and I took a trip to Thailand and stayed in Bangkok for 2 nights. We didn’t do this in succession. We spent one night in the city and then left Bangkok for the islands of Thailand, then on our return from the islands, we stayed an additional night. The reason we did this was because our flights, to and from the USA, were out of Bangkok.
This city was everything I hoped it to be. Bangkok is known as the gateway to all of SouthEast Asia. I can see why this is said. There are so many flights per day out of their local airport Don Meuang, with very low fares. You can get a flights out of Bangkok to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and even Bali for less than $50 USD, roundtrip, just to name a few. This is a great way to be able to explore all of these beautiful countries for less money than one would think.
Air Asia now has an ASEAN Pass that you can pre-purchase a 10 credit pass for only $160 USD and 20 credit pass for just $290 USD. The destination, depending on how far, can be from 1 to 3 credits per leg. If you strategize right, you can make as many as 9 stops for less that 200 bucks! Now that’s a deal! There are many restrictions, but even with them, it’s still seems to be a great deal. I’m so tempted to buy it, but still haven’t yet.
Our first day in Bangkok started with a tourist boat ride. This was actually a little scary. Seeing how we were staying right on the Chao Phraya River, at the Sheraton Royal Orchid Hotel, we were told the easiest and most economical form of transportation, was taking the tourist boat. You literally have to quickly jump on and off the boat with the other tourists, while the boat is rocking back and forth. I can’t believe people don’t trip and fall off it, all the time. That was an adventure in itself.
We went to the Wat Po Temple first. This was beautiful and I was so happy that it wasn’t busy at all. At first there was only a few other tourists there. By the time we left it started filling up a little, but nothing too crazy.
We walked in and just started snapping away at all the beautiful architecture the temple offered. There was a shrine at the beginning that, if you wanted, could take a flower, light incense and sit in front of the altar, set up with the image of Buddha. We joined the other tourists and it felt very spiritual and peaceful.
After walking around for a few hours, enjoying all the statues and unique buildings with hand painted artwork and engraved with semi-precious stones embedded within them, we were approached by some massage students, to see if we wanted to get a Thai massage. Of coarse we did! I forgot that this was one of the things I wanted to do in my planning. There was a list of prices depending on the type and duration of the massage.
We opted for a 30 minute Thai massage for 260 baht, which was only like $8.00 USD, nice!
We were both brought into a large, air-conditioned room (thank goodness), with many massage beds lined up. The massage was great, especially being so sore from our long haul flight. It was pretty intense with deep tissue massaging as well and being folded up like a pretzel at some points. It even hurt a little, but the good kind of hurt. After we were done, they gave us a lemon drink and we were on our way.
We left Wat Po and started our way out and decided we wanted to eat. Now was a perfect time to try our very first street food in Thailand. Although we were a bit worried we would get sick, we heard so many great reviews of the authentic Thai dishes being offered on the street for insanely low prices.
We found a lady making pad Thai. Perfect! This is a staple in Thai dishes. We ordered two coconut waters and two pad Thai. She started cooking away, using fresh ingredients and then pointed us over to a make-shift dining table and told us to sit.
After a few minutes she brought us over our savory dishes. My daughter didn’t realize that on the side, the woman put the hot spices, crushed peanuts, and salt, so that you could add it in as you preferred, depending on the hotness and flavor you like. My daughter, unknowingly, just mixed it all in. Although she thought it was delicious, it was much too hot for her. I, figured this out, and only put a little in my dish. I wish I would have told her before she jumped right in. The total for both of our meals was only $3.40 USD. People have always told me how cheap it was here to eat, but I still wasn’t convinced it could possibly be that cheap. It was!
It was the best pad Thai I have ever eaten!
We later walked around a bit and looked at all the shops. There were so many things to choose from. We were on a mission to find harem pants, and bring them home as souvenirs for our friends. We found a ton of them, all for less than $5.00 USD.
We headed back to the hotel and made a reservation at our hotel restaurant. On check-in we saw that they had a Thai dinner show that night and thought it would be fun to see. We relaxed a bit, took showers and then headed to the dinner show.
We walked into the restaurant and it was nicely decorated with a zen-like vibe. The tables were low and we were to take off our shoes. How traditional! We ordered our food and were ready to enjoy the show.
There were a few acts. The first act was with women dressed in Thai costumes adorned with gems, with extravagant, feathered headpieces, dancing like puppets; another act was with a man dressed as a dragon. They were talented and looked liked dolls or robots. Their moves were so animated. It was a good first night and we felt like we got a little taste of Bangkok (no pun intended).
On our second day, on our return from the islands, we went to Grand Palace.
This was on a Sunday and probably the worst day to pick. It was extremely hot and ridiculously overcrowded. The place was absolutely stunning, but with the amount of the crowds it was very difficult to enjoy. We couldn’t wait to leave. It was really that bad. The price for admittance was also very high for Thailand standards, $15.oo USD, per person. That is super expensive when considering, most of the other temples are less that $4.00 USD/ per person or free.
I honestly wouldn’t recommend going to the Grand Palace unless you love to be packed in like sardines with other tourists, or unless you go on a day that isn’t so busy. There are so many other temples and places to see, this one seemed to be a tad overrated. I had such a better experience at Wat Po Temple, plus you get massages there, I mean, who wouldn’t love that?
Once we got out of there, we were so glad. I almost felt claustrophobic. We decided, since we still needed to get some last-minute souvenirs, before we leave Thailand, we better focus on shopping again. My daughter was addicted. Back on our hunt for harem pants, by this time we had made up a name for our much sought after souvenir, “trinket pants.” I ended up with a few, my daughter, on the other hand, bought about 10 pairs! I hope her friends like them?
We spent the afternoon shopping and took a tuk tuk ride. Then decided, since it was lunchtime, we wanted to find that lady, cooking up her amazing street food, and eat it again. However, this time, my daughter would be able to enjoy it more, because she now knows not to mix in all the spices. We were excited!
We went back to the location of her food stand, but we noticed what she was cooking. It wasn’t her mouth-watering pad Thai, it was shell-fish, and we were instantly disheartened. We were too afraid to eat it, plus my daughter isn’t a fan of seafood either. Bummer! We ended up finding an indoor restaurant, more like a cafe style place. It was called The Gate.
We got two bubble teas and shared a tom-tom soup. We weren’t very hungry. I think the heat and being dehydrated made us lose our appetite a bit. The soup was okay, but my daughter hated it. She thought it was way too fishy tasting. It was nothing like our street lady’s food. I asked my daughter if she wanted to get something else. She didn’t want to. She had no appetite. We could wait until dinner that night. It was still nice to sit inside the air-conditioning for a little while to cool off from the intense heat. Plus they had free WiFi. Got to love that!
After leaving the cafe we shopped more, walking around a flea market. My daughter called it the “hobo flea market“, we shouldn’t assume they were hobos, but they sure looked like it.
She loved bartering with the locals. She didn’t buy any more trinket pants, but got a bunch of bracelets. I was about shopped out when a thunder and lightning storm started. Good thing my husband made me pack ponchos (just incase). We put them on and everyone stared at us. Had they never seen ponchos before? Two American looking guys walked by laughing, and one said,” ha ha ha, ponchos, awesome!” referring to us. Hey, at least we didn’t get soaked! Because of the rain we got a cab back to our hotel. I can’t imagine how much more scary it would be on the tourist boat in a lightning storm, and I didn’t want to find out.
That night we relaxed a bit and then got ready to go out to dinner. Since it was the end of our vacation, and last in Bangkok, my daughter, even after buying all her souvenirs and tons of trinket pants, still had a lot of spending money left over. She told me, as a thank you for me taking her on this awesome trip, she wanted to treat me to dinner. I laughed and said it wasn’t necessary, but she insisted.
We noticed, while driving to our hotel, that there were many cute restaurants, walking distance away from our hotel. This time we stayed another hotel, the Shangri-La Bangkok. It was a very nice hotel also along the Chao Phraya River, but on the opposite side. We at first, said when in Bangkok, we would not go out, after dark, as a safety precaution, but since there were very close-by restaurants, and the area appeared to be pretty safe, we risked a 2 minute walk. We were fine.
We chose a cute little boutique restaurant called Mazzaro. The owner greeted us and asked if we wanted to sit inside or outside. We both said, “inside” in harmony. Although, my favorite type of dining is al fresco, with this unbearable heat and humidity , eating outside would not be enjoyable.
The menu was expansive, but we both stuck with traditional Thai dishes. She got pad see u ad I got pad Thai, and we both shared an order of spring rolls, drank two coconut waters, and finished off with a pot of tea. This restaurant in Boston would be considered a mid-range for price, dishes would be approximately $20.00 per meal. Not in Bangkok! Our total, with everything, including a 25% tip was $30.00 USD. It wasn’t as crazy cheap as the street food, but still a bargain!
Since we really only had two quick stop over days in Bangkok, we really didn’t get to see all the awesome thing this city offers. We did get a glimpse of one of their gorgeous temples and their famous Grand Palace, and had a ton of fun shopping and eating their delicious cuisine. We just wish we had more time to see things we missed, such as all the other temples, the floating market, the Silk Road, and taking a cooking class, and we really, really wanted to try the fish massage. We searched for a long time, asking everybody, but no luck.
Visiting Bangkok for only 48 hours was great, but also sort of tease. I just started to feel the culture and what the city was all about, and then we had to go. This only makes me want to go back and explore more. With the ASEAN pass that Air Asia offers, I definitely want to take advantage of that awesome deal, to not only see more of Bangkok, but all of SouthEast Asia. So far, in all of my travels, Thailand has been my favorite destination. I can’t wait to go back!