Bangkok: The Venice of Asia, herbal massage techniques, Tom Sam green papaya salad, Ping pong ball shooters, man or woman?, cleanest shopping mall toilets in the world, home for the Chinese, rise for the anthem of the king, movie theatres with mini bars and beds, gold leafed Buddhas, Tuk Tuk mania, the rich versus the poor, scorpions grilled on a stick… Welcome to Thailand’s Bangkok. My boyfriend and I stayed 1 week here and we were exhausted in the end. While traveling in the rainy period (October) we experienced a damp, rainy and warm city but nevertheless also the charms and secrets this city beholds. Advice, don’t do 1 week because it’s intense, expensive and unnecessary as you can experience the highlights in a shorter time.
A big tip is to learn a few Thai sayings and phrases like saying hello: Sa wat dee ka/krap (Either end a sentence with Ka if person speaking is female or Krap when male) or say how are you: Sa bai dee mai or how to say yes/no: chai/mai or how to say how much is it?: Tow Rai? and the most important is thank you: korp kun ka/krap.
Hold on tight because I give you the biggest list of Must Do’s in this f0llowing post: ‘ Bangkok Thailand Southeast Asia: Backpack style with temples, tours, food spots and trendy markets to go to! ‘
(Men) Must Do 1
Tailored Suit: This is a mannnnn’s world and that means suits suits and suits. As I’m traveling with my manly companion (my lovely dovely boyfriend) I ended up doing some more manly things while staying in Bangkok. Here are a few important things to remember when making a suit. Having a suit made should be done if you have time (a week) because you will need to at least fit and adjust the suit 4-5 times at least.
Know what the do’s and dont’s are before you visit the tailor, find a few here. The best place to make a suit is around Sukhumvit, the higher the street number the better they say. Don’t choose cheap material but always bargain for a good price. We had our suit made at George near the metro/train station Asok, he is amazing and has great fabrics don’t pay attention to the crappy website because the suits are really good if you choose the right fabrics!
(Men) Must Do 2
Barbershop: Looking to get the cleanest and most hipster cut in town? The only place you’ll find this is Three Brothers Barbershop were for 450 baht you are treated like a true gentleman and they take all the time they need to perfectly cut each individual hair and create an oldschool cut. Find them underground in the metro station Chatuchak near Mo Chit train station. Choose your cut from dozens of examples just so there’s no mistake, my boyfriend did the Executive Contour Cut.
Why we headed here? My coconut darling (boyfriend) got his interest peaked when he saw a documentary between a Rotterdam barbershop Schorem and Three Brothers so we wanted to see for ourselves what the fuss was about plus he get’s his cut done back home at a similar kind of barbershop Barbier Rogier.
Must Do 3
SIM card: Buy a SIM card so you have 24/7 internet and can check where you’re walking on Google Maps when you’re lost in the windy city. Buy a SIM card for 299 Baht at your local 7 Eleven store. Know that it can be a bit confusing when getting the card so ask the cashier to help a bit. In the end it’s really simple (we got a tourist friendly one and we were easily able to upgrade our minutes).
Must Do 4
Massage: Dare to enter the dark hidden upstair massage studios and remember if it’s extremely gross and creepy you can always walk away with a smile but 90% of the time you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the foot massage techniques and the cheaper prices than on the ground floor along the main road. We paid 120 Baht for 1 hour foot massage which was heavenly good in a small massage salon above a few restaurants. They say Sukhumvit is a good area to get them.
If you want to pamper yourself a little more elaborate head on over to Health Land for 500 Baht get a 2 hour full body Thai massage in an extremely clean, trendy, hip, authentic massage ‘mall’ (as the entire building which is 8 floors is made out of rooms to get massages, they even have a reception and waiting room where they call your name to go upstairs). You also get to wear original thai massage clothing during the massage.
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Must Do 5
Bike Tour: This was the most amazing ever thing we did while in Bangkok. Friends of ours recommended Co van Kessel and eventually I started hearing other friends who also went to Co van Kessel when they were in Bangkok. This small organisation will take you on a once in a lifetime ride you’ll never forget. With old school Dutch bikes, cruise straight through the indoor flower market and bike through the small winding curving streets in China town.
Then take you bike with you while you hop on a boat and go to the old city Thonburi and visit a huge Buddha! Also experience the wildlife: thousands and millions of enormous Catfish or Giant Pangasius in the Chao Phraya river that snap up while you feed them along the river bend near the temples.
Why aren’t they being eaten you may ask? Locals will release their bad luck by throwing these types of fish in the river. If you eat one, you will consume the other persons bad luck. Also spot the huge crocodile look a like animal called the Varanus!
Must Do 6
Uber: We tried, we really really tried but it seemed impossible. 90% of the Taxi’s that had the huge bright sign ‘Meter Taxi’ all quickly replied “No Meter” when we wanted to step in and asked for meter. This seriously happened 9 times during a huge thunder storso we decided to use the city train, metro and Uber. No discussions, no weird situations or changing in prices and no hours of waiting. It might have been us but we got super tired of it so we just went digital with this one. But I have to say, everyone that visits Bangkok has to have at least 1 ride with a Tuk Tuk to experience the city like this, we ended up in one after Khao San Road (no idea how we got back home) the only thing I have of that night is proof that the Tuk Tuk was covered with a blue cartoon cat called Doraemon!
Must Do 7
Shopping at Chatuchak Weekend Market: Although we had a mega hangover from Khao San Road the night before so this made our walk just a little bit more zombie like. The market is HUGE, I know they all say this but it really is. Plus the variation is from gems, shoes, essential oils, dogs, fake flowers, food and any type of clothing you want is all available here. That’s why check the layout of the market before you go just so you don’t wander the alleys like a zombie (like we did). We liked zone 12 and 15. Try not to eat inside cause it’s really expensive. Plus there is NO logic to what side you should walk, is it the European keep to your right or the Asian keep to your left. Everytime it was almost a near collision. Also quit often there was a price sign near shirts or other hot items and there was NO negotiation of the price. It was absolutely a fixed price situation. Trust me we tried or well maybe we’re not the best bargainers in town.
Must Do 8
Shopping at Rod Fai Night Market: A super duper young thai hipster night market and place to be with the best pork in town at Samo Boran!
Order their delicious yummy fried pork with garlic chili sauce combined with a beer it’s the best! Opened on Thursday until Sunday from 18:00-23:59 at night. Don’t get confused by Google where the location is, because if you type Rod Fai it’s somewhere entirely different! We trusted Google and ended up in a deserted district somewhere on the outskirts of Bangkok. So to get it right: Go to Seacon Square with a taxi and find the Rod Fai market behind this shopping mall. With Chesterfields, old rusted pick up trucks, vintage clothing, old rock music and good food this is seriously where all the young Thai people go to shop and hang out.
Khao San Road: Yes I said it! The street starred prime time in ‘The Hangover’ is the shit and will give you a night to remember. Starting off with let’s just do one drink ended up in a party night until closing time (unfortunately at 03:00 am the street shuts down, but you can party on inside the building where you’ll find dark hidden clubs). From foot massages to getting a fake passport all can be found and done here. Watch out when taking pictures though, while I wanted to take a shot from a scorpion fried on a stick I got a huge stomp in my back from a local who didn’t appreciate it as it’s 10 Baht per picture (who knew). Find live music and oldies hits from the 90’s plus our favourite helium balloons, although she grabbed the balloons from behind an alley and I wasn’t sure if it was entirely legal even though she said it was. We ended up having our first beers on the curb of the street on small plastic stools while rats walked confidently between the legs of the not alert tourist (if you have enough beers you’ll find it just as amusing as we did). We listened to two guys playing amazing rock songs with a deep hazy voice. Later on we walked to our next destination which caught our attention because we heard old school favourites like It’s your birthday, Casanova, Hits from J-Lo, Backstreet Boys and MC Hammer.
Must Eat 1
After you: Located in the hip young upcoming and trendy new area of Bangkok called Ari we saw this huge line of people at night waiting to have dessert at this place called After You in a small ‘mall’ like food center near the station Ari.
As we didn’t want to wait in the line we went back the next day with the city train to station Ari where enjoyed this Japanese dessert/delicacy called Kakigori. It was scraped ice cream with strawberry smothered all over. Light and good for your diet? Well yes, because it wasn’t the heavy duty cream in some ice creams! Definetly order a Kakigori next time you’re in town. (PS. Next door they have a DHL service point for if you want to send something home!)
Must Eat 2
Simple: One of the few organic restaurants in Bangkok and maybe even in Thailand general. I have already discovered that there are 2 ways you can go traveling: Healthy and VERY unhealthy. Thailand has two faces: the pure veggies plus rice or the chemically coloured sweets with food dye that make your stomach hurl.
Then if you go for healthy the Thai’s do not yet understand the meaning of GMO free or no pesticides used. So to find the restaurant Simple was a great change in our Thai diet these past few days and in addition the French Toast was so good I drooled a little bit while enjoying myself and the soy milk cappuccino was something I was looking for the entire week! I never thought in Thailand it would be so difficult to find soy milk for in your coffee. Thank you Simple!
Must Eat 3
Jin Chieng Seng: For real authentic and good yummy Thai food head on over to this place. We didn’t expect much at first as it was in a hotel and I always doubt the cuisine of a hotel, don’t really know why but I do. But on the contrary this place was heaven and just what we were looking for. The curry tasted, full, creamy, spicy and great and the Som Tum (papaya salad which is now my favorite) was yummy in the tummy! Also combine this restaurant at night when visiting the Temple of Dawn during the day as it’s close by.
Grand Palace Wat Pho & Wat Phra Kaew: During our visit we didn’t go to the Temple of Dawn as it was under construction, thus closed. So we headed to the main attractions of the city: Wat Pho Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew together with a tour guide that led the way. To be honest we didn’t learn a lot more with our tour guide because her English was really difficult to understand and she didn’t understand the questions I was asking. A lot of tour guides also hurdle near the entrance so you can also always get one at the last moment but if you have the Lonely Planet you should be good.
Interesting facts are that the reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and has 108 mother of pearls in it’s 5 meter long feet represent the 108 symbols of Buddha . Next to it you will find 108 bronze bowls to each put 1 coin in for good luck, buy for 20 baht 108 coins. Everyday of the week has a different Buddha statue and thus position, the reclining Buddha stands for Tuesday. The huge cement Chinese statues located outside the building of the reclining Buddha were taken from China as extra cargo to stabilise the huge ships while crossing the sea, no other reason than that.
All the Buddha’s are covered with small square gold leaves that people individually place there for good luck. You can buy (for 20 Baht) 1 gold leaf, 1 candle, 1 Lotus and 3 incenses for praying and good luck.
That’s all folks, next stop: Ayutthaya Thailand
For tips on other places I’ve visited check my older posts such as: Bali Indonesia or Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
Keep you updated and posted, until then Korp Khun Ka!