Sawasdee! (“Hello” in Thai)
Bangkok is our chosen destination for our first travel this 2016. Thailand is called the gateway to South East Asia, most start their trail here before going to neighboring countries such as Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s a backpacker’s haven. Honestly I did not expect much, I thought it will just be like I’m back in the Philippines but Bangkok surprised me in a very good way.
Transportation and Accommodation
Bangkok is relatively easy to navigate. The skytrain is directly linked to the airport which is very convenient. River taxis and express boats are also available if you want to explore historic attractions near the river. Taxis are reasonably priced but most of them don’t want to use the meter. Tuk-tuks are expensive, maybe one ride just for the heck of it is enough. They say Bangkok is notorious for traffic but it’s not even half as bad as in Manila.
We stayed at Swana Hotel Bangkok in Visuttikasat Road. It provides convenient access to tourist attractions in downtown Bangkok and also just walking distance to Khaosan Road. It’s rooms are spacious and modern. They also provide unlimited toast, coffee and tea for breakfast. They don’t have the friendliest staff though but personally I don’t care about this stuff as long as my room is comfortable. Overall it’s still a great value. If you want to be in the middle of the action, there are lots of hotels in Khao San itself.
A short street located in the Banglamphu area considered as the “center of backpacking universe” with countless budget accommodations, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, massage parlors, travel agencies etc. It is very lively especially at night. Some say it is a tourist trap, well only if you’re gullible.
Our favorite is the Thai massage, which we did every night. Most massage parlors line out their massage chairs outside the shops, a good marketing strategy if you ask me. It’s cheap and so good, perfect to cap off the night after a whole day of walking.
A Buddhist temple complex located in the Phra Nakhon District, it is most famous for the huge reclining Buddha it houses. Entrance is only 50 baht, includes one free bottle of water. It is indeed worth a visit, the complex is huge and there is so much to see.
Kanchanaburi Day Tour
Located west in Thailand, Kanchanaburi is a popular side trip from Bangkok. Many agencies offer day tours here with different itineraries. Khao San to Kanchanaburi takes around 2 hours of travel. For our day tour, we chose the Floating market, elephant trekking and bathing, and bamboo rafting.
Damneon Saduak Floating Market. We went on a weekday so the place isn’t as packed as usual. It’s a good experience. I wonder if it offers the merchants good business, I find it hard to buy anything with the boat constantly moving. There are also food stalls and shops on the dock so most just end up buying souvenirs there.
Elephant Camp. Bathing with the elephant is something worth doing. Try it if you’re there, Chie actually regrets not trying it after seeing how much fun I had. Elephant trekking is kind of scary because even though there’s a mahout riding with you, the trail is steep and the seat on the elephant isn’t the most secure. Bamboo rafting is okay too.
We loved Bangkok! It’s crazy, raw and dirty but vibrant, cultural and full of character. I love how inexpensive everything is, especially the food (missing pad Thai, mango sticky rice, Thai milk tea, fresh pomegranate juice and fruits right now). They have efficient transportation systems. Traffic? You can take the BTS or the river boats. Want some greens and nature? It’s just 2 hours away. Most streets resemble that of Quiapo and Recto but somehow it feels safer. They use the slogan “Amazing Thailand”, well I have to agree.
Until our next travel! 🙂 R.