Thailand

Chilling out in Bangkok

In the last decade Bangkok became one of the most visited cities in the world mainly for two reasons: it is an important hub for visiting Asia and the rest of Thailand and also it is a dynamic and vibrant Metropolis. We had to go to BKK to apply for the Myanmar visa and take the plane to Yangon but we had also so many things to see, to feel, to eat… We’ve got really useful tips from friends who know very well this city.

Morning on a taxi boat

HOW WE GOT THERE:
Boat from Koh Tao to Chumphom then night bus (from 9:30pm to 4:30am) until Bangkok South Bus Terminal.
The Terminal is far from the central area in Bangkok and to get information about which bus to take is not simple. Nobody speaks English and few understand what we want. Furthermore, all the taxis drivers were chasing us, asking for 200Baths for the ride. Not expensive but we knew we could do it cheaper with public transport. Finally Fede found it: bus number 511 to Khao San for 15B each.

GOOD THINGS WE DID:
–   Express boat (be careful not to take a touristic boat) both on the Chao Praya River and the on the canals instead of taking a taxi that could be stucked in the traffic;
–   Walking around Chinatown: full of every kind of stuff of dubitative quality; it’s funny even after spending 50 days in China; The density on article to be sell per square meter is amazing.
–   Wat Pho: very famous temple but with few people in comparison to the Royal Palace (don’t believe to Thai people outside who say it’s closed, they want to bring you in another place, often the big Buddha a known scam). The most impressive site is the Reclining Buddha: 43m long and 15m high, but it seems bigger because the statue almost touches the ceiling. Pay special attention to Buddha’s feet inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
–   Wat Pho Thai Massage School: opened in 1962, one of the best of the Country; there are 2 pavilions inside the Wat Pho Temple but we went to the one outside, less busy. 420B, one hour of Thai massage: a little painful but after that we felt soooo light!
–   Jim Thompson’s House: good tip of Christy and Stefano! It was the residence of an American businessman who went to Thailand to serve the army during the WWII and remained in Bangkok to work with the silk trade. He built the house putting together five traditional Thai teak houses. It’s very interesting for the architecture, the collection of paintings on cotton, statues and Thai and Chinese pottery. It’s very hot inside, bring anti-mosquito and enjoy the garden after visiting the interiors;
–   Siam Paragon area: full of shopping malls which all kind of products, good vibes!
–   Khao San District: it’s packed of tourists but we met there the Fab4 of Koh Lipe and the bar they knew had good food, cheap drinks and live music;
–   Amorosa Bar: by the Chao Praya River, close to Wat Pho. Amazing terrace to enjoy the sunset watching the boats on the river and the Wat Arun on the other bank;
–  Myanmar Embassy: no need to go if you’re not planning to fly to Myanmar 😉 Very quick staff, no panic if you don’t have photos and application form, there’s a van outside with all the necessary;
–  Kathmandu Gallery: if you like to wander in the streets to feel the city and if you’re interested in photography you should visit this tiny good gallery close to Sri Mahariamman Temple. We had lunch in the Northern Thailand Curry restaurant nearby, recommended by Lonely Planet: dirty but tasty!
–   Ruan Nuad Massage: it’s another famous Thai massage center; we chose one hour and half of foot massage for 500B each. Cadu got the skin of the right leg a little burned because of the strength of the massage; for me was great!
–   Soul Food Restaurant in Sukhumvit district: it is one of the best Thai restaurants in town. Need reservation if you want to have dinner at 8pm (we waited until 9:30pm). We only had space for three dishes (pork rib in tamarind sauce, prawn and minced pork relish with coconut, crispy sea bass with Thai basil and green peppercorn) and we regret not ordering the whole menu!

WHAT WE SKIPED:
–   Tuk tuk ride: much more expensive than a taxi that have air conditioning;
–   Royal Palace: Cadu had been there before; too many people for Fede, probably next time;
–  Thip Samai restaurant: it’s in all the Bangkok’s guides, known as the best Pad Thai restaurant in town. Our friend Vivi (Thai girl crazy for food) doesn’t agree with this restaurant fame, we cannot judge: we went twice (4pm and 11pm) but it was always closed. We try and approved the one next door.
–   Gangpha Restaurant: the one Vivi suggested us to eat Pad Thai; it’s in Sam Sen Rd near to the post office, but unfortunately we couldn’t find it…

 WE WILL DO NEXT TIME:
–   Bangkok Art and Culture Center: to check what’s going on in the artistic scene of Thailand;
–   MBK food court: to eat a lot of street food;
–   Vertigo restaurant: to have a bird’s view over the city; need to be well dressed. Looking inside our backpack we could not find any cloth which seems appropriate to go there;
–   Chatuchak Market: one of the largest markets in the world, also known for the food you can find there; open only on weekends; second time Cadu misses it;
–   Golden Mountain: a temple with a great view over the city.

WHAT WE DISCOVERED:
­­­Passport Book Shop: Air conditioning and nice coffee, you can find lot of books about Thailand and travelling in general. 523 Phra Sumen Rd.
Baam Nampetch: the guest house we stayed found on Airbnb. Great staff and cool ambiance; for those who like tranquility and cleanness.
IFITIS Bar in 60/1 Sukhumvit Soi 38: it’s a cozy Thai bar with live music. We did not try the food but the Butterfly fruit shake worth a special mention. Tasty fruit juices at the beginning of the same street suggested by Christy as well.

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