Contrasted, a word that would go along with effervescent when it comes to this city. If you take a long tail boat, it won’t take you more than 5 min to get from the skyscrapers of Sathon to the temple of Wat Arun and the royal palace, magnificent remains of Bangkok’s history. I spent three days there in mid February, just enough time to grasp the spirit of this city. Here is a little top 5 for you 😉
Where to stay:
Let me start with the practical part. I’m more about on the budget housing, which is why i first chose the Unico Hostel. I wouldn’t recommend this one, unless you want to be in an half finished hostel which only assets are a nice manager, a good breakfast and a 160 bahts per night room.
I then changed for the Fun&Coffee hostel, 240 bahts per night for a 6 people room, huge bed with curtains, safe, entirely renewed building, kitchen, laundry,… A crunch, the best hostel of my whole trip !
My top 5:
- Temples of the Chao Phraya River
Bangkok is being split apart by the Chao Phraya river, also called the king’s river, which is the economic highway of the city. Between long tail boats, cargos and ferries, the waters are quite busy. For 15 bahts, you can get across every pier of the river.
Avoid the tourists and the crowds by going to Tha Phra Chang deck around 8:30 am. It’s time to visit the Wat Phra Kaeo, the great palace, which is the iconic place of Bangkok. Cost for the entrance is quite expensive, 500 bahts, but it’s definitely worth it. You’ll get to see the emerald Buddha, the most revered statue of Thailand, said to have been revealed by lighting in year 1434 and currently hosted on top of a 11m golden autel inside a wonderful Ubosot (the royal chapel).
Once you’re done with the royal palace, take a tour at What Pho, this temple, which is the biggest and the oldest of the country, will surprise you with a 46m long Buddha, that barely fits inside the main building. Entrance fee: 100 bahts. If you take some time wandering around, you should see some monks resting in the area. I had the opportunity to spend some time with one, coming from northeastern Thailand to do some tourism with other monks. Even monks can have some nice spare time 😉
You’re not fed of temples yet? Take the 4 bahts tiger ferry in front of Wath Pho to Wat Arun Temple. Entrance fee: 50 Bahts . I would recommend you get there on late afternoon, to see the sunset set the whole place on fire, magnificent!
- Flower market
May it be by night or by day, this is a never resting place. After a busy day of sales, the workers refill the stocks and create new flower compositions, getting ready for the future customers. Flowers are being used in many ways in Thailand: for offerings, weddings, funerals, wealth,… For over 200 years, flower garlands, known as Phuang Malai, have been used as symbols of good luck, welcome, commitment…
- Chinatown (Pier Tha Ratchawong)
Probably the biggest and most colorful one I’ve been to. At a street turn, you’ll come across lanterns waving between buildings, tuned tuk-tuk and street food shops. Full of tourists and locals, you can experience there everything China would’ve to offer in terms of food and crafts. It kind of feels like you’re experiencing Beijing in a condensed way. If you get tired of the crazy activity, you can always leave the main street for a temple.
Bangkok’s Chinese area is one of the best places for you to attend the Chinese New Year if you’re in the neighbourhood during this event 😉
- Muay tai fight at channel 7 (MRT Chatuchak)
The name must sound familiar. If you’re visiting Thailand you must’ve heard of this sport, it’s a martial art where fighters are allowed to use their whole body as a weapon. Those fights are very popular among the locals (it’s the national sport) and you can find them everywhere throughout the country. Often, tourists would go to the big shows for around 500B, but you can look for TV fights, free if you come early enough. I had the chance to attend one of those, at the channel 7 stadium. The age of the contestants was a shock, especially given the brutality of this sport, but the fight was respectful: no blood spills.
- Chatuchak market (BTS Mochit or MRT Chatuchak)
If you’re in Bangkok a weekend, you’d better check this event. Located close to the subway station “chatuchak park”, this market is so huge that you’ll spend the entire afternoon in it. From housing furniture to food, going through animals, clothes, whatever,.. If you stay until the end of the day, around 6pm, you’ll even get discounts on the products as the sellers fold their shops. If you wander in the small alleys of the market, you might end up in some smoky mood bars with locals playing billiard and selling roosters for clandestine fights.