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Published: July 10th 2019
The next leg of my trip is over already - I can't believe it!
I don't even know where to begin with Bangkok, except to say I instantly became enthralled with its metropolitan beauty and bustling way of life. It's the same feeling I had when I went to Hong Kong for the first time; the very same feeling which caused me to uproot everything and move there for a year.
Laos - whilst quiet and lacking in buzz - was lovely; a nice starting off point to ease me in to holiday mode... Bangkok, on the other hand? Well, it threw me in to the deep end.
I stayed in an area called Sukhumvit, which is pretty much the
place to be if you're a tourist. There's basically one (seemingly) never-ending main road that runs all the way through Sukhumvit, a road that's teeming with restaurants, shopping centres and, of course, bars. The central area for party-goers and thrill-seekers is a district called Nana (as in, nanana I'm at the party area and you're not).
I didn't stay in this part of town though (my mistake). Instead, the Air BnB apartment that I opted for was in Phra Khamon; somewhere way, way
out from the main hive of the city. The nearest train station was about a half-hour walk from where I was staying - which just so happened to be right at the end of the longest and windiest (and at night time, one of the most unsafe) lanes I've ever seen.
Albeit its reclusive location, it was a stunning apartment - modern, clean, sizeable... excellent amenities, and even a laundry place next door. I was very impressed to find that Bangkok even has its own branches of Tescos! Except over there they're called 'Tesco Lotus Express' stores. It was like being sprung back to the UK; there were even Lotus Express superstores, paraline with what we have back at home. It definitely made a big difference to my trip (and my budget) being able to pick up local food for dirt-cheap prices whilst I was staying there.
Despite being hidden away, there was a free shuttle bus service to the nearest train station offered, as part of my stay, which made getting around that much easier. As for the transport system over there - wow! Beats Hong Kong by a mile and a half!
Bangkok incorporates a system they call the BTS Skytrain - cheap, efficient travel that allows the user stunning views of the surrounding city and its landscape. It definitely made train-travel feel more adventurous and less monotonous, which is always a bonus. Not to mention the eye-wateringly low prices of tickets between stations! I managed to skip through 9 or so stations for around 50p! It's an experience I'd definitely recommend to anyone visiting Bangkok. I would also suggest downloading the Grab App (Asia's self-proclaimed version of Uber) if you're planning on using taxis (or tuk tuks). Luckily, South East Asia, I've come to find, is rather cheap, including their taxis (just not the pink private ones). You don't need to worry about dreading metered-taxis rip-off fares if you have this app, it's a lifesaver!
I did dabble in the night scene in Bangkok - if you get the Skytrain to Asok station, there's a string of inviting and colourful bars along the main road (not to mention down some of the side streets). Be careful though - whilst I was wondering around, I unintentionally stumbled upon Massage Lane (not its official name). I swiftly turned back on myself, away from all the seediness and gaudiness.
I went in to a bar called The Game - an eclectic mix of locals, ex-pats and - to my amusement - a few women of the masculine variety. It took a second look (and hearing her resonant, bass-fueled voice) to realise that the woman I was admiring was actually a man. I didn't get to try The Game's food menu, however if you're looking for somewhere to shoot pool or watch football, then I'd suggest going here for a drink - or two. Mind the drinks prices, though. They're not the cheapest around Bangkok; I paid around 6GBP for a cocktail, which I suppose is still cheaper than the majority of bars around the UK these days.
I then moved on to a place called Zanzibar - a classy, mood-lit outdoor bar, with plenty of comfortable seating to choose from. If you're looking for a chilled-out bar where you can enjoy a vibrant cocktail and a relaxed conversation, then this is the place for you.
It hit midnight on Saturday night, and I was about to head home (I wanted to do a full day of exploring on Sunday), however a random Italian guy I happened to meet on my way out of Zanzibar, had other ideas. We went to this bar-club hybrid called Hillary's Bar. Drinks were cheap and the music was thumping. The DJ played a satisfying mix of tunes - from the modern top 40s stuff all the way to 90s hiphop. I also met a bunch of randoms at this bar; we all ended up partying together and sharing a massive bottle of vodka that this American dude bought for our table... it was awesome.
If you're looking for something to eat, Bangkok is very westernised in the sense that the city is littered with Burger Kings, Subways, McDonalds... there's even a few Sizzlers dotted around! However, there's also a generous selection of local (and other) cuisines readily available if you're not in the mood for a Big Mac.
As for Bangkok's landmark scene... there's no way 3 days was enough time to see and make the most of all this amazing city has to offer. I massively misunderestimated how many things there would be to do and experience here; so much so that I didn't even scratch the surface. If you're in the mood for some cultural history, Wat Arun is a must, as is The Temple of The Emerald Buddha. A few tips for you keen travellers, though; tips that I wish I had known about before I came here...
If you want to cram in as many sights in as short a space of time as possible, I'd highly recommend getting an all-day boat pass. The easiest way to get to Sathorn Pier is to take the Skytrain to Saphan Taxin station, take the exit signposted for the pier and you'll see a deck bustling with ex-pats hungry for tourism. The company that I opted for was called Boat4U (the guys in the orange polo-shirts roaming around). You pay 5GBP for a 24-hour boat-pass, which allows as many trips as you'd like within that time frame. You can even use it the next day if you don't have time for all your sight-seeing, which is perfect for those who want to hit the drinks in the evening and then finish exploring the next day!
If you choose to visit Wat Arun (an absolutely awe-inspring temple), make sure you cover up your legs and your chesticles... wraps are available to rent or buy on-site incase you're not in the appropriate attire, and an entry ticket in to the temple costs just over 1GBP. The Temple of The Emerald Buddha is perhaps even stricter - everything has to be covered up (I had to buy a long, flowy dress from one of the local shops just to get in), plus you have to walk through a detection scanner. It's absolutely teeming with guards, and costs about 10GBP for entry. I didn't go in as I didn't have time, but you can walk around some of the grounds (whilst managing to get some pretty decent pictures) for free.
Whilst I am enjoying travelling, I can't help but feel that Bangkok deserves its own week-long trip; something that I will consider for next year's travels. The bits of Bangkok that I did see, I loved. In the same way that Hong Kong does, Bangkok completely sweeps you up with its awe-inspiring skyline, abundance of shops, markets and bars, and I would gladly recommend it to anyone looking to explore some of Asia. Not to mention, Bangkok is very reasonable with its prices, so what more could you want? I'm already looking forward to going back!
Where I drank: Game Bar, Zanzibar, Hillary's Bar
Where I ate: Ponn's Cafe
What I saw: Wat Arun, The Temple of The Emerald Buddha, Khao San Road
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