Buildings crookedly stack on top of one another, markets burst in to the road, burgundy, burnt orange spices and the sizzling of meat being fried, barely audible over the roar of tuktuks and motorbikes zooming past. There’s bustle mixed with business, meanderers thrown in to the markets. It’s an intoxicating sight, and the humid heat makes it all the more dizzying.
They say Bangkok is a city that never sleeps (unless you arrive jet lagged that is) but I only found this bustling Bangkok I had been picturing when I decided to walk between places.
It is a sprawling city and far too easy to get lost in. There were many moments, with strangely calm clarity, I realised I had no idea where I was. Yet it was during my somewhat bewildered wanderings in the city’s back pockets, I caught a glance how people wear it in.
When sightseeing around Bangkok, get a good map, a bottle of water and remember you can pop in to hostels to ask for help with directions. You can ask people in the street, but don’t always expect the locals to speak English.
If you don’t fancy a walk in the sticky heat, which is understandable, there are many other modes of transportation you can take.
Taxis can be such a cheap and easy way to get around but please make sure to use the meter as you can get massively ripped off, especially when you’re unfamilar with the currency. If a taxi driver says they won’t turn the meter on, refuse the driver. There are over 400,000 taxis in Bangkok, you will easily be able to find another.
Another great way to get around is the BTS, the subway. A single journey can cost as little as 16 Baht.
(£1 = approximately 50 Baht)
And for the love of God, only get in a tuktuk if you know the distance you’re going and can agree on a good price. Trust me, you’ll end up getting ripped off or taken to a bizarre place you never intended to visit. Or both.
Poor sense of direction aside, I managed to cram in a fair bit of sightseeing on my first couple of days of travelling solo. Whether you get around by taxi, tuktuk, the BTS or by foot, you may want to consider checking out a few of these places.
Let me know if you’ve already visited any of them, I’d love to know what you thought about them.
Wat Pho / The Reclining Buddha
(You can also see it a night but more on that later.)
The sky was gloriously blue and the towers spectacularly stretched against it. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours walking around to admire everything. The Reclining Buddha filled the temple and it takes an impressive number of minute to walk around, with the chimes of bells from prayers echoing constantly.
My one tip for here: get a guide, or at the very least a guide book. I wandered around enjoying the beauty of the place but not having a clue what anything was meant to be. Oops.
Temple of Dawn
Unfortunately, when I visited here there was construction on the temple so you couldn’t climb up particuarly high. I can imagine the view from the top would be stunning and if you’ve been there when it’s open as normal, I’d love to know what you thought of it.
The Golden Mount
Going to the top of the Golden Mount provides such a spectacular view of Bangkok (and if you’re eager to get it on Instagram right away, free wifi is available right at the top.)
The Golden Buddha
This is one of the few Buddha statues that is made entirely out of pure gold. The look of reverence in people’s eyes as they kneel down to pray or light a stick of incense creates a powerfully peaceful atmosphere.
I’m going back to Bangkok at the end of this month and I would love to know if you’ve got any recommednations on where I should next visit!
X Marks the Spot
Expique Tuk Tuk Night Tours
This is usually a place where I describe one particular part of the city but I have to dedicate a part of this blog to my experience with Expique night tours.
Our tour guide, Jip (pronounced Jeep) was so knowledgable and professional throughout.
Within four hours you get to see so much of the city. The following will give you a flavour of what you experience. You can see a full itinerary on their website.
We explored the food markets, with Jip pausing here and there to buy samples of her favourite for us to try. My personal favourite was Pandan with sweet Thai bread.
Throughout our wanderings, Jip was a constant flow of information – from the ways of the Thai people to the more complex elements of Buddhism.
The best part of the tour for me was seeing Wat Pho at night. It was lovely seeing it in the day, but it truly was breath-taking in the evening. It felt like we had the place to ourselves. (You can see Wat Pho free of charge at night but you can’t see the Reclining Buddha) it was so surreally beautiful.
We went for Pad Thai, at apparently one of the best restaurants in the city with an original recipe. There’s always a queue there and Jip called someone to save us a space as we continued our tour. The timings worked out just right and the Pad Tha was delicious.
A tuktuk tour is obviously risky in wet season and during the evening a storm broke and flooded the streets. They came prepared – with ponchos and umbrellas when the rain started in the flower market.
Jip even walked me home from China Town in the rain. The evening had finished with mango sticky rice and we were each presented with orchids from the flower market.
For 1600 Baht or £30 this tour is so worth it. This includes all food and tuktuk transport, plus a lovely guide who will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. The company is relatively new and has only been running the past year. I wholeheartedly hope they continue to grow and give people great experiences of Bangkok.
(NB – there is no foot picture for this entry because it is incredibly disrepectful to point your foot towards a temple as the feet are considered the least sacred part of the body.)