Most people’s first entry into Thailand is through Suvarnabhumi Airport, followed by a bus or taxi ride to either Khao San Road or one of the more luxurious hotels in Sukhumvit. Travel these days in Bangkok or anywhere else in Thailand is straight-forward, cheap and easy; not like in the backpacker days when you had to negotiate hard to get a reasonable price for a tuk-tuk ride.
My first foray into this amazing city was more like a direct plunge into an ice-cold pool. Not that it was bad, it was just a bit of a culture shock for me. You see, I had been living for the past year on a small beach in the south of Thailand called Railay beach. Tranquil, very quiet, no cars at all and the most stressful part of your day was deciding whether to have a banana or a pineapple pancake. A lot like the movie “The Beach” if you have seen it…in fact the movie was filmed in the area at the time that I lived there.
So… getting into Bangkok on the night train from Surit Thani I awoke to find a city in full motion with more sights and smells than my senses were quite prepared for. After all, a year on a beach certainly makes you very relaxed. But it wasn’t long before I quickly developed a love for this city, the Thais are a very friendly lot, always smiling and always trying to be helpful. Even if they don’t really know the directions you are asking for, they will still point you in the direction of somewhere nice.
And there is always somewhere nice to go, from the many wats and temples to the somewhat touristy floating market, there is never a shortage of things to see and do. Of course there is also Soi Cowboy, with its flashing neon signs and bar girls, but be warned this is totally not a child friendly area.
But by far the best thing about Bangkok is the never-ending choices of food. After almost 365 days of the same fare from about 9 different beachside restaurants, I was presented with unlimited choices of tantalizingly delicious cuisine. From street stalls to flash restaurants, the dining options are unparalleled to just about anywhere in the world, except for perhaps Singapore. The truth is, when it comes to dining in Bangkok, the question is not where, what or even when to eat, but how many times can you eat in one day.
For more to see and do in Bagkok, please check this post.
Portions of this story previously appeared on Expensive places.
I spent a few years kicking around Sout-East Asia and yet still have several countries in the area that are on my ‘have to visit’ list. If you decide on a trip in this magical region, be sure to do just a little research on local customs, as their way of life differs somewhat from the west.