With Bangkok’s reputation for parties and dodgy street food, I never thought it would actually end up being on my guilty pleasures list of places to visit.
After school I never made to pilgrimage around Asia to ‘find myself’ or have a ‘Gap Yahh’ to explore Buddhist Temples and rave at Full Moon Parties. Instead I moved to Melbourne, I worked there and travelled as much as I could for two years before returning back to the U.K. Bangkok was never really on the radar for me or on my most wanted list, but when I saw the code BKK appear on my roster, I was intrigued and excited to be exploring a new corner of the world.
I have been to Bangkok 3 times now with my airline, for six days in total. Each trip has been completely different and I’ve seen a different side to this crazy city with each visit. My first trip was shortly after their King, had passed away last year. The country was in a state of mourning (a whole year to be precise) but it didn’t really affect me as a visitor, only that a few roads at the time were closed for processions, meaning I had to catch a boat up the river instead to see some temples, which ended up being a really great way to see another side of Bangkok, and to see some floating markets, something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. In terms of culture, Bangkok is brimming with temples and shrines, but if you’re only going to see one make sure it’s the Sleeping Buddha. A huge golden Buddha who is led down “asleep” it is a pretty impressive sight, and a little different to the more commonly seen seated Buddhas.
My advise to you if you want to get around Bangkok is try and use the train line wherever possible, it’s super easy to use and the by far the cheapest way to get around. Yes, a Tuk Tuk is fun and definitely a must if you’ve never had a ride in one but save them for short journeys not during rush hour, otherwise you may as well walk if the traffic is bad. I’d never seen a city whose traffic jams are comparable to London, until coming here – yes I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t been to NYC! If you were thinking about cycling around this city, I would reconsider your options, the pavements are fairly ropey and at times the roads non existent, even sticking to the main roads you still have the pot holes and crazy local drivers to contend with!
Walking is the best option for short distances, but keep your belongings safe and don’t wear flip-flops! My first two trips went fine, until my recent trip I was out walking in flip-flops when the heavens opened. For over an hour it poured, I couldn’t hail a taxi and I was miles away from my hotel. The roads quickly became rivers, which meant that crossing them in flip-flops became near impossible because you’re essentially wading through a river full of rubbish and dirt
One thing that will never leave me is the smell of Bangkok, which is especially pungent when it’s hot and wet, which is most of the time.
For all of Bangkok’s weirdness I have really enjoyed each of my trips, by looking beyond the typical tourist attractions of the red lights and pingpong shows I’ve managed to find some peaceful corners of this crazy city.
I am strangely proud to say that (so far!) each time I’ve managed to not get food poisoning, be robbed or mugged off too badly as a tourist – well at least I think I haven’t on that last one. I also think that going vegetarian has also helped me out hugely too on the food poisoning front. In two out of three trips I have returned home with one crew member less, with one often falling victim to Bangkok Belly.
With that said, I’ve compiled a list of fun things I like to do in Bangkok, and a couple of my favourite places to eat too if you’re looking for somewhere tried and tested!
Get A Thai Massage
An experience I won’t forget in a hurry… At the most authentic massage parlours you shouldn’t expect to pay much. Leave your shoes at the door and slip into some linen PJs for a full body experience for only 150BKT – around £3.50 (not including tip). Be prepared to get into some funky positions, clicked, cracked, elbowed and not to mention stood on. Your personal masseuse will leave NO stone unturned, so get ready for those knots in your neck to have some serious attention, by attention I mean borderline torture.
Drop In Cross Fit Class
If you wanted to escape to smog of the city and really get some air into your lungs, check out Aspire Club, conveniently placed right by the Asok stop on the BTS Skytrain. They have a range of classes including Cross Fit, which they host on the roof! The setting makes a challenging workout more interesting, but being outside also means there’s no aircon and Bangkok is humid! Be prepared to get sweaty and don’t forget to strap your hands and chalk up!
Yoga Fly @ The Pilates Station
Take the weight off with this super fun class that combines yoga, acrobatics, Pilates and dance. Don’t be fooled by the petite Thai instructor she means business, with no slacking under her watch – you will feel the burn and your balance will be seriously put to the test in this hour long class designed to strengthen and stretch your muscles.
May Veggie Home
Keen to try out some authentic Thai food with a difference? Then look no further, May Veggie was the first ever all vegan Thai restaurant in Bangkok. The animal product free menu has so many local flavours to try, the food is fresh and colourful. I loved the Thai green curry, rainbow spring rolls and baked tofu with a classic satay dipping sauce.
Shopping at The MBK Market
I’m not a huge shopping fan but this market has it all; handbags and sunglasses to the elephant print pants that you can pass off as originals from your gap year back in 2010. Wow that makes me feel old. Plus if you fancy your hand at bartering for a good price, you are sure to get a bargain for your souvenirs.
An Inversion Yoga Class
Get upside down in more ways than one at Yogatique’s intermediate class. Set to some soulful tunes and the empowering voice of Minh your inspiring instructor, you are mentally prepared for a decent class; the other give away is the full to the brim studio of regulars. You will get into some funky variations and explore some alternative head and shoulder stands, as well as working on your overall strength and stamina. Without doubt one of the most testing yoga classes I’ve been to.
Another all vegan restaurant but this one might offer a sweet escape if you’ve over done it on the scorpion skewers. Broccoli Revs is my ideal food joint, yes we are talking smoothie bowls, quinoa burgers and green juices galore. It’s also just a pretty cool place to hangout if want to relax with a coffee and escape the passing deluge.