Around the World Trip: Bangkok, Thailand!

*By Whitney*

We had been to 10 countries so far on our trip!

If you haven’t already, check out my posts on our adventures at the other stops: 

Timeline for Bangkok: December 4th-11th

This was our second to last stop on our whole 5 month trip! We had been to Bangkok for a quick overnight stay earlier in our trip, and we had been to the Bangkok airports several times to get to other places during our trip, but this was our first “real” time visiting Bangkok! We planned a whole week there, which we thought might be a little too long, but it turns out there’s so much to do there!

Where We Stayed

Bangkok is a huge city, and generally we’ve found we don’t care for big cities that much. But, we did actually really enjoy Bangkok. It’s very spread out and didn’t feel as busy as some other big cities we’ve visited. We stayed on the outskirts in a more residential area at an Airbnb in someone’s house. It was like a townhouse with several levels, and the hosts rent out a few rooms in the house. We had a private room and a shared bathroom which wasn’t too bad. We mostly didn’t see any of the other guests and just saw the hosts sometimes on our way in and out. They were able to do laundry for us while we were there which was very helpful. And they had two cute little kittens we enjoyed playing with!

Getting Around

We had to use public transportation and Grab taxis quite a bit to get around because there wasn’t a whole lot within walking distance. We learned the skytrain and subway systems fairly well, because they’re pretty much just like any other major city, and we mostly just got single ride tickets when we needed them. The ticket machines were pretty easy when we used them, and when we went to the ticket counters the employees spoke good English and were helpful. We did take a local bus and the local boat systems a couple times. Taking the boats was a really cool experience, because it felt like a tour but it was dirt cheap like a local bus ticket. Figuring out the buses and boats were a little more confusing than the skytrain and subway though. Luckily we read about the fares beforehand because the ticket people for those did not speak English as well. When you get on the bus or the boat they kind of just come up to you to collect the money but don’t really say anything, so luckily I had the correct amount ready. On the bus a local passenger helped translate where we were going to the bus employee which was very nice. We found it was hit or miss in Bangkok whether people spoke English. But for the most part we didn’t have any trouble getting around and communicating.

What We Did

We did lots of sightseeing while in Bangkok, including going to several beautiful temples. We had seen a lot of temples throughout the trip, but these were among the most spectacular. Many of them were free or very cheap to enter. We decided to skip going inside the Royal Palace and seeing the Jade Buddha because the tickets were fairly expensive, but we did see the Palace from the outside.

We did quite a bit of souvenir shopping in Bangkok, because this was our last stop in Thailand and second to last stop on the whole trip. There were lots of things I had been wanting to get the whole trip but couldn’t since we weren’t able to tote things around for 5 months. Plus, we needed to get Christmas presents for our families before we headed back home, so this was the perfect chance to knock out souvenirs and Christmas shopping all in one! We went to a couple night markets in search of souvenirs, but I didn’t really find what I was looking for there. After crowd-sourcing for some information, I found out that one of the major malls, MBK, was a lot cheaper than the normal malls and had a ton of souvenirs. We hit the jackpot there. It was like being at one of the markets, with cheap prices, lots of stuff, and haggling for even lower prices- but instead of being outside in the heat and humidity it was inside in the AC! I could’ve spent all day at that mall shopping, but Jared was over it after a couple hours, haha!

We also visited several other malls while in Bangkok. We felt like Bangkok was just one big mall. They were on every block, especially all along Sukhumvit Road/The Sukhumvit line on the skytrain. We enjoyed eating at the street food style food courts inside the malls, which we discovered in Chiang Mai earlier in our trip and saw all throughout Southeast Asia. They’re like street food stands with good food and low prices, but more sanitary and in the AC! The malls themselves are truly impressive, unlike any I’ve seen in the US. We don’t usually do much shopping there, we just enjoy walking around. One of them in Bangkok has themed floors, for example one floor is like a mini San Francisco, another Tokyo, and another London. Even better, we were there in December, so each mall had a spectacular Christmas display up. We saw so many amazing lights, trees, and decorations. It reminded me of being in NYC around Christmas, except extremely hot outside instead of freezing!

While in Bangkok we also checked out some of the local bars, including a rooftop bar for an amazing view of the city. Most of the rooftop bars are really fancy and expensive, but we did some research and found one that was moderately priced and we just went for one drink to check out the views!

We also went to a local Muay Thai fight at the Channel 7 studio, which has free entrance on Sunday afternoons. This was our second time going to a Muay Thai fight, the first being in Chiang Mai. We thought this was a much better experience then the first fights we saw. It was mostly locals, and there was a lot of shouting and betting on the fights, which added to the experience! I also checked out the huge Chatachuk weekend market near the Channel 7 studio while we were in that part of town. I had already gotten the majority of my souvenirs at MBK, but I could’ve easily found everything I needed at this massive market if I’d gone there first.

Overall Experience in Bangkok

Overall we had a good time in Bangkok, but it certainly wasn’t our favorite place in Thailand or Southeast Asia. I am so glad we had visited all the other areas in Southeast Asia to see how different it all is compared to Bangkok. I think that someone would be doing themselves a disservice by only going to Bangkok while in Southeast Asia. It would be comparable to only going to Washington D.C. when visiting the United States!

When our time finally came to a close in Bangkok, we were definitely sad to be leaving Thailand since it was our favorite country during the trip. I was also a bit sad that we only had a week left in our vacation. Little did I know, I would soon be very sad to be leaving the warmth of Thailand, as it was a lot cooler at our next stop: Hong Kong!

Stay tuned for my final post of our trip: Hong Kong!

 

Insider Tips for Bangkok:

  • In Thailand the currency is the Thai baht.
  • US visitors to Thailand don’t need a tourist visa if you’re staying less than 30 days.
  • In Bangkok, it’s very spread out so you will need to use local taxis, Grab taxi, or public transportation to get around and see the different parts of town. It’s all fairly cheap though.
  • I definitely recommend taking the local boat systems to sight see down the main river (Chao Phraya River) and the smaller waterways.
  • It’s worth it to check out one of the rooftop bars to see incredible city views!
  • For souvenirs go to MBK mall and/or the Chatachuk Weekend Market.
  • If you’re really serious about Muay Thai, you can pay to see fights at the famous Lumpinee stadium. But if you just want to check it out for free, go to Channel 7 Studio on Sunday afternoons. But get there at least an hour and a half early if you want seats! Otherwise it is standing room only, which actually wasn’t that bad. Don’t bring drinks, they won’t let you bring them in (not even water).
  • If you can go to Bangkok in December, I would definitely recommend it. It was still hot, but not as hot as it would have been earlier in the year. And, the Christmas decorations are spectacular!
  • Don’t forget to check out the malls! Terminal 21 was our favorite!
  • Massages are more expensive in Bangkok than the rest of Thailand, but still cheap at around $15 for an hour.
  • For night life madness, it’s worth at least walking through Khao San Road. We even found a cheap and fun comedy show there! But do be warned, it’s a crazy place.
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