In February 2015, I traveled through Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Siem Reap with my sister. Here are some memorable moments from my vacation in Bangkok! Places to visit, travel tips, culture shock, and where to find good food.
1. A SIM card with 15 days of unlimited internet is only $18?! It was quite convenient to have unlimited internet— especially for Google Maps for walking and navigating taxis. Make sure your smart phone is unlocked for international SIM cards! Mine was purchased at the airport.
2. My sister and I were relaxing at a random park we found next to the river (Santichai Prakan Public Park) on a Sunday evening, and everyone suddenly stopped whatever they were doing and stood still for the National Anthem at 6:00 pm. Right after that people started gathering to the central plaza and started an exciting exercise class. We were just so surprised that we just stayed and watched the entire thing.
3. Before this trip, I should have been aware that you can’t wear shorts or sleeve-less tops at temples. At the Grand Palace, there was a long line for renting a scarf to cover your legs. Also be aware that the entrance fee is 500 bahts… whereas other local temples are free or only 20 bahts. But trust me, it’s worth it!
4. This is unrelated to Thai culture… but at one of the hostels we stayed at, we had Korean roommates, and they offered us Shin Ramyun for breakfast. I can’t believe they brought that on their trip…
5. We usually looked up places to eat at on Trip Advisor, but one day we randomly walked into Suan Nguen Mee Ma Cafe for brunch. The meal size is just enough so that you feel like you can eat more but you don’t really need it. It was a combination of a brunch cafe, organic goods store, and a bookstore. It is right next to Wat Ratchabopit Sathitmahasimaram Ratchaworawihan (gosh that name is long!!). Please use google maps and use this temple as your destination.
6. Since we heard all the scam stories from famous floating markets, we decided to go to a smaller local Taling Chan Floating Market. The taxi driver was surprised that we were not going there on a tour, but I’m glad we went there on our own. The huge juicy shrimp was expensive but quite delicious.
7. Bus rides were only 11 bahts (taxi rides were around 100 bahts… minimum)!! When you get on the bus, you have to pay a man who will give you a ticket in exchange. This man is not the bus driver, and he could be hidden among the customers. If you can’t find him, he should approach you so have some coins ready! They didn’t announce where the stops were, so I just kept track of where I was using Google Maps. I also checked how our stop would look like using street view.
8. The foot massages in Bangkok (& Chiangmai!) was so good that I caught myself falling asleep for some of them. I don’t like Khao San Road, but I liked their busy massage salon. Masseurs (male) seem to be better because they have more strength. Prices range from 200 bahts to 300 bahts per hour. The MBK mall has 2-3 salons on almost every floor. We went to four massage salons throughout Thailand, and had a good experience in all of them. I recommend getting a massage for the full hour instead of half.
9. If you are staying at a minor hotel, taxi drivers may understand the location better by temple names! Also remember to take metered-taxis if possible. I also recommend not taking a taxi from the airport because you’ll have to pay extra for the highway. The railway is much cheaper and convenient.
10. Wat Arun was the most thrilling temple that I’ve been to because of the steep height! I was impressed by the courage of construction workers there.
11. After going to tourist attractions, my sister and I were shocked to see the city side of Bangkok with huge shopping malls and a clean and fast metro system.
12. Although I was extremely careful about not drinking any tap water, this one caught me off guard… A beer mug frozen with water… The ice melted eventually and I didn’t think about it but it gave me a stomach problems for the next few days. Good thing it was at least the end of my trip…
13. On our last night in Bangkok, we wanted to treat ourselves for some good dinner with a beautiful night view. But our search started from 5 pm, and many of the recommended restaurants’ reservations were full. After calling maybe four restaurants, we found Ku dé ta Izakaya. Ku dé ta has two restaurants, a cocktail bar, and a night club. The izakaya is the more affordable restaurant.
All of their food was delicious, and their dessert was exceptional! But they’re a quite sweet so I don’t recommend getting multiple plates like we did! Glad we got some green tea with it.
Their lunch set seems like a good deal as well (350 bahts+).
I got to take a look at the nightclub because I had to walk through there for the bathroom (which had nice jasmine soap and lotion!), and the night view from there was nice as well.
They are located in the Sathorn Square Building, which is directly connected to the exit of the BTS Chong Nonsi Station. To enter the restaurant, you must make a reservation, go to the lobby floor to confirm your name, and get guided to a designated elevator.
More info and pictures on this website!
14. The cheapest Thai meals are sometimes the most delicious. These were under 100 bahts (~3USD).
Duck with soy sauce and rice on the street next to Wat Saket.
Pork flat noodles at the Chiang Mai Railway Station food court.