I’ve been wanting to learn surfing. After I quit my job, I decided to travel to Phuket, one of the best surfing spots for beginners in Asia. So why not! On my way to conquer the waves, I stopped in Bangkok for a few weeks, which my bestie has told me a million times that it is a vibrant city packed with amazing restaurants and shopping malls. I couldn’t agree more! I also fell in love with its beautiful architecture, cultural heritage and of course, its super friendly people.
Although I only had a limited budget for the trip in Bangkok, I actually visited more places and tried out more activities than I expected. One tip is to know your way around in advance. I went to most attractions by BTS Skytrain. However, Uber is also a great choice for tourists during off-peak hours. The app definitely saved me a lot of time translating the English address into Thai for the drivers.
You should not miss the Grand Palace even though it always crowded with tourists. The entrance fee costs 500 Baht (~ 120 HKD), which is a bit steeper than other attractions in the city. But it’s worth the splurge to explore the royal life and experience Thailand’s history. I got off at the Saphan Taksin station and took the tourist ferry across the Chao Phraya River to get to the palace (In hindsight I should have taken the public one, which is just right next to it and it is much cheaper).
After a few minutes walk from the pier, you can see the spectacular and atmospheric palace. Remember to dress appropriately. Covering your legs and shoulders is required for entering this royal palace. Since their King Bhumibol passed away not long ago , there were a lot of locals who dressed in black came to the Grand Place to mourn him. The king’s portraits were also hung in many public areas, such as the stations, banks and many other places. From each corner of the city, you could truly feel people’s love towards their revered king .
Not far from the Grand Palace is the Wat Pho, where you could find a gigantic reclining Buddha statue. It is 45-meter long and 15-meter high, and covered with golden colour. The overall temple complex is very impressive with a number of gorgeous stupas. They are beautifully decorated with gold and shiny objects in old-Bangkok style. I was amazed to see how glorious it looked under the evening sunset.
On the other side of the river is where the Temple of Dawn located. Taking the private ferry is ridiculously cheap and convenient. It costs only 3 Baht and the duration lasts around 2 minutes. However, the temple was under construction and a few main towers were caged in scaffolding. You could see a lot of adorable kittens live in the temple and enjoy a lazy afternoon there.
Aside from the Grand Palace and temples, the night markets are not to be missed! Two of my favourites were the Asiaquie night market and the Chatuchak weekend market. Chatuchak is known as “the mother of all markets”, which consists of 15,000 stalls. It amazes with alleys after alleys of stores and sells all kinds of lovely things, including trendy clothes, accessories, Buddhist crafts, antique wood carvings, ceramic wares, art painting, farm-fresh flowers and… you name it!
I can guarantee that there is something for you, and prices are very competitive. There’s nothing I enjoy more than shopping all different natural essential oils and organic soaps in various fragrances. I was also crazy about their extra virgin coconut oil which smells so nice.
I was obsessed with the coconut ice cream served in a coconut husk with sticky rice and some other toppings like aloe vera jelly and red beans. I missed it so much that my mouth water when I think about them! This is one of the must-have street food in Bangkok! In this city, you can actually find street food within arm’s reach — fresh chopped fruits with weird dressing, all kinds of BBQ, Thai snacks, and a whole lot more that I still cannot figure out what are they. Plus, there are always some food stands near the stations that you can enjoy on the way home.
Visiting the Chinatown was not in my plan. But since my girlfriend was so eager to taste the durian and she was so sure there should be some over there, I decided to make a short visit to the Chinatown before her afternoon flight. Despite the intense heat that day, I had a good time here seeing a lot of traditional Chinese shops and buildings with rich culture and history. The Chinatown covers a large area at the riverside and it has lots of small narrow and peaceful alleys that we can enjoy a slow walk and take some nice photos.
The last day and also the most exciting day, I spent 4 hours in Silom Thai Cooking School, learning how to cook Thai food. The instructor picked us up in the station at 9 am and we walked to a local wet market to shop for fresh ingredients that we needed for the class. While the instructor was introducing different kinds of Thai herbs and spices, I was wondering whether I could buy them from the markets in Hong Kong. There was a stall selling fresh coconut mike and sugar, which tasted really wonderful.
The class was pretty hands-on and I got a lot of chances to chop the vegetables, make the sauces and stir-fry them with meats. Everything went on very smoothly and I have learned to cook five dishes. We had a short break to taste each dish after cooking them and I’m not shy to say all of them taste fabulous! To be honest, I even think that the Pad Thai I cooked at that day taste much better than any I tried in the restaurants ;)! The cooking class was definitely a highlight of the trip!
At last I also want to mention one of the hostels that I stayed for a night in Bangkok when I was traveling alone. It is called the Yard Hostel, which located near the Ari BTS station. I met some friends there and we ended up having a lot of fun hanging out together. One of them was from Korea who is currently planning to open a Korean restaurant in Phuket. Without knowing where to go for dinner that night, we decided to follow his suggestion and go to the Korean town for Korean barbecue. After that, we headed to an architecture exhibition, which was also a fascinating experience for me.