Waking up in Bangkok for the first day was surreal. This was my first time in Asia, and a return to a previous life for Lisa. Our hotel was in the Lumphini Park neighborhood, just off the park itself. While not in the central historic district, this location proved to be a great choice for hopping around to different areas of the city.
It goes without saying, Bangkok is famous for its food. Particularly its street food. Every travel food show has a mandatory stop in this southeastern Asia capitol, and we were ready to start our own exploration of everything the city had to offer. Before booking our hotel, we noticed that there was a market right across the street. This market became our go-to morning spot for grabbing something to eat before hitting the streets. We tried different vendors and items every day, and most of what we tried was good. We didn’t have the best food of our trip in this market, but the convenience and variety of choice was hard to beat.
Bangkok traffic consist of traditional cars, but is equally matched, if not outnumbered, by motorcycles and tuk-tuks. If Google Maps says it will take 30 minutes to get to a destination, it is probably much longer. It took a couple of days for us to realize that trip times were being thrown off in a HUGE way by motorcycles that are able to weave in and out of traffic. Tuk-tuks seem touristy, aren’t the most comfortable, and have a reputation for scamming tourists. They may be your fastest way around though, particularly if you are headed to the central historic district. Negotiate a price beforehand, and do not accept any other stops. They do not have the mobility of a motorcycle, but chances are they can get you to your destination faster than taking a taxi.
Tuk-tuks are great for getting around (see above). But, be aware that there are some unsavory drivers who may try to either overcharge or route you through destination(s) you have no desire to see. We did not fall prey to any of these scams, but we did dodge one. We were near our hotel in Lumphini park, looking for a ride to the historic area to check out a well-known food spot. We flagged down a driver and began our negotiations. It quickly became apparent that this was one of the infamous scammers. After accepting our offer and agreeing on our price, we began our ride. After only a block, he began telling us about all the places he was going to take us, and it was only a few minutes out of the way. We promptly told him to stop and got out. We found another driver.
Most people you encounter in Bangkok will probably speak some English. Don’t be that traveller that expects it though. Learn the use of “Krap” and “Ka”, along with some basic thanks you-s and formalities. Thai people are amazingly kind, happy and helpful. Return the favor!
This goes for everywhere in Thailand. Many of the sites you’ll want to visit are considered holy. Places like temples and palaces will require your legs to be covered. This goes for both guys and girls at Bangkok’s Grand Palace. Don’t worry, it’s worth it! Lisa brought a sarong she bought during a trip to Mexico and it provided the necessary coverage while doubling as a beach throw during our time in Southern Thailand. It also folded up small and fit into our temporary backpacker lifestyle.
Street food in Bangkok is great. Food in restaurants in Bangkok is great. Sample it all. Seek out the sois (streets) that are renowned for their food. You won’t be disappointed.