Thailand is a “must” destination for a lot of people. Because everybody goes there, you need to go to. Maybe 5 years ago or more, prices in Thailand were cheap. Now, far away from cheap. You can get meals cheap, but tourism is growing really quickly.
- MONEY: 100 Baht = 2,8 €.
- TAXI FROM AIRPORT TO AIRBNB: 500 Baht.
- TUK TUK: From 100 – 500 Baht per ride.
- SKYTRAIN: Fares depend on the distance and vary from 15 to a little over 50 Thai Baht.
Things I saw in the capital of Thailand:
WAT PHO TEMPLE
One of the most known temples and its highlight the Reclining Buddha is not the only fascinating thing. The figure here is impressive: 15 meters tall, 46 meters long, so large it feels like it has been squeezed into the building. The Buddha’s feet are 5 meters long. You need to take your shoes off to enter, and if you like to have more good luck, you can purchase a bowl of coins at the entrance of the hall, which you can drop in the 108 bronze bowls which line the length of the walls. Dropping the small coins makes a ringing sound and with this gesture, money goes towards helping the monks renovate and preserve Wat Pho. Today Wat Pho is well-known as a center for traditional massage and medicine.
CHAO PHRAYA RIVER
Exploring Bangkok is possible also with boats on a Chao Phraya river and down to the canals. Many were drained or filled because of the risk of cholera they posed, or to make way for badly needed roads. The ‘Venice of the East’ is not dead – but just how much is left? This is questionable. We did not go through the canals, but we took a taxi boat for 4 Baht (one way). It took us on the other side of the river, where we explored Wat Arun.
WAT ARUN (the temple of dawn)
Wat Arun is another famous temple in Bangkok. It is made up of colorfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water.
Entry to the temple is 100 baht. The temple is open daily from 08:30 to 17:30.
THE GRAND PALACE
Grand Palace is one more spectacular temples in the center of Bangkok. We did not visit because we are too late. The Grand Palace is open from 8 am to 3:30 pm. It is a home of the Thai King, the Royal court, and the administrative seat of government.
King Rama X accepted the throne on the night of 1 December 2016. His father was cremated on 26 October 2017 and coronation is planned to be held on 4 to 6 May 2019. Thai Kings stopped living in the palace around the turn of the twentieth century, but the palace complex is still used to mark all kinds of other ceremonial and important happenings.
Like in all temples and palace, visitors must be properly dressed before being allowed entry to the temple. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves. Women must be similarly modestly dressed. No see-through clothes, bare shoulders,… If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entrance that can provide clothes to cover you up properly (sometimes a deposit is required).
If you need rest or just sit down from the crowded city center, Lumpini park is perfect to stop a little bit. It is a central park with no traffic, just with peace and a lot of green surfaces. There is also a lake where you can rent paddleboards or pedal boats. It has also picnic places and all the other facilities you need.
We would not stop by Big Buddha if one tourist guide would not suggest. Wat Intharawihan or The temple of Standing Buddha is 32 meters tall standing Buddha.
TUK TUKS – When you are in Bangkok you can use TUK TUK around the city. Tuk-tuks or ‘sam lor’ (three-wheeled) are fun to take and it is adventure driving around. Originating from an old-fashioned rickshaw during the Second World War, a tuk-tuk is a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. They are most popular among tourists and visitors. Just be careful, there are a few scams with the tuk-tuk drivers in Bangkok. Beware of too expensive prices drivers offer you. And take just tuk tuks with a yellow board. This is a licence, which means they are working for the government and they are legal. Everything else is illegal. Talk with the driver before and you can also arrange that he takes you to more points and wait for you. Of course, you pay at the end. And do not forget to negotiate!
The best market I´ve been to in Thailand is MAEKLONG MARKET. The Maeklong Railway Market has been around since 1905. It is found in the province of Samut Songkhram, 1 hour away from Bangkok. The entrance of the market is crowded and it is better to go further. While there will be some clothing and accessories available, the majority of this market is made up of Thai sweets, meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and drinks.
Why is the market so special? Because it has a train running through the middle of it several times a day. “Only in Thailand!” they said. What´s more, the baskets of veggies and fruit are shifted just enough as to not be sliced by the metal wheels. You will hear the train long before you actually see it (11 am, 2 pm). Vendors and merchants collectively begin to move their belongings and umbrellas away from the tracks. This is why the market is also known as the ‘umbrella pulldown’ market. The warning bell goes off the speaker system just a few minutes before the train comes. The train goes slow and it is not enough room to stand near the tracks. You need to go inside the merchant´s place.
Come early that you can experience the market and that you will have time to walk down the tracks before the next train comes. The perk is that farther you walk, the fewer people there are. And do not forget: Buy some local food, that´s why people are there. They live from their sales.
HOW TO GET THERE FROM BANGKOK?
Maeklong Railway Market is located in the Samut Songkhram region. Depending on Bangkok’s traffic, it takes just over an hour to get there. There are a few ways you can get into this market. We read on the internet about options and we decided on this one:
We went from the center of Bangkok (station Victory Monument) with the BTS Skytrain to station Mo Chit (blue line – North Bangkok). We walked through the park and you can see the highway. Under highway is MINIBUS STATION (Vans for Maeklong market are in section D). There we grab minibus to the market.
These buses leave as soon as one is filled, so you never know when your departure time will be. We waited 30 minutes for departure. They take you to the minibus station near the market (2 minutes away) and they also let you know when is the last minibus back. You can take a minibus and go to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market as well. It is about 25 minutes away from one another. We did not have so much time, we stuck in Maeklong Market. We just love it!
Other markets in Bangkok, which are good to visit (and we visited) are one of the biggest markets: Chatuchak market on the weekends, Pratunam Night market in the center, and Silom Night market. Many markets look the same, at the end doesn´t matter anymore where are you. Just go with the flow and enjoy local food and nights under the Thai sky.
And if you want to go shopping, Siam Paragon in the center has been just a great choice.
The negative side of Bangkok is its smell. The smell on the streets. I can not explain but probably smell of food mixed with pollution, the smell of sewage, heat, everything mixed.
The big city turned out to be busy with so many people around. Not surprisingly, the city was the most visited capital in the world in 2018. What I loved the most about Bangkok, were temples. Buddhist temples are marvelous. I am grateful to experience the new cultural spirit, new food, and fresh fruits, which have totally different tastes than we know in Europe. For instance: Bananas are smaller, different and so delicious. The taste is better than these bananas in Europe that are imported. People on the streets are poor, but how they prepare food, meals are another story. Everything is so yummy, delicious, made with love. THAI cuisine is without a doubt, one of the most famous and delicious food in the world.