For majority for Indians the idea of foreign trip is visiting Thailand; that is because of numerous obvious reasons. It is cheap (biggest reason) on stay, tickets and visa which basically means cheap all-rounder. The shopping is dirt cheap, it’s not a long travel; most people are ok to adjust with seafood, if not they cling to a lot of fresh fine quality fruits. The party factor is what attracts a lot of millennial as well as youth.
Now my travel plan was as mentioned earlier, a total impromptu one. Where I bought the tickets 1 day before my travel, then packed light and just hopped on with no prior reservations. Where I first went to Phuket and around, then flew back to Bangkok.
How to get there–
The most convenient and cheapest (mostly) way of making it to Thailand is through their national carrier Thai Airways. They have good service, cheap prices, nice food and wonderful service too. You shouldn’t be expecting anything more than that.
If you are flying from southern part of India or Malaysia, you could even check Air Asia. They might be cheaper but do not forget to check the cabin baggage terms and conditions before you book anything. You might end up paying more than the value of tickets, all thanks to the payment/KG criterion.
If you are already in Thailand and looking to fly somewhere inside the country look for the Thai Smile, that’s a low cost version of the more premium Thai Airways.
Bangkok really has no dearth of places to stay or eat, which is what makes most of the city (at-least on the face of it). I would suggest staying in and around Sukhamvit area which is main stretch of road of about 3 km, split in lanes and by-lanes with odd numbered ones on a side and even ones on the other, to balance.
Hostels– If you are traveling all alone and want to budge in with other travels, then head to Khao San Road which is backpacker’s heaven. Here you can grab a Dorm from 100 THB and hostels for a good price of 200 to 300. There are expensive ones too but then why not go take a hotel instead.
Budget Hotel– Sukhamvit’s Soi 11, 11/1, 13, 19 are the main places where you have a lot of these budget places to stay. Make sure you check the place, its facilities and loo. At a cost of 500 to 1000 TBH you will get a good clean double bed room, hot water and other common stuff with total privacy.
Lavish– Although Bangkok has become such a cosmopolitan that there is dearth of lavish places to stay but when you’re there, why not try something local. I would suggest any Dusit property which is a Thai brand and has earned rave reviews across the globe.
The advantage of staying in Sukhamvit is its heart of the city, which would rule out most of your trips to usual touristy places. The ones that are little far off are well connected by Train, that has a station at Soi 9. It’s called the BTS Skytrain where single trip tickets as well as 15 day or monthly passes can be bought, which turns out to be the cheapest option.
The Cab/Taxi is your second best option which charges 100 to 200 THB from one destination to another; although the distance isn’t much but the traffic jam is what kills the everyday life and fun. So Its ok to pay that sum and get to a place in ease unless you are shoe-stringer like me.
The Tuk-Tuk is the most expensive and uncomfortable of them all with seating position of an Indian squat toilet. The drivers drive it as if they are on a Formula 1 track with all pomp and show and charge for the nitrous oxide they run on and not the unleaded petrol.
Things to do in Bangkok–
Eating at Soi 3 & 11– These both Soi are poles apart when it comes to food and both have their own unique charm. Soi 3 and 3/1 are total recall of Middle-east with finest Arabic, Jordanian and Egyptian restaurants. Do yourself a favour and try the food, do not think that as this is Thailand this food can’t be good or authentic. Most of the chefs as well as team are from the same country and do a splendid job and I say this after staying in UAE which houses all these places too with same or similar taste. Soi 11 is real street style sea-food place where everything is sauté cooked or boiled in front of you. Cost 100 to 200 THB per dish.
Visit the Grand Palace and Wat Po– The palace was built over a span of 3 years at the end of the 18th century by King Rama I and is the official residence of the current monarch (though he doesn’t live there any more, it is just used for ceremonies). This is also where you will see the temple of Wat Pra Kaeo which house the 15th century Emerald Buddha whose robes are rotated three times a year by no less than Thailand’s king himself. Moreover, you’ll find Wat Po to have the famous golden reclining Buddha statue. Costs 500 THB for Grand Palace and 100 THB for Wat Po.
Explore Lumpini Park– The Lumpini park is outdoor lovers heaven with bicycle roads, jogging paths, picnic, and chess tables, Tai Chi classes, plenty of trees, weight-lifting and rowboats for rent on its pair of lakes offer plenty to do.
Foot Massage– Take as many foot massages as you can, once you really get in groove and walk long distances everyday this would be all that you look forward to. I was averaging 12 to 16 km everyday and ending the day with this, was the best thing I could imagine. Cost 200 to 250 THB/hour.
Visit the Chatuchak Market– The Chatuchak or the Jatuchak is the world’s biggest open air market which sets in Bangkok every weekend. The concept has been taken abroad too but the one in Bangkok has just no match with more than 20k shops where you can find anything and everything. This is spread in acres of land and can be reached by BTS. If you wish to pick up local trinket, designer and art stuff then it does not get any better than this.
Shopping at Sukhamvit– A major crown puller for lot of low budget shoppers is the Sukhamvit area. Here you can find anything and everything; you should have a good eye and skills to haggle though. The market works in 3 slots first one start around 6 PM, second one come around 10 and go on till 1 and post that its all street side bars that take over the same shops/area.
Visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market– Although there are many floating market outside of city boundries, this is the biggest and highest recommended one. The tours that come here are about half a day and leave early in the morning. It’s not a great place to shop but the area is good for photography and eating. Make sure you reach here as early as 7 am to drag the maximum out of this place, the sheen is lost after 11 or so. Cost 600 THB after intense round of haggling.
See Jim Thompson’s House– Jim Thompson was a silk merchant who disappeared under very mysterious circumstances back in the 1950s. His house across from MBK is a traditional teak style house and very informative about life in Thailand. Cost 150 THB & 100 THB for students which is utilized towards helping orphaned children.
Take a day-trip to Ayutthaya– Just a short ride away, you’ll find the old capital, which is home to the summer palace, tons of breathtakingly unique temples and great views.
Visit Chinatown– Wander among the lilies, birds of paradise, and orchids at Pak Klong Talad, the flower market at the north end of Chinatown. From there, grab a bite to eat at one of the main enticing food stalls. Look for Shark fin and other unique never heard food items being sold and packaged for further sale.
Boat down the Bangkok canals– Known as the “Venice of the East”, Bangkok used to be full of waterways and canals. While not as many of those exist as there as used to, you can still see many of the old bridges and stilt houses crowding the waterways. You can still cruise along the Chao Phraya River to see some of what remains. The Klhongs of Thonburi still offer picturesque views of the old wooden houses and colourful pots of flowers. Cost around 100THB.
Head to the Dusit Zoo– Thailand’s first zoo, built over 60 years ago, sits in the middle of Bangkok’s administrative centre and is surrounded by important buildings like the Throne Hall, Parliament, and the Chitralada Palace. It is a fully functional park, with an animal hospital, education centre and museum. There is also a sightseeing train that takes you around the zoo to see the more than 1,600 animals there.
Money Saving Tips–
- If you are traveling alone, stay in the hostels at Khao San Road and do not eat there, try and eat at Sukhamvit which is far cheaper and better.
- If you are with friends/family pick a stay in Sukhamvit which is cheap and good, has plenty of food and night options and is well connected.
- Pre-plan your city periphery trips like floating market, Ayutthaya and Chinatown. Talk to your hotel guys or just grab a cab guy from street and haggle well in advance and leave early morning to avoid traffic and make the most of these trips for less.
- Opt for BTS Skytrain as much as you can it’s cheap well-connected and fastest mode of transport across the city.
- Eat local fruits like Salak (snake fruit), Mangosteen, Longan and Coconut they are cheap and as healthy as you can imagine.
- Although Sukhamvit has numerous massage parlours where sex sells too but if you smile and say no, they don’t pound on you. A foot massage is a safe bet and is highly recommended.
- Sukhamvit Soi 3 and 3/1 are like a Middle-Eastern ghetto, where you find all the fancy Middle Eastern halal food for dirt cheap.
- The magic words “Maiki Moo” means No pork which will give you a broader choice of food and would not offend the local too. Remember to smile and say that, not with an angry/frowning face cause non-verbal is first language anyone picks.