Part 2 of our Thailand itinerary. After our experiences in the North, it was time to fly back from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. This time we took an Airasia flight as it’s only an hour to fly to Bangkok.
As the North of Thailand was all about nature, we were ready for visiting this amazing capital.
Where to stay?
We stayed at Ibis Riverside hotel for three nights. Staying at the riverside is a great location for starting to explore Bangkok. The Ibis has a good value for money. You have spacious rooms and a good swimming pool looking out over the river.
Breakfast is nothing fancy but enough variation for starting your day.
For the last night of our trip, we were hosted by Baiyoke Sky hotel .
This is the tallest hotel in Bangkok, with not less than 88 floors. We stayed at floor 63. On the 83rd floor you have a turning platform, and you get the best scenery over the city. I recommend you watch it both in daylight as in the evening. The Skybar has a nice view as well. There are about 7 different restaurants to choose from and the location is good to reach the airport.
Transport in Bangkok
As Bangkok is such a big metropole you need to know how to get from one point to another.
There are lots of possibilities to choose from. One thing I wouldn’t recommend is hiring a car and driving yourself. (Thailand has 24.000 annual deaths, the second-highest road death in the world.)
Tip: avoid rush hours if you can. These are from 7-9 am in the morning and between 4.30-8 pm in the evening.
- Taxi: there are many taxi’s in the main streets or you can order one in your hotel. Please make sure the taxi driver puts on his meter (starting fee is normally 35 THB) and it’s best to ask for the price before you get in. Taxi drivers don’t use google maps, so sometimes it takes longer than it should and If you end up in a traffic jam (like we did once) the price goes up. If the taxi driver takes the toll road you will have to pay extra.
- Tuk-tuk: Although this looks like a great way for transport within the city I wouldn’t recommend it. The vehicles are uncomfortable and unsafe but you will also inhale an enormous level of pollution. Besides the tuk-tuk drivers are infamous of charging ridiculous prices. We only took one once for a very short trip and negotiated the price beforehand.
- Grab: this app will allow you to order a personal taxi for a better price. Using this app is especially recommended for longer distances.
- Bus (nightbus): the public buses in Bangkok are not a popular form of transport, figuring out the lines and timetables takes a lot of research and buses are never on time.
- Motorbike: this is definitely not recommended as it’s the most dangerous way of getting around in the city.
- Metro: there are two different lines: Blue and Purple line. During rush hour it can get very crowded in the metro as well. You can use a single-journey token or an MRT pass. There’s also a day pass available for 120 THB. You cannot use this pass on a BTS ride. Opening hours of the metro lines: daily from 6 am-00 pm.
- BTS Skytrain: most Bangkokians love the BTS because it’s the fastest way to travel in the city. It’s well equipped with airco and gets you to the other site of the city in about one hour. There are two lines, the Sukhumvit Line (light green) and the Silom Line (dark green). These cover the most important districts of Bangkok. The BTS Lines operates between 6.30 am and 00:00 am.
You need to buy a Rabbit Skytrain Card at the ticket booth or buy a single card at the ticket machines. If you want to use the system multiple times a day, it’s bets to get a BTS one-day pass for 140 THB.
What to do? 5 things you must see
1) Floating Market and taking a longtail boat over the river Chao Praya.
We visited the Taling Chan Floating Market. This weekend market is more genuine than most floating markets near Bangkok. You can enjoy an excellent seafood lunch sitting on the floor with the locals, go shopping or go food tasting on the market (which we did ) We took the longtail boat from the riverside in Bangkok and went all the way to this market. Such a great experience! Having dinner in one of the narrow channels is a great option too.
2) Wat Pho & Royal Palace
Of course, these 2 monuments cannot be missed while visiting Bangkok. Although it was very hot in the city. It’s easy to do both by foot.
Tips: At the Royal Palace the guards are very strict in clothing requirements, you must wear something that completely covers your shoulders and legs (until your knees) a sarong is not accepted. For more information click here.
Don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses! A hat or parasol is also very useful.
Wat Pho (Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram) means: ‘The temple of the reclining Buddha.’ It’s one of the largest and oldest temples in Bangkok. The reclining Buddha is 46 meters long (151ft) and 15 meter high. It’s very impressive when you stand in front of it. You must put your shoes in a bag while visiting here.
Opening hours: daily from 8 am till 5 pm.
The grand Palace complex was established in 1782. It consists of royal and throne halls, several government offices and the temple of the Emerald Buddha (or Wat Phra Kaew) which is the most important temple of Thailand. The complex is open daily from 8.30am-3.30pm.
Foreigners need to pay an entrance fee of 500 baht.
This complex is a must visit, very impressive to see all the temples and decorations.
3) Wat Arun
This beautiful temple alongside the Chao Phraya river got it’s name from Aruna, the Indian god of the dawn, hence its common name The Temple of Dawn. Best pictures can be taken in the late afternoon just before sunset. We only saw this temple as from our cruise dinner with White Orchid River Cruise. The view at night was stunning too!
Opening hours: daily from 8 am till 5.30 pm on Mondays till 6pm.
Entrance Fee: 50 bath
4) Night Train Market & Jodds Fairs
In Bangkok a market is a must do. We went to these two night markets (it’s best to visit in the evening after sunset as it gets a bit less hot).
- Night Train market Srinakarin or Rot Fai Market is an authentic open-air bazaar where you can buy fashion, food and even vintage cars, furniture, … What’s unique about this market is that you will not find a lot of tourists there, it’s more frequented by Thai people. Prices are fair, and the great thing is that the store owners are much more friendly than pushy, unlike some of Bangkok’s other touristy night markets.
This market is open from Thursday-Sunday until 01 am.
Tip: we visited on a Thursday evening; the stalls were not all open, but it was certainly less crowded than during the weekend.
- Jodd Fairs: this market was recently opened by the same owners as the famous ‘Ratchada train market’ which had to close due to the pandemic. Here you can find a lot of food, fashion and old-school items.
Opening hours: daily from 11 am – 12 am, it’s very close to the shopping mall Central Plaza Grand Rama 9. Easier to find than the night train market.
5) Icon Siam mall
To escape form the heat it’s a good idea to enter a shopping mall. And when you do why not choose the most impressive one?
Icon Siam mall was inaugurated in 2018, there are more than 7000 shops and 100 restaurants, you can even find a floating market there.
The shops are for all budgets, but if you are looking for high-end shops go to Icon Luxe. In this part of the mall, you will also find the world’s largest glass wall.
As for the restaurants there is also one for every budget, including some with 3 Michelin stars like:
- Blue by Alain Ducasse: French Cuisine
- Rose dining: Chinese food
As many people told me Bangkok is a city where you can fall in love with or you hate it. For me it was love. Loved the atmosphere, the beautiful temples, the culture, the food and the amazing shopping possibilities. The only thing I hated was the heat!