Are you debating about how long should you stay in Bangkok in order to take full advantage of your time in Thailand? Bangkok is a huge city with lots of places to explore. In this article I want to share with you my experience when arriving to Bangkok, where I stayed, what did I explore, what would I have like to do if I stayed longer in this extraordinary city and other helpful tips I learned along my trip.
TRANSPORTATION FROM AIRPORT TO HOTEL
After a long day of flying and two connecting flights we finally arrived in Bangkok. The airport is huge and quite overwhelming in my opinion; I believe 3 or 4 floors. There are many ways of transportation to go from the airport to the hotel, Philippe and I opted for an “Uber ride”. Yes! They have Uber in Bangkok. We just wanted to make sure we receive a fair price and a comfortable ride. We ended up paying 375 Thai bath (10 dlls) for a 40 min ride.
* Note that Uber pickup in Bangkok airport is in the second floor (I don’t want you to get lost like I did).
We found a good deal for 120 dlls per night on Agoda.com with breakfast included and stayed at five stars hotel “Avani Riverside Bangkok”. Avani Riverside hotel is just as in their website pictures, they have a great roof top swimming pool and terrace.
We wanted the perfect welcoming to Asia so we treated ourselves with a nice hotel in order to relax after a long flight. Our hotel was still in the city but not in the center which was fine because we were not looking for too much action. By the time we arrive at the hotel we were exhausted and a bit hungry, it was already dinner time so we went to the “Asiatique the Riverfront Market” across the canal in front of the hotel (read more below).
It’s amazing how we can be in a completely different world in 24 hrs. From gray cold sky and winter clothes to vacation paradise, best feeling.
*If you travel with low budget and/or want a trip full of action right from the start I recommend you to check out the “Khao San Road” also known as the hippie backpacker’s road in Bangkok. Backpackers and budget travelers are drawn here by some of the cheapest accommodation and travel deals in Thailand. This neighborhood represents the most concentrated tourist area in Thailand.
ASIATIQUE THE RIVERFRONT MARKET
Several times a day Avani hotel offers a free boat ride to cross the canal and arrive to “Asiatique”. Asiatique is a market where you can find food and clothes. Since we have just arrived at the hotel and it was dark, we rushed to take the last boat to cross the canal and eat Thai food for dinner. Asiatique market has a beautiful view to the river and Bangkok surroundings, ideal to take pictures. I noticed that there were many Thai people hanging out at the market and restaurants. It looked to me like a trendy place among locals to have special occasion dinners by the river.
BREAKFAST & ROOF TOP SWIMMING POOL
The hotel was so beautiful and welcoming that we wanted to enjoy all it had to offer, specially after an exhausting day of flights. We had a very tasty breakfast, the hotel offered an international kitchen buffet with a nice variety of food options. Right after breakfast we headed to the pool area to read, tan, relax and enjoy our first sunny day in Asia.
After a nice day of sun by the pool our energies where recharged and we were ready for some Bangkok action.
Just one day before our trip to Thailand I switched from the Camera 70D Cannon to the Sony Alpha 6300. When I bought my new Sony Alpha it only came with one kit lens of 50mm zoom. I knew that if I wanted to have great pictures of this trip I needed to get a bigger lens and an extreme pro SD card. Even if I missed capturing a couple moments of my first day in Bangkok I knew that it was worth the wait to MBK Market in Bangkok. At MBK Market you will find a huge variety of good and cheap electronics, you will practically find everything from nice makeup brushes to camera and cellphone accessories from all brands. I could literally stay at this Market the whole day entertained by the million things they sell. Once I found the important accessories that I needed for my camera and Philippe found his hair shaver (which by the way we saved around 30-40% off from the price we would pay in Europe) we were starving. We were very hungry so we decided to eat at the MBK Food court and stumbled upon an interesting restaurant called “Shabushi”. They offer sushi and Japanese buffet and it’s very interesting because they have two different kinds of soups (spicy and coconut) which are cooked to boil right in front of you. The soup will be boiling in the middle of the table and next to you there will be food passing by and every time you want a new ingredient you just grab it and dump it in the soup to cook. It was fun and more of a cultural experience rather than the best meal we ever had. Anyways, we were satisfied and our stomachs were happy.
MBK Shopping Mall (photo by laikt8)
TIME TO TRAVEL TO CHIANG MAI.
There is two best ways to travel to Chiang Mai:
Travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by sleeper is effectively faster than flying, far less hassle, far more environmentally friendly, more of a real Thai experience, and saves you a hotel bill, too.
We wanted to take train #9 (First class- 2 berth- sleepers for 38 euros each) to have more privacy. The main reason why I wanted privacy was because I normally carry camera equipment and I would feel nervous If there was a possibility that it could get stolen while I sleep. If you are not carrying many valuables you should totally take the second class sleepers, besides being more affordable it will be an authentic experience.
- You can book direct with the State Railways of Thailand by emailing them at least 15 days, but less than 60 days, before your date of travel on email@example.com
*I tried to book the tickets 30 days in advance and everything was sold out so pay attention to that.
*Take your own food is cheaper and tastier that the one they sell at the train.
Find more information here.
Since we couldn’t find available train tickets we decided to take a flight from Bangkok – Chiang Mai.
Important facts to take into consideration about flights in Asia:
- Flying within Asia is relatively cheap, we spent in average 40 euros each for a one-way flight. It’s very easy to just book a flight one day in advance before your departure, because the flight price doesn’t change much compared to purchasing the flight with a lot of time in advance. Most likely if you purchase a ticket a day before the flight you will find flights available since there is many flights a day specially to Bangkok. In conclusion, you don’t have to rush and plan your trip to the “T” because you can also be flexible and buy your flight one day in advance.
- Always be at the airport with anticipation in case there is traffic on the streets (there is always traffic in Asia and the airports are quite far sometimes)
- At the time to show your passport to enter the country, the migration lines can be very long, specially in Bangkok. It’s important to check your Visa status and be aware of the requirements of the country you are entering to avoid unnecessary problems. To quickly and effectively check your visa status go to https://www.visahq.com (Pioneered online passport and visa services).
- If you have a connecting flight try not to book it too close to your previews flight because you have to check in and checkout your luggage every time you connect flights, as well as going through security checks a couple of times and it could be quite annoying and time consuming.
WHAT WOULD I HAVE LIKE TO DO IF I STAYED TWO MORE DAYS IN BANGKOK?
- Bang Nam Pheung: Authentic and medium size local floating market, 40 min drive from Avani Riverside Bangkok hotel. Bang Nam Pheung is slightly hidden, there is not many tourist and it certainly has its charm. A true local experience indeed. Find more about Bang Nam Pheung market here.
- Amphawa: Authentic and big size local floating market, 60 min drive from Avani Riverside Bangkok hotel. If you want the real floating market experience with lots of boats and life, go to Amphawa because it’s worth the trip.
* I rather go to the authentic floating markets that’s why I selected Bang Nam Pheung and Amphawa. There are also touristy floating markets like Damnoen Saduak -There are actually three markets that make up the Damnoen Saduak floating market: Ton Khem, Hia Kui, and Khun Phitak (Ton Khem is most popular with tourists).
- Chatuchak Weekend Market: One of the worlds largest weekend markets (around 8,000 stalls selling just about everything you can think of). If you find something you like, buy it, because the chances of you being able to retrace your steps are slim. It’s also wise to pick yourself up a market map from one of the security guards to help make navigating a little bit easier.
*For all markets above make sure to arrive as early as possible to try and beat the rush of tourists and locals. Also check out the time and days they are closed, not all markets are open in the evening and everyday.
- The moon bar: Very popular and touristy for its impressive view over Bangkok’s skyline. However according to the reviews the food and service are a bit pricy and not outstanding.
- Pattaya Nightlife on Walking Street: Pattaya lives up to its reputation as “Sex Capital of the World”. Many tourists go to Pattaya because of curiosity or because they are actually looking for sex. My friends went there and said that it was shocking but still a fun experience they will always remember. They went to the famous “Ping pong show”. If you want to read more about what Pattaya’s attractions check out a complete and fun article here.
- MBK Fights: Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand. It was developed several hundreds of years ago as a form of close-combat that utilizes the entire body as a weapon. I am not a fan of violence but if you are with your boyfriend he will probably like to watch an authentic Thai fight. MBK fights are free to watch and it is supposed to be a really cool experience. For more information, check their Facebook page here.
In conclusion, if you want to get a feeling of Bangkok I would recommend you to stay for five days since there is so much to see and do. If you don’t have much time or you want to prioritize other places in Thailand do as I did and stay three days or meet in the middle and stay for four days. Even if I would have liked to see all the places in my list my consolation is that I will be coming back a second time one day to keep exploring this amazing and energetic city.
I hope you find this information somehow helpful. Feel free to leave any comments to let me know about your experience in Bangkok or any thoughts you might have.
Never stop traveling!