Hollaaaaa! City of squalor!
Bangkok is a key destination on any South East Asia trip, and marks the starting point of a backpacking adventure through the Country for many travellers.
You can have a colourful experience in Bangkok whilst spending very little…
1. Khao San Road
Any Backpacker worth his salt will have a crazy story as to how they got drunk/lost/talked into watching a ping pong show while on the Khao San Road.
Okay it’s a little touristy (you could probably play spot the Thai person here!) but no doubt a great place to meet fellow travellers and pick up a companion for the rest of your journey around Thailand.
The streets are filled with cheap eats (You can pick up some damn tasty Pad Thai on the street for £1 – £1 god dammit!) , bars, markets and hostels.
A hostel here will set you back around £3-£5 ($5-$7) a night.
The bars have hilarious names too – “really strong drinks here”, “really really strong drinks here”, “really really really strong drinks here” – you get the picture. You haven’t really ‘done’ Thailand until you’ve danced on a table to Gangnam Style with 6 Lady Boys now have you?
2. Losing my innocence with a Ping Pong show
That’s what you get for travelling with Boys – someone concluded it would be funny, so we all piled into a Tuk Tuk to see this show. Let me tell you, these eyes have seen some things, but that one really takes the biscuit. Talk about Pandora’s Box (excuse the pun). The ping pong balls were such a small part of the show, outta Pandora’s box came some Christmas garlands with large plastic flowers on them (ouch!) and a large string of tinsel which she proceeded to drape around an eager, waiting Thai bloke with. Grim. The stripper then wrote “welcome to Thailand” while gripping a pencil in her cooch, and opened a number of coca cola bottles. I need to start doing my kegels.
When we thought the show was over, out came a Man and another Woman and they all started having sex right in front of us… maybe you should just see a nice temple or something instead.
3. The Markets
Bangkok is often referred to as “The Venice of Asia” due to its River Markets…. Actually I’ve never heard anyone refer to it as that in real life… some Bloke probably called it that once and now he’s trying to make it stick.
Anyway, the floating markets are pretty cute – Damnoen Saduak is the most popular, but also the most touristy (still worth a visit!), Amphawa is also pretty popular but a little less crowded. It’s nice as you sail around in a Gondola, and the Merchants row up to you in theirs to sell you a plethora of fruit, veg and fresh produce.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is Bankgok’s largest market and sells just about everything imaginable – from plants and pets, to clothes, food and antiques.
4. The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
Former home of the Thai King and government. Wat Phra Kaew or ‘temple of the Emerald Buddha’ is here also. Though the Emerald Buddha itself is relatively small in size, the complex within which it is contained features elaborate décor and figures, and this is perhaps the most important icon for Thai Buddhists, with a number of notable ceremonies and proceedings being held here to this day.
Entrance is 500 THB but includes both the palace, Wat Phra Kaew and the other buildings within the complex.
5. Wat Arun “Temple of Dawn”
Wat Arun is easily one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok, comprised of a number of impressive structures and elaborate angry looking statues. Perhaps not for the faint hearted, as the stairs are mighty steep, but climbing to the top of this structure gives you a pretty impressive view of Bangkok City.
The temple is open daily from 8.30AM to 17.30PM and entrance will set you back 400 THB.
6. Wat Pho [Reclining Buddha]
The only thing more impressive than a 150 foot gold statue of Buddha? A 150 foot gold statue of Buddha laying down, maxing and relaxing with his head lulled in his hands like me on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon watching Netflix.
The reclining Buddha is the highlight of this temple complex, however it also features beautiful grounds and Buddhist temple annexes. Entrance costs 100 THB and the temple is open between 8:00AM and 17:00PM.
7. Thai Massage
I think that actually the term “massage” is used as a cover-up to coax unsuspecting White folk into an hour of torture… Okay that might be a slight exaggeration but these things can be painful! I remain to this day, perplexed as to how such a small, cute Thai Woman was able to exert such impressive force and bend me into all manner of unnatural positions. “When in Rome” or rather “When in Bangkok” it’s something you should try and form your own conclusion. For $2 why not? (or you could always just get a nice cheap oil massage for $2 too!)
Note that the Buddhist temples enforce a strict, conservative dress code for both men and women – shoulders and legs ought to be covered up – this means no shorts, no tank tops, no sexy see-through shirts. This is particularly the case at The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. If you dress incorrectly, you can usually borrow a scarf to wrap around your legs/drape over your shoulders.