S ri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa… Where to go this year? It is a question that always comes into my mind, when I want to go on vacations for a few weeks. Then I have time to go far away, discover the world and relax at the beach. So this time I decided for Thailand, a country I’ve never been to, because it impresses with beautiful beaches, it is cheap and it is the perfect country for a backpacker trip.
Best travel time
I was going with my former colleague Sandra in September when it was rainy season (June-October). Thus, we had lots of rain on our first stop Bangkok. But hey, therefore the prices were cheaper than during peak season.
But if you don’t want rain everyday, choose the months December to February. During this time it barely rains in Bangkok and the temperatures are pleasant between 20-23°C (70°F). From March to May however, it gets really hot. In this period the temperatures can reach up to 40°C (104°F).
You might not believe it, but Bangkok has a quite good metro that brings you everywhere. Another option – and I can really recommend doing it – are Tuk Tuks. They are small cars and work like cabs. But be careful with the prices. The drivers rip tourists off by taking more money than the usual. Better you ask how much the ride will cost and negotiate the minimum before you jump in.
In Bangkok you can also take boat rides on the Chao Phraya river to get to destinations that are located close by the river. It is very cheap and the long-tail boats are something different to the hustle-bustle streets of Bangkok.
Best places in Bangkok
For most people Bangkok is just a good travel through stop – so for us. We stayed just three days in Bangkok and had not much time to see everything. But here are some highlights of Bangkok you shouldn’t miss out.
Grand Palace & Wat Phra Khaeo
Wat Phra Khaeo is the temple of the Emerals Buddha which is located in the Grand Palace. Both, the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Khaeo are two of the most visited attractions in Bangkok and show off with many pompous temples and impressive golden statues. Make sure you cover your shoulders and legs to get into a temple.
Opening hours: 8.30 – 3.30pm
Entrance fee: 400 baht (= 10€/12$)
Not far away from the Grand Palace (around 10 minutes walking) you find the Wat Pho temple. Besides the beautiful gardens, the highlight is definitely the 46 m (151 ft) long and 15 m (49 ft) high reclining Buddha. It’s a statue that represents Buddha in a lying position (illustrates Buddha’s death) which is not just very impressive, but also one of the most famous photo motifs of Wat Pho.
Tip: Wat Pho is famous for its Thai Massage courses. You can attend one or get a massage for yourself.
Opening hours: 8 – 5pm
Entrance fee: 100 baht (= 3€/3$)
Founded in 1782, Chinatown is one of the world biggest Chinatowns in the world. Once a wild area outside the city walls, Chinatown developed throughout the years to a vibrant hub of Chinese culture with numerous shops and food hotspots. Located by the river, you best visit Chinatown just by walking through the narrow streets. You can go shopping for souvenirs and enjoy the delicious food.
Shopping around Station Siam
Head to Siam Square to visit THE hotspot when it comes to shopping in Bangkok. While the MBK mall offers cheap stuff, the Central World and the Siam Center have so much more and better things to discover. Another good mall is the Siam Paragon that even has South East Asia’s biggest aquarium.
If you want to enjoy authentic Thai food, the floating markets in Bangkok are a great way. Taling Chan for example is small, but still traditional. You can imagine this floating market as a riverside market where you sit at the pier and the boats are „floating“ around you. It is also the closest floating market in Bangkok.
So if you don’t have much time, go there! If you want to experience a floating market where you sit in a boat then go to Damnoen Saduak. It’s very touristic and about 2 hours away from Bangkok, but you definitely get great photos from there.
Do a guided bike tour at Co Van Kessel. No matter if day or night tour (approx. 3-5 hours), it’s a great way to learn and see the authentic parts of the city. It’s also the only way to discover the neighborhood with its little side streets which are not accessable by cars.
Co van Kessel Bangkok was founded over 30 years ago by a Dutchman names Co van Kessel. Besides the ceveral bike tours, the tour company also offers boat tours if you prefer to visit Bangkok by boat. But I recommend taking a bike tour to see the real Bangkok from an insider’s point of view.
Where to stay
The mecca for backpackers is Khao San Road where we stayed in a hotel. Since it’s the party area of Bangkok it can be very loud. But you are right in the middle of the party scene with endless bars, restaurants, shops and street food. Otherwise there are lots of cheap hotels in Bangkok where you can stay if you like it quiet.
Best food in Bangkok
Food in Bangkok is easy to get. Just walk through the city and you find something at every corner. On Khao San Road there are a lot of bars, but it can be very loud. If you want it more calm and authentic go to one of the street food markets. The best you find in the Yaowarat Road (Chinatown). I can also recommend the Petchaburi Son 5 close to the shopping area Siam.
The Asiatique Night Market is another great option for dinner. It’s an artificially designed night market along the Chao Phraya and offers many bars, restaurants and even a Ferris wheel.
If you are in Bangkok at the weekend, try the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s bigger than a football field and quite crowded, but you find there anything you need for great dining.
Drinking a cocktail with a view – the best way to do so is in one of Bangkok’s popular skybars. The most famous one is the Sirocco Skybar on the Lebua at State Tower which is known from the movie Hangover 2. The admission is free, but the cocktails are expensive. Also make sure to wear pants and closed shoes to get in.
Do you want to read more about my Thailand itinerary, then check out my posts about Krabi and Koh Tao for more information!
Have you anything to add that is worth seeing? Or do you have any questions? Feel free to comment!