I’ve read so many blogs of travellers who absolutely rave about Bangkok but almost all concede that it’s a love or hate city. I have to say that despite three separate visits, I can’t quite get on board with the buzz. It’s certainly authentic and interesting but for me it lacks the futuristic style or architectural class that a modern city like Singapore possesses. It’s smoggy and congested and falls short when it comes to the beautiful skylines and charm that other cities which we’ve loved displayed.
That said, we did have a couple of good days exploring Bangkok’s eclectic culture, markets and sights.
We placed ourselves at the Siam Design hotel right in the centre of the mega mall district.
Our hotel had an awesome rooftop pool with views across the city which lit up wonderfully in the evening.
On our first day we took a boat up the Chao Phraya River. A great way to get a flavour for the city, we effortlessly sailed past soaring towers and lively streets. This area called Ko Ratanakosin is rich in history and home to Bangkok’s glittering temples including the Grand Palace and beautiful Wat Arun.
Having spent time on the Khao San Road area over 10 years ago I wanted to revisit the infamous street to see how it’s fared from the influx of backpackers and gap year travellers all starting or ending their adventures here. We hit it during the day so it was relatively sleepy but it’s safe to say that we definitely felt that we’d outgrown it. A sense of sleaze and debauchery and roads lined with cheap drinks, massage places and slogan t-shirts.
We hopped back on the boat and headed towards the vibrant flower market.
This was much more my vibe. The local market is absolutely my favourite place to explore in a new city.
They are so colourful and frenetic and they thrive with life. It was fascinating to see so many wonderful flowers bound up and ready for wholesale and traders preparing hundreds of flower offerings for temples.
We stood there gawping at the rainbow colours and marvelling at the freshness of the herbs and veg on sale as locals rushed passed and hustled.
We melted into the background as everyone around us got on with their business, paying us no attention. The market cats were very sweet too.
Whilst waiting for the boat we found an adorable craft beer place with wonderful views across the river. Proof that perhaps I was rash in my dismissal of Bangkok as a hip city.
The next day we did some shopping in the mega malls that line the Siam area. So much more than drab department stores, these designer malls are destinations in their own right. We were really impressed with the style and architecture and the cool lighting and installations in each.
They are all very instagram worthy and had amazing street art outside.
Most importantly though the food options were insane. Seriously, the food islands in these places are incredible and we had proper tasty and authentic dishes. I think that this was the best ramen I’ve ever had.
That night we went to the cinema in one of the malls. This multiplex had 14 screens including an imax and speciality screens serving dinner. Standard tickets were just four quid which is a bargain in comparison to Blighty and I’m happy to report that even in Thailand they allow you to mix sweet and salted popcorn and it was yummy.
We did have plans to explore further afield in Bangkok but we woke on our last day to pouring rain. The weekend market that I had my eye on was an outside affair and we agreed it would probably be a bit miserable and soggy so we used this day to completely relax in the hotel. We’ve been on the go a lot and benefitted from being lazy and catching up on blogs and correspondence. I find it quite hard to stop, especially in another country where the guilt that there is something spectacular or worthy to be seen out there and we are missing out. Gary is great at balancing that out and we had a good day recharging the batteries ready for our train adventure the following day.