Bangkok – Venice of the East.
From a seasoned traveller, I’d heard Bangkok is the ultimate getaway to the Southeast Asian world. I also learned that it’s the most visited city in the world at the time I’m writing this. I recently got to know Bangkok over 3 weeks, and I can safely say this about travel here. The Thai capital offers some great culture, beautiful architecture, stunning temples and yes, some really dodgy stuff going on in some back alleys too. Although Bangkok keeps pace with modernization, pieces of her ancient history can be seen in and around the city. For instance, there are tonnes of beautiful Buddhist temples (called Wat’s) all over the city. I would recommend seeing the Sri Maha Mariamman, Bangkok’s oldest Hindu temple located in Silom. It’s truly is an explosion of colour, smells, sounds and South Indian architecture.
There are lots of ways to navigate Bangkok, but by far the most convenient and quickest way around we found, was by way of Tuk-Tuk. That’s only if you know how to bargain!
A handy tip here, if your driver offers to take you to a few stops before your destination for a cheaper price, turn that down. Chances are they’ll take you to a clothing or jewellery store, whose owners would pay them a commission if you purchase anything. The most cost-effective way to travel however, is by the metro and sky train systems that operate until midnight.
For an authentically Thai shopping experience, why not take a step back in time and visit a floating market.
As far as floating markets go, a two hour journey from central Bangkok gets you to a few. Handy tip here, make sure you research which floating market to visit. Some of them are quite touristy and the vendors are a little aggressive with their sales techniques. Trust me when I say the people of Bangkok can be proud, and the vendors surely like the smell of foreign money!
If you’re adventurous, Thai street food is a must. For a few dollars a day, you can get your fix of pad Thai noodles, papaya salad, fresh fruit like pineapple and mango sold all over the city. Coconut ice-cream, savoury pastries filled with corn and punnets of mango sticky rice.
Hopping on a boat with the locals is a great way to see Bangkok. Expect to see a mix of old and new. Enjoy a welcome respite of the breeze and take in traditional riverside houses, temples, modern skyscrapers and rainbow coloured long tail boats as you ride down the river. When I think of Bangkok, I think of the sounds of Tuk Tuks and weaving through traffic. My obsessive posing for photos at every shrine. I think of Thailand’s economic Tiger, with a thousand tales to tell. I think of the smell of meat being grilled in alleyways mixed with potent burning incense and then it all makes my head spin. In a good way.