Prior to heading to Bangkok, we had no idea what to expect. My uncle lived there with his family for about eight years, and raved to me about it being "the most charming huge city on earth". This is the opposite from what we heard through the backpacking grapevine, as traveller after traveller would tell us "don't go to Bangkok", "I would only go if you have to because of a flight or something", and "it's so busy, don't stay for long" (or something along those lines).
After our visit to Bangkok, I can understand these comments...if you only stick around Khao San Road. A visit to KS Road is and obligatory thing to do here, especially at night - it is packed with cheap street food, tons of markets stalls, and lots...and lots...and lots of Western tourists chugging (too much) Chang and Singha. It's a pretty overstimulating experience to walk down KS Road at night, but fun none the less...for one night.
(Attempting to) walk down the always-busy Khao San Road
There is so much more to do in Bangkok than just grounding yourself in the backpackers area. Here were the highlights of our time in BKK.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
One of the many trendy boutique clothing stalls in the market
If you're not a fan of crowds, I can't recommend this for you. But we found this to be our favourite market in Asia. After about an hour long bus ride through Bangkok's non-stop traffic, we arrived at the Chatuchak Market. It is open from 6:00am-6:00pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is quite the maze, as getting lost is inevitable. We had fun losing our bearings and stumbling into all Chatuchak has to offer: modern boutique clothing shops, hipster t-shirts, and coconut ice cream.
A favourite of tourist and local shoppers
A quiet green oasis away from Bangkok's crazy traffic
This was probably my highlight of Bangkok. The hostel we stayed at provided bikes to guests for free, so we had a lot of fun weaving our way through Bangkok's traffic, finding ourselves at Lumpini Park. The park is a quiet haven in the middle of the chaos, beautifully landscaped and outfitted with workout equipment, running paths, and bike lanes. I even had a nap on a bench while Vic did a few laps on the bike.
Impressive bike lanes through Lumpini Park
Trendy coffee shops in Ekamai
Ekamai is a laid-back, trendy area 15km from Khao San Road. We took a taxi out here to explore the area and had a great time. The main road is lined with trendy, hip coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, and modern architecture.
Colin getting a haircut in a vintage clothing shop!
I even got a hair-cut from the resident barber inside the vintage clothing store VTG shop. Ekamai was a great place to spend half a day exploring, as the vibe here was much more appealing to us than Khao San Road.
Being a city of 9 million people, Bangkok is bound to have something fun going on during your time there. Check online for local concerts, sporting events, or anything that appeals to you. We were lucky to catch a great concert at Impact Arena during our visit!
Rocking out in Bangkok...
These are just some of many things to do in "the most charming large city in the world". Of course, a tour of the Grand Palace, surrounding Wats, and the river/canals is a must do. If you have money to spend, the Siam area is flush with mall after mall after mall.
Bangkok gets a bad rap. After spending four nights in Thailand's capital, I can't understand why. We had an incredible time and wish we stayed for at least a week. Venture out of the backpacker area, and you'll find there is so much to see, eat, smell, and do in Bangkok, which was our favourite Asian city we visited this trip.