Updated: May 29, 2020
A friend of ours had a destination wedding in Phuket, Thailand so we decided to plan a trip around Vietnam and Thailand in order to maximize our travel. See our posts about Vietnam, and Phuket for more info.
We started our trip of Thailand in Bangkok. This was going to be a quick trip, only three days, before heading to the beaches of Phuket.
A very modern, yet old, city with large shopping malls, nice hotels, and good food akin to Singapore. It has a unique blend of old world Asia with a mix of industry depending on where you stay.
Like most of our trips we needed to find out where we wanted to be close to and what we wanted to see. This pretty much summed up three things- good food, nice accommodation, and close to temples. So we ended up in the Bangkok Riverside area.
Bangkok’s riverside is beautiful and very scenic, especially after dark, with its golden temples and shrines. From this area, we were able to explore Bangkok’s historic roots.
Nerdnomads.com said this about Bangkok riverside:
The Bangkok riverside is a little more expensive than other areas of Bangkok, both when it comes to hotels and restaurants. The district does not have Subway MRT and only one Skytrain station, Saphan Taksin. From Saphan Taksin, you are a short walk away from Central Pier (3 min) where you can take the riverboats and ferries up the river. Many of the hotels have free shuttle boats that transport guests to and from Central Pier. You can also take the free ferry to Asiatique and Icon Siam from Central Pier.
We really enjoyed being on the river, and Asiatique was a nice touristy stop where we bought our trinkets of Thailand. We went to Asiatique twice while we were in Bangkok because we enjoyed the outdoor shopping, the cheap prices for the souvenirs, and multiple restaurants. This was a great place to go during dusk when the sun was going down, temperature starting to go down, and the lights around the river started to turn on.
But, the best thing about being on Bangkok Riverside was the accessibility to the temples.
And one of the most special things about Bangkok is obviously the ladyboys...I mean the temples.
Temples of Bangkok
There is a magnitude of temples available for you to see while in Bangkok. We visited five in one day:
Wat Pho- A golden reclining 52' Buddah
Wat Arun-Temple of the dawn
Wat Suthat-Royal temple
Wat Phra Kaew-Temple of the emerald buddha inside Royal Palace grounds.
The Grand Palace (not a temple but iconic)- The former residence of the King of Thailand
When visiting the temples, bare knees and shoulders can't be shown. So even though it is excruciatingly hot no tank tops or short shorts allowed. The locals are more than happy to sell you a sarong right outside of the temples though.
Being on the riverside of Bangkok we decided to take the cheaper and faster route to get to the temples: via river ferry. Most of the temples were accessible right off the dock where the river ferry system stops. The river ferry system (much like other mass transit) was easy to navigate and easy to find how to get to the destinations we wanted to go.
Side note- while we mostly praise the adventure of doing more local activities(like taking public transit) in order to do it effectively you need to have some sense of direction. After a stop on the main river ferry line we decided we wanted to go more inland to the center of Bangkok to get the best Pad Thai of Bangkok
- don't get your hopes up.
We hopped on a smaller boat
that was able to navigate through the canals in order to get into the more central part of Bangkok. This smaller boat was...unique. The attendant who takes the cash for the ride walks on the narrow sidings of the boat to collect the few bhat for the one way trip. While we were sitting on the boat, staring intently on the Google Maps function to make sure we were traveling in the right direction, more locals came on board. The smaller boat goes considerably faster than the main river transport and it is a lot lower to the water. The boat comes with a small rope, that each passenger on the outside of the boat has to pull on, in order to put up the plastic lining up so that all of the passengers next to them don't get wet. Just a word of advise if you take one of these public water taxis, PULL ON THE ROPE it isn't fun walking around with soggy shoes in the middle of Bangkok. We ended up not getting on the right boat and took a regular land taxi to the Pad Thai after going back and forth with the ferry for 20 minutes, but it definitely was an experience.
For those interested in shopping, the Icon Siam, one of the largest shopping malls in all of Asia, can offer a reprieve from the heat and some of your money.
Bangkok overall was a nice pit stop of a tour around Thailand. After spending three days, we barely saw a glimpse of what Bangkok has to offer. Others rant and rave over the party scene and backpacking areas around Bangkok. Whether you are looking for a party scene, shopping beat, or old school Asia- Bangkok certainly offers plenty of things to suit your needs.