From the end of December last year to around mid January this year, I embarked on a trip many thought was crazy… The Destination: Thailand (ok nothing weird there, especially because it was my 2nd visit, but the best part is still coming) My travel companions? 7 girlfriends! (yup, there it is). Most thought we’d end up fighting the entire trip and that someone would eventually “go missing”. BUT I’m happy to report that we had an incredible time and that the big group dymanic, which was a little tricky when trying to get a table at a small Thai eatery, in general was actually a big blessing. This way we could easily break off into smaller groups and do our own thing based on what you felt like doing on the day, and nobody felt forced into any unwanted activities just because they didn’t want the other person to be alone. So it was actually quite easy really.
Anyways, our trip looked like this schedule wise:
- We flew into Bangkok (traveling with Emirates via Dubai) & spent one night there
- We then took an overnight bus from Bangkok to Phuket (well Kim and I did, the rest decided to fly, but we were up for a bit of an adventure – also, a flight is was like 2 grand and the bus ended up being like R450)
- We then spent 4 nights in Phuket, including NYE
- Then we headed to Koh Samui (via a bus / ferry combo)
- We spent 6 nights in Koh Samui & also did the full moon party on 4 Jan in Ko Pha Ngan
- Then we went back for a last weekend in Bangkok, before we flew back home
All ‘n all the trip took 17 days & 16 nights, and it was one of those adventures I’ll definitely be telling my grandchildren about one day. 🙂 Over the next 3 weeks I’m going to break it down by city – so today I’ll focus on Bangkok, next week Phuket and then the last week Koh Samui & the full moon party. So here goes…
Just as a side note – the exchange rate was sitting at around 2.9 Thai Baht to the Rand, so where I give you prices in Baht, just divide by 2.9 to get the Rand cost.
Bangkok is a great city for eating, shopping & bar hopping (if that’s your thing). It gets very humid there, and because you don’t have easy access to a beach, a hotel with a kick-ass pool is a must.
Our hotel was the Golden Tulip Mandison Suites (booked via www.Agoda.com). We stayed there both upon arrival in Thailand and on our way back from Koh Samui and it really is a lovely hotel. Rates wise we paid just over R900 for a deluxe double room on the first night, and then only around R760 per night when the stayed the 2nd time. Plus on both occasions they upgraded our room, and your stay comes with breakfast and free wifi throughout the hotel (that’s always a very important one for me).Location wise the hotel is situated in the Sukhumvit area, which according to the research I had done before we made our bookings is kinda where all tourists end up. It’s close to nightlife, big shopping malls, the metro & the skytrain stations, and it’s also very easy to grab a tuk-tuk (informal taxi system) or a meter taxi. There were also a few cute eating options right on your doorstep. We found this place called Green Garden in the same road as our hotel as the food was freakin’ delicious and very well priced. Also it was super cute: The only thing that’s a major bummer in Thailand is that wine is quite expensive. One word of advice – don’t order anything from your hotel as they usually overcharge you like crazy (we found this to be particularly bad at the Golden Tulip). The best wine option we found was at a place called Wine Connection (it’s a chain, so there’s quite a few branches across various cities in Thailand). It was the cheapest wine by the glass option we found, the wine was good & it’s also a great spot to eat if you’re feeling a little Thai-curried-out because they service pizza, pastas, steaks, salads, etc. But let’s talk about the sights – we decided to check out the following:
- Chatuchak Weekend Market (a quick 20min metro ride from our hotel at around 20 baht each way)
This market is crazy big, like seriously. Here are some interesting stats: it’s divided into 27 sections selling pretty much everything under the sun and it covers an area of 27 acres with more than 15000 booths/stalls. They estimate that the market gets around 200 000 visitors each day, with about 30% all being foreigners. The market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 09:00 to 18:00, and Fridays from 18:00 to 24:00 and it’s definite a must-see (albeit a bit overwhelming on a hot day).
- Wat Pho aka the Reclining Buddha (a 20min Sky Train ride at around 40 baht each way, followed by a ferry of 100 baht return – the ferry does get really busy though and you can end up having to queue & wait on the way there and back, so do give yourself ample time)
You could also just taxi it all the way there I suppose, but the ferry ride is actually quite scenic & relaxing. It’s also nice to see Bangkok from the water side…
It’s only 100 Thai Baht to get in and the queue wasn’t bad at all – the Grand Palace which is almost right next door we heard costs 500 Baht and queues are insane – so we actually decided to give that a skip.
- Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market (20min Sky Train ride at around 40 baht each way, followed by another 25min taxi ride which should only cost around 150 baht)
What can I say other than: Food, glorious food! If you want a good dose of local cuisine and an abundance of options at seriously great prices, this is where it’s at people. Now there are quite a few floating markets to choose from, but from what I read online, the more popular (ie. touristy) ones are at least about an hour & a half outside of town and are swarming with tourists… So you don’t really get the same local feel as you do at this market. The actual floating market part isn’t as big as you’d expect, but it’s still good enough to get some great shots, and I would definitely recommend this market to other travellers.
Getting around in Bangkok as I’ve mentioned is quite easy because you have so many options, but I really loved their BTS Skytrain – it’s super modern, extremely clean, affordable and gives you a great bird’s-eye view of the city:
And as a last tip – it’s also really fun to check out all the weird & wonderful things you can find in their supermarkets or minimart type stores, so make sure you pop in and have a look around:So yeah, that’s my Bangkok wrap-up. Next Thursday I’ll tell you guys all about our overnight bus adventure, plus what we got up to in Phuket. So do keep an eye out, OK.