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Tips from my first AirBnb experience in TokyoApril 6, 2017
Oh Bangkok, where do I start. This beautifully chaotic city was crowned the World’s most popular destination by Conde Nast in 2016 with more that 21.4 million visitors pouring into the golden city. It’s easy to imagine why anyone would choose to come here. The city has everything from a robust culinary scene, a lively nightlife and unique cultural attractions to visit and reflect on. However, the city’s biggest selling point is that it is a very wallet friendly destination offering cheap shopping, wide selection of hygenic street food and affordable accessibility to anywhere in the city with its extensive train network. Bangkok is the city for everyone.
Capital City of the Kingdom of Thailand
Founded in: 21 April 1782
Ruler: King Maha Vajiralongkorn
Population: 8.25 million
Currency: Thai Baht ( ฿ )
Greeting: Sawadee Krhap (male) /Sawadee Kaa (female)
How to get around
- Airport – There are two major international airports in Bangkok.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – Caters to full service airlines like Thai, Singapore and Emirates. Taking the taxi from the airport to the city should set you back around ฿370 (inc. 70 toll fee + 50 airport tax)
Don Muang Airport – The city’s low cost carrier terminal operating for budget airlines like Air Asia and Nok Air. Taxi from the airport to city should cost you around ฿320 (inc. 70 toll fee + 50 airport tax)
- BTS Train – Taking the train is the fastest and most convenient way of going around Bangkok. The train lines connects you to all the major districts and attractions so there shouldn’t be any need for you to take the taxi as much. Make sure you head over to the nearest service counter available in every BTS station and get yourself a Rabbit card which would cost you ฿200 (100 card fee + 100 credit ready for use). This card can be used to go on trains and also to pay for your shopping at various food courts, McDonalds and some convenience store. You can top up the cards at any ticket machine or service counter. A ride on the BTS will cost you around ฿15-45. More information here.
- Uber or Grab – If the place you want to visit is too far from a BTS station or if you’re too lazy, make sure you download the Uber or GrabTaxi mobile apps as it is the cheapest way of driving around the city.
- Tuk tuk – If you want to have a cultural experience, hop on one of these three-wheeled motor powered rickshaws. Make sure you find a location far from tourist attractions as they are known to rip tourists off, otherwise keep your wallet happy and take the train or an Uber.
- Tourist Sim by True – When it comes to internet data, I always stick with the Tourist Sim by True. For just ฿299, you will get 7 days of fast unlimited data and ฿100 calling credit. You can find them at any True stores or from phone stalls (make sure you mention the specifically for ฿299 tourist sim, there shouldn’t be any extra additional fee of any kind). I never had any problems with it and the signal/speed strength is extremely fast. No passports or ID will be required when buying the sim card.
- Free Wifi Hotspots – Bangkok is a very wifi-friendly city. You can find many free hotspots at cafes, food courts and even certain dedicated areas of malls.
Where to stay
- Hilton Sukhumvit – Upgrading the room to an Executive suite gave us access to their amazing Executive lounge complete with free flow snacks and drinks all day. Having to pour our own cocktails during the happy hours was the highlight of it all, we drank like no one’s watching and it’s all free flow! Price $180/night.
- Courtyard by Marriott – Located right in the heart of the shopping district of Siam. The hotel offers a free pick up/drop off tuk-tuk service that can take you to the nearest train stations. Price $110/night.
- Qube Suites Serviced Apartments – Stay in a secure apartment complex complete with a 2 to 3-bedroom suite (with their own private bathrooms each) and even a kitchen. Price $80/night (bargain!).
- Holiday Inn Express Siam – If you want to be within a walking distance to all the major malls, a BTS train station and even a McDonalds at the lobby, this is your best choice. It’s new, clean and affordable! Price $70/night.
Things to see
- Wat Pho – Home to an incredibly large ancient statue of a golden Buddha in a reclining position. Located just opposite of the Grand Palace.
- Grand Palace – Home to Thai royalty and the largest crowd of tourists you’ll ever see in Bangkok. Explore the vast palace grounds and the intricate artworks on display.
- Wat Arun – Across the Chao Phraya river is the city’s most iconic Buddhist temple. Otherwise known as ‘The Temple of Dawn’, its towering pagoda dominates the skyline and you can even climb them.
- Erawan Shrine – Dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, locals flock this site to pray and worship the bad luck away. The site was recently a target to a terrorist attack in 2015.
What to do
- Revolve your trip around food – Thai food is everything! The spices, its fragrant aroma and even the difficulty of ordering in Thai makes for an unforgettable experience. Sample all the street food stalls you can find, even if you don’t know what it is or what it’s called, just eat it!
- Yaowarat Night Market – Otherwise known as ‘Chinatown’, Yaowarat is probably the best place to visit if you want to just roam around and eat. So make sure you try out as many things as you can from Moo Grob (crispy pork belly) to Khanom Bueang (sweet mini crepes with a thick marshmallow-like cream and a variety of toppings).
- 4D Cinema – For a unique movie experience, visit a Thai cinema (which would feel like visiting the lobby of a theme park) and try out the 4D cinema experience which will have them squirt water at your face, lightly punch you in the back, vibrate at will and even move up and down depending on what’s happening on screen.
- Bar Crawl in Thong Lor – The incredibly trendy Thong Lor district offers the best selection of bars, clubs and coffee shops in the city. Perfect place to meet the young and elite. Make sure you check out:
- Woodball – Open karaoke Japanese bar
- The Commons – A very cool open space bar styled in a food court fashion.
- Iron Fairies – Bohemian styled dimmed bar
- Thai celebrities and models – Thailand breeds some of the most beautiful Asian men and women you will ever meet and you can find these famous eye candies in public a lot. They’re usually hosting events or endorsing products at the atriums of the city’s many luxurious malls. Just follow the sounds of the screaming fan girls.
- Cultural daytrips – Get yourself a tour guide/driver and get out of the city. Go on a sightseeing trip just a few hour drive to places like:
- Ayuthayya: The Ancient capital of Thailand, full of beautiful stupas and the infamous Buddha head in the tree
- Floating Market: Go for a unique boat ride through the floating market of Damnoen Saduak to shop for (overpriced) souvenirs and delicious food from the boat stalls.
- Siam – The Siam district is the ultimate shopping destination with giant malls lined up right across one another connected by the Skywalk bridge. Which ones should you visit?
- Siam Paragon – Complete shopping experience
- Siam Centre – Trendy and affordable youth fashion
- Siam Discovery – Upmarket and exclusive youth fashion
- Central World – All rounded mall for everyone
- Central Embassy – Incredibly exclusive with things you can’t afford
- MBK – Incredibly inclusive with things you can afford
- Chatuchak Market – One of the world’s largest outdoor market.
- Platinum Mall – The perfect air conditioned wholesale mall, with level after level of clothes, accessories, bags, wigs, make-up, you name it.
Where to eat
- Khon Sae Lee (บะหมี่คนแซ่ลี) – Roasted duck and wonton noodles near the BTS Thong Lo station.
- Somtum Der – Best somtum (papaya salad) in the city, the crispy chicken wings there is also really tasty.
- Siam Paragon Food Court – If you’re looking for great tasting Thai food but don’t want to sweat or go too far away from all the shopping, the food at the Siam Paragon Food Court will suffice. I personally recommend the Pad Thai stand or the Crispy Pork and Roast Pork/Duck combination noodle, topped with spicy chilli oil.
- Migrationology and EatingThaiFood – Mark Weins is your best guide to finding the best hidden culinary destinations of Bangkok. He is also the most popular food vlogger/blogger out there so he is your best bet when it comes to everything food!
- Woodball Thong Lo – I’ve been to this open karaoke bar 4 times now and let me tell you, I’ll keep coming back there because I’ve always had the craziest time there. I’ve had drunk people feed me their birthday cakes, my friend (girl) made out with the bartender (girl) and I’ve befriended some of the greatest strangers through the magic of songs, or more specifically, a Whitney Houston anthem. You won’t find any locals here, only drunk Japanese businessmen and random expats here and there, but I will guarantee you it’ll be a night to remember.
- Rooftop bars – Get the ultimate panoramic view of Bangkok’s beautiful skyline from the many rooftop bars. For the full 360 panoramic view, I’d recommend Octave at the Marriott and Brewski at the Radisson Blu for the great selection of international and local beers.
- Thai girl or lady boy? – Thailand’s infamous sex industry plays CenterStage in places like Soi Cowboy or Patpong. Here you’ll find all the adult entertainment extremes from strip teasing lady boys to girls popping ping pong balls (among other things) out of their privates.
- BK Asia City – The ultimate restaurant, café, bar and street vendor review site complete with events calendar to check out what’s happening and who to see when visiting Bangkok. This is your Bangkok bible, bookmark it!