Traveling holds a big part in my heart, as I expressed before on my blog. What traveling means to me
My preferred way of traveling is backpacking. This means carrying all my necessities on my back, sleeping in hostels, eating local food on street markets, exploring new places by feet, meeting people from all around the world, building relationships on trust, being able to see the beauty in the little things and in general not spending too much money on things – rather on adventures!
It’s not about comfort and luxury, it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring new countries, cultures, traditions, religions, ways of thinking, mentalities, people, habits – and of course food specialties 😉
That’s why I decided to end my year 2017, which has been an up and down like a rollercoaster ride, in a fantastic way: Traveling nearly 4 weeks through Thailand with my lovely sister and our backpacks ❤️
So in this article, I will tell you about our first stop: The capital of Thailand – BANGKOK.
Pretty much all I knew about this city was that there live like 8 millions of people, it’s a huge city with a lot of traffic and of course everything that is shown and told in Hangover 2 😉
So I have to admit I didn’t know too much and so I didn’t really have a lot of expectations before going there. I decided to surprise myself and in the end, I wasn’t disappointed. But let’s start at the beginning.
My journey started in Vienna. I booked a flight with a stop in Doha – Qatar with the airline Qatar Airways. It was incredible! The Airline is selected as one of the best airlines in the world and I really get why. It’s not just that the stewardesses are unbelievable lovely, also the plane itself is amazing. The entrance reminded me of the lobby of a 5* hotel, the seats are comfortable and equipped with headrests that are moveable in different positions and you can even select out of 3 different menus. You get blankets and a pillow for the night and every seat has its own tv with headphones and a remote control. Let me tell you, it was perfect and truly comfortable.
Arriving in Bangkok I met my sister, who was already traveling through Thailand for a month. Absolutely happy about our reunion we took the Skytrain to go to our hostel. Intentionally we decided not to stay near to the famous party road ‘Khaosan road’ since we are not that into party anymore.. seems like we’re getting old :p
So we choose the Hoft Hostel, a little out of the city center but close to China town and the well-known Lumphini park, of which I will tell you more later. The hostel had a good price with breakfast included, was well located in a good neighborhood, really clean and the staff was quite nice as well.
The only thing I have to mention about the hostel is the air condition. (I think it’s a huge topic in whole Thailand) Every room is equipped with its own air-condition and I don’t know why but everyone was cooling down the rooms so much that we were actually freezing at night and woke up with a little cold. So if you choose your hostel be aware that even if airconditioning sounds great in the beginning, it can be a real comfortability killer. We decided not to make this mistake again and started searching for rooms without air condition.
After sleeping like a baby at night and trying to outwit the jetlag we started our first day in Bangkok. My sister and I always prefer to explore a new city by feet so we just walked on in the direction of a temple that we wanted to visit- Wat Pho.
On our way, we stopped at numerous smaller temples which were as beautiful as you can imagine. Golden Buddha statues, wonderful paintings, and decorations and colorful donations that people bring to the gods.
If you want to visit a temple you are not allowed to show your knees and shoulders, so bring some clothes that cover this parts of your body or something like a scarf or a sari. You can also buy or rent scarfs at some places. It is also forbidden to enter the temple with shoes. So it is absolutely normal to leave your shoes outside. No worries – I never heard of someone losing their shoes this way 😉
On our way to Wat Pho, we also passed China town. I’ve never been to China but that’s how I would expect the city centers. Uncountable people who push themselves through the crowd passing stands that sell everything imaginable. Beginning with shoes, clothes and underwear going to watches, crafts, kitchen utilities and toys for children till different foods, like fried scorpions. I think there is nothing that you can’t buy there 😂
Shocked and impressed by this chaotic system that worked perfectly fine for everyone selling or buying there, we continued our way.
I don’t know exactly how many kilometers we walked this day but for the following days my feet should hurt like hell 😀 (Walking this distance with old sandals is not the best idea..)
Arriving at Wat Pho we had a nice and yummy lunchbreak trying some typical fruits and snacks. Till now we are not really sure what we ate. It was some beanish vegetables in chili, vinegar and sugar – sweet, spicy and salty in one, really interesting. Maybe someone can tell me what it was? 😀
The temple is really famous for its giant lying statue of Buddha. It is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. A whole room filled with Buddha – incredible! On the bottom of his feet, 108 symbols of the Buddhist religion are shown in nacre.
Wat Pho is a real touristic magnet, which is why you have to pay 100 baht for entering (It also includes a small bottle of water 😉 ). Since there is a lot more to see besides the lying Buddha, the price was still high, but okay. You can spend some hours exploring all the different statues, buildings and wall paintings about yoga in this area.
My sister, who is a yoga teacher and educated in Thai massage, told me that the paintings on the walls show the basics and beginnings of Thai massage. She was really excited seeing and learning from it! There is also a school inside the temple complex where you can visit courses and educate yourself in Thai massage and the traditional Thai art of healing. So if you’re interested in things like this, you should definitely check out this temple 🙂
Later we went on to our next stop – the total opposite of a spiritual place: The Khaosan road.
If you love food, shopping and party this is your place to be! We just walked through the street watching the typical elephant T-shirts, long skirts, colorful trousers and other souvenirs, while listening to some interesting offers like “pussy ping pong show” (which we rejected with thanks :D). Even though this is not the kind of places I normally want to visit in a new country, it is clearly a big part of tourism in Bangkok, so it was nice to see it. And of course, I also had to buy one of these awesome elephant T-shirt…What should I say? I’m just a woman 😉
To end the first day in Bangkok we had an unbelievably good (and spicy!!!) dinner in one of the street markets next to our hostel.
Locals cook on the streets or even have some special carry-on-the-motorbike-stand where they sell their fresh and typical food. Some people may think that eating in places like this is not totally hygienic. I have to admit that the hygienic standards aren’t the same as in restaurants in Europe for example. But I was already watching some cooks on the streets preparing the meals – they use the freshest ingredients and cook with high temperatures (for a fast and hygienic preparation). I personally have no doubts eating in these local places, it’s authentic, cheap, healthy and delicious – and I till now I didn’t have any digestive problems (if you know what I mean :p)
Our second and last day in Bangkok we started with a nice walk through the beautiful Lumphini Park. This park is home to tons of huge geckos. The animals hang out there between people doing sports like Tai Chi and jogging. There are also different small lakes where you can cruise around with small boats. We were just walking through the nice green park, enjoying the silence (which is hard to find in Bangkok) and drinking our coconut water right out of a fresh coconut – yummy!!
I bet you have already heard about the famous Klongs – the small rivers – in Bangkok where you can book cruising tours and explore the city on water. Since we are low-budget travelers we refused to pay like 1000 Baht for a half an hour tour. So we found a cheap and convenient way to combine the boat trip with the visit of our next stop. We searched for the next boat stop (like bus stops but on the river) and jumped on the next boat to the Gold Mountain Temple. – Yes, you really have to jump – the gaps between boat and SHORE can be big :p
These “boat buses” are a normal and fast way for Thais to go to work. And to compare the prices with the touristy boat trips we paid 11 Baht for a 30 minute trip on the Klongs! It was so much fun cruising around in the boat taxis with high speed, a lot of locals and a view of the city that I bet not every tourist gets. I would really recommend getting to know the Klongs of Bangkok in this funny and cheap way! 🙂
Leaving the boat we just had to walk a few more minutes to reach Wat Saket (Gold Mountain Temple), a temple on the top of a small mountain where you have to climb up 318 steps to reach it. The way up is not that hard as it may sound because you have an amazing view, see interesting statues and bells and walk through a little rainforest wood on your way up. It’s a really nice experience and the entrance of 20 Baht is totally worth it. On the top of the mountain, you have a wonderful view over Bangkok with its skyscrapers, rivers and uncountable temples. You feel so small looking at this huge city – really amazing!
One thing that you have to do in Bangkok is visiting a rooftop bar! I read a lot on the internet about the different options. Most of them included a dress code with suits and cocktail dresses – well, my backpack didn’t allow me to bring clothes like this 😀
So I had the luck find the recommendation of another blogger to check out the rooftop of the Riverview guesthouse next to china town. (Don’t get confused with another guesthouse with the same name.. the first day we visited this hostel and well.. there’s just one floor 😀 It was nice though! )
Arriving the bar/restaurant on the 8th floor we were amazed! A view over Bangkok, next to the river, just a few people up there, good prices and huge mattresses to chill on – exactly what we were looking for! So we chilled there on the beds, enjoying the sunset and feeling lucky to end our time in Bangkok in this special way ❤️
The next day we took the train to Prachuapkhirikhan – a small town on the beach between Bangkok and Surat Thani. Not that well known by tourists, but amazing and totally worth visiting it! You can read about my experiences there very soon 🙂
To sum up our stay in Bangkok I have to say that I am totally surprised and amazed by this city. Even though it’s huge and noisy, the city is clean, the traffic is well organized and the people are so unbelievably friendly! Thais seem to enjoy every minute of life, stay positive and friendly in every situation, are helpful, openminded and very lovely. They help you in every situation – even without asking – and they are so sweet trying to understand what you are saying even if they don’t speak a word English 😀
I could go on with this list forever. I am really lucky to be able to visit this great country and to learn about this culture and way of thinking. Always remind yourself that no problem or difficult situation is that hard as it may seem in the beginning.
To finish, some interesting sings I saw related to the ‘bathroom’ topic in Thailand 😉
Let me know about your experiences in Bangkok!
Lots of love,