South East Asia Travel

Backpackers Guide to Bangkok

Bangkok, I really don’t know where to start with this one. We arrived into Bangkok after a sixteen-hour flight and landed in the middle of Khao San Road. A bit of advice avoid actually staying there. Yes, it is the backpacker central and of course, you should go and check it out for yourself but do not stay there.

Before we actually made it to our hotel, we met this Thai guy who lived in Ireland for years and told us about a student deal where we could get our tickets for trains and buses at a fraction of the cost. So we jumped into a Tuk Tuk and went to the agency. When I think back to it, I have no idea why we decided this was a good idea. I think originally we were only going to book our train ticket up to Chiang Mai. However, we booked our trains up to Chiang Mai and back again. Plus all our transport around the Islands in the South. The girl did try and plan our entire trip but we weren’t too keen on the idea. She also booked our accommodation for the full moon party, which ended up being a disaster (a story for another time). If I was doing it again I don’t think I would have booked all our tickets as it meant we had to go on certain days and took away a bit of the freedom that comes with backpacking. It was very handy though at the end of our trip to have had already paid all our transport. Thinking back on this experience it really isn’t a good idea to trust random strangers. We lived to tell the tale but I don’t think I would trust anyone now in my old(er) age!

At first, we didn’t really like Bangkok and that is not uncommon. Most people we talked to weren’t too fond of it either. Bangkok is quite the culture shock especially if you have never been to any other Asian countries before. The traffic is insane, there are so many different smells, there are people cooking on the street everywhere you go and do not get me started on the heat. The only word I can use to describe this city is, intense. Bangkok is intense. It actually took us staying three times in this city to actually get accustomed to it. But, you know what they say third times a charm. The third time we came, we had done our research and stayed in an area we thought we’d like. I am so glad we did because now I love Bangkok and I would have hated to have gone home with the negative view I had of it when I first arrived.

Where to Stay

Dang Derm hotel, Khao San Road.

This was a really nice hotel and it had a great rooftop pool. Which is basically where we spent most our time, escaping the insane heat. The hotel itself is right on Khao San road, and if that is where you are looking to stay then I would highly recommend staying here.

VX the fifty, Oh Nut.

This hostel was just a five-minute walk off the Oh Nut stop on the BTS (Bangkok’s version of the Metro). Before coming back to Bangkok we had done our research on different areas in Bangkok to see if we could find a place we actually liked. We decided to stay near the city centre and somewhere close to the BTS, so it was easy to get around. The hostel itself was clean and cheap, what more could you ask for! The surrounding area was nice. It was right by a massive Tesco Lotus, which had a food court in it perfect if you didn’t feel like going to far for food.

Vimarn Hostel, Phaya Thai.

This was my favorite place we stayed in Bangkok. It was a really nice hostel situated in a great location. It was right off the Phaya Thai stop on the BTS. This is also the stop where the Skytrain (which takes you direct to Suvarnabhumi Airport) ends. So you can literally just hop on the Skytrain from the airport and brings you direct to this stop and the hostel is just a four-minute walk away. Very convenient if you are getting off a long haul flight! It is also just two stops away from the city center, Saim. I would highly recommend staying here, if you are looking for a hostel around the city centre.

What to do

It is not hard to find things to do in Bangkok. There’s Khao San Road, the Grand Palace, numerous temples and as many markets as you can shake a stick at. However, we did things a little differently than most.

Shopping

If you like shopping then Bangkok does not disappoint. They have so many malls it’s actually crazy. And not just any kind of malls, they all have an impressive amount of designer stores. It almost seems like there is a mall on every stop on the BTS. Which probably isn’t too far off. First, there is the malls at the Siam stop, Siam Discovery, Siam Centre, Siam Paragon and Central World. So you get my point, there’s a lot of malls. These malls are all beside each other and for awhile I did think they were all the same mall but apparently not. Siam Center is where you will find all the boutique stores housing some amazing Bangkok/Thai designers. Everything was reasonably priced for designer pieces in my opinion. If you are looking to pick up some interesting and different pieces then I would highly recommend checking it out. The mall off the Prom Phong stop, The EmQuartier was my favorite. It was separated into a few different buildings on both sides of the street. They had an amazing food court and gourmet market. Here is where you will find all your high street stores like Zara, H&M, Sephora and more and an awesome bookstore.

Chatuchak Market

This is the mother of all markets. I did read that it is the biggest market in the world but don’t quote me on that. Though I would well believe it is up there with the some of biggest markets. This is where you can buy whatever you want and I mean whatever you want! From souvenirs, mosaic, spices to animals and a kitchen sink. I would definitely recommend going, they sell everything. They even have a DHL so that you can ship your purchases home. My advice, get there early because it gets crowded and very hot! The market is on during the weekends and opens at 6am. We went just before 9am and some places where just opening up, by 10 everywhere is open. By the time we were nearly finished it was noon and it was getting very crowded and quite sweaty. What I mean by saying nearly finished is that we had picked up all our last minute presents. We still hadn’t even been to half of the market. The place was massive!

Patpong Night Market

Another market, what can I say there is loads of them! This market is where you can get your designer knockoffs and random slogan tees. It’s not that big and you could properly walk around it within an hour. There is also a good bit of street food where you can grab dinner.

Temple Hopping 

There are some amazing temples in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew or ‘as it is also known The Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ is probably the most popular temple among tourists, it is built within the grounds of the Grand Palace and is famous for the emerald Buddha which is a 66 cm tall Buddha carved from a block of Jade. Wat Pho or the temple of the reclining Buddha is another popular temple, its main attraction is a 15 meter high, 43 meter long Buddha that is well reclining. Lastly Wat Arun, one of the most iconic temple in Bangkok. It lies on opposite side of the Grand Palace and is build on the bank of the Chao Phraya. Known as the temple of the dawn, this is one temple that stands out and is worth the visit.

Where to Eat

You will find a recurring theme in my travel posts and that is my obsession with Brunch food. So anytime we didn’t have breakfast at the hostel we were on the hunt for good brunch spots.

Breakie

It is not just a breakfast spot but that was the reason why we went. They do everything from avocado toast with salmon to cacao pancakes (which I had) and they were amazing. It is also very ascetically pleasing, so what’s not to love. Prices range from 200-300 baht.

 

The Coffee Club

The coffee club is an Australian chain and has a few locations around the city. However, we went to the one just of the Ekamai stop. This place has some pretty solid brunch options. I went for the ever so basic avocado toast, which was excellent. We also went back for lunch the following day, which was also very enjoyable.

Oh, La La cafe

This little cafe was right by our hostel (VX the fifty) and does the best waffles. If you stay there be sure to pop in.

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Un-Fashion Vintage Restaurant

This was one of the most ascetically pleasing places to eat. This place is also a Vintage store and runs a Cafe on the other side of the street. If you are out vintage shopping, this place is a nice spot for lunch. It is in Ekamai, which is a pretty hipster area.

Ink & Lion

A very hipster coffee shop, just down the street from the coffee club. They do really good coffee and the cutest slices of cake.

Pizza and the city

Not the cheapest place to get a pizza, but the pizza is pretty damn good!

Indulge

We went here as it was our last night after three months of traveling so we wanted to celebrate. It is not the cheapest place, but not so expensive either. The food is so good, with the menu being a mix between Thai and Western. They also have a pretty swanky cocktail bar.

Bangkok and Thailand, in general, is also known for its great street food. So make sure you go out and try what they have to offer. You can never go wrong with a Pad Thai.

I ended up loving this city by the end of our travels. My advice, do your research on the city. It is quite diverse so find a spot you think you might like and stay there. I would recommend staying near the BTS line, it is so handy for getting around the city. You can alway take a Tuk Tuk to Khao San Road and the other tourist spots. Make sure to bargain though (or at least have a friend with you that’s good at that. like I did)!

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