Our next adventure takes us to Asia’s Street Food Capital, Bangkok, Thailand.
Did you know that Bangkok was known as Venice of the East in the 19th Century? Bangkok is a city filled with canals or “khlongs”, these canals are spread out thru the city and has been a way to get around the different parts of Bangkok.
It’s not surprising that this small fishing village in the 1500’s known as a port city has now developed into one of the most modern cities in South East Asia. A city deeply connected with their culture and traditions. The remnants of the past deeply preserved and persevered as one of the anchors of their identity.
Bangkok is a city of over 8 million people, it’s known worldwide as a backpackers destination, as well as, a food destination for street food. Foreigners all over the world visit for various reasons, some to eat, some to explore, some to drink, and some to party. Aside from the strong cultural traditions, Bangkok is also a known party destination, where beer is cheap, and where they have a thriving red light district.
Bangkok can be divided into 11 different areas:
Siam Square – Blue Area
If you like luxury brands, and big brands, you should head over to the Siam Square area. This area around Siam Square, including Ratchaprasong and Phloen Chit Road, is Bangkok’s modern center with glitzy malls, and 5-star hotels.
Sukhumvit – Dark Pink Area
The Sukhumvit area is where most of the expatriates and upper-class locals stay. There are also a number of good hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs here. This area is also home to Soi Cowboy and Nana Entertainment Plaza, known as, one of Bangkok’s Red Light Districts.
Silom -Yellow area
Silom is home to Thailand’s financial center by day, and the infamous Patpong at night.
Rattanakosin- Pink Area
Between the river and downtown is “Old Bangkok”, most of the tourist sites are here such as Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace.
Khao San Road – Green Area
On the north part of Rattanakosin is Bangkok’s central Backpacker Zone, you have all the hostels, and tour offering that a budget traveler may need. This area is also a known for its nightlife where there is happy hour, morning, noon, and night.
Yaowarat and Phahurat – Purple Area
Yaowarat is known as Bangkok’s Chinatown where you can find tasty street food and seafood and halal restaurants. It is also known as a multicultural district with temples and shrines.
Dusit – Yellow Area
In contrast to the densely-populated areas in Bangkok, Dusit is open with lush gardens, and wide roads. This is known as the political district of Bangkok where they have monuments, institutions, and of course the home of the monarchy.
Thonburi – Violet Area
The other side of Rattanakosin, this area is the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Here you can visit Wat Arum, the floating market, and a canal tour.
Pratunam – Lilac Area
If you want to bargain and get wholesale price items, then head over to Pratunam it’s a large garment market with hundreds of fashion stores selling both retail and wholesale items. You can also visit Victory Monument here.
Phahonyothin – Light Green Area
For those Bargain Hunters, this is where you’ll find the famous Chatuchak market, where they have over 8000 stalls with everything you can think of buying. During weekdays, it’s a quiet suburb of Northern Bangkok.
Ratchadaphisek – Dark Lilac Area
If you want to meet and party with locals, this is the place to go. The “sois” of this area is a popular clubbing spot, especially since the completion of the metro line.
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HOW TO REACH THE CITY
To get to the city you can either take a taxi, uber, grab, or take the BTS train. There are many available directions around the airport, and at every corner, there are helpful and efficiently placed airport staffs to direct you the right way. One thing we found interesting was that they had a machine where you just type where you need to go, and they even print a map for you.
For the BTS Train, head to the basement 2 of the airport where you can then buy a ticket, this will bring you all the way to the city, as far as, Siam. Instead of the typical cards that we use for the train ticket, they use a small round token that you will be inserted into the barrier on the trains.
For the taxi/grab/uber, remember that there is a toll fee of 50 BAHT/80PHP/1.60 USD from the airport to the city on top of your estimated fare. We recommend getting an app sharing ride like Grab or Uber or just a taxi instead of taking the BTS. It is more convenient, faster and will cost you roughly the same.
While there are many options on where to stay, I’d suggest the best accommodation is to get an Airbnb on your preferred location. I’d recommend staying in the Silom area.
If you’d prefer a hotel here are our suggestions:
Bangkok is one place with many ways to get around. They have a beautiful infrastructure, wide roads, an efficient train system, and even boats. Bangkok is a large city and it would really depend on the distance, and location on deciding which one you should take.
By Train: The main tourist’s spots of Bangkok can be easily navigated using the train, just remember where your stop is and your good to go. Their trains are clean, air-conditioned and the people are well organized. You can really see how disciplined the citizens are when they follow simple directions in their transport system.
By Uber/Grab: It’s more convenient than hailing taxis. Easier to reach point A to point B without minding the language barrier.
By Taxi: Good option as well. Most drivers are surprisingly not that fluent in English based on the 3-4 rides we took while we were there.
By Boat: I recommend using the boat if you want to go around the riverside areas of Bangkok, it’s cheap and effective way to travel especially to avoid traffic.
By Tuk-Tuk: I would only suggest for you to use the tuk-tuk if you’re going somewhere near maybe 2-5 kilometers. Remember you can haggle the price, for 5km you can try bargaining for 20 BAHT/35 PHP/ 0.60 USD. Be wary of tuk-tuk drivers as they can sometimes take you to other places than you originally asked. Be firm on your destination.
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Bangkok is one of the unique cities in Asia. The embodiment of place revered for its traditions and culture, yet going out of bounce with the fast-paced nightlife and red light district known all over the world.
Check out these places to learn more about local culture and traditions:
- Wat Pho (The temple of the reclining Buddha) – This temple houses a 46-meter gold-plated reclining Buddha. It also houses a large complex with beautiful traditional Thai buildings and architecture.
- Wat Arum (Temple of Dawn) – One of Thailand’s most famous landmarks Wat Arum is right beside the Chao Phraya River, known for its Khmer architectural style and one of the most important temples dating to as far back as 1768.
- Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall – A European style reception hall for the royal court. It houses the Siam art collection of the royal family. Unfortunately, they closed it for renovation since October 2017
- Wat Pra Kaew (The Emerald Buddha) – The cities most famous landmark, the Golden Palace complex used to house the royal family for over 150 years. It is composed of beautiful architecture and intricate details on every corner of the palace.
- Jim Thompsons House – If you want to see a traditional Thai home, visit Jim Thompson’s museum, the house is full of Thai antiques. You can also learn more about his mysterious disappearance.
- Khlong Bang Luang Artist House – Drop by at 2 pm to watch the puppet show. This traditional house is Riverside, you can have a cup of coffee while taking a look at the different artworks inside. Insider Tip: Tell your taxi it’s near Baan Silapin
- Floating Markets – Take time out to visit their floating markets, and find interesting types of food and observe the local culture.
- Chao Phraya River – Take the river cruise to check out the khlongs thru out the city.
Our favorite way to get to know the local culture is to eat. The cuisine of any place is always determined by the ingredients available to a land, and the way the people use and cook the herbs and different kinds of products available to them. Here in Thailand, they use generous amounts of the galangal herb, lemongrass, lime, fish sauce, and chili.
Here are some restaurants for you to try:
- Jae Fai (Crab Omelette) – 327 Mahachai Road, Samranras Subdistrict, Phra Nakon District
- Silom Soi 20 Market (Chicken Biryani Rice) -Thanon Silom Soi 20
- Tom Yum Goong Banglamphu (Tom Yum Goong) – Thanon Kraisi (right in front of the big Banglamphu car park), Talad Yawd Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand
- Thip Samai (Pad thai) – 313-315 Maha Chai Rd, Khwaeng Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
If you want to avoid the heat, try these food courts:
- MBK Mall
- Terminal 21
The best food experience we had was in the floating markets, the fresh produce and newly cooked food here are unparalleled. It’s an all-new experience, the food here is cheaper, and the quality is even better than in the city.
- Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market (read about this here)
- Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market
We suggest you make time to visit the following floating markets
To learn more about why you need to eat in Thailand on this link.
After going to four different Southeast Asian countries in the past year, you can really see how the weather, ingredients available, and the cultural influences take part of each of the different dishes that are available within the different Asian regions.
Bangkok was able has stunned us with their unique cuisine and enraptured us with the quality of ingredients they have available. This special focus on the quality of their fresh ingredients, and how their dishes are prepared has set them up as Asia’s haven for Street food.
Thailand and its city Bankok has a lot of things to offer. So what are you waiting for book your next flight to Thailand!