Bangkok through locals.
January 1, 1970
by Roxane Zugmeyer
First step in Thailand, Bangkok.
Staying or passing by Bangkok? Be ready!
Here are some tips to discover the Asian capital city smoothly.
Before coming to South East Asia, I’ve heard many things about the Asian capital city!
“Bangkok it’s aweful”, “The heat is unbearable there, leave the city as soon as possible”, “After few days in Khao San Road there is no much to do around”, “The street food is amazing, you’re so lucky”, “Everything is cheap and there is a 7-Eleven on every street corner”, “You must visit the Wat Pho” […].
I have to admit, I am a bit stubborn. I wanted to make my own Bangkok trip avoiding KSR, Ping-pong shows and other creepy offers.
Even if we all are tourists in a way, I like to avoid the typical “western tourist” who get waited every single night because “it’s so cheap there”. No judgment! It’s just not what I enjoy.
So my Bangkok was nothing to do with what it’s called “the Khao San Road mood”.
Indeed, I chose a place to stay in Phaya Thaï district.
If you want to visit Bangkok, you need the public transport system! Skyline, bus and boat can be used to go around.
The BTS is a bit expensive if you use it many times a day.
My advice is to take the BTS until station Ratchathewi and use the “khlong saen saep express boat“.
Be careful, it’s crowded while rush hours (early in the morning and at night, when locals go and come back from work and school).
I thought it was an alternative way to visit the city! You can go to The Jim Thomson house, The Golden Mountain …
It costs nothing (20 baht maximum) and it’s fresher than a tuktuk ride.
According to your place, use the way of transportation, you won’t regret it! >> Klong Saen Saep transfers.
As I told you before, i’m stubborn! So you have to know I hated Bangkok when I first arrived.
Let me explain.
Short story : I was tired as you can imagine after more than 20 hours travelling, my phone was out of battery and I was lost. Bangkok was of course crowded and I was not feeling confortable with advertisments everywhere, people stuck on their phone or walking as robots. At that moment I saw the city as a bad smelling place and possibly full of rats… I was not wrong.
Whatever the first impression, I wanted to go further! I stayed a week to explore as much as I could, until I gave in. Ahah
My first day, I was not so disturbed by the heat and I met such a nice guy ( Songkhran) who helped me to find my way, taking the public bus with me! Thanks to him again! Even if I was not feeling at my place, I was amazed by people kindness! I was shocked by the gap between poorness all around in the streets and those huge and eccentric malls and banks everywhere. Whatever were my thoughts, I was not insensible.
I was thinking “I hate this place” but I couldn’t leave, I wanted to know more, exploring it deeply to change my mind or to justify why I didn’t like it. Saying “I don’t like the smell” or “it’s too crowded” was not a reason to denigrate a city…
I went here to discover a new culture so I stayed!
The Loy Kratong Festival
I got lucky to be around the night of the twelfth lunar month (usually in November)! We celebrated the end of the rainy season and thank the goddess of water. That night was impressive and beautiful! You could see all people gathered around canals, rivers and lakes to release lotus shaped with flowers and decorated with candles and incenses.
As I stayed in Phaya Thaï area I mostly needed to use the skyline to reach the city center. Even if I wanted to avoid the KSR area, I went there once at day time to see how it looks like, and I thank myself to stay somewhere else! But if you want to buy souvenirs or meet people in a pub or something like that, this is the right place to be! I visited all around this area and it was worth it!
Some of my favourite moments in Bangkok :
- Crossing the Taksin bridge watching the sunset behind the skyscrapers
- The boat rides to go until the KSR area
- Visiting the Gold Mountain
- Eating the best padthaï for only 35 baht at Harley Davidson restaurant (across the street if you stay to Jekky’s homestay)
- Rushing to 7-Eleven when my chocolate addiction was stronger than me (I know it’s bad!)
- Walking around in Lumpini Park
- Lying down at Chatuchak Park
- Drinking local whisky with my new Thaï family
- Incredible people I met <3
- Seeing my ex roommate and spending most time with him in a day in Bangkok than a year in our city
My worst moments in Bangkok :
- All my rats moments ( I screamed, cryied and ran so many times because of them! :O)
- When I had only 20 baht & no credit card at night time (thanks grandma, Western Union and a friend’s friend who generously hosted me for few nights >> They embraced so much my situation! ahah).
- When I ordered a chocolate brownie and after half an hour waiting for it (and starting to smell chocolate in the air), they gave me a frozen tiny piece of chocolate cake! Grrr
No matters what you’ve heard about Bangkok, I really advice you to try to discover it by yourself, away from the KSR area 😉