Bangkok: Between Malls and Temples
We stayed in Bangkok three times during our trip in Thailand because we used it as a connection point to move around the country. We enjoyed the city, wandering between malls and temples. In Bangkok, you will find a lot of malls with food courts. They have a lot of options: restaurants or areas with small stalls and tables where you have to use a rechargeable card to pay. Basically, you choose an amount based on what you want to eat, pay at the cashier and they will give you a card to give to the stall when you order your food. The tables in this area can be used by all customers. We aren’t fans of malls but we liked the food at Siam Paragon.
MRT and Sky Train are great to explore but for the rest, the city is not walkable and malls are also used as paths to reach different destinations. A nice walkable area is Rambuttri. There are nice restaurants with patio and shops. The only downside is that it’s a touristy. If you miss walking and looking around it’s a good spot to relax, though. Have lunch or a drink outside on the patio. If your accommodation is not close to this area you can’t reach it with the metro, you will have to get a taxi or Tuk Tuk. The Tuk Tuk drivers will try to rip you off and if you want a good price you will have to negotiate beforehand. Never take a Tuk Tuk without asking the price. We used both options and discovered that taxis are affordable.
There are a couple of temples worth seeing in the city. We visited Wat Hua Lamphong, Wat Traimit, and Wat Pho. This last one contains a giant golden reclining buddha. Temples are part of the Thai culture and for this reason, it’s important to visit them, but don’t expect majestic buildings. I might be biased, but after seeing other temples in South East Asia, I wasn’t impressed.
Staying in different areas gave us a good sense of the city. Bangkok is a place to experience with an open mind and without expectation. The city has a lot to offer but it needs time to be discovered. Few days are not enough, but if this is the only time you have available try to get lost one day, otherwise you risk to be overwhelmed by traffic and malls.
WHERE TO STAY:
Ping Airbnb next to the MRT station Huai Khwang. We liked it because it was removed from the touristy center, but there wasn’t much around apart from the Night Market. We found good and cheap food in a mall nearby. Ping came to pick us up at the MRT station.
Mirth Sathorn Hotel walking distance from the Silom area and two Sky Train stops from the malls at Siam.
Bangkok Centre Hotel walking distance from Hua Lampong railway station, convenient if you have an early or late train to get.
WHERE TO EAT (outside of malls):
Somtum Der for the superb fried chicken. And in the Siam area, you can find good and cheap Asian food at the restaurant Inter. At Cafe 511 in front of Hua Lampong station, we had the best Pad Thai. We tried many during our month in Thailand: at the malls, at stalls in the street, to go and at restaurants on the beach. It took one entire month to find the perfect Pad Thai, and surprisingly we found it in a small restaurant by the railway station the last night.
NOTE: if you want to visit the floating markets make sure you plan an itinerary that includes at least one weekend in Bangkok. We wanted to visit the floating market out of the city but unfortunately, our tight schedule didn’t allow us.