Liam and Emily here and another joint post! Liam: In the first 24 hours in and around Bangkok we saw the good and the bad. Pork noodle wanton soup for 40 baht (~£1.10) = fantastic. The tourist trap that is Damnoen Saduak market, not so great.
Just waiting to rip us off… I’m joking, us tourists get what we deserve I guess!
For around £10 each you can get a tour from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak and considering the distance getting a minibus is the way to go. We really wanted to see this famous floating market having heard good things from friends and various blogs alike. But to be honest, it was over priced (food costing 4-5 times as much elsewhere) and full of just tourist crap for sale. Pretty telling that not a single Thai person was shopping here.
Imagine the hassle of doing your weekly shop on a canal!
Floating around the market on a boat was a cool experience, but at an additional cost. Considering the market itself was nothing to shout home about, this additional expense was something that all together I just wish we hadn’t bothered with. Around 500 baht later we had seen everything and eaten a small breakfast. A small fortune for Thailand considering it is possible to budget £25 a day, let alone £15 before the morning has even really started. Still, the powerboat cruise into the town was really cool and part of our original tour price. Our advice would be to avoid the paid for market cruise as you’ll see much of that anyway.
All tourists of course!
Our last stop of the tour was to the famous MaeKlong Railway market. A cool blend of food and clothing vendors all crouched around an active railway. Every 30 mins or so a train comes past and the shopkeepers and tourists alike duck out of the way to let them through. Cool and definitely more in line with the rest of the greater Bangkok area in terms of prices!
The train market, right on the railway. Obviously!
After a siesta (much needed as jet lag was kicking our asses) we headed out to Wat Arun for a perfect sunset. Picking up some beers from a 7eleven we found a secluded spot looking across the Chao Phaya River to the temple. The colours were amazing as all good sunsets are. Golden, to orange, to purple and into black. The temple lights up becoming more and more majestic as the night draws in. Honestly the perfect way to spend a sunset in Bangkok!
Getting ready for sunset…
Satisfied at our almost free evening activity we headed back to our hostel via Khoasan road. An amazing spectacle at night; markets, beer, food, tourists. Just what I imagined. We milled around the crowds, taking life slowly and soaking it in. After finding and haggling for a sarong each we settled on a vendor for some delicious street food – rice with spiced pork and rice with fried catfish – to end the night on a delicious Thai high.
Boom! Glorious temple at night!
Emily: Waking up and out the hostel at 10 am it was already 90 degrees (or 32 degrees Celsius) and 90% humidity. We set out with our one goal for the day, see china town and the famous “Golden Buddha”. Off on our path we went, with a nice refreshing Thai tea and our daypacks on our back. Looking as stereotypically touristy as we did, we were prompted by several tuk tuk drivers. We didn’t end up using any but they all kept asking if we were going to “the golden mountain”. So Liam, being the forward thinker that he is looked it up and saw that it wasn’t too far off. We reset our course and headed to “the golden mountain”
Walking via the Democracy Monument
I’ve been to Bangkok once before and am amazed that somehow I missed this incredible sight. Wat Saket sits on top of an 80 meter hill and is one of the cities oldest temples. Starting at the base you spiral up 300 very tiny steps seeing climbing vines, trees, and massive bells that you can ring on your journey up.
And see creepy vultures on the way down…
The views from the top are probably some of the best to see the sprawl of an Asian mega city that is Bangkok. Any additional sweating that occurs to make it to the top is well rewarded by this vantage point! To make matters even better, to get to the top costs only 50 baht per person making it one of the most affordable sights in the city. I can honestly say it’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in Bangkok.
Ready for some food we set out for our initial destination: Chinatown. It was about a 30 minute walk through hectic sidewalks and chaotic traffic unlike anything you could see in the UK or US, we made it! Hungry now, it was a case of pick an alley, any alley. In Chinatown any bustling lane you head down is guaranteed to lead you to sights and smells you’ve never experienced, various teas, medicinal jars, dried out mushrooms and fish, stuff on sticks, lottery cards, etc. The mystery factor makes it all the more interesting! We sat down at a popular looking street vendor and had a bowl of rolled noodle soup with various bits of mystery pork. Delicious.
The hustle and bustle of China Town
The last thing we saw was the golden Buddha. Coming in at 5.5 tonnes and valued at 250 million dollars it was quite the memorable sight. At 40 baht a head to go see, it is another extremely affordable sight in Bangkok. The Buddha itself is what you are coming for though, other temples are far more accessible and far more impressive. All in all not a bad morning of sightseeing!
Nothing that big should be solid gold…
Liam: After heading back to our hostel and grabbing a shower (both hot and sweaty messes after a morning out in the Thai sunshine) and seeking cover from an impending afternoon tropical storm, we picked up our gear and checked out. Bangkok you were ace, but such a large city soon wears thin. Next stop – Northern Thailand, starting with Chiang Mai. Now we’ve just got that 10 hour (minimum) bus journey to worry about…
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Wat Traimit – home to the Golden Buddha