Im Felipe, from Chile, here i will explain my first experience in Asia,specifically in Thailand, and I really hope to help and encourage people to keep travelling and living amazing life experiences & unforgettables.
March 2018 (€1 = 37,20 Baht)
My flight from Köln (Cologne, Germany) arrived at dawn, so I had to wait and make time to head to the centre of Bangkok. The fastest and easiest way to go is by using the "AL" (Airport Link), a train that runs from 6 AM to 12 PM. The ticket costs 45 Baht. If it is too early and they are not selling tickets yet, there are also machines where you can buy them very easily. Another option is taking the S1 bus that goes directly to Khao San, but it takes much longer. If you prefer a taxi is going to be around 400 – 500 Baht.
Once in the city I took a bus to the backpackers neighborhood, Khao San. In the buses, depending on the neighborhood you go, you will be charged a certain value, it costed me 16 Baht. I did not know where I was going, but with Google Maps I was able to point out to the lady who charges where I was going and then she told me where I should get off.
The first thing that got my attention when I walked in the streets of Bangkok, where the pillars with small houses, full of flowers, incense, plates with food or bottles of drinks. These little houses where in front of almost all the houses and buildings. As I arrived during the day, many people went to work so I saw some people stopping in front of these houses and praying or leaving some food. I thought it was something related to Buddhism, but later I discovered that it was not. In a separate post I will explain this in more detail.
The first days I stayed at the house of Susanne, a Canadian woman I contacted by CouchSurfing. With her we went out in the morning and we walked through the city, we visited a flower market, no flowers for lovers, but for the Buddhist temples and spirits. We ride in a collective boat that is generally taken by Thais to move between different docks but most tourist occupy it as entertainment, because it is fun (special) and very cheap (15baht). Beware, there are also some tourist boats, they basically do the same, but they charge you a lot more.
In Bangkok, wherever you look, you will see a temple or "Wat". Do not try to see everything because you will not achieve it. There are clearly some places you can’t miss, such as the temple where Reclined Buddha (50 Baht) is located, Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount), 50 (Baht) and the The Grand Palace (500 Baht). You will be surprised, they are beautiful, but as I said before you will not be able to see them all. Besides you will realize that they all have a similar design. Most of the temples are free to visit, but clearly some take advantage of charging tourist. However, it is in most cases still not expensive.
The days I was in Bangkok there was a cultural event in front of the City Hall. There were hundreds of food stand, and also typical dances and a beauty contest on a stage.
The other nights I stayed at the infamous "Khao San Road". Which is a crazy party street (450 meters). On this street you will see the most incredible amount of advertising signs, many bars, hear a lot of music/noise (all places try to be louder than the other), there are DJ’s in almost all the bars, and the markets around take their chances to sell shirts, suits, massages, tattoos, bugs to eat, blood of cobra to drink, etc. The parties there usually finish at 4 am, but locals always know where to go on.
The neighbourhood "China Town" is an amazing place to visit as well. During the day it is a multicultural market and I had the opportunity to try a real chai tea in a Hindu local restaurant. If you need something electronic you can easily find it there. At night the place is full of people, lights and everything is about food trade. I enjoyed myself watching the variety of food products, restaurants, hundreds of Tuk-Tuk. You can really lose yourself among their markets and try delicious seafood.
Tuk-Tuk are the most touristic public transport to use. They are beautiful and full of lights at night, For me it’s a Thai experience. Some friends warned me not to take them because they are a bit expensive (and I’m just a simple backpacker), anyway I used them 4 times, but without paying. How? Some tourist agencies pay money or give gasoline coupons to drivers for bringing them tourists to buy their services. A driver explained to me that if I helped him, he would take me wherever I wanted. So, we visited 3 agencies, he got his money, I got my own driver for a while and we all won (but the agencies).
In case you didn't know, in Thailand the sense of the tracks is the other way around that in the Western World and the driver's seat is on the right side, just like in England. It confused me a little at the beginning when crossing streets, but nothing of the other world (or maybe yes), anyway they are quite civilized when it comes to driving.
Regarding food, my recommendation is that you try everything. I’ve been doing it and it never went wrong with me, I even ate bugs! Generally, for 50 Baht you can get a good plate of food, super cheap, but I refer to "Street Food". These are, popular places and markets, but not real restaurants. If you go to restaurants they charge more for the same thing you can get outside, in the streets, where it might be even more authentic/better prepared. Thai people eat an average of five dishes a day, that's why it's so cheap, and that's why you'll see so much food stands. And yes, it's spicy. In general, it was fine for me, for me it's fine, although on a couple of occasions I had to restrain myself from not coughing while I had food in my mouth, because of the spiciness. from how spicy it was. They usually give you your plate of food and then you can add the four dressings that are on always on the table (sour, sweet, salty and spicy).
The vast majority of hostels and hotels are in the Khao San neighborhood, and usually tend to be ridiculously cheap, €2 - €3 among the cheapest, no luxuries or breakfast but breakfast can be found on the street. Only once I paid €9, but it was a very fancy place, very clean, breakfast included, daily new towels, and all the amenities.
All hostels, of any value, will have at least a fan and/or air con.
If you need to continue your trip I recommend 100% to see the prices of tickets in Hua Lamphong train station before buying tourist packages in any tourist agency, since they will always charge twice as much.
From the Khao San neighborhood there is only one bus (Number 35) that goes directly and costs 13 Baht. Go to the bus stop on time because it takes more than 30 minutes to pass. This happened to me every time.
This was my experience in Bangkok. I've been there 4 times and there's always something new to do and a new plate of food to try.
See you soon viajeros!