The "Village in the plumgrove" or the "City of Angels" is one of Asia´s biggest Metropoli and one of the main tourist destinations in Thailand. To be honest: Thailand was not my absolute favourite country. Maybe it was due to my incredible trip to Bali and the Gilis beforehand or maybe I just cannot really deal with the constant bargaining and the feeling of being ripped off, but when I arrived in the crowded capital Bangkok it just didn´t feel right. Sadly this feeling didn´t fade away even though I liked the islands in the South a lot more than Bangkok.
Afterall Bangkok was still an impressive town and an exciting experience.
Do not fall for TukTuk drivers offering tours for 10 Bhats, you will very likely stop at loads of jewelery shops and tailors instead of sight. Also do not fall for people telling you that the temples are closed due to buddhist holidays usually this is a scam. Do not follow recommendations for city tours, travel agencies and combined tickets unless they come from someone you honestly can trust.
The best technique is to plan your tour yourself and not to ask bypassers. If someone tries to bribe you just be polite smile, nodd and then follow the route you have planned. Sadly this prohibits nice talks to locals or insider tipps.
My favourite things to see where the Royal Palace and the temples there, a true dream out of glitter and gold. Other nice temples include the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), the Temple of the big Buddha, the Temple of the Lucky Buddha... you see a pattern here. When visiting temples make sure to cover your shoulders and knees.
We also splurged on a boats tour through Bangkok´s canals, which was perfect for our first day, when we were still a little jetlagged. It is a very relaxing and easy going way of seeing big parts of the city and since a lot of families life right along the canals you also get to experience the daily life.
If you are an early bird you might want to go out to see the collection of donations by the monks at sunrise. You can also receive their blessing. If you are female you should watch out a little bit when dealing with monks, you should not sit in the same row as them on the bows, nor touch them or their belongings.
Food, Shopping and Nightlife
Even if you have the tightes budget, you do not have to starve in Bangkok, something that really made me happy. We almost exclusively ate at streetstands and I did not have any problems with my stomach.
My absolute favourite was Pad Thai, the national dish made up of noodles, eggs and vegetables sprinkled with peanuts sold on streetstands for less than a dollar. I also love Thaicurries with coconotmilk. You should generally make sure to tell them you do not want your dish spicy, even if you normally do here in Europe. Their standard really is different. Also delicious: green papaya salad (the non fried version) and all kinds of fresh fruit. Not for the faint hearted (and me): frogs and all kinds of bugs.
All of this can be found on Khao San Road, along with loads of bars and cheap clubs. If you want a rooftop terrace experience, head over to the more glamourus business district on the other side of the river.
Something I haven´t done enough: shopping! Once again Kao San Road is your choice here offering loads of beautiful jewelery, hippie pants and loads of nice T-Shirts. If you love books like I do step into one of the second hand book stores. The books are extremely cheap and if you bring them back after reading you get half of the price back.
The famous thai massages are very cheap, but in my opinion a little too harsh, so maybe opt for the oil massages instead.