Stopover in Bangkok? Why not. Bangkok is a huge city which has grown very fast and with little urban planning, the roads are perpetually congested and the subway only operates in some parts of the city (but not where the tourist attractions are). Nevertheless, Bangkok is an interesting city and has that something that makes it special.
Do as much or as little as you please
Even though we had big plans for our stay in Bangkok – like visiting a floating market, several pagodas and the Royal Palace, having a drink on a rooftop bar – we didn’t do much in the end. The floating markets are either way too touristy (30 million tourists visit Thailand every year, and even though not all of them stay in Bangkok, the city still sees millions of visitors), or only open on weekends.
The Royal Palace was crowded with huge groups of Chinese so we skipped it and went straight to Wat Pho temple. The entrance fee is only 100 Baht and the temple is really interesting. Dozens of Buddha statues sit in line and the 46 m long reclining Buddha is an impressive sight. Plus, most people go first to the palace so there was almost no one at the temple. In Wat Pho there’s also a school for Thai massage, where we got a real quality massage for our aching back and shoulders. That alone was worth the trip to Bangkok.
The rooftop bar… next time. We did spend a lot of time in malls, though. On the one hand, because our water boiler stopped working so we had to look for a new one. Travel tip no. 1: A water boiler is one of the best things you can bring when traveling, especially if you can’t start your day without a coffee or two in the morning.
Back to Bangkok: On the other hand, because the heat and humidity in Bangkok are just unbearable. It’s great and lots of fun to just walk around, especially through markets, buy all kinds of fruits (the fruits in Thailand are of the best I’ve ever tried), eat noodle soup or try rice cakes or whatever you find, but the heat will inevitably chase you back into your air conditioned hotel room or into an even more air conditioned mall.
Oh yes, and we went to infamous Khao San Road. What a horrible place. There’s nothing Thai about it anymore, people are unfriendly, and it’s all geared towards tourists (who still go and stay there in masses – why??). If you need a tattoo, dreadlocks, a suit, a fake ID or passport, or want to try fried scorpion, I guess it’s the place to go. But we didn’t need either of those things (though we thought about getting a second passport but decided against it) and left the place as fast as we could.