I’ve been to Thailand three times now and I’ve always spent a little bit of time in Bangkok. It’s a great airport to fly into and it’s a good central hub for being able to travel both north and south. Plus, it’s Bangkok so why wouldn’t you go and visit? There’s so much to see there and so much to do. Even after three separate trips, I know that I’ve missed a lot of Bangkok and there’s still so much for me to see in that city. Every time I’ve gone to this city, I’ve stayed in the same general neighborhood and I have to say that it is definitely the place I recommend. Granted, take my recommendation with a slight grain of salt considering I haven’t really stayed anywhere else in that city. But I would still stand behind my recommendation to stay in the Sukhumvit neighborhood of Bangkok. It’s a good central location that allows for you to easily travel around the city even though it is a bit far from the temples but it’s not terrible.
On our first day in Bangkok, we knew that we had a few things that we needed to check off our list. We had a friend who had never been to Bangkok so we knew that we had to make the most of this short time that we had in this city before we headed off to the coast. So we made plans to get breakfast at the hotel first thing in the morning and then start an excursion through the rest of the city which would include a few cafes and a few temples.
Our day started off with delicious food at the hotel and then quickly led to the realization that we weren’t entirely sure how to get to the temples. Each time I’ve gone, we’ve taken different modes of transportation there from taxis to the trains but this time, we didn’t have anyone to show us around and we didn’t know which train to take, plus we thought it would be fun to take a tuk tuk to the temples. So we stood along the main road and waited for a tuk tuk that would be big enough for the five of us. We ended up not having any luck so we started wandering and eventually found a street that had a bunch of tuk tuks parked. We found a driver and negotiated with him for a tuk tuk ride for 800 baht which is around $24 USD. Unfortunately, we negotiated with the driver before checking the tuk tuk that he had. It actually wasn’t a tuk tuk but rather a dirty work truck that would typically be used for transporting employees rather than customers.
We started the drive in the 90 degree heat with 100% humidity through early morning rush hour and what should have been a 20 minute drive quickly turned into 40+ minutes of stop and go traffic that involved locals laughing at us when they realized we weren’t Thai. We had multiple scooters drive by us, yell something at us in Thai and then bust up laughing when they realized that we had no idea what they had said to us. Finally, we got close to the Grand Palace and all the roads were blocked off. We were still about a mile away and the driver told us that he couldn’t drive any further so he dropped us off on the side of the road and we started walking which was an adventure of its own…
One of the things that I’ve never actually experienced in Bangkok until this trip would be the scams. I usually have locals with me in Bangkok and they can spot those scams like there it’s nothing. But this time, my friend was busy prepping for her wedding so we were off wandering around on our own and looking like total tourists. One of the scams in Bangkok that you need to keep an eye out for would be the people who will tell you that major tourist attractions are closed. It’s interesting because we experienced this twice in the one mile walk to the Grand Palace. The first was just an older gentleman telling us that the Grand Palace was on lunch and that it wasn’t open. He didn’t offer up any other options for things to do or try to get us to follow him so I didn’t think it was a scam. It didn’t make sense but it must have just been a cruel joke that they try to see if tourists will fall for. The second one was a lady telling us that the Grand Palace was closed and that there were better options to see everything and tried to convince us to take some other tours. This was definitely a scam and it took us awhile to finally get away from her.
One thing to note: It’s a common scam for them to tell you places are closed. Usually they’ll say they’re closed for lunch or for specific hours of each day. For the bigger tourist attractions, that is a flat out lie. The bigger attractions like the Grand Palace and the Temples are open but they do have earlier closing hours like 4PM so you just have to mindful of that.