When you get to Bangkok, immediately tell yourself that humidity is really good for the skin, therefore making yourself feel so much better as you sweat right through your shirt and your smudge-free eyeliner decides to betray you.
Aside from that, the other thing you’ll notice about Bangkok is how vibrant it really is. There is food everywhere you look, and tourists seem to be a normal assimilation in every nook and corner these days. It’s also a safe enough place to travel solo, as everyone is so friendly and there always seem to be people everywhere and anywhere. These are my highlights on my recent Bangkok trip, although the list of things to do there is certainly much more extended and not limited to what I encountered.
1. The Floating Market
This is probably the only thing on the top of my list that I really wanted to go to. There are a few different floating markets in and around Bangkok, but with the help of Migrationology I decided to go for the less-popular, smaller Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. It’s not too crowded, clean, airy and most of all, the abundance of food is crazy! You can get anything from seafood to sweet treats to local kuehs here. Tip: If you purchase something and are not quite sure how to eat it, glance at the tables around you, and follow the locals.
2. The Cheap Massages
No surprise here. There is a massage parlour in every street, and in more concentrated places you can find one between two other shops. Although it helps checking internet reviews, all in all they are generally satisfactory. On my last day in Bangkok, I had a two-hour full body oil massage that only costed me RM70, and although the Auntie who attended me had a strange goatee, it was a really pleasant experience.
3. The Amount Of Shops in Chatuchak Market
Honestly, if you don’t know what you want to get in Chatuchak Market, you probably would have a rather confusing time. Chatuchak Market is a semi-outdoor weekend market that spans for literally hundreds and hundreds of shops, selling everything from exotic edibles to puppies to interior decorations. I survived for only two hours before getting a headache and feeling like I was in an infinite swirl of items and sellers. But it’s a good spot to walk around and observe local products and even people-watching.
4. The Edible Bugs
Prior to going to Bangkok, I had this determination that I was going to eat a bug. By hook or by crook, I was going to experience putting a grasshopper or something of that sort in my mouth. But then I got to a stall selling one, and they all looked so… glossy and real. I immediately chickened out, but compensated by trying a sambal dip made of water-bugs (which actually tasted decent!). Well at least I didn’t have to look at the bug in its original, crawling form.
5. The Sweet Treats
A large bowl of coconut ice cream costs RM3, people. I’m dead serious. On a single day I managed to eat 3 bowls of coconut ice cream and plates of sticky rice with mangoes, while convincing myself that coconut milk is the secret to beautiful, Thai-like luminescent skin.
6. The Intricate Wats
There are plenty of Wats and Temples to visit, but if you are visiting one be sure to be prepped for the heat. These religious monuments, like most other religious monuments, are beautiful, sentimental and has amazing historical values. No matter what your beliefs are you will come to respect the idea that these things give a lot peace and a sense of purpose to those who embrace them, and this should be reflected in your actions too – there is nothing more annoying than a bunch of tourists monkeying about at other people’s place of worship.
7. The Little Streets
Get off the main street. Then walk into and around the smaller lanes of the suburbs, where the locals really live. It’s a fascinating walk. The electrical wire-laden roads, people going about their usual daily business, what the local laundry place really looks like, local lunch delicacies, and basically real lives in Bangkok. That’s the best part of traveling someplace new.
8. The Overrated-ness of Khoi San Street
Oh, maybe it’s age. I don’t know. But Khoi San street, the infamous place where they filmed The Hangover 3, was so loud, crowded and overrated that I didn’t really enjoy it at all. Everything is triple the price because of the tourists, and God knows how people were able to eat decently there in the midst of the loud booming music. In any case, a good spot to visit just to check out the scene, I guess.
9. The Savoury Delights
Whatever your preferences, you’ll never ever go hungry in Bangkok. It’s a street food culture, and to avoid being overwhelmed with choice it helps to do a little research of what you’d like to try and where. Perhaps a really interesting discovery for me was the salt-crusted fish, which is basically a large fish crusted heavily in sea salt, and then grilled to perfection and dipped in a delicious green dipping sauce. Noodle soups with unidentified meat in it? Sure, they have it. Chicken Pad Kra Paw? Delicious everywhere. Papaya and mango salads? Cheap and amazing.
The less picky you are, the more interesting your gastronomic adventure will be.