Whenever someone finds out I used to live in Bangkok, I am met with one of two reactions:
1. Being questioned as something of a Thai tourist guide
2. An excitable conversation of shared experiences.
I much prefer the latter.
Truth is, most of the questions I get asked have extremely subjective answers. The most difficult of which has always been ‘What do I do if I’m only spending one day in Bangkok?’. Obviously, the answer depends on what you’re hoping to get out of the city (culture, food, shopping, ping pong bars?) and how much you’re hoping to fit in.
A truthful cop out. I decided I needed something better.
For our first full day in Bangkok, The Manfriend and I decided to answer the question (in the touristy sense) once and for all. (Making up the first part of my jazzy travel vlog, to boot. Click above to watch!)
What to do in Bangkok
– The Grand Palace. Its an absolute circus but a must-do if you have ‘temples’ on your list. It is golden, magical, wonderfully religious (not a phrase I use lightly), and – indeed – grand. As a tourist, I would simply advise going as early as possible (the crowds are insane) and ensuring you approach the main entrance if you’re in a taxi as some drivers are known to approach private gates and pretend it is shut to drive you elsewhere.
– Wat Pho. The temple is less than a five minute walk from The Grand Palace and gives you much more room to breathe and explore – even offering a free bottle of water with your ticket. It is the birthplace of Thai massage (as the walls’ detailed inscriptions show) and home to a 15m-tall and 43m-long gold reclining Buddha; a sight to be seen.
– A tuk tuk ride. A chance to barter! In my experience, a 20-minute journey costs around 50 baht and I would base your final agreed rates on this before you get in the tuk tuk. As there are quite a few situated outside Wat Pho, I would use it as an excuse to get to your next activity a little faster…
– Thai food. Along the road that connects the temples, there are many local restaurants sitting next to the river. Avoid anything too English-looking. I find it is best to get as far away from street food as possible and follow well-dressed Thai people around 12pm (the national lunch hour) to be led to amazing, cheap Thai food.
– A long tail boat on the Chao Phraya River. If you head back towards the Grand Palace, head for the pier adjacent from it at the cross-section (Tha Chang). If you walk through the market, you get to the pier and can secure your own little long tail boat to take you along the Chao Phraya and into the riverside homes and shacks of nearby floating villages. It is wondrous. Our ride disembarked at the Flower Market which – while not an ‘essential’ – is also a very immersive, traditional-feeling experience (and ideal for souvenir purchasing, if that’s your bag).
From there I would hail one of Bangkok’s colourful taxis (request the meter or be charged tourist prices!) and head to Siam, but I wouldn’t pass judgement if you’d rather hit the hay! In 37-degree heat, not even a cup of superstrong Thai coffee could keep us awake.
* All photos and video taken with the Canon Powershot SX60, especially for this trip! Review coming very soon.