Destinations

5 reasons to love Bangkok

Travellers are spoilt for choice in the terrific Thai capital

I’ve passed through the buzzy Thai capital many times without stopping and now I’m kicking myself. It rocks!

1. Getting there

The Ginger and I flew from Auckland via Melbourne on Jetstar because I was skint when I booked and it was the most affordable. But then I managed to claw back a few extra funds so added the airline’s entertainment and comfort packages for the trip over. I’d already bought the bag – I need more than seven kilos of make-up and toiletries these days so factor that in from the start.

On the way back, I upgraded us to business class for the long leg. It’s always worth it, if you ask me! We couldn’t fault the Jetstar check-in, the smiley staff or the overall experience.

2. Being there

Bangkok was our first stop on a three-week tour and I’d barely had a chance to think about what we would do for our two days there.

For this reason, I went back to my old friends at Backyard Travel who designed me a South East Asian trip two years ago. They organised transfers to and from Bangkok airport, our hotel accommodation and two tours, plus we had great recommendations for eating, drinking and shopping. Not a second was wasted, so if you’re short on time, this is the way to do it.

3. Bangkok – City Safari

We met guide Chai in our hotel lobby and set off for the Grand Palace via Bangkok’s fabulous SkyTrain and public river boat. The palace is an absolute must-see, but be prepared for huge crowds. Highlights are the miniature Angkor Wat and Emerald Buddha.

Next we caught a bus to Wat Pho, a calmer temple with an amazing 46m-long Reclining Buddha. Don’t miss dropping your coins in the cups – it gives the place its magical soundtrack. Chai then took us for a locals’ café lunch and a visit to the Jim Thompson silk museum after which we took public transport home unaided. A brilliant whirlwind tour.

4. Food tour

On our second morning, we skipped breakfast and met our Taste of Thailand Food Tour guide, Thee, who took us all of 10 steps before we stopped for our first snack – banana sticky rice for me, pork for the Ginger.

For the next three hours, we nibbled on deep-fried bananas, fish cakes, sticky puddings, fresh fruit and fried duck. We also tried two different sorts of tea, a green curry, and the most delicious peanut and lemongrass salad I’ve ever tasted.

We then staggered back to our hotel and lay down for a while before hitting the Siam Center – a huge mall selling everything from Uniqlo T-shirts to Bentleys and Prada handbags. There certainly is no shortage of shops in Bangkok.

5 Drinks!

Rooftop cocktails are a good idea wherever you are, but are particularly good in a sprawling city like this one. On the first night, we headed to the top of the Banyan Tree hotel in Sathorn, but its outdoor bar on the 59th floor was full, so we ended up at the inside one just below it, where you can lie down, more or less, at a Thai-style table and admire the lights.

The next night we went to the top of the Sofitel in Sukumvit, which is much less crowded, and bagged a ringside seat for the sunset. Afterwards, we caught the train to Thong Lor, where we fell in love with the Iron Fairies bar and its dark, cavernous vibe (and bottled fairy dust), then ventured to the modern food hall around the corner, The Commons.

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