Our third visit to Thailand felt a whole lot different. This time around, we traded in the laid back beach life of Phuket for the bustling city of Bangkok. Lots of travelers have spent time in this city, so we opted to explore for eight nights to experience it for ourselves. We planned to use a few additional days to rest and acclimate ourselves from the Euro Life and significant time change.
We last visited Thailand in 2014, when things appeared to be a lot less expensive. In the last few years, Thailand’s economy seems to have boomed and prices may have been reflected in that growth. Malls are packed, the streets are bumper to bumper, and cranes fill the skyline.
Our practical guide is information that we would have liked to have known prior to our visit, so we could have spent more time exploring and less time researching.
Where to stay
Harry spent a lot of time researching the best neighborhood to stay in while in Bangkok. We typically prefer quieter areas, but still like to be in walking distance to public transportation and shops to make daily life a little easier. We opted to stay in the Riverside neighborhood and we really liked it. Here’s why:
* The BTS Metro station was about a 7-8 minute walk away from our apartment.
* It was in walking distance to the river, making it easy to access the taxi river boats up and down for sight-seeing.
* There are many shops, pharmacies, strip malls, and restaurants in the building and area.
* We were close to major hotels along the river, which we felt was the most charming part of the city
* The area had a residential city neighborhood vibe.
* It was quiet.
We rented this Airbnb at the Lighthouse, and we really enjoyed our stay. In fact, this was one of the most comfortable units that we have been in for a while. It had amazing river views from the balcony. We also had a king sized, super comfortable bed and a nice seating area to relax after a long day of touring. In addition, there was a great grocery store at the base of the building making it easy to buy jugs of drinking water, light meals, and toiletries. The rate, including all Airbnb fees, was $47 USD a night.
Where to eat
Harry and I are more of a ‘sit down restaurant’ kind of couple. In Phuket, we had found the most perfect restaurant serving up consistently delicious and cheap Thai food at Happy Days. Upon our return to Thailand, we were craving the same type of great experience.
However, restaurant after restaurant in Bangkok left us feeling disappointed. In our opinion, the best value Thai restaurant we found was Baan Glang Soi Restaurant (BGS)on Bangna-Trad Road. If you find “Enjoy BKK Bistro”, which is a pretty popular Thai restaurant ran by a creepy German guy, BGS is right next door.
Another restaurant we enjoyed was called the Olive Tree located on the river. During hot days, many seek out the riverfront to find cooler, breezier temperatures. However, dining along the river is expensive! For two cold beverages, two small dishes, and about an hour and half of river views, we paid around $15 USD.
Another option is to head to N10 Cafe, below the Olive Tree, for coffees and desserts. It’s probably a tad pricey for coffee drinks, but a cheaper option to enjoy the riverfront without having to purchase an expensive dinner. These options are both attached to a nice, boutique hotel so the restaurant and bathrooms are clean and tourist friendly.
Harry and I put in a valiant effort to explore Bangkok’s street food scene. You can watch our vlogs below to get a inside peek as to how we attempted to do “street food.” If you are fearful of the safety and sanitary conditions of the road side vendors, or do not have stomachs made from steel, we have a suggestion. Head to the Food Republic at the Siam Center Food Court. It provides the same choice, selection, and feel as exploring the different street food vendors, all within an air-conditioned, fun, and vibrant environment.
We were really surprised at Bangkok’s BTS Metro system. It was clean, modern, air conditioned and was great for exploring some areas that were far from our Riverside neighborhood. Rides cost around ~$1.00 USD per person.
If you are a tourist looking to book a taxi back to the airport, our host directed us to the travel app called GrabTaxiApp. We used this to secure our ride back to the airport. Taxis in Bangkok will charge 45-50 baht for a booking fee, 75 baht to use the tollway (bring cash because they ask you to pay while approaching the toll both), and rides will cost between 300-350 baht. Considering the airport is quite far from the city center, $10-15 USD for a taxi is really reasonable. Depending on the sometimes awful Bangkok traffic, the ride from the airport to the city will take you a good 1-2 hours from door to door. Leave a little earlier than you think to make your flight out. We nearly missed our flight as we sat in a major traffic jam caused by an vehicular accident.
The secret is apparently out on Bangkok’s river taxis. Both tourists and locals alike opt to use this mode of transport to make their way around the city. River taxis are labeled with different colored flags. Boats with the orange flag are the local, cheaper taxis. Boats with the blue are the tourist taxis and are a lot more money. You’ll find that tourists are opting for the cheaper option (15 baht, or ~.50 per person) making the boats very packed and often difficult to get a seat. The cost is the same no matter how long you stay on for the ride. Our apartment was located near Central Pier, a major taxi stop, sometimes making it easy to grab a seat if you time your arrival time just right.
Below are our travel vlogs so you can get flavor of Bangkok from our perspective. Be sure to watch them so you don’t get scammed like how we almost did!
If you have any Bangkok travel tips to share, feel free to share them in the comments below.