In summer 2015 we took a two week trip to Thailand. It was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had, and I can’t wait to share some details with you in a series of blog posts!
Today, let’s talk about Bangkok. This is a city that gets a mixed review from travelers. While planning the trip, I was very unsure whether to skip Bangkok entirely and head for the hills (Chiang Mai) as soon as we landed. We decided to give it a chance, however, and I am so glad we did! Besides the delicious food, bustling street life, and colorful tourist shopping typical of all locations in Thailand, Bangkok offers some of the most astounding temple complexes, interesting local markets, and a large variety of day trips. Below, I’ll outline three categories of things to do: (1) Temples, (2) Markets, and (3) Day Trips. I’ll detail my favorite example of each category, and then list others you should check out too!
Wat Pho – Wow this place was insane. When you research Wat Pho, the typical image that appears is a reclining Buddha the size of a cruise ship (not quite, but yeah). A reclining Buddha represents entering into Nirvana, and the ending of all reincarnations. This is one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand, so it’s definitely worth checking out! Maybe the best part of the statue are the feet, which are covered in beautiful engravings and mother-of-pearl inlays.
After seeing the statue, now you can wander around the temple complex! It was incredible, we spent about 2 hours meandering, and still didn’t see it all!
Other temples to check out:
Amulet Market – Another cool place to check out would be the amulet market. Open every day of the week from 7am-5pm, the amulet market is a great opportunity to get off the beaten path of tourist traps.
Thailand is one of the largest producers, sellers, and exporters of amulets. From warding off sickness, to finding true love, to obtaining monetary fortune, Thais place great trust in these manufactured trinkets.
Chatuchak Weekend Market – This place was INSANE. Never ending maze of stalls, organized into sections based on product type. This market was a well-oiled machine. Grab a map of the market (available on site or here!), otherwise you will get seriously lost in this massive tourist trap treasure hunt. Oh, and make sure to grab a smoothie! Fresh fruit smoothies are a highlight of street food life in Bangkok. At 50 Baht (or $1.50) a pop, I was slurping these down morning, noon, and night.
Other markets to check out:
3. Day Trips
Ayutthaya – Wow, just wow. This day trip surpassed all of my expectations. Thailand wasn’t always called Thailand. For a larger portion of its history, this part of the world was known as the kingdom of Siam. On this day trip you will explore the ancient capital of Siam: Ayutthaya. Built in 1351, this city represented the every-growing power of an ancient kingdom. However, ruthless Burmese armies eventually invaded and destroyed the city. The heads of all the temple statues were severed, leaving the once beautiful city a place of ruin.
This trip is an all-day affair, as there are more than a few various temple complexes to explore. Grueling, but so so worth it. The ancient temples look, at times, almost alien. And the freedom you have to mill around and explore will more than satisfy your inner Indiana Jones adventure spirit. (Tip: if you’ve spent more than an hour drooling over photos of Thailand during your travel planning, you’ve probably seen images of the famous Buddha head wrapped in tree roots. This is in Ayutthaya, so keep your eyes peeled!)
Other day trips to check out:
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Burma Death Railway – Bridge on the River Kwai
- Maeklong Railway Market