This is the third of a series of entries on gateways to Asia – you know, the kind of places you’ll spend a couple of days in before moving on to that tropical paradise.
So today it’s Bangkok, full name Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.
Convenient for: Other Thai destinations (including Gulf and Andaman islands), Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar.
Not so strong: a bit overwhelming for a short stay. Not a very walkable town, especially in the heat of the day. Hard to navigate by public transport, as skytrain and metro don’t offer extensive networks.
Top tips: Hit Talad Rot Fai market for delicious food in the evening and some cool indie clothes shops. Take the train from Suvarnabhumi if going solo, otherwise taxi is great value and more comfortable. (Just remember to ask for the meter to be turned on!) Splash out on a nice hotel with views….or don’t splash out but have access to a pool to cool down after your explorations.
Where to stay: Tough call. Most travelers seem to go for the famous/infamous Khao San Road, which I find to be a bit of a fake theme park. (Still great for drinks at night, though). I tend to like the sophistication of Sukhumvit (Asoke area is very convenient) and found Silom to be OK. I plan to stay on Charoeng Krung Rd, next time, for the food and the easy access to both boat and skytrain.
Moments: Too many to tell. Heat strokes in Chatuchak, meeting old friends on Sukhumvit and Khao San, teaching at KMUTT in Thornbury. Being stuck in traffic listening to Thai pop and with the aircon a few degrees too cold. Enjoying the fabulous infinity pool at Amara hotel – thanks K. for the upgrade!
Overall: Be careful not to get stuck for longer than planned.