Bangkok, Thailand

Where: Bangkok, Thailand. 

Bangkok is the shortened name for the city and, pub quiz fans, it actually has the longest place name in the world. The full name for the city is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit, which translated into English means ‘city of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s behest’.

When: February 2009 (three days) and August 2013 (2 nights). 

Why: My first trip to Bangkok was part of my 30th birthday present to myself. In February 2009 I went on an adventure from Bangkok to Singapore, travelling via Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and the Bridge over the River Kwai, Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Ao Nang (Krabi), Kuala Lumpur and Melacca. 

On this first trip I had three days in Bangkok (one of which I spent at Ayutthaya) and three nights; not nearly enough time, so I had to go back…

My second visit to Bangkok was in August 2013, as part of my summer holiday. On this trip I visited Shanghai, Bangkok and Cambodia. Shanghai and Bangkok were the stepping stones for getting to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. I could have traveled to Cambodia directly, but as I had loved Bangkok so much on my first trip I decided to use this as an excuse to go back.

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Map

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Intro

Crazy, crazy, crazy city. Fun, and exciting and vibrant: Bangkok is brilliant. The people, the noise, the smells, the sights, the food, the night life, the transport and the traffic. Bright colourful taxis, the smell of fish frying, sunset reflecting off the river. Noise and bustle and people on the streets. The heat. And the peace…

Take a step into one of the otherworldly temples or monasteries, into one of the many parks, into the Grand Palace or onto a boat on the river – and you step into a world of tranquility and calm and peace. Then once restored step back into the noise and the vibrant life force of one of the most exciting cities in the world.

I love Bangkok and can’t wait for an excuse to go back (again and again). It’s a warm, welcoming city that is surprisingly easy to navigate – even though it is so foreign.

Bangkok is the traveller’s paradise; the ultimate destination and the meeting and melting pot for all of those on a journey. If you draw an X on the map of the world Khao San Road, Bangkok would be in the middle (although only metaphorically speaking. I just tried it out and it was really in Chad, Africa).

Bangkok is a city with a fabulous mix of old and new. Ancient temples sit side by side with modern sky scrapers. Small boats ply the canals, past houses on stilts, whilst the super modern mono-rail zooms overhead. It’s a really interesting, exciting place to be.

I’m very aware that my experiences of Bangkok have in fact been very limited and that I only saw a tiny part of this huge conurbation. You would need weeks, months or years to discover all the interesting nooks and crannies of this city – and this is why I’ll be back…

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Getting there

In 2009 I flew from the UK into Bangkok and then out of Singapore with Emirates Airline. The flight from Birmingham via Dubai cost about £500. I love Emirates airline.

In 2013 I flew with China Eastern from Busan, South Korea to Bangkok via Shanghai. I had a fourteen hour, overnight transfer in Shanghai so that I could go to see the city.

China Eastern are not a bad airline, they’re just not that great either. The food was disgusting and I had loads of problems both times I travelled through Shanghai Pudong airport. China Eastern are very cheap though and so I will probably fly with them again. My flight from Busan to Bangkok and then back from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Busan cost me about £350.

Both flights came into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhuni Airport, which is to the east of the city. This is probably one of the most modern airports in the world and there were loads of shops, restaurants, money exchanges and cash points. I did have to queue a long time for immigration though.

Just a quick note about visas: UK nationals don’t need visas to visit Thailand and there is no entry charge. I got a little confused and followed the ‘visas on arrival’ signs, as I thought I had to pay a fee and get a visa on arrival, but I was wrong and I should have just gone straight to immigration.

To get from the airport to the Khao San Road was really easy in 2009, as there was a direct bus. This, however, has been discontinued and so in 2013 I caught the Airport link train from the airport terminal to Phaya Thai (90bht/£1.80) and then from there I caught a taxi to Khao San Road. The taxi cost me about 100bht (£2) and took 30 to 40 minutes in the rush hour traffic. I had to be very firm with the taxi drivers about using the meter and a few even refused to take me on meter.

For up to date information on getting from both Bangkok airports to the city centre, visit the Bangkok Transit website.

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Getting around

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Most journeys I made in Bangkok were either on foot, in a taxi or on the river boats.

Tuk tuks and taxis

When I made longer journeys, such as from the center to Mo Chit bus station, I took a taxi rather than a tuk tuk. If you get a taxi, insist that they use the meter. If they refuse, just find another taxi. There’s always lots about. Average journeys within the city are 100 – 200 bht (£2 – £4). I paid 250 bht to get to Mo Chit bus station, but this is quite a long way out of the city and we had to pay for a toll too.

Tuk tuks are a nice way to travel but in Bangkok they tend to be mostly for the tourists and so are over-priced.

Traffic in Bangkok is awful and if you do get a taxi around rush hour you could spend most of your time sat in traffic jams.

BTS Sky Trains and the airport link

Another way to get around the city is by BTS sky train. These futuristic trains zoom about above everyone’s heads, over the temples and canals below. The only problem with the sky train is that they don’t currently go anywhere near the key sites or Khao San Road.

Find route maps and ticket information at the cute BTS website.

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Boat on a river

Finally, if you are staying close to the river, you can use the Chao Phraya Express river ferries to get around. Like Sydney, Stockholm and Istanbul, ferries are an integral part of the transport system. You can’t see many of the key sites from the river, but getting the ferry is a cheap, interesting, relaxing way of seeing more of the city. Each trip cost 50bht/£1.

The closest pier to Kao San is Phra Arthit. To get there walk towards the river from the Khao San Road, underneath Pinklao Bridge, then take the footpath which runs to the right, along the riverfront.

The key stops for the ferries are Tha Chang for the Royal Palace, Tha Tian for Wat Pho and Wat Arun Temple and Ratchawongse for China town (I walked from here to Hua Lamphong station and it took about fifteen minutes).

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Ferry from Tha Tien to Wat Arun

The ferry over the river to Wat Arun leaves from Tha Tien and cost 10bht per journey (about 20p).

For information on all the public transport in Bangkok, for a route guide and information on tickets and prices (in English) visit www.transitbangkok.com.

On foot

Bangkok is a great city for walking, with wide pavements and well signposted streets. Most of the key sights are within walking distance of each other and there was minimal hassle. In fact the only places people tried to approach me was around the tourist sights.

Bangkok is also a great city for roaming, as there are so many interesting things to see, shops to pop in, cafes to stop at, hidden temples, gardens, canals etc. I think that walking pace is the best speed to be able to see everything and to appreciate this crazy city. It took me about 20 minutes to walk from the Royal Palace to Khao San Road. 

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What I did on my holidays

Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (temple of the emerald Buddha)

I’m really not sure how to describe the Grand Palace as it is so different to anything that we have in Europe and as a building it is very far from my frame of reference.

The Grand Palace contained ‘normal’ buildings, such as grand halls, temples, and a room for climbing onto elephants – but it also contained a huge golden cheddi (a cone shaped edifice that you find in many Thai temples) and a huge courtyard full of ornate temples, statues and artworks.

The first section of the palace that I visited was the courtyard in which Wat Phra Kaen is situated (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). All around the edge of the courtyard is a covered walkway decorated with ornate paintings that tell the stories of the Ramayana. I spent a good hour following the painting around the courtyard before I got bored. I particularly liked the paintings which told the story of Monkey from the 80s TV show.

In the centre of the courtyard are fabulous temples, covered in gold and jewels and avatars. Buddhism is such a disco religion: some of the buildings had mirror inlaid so they acted like gigantic glitter balls in the sun.

Also in the courtyard was a huge, gold cheddi, a model of Ankor Wat, and loads of statues and tubs of water with water lilies floating in them.

Dotted around the courtyard are the wonderful demon statues, which were one of my favourite things in Bangkok. These demons actually look like smiley, benevolent old-men – who seem to be watching over you and protecting you. There was something very fun and playful about them and they always made me smile. I’d find them hiding behind bushes or pointing at people or protecting litter bins. And by each entrance to the courtyard there were huge demons, the height of a house, which guard the entrances.

In the centre of the courtyard is Wat Phra Kaew – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The actual Buddha is quite small and looks a bit like Yoda – and he wears different clothes depending on the season. When you enter the temple you must take your shoes off and you have to be very careful not to point your feet towards the Buddha – especially if you are sitting down. Also, you are not allowed to take any photos. There are guards who tell you off if you do that.

After I left the central courtyard, I came to the business side of the palace – which is more palace like as we would know it. This is where the meeting rooms, throne rooms, the armoury and the climbing onto an elephant room are. This is where the King of Siam (from the King and I) lived and also where the white elephant lived too. It’s really fascinating and again I loved it, but by this point I had culture shock and all I wanted was a nice sit down and an ice cream.

I spent a good four hours in the palace and could have stayed longer had I not been overwhelmed. Next time I visit Bangkok I’ll definitely go back.

The entrance fee in 2013 was 400bht (about £8).

You can find out about visiting all of the Thai royal palaces at palaces.thai.net.

Please note: If you are told the palace is closed for any reason (i.e. public holiday) ignore it – this is almost certainly a scam to get you to go on an alternative tour. Unless it’s the ticket office telling you this.  Also, you must dress appropriately or they won’t let you in. This means no flip flops and covered shoulders. You can hire appropriate clothes at the palace, though I’m not sure how nice they are.

www.palaces.thai.net

Wat Pho (including the temple of the reclining Buddha)

Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple complex with a number of temples, one of which contains the huge, golden, reclining Buddha. It is situated behind the Grand Palace.

The reclining Buddha is HUGE! His feet are at least the height of three men and the soles of the Buddha’s feet are inlaid with beautiful jewels. The walls of his temple are covered in fabulous, ornate art work.

The rest of the Wat Pho temple complex was a lot quieter (I think because most people just want to say ‘Hi’ to the reclining Buddha), but still very beautiful.

The courtyards around the temples contain lots of cheddies and ornamental gardens with statues, plants, fountains, maybe even a mini-mountain. I loved sitting by these follies, listening to the trickling water and talking to the statues. In the courtyards there were also loads of the ace demon statues and some cats.

There was a lot of building work taking place the first time I was there but it wasn’t too disruptive – I could still wander around and explore the many temples and sit in the gardens. On my second visit in 2013, the restoration work was complete and the temple glowed and sparkled in the sunshine. The restored doors and decorations looked wonderful and bright. 

One of the things that I liked about Wat Pho (apart from the name) was that it felt like a working temple, rather than a tourist attraction. I also liked the openness of it, the strangeness and the friendliness of it. 

At the back of the Wat Pho complex is the massage school. Initially I was a little bit reluctant to have a Thai massage, but I’m so glad that I did it (see below for more info).

When I re-visited Wat Pho in 2013, the temple was a lot busier because it was a national holiday. They also seemed to have a lot more shops, cafes and display rooms etc. For this reason the temple had lost some of the serenity that I found on the first visit, but it was still a fascinating and interesting place to be and I enjoyed exploring the various temples and courtyards.

Entrance to Wat Pho this time was 100 bht (about £2). It did include a free bottle of water though, which I was very grateful for.

www.watpho.com

Thai Massage at the massage school

2009

I have never been so relaxed as I was after my Thai massage at the massage school in Wat Pho. I have never been so at peace. I was in a state of bliss.  To emerge from the massage to the temple, to be able to go and sit quietly by one of the gardens, to just be – is what made it all the more special. If ever I feel slightly stressed I read my diary entry from that point: I was totally in the moment in a way which I have never experienced before or since. I just was.

The Thai Massage school is situated at the back of the Wat Pho temple complex. There are two buildings (you pay in the one on the right) and then they will lead you to your massage bed. 

Thai massage is done fully clothed and the massage took place in a eucalyptus-scented, open room. You may be massaged right next to someone else, which can be a little strange. There was a rather large Chinese man on the bed next to me.

The girl who did my massage was wonderful. Neither of us spoke the other’s language but with a touch, a nudge and a mime, she was able to guide me through what I needed to do and where to put my things and myself.

It was wonderful. Interesting at times, but wonderful. I’ve since had Thai massages elsewhere but none of them has evoked the feelings of peace and the complete lack of stress that resulted from this one.

2013

Because it was so wonderful the first time I was determined to return to the massage school in 2013. The only problem was, it was a national holiday (mother’s day) and so the temple and the massage school were packed. I had to wait an hour for my massage and this time my massage bed was right by the entrance desk, so I kept getting disturbed by people coming in to make enquiries etc.

Also, what I had forgotten is that the massage hurts! It feels wonderful afterwards, but it was ruddy painful whilst it was being done.

So this time my state of bliss was not so acute. Also, it was quite late when I finished and it was raining so I couldn’t go sit in the quiet of the temple to appreciate my relaxed state.

However, I am glad I went back and I would still recommend it – although maybe it is better on a quiet day.

A half an hour massage cost me 260 bht (£5.20). You can also have just a foot massage or a full one hour massage.

www.watpomassage.com

Wat Arun (temple of the dawn)

DSCN5915In 2009 I put all the stress chemicals back in my body with a visit to Wat Arun. Wat Arun is the Temple of the Dawn, which I ironically visited at sunset.

Wat Arun is situated on the opposite side of the Cheophraya River to Wat Pho and the Royal Palace. There is a small ferry which darts across the river every five minutes from Tha Tien (by Wat Pho) to Wat Arun (10bht/20p).

Wat Arun is steep! Beautiful, wonderful, amazing – and steep. There are the most wonderful views over Bangkok from the higher levels, but to get there you have to climb some very steep stairs.

Wat Arun is surrounded by a lovely, riverside park. After I  climbed the temple I sat by the river, watched the herons, watched the sunset reflect off the water and was chatted up by a Buddhist monk.

Entrance to Wat Arun cost 50 bht (about £1). 

www.watarun.net

Khao San Road

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As I said in the intro, if you drew a direct line between Europe and Oz, and the major cities of America they would all meet in Bangkok on the Khao San Road. For travellers this is the centre of the world; the jumping off point for Asia and beyond; the hub between South East Asia, India and Indo-China.

But what is the Khao San Road I hear you ask? Well, it’s just a road full of bars, shops, market stalls, travel agents, hotels and restaurants. Khao San is full of back packers, full of people, full of life and energy. If you took Glastonbury festival and shoved it onto one small street in south east Asia – it would be the Khao San Road.

One day Bex and I are going to run away together to open a T-shirt stall on the Khao San Road.

There is a seedier side to Khao San, especially down some of the back streets, and it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but as an introduction to Asia there is nowhere like it and it is located close to all the major sights.

Today, the Khao San Road has become more commercialised: there’s a MacDonald’s, a Burger King, a Subways and a Boots, but there are still the ubiquitous bars, restaurants and T-Shirt stalls.

Rambutri Road which runs parallel to Khao San Road was the new Khao San when I was there in 2009, but even this has become more developed and is now a place for flashpackers – with impressive restaurants, Irish bars, street side massages and musicians. It is still magic though and there are many of the original street side restaurants and original bars here.

Whether it’s commercialised or not, Khao San is still the centre for world backpacking, it’s an interesting, vibrant place to stay and it’s in a great location for visiting the tourist sites of Bangkok.

Wikitravel has a really good, comprehensive guide to the Khao San Road area that I downloaded to my phone and used as a guide. It details many of the restaurants, bars and hotels and also contains useful information on how to travel there.  

China Town

I walked through China Town on the way to Hua Lamphong station and got hopelessly lost, but I didn’t mind because it was fascinating to see the working workshops, shops and markets and it was good to see the non-touristy side of Bangkok. The shopping was fab too and there were interesting food and clothes stores.

Incidentally, I’d heard terrible tales about the pollution in Bangkok but I didn’t find it too bad – and I found Bangkok to be a wonderful city for roaming. It’s a cliche of travel, but every street revealed something new and interesting, and I always felt safe – even as a girl on my own. Also, I didn’t get hassled in Bangkok. This lack of hassle was even more evident away from the touristy areas where I was pretty much ignored.

Shopped

I could spend hours in the corner shops in Bangkok, just looking at the interesting products. A few times I did a midnight run to the 7-11 to buy midnight feasts of interesting drinks and snacks. I particularly loved dried mango with tamarind, honey fried sesame seeds and bright pink lychee juice and Chang Beer. Yum.

Also, I did buy a lot of T-Shirts and hippy pants on the Khao San Road and some great shoes in a shoe shop by my hostel.

Shopping in Bangkok is cheap – especially if you haggle.

There is a huge Saturday market at Chatuchak, a number of floating markets and lots of large malls. Find out more about shopping in Bangkok at www.bangkok.com/shopping.  

Visited Ayutthaya

Whilst staying in Bangkok in 2009, I took a day trip to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is easily accessible from Bangkok. To find out more, visit the Ayutthaya page.

2013

I only had one day in Bangkok in August 2013, so I decided that I was going to return to Wat Pho for a massage and I was also going to visit some if the more obscure sights that I had missed on my first visit. So to make the most of the day I put on my backpack and headed out early to explore…

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The first thing I went to have a look at was the Democracy Monument, which sits in the middle of a roundabout on Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, about a five minute walk from Khao San Road. I had driven past this huge memorial the day before and I wanted to go have a closer look at it. The monument is to commemorate the 1939 Siamese revolution, when constitutional monarchy was established in Thailand. Through the years, the monument has been a rallying point for processions and protests. It’s not actually that pretty, but it is a key sight in the city and in a very central location. It was also en-route to my next key site which was the Giant Swing.

The Giant Swing is a very big, red swing that used to be used in religious ceremonies. People used to swing on the giant swing and they could get as high as 80 feet. Unfortunately, lots of people died whilst swinging and so the king banned the practice (boooo) – although the swing is still there and you can go and have a look at it.

Next to the Giant Swing is Wat Suthat Thepwararam, which I decided to pop in to have a look at as I was just pottering about. It cost 20bht/40p to enter, though I could have sneaked in for free at the back door.

Wat Suthat Thepwararam was built in the early 19th century by Kings Rama 1,2 and 3. It is a gorgeous royal temple, with two huge temple buildings. The first temple building is located in a large courtyard, which has Buddha statues all along the outer wall. Some of these statues are gold plated and some of them just old bronze.

The courtyard was so lovely and peaceful that I spent about an hour just sitting, relaxing and having a nice old think. It’s so rare that I get to just ‘be’ in my regular life, so I wanted to make the most of having nowhere to be and nowhere to go – and I liked sitting by the Buddha statues with their Mona Lisa smiles.

There was a ceremony taking place whilst I was there, so I didn’t have a look in the central temple hall here, but I did wander around the courtyard to see all of the fun demon and horse statues.

At the back of the complex there was another temple hall and I did venture into this one. This was a wonderfully, decorated, high temple, with a friendly Buddha sitting high on his pedestal. This was a very friendly, relaxed temple and I spent ages looking at the pictures on the wall, and laughing at a mom trying to teach her toddler how to do the Buddhist veneration.

Incidentally, the gates to this temple had the ubiquitous demon statues, but these guys were dressed in 19th century outfits so they looked like demon train conductors. They were very strange.

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After visiting Wat Suthat Thepwararam (what?) I walked over to Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan, passing some really strange religious shops on the way. I walked down a street lined with religious statue shops, and these sold huge Buddhas, demons and avatars of all shapes, colours and sizes – even some life-size statues of a small old Buddhist monk, which was slightly weird. If I lived in Bangkok I would so shop here and fill my house with these golden gods.

Inside Wat Saket is Phu Khao Thong (the Golden Mountain), a steep artificial mountain crowned by a golden temple. Around the base of the artificial hill were waterfalls, grottos, statues and bells. Worshipers and visitors to the temple make their way up the double helix staircase, past these, to the temple at the top.

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There is a relic of the Buddha in the temple at the top, and then on the roof there is a golden cheddi. This is one of the highest points in central Bangkok and so you can get great views from here of all the main sights within the city – especially the royal palaces and temples.

The walk to the top was quite easy although the temple was very busy, but this may be because I visited on a national holiday and entrance was free.

At the base of the mountain there were some interesting statues, temple buildings and then on the road outside there were lots of cool cafes, restaurants and drink sellers.

After this, I walked past the octagonal, white-washed Mahakan Fort – one of two remaining forts that were built at the founding of the city. It’s actually just a pretty open building with some small ramparts, so I just took a photo and walked on. I walked past the Royal Pavilion, which had an interesting exhibit of the King’s cars outside – then I stopped for nommy Tom Yum soup and a huge lager at the Sidewalk Cafe, overlooking the Democracy Monument.

In the afternoon, I retraced my steps from my 2009 trip by walking back to Khao San Road where I shopped in Boots and bought some cheap T-Shirts. I then caught the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tha Tien, where I visited Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and the Thai massage school.

It was Thai mother’s day the day that I was there, which is celebrated on the queen’s birthday. This is a national holiday in Thailand and so the tourist sites were very busy, though some were free. There was a huge event taking place in the park in front of the Royal Palace, with marches, ceremonies and boxing matches. I walked through this and it was interesting.

There were also pretty lights decorating the streets and there was a huge firework display at night.

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Where I stayed

2009 – Villa Cha Cha

cha chaThis great hotel  is one of my favourite hotels in the world.

Villa Cha Cha is a sumptuous, crazy oasis, just off the Khao San Road, in the heart of Bangkok. The hotel is situated around a wonderful pool (a cool luxury which unfortunately I used only once), it has a sauna and it has the most wonderful poolside bar – with cheap cocktails, great food and hidden rooms, dens and tree-houses.

My room was fab: very boutiquey with a huge bed.

But the best thing about Villa Cha Cha was the décor: everywhere there were interesting statues, small pools containing goldfish, flowers, paintings, fountains. The hotel was a visual treat that I could not stop photographing.

Villa Cha Cha has a great location. It is in the heart of the city, just off Rambutri Road, which runs parallel to Khao San Road. Rambutri Road has the same atmosphere as its more famous brother, but less of the crazyness.

When I first visited Bangkok, I had to ask a policeman for directions as Villa Cha Cha was hidden down a small alleyway – but since my last visit Villa Cha Cha has expanded and now it has a huge restaurant that stretches out to Rambutri Road. It is now much more prominent and much busier than when I visited the first time.

Luckily, the fab local restaurant that I loved from my first visit is still there. This road side eaterie was at the entrance to the Villa Cha Cha alleyway – and the food was cooked in the alleyway with local cats sniffing around. It was slightly dirty, very Bangkok, but the food was delicious. Now the food is cooked on the Rambutri Road pavement, next to Villa Cha Cha and this is a great place to go to for cheap, delicious street food. 

My room at the Villa Cha Cha was just under £30 per night. I know there are cheaper hotels in the area which are probably just as good but I like Villa Cha Cha. It’s one of my favourite hotels.

www.villachacha.com

2013 – Nap Park Hostel

When I returned in 2013, I didn’t have the budget of my first trip so I decided to stay in a hostel. I booked the Nap Park Hostel because it had amazing reviews on the hostel booking site, it’s located just behind Villa Cha Cha, so is very central,  and it looked fantastic.

I might have just been really unlucky with my room, but I was put in a room next to the lobby – and although on all of their literature they stress the need for people to be considerate after a certain time, what actually happened was that people partied and slept in the lobby all night and that kept me awake. It didn’t help that the people I was sharing the dorm with kept leaving the dorm room open and having really loud conversations in the middle of the night.

Maybe it’s me and I’m getting old, but it really annoyed me this lack of consideration, especially because I had to get up really early for my departure the next morning.

In the dorms, each person had their own self-contained area with their own light, mirror and plugs, and you could hire a TV to go in there too. There were curtains that could be shut around the beds so that you could have your own little area around your bunk bed.

The décor in the hostel was lovely, but the beds were really uncomfortable and I didn’t sleep well here.

In the lobby they had computers, DVDs you could watch, a library and some drinks. Outside, in front there was an outdoor lounge area.

Nap Park was strange as even though it had these communal relaxing areas, I didn’t find it to be that friendly and the staff were a little bit rude to me too.

The Nap Park was located at the back door of Villa Cha Cha – so was very central. I think if I go back again, I’ll just stay at the Cha Cha.

www.nappark.com

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Top tips and useful links

If anyone tells you the sights are closed (apart from the ticket office) just ignore them – it’s a common scam.

Personally, I didn’t try the tuk tuks – but I did get taxis for longer journeys. Agree the price before you get in or insist on using the meter. 

Boys – you may (will) get approached. Thai ladies like western men. 

Cover up and don’t wear flip flops when sight-seeing – although do be aware that your shoes will be coming off a lot. They won’t let you in to the Grand Palace if you are inappropriately dressed, although you can hire clothes to wear. The best thing to do is to make sure your shoulders and knees are covered.

Don’t point your feet towards the Buddha. If you sit down in one of the Wats sit on your knees rather than having your feet pointing out.

Ladies – don’t touch Buddhist monks. It’s against their religion.

Don’t diss the king. Apart from the fact that it’s not very nice, it’s also illegal.

The national anthem is played everywhere at 8am and 6pm. At this point, most Thais stop what they are doing and stand still for the time that it plays. I’m not sure what you are supposed to do and whether people would be offended if you carried on doing what you were doing, so I think the best advice is to follow the locals and just stop what you are doing for 2 minutes – if you can.

I visited Thailand on the Queen’s birthday which is mother’s day and a national holiday. Apart from being busier than usual, I didn’t experience any problems with it being a national holiday – and in fact some of the tourist sites were offering free entry.

I also went in rainy season, and I did wonder what this would be like and whether it would be problematic. What happened whilst I was there was that there was a heavy downpour around 5 o’clock each day that lasted for an hour, and it was cloudy – but there were no floods or anything and so it wasn’t really a problem. 

www.bangkok.com 

www.bangkoktourist.com 

wikitravel.org/en/Bangkok 

www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/bangkok 

www.timeout.com/bangkok 

www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/thailand/bangkok

DISCLAIMER

Please note, some, if not much of this information may not be correct, or may be out of date. All these articles show is how we found these places when we visited and what we personally thought of each place. Where possible I will include links to site which will contain more up-to-date info. All of this is my own work and any opinion expressed is that of the author only.

If you think I’ve missed something important or have got something wrong, please let me know in the comments section below.

All photos copyright of J Clemo-Halpenny. If you would like to copy or reproduce any of these images, please email me to ask permission.

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