Bangkok….our 1st destination in this epic adventure. The flights had been booked 8 months prior and it had was the first place we mentioned when talking about this trip. We had visited very briefly years ago on our way to the southern islands and had already decided that we hated the place!!! But being so central and cheap it was the perfect place for us to start our South East Asia experience. “We never gave it a chance” was the term we used whenever we questioned our decision to start there and after reading countless family travel blogs during our research phase, I was utterly convinced we would fall in love with it.
With this in mind, it was decided that we would spend 8 days in Bangkok so we could really give ourselves a chance to explore. From New Zealand I booked an Airbnb apartment in Sathorn and man did we get lucky with this one. It was the perfect place for us with a great pool and fantastic landlord. Sathorn was a great location. It is super central and it was easy to get around from here.
Bangkok has an amazing public transport system with the skytrain and MRT going to most places. However, having done our research we knew that it would be cheaper for the 6 of us to just pile into a taxi, so we only used the train once and used taxis the rest of the time. Bangkok locals like to say that the traffic in Bangkok is a beautiful nightmare which we can totally agree with. So by taking the cheaper option and going with taxis it often meant we could be sitting in traffic for up to an hour. As you can imagine this wasn’t ideal and in the end we would avoid going out anytime after 6pm when it was the busiest on the roads.
One of our first destinations was Lumphini park which was only a very short drive from our place. With its wide open green spaces, kids playground, outdoor exercise equipment, a lake featuring swan peddle-boats and huge monitor lizards, a gym and a cycle/run track, this park became a firm favorite of ours and we could easily escape the chaos of the city by popping down here in the evenings once it was cooler. From about 5pm onwards this park became alive with locals running, exercising, cycling and families playing. It has a great vibe and you can easily forget you are in the middle of Bangkok.
Next on our hit list was exploring a few of the amazing shopping malls with their exclusive boutiques and great air conditioning!!! One of our favorites was called Terminal 21. It is a themed mall and each floor represents a different country. We were more interested in the different themes and decorations than in any of the shops. The kids loved the 4 story high escalator as well. The CentralWorld Plaza has an amazing ice rink on the ground floor which we enjoyed visiting and Toys R Us was also a big hit. (Just looking, no buying though)!!!
You absolutely couldn’t go to Bangkok without visiting Khao San Road. The undisputed backpacker center of the universe. Its everything you would expect and more. Hawkers trying to sell you the latest designer rip off gear, cheap yummy street food, buskers and extremely cheap booze and everything else you could imagine. We visited 3 times and had a great time. We had an awesome meal with some traveling friends at Magic Max Restaurant. Great food served by a Thai magician doing some really good magic tricks for the kids. Our only souvenirs from our time in Thailand are 2 bent coins and a 10 of hearts card!!!
After leaving Khao San Road we had a very “friendly” tuk tuk driver take us to the pier and try to get us to buy $80 river cruise tickets. We had already decided that we wanted to take a boat ride on the Chayo Praya River but this was definitely not the boat we wanted to take or the price we wanted to pay. The next day we got a taxi to our closest pier and got on the local commuter ferry for 60 cents each. That was more like it!!! The boat cruised up the river and stopped at 10 piers along the way so people could get on and off at each pier. We stayed on the entire way. At times the boat was crowded and uncomfortable but for 60 cents a ticket it was a great way to see the city. We enjoyed watching the local life on the river including all the long tail boats and rusty barges. We also got a glimpse of the royal palace and lots of other temples and attractions. It was a nice change from being stuck in traffic in a taxi.
Come the end of the week the Chatachuk Weekend Markets are the place to go in Bangkok. If your after a knock off designer handbag, a steel plated fake Rolex, a pet snake or anything in between then this is the place to go. These markets are huge and although they are loosely arranged into sections, its a complete maze of people, produce and products. Unfortunatly it was just all a bit too much for us. It was too crowded, it was too smelly and it was too hot. We walked around for about an hour then grabbed a fruit shake and a taxi and retreated to our air con apartment and pool!!!
Without a doubt the highlight of our time in Bangkok was our time at Kidzania. A fun, educational, massive indoor kids center designed to teach kids about working, jobs and money. It was sooo good that it has its own blog page so check out all the details there.
So 8 nights in Bangkok…..Did we fall in love with you or do we still hate you??? Ummmm…. Neither!!! Bangkok deserves to be given a chance, more than just a fleeting visit on your way to a tropical island paradise. We got in and gave you a good nudge and now have an appreciation and fondness for you.
We have since returned to Bangkok on 3 different occasions and kinda get a home coming feeling each time. Our Bangkok will always be a bit special now, you were our first. You taught us how to do this family travel gig so that makes you pretty cool!!!