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Thailand: Wandering in Bangkok

Exploring the enormous, dramatic, traditional yet futuristic megatroplis

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It's a big city...

Bangkok is impossible to explain.
It's huge, very diverse and full of contradictions.
It can be culturally conservative, yet folks are so open minded, accommodating and always smiling.
I experienced an amazing, diverse nightlife, with some great underground clubs, hidden bars, and scenes that really push the envelope.
It is THE city that is certain to realise Ridley Scott's vision of the megatropolis in Blade Runner.

I'll start by summarising my experience of each area I stayed in.....

Khao San Road

Probably every backpacker visiting Asia has or will stay at Khao San Rd at some point. Lonely Planet calls it the centre of the backpacking universe; made even more famous in the novel / film "The Beach", where Leo's character stays before discovering Phi Phi Island.
Khao San Road offers some of the cheapest food, clothes, accomadation, etc in all of Bangkok.
I wouldn't say it's particularly Thai in culture. Almost everyone is either a tourist or works in tourism, and speaks English. There's no challenge, but it's great fun and a good place to decompress.

Crazy Khao San Rd:
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Having said that, I was there on a Saturday night, and a lot of young Thais came out to Khao San Road to party.
During the day it was pretty sleepy and most folks walking about were either hungover, arriving wide eyed or racing to a long distance bus.
I stayed at Khao San Park Resort which was absolutely fantastic and only AUD$30 for a 4 star style room w/ brekkie.

Sukhumvit

A melting pot of business, clubs, bars and entertainment.
For me this is the best area to stay as it is on the sky train, central, close to the major shopping areas and within easy reach of the major bus terminals and airport (via train).
The super thing about Sukhumvit is that at about 11pm the market stalls close mobile bars pop up in their place; lining the entire road and stay open 'till around till 2am (when the police shut them all down).
Hawker food stalls remain open and are scattered amongst the bars; and so folks eat and enjoy liberally poured cocktails - makingfor a fun and, easy going, yet really sociable atmosphere.
In my opinion this is the best way to get to know locals and experience Bangkok at night.

Silom

Silom used to be famous for PatPong, Bangkok's red light district. The council have decided to clean the place up a bit, and PatPong is now a night market with just a few ping pong shows and girlie parts littered around the place.
Again, it's on the skytrain, so pretty handy for transport, but the nightlife was a bit drab. There weren't really any highlights here and only stayed in the area for my muay thai camp down the road.me I'll probably go back to Khao San or Sukhumvit.

Siam

I didn't stay here, just explored....
This is the shopping mecca - I would say more so than KL, because of it's diversity: market style stalls lining the paths around the super flash and HUGE malls. In my home town we have the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere, Chadstone.
MBK, or Siam Paragon make Chadstone look like a tiny milk bar, in terms of size, style and service.
The service in these centres are incredible and the food halls are out of this world.

Busy Siam and all the malls at night:
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Highlights

The highlight of Bangkok is the city itself, the people are friendly, super trendy, open minded, polite (actually exemplary), and will bring you into it's fascinating and amazing underworld and corners if you are up to it, learn some thai and show that you are not just the usual farang.

No trip to Bangkok is complete without going to one of it's many rooftop bars.
A local pal and I went to the top of the Banyan Tree (61 floors up!) for a cocktail at Moon Bar.
At night it was indeed spectacular, and we happened to be there on a full moon, which made it even more special.
It was a great experience though I wouldn't say the drinks and service matched the location, or justified the prices (though cocktails only amounted to roughly AUD$15).

View from Moon Bar:
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We had the option to stay for dinner, but it didn't look that special, and the prices were just crazy.
2 minutes walk from the fancy Banyan tree we had the best hawker chicken noodles I've ever had... goes to show 'eh!

Which brings me to my next highlight - FOOD! Hawker food is everywhere. You can't walk more than 10 paces without passing a stall of either fresh fruit, cooked chicken, noodle stalls, etc.

The guide book says Bangkok can be confunding and frustrating, but many folks are always a bit sad and sentimental when leaving Bangkok for the last time whilst visiting Asia.
That sentiment describes my feeling to a tea!

Posted by SkinnyFists 02:49 Archived in Thailand Tagged shopping bangkok siam silom sukhumvit

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