After seeing pictures of beautiful islands in Thailand and amazing sights in Bangkok, I decided I had to visit this country sometime soon. Fast forward 14 months of planning and waiting and I finally made it to Thailand last winter. Here are my Bangkok highlights, starting with The Grand Palace.
There are over 40,000 temples in Thailand; however, one cannot mention temples in Bangkok without including The Grand Palace. Located at the heart of the city, the palace is accessible by bus, tuk-tuk or taxi. Before visiting this temple, be sure to follow their strict dress code. There are no shorts, sandals, short sleeves or belly shirts allowed. There is a guard at the entrance who checks your attire so come prepared! My best advice is to purchase Bangkok harem pants and wear them for the day. They are cheap (100 baht for a pair), breezy and unbelievably comfortable - you will be glad you bought them! There is also not an ounce of shade so bring water and a hat.
There is a 500 baht fee to enter the Temple of Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) and The Grand Palace. To clarify, The Grand Palace is not just one building but numerous buildings including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Chakri Maha Prasat, the Siwalai Gardens and the Inner and Middle Court, just to name a few.
Escape the heat and duck under the awnings to admire the murals lined with gold.
The attention to detail put into every building is just astounding.
When I was touring the Grand Palace, there was some construction being done on some of the temples; however, the majority of the museum was still open for viewing.
Interestingly enough, the Grand Palace is open to the public as a museum but still houses several royal offices inside.
Once you've completed your tour, walk on over to Wat Pho, another temple on the "must-see" list of Bangkok highlights.
The entrance fee is 300 baht and you must have exact change. The Temple of Reclining Buddha is truly a unique statue at 43 meters long. Conveniently enough, Wat Pho also houses the first Thai massage school. Thai massages are another must on the Bangkok highlights list. You can get a 30-minute massage for only 260 baht!
If you're still itching to see more religious sights, Wat Arun, located across the river from the Grand Palace is considered one of the most iconic temples in Bangkok. Wat Benja, also known as 'The Marble Temple' is covered in marble imported from Italy, making it a beautiful sight to see. Lastly, Wat Traimit found in Chinatown houses the world's largest gold Buddha statue.
Surely you will be famished after all the walking so a great place to head to next is Chinatown. Yaowarat Road is the main hub of Chinatown, with small stores and eateries for you to stop by.
I have to admit, I did not recognize 90% of the dishes I saw but that's all part of the fun, right? The first stop was thin vermicelli noodles in a thick gravy.
Reminiscent of Taiwanese oyster noodles, I was a fan.
Of course, I had to try my first shrimp pad thai prepared in Thailand. This was one meal I was dying to try since it is one of my favorites. At only 30 baht, this bowl was very much worth the price. The flavors were subtle but clean, not too oily like some prepared in the States.
Note that dishes in Bangkok are cheap but their portions are also much smaller. On the bright side, this also means you get to try multiple dishes at once.
After trying several food stalls, I have to say my favorite place was a Chinese noodle soup restaurant located on the main road. If you find a long line of people waiting alongside the curb, you've come to the right place. The wait goes by quickly so don't pass up the opportunity!
Rolled rice noodles are served in a beef broth served with your choice of meats. The crispy pork belly was especially tasty.
Chinatown takes on another life during the night so if you have time to spare, come check it out after 6 pm. Yaowarat Road becomes a night market with many more stalls along the streets.
Next up, shopping in Bangkok.
Check out the rest of "A Bite Out of Thailand:" series:
Part 2: Shopping in Bangkok
Part 3: Street Markets
Part 4: Soei and Thip Simai
Part 5: Gaggan
Part 6: Elephants World
Part 7: Krabi