Bangkok, Thailand. This was our second stop in Asia and our first stop in Thailand. Thailand has ALWAYS been on my bucketlist for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Sure, I heard it was hot, the people were nice and the beaches are gorgeous but seeing something for yourself is so much more fulfilling. We landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) mid-morning, the flight was short and sweet compared to the long-haul flight from BOS to HKG. Again, not knowing what to expect, I stepped off of Cathay’s Airbus A350 and onto Thai soil. Well first we were in the airport but you get it.
When you find yourself in the Venice of the East don’t skimp out on your hotel. Chances are it will be hot, humid, and busy so you’ll need a luxurious spot to return to.
We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. And let me tell you first impressions are everything. Upon arrival we were greeted with some of the best hospitality. Sawadee ka’s and smiles were exchanged graciously. I couldn’t stop staring at the fresh orchid bracelet they delicately place on my wrist. And yes, it smelled just as good as it looked. The fresh flower chandelier in the main entrance deserves a moment of silence.
After a quick check in we were whisked away to our room. Out of the 324 rooms and 44 suites I think we had the best view of the Chao Phraya River. A completely stocked fridge with refreshments galore, lemon scented toiletries, and 24- hour room service were just some of the perks. The Mandarin Oriental is also home to nine outstanding restaurants, signature Mandarin Oriental boutique shops, a cigar bar and The Author’s Lounge aka the prettiest tea room I’ve ever seen. They even take their unique blend of comfort and luxury to the other side of the river where the spa and wellness center are. Here, you can do everything from yoga to private training sessions to getting a traditional Thai massage.
The options are almost endless. I mean with nine restaurants solely on the Mandarin Oriental property it was tough to leave. Upon arrival, we opted for a late lunch at The Verandah. Obviously when you land in Thailand for the first time you have to order a traditional Thai dish! And let me just tell you, 1) Thai food is hot as hell and 2) Thai food in America pales in comparison to the real deal.
Outside the Mandarin, there’s Breeze Restaurant on the 51st floor of the Lebua Hotel. Sure, the food and drinks are expensive but they were delicious and that view? The best view of the city in Bangkok. After dinner be sure to head up to the Sky Bar on the 63rd floor of the hotel. Most notably recognizable from the Hangover II. Up here you’ll find music and delicious libations. It’s kind of amazing to admire a new city from the rooftops over drinks and dinner with your brand new bestie.
The obvious: get a traditional Thai massage. This is something you don’t even have to leave the property for. As I mentioned earlier the spa is on the other side of the river so you’ll need to take the complimentary shuttle boat over. Once you’re at the spa you’ll be greeted with a cold eucalyptus towel and an ice cold Thai tea. For me, this was my first massage ever! It did not disappoint. Also, I have to note that this experience brought Lesley and I’s new friendship to a whole new level. I mean, how many of you can say you got a couple’s massage with someone you met five days prior? Probably not many of you. Yes, we were hesitant to move forward with it but I mean, we made it this far so why not! I seriously hope you followed along on Snapchat because it’s probably the best Snapstory in the history of Snapstories. Damn you Snapchat memories! Where were you when I really needed you?!
Markets. Markets. Markets. What’s a trip to Thailand without visiting markets? We decided to visit the Damnoen Saduak Water Market. Damnoen Saduak is made up of a series of canals and can be accessed by both long-tail boats and some parts are accessible by car. But don’t take a car. You’re in Thailand so I urge you to take the long-tail boat! My preferred method of transportation. We were given mixed reviews about this market. Some enjoyed it and others didn’t mostly because it is the most touristy market. But let’s not worry about other people for a minute and put all of that aside. This is one of the most vibrant and culturally rich places I’ve visited. The colors, the locals, the smells- EVERYTHING makes it such a unique experience. Obviously it is going to be hot when you visit so make sure you get the coconut ice cream (or better yet get two of them because as soon as you finish the first one you’ll want another). This was my saving grace in the heat! AND BRING WATER! You will be very thirsty. You will spend about half of your day on this excursion as the market only operates in the morning because it is too hot and the sun is too intense in the afternoon. Tip: be sure to barter! Thanks to the Mandarin Oriental, we had the perfect experience with a small group of other travelers.
Temples. Temples. Temples. Again, what’s a trip to Thailand without visiting temples? There are more than 32,000 temples in Thailand and 400 of them are in Bangkok alone. Just down the river from the Mandarin Oriental you’ll find Wat Arun on the West Bank. You know a temple is worth visiting when it is on Thai currency. You’ll get the best view from a long-tail boat on the river at sunset. Some other temples worth seeing are Wat Pho, home to the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand, and Wat Benchamabophitr, also on Thai currency and known as “The Marble Temple.”
There are so many ways to get around this city such as: tuk tuks, cabs, the BTSC and long-tail boats. My preferred method is to take a long-tail boat along the river and through the city. You can access long-tail boats right from the dock at the Mandarin Oriental. I must say, it’s a great way to catch the sunset. The Bangkok Mass Transit System is another great option and it takes you all around the city for a price you can’t beat.
The official language of Thailand is Thai (obviously). There is definitely a language barrier and while many can speak English it is always good to know a few terms in the native language. I’ve rounded up a few for you here.
- Sawadee ka (sa-wad-ee-ka): Hello, good morning, good afternoon, greetings (Sawadee Khap for males)
- Kop Kun Ka: Thank you (Kop Kun Krub for males)
- Kor: Please
- Kep Tang Ka: The bill please (khap for males)
- Sabai dii mai ka: How are you (khap for males)
- Sabai dii ka: I am well (for males)
- Mai phet: Not spicy
- Phet nit nawy: A little spicy
- Sanuk (sa-nook): It’s a lot of fun, enjoy, I am enjoying myself
- Narak (na-lak): Cute, a nice compliment
- Raa kaa tâo rài: How much is this?
Now it’s your turn! Have you been to Bangkok? What are your must-sees?