Bangkok, Thailand: Exploring the City of Angels On My Own
It was past 8 in the morning of January 4th when my flight from Phuket arrived in Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. My original plan was to travel from Phuket to Bangkok via the train-bus combo, which will eat up a lot of my time. Fortunately, two weeks before my flight, I was able to find good deal from Orient Thai Airlines. I booked a ticket for only 1,350 baht (1,700 pesos). From the airport, I took the bus going to Mochit then the Skytrain to the hostel where I stayed, Lub D’ Bangkok – Siam Square.
When I arrived at the hostel, it was only around 10am. Their standard check-in time is 2pm. My bed was not available by then. After having settled the remaining amount I owed the hostel, I just left my baggage and went out. I have written a separate article about Lub D’ here.
The hostel where I stayed is located in Siam, which puts me at the proximity of Bangkok’s shopping district. I went to Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, MBK, Centralworld, and other malls withing the surrounding areas. Looking for a place to have lunch, I ended up at Sizzler, located at Siam Center. I first found this restaurant in Phuket but have not had the chance to try it there. Sizzler is a huge American restaurant that offers buffet of salads and appetizers for every order of their entrees. I ordered their Spicy Grilled Chicken and iced tea. They also give you free bread. I highly recommend this place if you love American food. The salad bar itself would already suffice to choose this place above others when you need your stomach filled. The meal I had costs 399 baht (500 pesos). After lunch, I went around the malls again and walked on my way to the hostel. At 2pm, they already had my bed ready. Having little or no sleep from the past few days, it did not take long before I passed out.
It was already 6 pm when I woke up. I took a shower and went down the hostel to have a few drinks. While drinking, I took advantage of their free Wi-Fi and research about what to do at night. Bangkok is a city that is replete in terms of options for night-outs, which make it harder to choose where to head. I took the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin. I was supposed to ride a boat that will lead me closer to Khao San Road. It was already 10pm that time and turned out boat station was already close. I rode a motorbike instead and paid 150 baht (190 pesos). Khao San is known as Bangkok’s backpacker district and famous for its nightlife. I spent just about 30 minutes walking along its stretch and had another motorbike ride going to Silom. I had a couple of drinks in some bars along the area. At around 1am, I was hailing a cab to take me to Royal City Avenue (RCA), which serves as another nightlife center, believed to be home to some of the best clubs in the city. It took me almost 10 attempts before finally finding someone who could understand where I am going. A lot of the taxi drivers have a hard time understanding English, which makes it a challenge to go from one place to another via a cab.
While in RCA, I went to Route 66. I learned about this place from my roommates at the hostel who were there the night before. They told me that it has a crazy party scene, which prompted me to give it a shot. Indeed, they were right. The place was huge and people were dancing, drinking, and having fun from anywhere you look. I had to pay 300 baht (375 pesos) pesos, which qualifies you for drink coupons of the same amount. Route 66 is a huge place that caters to almost every taste. There were different rooms playing different music. In one room, there is a live band. In the other room, you can dance to hip hop and RnB music. The best part to stay was outside. It is packed with more people but you will have generous space to move. Expect a mixed crowd of locals and tourists, mostly the younger ones. This is definitely a place that will give you a glimpse of how crazy Bangkok nightlife can prove to be. There are other clubs around RCA, such as Slim. Feeling tired and exhausted, I did not check any other place after Route 66 and decided to call it a night at around 4am. Because RCA is packed, there will be no problem getting a taxi as most of them can be seen lined up along the main road. Expect, however, that you will not be charged based on meter reading.
On my 2nd day in Bangkok, I woke up at around 10am. From outside the hostel, there is a stand selling street foods and I grabbed something to eat for breakfast. I had Thai Pork Barbecue and sticky rice for just 20 baht (25 pesos). After about an hour of researching, I decided that I would spend the day visiting some of the temples nearest the hostel. I bought the Skytrain Day Pass for 130 baht (170 pesos) and one day pass for the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat for 150 baht (190 pesos). These day passes will provide you with a cheap option to stroll around the city.
I visited Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn. To enter, I had to pay an entrance fee. I forgot how much it was. From its name, it is pretty obvious that the best time to visit this temple is during sunrise, although it is also a sight to be reveled during sunset. I spent about half an hour going around the temple.
The Temples of Bangkok
After Wat Arun, I took a very short boat ride going to Wat Pho, which is just directly opposite the former. Wat Pho is more popularly known amongst tourists as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. You have to pay an entrance fee to enter. I was most probably mistaken as being Thai, which is why they let me enter without paying anything. I tried going to the Grand Palace after, but it turned out that their already closed by that time. The Grand Palace is open only until 3:30pm, so you have to be early if you want to see it.
After a boat ride from Wat Pho, I was at Chinatown where I originally planned to have lunch. I did a lot of walking trying to find a Chinese restaurant to eat but I ended up eating Thai street foods again, which I found to be better because it was very cheap and food was good. There is nothing much to see around the area, which is pretty much just like other Chinatowns.
Wanting to make the most out of the day pass that I got, I rode the boat again and went to River City, a shopping mall that offers a good view of the river and the buildings around the city. After strolling for just about 15 minutes, I found myself inside the tourist boat again on my way to Central Pier, where I took a short walk going to Lebua at State Tower. This is actually one of the things I was most excited about my trip. I went to the Sky Bar, which is located at the 63rd floor, considered as one of the highest club in the world. If you have seen The Hangover 2, you are most probably aware of the place. You can go to the Sky Bar just to take pictures, but you will have a limited view as the waiters will not allow you to take pictures of certain areas unless you order a drink. I ordered one bottle of Heineken from the bar, which costs me 400 baht (500 pesos). In turn, I was able to take better pictures of the city. Pretty much good deal!
At around 7pm, I left Lebua and took a long walk going to the United Center building, which houses another famous rooftop bar in Bangkok. As against Sky Bar, Cloud 47 is a lot cheaper, especially when it comes to food. I got one pint of Asahi for only 230 baht (290 pesos). Cloud 47 is huge and not as posh as the other clubs. Still, it is very promising in terms of being able to rival the other rooftop bars in the city. The place was almost empty when I got there. The huge dance floor and DJ booth suggests that it could have been a venue to some of the city’s best nights of partying.
After Cloud 47, I took a short walk going to the train station and went back to the hostel. Here, I found my roommates drinking and I joined them. They were enjoying the popular Thai bucket while I opted to have Heinekens. Juan and Nora, my roommates, were from Columbia and they are going to travel Southeast Asia for 6 months, including the Philippines. They have a life we can all be envious about, to think that they are just 22. After a couple of drinks, I took the train going to Sukhumvit and walked all the way to Levels Club, which was located at the 6th floor Aloft Hotel. They do not have door charge but drinks inside were expensive. I only had a bottle of Heineken for 250 baht (310 pesos).
After a drink at Levels, I took the cab going to Patpong. This is one of the most recommended areas in Bangkok basically because of its naughty nightlife. Here, along different alleys, you will see different types of go-go bars. You will be approached by touts offering a one-of-a-kind show that has made Bangkok nightlife popular. I was supposed to try their ping-pong shows. However, from an earlier conversation with my roommates, they told me to just skip it as it is no good. There were really girls doing weird things, but they seem to be drugged and have minimal or no energy at all, apart from the fact that most of them are losing the youth of their body. I just grabbed beer from the street, ate at Carl’s Jr. and headed back to the hostel at around 4am.
I woke up before lunch the next day and went around the malls again to do a bit of shopping. The malls were huge and filled with people, offering everything that you will need. I decided to just shop at Platinum Fashion Mall and skip the others. I had lunch at KFC inside the mall’s food court. After around three hours of going around, I went back to the hostel to rest for about an hour and head to Asiatique. From the Central Pier, I took one of the free boats going to Asiatique. This is another huge shopping destination with an abundant list of restaurants offering a good view of the river.
After Asiatique, I went to Baiyoke Sky Hotel, which serves as the venue to another place that has made Bangkok famous – The Rooftop Bar. I had to pay an entrance fee of 400 baht (500 pesos), which qualifies me for one free drink. The bar is located at the hotel’s 83rd floor. It offers another good view of the city but I do not find anything promising about the bar itself.
From Baiyoke, I walked all the way to Centralworld, another shopping complex and home to some of the newest nightlife destinations in Bangkok. I went to Horizons, which is located at the 19th floor and offers a good panoramic view of the city. I ordered a bottle of beer for 200 baht (250 baht).
I visited Khao San on my first night in Bangkok and did not enjoy it that time. My roommates, however, had an entirely different story. They told me that I was most probably there too early. Convinced by the fun they had, I checked it again on my last night. I was surprised to see how different it was. This time, it was livelier and louder. I grabbed bottles of Singha from the stalls around the street for a 100 baht (125 pesos). I also went inside Hippie de Bar and The Club for some drinks. It was more expensive than the price from the street. I also had a lot of street foods paired with my beer. At around 2am, you can see vendors selling balloons and hiding when they see cops around the area. The balloons turn out to be what they call laughing gas, sold at 100 baht each (125 pesos). I tried one at first and talked to some other tourists and saw how much fun they were having. This convinced me to have another laughing gas, but I still did not match the level of fun they had. The balloons were filled with nitrous oxide gas, which was used as anesthetics, and you are supposed to have it inhaled to have a good time. It is illegal to be sold in Bangkok, which explains why vendors are in a rush to hide every time they see cops.
On my last day, I woke up at around 10 am and headed to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, which was just a few steps away from the hostel where I stayed. I had my bags packed the night before so that I can have free time before heading out of Bangkok. I left the hostel at around 11 am and took the train going to Suvarnabhumi Airport. I arrived at the airport around 12nn. I boarded a 2pm flight from Philippine Airlines going to Manila, which I got for 3,745 baht (4,700 pesos).
The next time I am in Bangkok, I will sleep all day and drink all night. I heard a lot of stories about people falling in love with Bangkok for a number of reasons. There are people who loved it for shopping. There are foodies who raved about Thai cuisine. There are some who liked the cultural experience they had. In my case, it is most probably the nightlife that made Bangkok now one of my favorite cities.