The first two impressions that you get about Bangkok is shopping and a gateway to the exotic beaches. As much as it stands true that Bangkok is a hub for dirt cheap shopping experience and a central city to reach out the coastal stretches, it is much more than what meets the imagination!
While the itineraries were being planned with my fellow bloggers regarding this trip, a lot of discussions were made regarding cities we will tap and the amount of time we’ll dedicate towards each one of it.
Having being under an impression that Bangkok is yet another metro city with malls, fine dines and set first city grandeur, I considered it to be similar to the city experience we have here in India. And abiding by the Thailand Travel tour culture, I was more keen on visiting an exotic coastal line rather *waste* my time staying in a traffic-jammed city like Bangkok. I am not going to lie about the traffic that turns the city red all throughout the day, but exploring Bangkok and its culture is an intriguing experience that I didn’t expect to have at all.
My stay in Bangkok was settled for 3.5 days with a strong guess that I’ll soon get bored of staying in the city and missing on all the exotic fun that Thailand offers otherwise. But was I wrong, or was I wrong?! After experiencing a glimpse of Bangkok, I can say that even a week’s time in Bangkok is less to experience what the city is all about. Right from the century old historic lanes of The Grand Palace area to the modern architectural marvels of Pathum Wan and Ratchathewi districts, the city is an amalgamation of the old and the new.
Like any metro city, Bangkok too comes with a batch of mixed beliefs. Right from conservative and traditional living standards to adapting the modern take on the society, you will find it all there.
Although, women young or elderly are more keen on dressing up in western attires, their food habits still stay intact and traditional mostly. With cheap and approachable street style food joints on every nook and corner, people often can be seen taking strolls alone, eating out at such joints in between doing their chores.
The people of Thailand are worshippers of Buddhism and are religious followers of their royal family. The belief system is respected across all sectors and walks of life, no matter how modern or westernised a Thai native considers himself/herself to be.
I am a digger for beautiful architecture, be it contemporary or historic, which is why I had a great time simply admiring the skyscrapers and traditional yet intricate architecture of The Grand Palace arena. For traditional Thai architecture, you can visit Jim Thompson House which showcases the traditional decor and architecture of Thailand.
For more religious sectors, a day spent at The Grand Palace and Wat Pho is ample enough to leave you gold enchanted for the next few days. The detailed art synced in with the traditionally done Zen Gardens around the old town showcase a glimpse of how Thailand use to be like centuries back.
Speaking about the contemporary architectural marvels that Bangkok is all about, I think the pictorial presentation will do more justice to it. I really didn’t consider the idea of visiting a *mall* in Thailand, but to my amazement, their definition of a mall is much more than just a building housing several shops under one roof.
Siam Paragon is the luxury mall of the sector which houses international brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel to many national luxury designer boutiques under one roof.
The interiors of this mall too are done in the most sophisticated manner with uber-decor elements to match the perspective. Central World Mall is the largest mall in Thailand and houses international commercial brands like Zara, Izzue, Victoria Secret, etc.
MBK Mall is the go-to place for flea market addicts and economical shopping experiences. MBK also has many diners and a massive food court which offers McDonalds, to traditional Thai food walks and a few Indian food joints as well!
Nobody will sleep hungry in Thailand. That’s the protocol I saw and experienced myself throughout my presence in the country. If you are keen on exploring the native flavours of Thailand, then I suggest you visiting a roadside food joint, serving freshest of the catch in the most authentic manner.
Mind you, the flavours of Thai food are very different from the versions you get here in India, so be very careful while trying out even a basic Tom Yum Soup or Thai Curry out there.
Since Thailand is surrounded with water bodies, you will find seafood and duck selling at a cheaper price than land farmed meats. Unfortunately I was not able to adapt to the pungent flavours of sauces and broth that were used in many dishes locally. Because of which, I ended up having my meals either at McDonalds, international diners or simply picking up my ready-to-eat munchies from Seven-Eleven Store.
Now if you are in Thailand (at least Bangkok and Pattaya) you will find a Seven-Eleven Store on every nook and corner of the city. I’m not kidding! You will really find a 7-11 store on a stretch of every 5 minutes walk/drive. These stores house all necessity household and travel items and quite reasonable prices. As far as food is concerned, they offer a massive variety of frozen meals, canned drinks, freshly brewed coffee, ice creams, chips, chocolates, snacks, etc that you can even think of. My first meal (breakfast) in Bangkok consisted of 1 frozen meal of Stir Fried Basil Chicken with Steamed Rice, A tetra pack of orange juice, Seaweed Lays, Seaweed Salties and a Yoghurt for just 62 Thai Baht, which equals to approx Rs.124/- only. Impressive, isn’t it? Not to forget the fact that these stores are open 24/7 so you can literally just walk up to your nearest one for a can of beer to feeding yourself some real food when the hunger hour strikes.
For vegetarians, Bangkok requires bit of a research as far as food is considered. Their are quite a few Indian restaurants available in the city, but you really need to do the math well in advance. Unfortunately, not even McDonalds offers vegetarian burgers or snacks, so you should be prepared with your options to avoid starving eventually.
Apart from some vegetarian and Indian food joints, you will find many fruit-carts on the streets serving freshly cut season fruits (quite hygienic). I often bought some freshly cut mangoes to keep my hunger cravings in check, while walking stretches exploring the city.
Bangkok is the ideal shopping hub in Asia. Period. I was often puzzled learning Delhiites or otherwise fashion lovers taking a trip to Thailand simply to shop-till-you-drop at Bangkok. What’s the fuss all about? Well, you definitely need to visit the city to know that.
Right from discounted international brands to fashionably overflowing flea markets, Bangkok offers shopping experience for every pocket. While I spent majority of my Bangkok shopping time walking in and out of branded outlets, it was only the last day of my trip when two of my dear Thailand travellers coaxed me into visiting the Chatuchak Flea Market. Although I wasn’t in the mood of visiting the market and more keen on shopping some more Victoria Secret for home, I did end up reaching the market an hour before its closing time. Honestly, if their is one thing I’ll be going back to Thailand for, it will be Chatuchak Market! This market is massive and offers finest of the fashion trends you can spot for dirt cheap prices. I bought shirts, bags and what not for mere 100 Baht (Rs.200/-) or under. Their were some budding designer boutiques there as well, selling super cheap apparels. If you know beauty products well, then you can buy some amazing local products from Chatuchak as well. I bought a set of 12 Vitamic C Oil capsules and they are working wonders on my skin currently.
I wish I could have spent some more time at Chatuchak Market and shown you all why this place is a shopping heaven, but I promise to do so on my next definite visit to Thailand; whenever that happens.
Much more from my Thailand trip coming up on the blog, so stay tuned! If you have any queries regarding shopping, stay, food and travel in Thailand, do comment and let me know. Will be happy to help. 🙂