It’s official. I am in love. I don’t know how it happened, but they say the best things happen when you least expect it. I crossed the South China Sea just to be reacquainted with my beloved; two hours and thirty-minutes and countless of cat-naps later, we finally met. As I set foot on Suvarnabhumi International Airport, it felt almost as though the ground were was, something phenomenal was about to happen.
Something phenomenal did happen. I was met with a queue so long, it took at least 30 minutes to get past immigration. By the time I did, my bags had already arrived at the carousel and my chauffeur had been waiting for a good hour. It took at least another hour to arrive at my hotel in the Sukhumvit area.
If you haven’t already guessed, the paramour I am speaking of is Bangkok. The city of my gastronomic dreams. With the daily temperature ranging between 23-35, it’s a good place to walk around and explore (perhaps, get lost too). Wherever you find yourself in the city, I can guarantee you that there is bound to be a fruit stall and a couple of massage parlours situated on the corner.
For this post, I will list five things you must attempt as an amateur traveller in Bangkok:
1. Get on track with Skytrain.
If you are going somewhere relatively far, avoid being stuck in traffic and save time, it can get pretty hectic and frustrating. The Skytrain is an elevated rapid transit system in Bangkok which stops at 34 stations along two lines – the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line. They sell one-way tickets at reasonable prices, only valid on the day of purchase. From Phrom Phong to Mo Chit (12 stops in total), it cost 42 THB and took approximately 21 minutes.
The interiors of the trains are spick and span. Fitted with air-conditioning and with no food and drink allowed, I could just sit in there and lose track of time reading a book – it’s that comfortable!
2. Hop in a Tuk-Tuk
As an alternative to your usual cab, a Tuk-Tuk is a mechanised three-wheel taxi. This is something you have to experience at least once in your lifetime, the thrill of being in an open-air taxi is unlike any other. It can be a bit dangerous and the drivers are not the most honest, so my advice is that you should not depend on Tuk-Tuks if you plan to go somewhere far. They do not operate a fare meter so prior to hopping on a Tuk-Tuk, fix a price with the driver and make no room for miscommunication.
3. Feast on fruit to your heart’s content
Three words: Mango Sticky Rice. This is a Thai dessert made with glutinous rice, fresh mango and coconut milk. This dessert is served warm and is absolutely divine! The delicious combination of sweet mangoes, salty sticky rice and rich coconut milk is unparalleled. You can find it anywhere with a starting price of 120 THB, or even cheaper at a local market. If you’ve had no luck with fresh coconuts before, this is your chance. Bangkok offers only the best hand-picked fruits and their coconuts are no exception. Not a day that went by without me downing a fresh coconut like my life depended on it.
4. Indulge in some retail therapy at a local market
Asia Tique is a large open-air mall in Bangkok facing the Chao Phraya river. It is a more upscale version of Chatuchak Market, open from 5pm-12am daily and is accessible by cab or boat. They sell goods ranging from garments to food and even have massage parlours where you can unwind if you need a break. A notable stall is one which sells all things durian (king of fruits, pungent smelling and not for the faint-hearted), they offer everything from durian pudding, to durian crepes and durian milkshakes!
Chatuchak Market is a weekend market that happens to be one of the world’s largest. It is a vibrant market which screams “Thailand” on every corner. The stalls offer goods similar to Asia Tique, but are more open to bargaining and thus cheaper. This is the place to go to buy cheap souvenirs, homewares, delicacies, knock-off goods (if that’s up your alley) and so much more. They even have courier services like DHL and UPS at the end of the market so you can ship kilos worth of goods back home – how convenient! You can get to the market using the Skytrain via the Sukhumvit Line, and get off at Mo Chit.
Or Tor Kor Market is situated in Chatuchak, not far from the weekend market. It is the market for you if you simply can’t get enough of fresh fruit. They sell fruit in bulk at a bargain price, some even offer delivery to your hotel. Be sure to pay this market a visit in order to tempt your friends back home with the fresh fruits you are going to gift as souvenirs.
5. Get a foot massage
Exhausted from all the walking and exploring? Fret not. Close your eyes, make a wish, open them.. and boom! There’s a massage parlour right on the corner of where you are standing. Be it a make-shift stall by the busy streets of Bangkok, or a proper parlour, the masseurs will never disappoint. A trip to Thailand is not complete without a Thai massage experience. If, like me, you are particular about ambience, visit Thann Spa with branches scattered across the city. It is a spa which offers luxurious treatments using traditional Thai techniques. I can guarantee that you will leave the spa leaving refreshed and satisfied!
Do you have a list of must-visit places in Bangkok?
Hafizah Sufian was a freelance writer for Muslyfe.