My Asia trip started in Japan in the cold and the rain and ended in the Thai sunshine in Koh Samui. We got a late night flight from Tokyo to Bangkok and arrived at our hotel super early in the morning, it must have been about 6.30am but with the time differences hadn’t realised or thought to book a room for that night. We were exhausted after a night flight but the ladies at check-in couldn’t have been nicer.
In Thailand, your money goes a long way in terms of affordable luxury so we decided to treat ourselves and booked into the Shangri-La Hotel. It wasn’t cheap in comparison to other hotels in the city but the amount of luxury you got for what you pay was astonishing. At check-in the receptionist informed us that we could upgrade to allow us instant access to a room, the upgrade meant moving onto the Horizon Club level which granted us access to the lounge and included breakfast. The cost of the upgrade was minimal and to be honest at that point I would have paid a fortune to have a bed where I was so tired. The room was beautiful and looked out over the city, the bathroom was enormous and the bed was so comfy. We slept very well that morning.
Our first night started in the Horizon lounge on the 26th floor where we enjoyed our complimentary cocktails and some nibbles, we sat by the window and watched the sunset over the Bangkok skyscrapers, a perfect start. We then headed out to Khao San Road in a taxi to meet my brother and his girlfriend for some drinks, this place was unreal. There were so many people and bars here, each competing with the loudest music and best deals on alcohol. It was mainly tourists and backpackers here, you can pick up some great street food or taste the delicacy of barbecued insects and scorpions. I didn’t try any of these but my brother’s girlfriend tried the scorpion and she assured me it was tasty. We consumed far too many drinks this night which lead to some spectacular hangovers the next day so we decided to take it a bit easier and stay in indoor/air-conditioned places.
We filled up on the best breakfast buffet you will ever find in the NEXT2 Cafe in the hotel. Seriously, you have to try this and make sure to grab a table by the river, you’ll soon feel like you are in paradise. Once we were full we headed out to start shopping. Bangkok is as well known for its shopping as it is for its temples and after visiting I can understand why, there are several enormous shopping centres. These vary from cheap places like MBK to designer shopping centres like the Siam Centre, Bangkok really is a divided city from the poor to the rich and this is seen almost everywhere you go. Of course, there are also the world famous night markets, but none of these were on during our short stay in the city.
That night we got the free boat which the hotel provided and went to the newest shopping area called Asiatique. This place has shops, bars, restaurants and some market stalls, it really has something for everyone. The boat ride there and back is so pretty but coming back it might take you a few extra minutes to navigate the crowds to ensure you get on the correct boat.
The next morning after another fantastic breakfast we went to see what Bangkok is all about, its temples. We got the boat up the river to the Grand Palace, I would recommend the boat for anyone thinking of visiting Bangkok, it’s so cheap and lovely to just sit down and switch off while enjoying the breeze. We made sure to take appropriate clothing to visit the temple as there are very strict rules on what you can and can’t wear and it is strictly enforced, when you arrive at the temple you have the option to go straight through or use the changing rooms.
The Grand Palace is stunning, everywhere you look it gleams and shines in the sunshine due to the gold used throughout. Make sure to look up, down and in every direction as there is so much to see. You might need to be a little pushy if you want to see it all, due to its importance the Palace does attract a lot of visitors including some very rude tourist groups. There are certain buildings that are open to go into but you will need to take your shoes off. I was a bit wary of doing this as I had worn slightly expensive trainers but the guard explained that we could just carry them in our backpack which made it a lot easier.
If you are planning to visit the palace make sure to take some water, there is maybe one place we saw selling it but it wasn’t cheap and sold out really early in the day. Due to the restrictions on what you can wear while visiting the likelihood is that you’ll be well covered up and in the sunshine humidity this can be extremely difficult. Due to the madness at this temple we decided against visiting any of the others, we got the boat back to the sanctuary of the hotel and enjoyed a cocktail by the riverside instead while waiting for our transfer to the airport for the next part of our Thailand adventure.
Be sure to check back in a few days to see what I got up to during my week in Koh Samui, aka paradise.