I don’t usually plan a trip abroad for a duration of less than a week. But this one was an exception (details on why for a later day)!
Nevermind the duration, if you are on a short trip to Bangkok, here’s what you can look forward to:
- A relaxing stay at Sukhumvit – A few weeks before our planned travel, we managed to block in the stay at The Travelodge, Sukhumvit. Being off-season, it turned out to be a pocket-friendly bet. Parked on the corner of the street or what would be the main lane of the vibrant and new-age Sukhumvit 11, it is every budget traveller’s dream come true. Barring the dim lighting in the rooms, I’d recommend this place for all reasons and seasons (heh, credits poetic self!). Their breakfast menu had a variation each day, and the dining hall is quite chic with the colourfully done interiors. Not to miss and an absolute highlight of the stay is the rooftop pool. A rather cutesy space for a dip, swimming amid starry skies surrounded by sky-rocketing buildings sparkling in the night sky was the most consuming experience. Better still, jumping out the waters for a quick sip of the chilled beer and crisps while plonking on the beach bed was a toast to the good life, ah miss it!
- Unlimited foot massages – This one would definitely top the charts for me. Not a day went by without indulging in the foot massages in the busy streets of the uptown Sukhumvit. No matter the time of the day, we made it a point to spend a few hours at the massage spa centres. Our very first experience was at the one called Chacha massage, easily spotted as we enter the Khwaeng Khlong Toei district, Soi Sukhumvit 15. However, the one that was a surprise find was the Chaba Traditional Thai spa, tucked in the corner of a by-lane close to our hotel and this heaven of a place was our to-go destination, also quite affordable (300 baht for one hour). Minutes into the massage and I dozed off, completely unawares of my whereabouts. If bliss had a name in the Land of the free (Thailand), it would surely spell ‘foot massage’. The warm tea served at the end culminates into a wholesome experience calming the senses.
- Terminal 21 – If you thought Terminal 21 had anything to with the movie ‘The Terminal’, you’ve got it wrong! Conceptually though its very close to the idea of a terminal, bringing the world-famous cities under one roof. A themed mall with each floor representing a country, I was literally ‘floored’ with umpteen options to savour my senses. All in one day, I covered Istanbul, Rome, San Francisco, Tokyo, Paris and London! The farmers market indoors was a refreshing find. The many gourmet options left us confused – in just one meal, I wanted to pack in Japanese, Thai, Korean all together. We finally zeroed in the Korean restaurant – Dakgalbi and the delightful meal (dish by the same name as the restaurant) was served, with rice based iced-tea and kimchi salad on the sides.
- Art Box – the flea market, albeit an accidental find on our way back from Soi Cowboy (more on that in the following section), was an eclectic mix of fine Thai cultural experience in the heart of the city. Jazzily lit up, lined on either sides were authentic food options, and a few retail shops. The best was saved for the last– live music band playing peppy tunes! We sat on the benches that came our way, while munching on pad thai and guzzling down some fresh drinks!
- Soi Cowboy – this colourful, rather snazzy street cannot be missed. Well, if you thought you did not get enough of the sin city, the entry to this lane is enough to shatter those ideas. Semi-to almost fully naked ladies, are omnipresent, flashing boards among other things that shouted ‘available’. As we walked past, my eyes were not the only objects popping. The flashy street maintained an air of professionalism despite all the frills.
- Old city – the Grand Palace and river cruise: The only element missing by far in the trip, was ‘commercial’, so on the penultimate day, we checked that off the list too! A taxi from the hotel took us to the old city, where we got dropped off close to the Grand Palace. One of the local guides there guided us to the river cruise, which in all fairness, can be skipped. Passing through canals, before finally merging into the main river channel, we stopped by Wat Arun for about 15-20 mins before hopping onboard again to finally getting down at the market area. I quickly picked up some souvenirs here, and grabbed an iced coffee at Gloria Jean’s to beat the heat. The Grand Palace was a walking distance. The entry ticket alone cost about 500 baht per person, although being the main tourist attraction, I’d recommend it. With the most intricately designed Wats (temples), centred around the worship place dazzling in golden hues, the grandeur cannot be missed. Established in 1782, it consists of royal residences, throne halls, govt offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Demon Guardians, stand tall, symbolizing the protection of the Emerald Buddha from all evil spirits
- Local restros, bistros and cafes – along the way, we stumbled upon many a bistros, cafes and some suave eateries. The most reminiscent experience, however was that at Dakgalbi (at Terminal 21), the heavenly sushi at AboveEleven, and the uber cool, delicious drinks at Oskar Bistro. The live music experience at Apoteka was eclectic. Among the other memorable experiences, the ‘swadikaaaa’ chorus with which the attendants at the seven elevens welcome you, the cutesy pink taxis and the omnipresent lady boys who beautifully integrate into the Thai mainstream life, were reminiscent. It is a known fact that Buddhism makes the Thai a more tolerant class and hence, no other country respects the third gender better than the Thais do.
All in all, if you plan a quick-short trip to Bangkok, make sure you pack in your stay at Sukhumvit to enjoy the best of what the city has to offer. Until next time (blog), happy tripp-ing! ?