This article gives you an insider’s view of Bangkok from Julia Kernaghan, who originally comes from Australia, but who has been living and working in the “City of Angels” for over a year and now calls Bangkok home
I often get asked why I love living in Thailand, more specifically… how can I live in the urban, sprawling metropolis that is Bangkok. It’s so easy to answer… the smiles, the massages, the street food, the Chao Phraya River and of course the shopping! Thailand is often portrayed as the ‘Land of Smiles’, and I have to say that understanding and speaking a little Thai goes a long way in ensuring that you’re always at the end of a beautiful smile here in Bangkok. Employ a little patience and you’ll enjoy this vibrant, buzzing, bustling and hectic city. You might wonder what we locals actually do in our spare time that is different to what the guide books suggest?
The answer really is that I do a lot of what is suggested, however, I tend to deviate from what the guidebooks say. Since moving here over a year ago I’ve now got the courage to go off the beaten track – that’s with regard to everything from, say exploring the backstreets to sampling the street food. I agree with the general comments that Bangkok can be totally overwhelming with the amount of choice you have, therefore when I find my favourites and I tend to stick to them.
Shopping is the unofficial national past-time – there are so many places to shop in Bangkok. You’ve got the main shopping area in Siam – MBK, Siam Square, Siam Paragon and Amarin Plaza – just to name a few. But my favourites are Suan Lum Night Bazaar and Chatuchak Weekend Market, I love the intensity and vibrancy of Chatuchak; there are literally thousands of stalls and if you’re anything like me – you’ll come home with much much more than you set out to buy! Some other interesting places to visit are Chinatown and the nearby Sampeng Markets, wander along the narrow alleyways, you’ll see that the shops are overflowing with products, don’t hesitate to turn over the well trodden path – you never know what fantastic shopping fun you may stumble across! These Siam hotels will have you staying in the heart of the shopping vicinity.
Spas and Thai Massage
I like nothing more than being pampered… and in Bangkok I’m spoilt for choice. After a long day in the office, or exploring the city sights on foot, it’s so nice to pop into my favourite Thai massage, a 1.5 hour foot massage It’s also great to get a mani/pedi, facial or a traditional Thai massage (not necessarily all at once, but I’ve seen it done!). You’ll find a Thai massage house around every corner and possibly one, two or three next to each other! And yes, I agree with your next thought… how do I find the right one with all the choice available? I recommend that you choose the one you feel most comfortable in – it may not necessarily be the cheapest!
Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya River weaves and winds its way through Bangkok; it’s a major transportation artery for this city, it’s also a fabulous way to get around and see some of Bangkok’s beautiful sights. You’ll have great views of the river if you stay in a riverside hotel. Watch the hustle and bustle that occurs on the river, you’ll see barges full of building supplies chug their way up stream, oh try not to blink otherwise you’ll miss the long tail boats screaming past! Jump on the local ferry or take your own long tail boat, it’s a great way to access the flower markets, the Grand Palace, the stunning Wat Arun and even Khao San Road is not far from the river. It’s also a great way to get to the Floating Markets or even as far as the old capital Ayutthaya.
Thai Street food
So my home country is Australia and it has some pretty amazing Thai restaurants and great Thai food, however, it’s not a patch on what you’ll find in Bangkok. Once you’ve built up the courage to eat at the street stalls, you’ll wonder why it took you so long, although I’m personally not so sure about deep fried crickets! You’ll find everything from rice and stir fries; noodles; soups; fried chicken; grilled chicken, fish and bananas; skewers; fruit; drinks (coffee and tea); Thai style salads as well as grilled bread (toast) covered with butter, sugar and condensed milk! But my absolute favourite is Uncle Noodles, a local street vendor, and yes I am going to give up one of my secrets and tell you that it’s located on Lung Suan Road, down from Chidlom BTS Station – there are quite a few street vendors but keep your eyes peeled for the Uncle Noodle sign complete with a steaming bowl of noodles. I just love uncle’s big welcoming smile and tasty noodles with pork and wontons! As we’d say in Thai – aroi maak maak!
AsiaWebDirect.com, the Asia travel specialist, is a key resource for booking your trip to, from or within Asia. Our simple-to-use site offers great deals for a huge range of accommodation throughout Asia, while real customer reviews, detailed maps, destination guides, and 24/7 phone support help take the confusion out of planning a holiday in Asia. AsiaWebDirect.com also has a supporting network of 100+ specialist travel websites including LateStays.com, Bangkok.com and Phuket.com which together see more than 2.2 million visits a month.