Bangkok, Not In The Guidebook
Just before the pandemic hit, I was staying on the small tropical island of Nusa Penida, Bali. My visa was due to expire, but I wasn’t quite ready to leave just yet! Who can blame me?
Dreaming of the opportunity to wear a little more than a bikini, I decided to take a mini-break in Bangkok before returning to my island paradise.
If you’ve never been to Bangkok before, then of course; do what all the travel guides tell you… visit as many of the gorgeous temples as you can take (there are millions – it does get tiresome), pepper your days with cheap, strong massages (best in the world!), scoff as much
Pad Thai from street vendors as you can stomach, and ladies - bring an empty suitcase for all the souvenirs you’ll likely buy at Chatuchak Weekend Market. And I’ll not mention the general activities that they recommend for male visitors to Bangkok…
But having been to Bangkok a few times before, (albeit – not for a few years - I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how empty Khao San Road is now) I was on the lookout for something different.
Here are a few things I did on my 3 days in Bangkok, not from a guidebook!
1. Go Exploring
This one really is not for the faint-hearted, bearing in mind the blistering heat of the Thai capital, but it’s worth it if you don’t mind getting a bit (OK, very) sweaty. Wander around flower markets, along the river, Chinatown, or just to your next destination! It’s a bustling city with so much to see. Interesting architecture, graffiti, not-in-the-guide temples, and the best, people watching!
If you can’t quite take the heat, then how about taking a water taxi to soak in the views?!
2. Eat Everything!
Everyone knows the basics of Thai cuisine (hello spring rolls, pad Thai and green curry) but there is so much more to try! As well as all the colourful tropical fruits you can imagine, why not try some of these lip smackers.
Mieng Khum (meaning ‘one bite wrap’), this is a delicious snack of deep-fried coconut, ginger, garlic, chilli, lime, and peanuts all wrapped in little betel leaf parcels. Try it at the not-for-profit restaurant Cabbages and Condoms (Sukhumvit 12) and support their fantastic social work.
Anything with pork. Literally anything pork from a street food stall. Just too good.
Beef Noodle Soup. But not just any beef noodle soup. At the family-run Wattana Panich (Ekkamai Soi 18) they’ve been stewing this same pot of delicious, rich beef bone broth for 45 years! Also, the goat stew here is excellent.
Jok (pronounced joke) porridge. I’m a big fan of rice porridge for breakfast ever since I briefly lived in Cambodia. Savoury soupy porridge, with pork and a partially cooked egg. Lovely!
And finally, Khanom Buang, for those with a sweet tooth, these crispy pancakes, topped with sticky meringue and flavoured with coconut or candied egg.
3. Visit A Nature Park
The beautiful Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park in Bang Kachao is a lovely day out. Hire a bike, forget you’re in the city and cycle around this natural haven. A little island created by a curve in the Chao Praya River has produced a biodiverse wetland; learn about mangroves, bird watch, observe the canals they’ve created to allow for farming, just take in the fresh air.
To get there take a water taxi for 4THB, from Bang Na Pier to Kamnan Khao Pier. Make sure you test ride your bike – my partners one was really creaky and drove him mad all day!
Well, there you have it, a few ideas for things to do if you’ve got a few days in Bangkok!
Written by Leander Portess