Last year, the budget airline Cebu Pacific Air messed up (long story) my booking on my trip to South Korea. To make up for the stress and sleepless nights, they offered a free short-haul trip to any destination of my choice, valid for 1 year. I had no plans of traveling to Bangkok this year but nobody wants to waste a free ticket!
I have always wanted to see the temples in Thailand so might as well book it for the summer. I called the airline and confirmed a 5-day trip to Thailand in between my annual vacation in the Philippines. The fare is free but I had to shoulder terminal fee and taxes, which was Php1,620.
There are so many things to do in Bangkok like shopping, nightlife, or Muay Thai training. The city is so alive! Here are some of my recommendations:
Stay in a budget hotel. I came across Lemontea Hotel which is a non-smoking hotel with a concept of “Casual, Easy and Fresh” and located at Pratunam area. The receptionists are friendly and a delicious ice cold lemon tea greeted us when we checked in. The room is clean and came with free WiFi, hot shower, and a common laundry room & luggage storage facility. There are lots of shopping opportunities, cheap massage parlours and restaurants in the area and a 7-11 just beside the hotel. We spent a total of AED 835 for 4 nights, this rate includes breakfast.
Enjoy delicious Thai food. Thai cuisine is known for its strong aromatic components and a balance of sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy flavours. I enjoyed my Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Papaya Salad, Green Curry, etc. Food in stalls and night markets are cheap, from AED 20 per dish. Everyday is a new, unique foodie experience.
Take pleasure in eating Tropical Fruits. There’s a wide variety of fresh fruits such as durian, lanzones, rambutan & ripe mangoes while in Thailand. Everyday I devoured Mango Sticky Rice. Durians are a bit pricey but definitely worth it.
Savour their Thai Iced Tea. This refreshing, sweet “dessert” helps soothe the burn when you overload on Thai spice. I tried the famous Cha Tra Mue and thought it was very refreshing. Too bad the service at Siam Paragon was so annoying that I don’t even want to go into detail. Do yourself a favor and stay away from that store.
Have Herby Coolers. I have not tried having Pandan & Lemongrass juice before and I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious & refreshing they are! It is also so easy to recreate – just boil the herbs and add a bit of sugar, and serve with ice. Perfect for battling the scorching heat & humidity in Thailand.
Try the Local Beer. Alcoholic drinks in this side of the world are affordable and easily accessible. In Thailand, local beers Singha and Chang are very popular for the taste and price. Beers can be purchased from convenience stores all over the city. There are also lots of sidewalk bars everywhere, specially near Platinum Mall in Pratunam.
Have a Massage… everyday! A full body massage costs from AED 30 up, while foot spas are as cheap as AED 20 only. There are so many Spas everywhere so we took advantage of this cheap thrill. A good back massage is perfect to get rid of muscle knots on my shoulders (I have a lot!) and just feel relaxed after a long day of sightseeing. I felt like a queen being pampered. I wish massages were this cheap back home!
Take a cooking class. We booked this class at Thai Sompong Cooking School via Klook for AED 101 per person which is inclusive of the class, recipe book, all ingredients, Thai herbal drink and transfer from BTS Chong Nonsi to cooking school. We met up with our group at the station then proceeded to the class located in Silom Road. There we learned how to cook Chicken yellow curry ‘kang-ka-re-kai’, Home made yellow curry paste ‘nam-prik-kang-ka-re’, Spicy prawns with lemongrass salad ‘yum-ta-krai-kung’, Fried noodle with soya sauce with chicken ‘phad-se-ew’, and Mango Sticky rice ‘khow-neuw-ma-muang’.
The class was very informative and so much fun. I highly recommend this! We met other tourists, young and old, from different parts of the world. I now know how to create some of my favourite Thai dishes, especially the Chicken Yellow Curry.
Ride a Tuk-Tuk. One of my favourite things to do when in a foreign country is to ride the local form of transportation. I have been warned about scammers though, so be extra vigilant and always agree on a fare before you get on board. The average rate was AED 20 per trip.
Take a Canal Boat trip. From Pratunam, take the scenic route to Jim Thompson House via canal boat, an alternative mode of transportation from the usual walking and riding a tuk-tuk at a very cheap price of AED 2.
Shop at Pratunam Market. I am not big on clothes shopping but I love elephant prints so I had to buy the comfortable pants that look more like pajamas. I love the material – perfect for Dubai’s hot summer days.
Check out the Floating Market. I booked through Klook for AED 74 for a half day tour in Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. It is not ideal place for buying souvenirs, the price given is usually marked up higher than in the malls.
When I booked the deal via Klook earlier this year, it said we can have the option to be dropped off to Grand Palace after the tour. There were 4 of us (out of 10) in the van who were expecting that, as we thought it was part of the day’s itinerary. Unfortunately our guide Peter said it was not possible because we needed to avoid traffic. We ended up not going to Grand Palace at all as I was disappointed with how it turned out. Lesson learned: clarify all details & read the fine print prior to booking. It was, at least, an experience to see the floating market but don’t expect too much.
Visit the Temples. The temples are a delight to explore with their intricate designs. We were able to explore Wat Pho (home to the famous reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun. The temples are uniquely Thai and so colourful. I took plenty of pictures!
Eat Bugs if you dare. When in Thailand, ingesting one of these creepy crawlies is a rite of passage. If you are keen to try the common crunchy cockroaches, grasshoppers, spiders, silk worms, and the more exotic scorpions & tarantulas, then you’re at the right place. While many may find the thought nasty and hard to stomach, you may be surprised to learn that some of them actually taste really good! It is a different experience altogether.
Take a Muay Thai class. Rod and I were both not allowed to do any contact sports because he injured his right shoulder from a sports accident, while my right hand is still recovering from 3 surgeries (yes, I’ve had 3 major surgeries after breaking my wrist bones). But we were in Thailand and we might as well go but “take it easy” on the punches. The class cost us AED 66 per person.
This has got to be the most affordable trips in Asia compared to major cities that I have been to like Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. Bangkok, like Manila, Nepal & Vietnam, offers good deals on shopping, transportation, hotels and food if you know where to look. It’s important to do some research,
I spent more or less AED 1,500 for the entire trip, which is a very good rate for a 5-day holiday.
I hope this inspired you to go on a Bangkok getaway. If you have been, what are your fond memories of Thailand?