Amazing Bangkok Day Trips without Tour Guide
At some point, you will either meet someone who’s been to Bangkok, plans to visit Bangkok or has had a flight transfer there. The big mango is everything you’d expect from the number one most visited destination in the world; delicious food, friendly people and loads of things to see and do. People’s opinion on Bangkok is divided like coriander, love it or hate it. When I arrived, it was extraordinarily hot. I had to chew ice-cubes as an attempt to bring my body temperature down. Check out Bangkok temperature and humidity here.
Leaving the airport, I was hounded by taxi drivers spouting “where you go?” and “boom boom lady”. Tired from my long flight, I slid into the back seat and asked to go to Khao San Road, the most popular tourist location of Bangkok. Khao San is also beneficial for finding vans for day trips, but if you want to save money, you can also find cheaper rates at victory monument.
Learning about Thai Culture on Khao San Road
Khao San is relatively quiet during the day, but at night, it’s a whole different scenario. I popped over to Shamrock’s bar, Thai staff were in green uniform and incredibly welcoming. After a few Chang beers, I enquired about the dos and don’ts of Thailand with an expat who sat nearby. She told me some interesting things that I now offer to you as advice:
• Don’t ever shout or scream, Thais hate loud noise.
• Never say anything bad about the royal family.
• ALWAYS take off shoes before going into someone’s home.
• Never touch someone’s head or point with your feet.
• Female expats tend to go to Khao San to pick up western guys.
In Thai culture, your head is the most sacred part of the body. So avoid touching Thai people’s heads (though why would you do that anyway). Also, feet are filthy or dirty so try not to touch them in public.
Khao San hosts a large number of bars and clubs and a few meters outside, street food vendors are conveniently waiting to serve you some tasty dishes. Phad Thai and Phad Seeu were plentiful, but as I ventured deeper into Khao San, I discovered some very unusual street food dishes which seemed more like a commodity than anything:
When you are chilling with your Chang beer, a Thai might approach you with a scorpion on a stick. Don’t worry though, it’s been deep fried and is probably dead. It tastes like eating coal, and it’s not worth the 50 baht price.
• Dancing Shrimp
Basically, this dish is alive, and when the food vendor squeezes lime juice over the shrimps, they start jumping. That’s why they named it dancing shrimp. Surprisingly the taste wasn’t too bad, very crunchy.
• Silk Worms
Deep fried and seasoned with Thai spices, if you can put the idea of eating worms out of your mind, these crunchy critters are ok.
Apparently, these have almost as much protein as chicken, if only they tasted like it.
Not many locals sell cooked tarantulas as they are usually found in the north of Thailand and hence are expensive in comparison to other weird street food. However, the taste is palpable.
It was 11 pm, and I was exhausted however the party never stops on this quaint road. You can still hear loud music even while in your hotel room, so choose where to stay carefully.
Bangkok’s little island
My first-day trip was to Koh Kret, an island north of Bangkok. They manufacture their own beer called Chit. There was also a few coffee shops, ceramic stores and a spooky fortune teller who somehow knew I was a foreigner. The best way to get around the island is by bike, and it took me 20 minutes to travel round it once. During that time, I met lots of friendly locals, snacked on food and played football with a few kids. I got back on a bus and ventured to my next destination, Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya was the original Bangkok
If you enjoy old ruins, archaic temples and a random elephant camp then head to Ayutthaya. You only really need to spend a few hours there. Tuk Tuk drivers will stop by, offering to give you an authentic and exclusive tour or as they say “I DRIVE YOU AROUND NOW!!!” Don’t jump in though. They will drive you to the middle of nowhere and try and extort more money from you.
I did manage to track down an English speaking tour guide who told me some interesting things about the once vibrant city:
• Ayutthaya was the biggest city in the world in 1700
• There’s a non-profit elephant village nearby where you can play with the big creatures
• You can get a ride down the local floating market and eat boat noodles
Pattaya: the home of boom boom
It takes 3 hours to get to Pattaya from Bangkok and while the city is fairly quiet during the day, with many old expats floating around with trophy wives. At night, Pattaya is a spectacle of craziness. I saw prostitutes pushing old men in wheelchairs, drunk Russians fighting on the street and hustlers trying to sell me hammocks.
The main attraction is walking street where there are a few street performers, dozens of bars and the naughty stuff too such as ping pong shows. I was curious to know what a ping pong show was. I then decided to get inside and instantly regretted it because people were smoking inside!
Aside from all the hookers and old men, Pattaya does have a few cool places to visit. I went to the art illusion museum, loads of funky pics that you can kind of interact with to take a cool photo. There is also the monkey training centre where you can witness monkeys perform tasks on demand, it was a freaky experience. Watching monkeys bring you coconuts was nothing compared to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. With 300 or so weird items such as a mask made from human skin or torture devices, you can understand why I didn’t spend too much time there.
Have you ever been to Thailand? Get in touch and lemme know what you think about the country 🙂