We were warned by several people before going to Bangkok that we’d only want to stay for a couple of nights, but after spending our original two days vegetating around the pool we ended up booking two more there. About halfway through our stay though it became apparent why people had said this – Bangkok is INTENSE to say the least!
In all honesty we didn’t see too much of Bangkok. After having spent three weeks sleeping in dorms and sharing bathrooms, we went all out and treated ourselves to an amazing hotel with a rooftop bar and pool (Khaosan Palace) which proved very difficult to leave. This was on Khao San Road, so right in the heart of the main backpacker’s area. There are tons of hostels here, but I have a feeling that staying in a dorm amidst the craziness of Khao San Road would be a total nightmare. Being in our own room though the noise from the street didn’t really bother us!
Khao San Road itself looks like any nightlife strip you’d see in the likes of Magaluf – loads of lively bars and clubs, cheap drinks, and hordes of other westerners. There are also lots of stalls selling cheap boho style clothes and jewellery, so it’s a really good place to grab a bargain! The thing that really put me off of Khao San Road though, and kind of Bangkok in general, is the amount you get hassled there. Be it day or night, the moment we left our hotel we’d be hounded by tuk tuk and taxi drivers who would continue to follow us down the road and sometimes even pull at our clothes when we said we didn’t need a lift. You’re also approached by salesman every few steps trying to flog anything from suits to hammocks, and even sitting in bars people will come up to your table and try and force various souvenirs upon you. One woman literally started whipping me with this weird plastic stick because I said I didn’t want to buy it?! Khao San Road is definitely the worst place for this but we experienced it everywhere we went in Bangkok. It gets SO annoying after a couple of days and led to us becoming hermits around our lovely pool where nobody could bother us!
There’s another backpacker’s road that runs parallel with Khao San called Soi Rambuttri and it’s like a different world. We preferred it by miles – the bars are far more laid back and much cheaper, the restaurants are better and there’s minimal street hassle. It’s like Khao San’s better behaved little sibling. There are still plenty of places to drink here though and our favourites were a couple of campervans turned bars that park on the road and set tables and chairs outside.
One other part of Bangkok I would recommend is Chinatown, the reason for this being seafood. I love seafood and there’s an abundance of seafood restaurants and food stalls in this area. Our dinner out there was actually a bit of a disaster – we both ordered crab and neither of us knew how to eat it – but this gave us an excuse to sample some of the street food there too. And street food is a big deal in Bangkok. On Khao San Road all the stalls sell basically the same thing (pad thai or chicken kebabs) but the further you venture out the more variety you’ll find. Approach it with caution though! I got really sick from eating street food which resulted in us losing our last day in Bangkok as well as our first few in Chiang Mai. So just use your judgement to decide which ones look a bit ropey – i.e swerve the shellfish that’s been sat out in the sun all day!
So that concludes my very inexpert guide to Bangkok. We didn’t really do much, but after a month of travelling cities and being on the go every day, that was just fine by me. We may have to go back to Bangkok at some point on our travels to use their airport, and if we do I’ll make the effort to see more of the city and give it another chance as my first impressions weren’t fantastic. If you disagree with me and love Bangkok, let me know in the comments!
UPDATE!! I have been back to Bangkok – several times – since writing this post, and I can confirm my first impressions were WRONG. Dismiss everything you’ve just read, Bangkok is amazing. You should definitely go, and before you do read my updated guide to Bangkok here.