“You’re flight no longer exists,” isn’t something you want to hear one hour before boarding your flight to New Year’s in Thailand. But as luck would have it, that’s exactly what we heard and that was exactly the case. And just like that, in Manila’s airport with no hotel plans, we took a detour to a city I’ve always secretly been fascinated by. My love affair with Thailand started with its food, but Bangkok entranced me in a way I didn’t think possible. For a bustling Asian city, it didn’t enervate me at every corner. Instead, the loud charm and vibrant street life engulfed me in a unique feeling, grateful for this happenstance experience.
People either seem to love or hate Bangkok. With a rebellious reputation preceding it, intimidating size and a jarring mix of modern and ancient, Bangkok is many fascinating things all rolled into one. It peaked every sense of mine. It’s loud, colorful, fragrant and so incredibly delicious. Sure, the tourist trail involves some dodgy sights, but Bangkok is a pleasant surprise waiting to be unraveled. It’s dynamic, it’s exciting. Hot pink taxis, makeshift food carts, tuk-tuks, saffron robed monks walking the streets barefoot, massage and spas permeating the city; all of this is normal in Bangkok. Some say that the charm is gone, left behind in the glory days of the city, but I completely disagree. There’s definitely a charm about Bangkok despite the city’s rapid growth and reputation of sleaze. To really sample a taste of this, Old Town is the place to stay, especially if you only have two or three days.
The highlight for me in all of Thailand was the incredible food. It goes without saying, but what a culinary awakening! Lemon grass, basil, mint, spices, vegetable curries and more. Even walking around, the succulent street food called my name: Pad Thai, grilled meats, fresh fruits, Kanom Buang, fried rice…All of it made dining in restaurants practically unnecessary. I can still smell the jasmine and smoking street food permeating Old Town.
FOOD And Talingchan floating market:
Old Town Highlights:
*Walking the small streets with colonial architecture
*Visiting the Talingchan Floating Market on the canal tour is more than worth it. It’s not the famous floating market outside of the city, but it has plenty of food stalls to choose from. It was the highlight of Bangkok for me. The tour offers respite from the modern, inner-city on a tour that takes you on the Chao Phraya River, once known as the Venice of the east. Glide past alligators, houses on stilts, temples, and a large water highway for an hour and a half.
*Thai massage: Different than any massage I’ve ever had, Thai massage focuses on stretching, pulling and rhythmic movement to de-stress you. My masseuse was a hefty woman who climbed up on my back without warning; don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!
*Seeing the Grand Palace. A decadent, gold-plated and meticulously designed marvel. It’s vast and impressive. A must-see. Get there early and wear modest clothing (no shorts, skirts or shoulders showing), the lines were unbelievable past 10:30am.
Warehouse Hotel Bare, minimal and modern. This hotel decor takes its guests into an atmosphere of chic design that really feels and looks like a warehouse. It’s affordable, comfortable, well located in the heart of Old Town and they offer a plentiful breakfast.