After a 12 hour trip from Amsterdam, we arrived in Bangkok. First impression is quite overwhelming. This city is buzzing, hot, crowdy and fast. You don't know where to look, there's much going on. But the moment you decide to just go with the flow, you'll experience the nice vibe this city has to offer.
When reading other blogs about Bangkok, lots of people gave the advise to stay here for just a few days. As this city is so busy and impressive, a few days would make you feel overwhelmed and ready to travel to a more relaxed and calmer place.
So we decided to book 2 nights in a hostel. We only planned 2 things; visiting the Grand Palace and walk around Chinatown. The rest we would just go with the flow and see what the city brings. First day we walked around, saw some crazy traffic jams, eat tasty vegan soup and went to bed early as we were tired of the jetlag. Next day we visited the temples and Chinatown.
The Grand Palace
If there is one must-see sight that no visit to Bangkok would be complete without, it's the dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city's most famous landmark. Built in 1782 - and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. Beautiful decorated temples, with so many details, you don't know where to start looking at.
The entrance fee for tourists is 500 Baht a person, which is around €12.85/$14.35.
The grounds of the Grand Palace, hold many different temples and gardens. Below you can see the map.
We arrived around one o'clock in the afternoon, not the best timing to visit a temple as you'll be definitely not the only one out there. Many tourist groups from all over Asia walked around in guided tours. Yellow flags waving around and megaphones dictated the people where to look at. When we walked a bit further, more to the other corners of the area, we found more peaceful surroundings. We made lots of pictures of all the beautiful gold details and decorations.
When you want to enter the tempels, there are some rules to follow. Women and Men must cover there shoulders and knees. We had to put on trousers or wear a sarong. A t-shirt or blouse covered our shoulders. When entering the temples, we had to take off our shoes. When sitting down, you were supposed to sit in the 'mermaid' pose, both legs bended to one side. Never turn the bottom of your feet to the buddha and sit in silence.
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is a must-do for any first-time visitor in Bangkok. It's one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 metres long and is covered in gold leaf. It’s an easy ten minute walk between here and the Grand Palace, and we recommend coming to Wat Pho second, because even though the golden Buddha here is just as popular many people don’t take the time to wander around the rest of the complex so the experience tends to be far more relaxing.
The entrance fee for tourists is 100 Baht a person, which is around €2.57/$2.87.
In the temples you see lots of flowering offers. As the buddhist believe flowers are the most beautiful things in the world. So here, they are offering the most beautiful things in the world to the Buddha. And when they fade, it is also a reminder that things of the world also fade – so it’s reminds us of the teaching that “Whatever is of the nature to arise is also of the nature to cease”.
The lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment. The second meaning, which is related to the first is purification. It resembles the purifying of the spirit which is born into murkiness. The third meaning refers to faithfulness. Those who are working to rise above the muddy waters will need to be faithful followers.
When entering a temple, the smell of incense goes together. Incense can have a calming effect on the mind. So when we offer incense we want to offer our own peace of mind to the Buddha. We want to offer the Buddha a little bit more of the patience that we have shown in our daily lives to the Buddha, a little bit more calmness, a little bit more peace of mind.
When walking around the city, you'll see a constant variety of modern and traditional settings. Around the modern coffee shops we see lots of young people hanging out outside, to acces the free wifi spots this shops offer. Also we use this places to have a good coffee and have a moment to link up with our family and friends.
When walking around the bust city, serene places pop up by any surprise. Kids playing outside, and having their gym class in the courtyards. The kids wearing the cutest school uniforms and are playing with simple things as a basket and a ball. When we sit their watching those kids play, a small arguing took place. When the teacher came to get redress about what was going on, all kids agree and pointed out to the same problem child:) The teacher let them say sorry to each other and by accepting this apologie they putted their hands together in a namaste greeting.
Visiting China Town is a definitely must when being in Bangkok. The best way to describe this part of Bangkok is as 'Food Heaven'. The easiest way to get there is by boat, as there is no subway in this part of the city. Arrive around 7 p.m and you will see hundreds of street food stalls getting ready for the night. They prepare the food on the streets, which gives tasty smells and a great atmosphere.
Mostly locals, with a few tourist join tables with small plastic stools. Stir fried veggies and noodles, fresh squeezed juices, roasted chestnuts, all worth a try. We both had a plate full of stir fried morning glory, rice and baked eggs. The total costs where about 80 baht a person, which is about €2.05 or $2.30. At another corner we drinked a fresh squeezed pomegranate juice for 40 baht, which is about €1.04 or $1.15 a bottle.
We loved having our first meeting with Bangkok city. After 3 days we left with positive impression of Thailand, up to the next city, Chiang Mai.