Of all the cities in the world that I had yet to visit, I’d probably heard the most about Bangkok. Friends, family, and bloggers a plenty had told stories, shared photos, and broken down all the do’s and don’ts of visiting the Big Mango. Although I’d never set foot in Thailand before, I felt prepared.
- I was ready for the suffocating humidity thanks to a previous trip to Vietnam.
- I was armed with a pocketful of Thai currency.
- Our accommodations were meticulously researched.
But, no amount of research or pre-trip planning can ever truly replace first-hand experience. Especially, since we were visiting during a very unique and tragic time. Just a few weeks prior, the highly beloved King Bhumibol passed away leaving the people of Thailand in a state of mourning. Grieving their king like a family member, the locals were clothed entirely in black, many even traveling far distances to pay their respects.
Upon arrival in Bangkok, my sister-in-law Faith and I queued for a taxi and soon afterwards arrived at our River District digs for the next two nights.
We loved our vantage point on the river because it meant we got to take longboats and ferries on our full day of temple touring. Similarly dressed in black, we set off to visit the newly re-opened Grand Palace.
We showed up at the palace in a bit of confusion. Everyone was gathering on the sides of the street as if a parade was about to happen. We weren’t sure if we should wait around or not but ultimately we decided to just get our tickets because nobody seemed to know what was going on. And it was at that moment that the skies opened and we experienced a classic Southeast Asian downpour. The rain was so heavy that it bounced off the pavement. We opted to hide and wait, hoping that this would be a short storm. But, after about 45 minutes we gave in and joined the few brave souls slopping around in the puddles.
We wandered the grounds in eerie solitude, getting a unique opportunity to experience the grandeur and cultural significance of the Grand Palace without the masses. And then as we rounded the corner, we saw hundreds of people huddled under cover in silence, paying their respects. We did our best to enjoy our time but after about an hour of trudging around like a couple of drowned rats, we gave up and high-tailed it into one of the only open buildings we could find – The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. It was actually really cool to see the queen’s wardrobe, which seemed like something you’d picture the British royals wearing. On our way out we almost missed the Activity Room, which would have been a tragedy because they let us play dress up!!
That was definitely the turning point for the day because from there it just got better. We sought refuge in a restaurant serving up beautifully plated dishes. And I finally got to check eating Pad Thai in Thailand off my bucket list.
We relaxed by the riverfront for a little while longer so that I could enjoy a dessert popsicle inspired by the Thai flag – delicious and very instagrammable :)
After refilling our tanks we set out for temple #2 and the one that I was most looking forward to seeing – Wat Arun.
We arrived just in time for magic hour and the dreamy light that travel photography dreams are made from. I was absolutely blown away by the immaculate grounds.
We ended the day back at our hotel with free welcome cocktails by the pool while watching the sunset over the river… oh and an authentic thai massage. I could sure get used to this whole vacation thing. The affordable luxury is one of my favourite things about Bangkok.
Bangkok is a big, noisy, chaotic, exciting city, which is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But after one full day of barely scratching the surface, I knew that I wanted more. I could easily envision myself coming back again and again with all of the diverse experiences awaiting me.
And with that, we were off to Koh Chang for some much needed R&R but we’d be back again in a few days to take in a totally different neighbourhood, Sukhumvit. There’s nothing like a roof top pool to make you never want to go back to work.
Our time in Bangkok was brief, but it was enough for me to know that this is my kind of city. I’ll be back… I couldn’t leave if I didn’t believe that.
Have you been to Bangkok? What cities have you visited where you needed more time?