Give Me Bangers and Mash Anytime

July 26, 2007 by

Asia, Places to Go, Suggested Itineraries

It’s no wonder Bangkok, affectionately known as ‘Bangers’ by the expat community, is so popular with first time travelers to Asia. I once heard it referred to as ‘Asia for Dummies’ (inspired by the famous series of computer self-help books) and I monks_sunset.jpgcouldn’t agree with the description more. Out of all the major cities in Asia I’ve been lucky enough to see, Bangkok is the hands-down winner of the ‘has excellent infrastructure setup for travelers of all budgets, making it one of the easiest to get around, and provides a plethora of cultural experiences‘ award.

For those who relish the madness of Asia, a day in Bangkok can still provide the same chaotic mash of life that you might see on a New Delhi street, or present the same enjoyable problems as trying to cross the street through a sea of scooters in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). For me these unusual experiences is what traveling to Asia is all about, however, if this chaos is not for you and you want to navigate the tuk-tuk littered streets in more comfort then read on! These are my 5 absolute must-do experiences in Bangkok that can be booked and confirmed before you even land in Thailand.

1 – See a temple – Grand Palace complex

Regal Thai architecture mixed with a Buddhist flavor, this is Bangkok‘s main tourist highlight. If you only have enough time to do one thing in Bangkok make sure you visit the Grand Palace complexes Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which, surprisingly, contains an Emerald Buddha! Seriously though, this 45 centimeter figurine is the most sacred religious artifact in Thailand and was carved from just one piece of Jade. Go check it out, you only need half a day.

2 – Hit the water - Chao Phraya River & Floating Markets

Where there is water there’s life. Bangkok residents regularly commute on the Chao Phraya to and from their rice fields or even to get to their family and friends places. Cruising the river during the day allows you to see this vivid life on the river, especially if you choose a trip to the floating markets, as well as the major temples of Bangkok such as Wat Arun. It’s even prettier at night when enjoyed with delicious Thai food on a Bangkok dinner cruise!

elephant_camp.jpg3 – Ride an elephant

Everyone wants to ride an elephant, don’t they? Well here’s your chance and there are plenty of opportunities to ride them in Thailand. See them at Sampran Elephant Ground and Zoo just outside of Bangkok, where you’ll probably learn more than you needed to know about Thailand‘s most loved animal. There’s also a really cool opportunity to ride them in a more natural setting on your way home from Khao Yai National Park. Nothing feels more adventurous than when your beast gets ‘off-the-beaten’ track and into the water. Ooh yeah.

4 – Catch a Cabaret show

Hey, you’re in Bangkok, one of the most ‘exotic’ cities in the world. The nightlife is legendary and you don’t want to be that person who talks about it from hearsay. Do yourself a favor and go see one of these very professionally performed shows. Do it – you know you want to…

5 – Get Out of Town!

By the time you’ve done tips 1 to 4 you’ll understand why getting out of Bangkok is at number 5. Cities are always cool fun, but for me getting a glimpse of a colorful culture that I’ve only ever seen on the pages of National Geographic gives me that natural high that makes traveling to non-western places addictive. Head north, young man (as they say – sorry girls, I mean you too) to the dense, jungle hills of Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai . You can fly up there and back so you don’t need a lot of time, you just need to plan it wisely (book before you go!). My top pick, and I do love this one as it sounds soooo adventurous, head to the border town of Mae Hong Sorn from Chiang Mai to see the women of the Long Neck Karens (can you tell this isn’t their traditional name?) and even possibly cross the border for an hour into Burma. I’ll let you decide whether crossing is kosher, I’m just here to let you know you can do it.

-Brad Atwal


3 Responses to “Give Me Bangers and Mash Anytime”

  1. Ken Says:

    Hi Brad I would add my two favorite things in Bangkok – eating and getting a massage. I had the chance a few months back to take a cooking class at the Baipai Thai COoking School in Bangkok ( THe class was great and the food – fantastic. After gourging myself on Green Curry, I lazed away the afternoon with a Thai foot Massage. A perfect Bangkok Day! Ken

  2. Brad Says:

    Sawadee krup, Ken – sounds like you know how to enjoy yourself. Good point with the Baipai Thai cooking school. Thai cooking classes are extremely popular and well worth putting on your top 5 if you lurrrve thai food. more of a red curry man myself, but i’m still with ya on those thai foot massages. bit painful at times though! ciao – brad

  3. Notesy Says:

    Saigon is still called Saigon, dude. Unless you’re a communist, that is.

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