City Visit: 36 hours in Bangkok, Thailand

A visit to Bangkok, Thailand is such a bizarre collision of traditional history, new school contemporary, and plain outrageous odd ball activities and behaviours. A visit here can consist of historic sights, temples or modern day debauchery. I don’t think that there are many cities on the globe that can offer this amount of diversity in any modern day adult sightseeing visit. These are the sights that we saw in our thirty six hours in Bangkok, Thailand.


This post is one chapter in our Around the World in Star Alliance First Class via China, Thailand and Spain. This trip was booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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City Visit: Thirty Six Hours in Bangkok, Thailand


Introduction:

Our 36 hours in Bangkok took us on a quick, self guided tour around the city. I had never been to Bangkok city before, having just changed planes at the old Don Muang airport in the eighties as a child. Bangkok was a fantastic city to explore. With street food almost everywhere, temples and a mix of new and modern in between, it was the ultimate Asian city to simply get lost in. I wish my stomach was able to handle the food of the cart because it seemed like a foodie’s paradise. If you’re not worried about a little dirt, and can handle seeing the sights of a world sometimes less fortunate, I would encourage you to all to visit.

We started off around the hotel. The concrete jungle of Bangkok is pretty apparent in many parts of town.

MBK Center

The concrete jungle is set in between street markets full of local food. This makes for a great contrast between old world and new world.

Street Markets of Bangkok

In comparison to China, there were no good shopping deals found here, Ms WT73 announced, “”Their prices are way out of line – $50 for a knock off leather bag, who are they kidding?” Indeed, the untrained casual purse observer that I was, the displays, nor the quality, of handbags were as impressive as the Silk Market in China. Several of the bags had poor cuts of pleather with visible rippling, unlike the perfect Chinese counterfeiters who are able to copy almost anything perfectly if they set their mind to it. 

Sirocco Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel:

After the first day of arrival we headed over to the Sirocco Sky Bar at the Lebua Hotel. Aside from being on the regular top ten lists for roof top bars, it was also set in the movie “Hangover 2”. As silly as Hollywood can be sometimes, that movie became the anthem of our Bangkok stopover. It was a gorgeous place for a sunset drink.

Two sunset drinks here set us back $44 USD. It was a strange experience to be perched on the edge of the 65th floor building sipping mojitos with a tiny railing holding you back.

Riverside Sunset views from the Sky Bar

Riding the Mae Nam Chao Phraya by Riverboat:

The next day, we took a river boat up the Mae Nam Chao Phraya to Wat Phra Kaew. This was a great way to see a few sights and get in a water look at one of the worlds larger SE Asian cities. The river’s name translates into Rivers of the King. The river is a packed highway of boats, transports and the backbone of Thailand all set between high rise towers and run down warehouses. We had some views over Wat Arun Buddhist Temple on our way up the river.

Wat Arun Buddist Temple

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew:

We made our way to the main attraction for the evening, a self guided tour around the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. This collection of complexes is among the most revered in Thailand.

We also happened to catch the changing of the guard of the local ceremonial guard.

Visiting Wat Pho Buddist Temple:

We further visited some other sights near the complex. We stopped in by Wat Pho, which is almost adjacent to the Grand Palace Complex. The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46 m long reclining Buddha. The temple is considered the earliest centre for public education in Thailand, and the marble illustrations and inscriptions placed in the temple for public instructions has been recognised by UNESCO.

Wat Pho
A 46 m reclining buddha

This was an impressive set of sights and well worth a visit when you were in Bangkok.

Calling on Khaosan Road:

We closed out the afternoon by going to visit the Khaosan Road. It’s a bit of a tourist destination. It’s known for most of the cheaper massage chairs and handicrafts, paintings, clothes, local fruits, unlicensed CDs, DVDs, a wide range of fake IDs (for only $40 USD), used books, and other backpacker items. After dark, bars open, music is played, food hawkers sell barbecued insects and other exotic snacks for tourists. This might be your idea of heaven or a worst nightmare.

Khaosan Road
Massage Chairs on Khaosan Road
Street Stalls and Vendors

Overall:

Bangkok has so many things to see and really represents an interesting mix between old and new worlds in SE Asia. There are many things that can be seen here, between temples of national importance, to outdoor street markets, to markets attracting most modern backpacker travelers. Sprinkle in some five star hotels at a discount price, along with a few exotic roof bars and you have an unbeatable eccentric combination that doesn’t exist elsewhere on this globe.


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