July 1, 2015 | talktraveltome | Leave a comment Like most people visiting Thailand, our first stop was The Big Mango! We’re not entirely sure why it’s called that, but after spending 4 days exploring Bangkok we think the nickname is fitting. Like a mango, at first glance Bangkok is a tough city to dig into, but once you figure out you’re way around and take a bite out of it, it sure is sweet! To be honest, when we first arrived in Bangkok we weren’t really sure what to expect. We’ve heard many mixed reviews, and a lot of the research that we did before hand ended up mentioning taxi scams, exotic nightlife, and endless traffic. In fact, all the articles mentioning taxi scams ended up giving one of us a bit of a taxi paranoia that lead to a minor meltdown on day one (I’ll give you a hint, as Frank Sinatra would say, she’s tall and tan and young and lovely). Luckily for us, calmer heads prevailed and we ended up having a great time exploring the capital of Thailand. Bangkok is not like most of the cities that we’ve visited in the sense that it doesn’t have just one downtown central area. The city is broken up into sections, each of which has it’s own defining characteristics and unique things to see and experience. It’s a city with a pulse and wrapping your fingers around it can take you a day or two. With that said, it’s a city we definitely enjoyed and would recommend for anyone that’s adventurous and looking to experience one of Asia’s most well know destinations. To help make the Big Mango that much sweeter for you, we’ve put together our first hand experiences on how to get the most from your stay in this one-of-a-kind city. Our Guide to Bangkok Getting Around Depending on your preferred mode of transportation and budget, there are several ways to get around Bangkok: bright pink taxis, the famous tuk tuks, a very clean and efficient MRT system and an above ground Skyrail. Taxis: As we mentioned earlier, if you do some research on Thailand you will see a plethora of people who mention to watch out for taxi scams. We personally didn’t have any issues with this, and it seems that all you need to do in order to avoid any problems is make sure the taxi driver has his/her meter on. Most of the scams originate by the driver not running their meter and over charging you at your destination. In general taxi’s are very affordable, however in order to avoid the congestion throughout the city streets, we also took the MRT whenever it was convenient. MRT: The MRT system in Bangkok reminded us of the MRT in Singapore. It was very well organized, extremely clean and easy to navigate. You can buy your ticket at any station to get around, however, instead of the paper ticket most of us are used to, they use a small black, plastic coin. Once you’ve scanned it to get on the train don’t lose it! You’ll need it at your final destination to leave the station. Tuk Tuk: Driving around Bangkok in a Tuk Tuk is a must! If you’ve never seen one before, it’s essentially a motorbike with a small carriage attached. They’re a great way to get a close-up view of the city, and they contribute to Bangkok’s high tempo character. Be sure to negotiate your rate before getting in as they don’t run on meters. Skyrail: We actually never got the opportunity to use the Skyrail, but from what we’ve heard it’s a great way to get an aerial view of Bangkok. It does however have limited stations when compared to the MRT. Top Attractions: Our Must See and Do 1. Grand Palace: One of the most well known tourist attractions, the Grand Palace is a must do for any first-time visitor. Built in 1782, it’s a stunning example of classic Thai architecture featuring incredible attention to detail. It consists of a huge complex with multiple impressive buildings, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Price: 500 Thai Bhat per person Quick Tip: Leave your short shorts at home (both for men and women), because you must wear pants that cover your knees. However, if you can’t resists wearing your daisy dukes around Bangkok, they do offer free rental clothes at the entrance. You just have to leave a 200 Bhat deposit that you get back upon your exit. Quick Tip #2: When approaching the Grand Palace we were stopped by many people that seemed to be offering us free advice. They told us things like the Grand Palace was closed today, there was a ceremony and we couldn’t go, that we were going in the wrong direction… All of which weren’t true. Our advice: just ignore them and keep walking. The Grand Palace is open everyday and if you do need advice we would recommend asking someone who didn’t approach you first or one of the guards/police officers outside the Palace. 2. Wat Pho: Home to the famous 46 meter long Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho is another must see. It’s only a few blocks from the Grand Palace making it a great place to visit either before or after. Although it’s not quite as large as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho does offer an incredible complex lined with nearly 400 gilded Buddha images! Pho real! Price: 100 Thai Bhat Quick Tip: See Quick Tip #2 for Grand Palace 3. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn): So to be honest, we didn’t have time to visit this temple, but are still including it on our list as we have it on good authority that this is one of the more impressive temples. It’s right on the other side of the river from The Grand Palace and Wat Pho, so it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area. Price: 50 Thai Bhat Click here to see more about Wat Arun. 4. China Town At Night: Visiting China Town was one of our favorite experiences in Bangkok. When the sun goes down, this area of the city comes alive! We wouldn’t recommend going before 6:00pm as the street vendors are just getting set-up, but once their in full swing there are a ton of food stalls to choose from. We ate at T & K Seafood and would absolutely recommend it… look for the dudes in the green shirts! The food was great, very reasonably priced, and it was an eating experience we won’t soon forget. Per usual, we tried it all. We devoured 3 stuffed crabs, one fried crab, 4 grilled prawns, a dozen cockles, and a dozen sea snails… Everything was delicious! 5. Chatuchak Weekend Market: Please plan your trip to Bangkok to include at least one Saturday or Sunday. To put it bluntly… this is the mac daddy of all markets. With over 8,000+ stalls, it would truly take eternity to visit every corner of this market, but being avid lovers of markets, we were in heaven. The Chatuchak Weekend Market, is a breathe of fresh air as it actually sells an array of quality products, from trendy clothing to unique handmade nicknacks you wouldn’t find anywhere else! Also, unlike most other markets we’ve been to, the store salespeople aren’t in your face or pushy at all. 6. Lumpini Park: To get away from the busy streets of Bangkok, we suggest taking a stroll in Lumpini Park. It’s easy to see why some people refer to it as the Thai version of Central Park, and like Central Park it’s a great place to take a bike ride, especially in the morning. You might even see some of the locals practicing their Tai Chi. Stop looking at me Swan! 7. Rooftop Dinner/Bar: If you want a different perspective of Bangkok, find a rooftop bar and enjoy a drink overlooking the city. It’s an awesome view and great way to spend a night. We ate dinner at the top of the Sofitel So Bangkok restaurant, Park Society, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. 8. Ride a Tuk Tuk: We mentioned Tuk Tuk’s in “How To Get Around” earlier, but we had to include it as an attraction as well. A trip to Bangkok just isn’t complete without cruising around town in a Tuk Tuk. 9. Flower Market: Like flowers? Then you’ll love the flower market. It’s literally several blocks filled with nothing but flower stores. We’ve never seen so many flowers and so many colors in such a small stretch of road… So go ahead and stop to smell the roses! 10. Terminal 21 Mall: Normally we wouldn’t include a single mall in our top attractions for a city. After all, we come from what we used to consider the mall capital of the world in New Jersey (that was before we went to Singapore), but Terminal 21 wasn’t like any mall we had ever visited. The entire mall is set up like an airport with each floor themed as a different city. So get your passport ready, because one minute you could be walking through the London Underground looking for new a pair of shoes, and the next be walking down the streets of Rome searching for a new shirt… It’s the closest thing to teleportation we’ve come across so far. Accommodation During our time in Bangkok, we had the opportunity to kick our feet up at Sofitel So Bangkok. Being one of three Sofitel So’s in the world it’s hard to describe this hotel in a sentence, but like Charlie when he first walked in the Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, we were in awe and amazement. Speaking of chocolate factories, they pretty much have one in their lobby, called the Chocolab where they have a Cocoa Rush Hour everyday… I think Nick died and went to chocolate heaven. Welcome drink! The hotel itself is a perfect combination of modernity, local culture, and natural artwork. Most of the time when we stay at a big hotel it has the same feel no matter where you are in the world; this isn’t the case with Sofitel So Bangkok. They’ve made the local culture such an important part of their hotel that they hired five of the top Thai designers to incorporate the essence of Bangkok into the buildings design. This lead to the Sofitel So’s 5 element theme which permeates throughout the entire building. Keeping with the 5 elements you have the option of staying in either a Wood, Earth, Water or Metal themed room (fire is used throughout the hotel lobbies and Red Oven restaurant). Each theme is uniquely designed by a different artist and all of the rooms are immaculate. We stayed in the wood element and absolutely loved it. View from our room! Besides the rooms, the amenities are also top notch. The pool, which is located on the 10th floor, has incredible views and hosts a monthly So Pool Party, which just so happened to be going on while we were staying there. On the last Saturday of each month, the Sofitel So Bangkok throws a pool party with local DJs and it’s an absolute blast! It’s like being at your favorite club but your 10 stories above the capital of Thailand and there’s a pool! What could be better?! If you’re in Bangkok while one of the So Pool Parties are going on we’d recommend adding it to the top of your list of things to do. All in all, our stay at the Sofitel So Bangkok couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s even located in a perfect place, nestled right near Lumpini Park and only a stones throw from the nearest MRT. Bangkok kept us on our toes, but that’s part of what makes this city so great. We arrived unsure of what to expect, but ended up leaving the Big Mango as big fans! Thank you Sofitel So Bangkok for hosting us during out stay in Bangkok. As always, our opinions are our own as we Talk Travel.