Monday, 26 September 2011
Bangkok: Do's and Don'ts!
Our trip to SE Asia was equal parts fascinating, exciting and challenging. Although it wasn't our first visit to the region, it was certainly the longest we'd spent in one trip there, and the intensity of visiting five countries and all they had to offer made it a memorable experience. From the thrills of the ancient sites and beautiful landscape, to the frustration of the unrelenting heat, it certainly had the ability to bring out extremes in us.
Bangkok was frantic and busy, yet a jewel of SE Asia. Time to kick off the 'do's and don'ts' with this royal centre...
- Eat from every possible street stall you can find. Although I am sure there are many wonderful restaurants in the city, we never tired of the fragrant, evocative smells of fresh Pad Thai being flashed fried in woks, crunchy corn on the cob and spring rolls smothered with spicy chilli sauce. Even thinking about it now is making my mouth water...
- Try to visit a range of the very different areas of Bangkok. The touristy streets are buzzing with life and lights, Chinatown is friendly, extending down winding side streets, and the river side is quiet and a temporary relief from the heat. Each area has its own charms.
- Experience some of the very modern amenities alongside the ancient draws. We spent one afternoon at the cinema, snuggled into the most comfortable, spacious seats possible in a near-empty theatre, for a fraction of the price back home.
- Forget about practicalities when packing. Respectful clothing is expected at temples, which translates into ankle-length bottoms and shoulders covered (and not the usual covering up with a pashmina - they aren't counted as covering up). You can borrow items at sites, but you never know who has already worn them, and in sweaty, sticky heats, it's not a nice prospect! Also, if travelling during rainy season as we were, a travel umbrella is indispensible for the sudden downpours. When it rains, it really rains.
- Be put off by the crowds. Bangkok was heaving with people when we visited, and that was during low season. Getting a feel for the busiest hours, and making the weather work for you ensures quieter trips to the big sights and more breathing space when wandering around.