Bangkok was my first acquaintance with Southeast Asia. I never thought of myself that I would go to Thailand. A country ruined by tourist, I thought. A cheap flight ticket, however, seduced me to Bangkok. Eventually, I started to love Bangkok, but despite that, I like to stay away from massive tourism. Do you also rather not drown between tourist? Then, I have some good alternative Bangkok tips for you.
A good place to stay: Siam Journey Guesthouse
In my opinion, Siam Journey Guesthouse is the best place to stay in Bangkok. It is a small hostel with three dormitories and is ran by travelers who work there as volunteers. Siam Journey, stands in a neighborhood with small streets and friendly residents. The hostel is calm and perfect for travelers who don’t want to party all day but like to meet people. The food street is within 2 minutes walking distances where you can fill your stomach with delicious Thai food. The only tourist you will encounter there are the guests from the hostel. And, on the corner of the street, there is a small friendly cafe where I every morning ate nice breakfast and drank tea.
The metro stop ‘Phayathai’ is within 5 minutes walking distance from the guesthouse and has a direct connection with the ‘airport railway’ from Suvarnabhumi International airport. The main sights are easily accessible from Siam with metro, bus or taxi.
Walking along the railway
Trough Bangkok runs an old railway where daily a train with moaning and groaning drives over. The poor people of Bangkok have built their living area next to the railway. Small houses and shops made of wood and corrugated sheet. Not only humans live next to the train, but also the animals: dogs, cats, and chickens who cross the street without looking out. The people I encountered were friendly. Children happy waved at me saying “Hello!” and their parents smiled. The Railway is within 5-minute walking distance from Siam Journey Guesthouse (underneath Phayathai metro stop).
Take a boat along the Khlongs of Bangkok
The Khlongs are the rivers in Bangkok who used to serve as the primary form of transportation in the city. Meanwhile, Bangkok has been modernized, but the boats are still running. Taking the boat along the Khlongs was one of my favorite activities in Bangkok. The boats are sometimes completely full and splash trough the water with the sound of the motor on the background. The ticket sellers walk over the small wooden beams to sell you a ticket for 10 baht.
From Siam, you can take the Saen Saep Express Boat to tourist sights like: the Golden Mount or the Palace. Click here for more information. There is also another boat which I sometimes took along the Chao Phraya river. That boat is much bigger and more crowded, I didn’t prefer that boat. Click here for more information.
Cycle and visit Bang Krachao island
This tip I got from friends I met in Bangkok. The Island is outside the city center and it takes a while to come there. The people from Bangkok call Bang Krachao: the Lungs of Bangkok because of the fresh air on the island. You can go there by local bus or taxi. When you arrive, you first take the boat to the island which cost around 20 baht. On the Island, you can rent a bicycle or tandem for around 80 baht for the whole day. There is a park, farmland where people are are working which gives you a country side feeling. Furthermore, there is a temple, a small town and plenty of restaurants. They told me it was an impressive experience.
Visit the Art Gallery of Bangkok
Next to the big shopping mall of Bangkok where you can buy cheap electronic device or clothes, is the Art Gallery of Bangkok. When I visited the gallery last January, there was an exposition of paintings from Bangkok made by local artists. But, the expositions are changing regularly. Furthermore, there are a couple of small cafes with well-made tea or coffee, and shops where you can buy original souvenirs. I, for example, bought some nice arty postcards there :). From Siam, you can reach the gallery by walking or metro.
The Golden Mount is a famous temple with long stairs and a view of the city. JJ Green, is one of the famous night markets in Bangkok for shopping and good food. Khao San Road, you love it, or you hate it, most of the people going there for parties and plenty of alcohol. The palace is an important historical place but full of tourist and a pretty high entry price. Lumpini Park, is a calm place for a stroll and activities are organized during night. Chinatown, is an experience if you have never been in a Chinatown and gives space to tasty food stands.
From Suvarnabhumi International Airport, there is a good connection to the center of Bangkok and Siam (only during the day from 6:00 till 00:00). There are also taxis available at the airport but be aware of getting ripped off. Instructions for public transport can be found on Google Maps. Transport out of Bangkok by bus is mostly from Mo Chit bus station and the train also gives plenty of options.
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