A filthy, lawless, dangerous, corrupt, crime-ridden and chaotic city, those might be some thoughts that arise when someone thinks of Bangkok, Thailand through thanks to Hollywood films like Hangover 2, but it's not like that, at all.
I will be going home to celebrate the New Year and to visit family and friends. Thailand has always been a magical place with kind people, rich culture, beautiful Buddhist temples, breathtaking beaches and scenery as well as delicious food (Tom Yum, Pad Thai, Sticky rice with mango and coconut milk and a lot more!).
We booked the trip about six months earlier, because we realized that price for tickets and accommodations go up during the holiday season. A part of me, wishes we could visit Thailand either early or later about a month from now, because everywhere will be packed with people celebrating the new year. If your time is more flexible than ours, October, November and February are the best time of year. The weather is nice around 80F - 95F (27C- 35C) and will be less crowded from tourists.
Packing bags can be boiled down to a science. These are my strategies that will make it easy and stress-free.
How To Pack:
1. Simple: Bring very little. Whether I'm traveling for three weeks or three months, I pack exactly the same. I mostly think in terms of what I can do without—not what will be handy on my trip. The world is becoming much more universal: I can buy shower gels, Colgate toothpaste, sunscreen, etc., in Thailand. For this trip I'll pack fewer clothes and more jewelry. It weighs less and actually gives more option to be bold and playful each day. Also Thailand is one of the best places to shop for clothes, jewelry, accessories, so I'd rather pack light and fill up my suitcase for my return.
2. The right luggage is key. As I'm going away for three weeks, a hard-sided industrial-size suitcase is appropriate. But I will also bring a duffel bag for a couple short trips on the new year celebration with my family.
3. Currently a big trend in luggage, is transparent packing. This will help you to organize sections of your suitcase. It's very easy by using separate jumbo Ziploc bags for different items like underwear, bras, and costume/fashion jewelry so you can see the items you're looking for and pull whenever you are making multiple stops.
Where to Go:
In this trip, I'll take journey from Thailand's hectic capital, Bangkok all the way to Andaman Sea Coast, sugar-white sands look of the south, then head back to Ampawa floating market for a long-tail ride around the old canal, enjoy shopping and taste some street food. These trips are good amount for what to do in a couple weeks and you won't feel exhausted. Unless you stay longer like a month, I'd recommend you to catch the sunrise over the sacred statues of Sukhothai, learn the northern culture at Chiang Mai, and finish the hill tribes at Mai Hong Son.
What to See:
1. Bangkok is a city of islands. It used to be called Rattanakosin Island which is surrounded by the Choa Phraya River. Traveling by boat is the only way to reach areas. Now we still travel by boat and it's quicker than roads. Rattanakosin Island is a must do especially for the first time visitor in Bangkok. For me, this is the spiritual heart for the Thai Kingdom, so it's very important for me visiting my hometown and chanting for the new year here. Wat Pho is one of the city's oldest temple with the giant Reclining Buddha and well known as a great place to take a Thai traditional massage. It opens at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (massage available until 6 p.m.) Then nearby is the temple of Emerald Buddha or Wat Pra Kaew and Grand Palace which considers as the most important temple. The Emerald Buddha is carved from a single block of jade. It opens at 8.30 am to 3.30 pm ( Dress code : no short pants or short skirts, not sleeveless t-shirts. Sarong is for rent at the entrance but dressing appropriate is better to avoid a line). Another temple is called the temple of dawn or Wat Arun. I love architecture of this temple and it's just by the river (It's almost directly opposite Wat Pho - If you come from Wat Pho, you just cross the Chao Phraya River by shuttle boat. It's 3 baht for one trip - not even 1 cent!) It opens at 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The spire (prang) on the bank of Chao Phraya River is one of Bangkok's world-famous landmarks. It has an imposing spire over 70 meters high, beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain placed delicately into intricate patterns. If you would like to take pictures and get the whole view of the spire of the temple, I recommend you have a drink or dinner at The Deck. It's a boutique hotel opens for drinking at the roof and dining at the level floor and 2nd floor. It's very relaxing to sip a glass of red wine and watching the spectacular sunset, particularly when lit up at night.
On the weekend, I highly recommend to check out the biggest open market called Chatuchak market or JJ market. You can find anything and everything for everyone there. It's a place to stroll for one who loves fashion, animals, vintage, books, food and so on! I always lost track of time when I'm there and spoiler alert, if you find something you like, you'd better buy it right away. There is a chance that you couldn't find a way back to your favorite store!
2. Aonang, Krabi is located on the Andaman Sea Coast. It's a bit touristy area, but not nearly as much as the major beach destinations of Phuket and Kho Samui. Aonang, Krabi is convenient in term of transportation, food and tour. We will be traveling with my family (my dad, my brother and his girlfriend), so we decided on its combination of beauty and convenience being is best for my dad. He's not a globetrotter and this is his first time to hop on a plane, even though it's only about an hour from Bangkok to Krabi. That's a big step! My husband and I plan to have a day at Phi Phi Island and some visits to Lagoon for snorkeling! It's easy get around there by hiring a long tail boat. If you wait to share a boat with a group of the others like about 10-15 people, it will save a lot money, but you may loose the time hanging there waiting to fill the boat. It depends how lucky you are. If you hire a private boat, it might cost up to 500 baht to 3,000 baht, it depends on where you start and your destination is, but that gives you the freedom to go to small islands and have your private time.way to walk back to a shop that you like! I've been there! Oh and if you love night life and savor a good food, going to China town is a must. That town never sleeps, the magnificent lights with exotic Chinese influence seduce people to go out and stroll for tasteful food.
3. Ampawa Floating Market is the new floating market for both local and tourists. It's located in Samut Songkhram (about 500 meters from Bangkok) I decided to plan the trip to come here because it's not far from Bangkok and Jeff, my husband never went to the floating market before. Amphawa is a weekend market only from Friday to Sunday. It kicks off at about 3pm or so and starts to shut down by about 9pm. You could go there just for the food, but there are also plenty of shops selling quality handicrafts. After dark you will see fireflies come out for greeting. It's easy to find a nice local home stay so you don't have to be in a rush to go back and see more local living.
There is less than a week to go! I can't wait to share with you more about my trip. I have some lists of places to and street food to taste.
BTW - If you are thinking of heading to South Africa for a Safari adventure, check out Nataliya from stylestome.com HERE.
Happy Holidays to you all!
Image Source: Google