After a long flight from London to Bangkok (via Mumbai) we arrived in Thailand with NO idea of where our hotel was from the airport. We were hassled off the plane by various different ‘limo’ drivers, found the bus and taxi rank and got in a ‘premium taxi’ with zircon and leather seats. We had no idea how far it was to Khaosan Road, so we were worried about it costing us a small fortune, but it turns out everything is SUPER cheap over here and even though we were told we were ripped off, it still only cost 500baht (11GBP/18AUD). Much more than the 50baht bus fare, but after a 16 hour flight, we were happy to have a comfortable ride.
We arrived at our hotel, that we pre booked before we arrived. We had 5 days to play around with before our tour started, so we stayed at Khaosan Palace, on the famous party street in Bangkok, Khaosan Road! We didn’t really know what to expect for 5250baht (110GBP/180AUD) for 5 Nights, but turns out that Thai 3 star isn’t too bad after all. It was basic, but it was in the middle of the street, felt safe, had a pool on the roof and a cool fan in the room.
Khaosan Road is an assault on the senses when you first arrive, especially if you have never been to a country like Thailand before. But WOW, it was crazy but fun! It is known as the backpackers mecca with its array of bars and cheap booze, masses of street food vendors where you can get a full meal for 50baht (£1GBP/$1.60AUD!!) and market stalls that sell everything from knock off Diesel Jeans to Havianas and quirky t-shirts, you can burn a CD, get your feet nibbled on my little fishes, get your hair braided and get an awful tattoo! Khaosan has everything you need to refuel, have fun and re-fill your backpack for a fraction of the cost…and feel free to use your bargaining skills! If you can say hello, ask how much and say thank you in Thai it seems to go noticed and appreciated, so pick up a phrase book if you want to score some great deals!
I LOVE Bangkok. I hear so many backpackers who are all ‘Khaosan isn’t the real Thailand’ and you know what, I kinda agree. But it’s like nothing else in the world and I absolutely love it. I became obsessed with fresh fruit juices being sold on the side of the road. If thats not your thing, don’t worry, there’s banana and Nutella crepes, coconuts filled with coconut water or ice cream and plastic bags filled with pineapple or watermelon – all so fresh. Or you can even get plastic bags filled with ice coffee! Not my thing, but surely a coffee lovers dream.
If you’ve never been to Thailand before, there is something you need to know – you will be harassed at every given opportunity to buy at the stalls ‘with discount’ or to go for a Tuk Tuk ride, watch a Ping Pong show and more…know how to say no thank you, be assertive but kind. And try a tuk tuk, why not! Enjoy a Ping Pong show if thats your thing….just keep your wits about you and make sure your not paying too much for it.
On our second day in Bangkok we decided we didn’t know where we were going enough to navigate around the place in the scorching heat, so we found a tuk tuk with a guy who called himself Sexy Choi! We asked him how much, and they always say 20baht! But it’s not, it’s 20baht to go around the corner. He took us around all the temples and to a little food stall that sold all sorts of different amazing cooked foods and to a travel centre where we booked all our other stuff for Thailand after the tour, including the Full moon Party in Koh Phangan. We must have spent half a day travelling around with Choi, he waited for us to go into the temples, look around, eat etc.
The only downside to the trip was for the tuk tuk drivers to earn petrol stamps or ‘living stamps’ they have to take you to the businesses that give it to them, i.e. a stamp for brining tourists to their shops. So we ended up in a jewellery shop and a tailors – we said no and didn’t go in to the tailor as we really didn’t need anything, but we looked around the jewellery shop.
After the trip we asked him how much he wanted for the whole trip (about 4 hours) and he said (looking like he was being cheeky asking for too much) 200baht. Thats £4GBP/$7AUD – for a 4 hour trip! Incredible. SO worth it!
The Nightlife on Khaosan is an odd mix of dark lighting, cheap booze and sex tourism. We indulged in the booze and went out to loads of different bars while we were there. Went out a few nights…okay every night that we were in Bangkok. It’s crazy, Thai buckets full of Sangrom Whiskey and Jäger, masses of travellers from all over the place – Sweden, Germany, America, Canada, Ireland, India, South America, Africa, Australia….all over the place. It’s also full of locals and prostitutes! Yes, I said it. A trip to Khaosan is not complete unless you’ve seen an open shirt, big bellied 50+ white man with a teeny tiny, far too young (14+) thai girl in his arms that he has clearly hired for the evening/the trip. If thats your thing – by all means go for it. Personally, I think its wrong. The girls look SO young and probably are.
Khaosan has something for everyone and has a real mix of people. Backpackers, locals, middle aged sunburnt couples, older travellers who have never left, teenagers who are trying to figure their lives out and the thing that most people have in common is that they all just want to have fun.
The food here really deserves a mention. Whether its from a restaurant or street vendor, Thailand has some of the best foods in the world. If your into spicy foods, this is the place to be. The curries and marinated meats are HOT and they are sooooooooo good. We ate from street vendors the majority of the time in Thailand – you don’t cook yourself here, eating out is just what you do….for every single meal. Lemon and Mango Chicken is a personal fave, massaman curry and pad thai, plus the spring rolls and egg rolls that you get smothered in sweet chilli sauce. Awesome! It’s all so cheap, but so tasty. We were warned against street food and I’m so glad we didn’t listen. Its a lovely sight to see people everywhere you go eating delicious local food instead of the fast food chain crap. I didn’t quite have the guts to try deep fried bugs, but I think when I go back I will give it a go!
From Bangkok, we headed off on a 3 week Imaginative Travellers tour that went to Kanchanaburi, Penang, Anchor Wat, Krabi, Koh Samui, Khosak National Park, Chang Mai and gave us 2 nights with a tribe in the mountains in North Thailand.
Keep following to read more about it in our upcoming blog post!