In case you haven’t noticed, I love to travel. With each new destination I visit, I get a renewed thirst and joy for visiting a new place. And just like that, it becomes one of my favorite trips to date. My most recent journey to Thailand proved to be no different.
This beautiful country located in Southeast Asia has everything I love about a travel destination – beautiful beaches, a fascinating culture, kind people, amazing food, and lots of hidden and not so hidden treasures to explore.
Our trek began with a day-long layover in Dubai, which I was eager to get back to after spending some time there a few years ago. I had the opportunity to show my traveling buddies some of my favorite sites – Miracle Garden and Global Village. We split our time between the two, but you could easily spend a whole day exploring and still not see everything these destinations have to offer. (For more insights on Dubai, why you should go and what you should do while you’re there, visit my “Why Dubai?” blog post.)
Our first stop in Thailand was Bangkok. We stayed in the beautiful Okura Prestige. Since by American standards Bangkok hotels are pretty cheap, I figured we could afford to splurge on luxury accommodations here…and luxury it was! Between the breathtaking views from the rooftop infinity pool, the first-class customer service and stylish, spacious rooms offering panoramic views of the city, we took no time to fully immerse ourselves into luxury Thai living with a bit of Japanese flare.
Our first adventure was testing out the street food at the infamous night markets in Bangkok. Well honestly, getting there was the first adventure. We decided to try our hand at Bangkok public transportation, which was not bad, once we got the hang of it. It’s definitely one of the cleanest, civilized public transit systems I’ve experienced. I definitely recommend it because it was the quickest, cheapest option to get around considering the horrendous traffic!
Our concierge at Okura Prestige recommended The New Rot Fai Market Ratchada right next to the Esplanade shopping mall, which was conveniently just a few steps from the Thai Cultural Center transit stop. I was definitely overwhelmed with all of the food options at the market – but in a good way. I spent a great deal of time surveying the rows and rows of vendors until I finally landed on what essentially were dumplings filled with yummy goodness. There was a lot of chicken, seafood, fish, and yes, they even had a wide array of insects (yuck). Vegetables seemed to be a bit scarce. I tried everything from Thai fried chicken to pork belly to marinated prawns and grilled squid, and honestly, I did not try one thing I didn’t like. I did have one regret though. I did not try the whole fish filled with herbs roasting on a spit that some of my travel mates went back and tried the next day. You know what that means…I have to go back!
Our journey the next day took us to the Floating Market. A word of caution – it’s best to leave super early in the morning (6:30 or 7 am) because it is an actual journey getting there. The distance and traffic from downtown can easily make it a two hour ride each way! I can’t say that I was wowed by anything in the markets, as you could find what they were selling at most of the vendors in the markets closer into the city. But, the experience of floating down the waterway to visit the different vendors was pretty cool. I don’t have to do it again though (smile).
On our return visit on the back end of our trip, we had a chance to visit what is affectionately called the “Weekend” market, which was even larger and filled with more shopping options than the night market. This market seemed to be one that more of the locals visit for retail shopping. They had literally every trinket, piece of clothing, and food option you can imagine. I just wish we had been able to spend more time there.
Speaking of shopping, one note about Thailand. In general, it’s extremely affordable once your feet hit the ground there. Most everything – food, souvenirs, even massages – is pretty cheap considering the exchange of the US dollar to Thai currency, which is called baht, is in our favor. One dollar is equivalent to 30 baht. A decent meal at the street market might run you 150 to 300 baht depending on how hungry you are (smile).
So that was just Bangkok. Stay tuned for Part 2 of From Thailand With Love where I’ll share more on my favorite part of the trip: Phuket! I’ll give you a sneak peek…this was our 10-bedroom home for five days!