“And so the adventure begins…..”
This was not our first trip to the vibrant city of Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit….also known as Bangkok. In fact, I’ve been here many times in my life – and I never, ever tire of visiting Bangkok.
We’ve had friends say “oh Bangkok, it’s just not really for me”, and our response is instantly “whaaaaaat?” But it turns out after some discussion that they had barely ventured past Khao San Rd…
Seriously, Bangkok is NOT just Khao San Rd people!!!
So this article is going to show you why you need to get out of the tourist bubble, and see a different side of Bangkok. I want you to get away from the people flogging cheap, crappy pad thai and even crappier t-shirts and ray bans, and go out and explore the real Bangkok.The Bangkok that I know and love.
Visiting Bangkok – Food Fun Adventure ( it’s same same….but different)
Food – mmmm nom nom nom
Thailand is known throughout the world for having incredible food. You have to stuff up pretty bad to get a bad meal – but it can happen. If you go to overly touristy areas, you generally won’t find true authentic Thai food. You will often find cheaply and poorly made food that will leave you disappointed, and wondering what all of the fuss was about.
One of the best ways to find good Thai food is simple – Eat where the locals eat.
⇒ Click Here to listen and learn about the fascinating (& surprisingly recent) history of Thailand’s National Dish – Pad Thai on our Travel & Food Podcast “The Dish”
Chinatown Street Food Market (also known as Samphanthawong) – Yaowarat Road
Head to Bangkok’s Chinatown on a Friday or Saturday night, and you will be taken away on a foodie adventure. The streets are lined with street cart after street cart, all offering up their foodie delights. Roast duck noodle, crispy pork on rice, steamed pork buns and one of my all time favourites bbq enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon. Much of the food is very Chinese influenced – but you are bound to have a fantastic meal.
The choices are endless. And the smells are enchanting.
We personally enjoy having a roaming dinner, where we only choose one or two small things from each stall that takes our fancy. That way we have the opportunity to have a little taste of everything. But honestly, we have been to this street food market many, many times, and we still haven’t got through everything….
If you are a little hesitant about eating from a street food cart, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from as well, where you can sit down, have a tasty meal and enjoy and cold beer on a hot Bangkok night.
During the day in Chinatown, there is certainly plenty of food to choose from that will tantalise your taste buds. But for off the chain food selection – the weekend night market is the way to go!
Want more food? Find out the 15 Best Foods in Asia and where to find them ==> Right Here
Want more Bangkok food? Listen to our What To Eat in Bangkok Episode on “The Dish” Travel and Food Podcast HERE
Fun – Shopping
“Shopping in Thailand is super cheap and generally high quality. Bangkok is also safe. If you see someone in camouflage holding a machete, don’t be scared. They sell coconuts.” – Bobby Lee (actor and comedian).
But when we visit Bangkok, it’s time to throw out those old, well worn clothes we’ve been carrying around, holes and all – and go shopping!!!
As the quote suggests, in Bangkok, you can get some very affordable and well made clothes for a fraction of the price you would pay back home. Yes, all of those designer rip off’s are available all over town, but I personally prefer to seek out the young designers of Bangkok and see what they have that’s new and exciting.
One of my favourite places to do this is the Chatuchak weekend market.
The Charuchak weekend market or Jatujak Market is one of the biggest markets in the world spanning over 27 acres with over 15,000 booths selling everything you could possibly imagine.
We just love roaming the markets, getting completely lost, and discovering new and interesting stalls. One of my favourite parts is the new designers’ corner, where you can discover some locally designed and made pieces of clothing. For the vintage lovers, there is also a massive 2nd hand clothing section where you can find almost anything your retro heart desires.
There are also plenty of other stalls to peruse. Antiques, Pets, Food and Drinks (there is some fantastic food to be found), fresh and dry food, ceramics, collectables, home decor, clothing and books – it’s all here!
Chatuachak Market is open:
Wed-Thy (plants and flowers) 6am-6pm
Friday (wholesale day) 6am-6pm
Sat-Sun (everything goes) 6am-6pm
One of the downsides of Chatuachak it that it can be unbearably hot to visit, but these days it does seems that some of the more upmarket stalls do have air-conditioning to give you some time out from the Bangkok humidity.
But if you are seeking an all air-conditioned experience, then a visit to MBK, also known as Mahboonkrong, might be for you.
MBK offers 8 floors of shopping with 2,000 stores and stalls selling everything from electronics, to traditional clothing. MBK seriously has everything! Spend time just wandering aimlessly around, or grab yourself a map and find exactly what you want in a flash.
Another draw card of MBK is the International Food Court on level 5. While it is certainly not the cheapest place to eat, it does offer a great variety of food options from Italian pasta to Indian curries to freshly made Japanese sushi, and everything else in-between. A great place to rest your weary feet and grab a tasty meal.
The main thing we are noticing this time around in Bangkok, is that many stores today have signs with set prices. No more haggling – which can either be heaps of fun, or a tiresome experience. We are personally over haggling for little things, and we’re appreciating that there is not a need to do this so often – even though I’m sure we are still paying too much. But as always in Bangkok, it never hurts to ask if you can get a better price – it might just be your lucky day!
This time around we also discovered a new market to visit – yay!
This market was SUPER local – and there were great deals to be found everywhere you look. We found that as this was less touristy, it was a lot less hectic. We didn’t have people calling out to us to look in their store, or buy their very very cheap knock off item. It was just a place to go shopping.
The main part of the market is only open until 5pm, but after hours we found a fantastic night market with plenty of bargains and some tasty smelling street food!
Not to certain about eating street food? Check out our 9 Tips on how to eat Asian street food And NOT get sick
Adventure – Flow House Bangkok
I had never really thought of Bangkok as an adventure destination. Sure some of the street food I’ve tried has been an adventure in itself. But most activities are pretty low key: Visiting Wat Pho, Wat Arun and the Grand Palace, heading out to the floating markets etc but nothing to really get the heart racing.
It was while researching ‘adventure’ in Bangkok that I came across Flow House. What could be more adventurous than learning to surf in a city that is 220 kilometres from the nearest beach?
Even though I grew up in Australia I have a confession to make – I have never been surfing. Although it seems that everyone I meet overseas assumes I came out of the womb knowing how to surf – I do not. So it was up to the instructors at Flow House Bangkok to take Tom and I and teach us how to surf a wave in the heart of Bangkok.
I will admit we spent most of our hour falling on our butts. But even though you may be a little battered and bruised the next day, it is so much fun you just want to go back again and again.
Not only is there the Flow rider wave machine at Flow House, but the spectators’ area has been set up like a comfy beach bar. Downstairs is the Flow cafe open from 10am-11pm, and upstairs you can visit the Chang Surf Bar from 5pm-midnight every single day to grab a beer or one of their signature cocktails.
While we were there we were treated to some of their specialty dishes created especially for Flow House by Celebrity Chef Noi-Tammasak. I was expecting some standard beach bar food – but we were seriously wowed. Fresh fish tacos with a trio of toppings, including the standard guacamole and sour cream, but the 3rd was the winner. A specially crafted thai sauce that fit perfectly with the tacos.
Shanghai noodle with homemade pesto, fresh squid and garlic bread
Vegetarian fresh spring rolls with avocado cream and chilli dipping sauce
Each dish was simply divine – and left us wanting to try more.
As Flow house is completely free to visit as a spectator, you can come along and only pay for what you want. Want to take on the wave? Want to just sit back and watch? Or want a taste of their delicious meals on the menu – it’s entirely up to you. We ended up spending about 4 hours at Flow house, 1 hour surfing and the rest just chilling, eating and relaxing. A great day out for all.
Accommodation: Design Hostel Yim Huai Kwang
If you’ve been following our Food Fun Adventure series, you would know that we are on a mission to find the quirkiest, coolest and most memorable hostels and hotels in every place we visit. And in particular, we have been seeking out design hostels and hotels.
Bangkok is relatively new to the idea of design hostels – but it is an idea that is growing thanks to people like Tem the owner of Yim Huai Kwang hostel in the area of Huai Kwang Bangkok.
After a trip to Europe, Tem noticed how many of the hostels were no longer budget, holes in the wall where you could get a cheap bed bug infested dorm bed. No sir-ey! More and more hostels are turning the perception of hostels on their head, and creating arty, funky spaces that are just as memorable to the traveller, as the city they are visiting.
Yim Huai Kwang (“YIM”, meaning “SMILE” in Thai) is situated in a 20+ year old Thai home that has been through a few transformations in its day – but what’s unique about it, is that you can still see many of the original elements of the home around the hostel. The floors, the staircase – many parts of this hostel are still using the original building and transforming it into, well, art.
All of the rooms including the dorms are simple, elegant and modern in design. But the entrance to the hostel is probably the most impressive part of the entire building. You are greeted with a bright rainbow of colours decoupaged all over the walls, leading the eye to the centrepiece of the room – the clock.
It is in this common area that you can get breakfast daily. Choose to pay for the staff to cook you up some eggs in a variety of styles, or enjoy the complimentary bread for toasting, jam, juice, water and biscuits.
As I mentioned earlier, this hostel is situated in the area of Huai Khwang, a much less touristy area of Bangkok. Because of its location, you are able to get a much more authentic experience of local day to day living in Bangkok. The hostel is only a very short walk from a popular night market where you can find a selection of delicious local meals, or do a bit of late night shopping. The hostel is also only a short stroll from the blue MRT line, which will take you anywhere in Bangkok your heart desires.
Staying in Bangkok?
We’ve stayed in Bangkok at least 6 times now. Our favourite areas to stay are Silom, China Town and Huay Kwang. These areas are less trashy than the infamous Khao San Road.
Silom is still touristy but a little bit more upmarket. China Town and Huay Kwang have their own unique local flavour and less tourists.
Check out our full list of recommended hotels in the different areas of Bangkok HERE
I do realise that if it’s your first time to Bangkok you’re most likely going to end up on Koh San Rd at some point – hell I’ve been there plenty of times. But just remember that there is more to Bangkok than those couple of streets.
Bangkok has a plethora of locals that are friendly and welcoming. The food is more amazing than you have ever imagined. The vibrancy and life in the air is intoxicating.
Love this post? Then check out Part 2 HERE
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Disclaimer: We did receive the Flow House experience, and our stay at Yim Huai Khwang complimentary. All opinions remain our own. This post does contain some affiliate links – thank you for supporting our blog by using them.