Oh wow, Bangkok!
DAY 1: KLOOKING AROUND
We bid Manila ‘laa gòn’ and found ourselves in Khao Yai, where we picked up our pocket wifi at the airport and began booking our adventures via KLOOK.
From the airport, we went straight to Khao Yai National Park—a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khao Yai is the third largest national park in Thailand and is only a little over two (2) hours away from Bangkok.
Once there, we went straight to Primo Piazza, which is known as The Italy of Asia—and no wonder. It’s a quaint collection of houses and establishments styled after Italianate architecture reminiscent of a Tuscan countryside village, where tourists can go around and enjoy the cobblestone pathways lined with cafés, gift shops, restaurants, picturesque houses, and have a glass (or three) of wine.
There’s an entrance fee of 100 Thai Baht, which is roughly 160 Philippine Pesos, and I say, it’s totally worth it because…you can also pet alpacas!!!
Although you have to make sure to get on their good side because when we tried to pet them—or, when I tried to pet them, they totally ignored me! Hindi na nga ako pinapansin ni crush, pati ba naman yung alpaca?!
Hay nako, moving on…
After exhausting ourselves with cuddling the soft and somewhat smelly alpacas, up next on our KLOOK adventure was PB Valley, which is the largest vineyard in Khao Yai.
And because we booked via the KLOOK app, the entrance to PB Valley was free!
The PB Valley Winery has been churning out wine since 1989 and every year, they make about 150,000 liters of wine (which is about 200,000 bottles of wine).
Going around the vineyard really completed the experience; we sampled wine and learned a little bit about their harvest, which is best in the months of January to March so if you’re thinking about heading there for the wine, that’s the best time for harvesting the grapes for wine—but they’ve got grapes growing all year round. And mangoes, too!
Supposedly, our last stop in our Khao Yai adventure was the Secret Art Garden but we didn’t get to go because of the torrential downpour but fret we did not because the adventure continues!\
We stayed at The Berkeley Hotel Pratunam, which was quite swanky, and pretty near Khao San Road but a little far from the popular Chatuchak District that basically everyone recommended we go to.
Now for Khao San, we were on our own for a little bit since we didn’t use our trusty KLOOK app and took on people’s suggestions when we asked via social media what’s good to check out in Bangkok.
Khao San, we were told, is the “party place” to be and we were definitely down for some fun. And with it being only 15 minutes away from the hotel, we just had to go.
When we arrived, it was a whirlwind of activity in Khao San with a lot of tourists of different nationalities weaving through even more tourists of different nationalities. When traveling in a group, always stick together (should that even be considered a Pro Tip?) because there’s nothing worse than losing stuff on a trip in a foreign country. Or, more importantly, losing each other!
Going around Khao San Road reminded me a bit like going around the tiangge spots in Manila like Quiapo or Divisoria but here, there were way more tourists as well as dining and shopping options. I really wanted to buy muay thai shorts since we got here and Khao San was almost perfect with all the shopping options; clothes, shoes, street food, restaurants, bars, knick-knacks…you name it! The prices weren’t as cheap as I was hoping for though, so we just ended up looking around.
And because (window) shopping is definitely more tiring than actual shopping, we decided to try the legit Thai massage. Now, you have to remember that a legit Thai massage doesn’t use massage oil so it’s a dry massage. Tin and I get massages fairly often so we really enjoyed it; my trusty Joyce Pring TV boys, however, well…let’s just say they waited the whole massage session for the massage oil and left still waiting for that massage oil. Hahaha!
To make them feel better and to complete the night’s experience, what comes best after every massage?
By this time, we were feeling pretty adventurous already so we saw the first restaurant sign that said BEST PAD THAI and walked right in.
It really was the best pad thai.
And it wasn’t a trip to Thailand without trying out the rest of the popular Thai fare so along with our pad thai, we of course had to have some chicken curry and tom yum soup.
DAY 2: BANGKLOOK!
Our second sunrise in Bangkok shone a little brighter than the first, which meant we could go around and explore to our heart’s content without fear of getting rained on and drenched. That is, until our first stop.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
One of the most popular activities to do when in Thailand, and definitely counts as a must-do, is visiting their popular floating market.
About a hundred kilometers or a two-hour drive away from Bangkok, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market was first and foremost a canal, dug to connect the Taachin River and the Maklong River to foster the transportation needed to aid the region’s economic growth. A smart move, methinks, as it is currently brimming with life and loot—markets and stores and food vendors line the canal therefore attracting many a tourist, such as myself. And because we booked a tour via the KLOOK app, our entrance was free!
You ride a little boat, either a paddle boat or a motor boat, and float along the market and basically go where the water takes you.
Turista Tip Number One for floating markets: wear loose clothing made of breathable fabric that hopefully dries easily because 1) it’ll most likely be hot and humid, and 2) because some boats are motor boats, it is highly likely that you’re gonna get splashed in the face by passing motor boats. So yes, also keep your mouth closed. Hahaha!
Turista Tip Number Two for floating markets: floating along the canal pretty much felt like driving along EDSA because of the traffic. But, unlike EDSA, you kind of learn to appreciate the pros of being stuck in traffic along the floating market considering that 1) you have time to shop and see the different wares of each vendor you pass, and 2) EAT!
I very much enjoyed the local sticky rice and mango delicacy that many boat vendors in the market were selling, which everyone recommended.
Which also brings us to Turista Tip Number Three for floating markets: trade the motor boat for a paddle boat. Well, with the traffic along the canal, it’s very likely you won’t need a motor anyway. So just paddle leisurely along and try not to splash people in the face.
The Grand Palace
After the floating market, we headed to one of the most amazing man-made sights you need to see at least once in your lifetime: The Grand Palace.
Besides it’s highly Instagrammable popularity, The Grand Palace is much, much more than what you see in the photos.
More than 200 years-old, The Grand Palace was home to Thailand’s royalty up until the 1920s. Nowadays, it’s only used for ceremonial purposes but that doesn’t diminish its luster.
We explored the three main courts of the palace but was particularly in awe of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
If you might’ve noticed, the architectural design of Thai structures are very similar to those of their neighbors like Cambodia and Sri Lanka. This is mostly because the architecture of these countries were heavily influenced by Chinese design, with China being their biggest contributor and supporter.
When we visited The Grand Palace, we were in awe of the Thai visitors who came to the palace to pay respects to their late king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last year, with over 10,000 people lining up every day.
Coming from a democratic republic like the Philippines, we were very interested to know about the dedication Thais had for their monarchs.
Our guide explained that King Bhumibol Adulyadej was much beloved for the job opportunities that opened up during his reign, helping countless Thai nationals and improving their chances at a better life.
Bangkok Sky Dining Buffet
After a long day of exploring in the heat of a tropical sun, we were very excited for dinner. And why wouldn’t we be when we were headed to a buffet!
Just a 10-minute walk away from our hotel, the Bangkok Sky Dining Buffet is found in the tallest tower in Thailand, the Baiyoke Sky Hotel.
Easily bookable with the help of the KLOOK app, we were able to check in when we reached the 20th floor and all we had to do was show our vouchers in order to get our tickets.
We had no qualms about the food at all, particularly because we had just come from a very long day of walking, sightseeing, and taking lots and lots of photos. And the view; the view of a bustling Bangkok at night was nothing short of breathtaking.
Two days touring Bangkok left us feeling breathless and not because we were tired. Thanks to the easy and efficient KLOOK app, we were able to see, visit, try, and eat A LOT of what Bangkok had to offer.
And it’s not just Bangkok; the KLOOK app has over a hundred international destinations, with hundreds of things to see and do at each one! From popular tourist locations all over East and Southeast Asia—Pinoy favorite destinations like Japan, South Korea, and Singapore included—to the Middle East, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand, to save you the Google Search), locations all over Europe (including but not limited to Iceland, Germany, and Switzerland—just some more places I hope to experience one day), and even the United States.
It’s experiences like these that always leave me feeling so grateful for where I am and how I got here. Being able to experience different cultures and witnessing the devoted practice of different religions always grounds me. If I haven’t said it enough times, I’ll say it again: BEST. JOB. EVER.
My mind is level, my heart is open, and my tummy is full.
Thank you, Bangkok!
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