When I thought about Thailand initially; I thought about beautiful people, good food and sunny, sparkling beaches. I definitely should have done more research because all of Thailand is not created equally (no country is, but whatever). Also, with the exception of Thai locals doing recreational drugs openly, Bangkok is NOTHING like the Hangover movie. Within our 7 day trip to Phuket, we wanted to take a day to travel to another city in Thailand. We had the option of taking a flight to either Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Bangkok won because the flight was only $60 round trip from Phuket. If I could do it over again I would bite the bullet and go to Chiang Mai in a heart beat. The muggy, polluted streets of Bangkok were a sharp contrast to the bright avenues of Phuket.
Bangkok was not an entire waste of a day only because we got to see the floating market, Damnoen Suaduak, in the morning. Damnoen Suaduak is definitely a tourist trap and you probably will not see many locals there but it was the only decent floating market I could find that is open on a weekday. It is about an hour and some change outside of Bangkok so I booked a driving tour for 4 people with Thai Happy Taxi. You can definitely get a taxi for cheaper at the airport or take the BTS train to a local bus that takes you there.
One thing you should know is that everybody tries to scam you in Bangkok. EVERYBODY. Even the taxi tour we took to the floating market tried scamming us by telling us that the canoe on the river is 300 BHAT for the “closer location”. So if you want to see the floating market by boat, go all the way down to where the actual floating market is and pay the original 150 BHAT. Bargain everything down at the market. If someone tells you 800 BHAT for a shirt, start the bargain at 100 BHAT. It is cool to float in the boat at the market but all of the shops have the same souvenirs. If a vendor does not want to bargain then you can go to the next one and they will give you your price. If you do not feel like bargaining, I found that the souvenir shop that was not on the water (where you buy the boat tickets from) was cheaper than all the shops on the water. You can even bargain food. We noticed that they charged us 120 BHAT for each plate but were charging Thai people 60 BHAT each plate.
After we left the floating market, up next on the itinerary was to visit some temples. Wat PHO was first because we could kill two birds with one stone and visit the Grand Palace as well. This is when everything went down hill. It was ridiculously hot in Bangkok and the taxi driver dropped us almost half a mile away from the temple. Like I said before, EVERYBODY tries to scam you in Bangkok, the temple is not different. We were told that it was 500 BHAT to enter the grand palace, which I read online that it should be no more that 100-150 BHAT. That was not about to happen. Then, we were denied entrance into Wat PHO because we had on shorts. This usually is not a problem because most temples have scarves and aprons where tourists can cover themselves if they are deemed inappropriate. We later learned from another tourist that they told us we could not go in because they wanted us to pay to borrow the clothing to cover ourselves. We could not win. Side note, there were plenty of tourists that had on shorts that were allowed into the temple. Not sure why we were so different.
After being denied entrance, we tried to go to another temple. There were at least 4-5 on the list. We were stopped by a tuk tuk driver who told us that he would take us to 3 temples for 100 BHAT. It sounded too good to be true but whatever, it was a bet. So all four of us piled into a tuk tuk meant for two people. The first temple we went to, the grounds keeper was very nice but, as you can see in the picture, the Buddha they had was definitely not one of the big, grandiose and shiny Buddha we were looking for.
Once again, we were over it. So we left to go to another Buddha that was hopefully better than this one. This is where the 100 BHAT deal became too good to be true. The tuk tuk driver decided to take us to two silk suit stores because he get a commission for bringing people to the store (even if they do not buy). This wasted even more time and after the second store we decided enough was enough. We told him to take us to the nearest BTS station, which was thankfully where the big mall, Siam Paragon was.
Our temple hopping was a bust. We were done with Bangkok and whatever it had to offer. We walked around the mall and ate at some piss poor all you can eat buffet, then left. I really, really wanted to catch the BTS train in Bangkok because it was also an attraction so my group sacrificed their aggravations for me. The plan was to catch the train and the public bus to get back to the airport.
Well, we caught the train and ended up catching a taxi at the train stop because we did not want to wait for the bus in the heat. Just our luck that our taxi driver was smoking crack when we got in the car. He was swerving through traffic and almost getting into accidents because he was high as a kite. The whole ride I was thinking “God if you could just get me back to Phuket in one piece I’ll never ask you for anything again”. We got to the airport and got on the next plane out of Bangkok.
If I could do Thailand over again, I would go to Chiang Mai, Phuket and Phi Phi islands. The muggy and packed city of Bangkok is no way, in my opinion, to spend a vacation. Granted, I have checked the Thai Happy Taxi website and they do have other tours beside the floating market. My suggestion is if you do decide to go to Bangkok, just find a reputable tour company. It will make your traveling much easier as it is way too hot in Bangkok to walk around and get scammed.