Bangkok is an interesting city to say the least. You’re all thinking of lady boys right now, the Red Light District, terrifying insects on sticks. But to be honest I managed to stay away from most of that and found a place that mishmashed the old and the new, the poor and the rich, the skyscraper and the dome…
1. Bangkok from a tuktuk
We all know the stories of near death experiences in wobbling vehicles veering into ditches and between cars, bags stolen from laps by motorbikes driving past, con artists ripping tourists off with outrageous unasked for tours of the city. Truth be told, most tuktuks are just first stage convertibles. Trust me, in this place, it’s nice to feel the breeze in your hair and if you’ve come so far to such an interesting city, why cut it all out with those overrated walls and windows?
2. Bangkok from the top of the Golden Mountain
This place was a great find. One minute you’re on a roaring A road that’s very difficult to journey across (cars don’t stop in Bangkok…), the next minute you’re climbing a stone-carved staircase lined with greenery, small waterfalls and meditative bells. A nice breeze and a glorious view of a bizarre patchwork of orange temple roofs and corrugated metal shacks are your reward. Don’t believe the (real) tuktuk con men about the festival – unfortunately there is no party and there will be no fireworks at 7. But it’s still well worth a look as the most beautiful view of Bangkok.
3. Bangkok from the top of Khao San road
This is where you see the reams of tourists that visit the area, all wearing elephant-embossed trousers and holding coconuts while getting their feet massaged and taking photos of stray cats. It’s worth a visit for sure but don’t waste too much of your trip on this strip – it’s not authentic Thailand in any way, shape or form.
4. Bangkok from the ground
Unfortunately, as with nearly every tourist spot in the world, there are plenty of poor and homeless people to be found. One was lying face down, stone still at the bottom of some steps towards Khao San Road. The heat was incredible and he had a thick tan from lying out in the sun. It was sad to see as everyone stepped over him to carry on up the road, but it’s just as much a part of Thailand as the gorgeous street food and the Jack Fruit pieces.
5. Bangkok from a market stall
Then there’s Bangkok from the eyes of those who live there. The seasoned patient Thai people who know their banana flowers from their Lady Fingers (the latter is just banana, unless you’re in the Red Light District), who make flower pots out of old plastic bottles and build their own houses over rivers. The Thai people who smile and laugh when you get in their taxis and don’t know the name of your destination in Thai, and who then drive around until they find an English speaker. These jems are my favourite thing about Bangkok, hands down, and it’s these people that I’ll remember over the hot spices and the painful foot prodding.