We knew that whatever we planned along the way that we would visit Thailand. We had not booked or planned anything but were sure that we would go! After visiting Goa we booked a flight to Bangkok and stayed for 4 days. We then visited Phuket for 10 days. We had a great experience visiting Southeast Asia for the first time. Thailand left us wanting more. We know we have to go back and explore more! Below are our suggestions and recommendations based on our experience:
Bangkok: We expected Bangkok to be very chaotic and probably did not think we would enjoy it as much as we did. Bangkok is a very touristy capital and one of the main destinations for backpackers visiting southeast asia. Below are our experiences:
1. Public Transportation is amazing! Metro is clean, easy to navigate and staff are very helpful. People line up to get on the train. After living in DC and taking metro for 4 years and dealing with the pushing and shoving each day….This was quite a treat! You can use metro to get to and from the airport. Taxis are also available, easy to identify (bright colors) and cheap (compared to American standards). Tell your driver to turn on the meter. This of course is much easier said than done. We stopped many taxis and told them to turn on the meter and they would not so we usually waited until we would find one that would. Even though it is still cheap when they do not turn on the meter they are charging you 10 times what you would pay. So if you have to take a taxi without using the meter make sure to agree on a reasonable price for the trip.
2. Big shopping malls: Terminal 21, SIAM, and MBK Center. These were large with a lot of local stores, big international brands and a big selection of restaurants. Great for rainy days!
3. When in Bankok there are many historic sites that deserve a visit: Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Grand Palace is very busy and visited by every tourist that is in Bangkok. Make sure to arrive early. We arrived around 10 am and it was packed. We recommend arriving when it opens around 8:30 a.m. The admission fee is 500 baht. Be aware of scammers outside saying it is closed. They just want to give you their own tour. Grand Palace is usually open unless there is a government function (on rare occasions).