Where will 2018 take you? Maybe in Thailand, truly the “Land of Smiles.”
This country shares borders with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Malaysia, and is usually part of the Indochina Tour of at least nine days.
In just four days of stay in Bangkok, you can visit many attractions, explore unique travel destinations and experience various fun activities:
- Experience Temple Run.
Expect various Wats as you explore the city of Bangkok. In case you’re wondering, “Wat” means Buddhist temple. I lost track counting the number of Wats I’ve seen in our whole stay in Thailand. As per our tour guide, there are more or less 40,000 temples scattered across the country.
Among the most popular temples in Bangkok are Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Ben and Wat Intharawihan.
Wat Pho is designated as a first-class royal monastery. It features spectacular halls, pagodas, walls and figures. It is likewise called the home of the Phra Buddha Saiyas, known as the Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho. It measures 46 meters and 15 meters in length and height, respectively, making it the largest reclining Buddha image in Bangkok.
Just a 3-minute-shuttle-boat-ride away from Wat Pho and Grand Palace is Wat Arun. Known as the Temple of Dawn, the complex features stunning prang and mondops (Thai buildings). It is considered as one of the oldest temples in Bangkok.
Another temple to visit is Wat Benchamabophit or “Wat Ben”. It is built from Italian Carrara Marble, hence the name Marble Temple. It displays the beautiful European architecture mixed with the influence of Thai culture that can be seen through the pillars, courtyard and even the lion statues that serve as guardians of the temple. Entrance fee: 20 baht.
Last on my list is Wat Intharawihan. This temple is notable for its 32-meter-high gold Buddha statue.
- Visit the Historic City of Ayutthaya
And more wats await you!
My favorite part of the whole Thailand adventure is the trip to the humble city of Ayutthaya. It is the original capital of Thailand (1350-1767) until it was destroyed by the Burmese army. Some of the ruins are still preserved and I must say the structures are stunningly beautiful. Ayutthaya and associated historic towns were designated as World Heritage Sites in 1991.
It takes two hours from Bangkok City to reach Ayutthaya so better grab an all-day chauffeur for 3,000-5,000 baht depending on the number of your company and the type of car you want to hire (sedan, SUV or tourist van).
You can explore various temples such as Wat Mahathat, Wat Yai Chaimongkol and Wat Phanunchoeng in Ayutthaya.
- Ride a bicycle in Ancient Siam, Samut Prakan Province
800 baht is all you need to explore the world’s largest outdoor museum. With over a hundred attractions, this ancient city attracts tourists by featuring buildings and structures that are either removed from the real site for reconstruction or duplicated from the original. Various creative designs can also be seen in this 320-hectare park.
Bicycles can be borrowed for free. You can also rent a golf cart or ride a train intended for group tours.
My favorite spots include the Old Market Town, Buddhavas of the Substanceless Universe, Sala of Ramayana, the Royal Water-Course Procession, Chom Thong Palace Hall and the Floating Market.
- Experience luxury dinner cruise in Chao Phraya River
Just like my sister and her then-fiance, you can experience the sensation of luxury and romance throughout the night, via dinner cruise. Enjoy the two-hour journey as you appreciate the view of various historical structures at night such as the Royal Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and the Rama VIII Bridge.
Musicians serenade the guests and make your stay worthwhile. The singer when we got aboard the ship was a Filipina and she proudly sang Pinoy love songs! The other tourists loved it. There were dancing and the night was just full of fun! The buffet dinner was sumptuous. The whole experience was amazing for just at least 1000 Baht!
- Hire a tuk-tuk at night
Basically, tuk-tuk is an automatic rickshaw and it’s best for short trips only. The traffic gets really heavy at night so it’s not advisable to take metered taxis because it will cost much. For practical purposes, you can hire a tuk-tuk.
Tuk-tuks are cheap and they can be found anywhere you are. Dang- they’re really fast transportation service. They can maneuver through the congested traffic so when you get to ride one, just enjoy the breeze of cold air and feel it like another ride in an amusement park.
Be careful when you opt to ride in a different mode of transport such as buses and motorbike taxis because they may be unsafe and uncomfortable. Exercise extra caution when traveling especially when in the middle of a chaotic traffic jam.
- Try some Authentic Pad Thai and Tom Yum
What’s Thailand without their national noodle dish? Pad Thai is served in majority of restaurants in Thailand. Starting at 50 baht, you can enjoy a plate of this dish made of dried rice noodles, bean sprouts, egg, tofu, shrimp, garlic, etc. No doubt it was once listed at number 5 on CNN’s “World’s 50 most delicious food” poll.
Spicy dish lover? Why not challenge yourself with Tom Yum? Another must-try in Bangkok, this hot and sour Thai soup is usually mixed with prawn. You can order it for 100-200 baht.
- Eat dinner in Chinatown
And don’t forget to order Thai seafood!
The colors of neon tube lights add vibrance to the busy streets of Chinatown. Treat your friends with sumptuous dinner for just 1,000-1,500 baht and fill your stomachs with grilled freshwater shrimps, shells, scallops, squid and tom yum!
Also, try their local beer!
- Shop at night
Due to the tight schedule by day, I bet the only time you’ll have to shop for pasalubong is by night time. Nothing to worry, all thanks to the Bangkok Night Market.
Usually, they are open from 6PM till late. Enjoy shopping while trying to get the most affordable prices on various merchandise. Better be good on bargaining for cheaper prices.
- Buy your own Harem pants
It’s a fashion statement for both men and women. Usually fixed at 100 baht, this stylish pants is a must buy in Thailand. Choose from wide-range of patterns and colors. Go comfy and light while you travel in the country!
- Discover the Jewelry and Leather Factory
Be amazed by visiting the Gems Gallery, a showroom of jewelry masterpieces in Bangkok City. It showcases the best gems its Bangkok branch has to offer. I was stunned by the collection displayed and I must say they’re pretty much expensive. I’ve seen some bracelets and necklaces up for purchase for millions of baht.
If you are more of a leather-person than a gem-enthusiast, then the leather factory is for you! Upon entering the factory located near the Gems Gallery, a leather expert will give a discussion on basic know-hows of leathers.
- Speak English with the Thai people
Most of the Thai people I spoke to were non-English speakers so there was a sort of difficulty in talking to them especially when asking for directions, ordering food, hiring a car, and bargaining for merchandise.
It was enjoying, nonetheless, because it unleashed my handsign abilities.
- Learn the basic Thai words
The best way to learn some of their words is to get coached by your tour guide. For your reference, you might want to use the following basic words in engaging to a conversation with the Thais:
- Sawatdii (Hello)
- Chai (Yes)
- Mai chai (No)
- Khop kun (Sorry)
- Taorai? (How much?)
- Ao annii (I want this one)
- Lot noi dai mai (Can you give a little discount?)
- Lastly, appreciate their culture and traditions
Thailand is a country rich in culture and religion. Many of the beliefs and traditions of its people are influenced by Buddhism. Showing respect, love and positive attitude is very important to them so better avoid showing anger, disgust and impatience.
Also, respect places that are considered sacred to them- as much as possible, dress up properly when visiting temples; avoid public display of affection; take off your shoes or slippers when entering the inside of temples; don’t point. Research for more do’s and don’ts when traveling to Thailand.
Thailand is waiting for you.
It is one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia so better consider booking a flight to Thailand this 2018 and discover more amazing things about the Land of Smiles!
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About the Author
- CJ is a Certified Public Accountant working at the Commission on Audit. He is currently assigned as an Audit Team Member in a military command that provides comprehensive quality tertiary health care services. As a travel junkie, his ambition is to sojourn in all the 81 provinces of the Philippine archipelago.
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