6.21.2010 – 6.26.2010 || Bangkok | Thailand
After an incredible wedding ceremony and celebration with family and friends in Philadelphia, PA on June 19th, 2010, we headed to Asia for a two week adventure of a lifetime in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. I will break our honeymoon travels into three parts over the next couple of weeks.
We departed New York’s JFK airport on Cathay Pacific Airways. This was the first and only time I wasn’t traveling in economy, and certainly where I got a taste for champagne on planes! We settled in for the 15 hour and 55 minute flight to Hong Kong in style. We had a brief layover in Hong Kong where we changed planes before flying another two hours and 40 minutes to Bangkok.
We met our guide for this portion of the trip and headed straight to The Peninsula Bangkok, our accommodations for the next four nights. The Peninsula Bangkok is a 39-story hotel with meticulously groomed grounds and river views.
The hotel is set right on the Chao Phraya River with amazing views of the Bangkok skyline. We had a direct view of the Sky Bar (golden dome), the world’s highest open aired bar on the 64th floor of the State Tower which would later become famous from Hangover II but we were there before the filming started and a year before the release so while it looked cool, we didn’t make it to the top for a drink.
Instead, we spent happy hours cooling off at the Peninsula’s three-tiered pool after a day of sightseeing. While it doesn’t appear sunny or to be ideal pool conditions, it was SO incredibly hot with the most intense humidity I’ve ever experienced so the pool was a welcomed amenity.
The hotel had a complimentary riverboat shuttle to transport guests to the other side of the river. Bangkok traffic is no joke so we used it a couple of times to pick up a taxi from the other side.
We were fortunate enough to have a guide for the trip. He crafted agendas for us each day that were tailored to our interests, and most importantly he took pictures of us together all day long. We started the first day with a visit to the Flower market, a wholesale market for various kinds of fresh flowers, fruits, and food.
The fresh flowers and garlands all smelled amazing! I also loved seeing new to me fruits at the market – lotus, durian, dragon fruit, rambutan, etc.
After strolling through the market we changed our mode of transportation. We traveled by tuk tuk (local taxi) to the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace is a major landmark in Bangkok that was established in 1782.
The beauty, size, and design of this enormous palace was incredible.
The Grand Palace consists of the royal residence, throne halls, government offices, and the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha is carved from a single piece of jade and is one of the most holy religious objects in Thailand. We could only take pictures outside of the temple. After performing a ritual we headed inside to pay our respects.
We explored the grounds before deeming it way to hot to remain out in the open for much longer.
Next up was a visit to the Reclining Buddha temple (Wat Pho). It is the oldest and biggest temple with the largest number of pagodas (95!) in Bangkok. The main attraction is the Reclining Buddha which measures 46 meters (150 feet!) long and 15 meters (45 feet!) high.
On the other side of the Buddha is a row of 108 bronze bowls which line the length of the wall. Those looking for good luck (or simply wish to donate to the monks) should purchase a bowl of coins and then drop a coin in each bowl. 108 is a significant number, referring to the 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to perfection.
I can’t recall exactly where this was but it was in the vicinity of the Reclining Buddha complex and shows a sampling of the hundreds of Buddha’s sitting in the lotus position. One of the temples also provided an opportunity to learn about various traditions where you wish for more good luck and good fortune based on your birth day, not the date. We didn’t know what day of the week we were born but it was still an interesting experience. So find out your birth day of the week before you go!
After spending the morning at various markets and temples we were ready for lunch. We took a boat to a local restaurant on the water and then continued exploring the local waterways. Our guide suggested a teak boat ride in the canals along the Chao Phraya River. We had a private up close tour of floating houses, commerce on the canal, all sort of fish and fish like creatures who were active in the waters, and more! Definitely not swimming waters!
Day two was another action packed day of sightseeing with our guide. We spent most of the day outside of Bangkok. Upon leaving Bangkok, we drove out past the rice paddies and salt fields and made our first stop at the Maeklong Railway Station and Market!
There’s a market literally located right on the rail track! Yup, all sorts of goods and wares are literally rolled up to the rails.
Whenever a train approaches, the awnings and shop fronts are moved back from the rails, to be replaced once the train has passed. Holy cow, it was intense. Shop owners (and tourists) have to keep their heads on a swivel but everyone managed to get their goods out of harms way and then resumed what they were doing seconds later. Check out the melons and other produce literally about to be rolled over!
After that experience we boarded a speed boat to cruise through the winding canals for the final approach to Damnoen Saduak, the Floating Market.
It is certainly a tourist trap, but one worth seeing. This floating market is where farmers congregate on the canals each morning in boats that are loaded with produce and other delicious (or NOT) treats. Time to purchase lunch. First up, durian. It was creamy, chalky, and overall as unpleasant as the Travel Channel portrays it to be.
Another interesting choice by me included some Thai tacos called kanom buang. They were super sweet and consisted of a batter topped with coconut cream, egg yolk and more coconut. I should have been more adventurous in ordering soup or noodles but my travel partner enjoyed his noodle soup!
We walked around a bit more to explore various stalls off the water and took what became our 2010 Christmas photo on the right-hand side.
We spent the next day exploring on our own and missing our guide when we got into some funny lost in translation moments but that is what traveling is all about.
One of the activities that we planned ourselves was an evening at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium to watch traditional Muay Thai boxing matches while in Bangkok. Back in 2010 we were watching a decent amount of UFC and were becoming fans of Thai boxing so this was a treat! We sat ringside, which was also appeared to be the tourist section as locals sat in the cheap seats.
We hit a few other markets and malls that most tourists check out but the above activities were the highlights and a really good introduction to Bangkok and the contrast between old and new. I hope to return one day and to spend more time in Bangkok and other parts of the country.
- Grand Palace
- Emerald Buddha temple
- Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho
- Flower Market
- Maeklong Railway Market
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Suan Lum Night Bazaar Ratchada
- The Peninsula Bangkok
- Also a fantastic choice for meals, snacks, or drinks at any of the on property options! Please take me back to The Peninsula Bangkok!
Question: What has changed in the last 8 years in Bangkok? What’s your favorite way to spend time in Bangkok?