Traveling so easy a Gingerbread can do it!
Read reviews before booking a hotel on Khaosan Road.
We landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and took a cab to Khaosan Palace Hotel. At 12:30am our driver pulled over and provided further directions to our hotel. Dragging our luggage down the sidewalk, we turned left to see Khaosan Road blocked off. We pushed our way through the mass of sweaty, drunk, high, dancing people. Running over nearby toes with our luggage, we elbowed and swatted away vendors selling scorpions on a stick, laughing gas, and beer.
The party started around 9:00pm every night and the music vibrating through the hotel walls ended at 2:00am, but the party didn’t stop then. Up early for tours, people were still along the sidewalks inhaling balloons of laughing gas, smoking, drinking, and being dragged into a cab at 6:00am.
Khaosan Road is a great location.
Before the chaos unleashes at 9:00pm, Khaosan Road is a great location. We stayed at Khaosan Palace Hotel with a beautiful rooftop pool, within walking distance of the Grand Palace, and is close to shopping, restaurants, and bars. We highly recommend dining at The One on Khaosan. The vegetarian curry was one of the best I had in Thailand.
Be cautious of street food.
The streets of Bangkok are lined with carts of steaming noodles, fried insects, sizzling spring rolls, slices of fruit, and stray cats. We noticed a lot of flies, lurking cats, and unsavory looking carts upon closer inspection. We love to eat like locals, but always use our best judgment. We only eat from a stand that is clean, fruit that hasn’t been peeled, food that is cooked in front of us, and stay away from meat. And, don’t drink the water.
Get an early start. Traffic is terrible.
Monday morning and Friday night traffic is at its worst. When given an option we chose morning tours. Day tours lasting 8 hours or more had a pickup time of 6:00am or 7:00am and traffic into Bangkok was already at a standstill. Our drivers were great at finding alternative routes and adjusting our itinerary as needed to accommodate traffic delays.
There is no limit to the amount of people in a tuk tuk, rickshaw, or on a motorbike.
Good news to anyone traveling in a group, tuk tuks do not charge per person and the riders determine the maximum capacity. Bad news, you are each other’s safety belts and it will be one wild ride.
Tipping isn’t expected, but appreciated.
We would round up or leave behind smaller Baht and coins as a tip for waiters and taxi drivers. Unsure of the expectation, we also tipped our guides at the end of our tours.
What about Wats?
Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter temples.
I wore a plain t-shirt and packed a sarong in my day bag. When we arrived at a temple, I wrapped the sarong over my shorts. With the Bangkok heat, I didn’t want to commit to wearing a long skirt or pants all day.
Wats are maintained by Buddhist monks.
Monks eat two meals a day: breakfast and lunch. Early each morning monks can be seen collecting their offerings in exchange for blessings. Monks are not allowed to purchase their own food. Most temples have care baskets for the monks visitors can purchase as a thank you for maintaining the wat. Baskets vary from food items to toiletries. All monetary donations collected are used for maintenance.
Buddhist monks live by 5 rules:
- Do not kill
- Do not lie
- Do not steal
- No alcohol
- No sex
Shake the fortune sticks to reveal your future.
Most temples have a cup of wooden fortune sticks. Shake the sticks at an angle so they slowly emerge from the cup. The stick that falls onto the floor is your lucky number used to find your corresponding fortune. If the fortune is less than ideal, it is left at the wat and the bad luck will stay behind. Good fortunes are kept and the luck is taken with the visitor. Receiving the (un)lucky number 3, my fortune revealed: Difficulties encountered in conducting activities. Suffering from worry and restlessness. Hard to find ones you want to see. Good fortune is not in sight. Mismating is likely, calm down, better not rush. With no good fortune in sight, I left my bad luck at the wat.
The beautiful ribbons of flowers are not necklaces.
Buddhists use 3 items to pray: a gold leaf, a candle, and an offering, usually a ribbon of flowers. A small piece of gold leaf is placed on the Buddha as a wish is made. The last stop on our tour was Wat Bang Kung. Here, 8 hours later, I learned the beautiful ribbon of golden flowers I had been wearing all day as a necklace was actually an offering. I was so embarrassed!