Five Nights in Bangkok: Adventures of a Ugandan Girl

We often make plans, but they don’t always map out as precisely planned. One of my plans at the beginning of 2018 was to go and visit a friend in New Zealand for Christmas and possibly New Year’s. As the months passed by I made my necessary steps to achieving this plan, lo and behold, I was denied a visa to enter New Zealand because I forget to attach a copy of my Alien card, which was not explicitly stated in the requirements.

In the middle of nursing my frustrations, a friend and colleague recommended that I should instead join her on a trip to Thailand. Even though she was on a business trip, I would get to travel and do my own activities during the day and link up in the night when she had time. That way it’s not entirely a solo trip. I jumped at the opportunity since Thailand had always been on my list of countries that I wanted to visit. I had eight nights in Thailand, giving me enough time to visit Bangkok and catch a quick flight to Chiang Mai.

Bangkok was massive, busy and hip as expected. Unlike my previous trip to Bali, Indonesia, that was packed with lots of adrenaline activities, I took a laid back approach on this trip; I did less over the top actives and busked in the culture and general vibe of the city.

Here are a few things that I did and some recommendations of what to do while in Bangkok;

Try out the street foods as opposed to only eating in restaurants. I really loved all the Thai food though Tom Yum Soup was my favorite (I think I ate this soup every day on this trip). I had my first and last meal at Esaan Nation Kitchen, the food was tasty and authentic, the place is easy to find, their service is fast and the staff are friendly. I ate a lot of street food and fruits since I was always on the move; I found it the best way to taste authentic Thai food without paying an arm and a leg.

Tom Yum Soup

Hop on a Tuk Tuk 
Traveling around Bangkok might be intimidating at first, but there are many efficient and easy to use types of transport including the BTS Sky Train, MRT Subway, Buses, Taxis and Motorcycles, and Tuk Tuk. I walked a lot but also made it a point to try out most of the modes of transport except the buses. What made my travels from point to point though was the Grab app, I recommend anyone traveling to South East Asia to download this app. It will come in handy (it is the uber of South East Asia) I hopped on a lot of Motorbikes, since it is fast, convenient and cost friendly for solo travelers like me. Motorbike taxies were one quick way of beating the hectic traffic in Bangkok – make sure you the driver offers you a helmet though. (SAFETY FIRST!) Taking Grab bike though will save you a lot of haggling for fare plus they are more cautious since they need a good rating at the end of the journey.

Tuk Tuk

Hoping on a Tuk Tuk (Three-wheeled open-air vehicle) around the streets of Bangkok was an exciting and authentic travel experience for me. It is a must try if you are in Thailnad. However, they are not necessarily cheaper than the taxi’s, and the price fluctuates based on the distance and the time of the day. It’s best to take them for short distances and negotiate your fare before you hop on one.

Take a day trip to the floating market
There are many floating markets in Bangkok; I took a combined half-day tour to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and an elephant’s sanctuary. My experience with the elephant was terrible; I think they should not be subjected to riding. The floating market, on the other hand, was a fun experience; you will have to share a boat with other tourists as you float around the market visiting different stalls. Since the market is one way from Bangkok, it is best to join a tour to gain the most out of it.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Mall Hopping / A day spent Mall Hopping
I spent a day hopping between malls for shopping, food, cafes and for the urban experience. The malls like Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Terminal 21
are easily accessible by BTS. I liked the small shops and boutiques at Terminal 21, it is easy to find unique and price friendly clothing. If you have time over the weekend visit the weekend market Chatuchak for cheap shopping. You will find all sorts of merchandise at low prices.

At Siam Paragon

Experience Night Life in Bangkok
Bangkok has a vibrant nightlife. Even though I am more of a scenery person, I wanted to have a feel of the nightlife in this city. My friend and I decided to head to Khao San road in honor of her birthday. The street gives off a carefree vibe with bars, clubs, massage parlors, guesthouses and cafes on each side of the street. Popular with young locals, Lady Boys, tourists, and backpackers; it was a great place to connect with other travelers. I had my first experience with a “ladyboy” up close at Khao San – I was awestruck by their beauty. A friend later told me as I was sharing my experience “If they are too pretty, chances are they are ladyboys.” However, it was somewhat overwhelming selecting a club/bar that would suit our taste. We ended up trying out three different bars. The only downside is that all clubs close at 2:00am so plan to be there early.

If you are heading to Khao Son road, I recommend you start your night in China Town with a street food dinner since the two are are relatively close.

China Town Bangkok

Massage, Massage, Massage
There is nothing as having too many massages; I had a massage every day I felt like I needed one, from full body massages to Thai Massage to foot massages. There is a massage parlor in every corner of Bangkok, and compared to Korea the massages are inexpensive and more authentic.

Visit a Temple
Bangkok has over 400 temples, though only a few of them are flooded with tourists. One of the temples I visited was at the grand palace “Temple of the Emerald Budha”; this place is crowded with tourists, which almost makes it hard to enjoy the experience. I recommend going there preferably before opening time (Opens at 8:30 am and closes at 15:30 pm). Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) was one of my favorite temples; not because of its location along the riverside but because of its design and architecture. The temple is colorfully decorated with pinnacles and ceramic pieces donated by locals in the 1800’s. It is also less crowded than the Grand Palace. Do not forget to dress appropriately while visiting the temples.

Temple of Dawn

Whether you prefer lounging by the pool, or walking the streets, there is plenty of things to do in this city.

Happy adventuring!