“Wherever you go, go with all of your heart” ~ Confucius
Traveling to Thailand was an ethereal experience. When the opportunity to meet John in Bangkok arose last summer, I jumped at it. I’ve always had a weakness for Thai cuisine and I had long hoped I would have the chance to visit and immerse myself in the magnificent and historic culture.
After 18 hours of flying (12 hours from Minneapolis to Tokyo and another 6 hours to Bangkok), we kicked off our trip by staying for two days in Bangkok followed by three days in Pattaya beach. We wrapped up our Thai adventure by returning to Bangkok and spending the remaining two days touring with Nok Thai Tours prior to departing for home. Read more about Nok’s tours at the end of this blog.
The beginning of our trip was spent at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit , located in a bustling area of Bangkok. It is situated just steps from the BTS Skytrain as well as an enormous number of street vendors & restaurants. Although we were in the heart of the city, the rooftop pool at the Sheraton made us feel like we were in a hidden oasis. One doesn’t perceive any of the hustle and bustle that is occurring on the streets down below. It is quiet and tranquil. If we were to go back to Bangkok, I would not hesitate to stay here again. The breakfast buffet was bursting with an abundant array of Thai delicacies. We spent our first 2 days exploring the city on our own. We booked Thai massages and walked for miles, smelling the intoxicating aromas from the multitude of food vendors set up along the sidewalks. Tuk-Tuks and scooters raced up and down the busy road. The sights, sounds and scents made us feel enmeshed in the culture from the start.
Pattaya Beach is approximately 2.5 hours from Bangkok. We traveled by car and stayed at the Hilton Pattaya Beach. The majority of my time here was spent relaxing near the infinity pool and enjoying the local cuisine. John was working while we were in this location so I was on my own for a majority of the time, which was fine. I am easily occupied with a comfy lounge chair, a good book and a view. While Pattaya is a nice area I did not spend much time at the beach which was extremely busy with boat traffic and did not appear to be very swim-friendly.
Upon our return to Bangkok we resided at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in the business district. This hotel did not disappoint. The room was beautiful and spacious. The property and service were impeccable. It was positioned near a myriad restaurants and shops.
The photo gallery below captures the essence of our journey. Click on the pictures for explanations.
These are the two travel books that we found most useful:
Fodors Travel: Thailand with Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia & Laos
Lonely Planet: Thai Phrasebook & Dictionary
Back to Bangkok
Train Market Tour
Tour impressions: I would highly recommend Nok’s tours to anyone visiting Bangkok. We were met by Nok in the lobby of our hotel and transported in clean, air-conditioned vans stocked with cold water and wipes for our hands (necessary due to all of the food sampling we were doing). She was familiar with many of the vendors at the various markets and was able to direct us to safe and delicious food choices. She thoroughly engaged us with her knowledge of the history and traditions at every site we visited. A few of highlights from our tours were:
The Maeklong Railway Market where the vendors actually have to pull in their wares regularly as the train does come rumbling through at regular times throughout the day.
The Wat Sai Floating Market was another favorite. Boating down the river side by side with the vendors was a rare experience. Nok closely guided us regarding what foods would give us the best “flavors of Thailand”
The Wat Pho – Temple of the reclining Buddha The quiet reverence required when entering and touring this stunning temple was honored by everyone who visited. The enormous reclining Buddha was definitely a sight to behold.
One trip regret: Nok recommended a restaurant called GAGGAN in Bangkok. We did not end up dining here and found out after returning to the USA that this was recently named one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. The owner and Executive Chef, Gaggan Anand, was featured on the Netflix series, The Chef’s Table. We realized after watching his episode that we had not only neglected to eat here but we had actually walked right by the restaurant a couple of times while wandering the city. If you end up in Bangkok, eat here and report back on your experience!
In the beginning I would have said this trip was a bucket list item, but that is indicative of something that is a one and done experience. I genuinely wish to return to Thailand sometime soon as I feel we only scratched the surface of this beautiful country.
Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions regarding travel in Thailand!
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