With the winter holidays approaching, it was time to return to the US to spend time with family and friends. After 5 weeks in Bali, we were sad to go. Because it is such a long flight and flight options from Bali to the US are not great, we opted to do a stopover in Bangkok. We decided to stay a few days to break up our trip back to the US, even though we have been to Bangkok a few times, we really like the city. So, it was a good choice for our roving retirement.
Nonstop flights from Bali to Bangkok take a little over four hours, but our travel took most of the day because we chose to route through Singapore to save some dough. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to revisit the Jewel section of the airport. At least our flight and the 45-minute ride to the hotel were uneventful. That’s about the best thing you can say about air travel these days, uneventful is good.
Our last visit to Bangkok was over 4 years ago, in the early days of Our Big Trip. At that time, our Marriott Courtyard was decent but it wasn’t very convenient for sightseeing. This time around we chose a mid-tier Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, in part because our status would get us into the breakfast buffet. Side note: Asian hotel breakfast buffets are the best in the world, IMHO. The hotels cater to US, European, and Asian tastes, making it easy to find something tasty.
The Sheraton is situated on the Chao Phraya River, which was great. Aside from great views along the river from the executive club during cocktail hour, there was a river ferry stop next to the hotel. This allowed us to cheaply and easily move through the city, which can be slow if you are stuck with an Uber or a tuk-tuk. Directly across the river, accessible by a free water shuttle, is the huge ICONSIAM Mall. We didn’t have time to visit this time, but it looks worth getting to the next time we are in town.
Taking In A Little History
After a short ferry ride, our first stop was at the National Museum Bangkok complex. We never visited this museum on our previous trips. We were surprised at the numerous buildings spread out over the former palace grounds. There was an interesting temporary exhibit on 17th-century ceramic production with processes imported from Japan. In addition, there were many beautiful crafts and artifacts.
Under one roof, you could see a collection of gilded royal funeral carriages. They were very ornate and impressive.
A Fun Food Tour
That night, we joined a tuk-tuk food tour. Along the way, we visited a local temple and Wat Arun, where Diana and I got blessings and bracelets 4 years ago. As you can see in the pictures, I still have mine. We also stopped for a look at a local flower market. It operates at night so that flowers are distributed by morning. We also saw the famous Giant Swing that used to be used by locals to grab a suspended bag of coins with their teeth. The tradition stopped in 1935 after a few participants died during the ceremony.
The highlight of the tour was the food, of course. Our first stop was at a restaurant where we enjoyed several dishes. So many plates came so fast, it was hard to know what we were getting other than it all tasted wonderful. We were told not to fill up, though, because there would be another stop for a hot pot. The hot pot was very good, especially the broth, and very filling. Still, we needed room for a couple more tastes and some finishing ice cream!
Wat Pho and The Grand Palace
On Day 2, we arrived at the Grand Palace just in time to see the changing of the guard. Inside the palace complex, the most famous artifact is the Emerald Buddha. There are many buildings on the palace grounds, most are temples with various artifacts. Other buildings in the complex include the golden stupa, the queen’s residence, and the president’s palace.
A short walk from the palace is Wat Pho, with its famous, massive reclining Buddha. It barely fits in the building which houses it, so you have to peer at it between columns holding up the ceiling. Diana was very enamored with the giant buddha the first time we visited Bangkok so we went to visit it again. There are many other temples in the confines of Wat Pho as well. There was certainly plenty to see.
As we were leaving Wat Pho, we realized Diana had not yet had one of her favorite Thai dishes: mango sticky rice. So we found The Sixth 6th, a recommended spot nearby, with Google Maps. She really enjoyed her dessert. I took the opportunity to try some Pad Thai, which had a cleaner taste than many that I have had in the US. Very nice.
All in all, it was a quick hit-and-run in Bangkok. Still, we really enjoyed our stop here and look forward to returning for a longer visit next time we are in the area.
Where have you enjoyed getting around on a ferry?