A First-Timer’s Trip to Bangkok

A lady guard at the immigration line of the Suvarnabhumi Airport came to me raising her voice, "Hōt. Hōt." Confused. I said, "Sorry, what’s that again? In English." She repeated, "Hōt! Hōt", now pointing at my arrival card. "Sorry, what?" I responded in confusion. She shouted it again but I still could not comprehend. Good thing, a kind man next to me spoke out, "Hotel! Ho--tel. You place your hotel address on that blank." Ah! Hotel.

Welcome to Thailand!

She really sounded strange to me. Maybe because for two decades, I've only known Pinoy-sounding English. Whatever. I was ecstatic! The far-ranging tarmac of Bangkok's modern airport, the faction of women in burqa disembarking The Emirates, my first international passport stamp and that "hōt" gave me the this-is-it feeling that at last, I am now out of the country for the first time! It was pure astonishment for a first-timer in a foreign land.

Impressions of Bangkok

It's definitely a sensory overload, constantly! There's so much going on. Traffic was very chaotic. The nightlife, raving. There is a lot of color and ornate details on random things like gates, roofs, statues. The Thai letters all seem so intricate. And the food, they are so good!

Raving Nightlife

If you've watched Anthony Bourdain's experience on kissing a lady boy in his Parts Unknown - Thailand, that would give you an idea on how crazy nightlife can be in this country. He ended up whining about kissing the only ladyboy in Thailand who looks like Ernest Borgnine straight on the lips. Why not one of the hot ones at least, right? And then there's Patpong, one of Bangkok's red light districts and where Thailand's go-go culture started. The dancers are generally available to customers willing to pay to take them out. For good or bad, sex is an integral part of Bangkok.

It's not that cheap.

Bangkok has an incredible street food scene. If you choose to survive on street food, then you will be spending very little money. For as little as 25 baht, you can get the renowned sticky rice mango. But for those who have a non-adventurous stomach like me, it will cost you a few dollars more for a decent food in a comfortable restaurant. On temples, while an all-day access pass to Wat Arun is cheap at 50 baht, the pass to Bangkok's Grand Palace costs 500 baht. I'm not sure why they charged absurdly compared to equally beautiful sights like Wat Arun and the Reclining Buddha.

On transportation...

It's very easy to get around Bangkok via the BTS train and the river ferry at Chao Phraya. The city's transportation system, including provincial buses and trains, are very modern and organized compared to SEA cities like Manila and Ho Chi Minh. Also, the Airport Rail Link is so efficient. Transit out of Suvarnabhumi to the city center was only 45 baht. A frequent cross-river ferry from Tha Tien to Wat Arun was only 3 baht. Aside from improving the locals' convenience, the 27 million tourist arrivals per year must have been the reason for the boom of infrastructures in Thailand.
Day of worship for the Thai locals 

How to Spend Three Days in Bangkok

Honestly, I don't love Bangkok as much as others do. I hate Khao San Road, the tuk-tuks and the traffic-plagued Sukhumvit. Aside from a few temples and shopping, there’s not much to do. Most people just spend a few days here before going to Thailand beaches or transiting to the adjacent countries. As I have only been to Bangkok for a few days, I cannot generalize how good or bad the city is. For me, you have to live in Thailand if you really want to get to know it. But no matter how crowded and different Bangkok can be, I urge everyone to give it a fair chance. 

Day One

Sukhumvit. After having breakfast in your hotel, take the BTS train to Nana station. Walk south and marvel in and out of dozens of sois along the Sukhumvit road.

Lunch at Arabesque Restaurant. 

It is located in a predominantly residential area on Sukhumvit Soi2. You can dine alfresco, smoke shisha and enjoy some beer and wine while you relax in style. Inside, it is elaborately decorated with ornate Egyptian art and intricate mosaics. An entree costs about 180 baht, cold beverages are around 100 baht.

Urban Retreat Spa in the afternoon. 

It is a great, clean spa for traditional massage. We went here on a whim for a quick massage and we were happy we found this place. It is near Arabesque, easy to find right off BTS Asok station. For 400 baht, you can get a foot massage and an oil-free, yoga-like massage. It was a bit pricey but the service and facilities are of premium quality.

Khao San and Rambutri at night. 

We went here just for the sake of being here. I hate the noise, the party crowd. But I loved the Pad Thai and sticky rice mango sold on the streets of Khao San! Unfortunately, my stomach was throbbed with discomfort after I ate Pad Thai. A one night stand with our hotel room's toilet indeed.

I noticed the locals would usually dip the bud to (probably) a holy water and then put it on someone's head. I'm guessing it's a form of giving blessings to others :)

Day Two

Reclining Buddha. 

I've had my first sight of the buddha from a tiny window outside its temple. It was one of a kind. I was impressed and curious how this huge structure was beautifully done. It's golden. It's enormous! So large it feels like it has been squeezed into the building.

Getting to Reclining Buddha from Sukhumvit:

1. Sukhumvit Train - get off at Siam Station and transfer to
2. Silom Train - get off at Sapan Taksin
3. Walk towards the Central Pier
4. Chao Phraya River Ferry - get off at Tha Tien ferry station

Travel time: Approximately 45 mins from Sukhumvit
Cost: less than 50 baht
Entrance Fee: 100 baht

Wat Arun from Chao Phraya River Ferry 
Great to see a very beautiful sacred shrine! 
Artistic touches on the walls of Wat Pho 

Wat Arun. 

A beautiful, unexpected temple with a harrowing climb to the middle section. The stairs are as steep as people say, and the view from the top is good for a short sightseeing. Can be done in an hour if short on time. It is easy to reach, plenty of tourists, but definitely something you don't want to miss while in Bangkok. Although the temple is in renovation and the scaffolds and works remove some of the majesty of the place, it is still a must-see.

For 3 baht
, you can cross to the other side of the Phraya river from Tha Tien to get to Wat Arun.
Entrance Fee: 50 baht

Although the temple is in renovation and the scaffolds and works remove some of the majesty of the place, it is still a must-see. 

Temple of Dawn <3 

MBK, Siam Paragon and Bangkok and Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. 

We did not have any planned activities after visiting the two major temples. So, for the entire afternoon, we just walked around Siam, went to Ma Bo Kong, visited the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and dropped by to see Pat Pong. Every place is accessible via the BTS train, just ask around :)

BACC exhibit - Bathing suit made of human hair - Not sure why I was laughing here :p

Life size monks made out of wax. Now, spot the real one here! 

Day Three

The Grand Palace. 

 It was almost noon time outside Wat Pho, when a local approached us and said, "Palace. Closed. Lunch. Open 1pm." He was all smiles, of course and offered us a tour around Khao San and some nearby temples. Well, it looked like a normal tourist-tout conversation, with lots of "No. No." and shaking of head. Unfortunately, we believed the man, though we refused his tour and just made our way through Wat Arun instead. Only to realize that the palace was really open until 4pm! Tsk. We didn't regret visiting Wat Arun at noon time. But we felt that we could have visited the three temples all in one day, Grand Palace at noon and Wat Arun during sunset until night time.

Anyway. As the major attraction, this place is very busy! Once you've managed to navigate the crowds, there are some spectacular sights to see including a whole lot of gold. Worthwhile visiting as there is so much history connected to this place. Although very old, it has been well maintained. The architecture is amazing and beautiful. Just make sure you are well covered up and expect to battle with the crowds.

Getting to the Grand Temple from Sukhumvit:

1. Sukhumvit Train - get off at Siam Station and transfer to
2. Silom Train - get off at Sapan Taksin
3. Walk towards the Central Pier
4. Chao Phraya River Ferry - get off at Ta Chang ferry station

Travel time: Approximately 50 mins from Sukhumvit
Cost: less than 50 baht
Entrance Fee: Whooping 500 baht!

Grand Palace complex 

End of Day Three!

We hired a cab to take us to Mo Chit Bus Station. Travel time from Sukhumvit to Mo Chit was less than an hour. It costs around 200 baht. It will definitely be cheaper if it is charged by the meter or if you take the Sukhumvit train. We were too lazy to take the train because our backpacks were very heavy and we must catch that one bus going to Cambodia. We opted the fastest way out of Bangkok.

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Suggested Reading:
A Slice of Cambodian History in Phnom Penh
How to Spend 4 Days in Batanes for Php 6,000
Savoring Saigon in 48 hours for Php 2,000
Visit Paris on a Php 50,000 Budget


  1. YAY! bookmarked this itinerary for my first 3days... how much is your overall budget for this po? :)

    do you have your cambodia post na rin po ba?


    1. Hi Jewel!

      For this one, I think it's less than 4k. Yaz, I have a full 7-day itinerary for Cambodia! :D

      I hope you'll check it out.

      Thanks for dropping by!
      - Brenda


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