Bangkok, Thailand (Updated 2015)

Click on the links below to see the rest of my pictures from this trip:
Cambodia (Siem Reap and Angkor Wat)

We landed in Bangkok after over 24 hours of traveling, thankfully 10 of it were in the city of Amman Jordan where we got a very good meal of Falafel, Hummus, Fool Beans and bread at Hashem, and a few hours of sleep in a local hotel.  We once saw much of Dublin during a 6 hour layover, so we enjoyed our brief stay in Amman.  Although we were both tired and a bit queasy from all the travel, once we checked into our hotel we could not wait to eat.  We walked a few minutes and made a right onto the famous Sukhumvit.  After just a few blocks we hit a row of street food venders.  It was in that window between typical lunch and dinner, and while its true that Thai's eat all day long, it was very quite when we got there.  One woman waived us over with menu in hand and sat us down on first mini red and blue Thai chairs for our first real Thai meal.  We did not know exactly what we were ordering, and she chucked a bit when I said "Mai Phet" (a phrase I no longer use, since I crave the heat!), but what followed was incredible: Tom Kha Goong, Spicy Thai Soup with Coconut Milk and Shrimp. I don't recall the cost, but I know it was not more than a dollar or so (in Baht).  Not 15 minutes in Bangkok, and we were off to an incredible start.

It was hot, so we did not mind eating under the tents, good respite from the sun, but those small Thai stools were not exactly comfortable.  The food however was excellent.

A few minutes from out hotel was the Phrom Chit Sky Train Station.  My intimidate and lasting impressions are that its clean, fast, and super cheap.  I knew that Siam Square was a bout 2 stops away, so I purchased my first sky train pass.  I was especially impressed with the Thai travel culture.  The arrows direct you where to stand to let people off when a train is opening its doors for maximum efficiency as well as respectfulness of others, and for the most part people really use them.  It is easy to do since the trains all stop at the exact same spot.  Great efficient travel.

Chinese New Year celebration, Yaowarat Road, Bangkok
It was wonderful happenstance that we endedup in Bangkok's Chinatown for Chinese New Year!  What a perfect, exciting first evening in Asia!!!  We basically stumbled onto a huge celebration.  I figured there might be something, and I knew there would be street food, but I had no idea the size of the celebration or the number of food venders.  There were thousand of people on the streets.  Amazing evening!

Thai musical performances on the stage.  Food, venders and more food lined the streets that followed.

The number of colorful moving parts was endless.  People, mini red chairs, bags of curry, neon lights, fresh squeezed juice, gadgets and socks, locals and tourists, it was all so fresh to me.  The sounds and smells were amazing, I remember being fully immersed in the experience of walking around and eating, listening, watching and just being there, in Chinatown, in Bangkok, on Chinese New Year.

Early morning rise and we were out the door to try and see all the big sites in central Bangkok before the sun sets or our bodies tell us to return to the hotel.  We were able to see everything we wanted and then some.  It was a hot, fulfilling, epic day of sites and food.  We broke one of the big rules of Bangkok, don't accept a ride from one of the cab drivers waiting outside your hotel, he rerouted us to a men's clothing store (on commission) where I may or may not have purchased a tie...  1st swindle aside oh did I say first? I failed to mention the tuk tuk driver that took us to a Seafood Restaurant instead of china town and demanded payment our first night in town, but then again that's another rule of Bangkok, don't get in a tuk tuk unless you are willing to be taken, for a ride.  To be fair, we ended up with a really fun 10 minute, $2 tuk tuk ride, which I recommend everyone try once... I digress, after eventually being taken to the docks.  We took a solo boat ride up the Chao Phraya river for about 20 minutes, saw some Wats and Buddhas along the way in between feeding massive schools of fish.  Super touristy, super fun.  The boat itself, bathed in colors of the rainbow provided our first true view of many of the Wats and buildings we hoped to see.

Tuk Tuk.  Avoid these, unless you just want a fun short ride.  We did not find any problems with tuk tuks in Chiang Mai or in Siem Reap Cambodia, where they were friendly and very inexpensive.  But in Bangkok they are infamous for ripping off tourists.  Cabs can be no better, make sure they put the meter on, or exit the cab.

 After our boat ride we were dropped of at another pier that would end up taking us to our next destination Wat Arun.  Outside the ferry was a big outdoor market with lots of food.
  A few vendors near the back had an incredible display of food in outstanding bright colors.  We sat and had some delicious stuffed squid and a curry, both delicious.  I also had my first bite of Durian (in Asia) in the little market outside the ferry, but it was a bit under ripe.

 The bottom tray has the small squid stuffed with meat and rice.  The squid was fresh and tender, I finished a bunch of these.  Very inexpensive and as always in Thailand, very friendly service.

Wat Arun, Bangkok
 The boat ride to Wat Arun was a fun way to catch the wind and cool down for a bit before the trek up.  It was beautiful from the boat, but really impressive and large once we got closer.

The view from Wat Arun

The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Certainly one of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the Grand Palace, a place we will likely visit again when we return to Bangkok.  Huge massive structure, beaming with detail and beauty.  This was our first full day in Bangkok and a wonderful start to our trip of many Wats.  There were as expected alot of people, but not to many, and i was able to hide them in many of my pictures.  WE were walking around most of the day outside without shade, so it was hot for sure, but we knew going there it was going to be extremely hot so I was mentally prepared to the point that it was less hot that I expected.  I dealt very well with the heat overall.

This was one small piece of a huge wall, I liked the way this one looked but there were many to view, it was stunning in its detail.

Temple Of The Emerald Buddha

Lumpini Park, Bangkok
Our hotel was near the huge Lumpini Park, which we walked though on a few occasions.  Great way to spend the morning, watching people do yoga and morning exercises.  

This was a the end of our journey, a nice site to see on our way out of the park.

Wat Pho, Bangkok

One of my most anticipated sites to see on the tour was Wat Pho the birthplace of Thai Massage.  In it sits this massive reclining Buddha, in a room with 108 bronze bowls, a meaningful number in Buddhism.

One of many cats throughout our journey.

Everywhere we went in Thailand we encountered clean, snoring and seemingly smiling, well-fed cats; as relaxed as a domestic house cat sleeping with their bellies exposed.  We have encountered wild cats all over the world, typically not friendly unless you have food; never clean, and never sleeping exposed. But here they are in Thailand, totally ignoring whatever may be walking by.  Its a bit magical once you notice the pattern.
The flower district in Bangkok.  The pink taxis, the pink shirts, the colors everywhere.

The view from out hotel on Sukhumvit.
I really enjoyed taking the sky train, which runs above Sukhumvit, is fast and easy to use.  This picture represents a lot of Bangkok for me, busy city, bright colored cabs in traffic, huge hotel in the background, the sky train right in the middle.

Silom, the business area, at night.

Shopping is a big part of Thai culture, there are huge malls everywhere, as well as outdoor markets like this on many streets.

Hiso Zoo in Siam Paragon, Bangkok

MBK Mall aka Mahboonkrong, Bangkok


 On my last day in Thailand, inside the MBK mall, one of the largest malls in Bangkok, in the incredible expansive multi-level food court, I found the dish I had been looking for the entire trip, Hoy Todd.  This was the famous version i'd head of that was so extra crispy i was suprised it was not burnt.  Aside from a few dishes at Nahm, this was right up there with Mango and Sticky Rice for the best dish of the entire trip.  This was just incredible.

Pick from oysters or mussels

On Sukhumvit and other roads there are numerous malls lineup up one after the other.  In every mall I ventured into there was a huge food court.  These are not your typical food courts, these all serve authentic, Thai food, as well as other cuisines from many parts of Asia, and as always very inexpensive prices.  This is pork a few ways at Siam Center, Bangkok

Amazing crispy chicken with rice and crispy shallots at Siam Center, Bangkok.

In addition to the food court, which often has a payment system where you use a debit like card to pay for food, or even coupons, there are often a wide variety of restaurants to sit and eat in.  Being a fan of Isan food, we were drawn to the popular SomTam in Siam Center, Bangkok.  This was their grilled pork shoulder salad.  

The Som Tam at Somtam was surprisingly mild and somewhat bland.  I expected a bolder flavor.  
Disappointing, and too small a portion, but not bad.

Amazing Khao Lam, grilled sticky rice with coconut milk and red beans in bamboo from chinatown.  A few weeks later we had the Cambodian version of this freshly roasted and still hot on the road in Seam Reap, this version was not as fresh but still very good.

The beans retain some of their bite and the savoriness was an outstanding complement to the sticky sweet rice coconut rice. 
Goong Ob Woon Sen (กุ้งอบวุ้นเส้น) - Glass Noodles cooked with Shrimp and Soy Sauce) on Yarowat Road.  A simple dish, more expensive then most food we had due to the large fresh shrimp, but very tasty.

One of my favorite street foods in Bangkok is fresh fruit such as strawberry or mango (pictured here), served with a dip made from salt, sugar, dried shrimp, and hot chili.  It hits the palate on every level, its crisp and fresh and not to hot.  Amazingly addictive snack.
Pad Thai with Shrimp on Khao San Road, Bangkok.
Nice amount of peanuts and dried shrimp, not too much tamarind, good flavors. 
One of my favorite bites of food we had on the street of Bangkok and only about $1.  
Boneless duck over rice in a deep rice sweet sauce.  This was incredible.

There is food everywhere in Bangkok.  This vender set up underneath the Sky Train on Sukhumvit was frying bananas (Gluay Kaek).  I really liked the bananas.

Up the block from our hotel was a quite side street lined with food venders only open in the morning and afternoon.  Not being a big fan of western breakfast, I was excited to learn that I could eat the same food all day long in Thailand, so this shot was taken right before a big delicious meal at about 9 in the morning.  Definitely the earliest I've ever had Thai food, until this point in the trip anyway...

Ground Pork Salad, Crispy Pork, Fried Egg, Chicken and rice.  Not the most well rounded meal, but fantastic, fresh, and it gave us the energy we needed to walk thru Lumpini park and make our way to Wat Arun for the day.

Red Curry with Pork

On a small unassuming street near Chinatown in Bangkok we found this noodle stand.  Soft, tender noodles and cubes of pork served in a light delicate broth.  Amazingly inexpensive and delicious.

Tender slices of pork with thin egg noodles, green and bean sprouts in a delicate light broth.

In Thailand, noodles and other dishes are served with these condiments including Fish sauce, dried chili, sugar and picked chili in vinegar.  While I did not need the sugar, I always added spoonfuls of the picked chili and a few drops of fish sauce.

Fried pork for about 25 cents on the street of Bangkok right outside of the Grand Palace.

Crab noodle soup

Something like a takoyaki, excellent and sweet.

I learned that there is always delicious street food around hospitals and school in Thailand.  Right outside of some college in Bangkok near the flower market we encountered endless stands of food.  This one serving semi sweet grilled bananas.

Som Tam - Green papaya salad.

Steamed chicken, roasted duck and roasted pork with peanuts on Sukhumvit near Siam Center.

Thai Green Curry with eggplant and chicken.

The best meal we had in Asia was, unsurprisingly at David Thompson's famous Thai restaurant in Bangkok Nahm.  We made reservations a few months before our trip and were so glad we did.  Incredible flavors and textures in a beautiful environment.  We were introduced to a few new flavors like the funky in a delicious way crispy fermented fish.  Also by far our most in expensive meal on the trip, especially in a city where you can eat well on the street for a few dollars, but it was absolutely worth it and still cost just a fraction of what a meal of this caliber would typically cost outside of Thailand. Highly recommended!

AMAZING Crawfish Salad at Nahm, Bangkok!  This was one of the best bites of the trip.

Durian and Sticky Rice with Mangosteens.  Sublime flavors, deep rich luscious fruit.  Perfection!

Pork Innards Noodle Soup with Egg, total cost $1 near Democracy Monument, Bangkok.  Beautiful rich broth.

This delicious Duck in noodle soup was served to us at Silom Village at Don Muang Airport.  The food at the airport was as good as almost anywhere as expected.

The last meal in Bangkok, on Sukhumvit Soi 38, Bangkok

 Bangkok is an amazing city.  Its busy, crowded, hot and exciting.  Transportation is easy, food is everywhere.  Coming from NYC it is not at all to hectic for me, but I can see why some people do not enjoy it, there are streets you walk through that are lined with vendors and it can be a little intense if you are not comfortable around crowds.  I really enjoy walking through Lumpini park, Chinatown, the Silom area and the mall around Sukhumvit and many other areas as well.  The Wat's, particularly Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace are incredible and worth the trip alone.  If you visit Thailand, Bangkok is the obvious and necessary first point of entry, do not skip it and go directly to the islands as many tourists do, Bangkok is an experience in itself that I cannot recommend highly enough.  It is also the perfect balance to the next stop on our stop, the incredible and important northern Thailand city Chiang Mai.

Click on the links below to see the rest of my pictures from this trip:
Cambodia (Siem Reap and Angkor Wat)