Five Days Bangkok Itinerary: Conquering the Land of Smiles
Bangkok was not exactly under my radar before I booked a flight early this year. But I wanted to get away and have some alone time during my birthday. So, when I stumbled upon a seat sale to the destination, I took my chance and got my tickets. I traveled to Don Mueang Airport to start my five days in Bangkok semi-prepared. I made a couple of mistakes, but I still had A lot of fun. That's why I think that it’s just right to share with you guys how I explored the Land of Smiles alone.
Delayed Flight via Air Asia
My Bangkok adventure started with a delayed flight, thanks to Air Asia. We left Manila more than two hours after its initial departure time, so I had to contact KKday frantically to make sure that my driver was still going to be there when I arrive late in the evening. I was pleased to know that KKday's customer service works beyond 5 o'clock PM and I still got the car provider’s answer before leaving the country.
We arrived at DMK airport a little past 11 in the evening. But the queue in the immigration area was ridiculously long despite the ASEAN lane, so it took me another hour and a half after disembarkation to find my ride. I was so happy that I booked an airport transfer for this trip even if I usually don't. Arriving from a delayed flight in the middle of the night in a foreign country was not my cup of tea. And my Cabin Zero bag was too heavy for me to explore the bus route, so I appreciate the comfortable car we used. I also realized that despite my tiredness, I was still so lucky because the moment I entered The Yard Hostel's premises, the rain started to pour like crazy!
Baipai Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok with KKday
No matter how tired I still felt, I had to wake up early in the morning because I enrolled myself in a half day cooking class with KKday. I had to get to the Kasikorn Bank near Aor Tor Market before 9 AM, so I even missed the hostel's breakfast. But my time at the Baipai Thai Cooking Class was so much fun that I decided to have a detailed write up of what transpired in this post.
I had a great time learning about the spices of Thai cuisine. I wasn’t initially a fan. But I truly loved how easy the Crispy Chicken with Cashew was to cook yet it was oozing with flavor. I even hunted down the Thai chili paste so that I could recreate the dish at home! I enjoyed this activity and thought that it should be one of my mandatory activities whenever I visit a country. It makes me appreciate not just the country but its cuisine as well. I was on a full stomach when I left the school. So, even though I had less sleep than usual, I can say that it was all worth it.
The Grand Palace
After my Thai cooking class, I requested the driver to take me to the nearest place to get to the Grand Palace. So, they dropped me at the Sathorn Pier where I just had to hop on the boat to get to the Grand Palace. Beware though, because if you go straight, you’ll find an offer which would rip you off with at least 100 baht! Don’t be fooled. You could easily DIY your tour along the river by getting into the boat with an orange flag. They don't speak English, but you can ask the counter the right stations. Instead of paying 100 baht for just one way to the Grand Place, you’ll only have to pay 15 baht with the orange flag boat. Seriously, you’ll be looking at the same view and traveling the same river. You can save your 85 baht for something else!
The entrance fee to the Grand Palace is exceptionally pricey for me. At 500 baht, you don’t get anything but access to the public part of the palace. It was beautiful, though. It's just that maybe, I could have enjoyed the place better if it wasn't too crowded.
The Grand Palace is one of the iconic places in Bangkok. So, a lot of group tours visit the site and crowd every part of the complex. It was unbelievable. Nevertheless, I can say that it truly lives up to its name for being Grand. The intricate designs of each structure were indeed admirable. I only wish that it could be cheaper, you know? I think it’s the most expensive place I’ve been to during my whole trip in Thailand.
The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
After wandering around the Grand Palace, I walked my way from the exit to Wat Pho. It’s just supposed to be about 10-minute walk from the Grand Palace. But because my knee had been acting up, I took about 20 minutes to get there. Good thing that I was alone because no one was going to be frustrated enough to nag me for walking too slow. I was on slow travel —literally!
Wat Pho’s entrance fee is way cheaper than the Grand Palace’s at 100 baht with free water. Although it’s not as massive as the Grand Palace, I still got lost! I roamed around the same area for about fifteen. Maybe it’s because some parts looked identical with all the statues and garden design.
Wat Pho is home to the famous reclining Buddha. A lot of people visit the temple, Buddhists or not. At the entrance, I found myself contemplating if I should get my fortune told for a few hundred bahts. I was so close to sitting down, but I didn’t continue. That's why up to this day, I still wonder what would I have known if I did try it. It’s in the temple after all. Could it be legit? But I guess it's still a debate among travelers if fortune telling is a scam although I've read that a lot of Thais believe in it.
Aside from the fortune tellers, there is also a massage school in the complex of Wat Pho. I wanted to have a massage, but I just arrived in the country. I couldn't say that I was tired enough for it. Also, I still had another place to visit, and the session needs an earlier reservation, so it was not going to happen.
From Wat Pho, you only need to walk for a few minutes to get to the pier. The cost of transfer from Wat Pho to Wat Arun was just 15 baht! It’s cool — crossing the river and all. And it reminded me so much of the best decision I’ve made for the day- not giving in to the 100-baht boat ride to the Grand Palace.
Wat Arun is such a beautiful view, especially during the night. But since my knee was on the verge of giving up already, I just waited outside and admired the temple from a bench. Unlike the other temples I've seen for the day, Wat Arun didn't look very crowded, at least from the outside. Just sitting there and waiting for the sun to set was relaxing that I didn’t mind waiting for about two hours before the temple finally lit up.
Platinum Fashion Mall
Since I did not plan my itinerary for this trip so much, I wasn’t in a hurry when I woke up the next day. I even stayed in bed for one more hour before managing to pull myself out of bed and finally shower. The breakfast at The Yard Hostel was a combination of toast and cereal, and I was a buzzer beater because I came in just before 10:30 AM.
Shopping was also not a part of my plan. The money that I asked a friend to change for me was supposed to let me survive until our Phuket visit. But since I didn’t know what else to do the whole day, I found myself at the Platinum Fashion Mall. I’m not a shopping kind of girl, mainly when I’m alone. But I spent a few good hours at the mall and got a few pieces for myself. That's also where I scored inexpensive but quality souvenir shirts for pasalubong. I guess that's the price I had to pay for not paying attention to the details of my trip, huh?
I had a late lunch at the mall's food court. One thing that stood out to me was the reloadable and refundable cards used to order your food. I’m not sure if it’s everywhere in Thailand because we also saw one in Phuket, but I liked their system. I didn't have to pay the cash in each stall. So, it makes transactions more accessible and safer for everyone. I wish there are markets and food halls in the Philippines that would do the same thing, too!
It was my very first time to celebrate my birthday alone in my life and boy did it feel good. It’s not like it’s hard to receive birthday greetings when I am miles away. But I was so focused on self-love and some alone time this year. I booked myself an afternoon tea set via KKday, so I wasn't in a hurry to leave my hostel in the morning.
Open House Bookshop by Hardcover
I found this cool place called Open House which is like a food court for books. It was heaven. There were even cafes on the same floor where you can bring your purchased items and read through them while enjoying excellent food. Although I brought a book from the Philippines to finish, I couldn’t help myself but pick a copy to enjoy during tea time. Books, the English ones at least, in Bangkok are way more expensive than in the Philippines. I was just lucky because it's my birthday. So, I gave myself a treat!
Okura Prestige Hotel
When I got to Okura, almost everyone who entertained me thought that I was with someone. I got the set for two after all. But I had a lot of time on my hands, so it wasn’t such a big deal. Eating was still a struggle for me because of my new braces, but I can say that most of the what’s on the set was delicious. I spent two hours in the hotel by reading, eating, drinking and looking out at the window. It was very peaceful. The view was unobstructed, and the high ceiling of the café didn’t allow the crowd to make much noise that could disturb others. If I were to plan my birthday again, I would still do the same thing.
I decided to go home early as I was supposed to wake up at 5 AM the next day. But I was distracted when I saw a bazaar at the foot of Ari BTS Station. I entered a pharmacy called Boots, and I ended up buying some skincare products. It's easily 1/3 of my whole Thailand expenses, would you believe? I’m not precisely a skincare kind of girl, but I don't even know why I splurge so much on this! Although one of my friends would argue that I could have gone to better places, I was still satisfied. I especially liked the lavender body wash that I got!
After my unexpected splurge on Boots, I went home to complete my self-care day. I put on facemask and foot mask before bed and had the best sleep ever during this vacation. Just perfect for what's ahead the next day!
Ayutthaya & River of Kings Cruise with KKday
My Day 4 in Thailand started early. I was picked up at 6 AM for my tour outside Bangkok. With a bunch of other joiners, we traveled from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and stopped at prime locations like the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Vihara Phra Mongkhon Bophit and the Reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam.
I wish we had more time exploring the beautiful Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. Some parts of the complex were under renovation, but it was huge. I liked the open garden with animal-shaped bushes. It was interesting to hear our local guide praise their past and present kings.
You can find the famous Buddha's head at Wat Mahathat. If you ever search for Ayutthaya on Google, it's probably one of the first images that you'll see. It's inside (and peeking from) the Banyan tree. People can't get too close to the Buddha's head itself, but there's a designated area for those who want to take photos and instruction on how to properly pay respect to the Buddha.
The rest of the locations only needed a brief visit. After sightseeing through the ruins of Ayutthaya, we went to the temples where I even got blessings from monks. After each invocation, they would give me a bracelet. I asked our tour guide if I should be keeping the bracelet or if I have to wear it. Then I learned that the bracelet is just like a souvenir. There's no need to keep it until your wish comes true. But what's more important is that a monk has blessed you. After a quick visit to the reclining Buddha, we headed to the Kings of River Cruise for our buffet lunch while cruising the Chao Phraya River from Ayutthaya back to Bangkok.
Since I still had daylight to spend after the tour driver sent me back to the hostel, I decided to go back to the Platinum Fashion Mall to get some snacks and food souvenirs for my family. That's also where I realized that I deserve the Thai massage I've been craving for since Day 1. So, after googling the nearest and cheapest massage place, I made my way to the Watergate Spa.
Getting Thai massage and foot massage almost cost the same save for about 50 baht. But since it's my birthday, I got myself the two hours package of Thai massage for 500 baht. An hour costs 300 baht, so I quickly saved a hundred for my therapist's tip.
Tipping in Thailand is very common and much appreciated. And I think she deserved it because she was pretty good at her job. She was gentle especially after warning her about my knee problem. She even tried to ease it with tiger balm! I couldn't help but hold my breath each time she goes near my right knee, though. But overall, I had a great time. If only I could stay there for at least an hour more, I would. It was so relaxing even without the use of any oil. Good thing I didn't believe that Thai massage was pure torture!
May's Garden House Restaurant
My plan for my last day in Bangkok was only to eat at May's Garden House Restaurant. It was a cute place tucked in one of Bangkok neighborhoods instead of along the highway. I was there early, but they accommodated me right away.
There’s no scarcity of My Neighbor Totoro items inside. Everything was Totoro themed! The music was even from the soundtrack of the Ghibli film. I usually don’t eat much during my travels, but I ordered a meal with drinks and even dessert! And to be fair with May’s Garden Restaurant's chef, I loved everything that I ordered. It was pretty pricey, yes, but at least it was as delicious as it looked! Poor Totoro and soot sprites. I had to devour them! Sorry!
Even though I had a late flight that evening, I chose to wander around the neighborhood before heading back to my hostel. That's when I noticed the abundance of massage places and coffee shops in the city. Maybe it's one of the reasons why you can find a lot of expatriates and digital nomads in Bangkok. There's a lot of co-working spaces, people are accommodating, and there's also a bunch of places where you can chill and enjoy a day out alone or with your friends.
I won’t be surprised if you'll tell me that I should have gone to this place or that place during my visit. I sure know that I haven't touched the basics after all! But what I had was such a laid-back vacation instead of a hectic travel experience. Call me a tita, but I’m embracing this unbothered travel lifestyle. And after all, Bangkok will always be there. I can still come back, can't I? But next time, maybe with much preparation so I wouldn't end up spending too much on shopping!
So, what do you think are the best spots in Bangkok that I missed? Comment down below!