I arrive at Don Mueang International Airport, a less expensive option than the newer Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and considered one of the oldest operating airports in Asia. This airport has been renovated but I experience a long wait to clear customs. After clearing customs, I am soon on my way to Lebua Hotel at State Towers.
Lebua at State Towers is one of the best hotels in Bangkok. The hotel features outstanding views, iconic rooftop bars, and fine dining. Ask for a room with a river facing view and you will not be disappointed.
The hotel is topped with a dome that is the best rooftop venue in Bangkok. I arrive late so I enjoy a great dinner at Breeze, an Asian restaurant perched high on the 52nd floor. I highly recommend this restaurant for its impeccable service and even better cuisine. The restaurant features views of the city and an extensive wine list in a tranquil and beautiful atmosphere.
After dinner, I enjoy champagne at Flute Perrier-Jouet, a rooftop bar that touts itself as the highest open-air champagne bar in the world. It is located on the 64th floor of Lebua State Towers. Next, I continue on to SkyBar, located on the same floor as Flute and considered to be the best rooftop bar in Bangkok for some live music. Both bars have excellent views and are definitely worth a visit.
The next day, it is time to make the most of my stay. Bangkok is a city where old clashes with new in very interesting ways where you find multimillion-dollar mansions next to dilapidated homes and everything in between. The city has an extensive series of canals that connect the Chao Phraya River with various parts of the city and enable the flow of people and goods around the gridlock traffic of the city. This also makes for a great way to experience the city for those with limited time.
I take a taxi to one of Bangkok’s many open-air markets. Along the way, I mention to the driver that I want to take a boat tour of the city and he takes me to one of the tour launch spots. On the way down to the Chao Phraya River, I pass many temples, iconic buildings, and monuments. Eventually I head down a canal to get a closer look at Bangkok and enjoy the city. There are jumping fish, temples, and many types of homes and buildings along the river. The boat stops momentarily for vendors that have floating markets. They offer everything from fruit and drinks to souvenirs. I buy a cold refreshing beer to enjoy since I plan to shop later. I depart the long boat at Grand Palace to continue my tour. Before taking a long boat tour, be sure to ask if there are guides that speak your language and be sure to get tour details.
I visit Grand Palace, built in 1782 and residence to the Kings of Siam and The Royal Court, to see its amazing architecture. However, on this day the palace does not open until after I leave for my flight so I can only look through and over the gates. Here I negotiate a 2-hour tour via a Tuk-Tuk that only costs only 100 baht which is just a little over $3 USD (too good to be true) to see a couple of temples and hopefully get some shopping done. He promises to take me to a couple of Buddhist Temples, the fashion district, and then back to Wat Pho next to the Grand Palace.
My first stop is a small temple where virtually no one is present. I take some pictures and next we move to shop – the driver tells me this is the “Lucky Buddha.” Next, instead of a fashion district where I envisioned many shops, he takes me to a clothing store where everything is done to order on the spot. At this point, I realize this is a scam and how the driver makes his money as he gets a small cut of whatever is sold. Next, I ask him to take me to an area with open air markets, again we end up at a jewelry store that has some souvenirs on the second floor and not what was expected. The driver tells me he is working for gas coupons that he receives from the store owners based on whatever we buy. Please note, be very direct and get the driver to agree to exactly what you want and ask a lot of questions. This is still a good price considering how much of the city I saw and the time of the ride.
Next, I go to Wat Pho or reclining Buddha which is located close to the Grand Palace and is one of the best and oldest examples of a Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok. The buildings and grounds are gorgeous and I definitely recommend stopping here – be sure to walk the grounds. The temple houses a 46-meter-long gold Buddha along with the largest collections of Buddha images in Thailand. Please note that the temples have dress code restrictions so be sure to check before heading to any prominent site in the city.
That concludes my short visit to Bangkok where I had a great but short visit and will return someday for a longer trip.