Ever been to Southeast Asia? A quick layover stop in the Gulf is the only thing between you and a heaping bowl of Pad Thai, great shopping, and beautiful beaches. With roundtrip ticket prices to Bangkok costing between 3000LE and 3600LE, only one question remains: what is stopping you?
Etihad Airways, the official airline of the United Arab Emirates, offers roundtrip flights to Bangkok with a stop in Abu Dhabi at 3000LE-3600LE; the seating is spacious and meals are satisfying. Upon arriving at Bangkok International Airport, look for the Airport Link (10LE) in order to avoid expensive taxi rides into the city’s centre. We would suggest staying at the Park Plaza Hotel (around 500LE per night) located by the Asoka metro station. Although slightly more expensive than your average Thai hotel, its excellent location and unbelievably comfortable bed make it worthwhile.
In order to experience Bangkok in its full glory, be sure to arrive for a lively weekend. The best way to start any Saturday or Sunday would be with a trip to the Chatuchak Weekend Market (9AM-6PM Sat & Sun), which is conveniently located next to the Mo Chit metro station of the BTS Skytrain (10LE). The vendors are friendly, prices are very reasonable, and bargaining is best performed with a smile. The aroma of incense leads visitors to shops upon shops of old converse shoes, retro t-shirts, and all other types of memorabilia. Be sure to look out for family owned iced coffee shops; the intense heat, humidity, and thirst inevitably add to the overall enjoyment of the iced coffee (6LE). It was hands down the best iced coffee we’d ever tasted.
For lunch, head to the centre of the market to grab a cheap meal from one of the many available vendors. Meat skewers and seafood serve as delicious options, but the best value for your buck is certainly rice or egg noodle soup with your choice of beef, chicken, or pork (10LE). A Thai iced tea, despite its strange orange colour, does a good job of washing down most spicy Thai dishes. If you have room for dessert, look for the fresh coconut ice cream (6LE) that’s served in a coconut shell which can be found near the lunch vendors. With the addition of some crushed peanuts as toppings, this cool, creamy dessert provides a momentary escape from the constant heat and humidity.
Next, pay homage to Wat Pho (admission 12LE) – a Buddhist temple that touts some of the oldest recorded instructions in the art of Thai massage. Apparently, the beloved Thai massage was on the brink of extinction before the state interceded and mandated that massage schools be created with the goal of preserving Thailand’s most cherished tradition. This temple also contains the largest reclining Buddha in the world, and it is made entirely of gold. Skip the overpriced massage parlor at Wat Pho and instead head to Health Land.
Health land, located on Soi 19, is an extremely popular and clean massage chain. The two hour Thai massage (85LE) is an unforgettable experience. If crunched for time, purchase the one hour foot massage (55LE), and you will feel like you are walking on clouds for the rest of the day.
For dinner, make for Soi 55 in Upper Sukhmumvit for a simple but exquisite chicken dinner (25LE) at Boon Tong Kiat Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice restaurant. Afterwards, walk up the street to the House of Beers, known locally as HOBS, to enjoy premium Belgium beers amongst a young, hip crowd of Thais. The drinks are somewhat expensive (36LE-55LE) but the presentation is excellent. Be sure to order Belgium style fries (25LE) with sides of mayonnaise, pesto, garlic, and ketchup.
Those looking for some late night entertainment can head to a night market or Soi Cowboy. The Patpong Night Market (Soi 1 & 2) stays open until 1AM and offers cheap watches and clothing. Soi Cowboy, known as the red light district of Bangkok, is filled with bars, western travellers, and various forms of late night entertainment.
Another weekend option is a trip to a floating market. The Damnoen Saduak Market (7AM-4PM Sat & Sun) sells souvenirs and touristy gifts; however, it does not possess an authentic floating market feel. Operating during the same hours but located west of Bangkok, the Taling Chan Market serves as both a floating restaurant and produce market. Enjoy your seafood and noodles while floating on a canoe and take some local produce home for a late night snack.
After spending the weekend in Bangkok, you deserve to relax beside the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. We suggest heading south to sip coconut shakes on the popular island of Phuket. With Orient Thai Airlines offering roundtrip domestic flights from Bangkok for around 600LE, the same question still remains: what is stopping you?