Thai food (pad kee mao) is one of my favorite things to eat, hands down. Thailand has always been on my bucket list and 2019 was the year to make it happen. This was our first trip to Asia and it was 100% inspired by the love of Thai food. We left mid January and spent 5 nights in Bangkok, 3 nights in Chiang Mai and 5 nights in Ko Samui.
Shanghai Mansion Hotel
When choosing hotels I wanted to make sure we stayed at local boutique style places so that we really felt like we were in Thailand. The Shanghai Mansion hotel is located on the edge of China Town had really good reviews. The price was right and it was within walking distance to the MRT train station. The decor was in bright colors and the staff at breakfast every morning was super friendly. The buffet breakfast was incredible and we loved the coffee. Overall we really loved our stay here and would definitely stay again.
Grand Palace and a Water Taxi
Our first day we ventured out on our first tuk tuk and were dropped off at the Grand Palace. We couldn’t believe how incredibly huge this venue was. And the people, so many people. Temperatures were in the mid 90’s, the humidity was off the charts and the high pollution was certainly a big concern, so we looked for as much shade and AC as possible. It’s important to make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. There were certain sacred places where shoes were prohibited. There were hundreds of shoes everywhere and we weren’t quite comfortable leaving ours for the taking. If we had backpacks with us it would have been different. If you plan to go keep this tip in mind. Either wear shoes you don’t care about losing or have a bag big enough to store them.
After walking over two hours we were getting tired and decided it was time to head back to the hotel and grab lunch, a water taxi sounded like a good idea. Complete and utter organized chaos, but we did it! Great way to see a little different view of the city. We stopped by the Grand China Hotel and enjoyed our first Thai meal. The green curry didn’t disappoint.
Dinner with a Friend
Toni and I were introduced over e-mail through a mutual friend months prior to our trip. He was an incredible help and provided lots of tips as we prepared. We were able to meet him our first night in Bangkok. He gave us a tour of the city, we visited several local temples, saw the tallest building in Thailand and enjoyed amazing street Pad Thai ($1.60 per person).
Jim Thompson House and Siam Paragon
We visited the Jim Thompson House, he is the founder of the silk industry in Thailand. After the tour we needed to find food and Toni recommended Siam Paragon. We walked in and our jaws hit the floor. It was endless aisles of food stalls and restaurants. How were we to choose? So we decided to see what google recommended. We landed at Chili Thai and it didn’t disappoint. We needed something sweet and “After You” was a popular destination. It was worth the wait. We devoured a mile high toast with strawberries, whip cream and ice cream. UHH-MAZING.
Night tour via Tuk Tuk
Starting at 7pm we had a night tour via tuk tuk and met three other couples from Germany, Kansas and Austin at the MRT station. John and I had to quickly learn the ways of the train station. Luckily it was very easy. I LOVED our guide, she first took us to a local market where we enjoyed several street food specialities. We stopped by the Way Pho temple, aka the Reclining Budda and headed to dinner at Thipsamai Restaurant. People will stand in line for hours as this is the most famous Pad Thai joint in town. Little did I know she put our name on the list because when we arrived the line was almost a 2 hour wait. We by-passed the line and were seated. I felt like a VIP! The Pad Thai is one of the most coveted in the city and we got to enjoy it. AMAZING!
After dinner we headed to the flower market, an operation that doesn’t sleep. They run 24/7. It was incredible. We headed upstairs after the tour where we enjoyed mango and sticky rice and were taught how to fold the leaves of a lotus flower. This was a 4 hour tour I highly recommend.
We arrived at the meeting spot a little early and realized we hadn’t had lunch and it was close to 4pm. We did the unthinkable and ate McDonalds. I know, I know no judgment please, it was necessary. What was funny, it tasted the exact same half way around the world 🙂 We found our group at the meeting spot and headed to the local market where we learned about what food items we would be using. Over the next couple hours we made paneang chicken curry, papaya salad, pumpkin custard and fried shrimp w/tamarind sauce. We enjoyed the company of friends from Germany, India and California.
Floating and Railway Markets
Our day started at 6:50am and joined our tour guide and a couple from France. We quickly realized they didn’t speak English so the Google translate app was my new best friend for the day. After a 1.5 hour drive we arrived at the Railway Market just in time to see the train come through. It’s important to respect the vendors and not spend a lot of time taking photos in front the stalls. So we quickly moved through the market.
Next stop was the floating market. We all boarded a long neck speed boat and it was a 25 min ride to the market. Organized chaos yet again. We walked through the market and enjoyed the food, from chicken satay to coconut pancakes it was all delicious! I shared my love of food with the tour guide so she went out of her way to share a couple street food specialties with us. I even purchased Palm Sugar! Lunch was by the sea and we devoured endless amounts of seafood.
After lunch we walked across the street to see the seafood market. So interesting! The ride home was quiet except for the part where we saw monkeys. They ran up to the car because they knew we had food. We said our goodbyes and made new friends that day. A must do when in Bangkok. We ended the day with our first Thai massage at our hotel, sushi with Toni and Chinese donuts!
Hire a local Photographer
Consider hiring a local photographer to capture you and your group in action. Moments When takes amazing photos.