What’s the best way to explore a place as charming and exotic as Bangkok?
It’s to let go of the tourist vibe and tread the streets like you belong, like a monk, like your poison is the tom yum!
The thought of having a larger than life experience is almost always synonymous with good travel. The days of luxurious travel and expensive tours, however, belong in 2008, much like bangs. What has us millennials going, is the notion of “Local Travel”?
Let me break down the term to a daydream you must have had. Travelling locally is quite the opposite of planned and detailed travel; one where you don’t take pre-booked cabs or tours but just stroll the streets and soak in the flavour of local food. It’s almost as if you live in a city but have never seen what it has to offer and one fine day, the realisation makes you pick up your bag and go around. You’re dressed like the locals, you eat like the locals, you shop like the locals and yet you’re travelling. How cool is that?
One of the best places to travel locally is Bangkok – a city with a tropical backdrop, which is spiritual and yet slightly promiscuous, but at the right place between historic and modern. Don’t worry if local travel seems hard to achieve at first; practice should make you perfect the art, plus Bangkok deserves revisits 😛
Here’s how you can blend into Bangkok and explore……………….
1. Wear short and light clothes
It’s going to be hot and the sweaty kind of hot. So pack in some shorts and cotton tees to pull you through. Also, locals can’t quote higher prices to you if they think you’re locals too. I kid you not when I say everyone in the old town wears shorts.
Make sure you follow temple dress codes strictly though.
2. Walk to and through the shrines
There are a great many beautifully constructed Buddhist temples and shrines all over the city which can be easily reached by foot. It may all be too much for a day so space it out, aiming to visit 2 or at the max 3. Visit the Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) and Wat Benchamabophit before noon and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) along with the Grand Palace in the afternoon. Don’t forget to take along with you a quirky local guide in the palace. It’s good to know some facts. After all, a local would know the difference between the Thai, the Cambodian and the Lankan pagodas.
The Grand Palace
3. Move out of the city
Get outside the city because Thailand has a lot on offer in and around Bangkok. A little to the west of the city lies the interesting district of Damnoen Sadauk. It offers White Elephant forest rides and the famed Floating Market. Do ride a boat through the market and purchase some fresh fruits. You won’t be disappointed. One can also pull over at woodwork shops where some great wood carving skills are on display.
Thai White Elephants
4. Eat local cuisine
Crab noodles, fish delicacies, pungent curries, spicy soups, oh I can keep going on and on about the local Thai food. It is a rare cuisine which does full justice to sweet, salty, sour bitter and spicy ingredients and you get the best food in cramped restaurants in apartments tugged on the streets or directly being sold on carts on the street. Either way, good food is in plenty and cheap. Bangkok also has an abundant supply of tasty tropical fruits like mango, dragonfruit, mangosteen, rambutan and lychee; a mini heaven for fruit-lovers. If you have the stomach to try fancy stuff though, go for shark fins and other shark delicacies. They are local favourites.
5. Shop for the good stuff
Bangkok, like any other world-famous tourist destination, will offer you a lot of items to buy. But make sure you travel wisely by buying the locally made things which you don’t get back at home. I personally suggest you buy a few prints of their traditional Thai Artwork on silk cloth. They go with any colour scheme at your home and make for great souvenirs. The Thai soap ornaments are also good buys. Fabrics are also a good choice.
Thai Silk Paintings
Hope this gives you a good idea of Local Travel, especially in Bangkok. Having travelled through the city myself, I assure you that this way of travel gives you the best experience and helps you make the best of what the city has to offer. So hit the roads and do share your previous or future experiences with us in the comments below.
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