Thailand 101 || Best of Bangkok

There’s nothing like the hustle and bustle of a city. I usually feel pretty comfortable navigating my way through a big city. I felt even more at ease thanks to a few Apps with cool features like listing your hotel in Thai so your taxi driver knows where to go.

After islanding hopping in Phi Phi I was ready to see the sights of the city and experience even more Thai culture. If I’ve learned one thing about myself, it’s that I’m not a backpacker. Am I on a budget? Yes. Am I willing to pay extra for privacy and more amenities? Yes. I think that makes me a “Flashpacker” versus a Backpacker or Luxury Traveler. Case in point, I’d seen lots of posts about Khao San Road, but I opted to stay on Sukhumvit Road.

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Home Sweet Hom

Known for its skyscrapers and Red Light District, Sukhumvit is the longest road in the center of Bangkok. I stayed at the newly opened Hom Hostel and Cooking Club in the Nana district.

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 Photo via Hom

Hom is a modern boutique hostel that not only offers a free Thai breakfast but traditional Thai cooking classes. Located on the fourth floor of a shopping mall, Hom has seven rooms with a mix of dorm style and private rooms. The space has little touches of home like an assortment of books, a handwritten welcome note and a communal kitchen.

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 Photo via Hom

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 Photo via Hom

The rooms are clean, spacious and the shower is enclosed. Which is a crucial point for me because I don’t like wet bathrooms. They boast that the mattresses are four star hotel quality and I must admit I had my most comfortable sleep here.

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 Photo via Hom

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 Photo via Hom

There is an open concept kitchen where all guests are encouraged to cook and share recipes. A living room with games, movies and communal computers. A washer and dryer and great rooftop garden and outdoor space. Hom is less than a five minute walk to the Nana BTS Train Station which made getting around the city extremely easy.

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A Night Out

After I checked in and started talking to the owner, she invited me out for drinks with her friends at a traditional Thai Bar. Tep Bar is a moody bar in the Charoenkrung area that serves up cocktails mixed with Thai herbs and spices, Thai tapas and traditional Thai herbal whiskey. Which was pretty potent, let me tell you! The entrance is hidden down a sketchy looking alleyway, but look for a black door and delicate signage in Thai.

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The space is perfect for a small to medium sized group. We chatted about travels and work upstairs, while traditional Thai music was being performed by a live band on the ground floor. One drink turned into three, then tapas were served. Everything tasted so unique, so exotic. We left about three hours later after we’d run up an impressive bill that was worth every baht.

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 Photo via BK Magazine

Suggested Cocktails:  Yadong Set; Three shots of herbal Thai whiskey, Like A Virgin tasted like a Thai mojito and Song Kran (Sweet & Sour).

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Suggested Snacks: Tua Samoon Prai (mixed nuts with Thai herbs), the Khao Pode Klook Foon (sweet corn roasted with Thai spices) tasted like a delicious corn fritter. You can’t go wrong with anything deep fried and the Larb Tod, a crispy deep fried ball of spicy minced pork is no exception.

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 Photo via BK Magazine

Hom Hostel is in the Red Light (Nana) District, which means that by simply walking outside you’re guaranteed to see prostitutes. The go-go bars and ladyboy shows weren’t too far away. Check out this article for more details on where to party in Nana.

Take A Thai Cooking Class

The next morning after I ate my delicious Thai breakfast, I got ready for the traditional Thai cooking class. I assumed it would be a small class for the hostel guests. But the owner actually uses the classes as a fundraiser and invites friends and families to participate. A large portion of the proceeds from the cooking classes is donated to Nang Loeng, a local cooking community. Hom Hostel also employs members of the Nang Loeng community to help maintain the hostel.

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I love to cook and I love to eat even more, so in theory I should do well in the class right? Nope! The first recipe we tried was the Traditional Thai Shortbread Cookies and let me preface this by saying, patience truly is a virtue. No lie, it took me about three or four tries, with each cookie before I got it “right”. And by “right” I mean acceptable by elementary school standards.

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The recipe was extraordinarily easy, but it was REALLY difficult to get the size of the cookie correct. It looks deceptively simple to make but don’t let looks fool you! After all of the dough was rolled, cut and painted we baked them. We were allowed to try a few after the initial baking period so we could taste the difference after it was perfumed. The taste was indescribable, these are the most delicious and unique cookies I’ve ever made! I found two great videos to share with you if you want to make these at home. We used the same exact product and measurements as this video. However, the measurements in this video are converted to cups and includes the step where the cookies are perfumed by a Thai candle.

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Photo via Instagram

The next traditional Thai dessert we made was Steamed Banana Bread. Besides substituting the tiny Thai bananas with regular bananas this recipe is pretty simple to recreate. There is SO much coconut in Thailand so shaving a coconut was easier  to do there than it would be here. We used a traditional Thai steamer to make these, but you could create a double boiler at home for the same result. Despite those things, this recipe is worth the elbow grease you’ll need to shave those coconuts! The end result is something that taste similar to a banana pancake but more moist. Here is a  short video that uses the same recipe and steps I did in class.

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 Photo via Instagram

What I didn’t know was while we were learning, watching and waiting for the desserts, lunch was being prepared. After all of our traditional Thai desserts were ready, we sat down for a traditional Thai lunch. Which included lots of fresh veggies, rice, chicken, mackerel with chili sauce and a Thai omelette with chicken. Not only was the food some of the best I’ve ever tasted, it was so rewarding to sit down with a group of people that I’d just met but also just accomplished something with.

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Visit The Floating Market

With so many travel agencies and ways to book day trips, there’s no need to worry if you don’t plan any excursions before you arrive in Thailand. I found a day trip with a private taxi to the Damnoen Floating Market for 1500 baht ($42). However, at Hom Hostel I saw a group rate of 500 baht ($14) for a minivan to pick you up at the hostel, take you to the market, take you on a speed boat tour and back to the hostel. I decided to save 1000 baht and go with the small group.

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I ended up meeting an American couple from Los Angeles and we had a great conversation. Chatting about what to do in Bangkok, their plans for Chiang Mai and our new American President. We also stopped in different parts of Bangkok, areas I wouldn’t have had time to visit like Khao San Road. I giggled watching people play drinking games on the street. They were obviously still lit from the night before.

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After the hour and a half or so drive to the market we were told we had two hours to explore. It is possible to walk parts of the market and there are plenty of street vendors. In addition to walking around, I paid 150 baht ($4) to ride a paddle boat through the floating area of market.

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We slowly passed by boats that were selling fruit and food. Some vendor and artisans had booths where they sold art, hats, jewelry and other small knick knacks. We’d often bump into other boats of tourists, the place was so crowded. It was interesting to see the assortment of product and the homes and businesses on the water.

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 Here is a similar deal I found online if you’re a planner.

Visit The Temples

I took BTS from the Nana Station to the Saphan Taksin Station. After walking down some stairs and following a few signs I bought my ferry ticket for 14 baht (less than 50 cents). I found this article very helpful and it has a BTS map. The best thing about this group of locations below is that you can walk from one to the next.

The Grand Palace & The Emerald Buddha

Address: Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
Admission: 500 baht ($14)
Dress: Modest; Covered arms and legs

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Visiting the Palace and the Emerald Buddha during Thailand’s mourning period was surreal. Read all about that here. Besides the fact that the King’s body was at the Temple and there were hundreds of Thai people there to pay respect. The mood was very melancholy.

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I discovered that the golden statues surrounding the Emerald Temple are actually guardians called Garuda.

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The two demon statues guarding this holy temple were a gift from Chinese merchants. The sheer magnitude of these brightly colored pieces is in stark contrast to the rest of the grounds. I noticed even more brightly dressed demons on the gilded chedis near the Royal Pantheon.

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Eight prangs or pagodas line the eastern side of the palace. Each one a different color of Chinese porcelain. I wish I could’ve captured them all in one shot.

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Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha)

Address: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Admission: 100 baht ($3)
Dress: Modest; Covered arms and legs

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There is something spectacular about the chedis at the Wat Pho. They’re otherworldly! So intricately designed and created. The color and tilework, not to mention a thousand beautiful buddha statues. Wat Pho is the oldest Temple in Bangkok and houses the largest collection of buddha images in Thailand. It was the first university in the country and is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai Massage. Which you can still get today and will cost between 300 baht ($8)  and 800 baht ($24).  There is also an area of the Temple used for social events, so when I was there music could be heard throughout the grounds.

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Some of the 95 chedis on the property are more spectacular than the others. Especially the four in this photo. Learn about the temples history and why these four are unique here.

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I’ve never laid eyes on anything as grand or golden as Wat Pho. The statue is nearly fifty feet high and one hundred and fifty feet long. The line to take a photo of it seemed to be just as long and even after waiting, there’s bound to be a photo bomber or two.

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Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)

Address: 158 Wang Doem Rd, Khwaeng Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10600, Thailand
Admission: 100 baht ($3)
Dress: Modest; Covered arms and legs

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Wat Arun is the sparkling temple that you see glittering on the river. That was my vision, a river cruise at night where I could be dazzled by the lights of this shining temple. The reality was, I wouldn’t have time to visit Wat Arun.

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For whatever reason, it wasn’t in the cards for me to see Wat Arun upclose, however I did catch glimpses of it. From the ferry on the way to the Grand Palace, walking from the Palace to the Flower Market and watching the sun set on it as I waited at the pier.

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Visit The Flower Market

Address: 53 Chakphet Rd, Khwaeng Wang Burapha Phirom, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand

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When I think of a Flower Market, I think of an inclosed space but the Pak Khlong Market is the opposite. Don’t look for any signs pointing you in the right direction. When you arrive at the Flower Market you’ll know it. You’ll notice ladies making arrangements and offerings, the bold colors and the intoxicating scent!

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The best time to visit the Flower Market is just before dawn when the deliveries arrive or in the middle of the night for a taste of the city life.

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Goodnight Bangkok

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After an adventurous afternoon I hopped on the ferry and headed Hom for my final meal in Thailand. This time the crowd was much smaller and the vibe was more intimate. The chef was actually a scientist who loves to create gluten free food. She had many questions for me regarding Americans and our diet fads.

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My day ended with coconut curry, chicken and you guessed it, fish! The gluten free bread actually tasted more like angel food cake, especially when paired with this delicious jam!

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Are you planning a trip to Thailand? Have you already been? I’d love to know what you did on your trip or what you have planned.

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Thanks to Hom Hostel & Cooking Club for sponsoring my stay. As always, all opinions are my own. 

10 thoughts

  1. thank you for inviting me to read your blog, the information you provided is awesome and the beautiful pictures make me so much more excited to embark on my journey. thank you thank you

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog Amber! I love helping others with travel planning or fashion and style! Have a great trip! Let me know if you visit any of the places I suggested? <3

  2. Hi Annette,
    I am here in Thailand now!!! and this poor on my part but I neglected to download the apps you suggested and now the Link does not work. would you please give them again, taking taxi tomorrow 😱.
    Thanks in advance,
    Amber

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