Thailand holds a special place in my heart since it's the first foreign land I stepped on and Bangkok in particular, since that's the first city I visited in Thailand. This was the first international trip for my husband and me, so both of us were full of excitement, anxiety and were looking forward to enjoying each minute of this trip to the fullest!!
Day 1 in Bangkok
We landed in Suvarnabhumi Airport around 1pm ICT and after finishing all the formalities, it was already 4pm when we checked into our hotel. Since we had travelled whole of the previous night, our first day in Bangkok was just to relax and explore the area surrounding our hotel (More on this day in another blog!!!!). The next day however, was the only day we had to explore Bangkok.
Day 2 in Bangkok
The tour company we did our bookings from, sent a car for visit to the Ocean World in Siam Paragon mall. The driver was supposed to pick up and drop us back at the hotel after the visit. But we did not want to spend the morning at the mall and rather wanted to visit other places in Bangkok, so we asked our driver to give us the tickets to the Ocean World (these are valid for the entire day till 8pm) and drop us at a location closer to the Grand Palace. We decided to explore the city on our own after that.
There are many ways to reach the Grand Palace using public transport such as Metro and boat ride across Chao Phraya river. But we were a little apprehensive about using these modes of transport since we had only one day in Bangkok and we did not want to lose time in exploring the public transport :D . So instead, we bargained the fare and hired a cab! (Later, we realized that metro & boat ride could have been better options to reach the Grand temple if you are looking for a pocket friendly trip!!)
The Grand Palace, a main tourist attraction in Bangkok, is the official home of Kings of Siam and only some part of the palace is open for public viewing.
Immediately on entering the palace, the visitors get to see the Outer Court area which initially had many official buildings.
After this, a left turn leads to one of the most sacred structures in Bangkok, the Temple of Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). The ticket counters are located before the entrance to this massive complex (Please note: Passport is checked while buying any tickets in Thailand, so keep it safe and handy). The entry fees is quite high, 500baht/person with extra charges for the audio guide. The visitors must also follow a strict dress code such as covered shoulders, no shorts and no revealing clothes.
The path around the palace is fixed and once inside, the first view point is the paintings that cover the outer wall of entire temple depicting the Ramakien epic (Thailand's version of Hindu mythology, Ramayana). I was unaware about such a connection in belief between Thailand and Indian cultures. The paintings were surreal and I was amazed by the size of these paintings (I will upload pics of these paintings soon!).
There are many buildings in the temple grounds and the audio guide helped us with the history behind each of it.
The main sanctum itself is very beautiful with numerous Buddha statues and the walls & ceiling covered with beautiful Ramakein paintings. The statue of Emerald Buddha sits on the top looking magnificent in clothes that are changed every season. Only the king is allowed entry via the center gate to the temple, while all others enter from the left gate and exit from right.
When we visited the Grand Palace, the other parts of the palace were closed for public viewing since there were official ceremonies being held related to the funeral of King Bhumibol.
The tour through the Grand Palace can be very exhausting so carry ample water with you.
Within walking distance from the Grand Palace is the temple of reclining Buddha, Wat Pho. An entrance fee is charged here as well and the same dress code rule as the Grand Palace is applicable here.
The reclining Buddha is a very impressive statue of around 45 meters long, covered in gold leaf. The roof of the temple has paintings of the Ramakein epic similar to the ones in Grand Palace.
Siam Paragon is the 6th largest mall in Thailand and comprises of wide varieties of stores, many top brands, Madame Tussauds wax museum, Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World, numerous restaurants and a multiplex. The mall is well connected by the metros and after getting down from a metro, you can walk directly into the mall. But we reached the mall in a cab which we hired after bargaining with many cab drivers (Cabs in Bangkok can be expensive and the drivers might charge more from the tourists. So it is always advisable to bargain well before hiring one.)
Our main interest was the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World and it did not disappoint us even a bit! The entire place was divided into many sections, each displaying the different species of one particular sea creature or a theme like Amazon forest, etc. The ocean tunnel that provides a 360degree view of the underwater world is a major highlight of the place. There is also a "Shark Walk" section where you can walk with the sharks swimming below your feet!!! The other attractions include penguins, giant crabs, octopus, jelly fishes, seahorses, turtles, 100s of varieties of fishes ranging from very tiny ones to very big ones.
There are few more attractions in Bangkok that can be covered in a day like Wat Arun (opposite Wat Pho), Asiatique mall and Madame Tussauds.
If you have some more time in Bangkok, then explore the Floating market (open only in the mornings) and Safari world (requires one full day).
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