BANGKOK BASICS

With only 14 more days until we flew out to London from Bangkok, we opted to explore Thailand instead of rushing our way through Laos, which we originally intended to do. Catching a bus from Siem Reap is the most cost effective way and takes roughly eight hours. With this in mind, you are only eligible for a 14 day tourist VISA on the border of Thailand, which for us worked out perfectly. We opted for Nattakan bus company which was on the higher end of the price scale however included a clean and comfortable bus, air con, bottled water, bread or pastry, green tea drink and a hot meal for lunch.

Crossing the border is an easy enough task but a little confusing at certain points. Our bus dropped us off, gave us our bags and met us on the other side of the border, which in total took around 45 minutes. First stop is exiting the Cambodian border which should be easy so long as you haven’t overstayed, from what we observed it was roughly $5USD-$10USD per day depending how corrupt your officer was. You then walk a distance to the Thai entry side which is straight forward and easy to navigate, afterwards you walk back to the bus and off you go. The benefit of going with a reputable company is their staff will guide you where to walk to and won’t drive off until the last person has bordered the bus. We safely arrived at the Bangkok bus station and cabbed it to our hostel, lugging our packs around for two months had taken its toll.

We stayed in ‘We Bangkok’ which is located in Silom. We paid 350THB each per night for an 8 bed dorm. The facilities were clean ,staff were friendly and they had a nice little common area downstairs with free Wi-Fi (which only works well on the ground floor) and close to a train station, it was really bang for our buck. It’s not a party hostel though and the area is completely different to the backpacker’s mecca, Khao San road. This area encompasses the older city and reflects the average middle class working person in Bangkok.  There are some great food options nearby including Chinatown, Korean BBQ and Japanese.

 

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>Both of us had been to Bangkok before, which gave us the freedom to take a bit of time out to relax and enjoy the city without feeling the pressure to see all the tourist sites etc.  We ventured out on foot to Patpong, the old red light district of Thailand, which still hasn’t lost much of its appeal.  It’s not quite Soi cowboy but there are go-go dancing clubs and ping pong shows aplenty. We checked out the night markets which had all your usual variety of imitation clothing brands, sunglasses, bags, electronics and the occasional wooden frog lady. Close to the MRT our options were limitless with all the major malls, markets and attractions not far away.

Eating options are easy in Bangkok, you’ll find almost any cuisine you fancy for a reasonable price. Street food is the way to go if your funds are limited. Us Vagabonds felt as though we deserved to treat ourselves in the Japanese district after craving good Japanese for so long. We had a great meal, at Sushi Tsukiji, for a total of $50, cheap by Western standards. We ate some of the finest sashimi, sushi rolls, edamame and a couple of beers to wash it all down. The restaurant had smoking and non smoking and was really well laid out, including foot space cut into the floor so you were sitting on the ground, close to all the delicious food. If you head down this Soi  you will have countless options including street teppinyaki to high end sushi houses.

For cheap Thai food hit up any shopping center and eat at the food court, prices range from 80 BHt-400BHT depending on what you get. Food quality is good and the cooking time is mind blowing, nothing takes more than about 2 minutes to prepare. We scored some tasty pad Thai for 60 BHT, not cheap in comparison to Khao San Road but good if you’d like to taste street food in a clean environment.  Another great option is to visit Soi 38 which is renowned for having some of the best street food in Thailand, including the claim to fame of the best Pad Thai. Food is super cheap and amazing to eat but don’t head there early, most shops will open a bit later, usually after 8 pm. Not close to central Bangkok but an easy cab ride makes it a worthwhile spot to check out.

Visa what nots

Travelers from certain countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom don’t need a travel visa to enter Thailand, instead they are given a visa at the border at NO cost. Any land crossing will entitle you to 14 days to visit Thailand, meaning if you caught a bus, train or car into Thailand you will only have two weeks to explore. To qualify for a 30 day entry into the country you will need to arrive via airplane. This agreement does not apply to all passports and countries however it does to a few major ones and is a great reason to visit Thailand. Don’t get sucked into paying anything on arrival if you’re from one of the agreed countries. The exception to this would be if you apply for a 60 day visa, costs can be found via the Thai embassy website or your countries travel advice website. Due to amount of travelers and expats abusing the visa system for years, Thailand is tightening up on its policy so be careful how many visa runs you do. A few entries into Thailand spaced with a week in one of its bordering countries such as Laos shouldn’t arouse too much suspicion but be careful. Overstaying your visa isn’t a huge criminal offence, it will incur a 500 BHT a day fine but this is at the discretion of border control.

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