Bangkok Packing List

Bangkok Packing List

Being from Texas, I figured I was used to heat and humidity, but boy did Bangkok test my tolerance! Not only was it hot, it was super humid, and when combined with the heat generated by a bustling, concrete, no-shade city, lightweight clothes and sun-gear were a must.

On top of weather control, you also have to pack for the temples. Out of respect for the Thai people, you must cover your shoulders, not show cleavage, have bottoms on that go below your knees, and take your shoes / hats off when entering and walking around Thai temples and the Royal Palace. In general, you want to make sure you are more covered-up as short or revealing clothes are not appreciated. Doing all of that while staying cool and looking cute is a challenge, but is doable!

Below are my recommendations for making the most out of your Bangkok packing space:

Chaco Dorra Sandals  | NeatPack Foldable Backpack | Frever 21 Floppy Sun Hat | Cheap sunglasses bought in the Bangkok night market so if you lose or break them, its OK | Everything But Water Bikini | Coach Messenger with Pop Up Pouch Bag

Clothing:

  • Shirts (1 per day): Light, breathable tanks or tees that do not reveal too much
  • Maxi skirts or maxi dresses (1 per day): Perfect to wear at temples and they dress up and down so easily! Try and buy ones with slits so you can have a bit more ventilation.
  • Walking pants (1-2 pending length of stay and activities): Don’t go for jeans – they are way too hot. Try active wear type pants that are light, breathable, and easy to clean. If you wear leggings, make sure your tops go substantially below your butt so are you still within temple dress code.
  • Formal wear (number pending your night plans): dresses or nice skirt / top combo. Remember, the night markets are a great way to spend an evening and are very casual so, if you only have two nights, make sure you check out a market for one of them!
  • Bathing suit: Make sure you check out the hotel pool. The So Sofitel’s pool was an amazing infinity pool and I am so glad I brought my suit!
  • Workout gear: Just in case all of the Pad Thai makes a gym date necessary…

Outside of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Accessories:

  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • A scarf to cover your shoulders at the temples (note: the Royal Palace requires something more robust than a scarf. I had to buy a $2 white tee-shirt outside of the Palace entrance so I could pass the standards)
  • Umbrella: for both sun and rain protection
  • Hat and sunglasses: A MUST
  • Day bag: pack-able backpack recommended to put your shoes in at temples, carry your water, and anything else you may need.
  • Sun screen: make sure you apply often!
  • Purse: A small, zipped (for security reasons), cross-body purse, to carry your personals. Try and make sure it is easy for you to get in and out of when you need to grab your phone or camera quickly to capture your favorite moments of the trip! Also, an easy to clean leather material will help if you maintain it and pick a color that is easy to match with.
  • Hand sanitizer

Shoes:

  • Sneakers
  • Comfortable walking sandals that are easy to take on and off (at temples)
  • Sandals for walking to the spa or pool / hot tub

At the infinity pool at the So Sofitel Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand

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Bangkok – Day 1

Bangkok – Day 1

The view of Bangkok city form the So Sofitel Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand

There was a button next to my side of the bed in the So Sofitel hotel that opened the blinds. I tried to see the view when we arrived at 1 AM, but being so dark, I thought our view nothing special but boy was I wrong! I hit that blind button and unveiled an insanely amazing view of a huge park and amazing Bangkok skyline! We could even see a 5K going on in the park below, as well as people doing Tai Chi! Incredible. Still not yet used to the time change, we got up around 6:30 AM and headed down to the best breakfast buffet I have ever had. Not only was the view the same as our room, the buffet had an amazing assortment of fresh food from pastries of all kinds made daily to Thai soup, dim sum to traditional “American breakfast” foods, and then fruits of all kinds. I went to town on the passion fruit – it is so expensive in Texas so I over indulged. Hey, it is vacation for a reason right?

Breakfast at the So Sofitel Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand

Anyways, after breakfast we went downstairs to meet Kiwi, our guide for the next 1.5 days from Tour with Tong. Kiwi was super friendly and had a tuktuk waiting for us to go to the sky train. The public transport in Bangkok is amazingly cheap and easy to use. The sky rail, for example, was under $1 USD each way. Not too shabby! We took the sky rail to the river to hop on a water taxi. The orange water taxi ferried us to the port where one of the flower markets was. There were hundreds of thousands of flowers everywhere and Kiwi showed us which types of flower arrangements were used for different ceremonies like weddings, cremation, and praying to the Buddha. She took us to one stand where a girl was putting flower bracelets together and showed me how to string them. I was definitely not as good as her but I tried – A for effort, right? Anyways, the flowers smelt amazing but apparently, you should only smell the ones  you buy because it is bad luck to smell the flowers that someone else will buy in the future. On the way out of the market, we bought some Lotus flowers to bring to the temple since the Lotus flower is a very important symbol in Buddhism. Kiwi told us that every day of the week has a color and your color is the day of the week you were born – mine just so happens to be pink and Ryan’s blue, so we bought pink Lotus flowers to bring to the temple.

Hopped in another tutu with our flowers and rode to Wat Pho. What a remarkable place! Before we went in too far, Kiwi taught us how to open the petals of the lotus flowers and fold them to be pretty for the Buddha. Vendors sell the flowers opened inside of the temple, but it means more if you do it yourself, it is cheaper, and it is kind of fun. Odd numbers, specifically 1, 3, 5, and 7 are considered lucky in Thailand, so we had 5 lotus flowers each. Once we were finished, we brought them to a prayer area with the status of the different Buddha poses – again, there is one for each day of the week. My day is the reclining Buddha to which the entire temple is devoted! We lit a prayer candle and incense and knelt before the Buddhas and then we took gold leaf flecks and placed them on 3 Buddha of our choosing for luck and good fortune. I chose my Buddha, the lucky Buddha which is most recognizable for his big belly and hearty smile, and then Ryan’s Buddha to place my flecks on. A neat tradition to partake in.

We walked through the 80 acre grounds to the temple in which the laying Buddha resides. He is 46 meter long and used to be outside, but they build a temple for him to keep him preserved. To be respectful, I had to use my scarf as a cover up for my shoulders. To gain respectful entry into all of the Wats, you must wear longer than knee-length skirts or pants, have your shoulders covered with no cleavage showing, and remove your shoes and hats. I planned for that ahead of time but it was a bit sad to see other girls in short everything tries and sneak past in inappropriate wear into these sacred places. You could tell that the people working there, the guides, and the local Thai people who go to the temples to pray frown upon those breaking the dress code. Anyways, I will get off of my soap-box…

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The temples themselves were breathtaking as the gold and mirrors that lined the walls from edge to edge shimmered in the sun. Inside, the walls of the temples were all hand painted in dark red tones with murals of legends across the lower portions in gold leaf. If you looked close enough at the figures, all of them had long fingers and ears which resemble long life for the character. The middle of the temples housed huge monuments that build up to gold Buddhas at the top. Astonishingly pretty and ornate.

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I grew up watching The King and I, a musical based in Siam (now Thailand), and it was delightful to see the similarities from the images and figures I know so well in that movie and the Thai temples and murals on the walls and in the status in the Grand Place. We took a short bus ride to the Palace and I bought a white shirt to cover up more before we entered the 120 acer grounds. We entered in between two huge statues of the villains in Thai culture – the green demon and white-faced monkey. There were at least 6, 20-foot tall statues of those two symbols as we walked through the grand palace.

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As can be seen when you visit almost anywhere, there are indications in the Grand Place’s architecture of cultures outside of Thai. There are two temples specifically with tops from different counties – one from Cambodia that looks very similar to the ancient wats there, and then a colorfully flowered top that most certainly was influenced by the Chinese. It is amazing to see different cultures come together and form buildings so diversely beautiful. This is going to sound funny, but I couldn’t get over how fantastically sparkly some of the temples were too.

We walked past those ornate buildings to the main one that housed the Emerald Buddha who has an estimated value of over 157 MM BHT, that’s over $5MM USD! He also is quite fashionable and gets three outfit changes by the King each year – one for summer, the rainy season, and winter. That Buddha is really amazing.

After we saw the Emerald Buddha, we were getting pretty hot and tired. Not only was the jet-lag getting to us, but it was insanely humid and the sun is much more potent since we were closer to the equator. We left the palace and went across the street to a vendor wielding a machete! With one stroke, she hacked into a coconut, popped in a straw, and handed me a deliciously refreshing drink that made me feel so much better! Ryan got a mango drink which was also amazing.

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With some hydration under our belt, we then hopped into a tuktuk and headed to a massage house. Kiwi took us to a well-known, non-sketchy, spa right next to the sky train so we could find our way home after, and left us with the massage menu. For just $60 a person, we got 2 hours of Thai, deep tissue, and aroma therapy massage. Despite the fact that Ryan’s masseuse was hitting on him throughout the massage, and that both of our massage ladies were talking about “lady boys” and other things in Thai during those two hours, it was super relaxing!

We then walked across the street for lunch at this cool looking BBQ place. There was a small grill in the center of each table and you ordered an assortment of meats and veggies to grill to your liking. There were tons of super fresh and yummy food and it cost us a total of $16 USD – I love Thailand and I need to bring this concept to the US like ASAP!

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Being extremely relaxed after the massage and now in a slight food coma, we decided to head back to the hotel to rest. Ryan took a nap and I decided to check out the pool and boy was I glad I did! Talk about nirvana! There was an endless pool looking over the park and city with awesome lounge chairs and yummy cocktails! I swam, had a drink, and enjoyed the view until an impending storm looked threatening enough to send me inside.

After some journaling, I woke Ryan up so that we could go check out a night market. We took off in a taxi and, in about ten minutes, were dropped off at the end of the Patpong’s market. It was a long street lined with tents that sold fake bags, clothes, watches, sun glasses, and souvenirs. I bought a few things and tried to haggle my way down to good prices, but ended up paying way too much for a pair of sun glasses. I know I paid too much because the sales girl started celebrating after I gave her the money – oh well! Along either side of the tents were stores and what appeared to be strip clubs so we stayed in the middle lane of the shopping vendors. As we neared closer to the main road where our hotel was, the tents got a bit more rated R with some very graphic t-shirt designs and XXX shops. In retrospect, we should have gone to one of the better night markets. I suggest doing some Googling to double check local advice. After about an hour of markets, we headed back to the hotel for some much-needed sleep.

Bangkok, Thailand

Getting to Bangkok – A 24 Hour Journey

Getting to Bangkok – A 24 Hour Journey

While we do not live in Houston, we took the 4-hour drive all the way down to the George Bush International Airport because our round trip tickets to Bangkok were $400 less per person and we had the added bonus of free dog sitting from family members. Our flight was at 11:20 AM and we arrived at the airport at 9:20 to beat the crowds, which we definitely did seeing as we were literally the only people going through security, we had a private session in the baggage line, and walked into the small international terminal with almost no one else around. With 1.9 hours to spare, we had a nice breakfast at the only restaurant in the terminal and then looked through the 2.5 shops until we were ready to board. While we booked our flight was through United, we ended up flying ANA (Japan) airways for our first 14-hour long ride to Tokyo. We had a 3-hour layover in Tokyo airport and then another 6-hour flight from Tokyo to Bangkok – lots of fun right?

Even in Economy class, the leg room wasn’t too bad – and that says something when your fiancée is 6’2! We took off right on time and were served a pretty decent meal of potato cake with curry and rice, and a nice glass of wine. Ryan had a seafood dish since we were being “adventurous” but I do not really recommend airplane seafood. After we ate, everyone lowered their blinds to sleep to get on Tokyo time – 14 hours ahead of CST time in Texas. It was still early in the morning so I couldn’t fall asleep and ended up watching 3 pretty poor new movies instead.

The day we left also happened to be Ryan and I’s 2.5-year anniversary. We have a bit of a running joke about ½ year anniversaries and so I thought it would be fun to ask the flight attendant to drop off a little champagne and a “Happy 2.5 Years” note so we could celebrate. Since everyone was sleeping, she instead gave us chocolates and mine had a note saying she could do it in an hour. Ryan sniffed out I was trying to get away with something and got a little peeved since “I was embarrassing”, but once they brought two little bottles of champagne, a cute card decorated with stickers, chocolates, and a little blow up airplane, he was happy as a clam and apologized. I like to celebrate things big and small and, with free champagne, can you really blame me?

So a celebratory-champagne induced nap and few games on my cell phone later, we finnnnalllly landed in Tokyo. The international part of the airport is basically a high-end shopping mall with everything you could ever want duty-free, Japanese shops, and high-end shops like Hermes and Burberry. After breezing through a security check, we walked what seemed to be a mile to our gate and waited the 2.5 hours until boarding. At this point, it was 2 AM Texas time and we were getting snoozey. As soon as we got on the plane, and despite my efforts to stay awake, I zonked out, only to wake up 20 minutes later and realize we were still on the tarmac in line to take off. We waited for an hour on the tarmac until it was our turn to go and I was too tired to be bummed that we would be getting in at 12 AM Bangkok time instead of 11 PM. What is another hour, right?

I slept almost the entire flight. At one point, the stewardess came by with drink service and I ordered a water, fell asleep, and woke up to my neighbor tapping my arm so I could get my water from the flight attendant! Talk about a zombie!

The pilot actually made up time in the air and we landed at 11:20. We de-boarded and, as we were walking towards customs, I realized I left my iPhone in the backseat of the plane! I made a mad-dash back to the plane and about 8 stewardess’s helped me find it. I have to say, the service on ANA was amazing. With that crisis averted, we made our way quickly through customs and found the driver I had booked through BangkokShuttle to take us to the So Sofitel Hotel. Let me tell you, after that much travel, it was so nice not to have to worry about transportation!

It took about 30 minutes to get to one of the most amazing hotel I have stayed at so far in my life. The lobby of the So Sofitel was gorgeous and the staff was incredibly welcoming.

Hotel Room at So Sofitel, Bangkok Thailand

Our room was deep-sea blue with awesome décor, had delicious fruits waiting for us, and had a huge comfy bed – the opposite of the plane chairs we had become so used to! After a nice and short rain shower, it was time for some much-needed sleep.