If you are living in India and on the look out for a budget holiday , then Thailand it is! 🙂
Ever since Air Asia started its low cost airline services, flying international is no longer a dream for a middle class indian. If you book your tickets well in advance, you can get them really cheap! What Ryan Air is to Europe, Air Asia is to India. We booked our tickets in August and paid just Rs 31000 for both of us for the round trip. Our travel dates were December 30th- Jan 5th. Since its cheaper to fly out of Chennai, we chose our departing port as Chennai and we arrived into Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok. The problems with these low cost carriers is that cancellation of flights is almost impossible. Hence be really sure of the dates before you book your tickets! We got our visa upon arrival. It was a quick and easy process. For more details on how to get your visa click here.
During our trip, we visited Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. The weather was quite pleasant during the night but sweaty and humid during the noon time. Once you arrive at Bangkok, you have frequent overnight buses to Pattaya and Phuket. Just head to the bus terminal and book your ticket.
While we were at Bangkok, we managed to see the beautiful Grand Palace .The Grand Palace is a must see as it is the city’s most famous landmark. Its a 218,000-square-meter walled city which consists of royal residences, government offices, Buddhist temples, and amazing works of art.
Right next to the Grand Palace, do not forget to visit the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha or the Wat Phra Kaew. From its name, we can guess that the statue is green hence the name Emerald. The Buddha statue is made from a single block of jade .The statue is raised high on a series of platforms and no one is allowed near the Emerald Buddha except the King. There is a very interesting ritual that happens here. Thrice a year, A cloak is changed to correspond to summer, winter, and rainy season .This ritual is apparently done with the belief that it would bring good luck to the country and its people. Admission to the temple is approximately 400-500 Baht. Also, you will see lotuses dipped in holy water and lying in buckets. Make sure you pick one and tap it on your head , Its just something that the locals do to bring some luck.
After this we headed to Wat Pho which is otherwise called the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The temple shelters 15 meter high, 43 meter long Buddha image and it is covered with gold leaf and baring four meter long feet encrusted with exquisite mother of pearl decorations. A fun thing you could do at this temple is, to purchase a bowl of coins and drop them into the 108 bronze bowls which are kept in a line . It is believed that this would bring good luck to the person dropping the coins. The money donated would be spent in the maintenance of the temple.
After visiting these temples, our feet began to ache! we really wanted to relax for a bit. And guess what we say right next to Wat Pho? The traditional massage school .We immediately walked in and got our tokens. We had to wait for about 20 minutes as all the slots were full. But the wait was so worth it! We both got the massage done and felt so relaxed after that. You can opt for a half hour or one hour massage. We paid close to 100 Baht per person. This is definitely pricey for a massage considering the fact that everything in Thai is cheap! The massage at the school is pricey because of its location and nothing else . If your looking for a cheaper alternative, you can surely find many outside the palace. We did it at the massage school just for the experience!
Another temple that i had on my list was Wat Arun ( Temple of Dawn). Sadly we didnt get the time to do it. Really wanted to make a visit after sun down because it is supposed to be really beautiful when the lights are on! Sigh..! Next time 🙂
The most important thing to keep in mind while visiting these temples is that be sure you are wearing appropriate clothing. They are very strict and will not allow tourists to enter the holy place with bare shoulders and bare legs. So dress up accordingly 🙂 I suggest you spend an entire day dedicated to the temples. Thats the only way you can do justice to its beauty!
Now that we are done with the temples, we wanted to grab something to eat. We stepped out of the walled area and saw several food stalls. They serve authentic thai food. Lots of options for non vegetarians in particular! And mind you, the food is very inexpensive . If you dont have a sensitive stomach, i highly recommend you try the street food. We did and loved it. Since the food was very cheap, we happily kept stuffing our faces with generous helping of the local food. Our recommendation would be the ice-cream bun. Loved it 🙂
Also, we made a quick visit to the much talked about China Town! I heard it is shoppers paradise and really wanted to see if i would get lucky. Its a huge street with a lot of small shops lined up in a row selling chinese goods (read cheap). You get everything from fresh fruits to clothes to toys to accessories. Somehow i didnt pick up anything ! But the street by itself is very crowded and a delight to see because its highly colorful 🙂
After enjoying our time in Bangkok, we left to Phuket by bus. It was an overnight bus journey and the drive was very comfortable.
Remember to carry a good pair of walking shoes during your time in Bangkok. Also make sure you have sufficient cash with you at all times . We barely used our card. The shop vendors do not entertain the card system! The only place i remember swiping the card was at the Massage School! And do not tell me that i didnt warn you about Pickpocketing! Its very common in the busy and crowded streets of Bangkok .
See you soon in my next post about our time in Phuket and Pattaya 🙂