You’re probably picturing Leo backpacking in The Beach or your Facebook friend’s profile pic on an elephant.
It is a little bit of those things, but so much more!
Since my visit (and probably before) Thailand is becoming more and more mainstream. It’s kind of like when you love a band before they are famous and then always feel the need to say “I was listening to them before they were cool!” Kidding. But seriously, I think it is great that Bangkok is on the radar of mainstream travel rather than the hidden gem it once was. We LOVED it and have several friends who have visited and had wonderful experiences as well; proving that it isn’t a scary, foreign world only to be visited during a gap year.
And while it may not be scary, it sure is SMELLY!
In both good and bad ways, the smells of Bangkok are an ever-present reminder of what a beautiful, exotic place you are in!
Smell #1: Pad Thai
Amidst the hot sewage smell on almost every corner, you get a whiff of heaven aka pad thai. YUM. Don’t bother going to a sit down restaurant in Bangkok, because it is all about the street food! My favorite place was on Rambuttri Rd. Near our hostel and a bit classier than its Khao San Rd neighbor, Rambuttri is a lively road with music, outdoor restaurants, dimly lit bars and all the feels. There is a no-name street shop with life-changing pad thai for $1 USD! We went here almost everyday. In all of its street food glory, you dine on plastic zebra print tables intended for children! But don’t let this deter you, this pad thai is the JAM! I often try to mimic this great meal (see recipe below) but some great tastes cannot be replicated.
Smell #2: Tuk Tuk Fumes
Bangkok now has Uber which is awesome! I use Uber all the time in San Diego, but I have to say I am glad we didn’t use it on our trip. Riding in a tuk tuk is a Thailand tradition! They are basically a three wheel moped meets open air tiny car. Sure you may get overcharged and have to take an involuntary trip to a custom suit store but overall it is such a fun, cultural experience! There is crazy traffic in Bangkok and tuk tuks everywhere! While it may not be the most environmentally friendly city , the smelly fumes are part of the fun! I loved taking tuk tuks everywhere!
Smell #3: Various Scented Lotions
After touring the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and more tourist attractions you will need a massage! I love massages but typically they are a treat in the US because they can be pricey. Bangkok on the other hand has massages for around $5 USD. We got one. Inhale the calming scents of lavender, eucalyptus, and frankincense and treat yo’self.
Walking around an ancient city by day to exploring Khao San Rd and drinking Chang by night, Bangkok has something for everyone. Where else can you eat a grasshopper, buy ridiculously cheap clothing, and have fish nibble your toes? (Yes, we did all of those things!)
Inspired Recipe: Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai from Pinch of Yum
I make this almost once a week! I recently got a spiralizer as as wedding gift and I am OBSESSED! They are the greatest because it tricks your mind into thinking you are eating noodles when they are really veggies! I eyeball the sauce and make it a little different each time. Adding peanut butter is a yummy twist.
Check out the Bangkok Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls while you’re at Pinch of Yum too.