"The Hangover 2" shaped many people's impression of Bangkok, Thailand. But despite what the movie showed us, this city is more than just a great place to spend a drunken night, Bangkok is overflowing with great eats, spas, nature and more. I recently took a trip to this magical city and brought back just a taste of what Thailand’s jewel has to offer. Join me as we go from cooking classes at Blue Elephant and luxe time at The Oasis Spa to nature hikes through Khao Yai National Park during the day and strolls through the infamous red light district at night. So sit back, relax and enjoy…The Bangkok Experience.
First things first, you might be thinking a trip to Thailand is way too far out of budget, but trust me when I tell you this trip is not a complete budget buster. I took a package deal from FriendlyPlanet.com for $1500 (paid in installments…score!) that included airfare, tours, a few meals and stays at amazing hotels like The Rembrandt. Your money also goes further in Thailand with one U.S. dollar equaling about thirty Thai Baht, a drastic contrast from the dollar to euro exchange where one U.S. dollar equals about 0.75 Euro. So nix the idea that you have to be a big baller shot caller to take a trip like this, Thailand is one destination that almost anyone can afford. It even makes a great girlfriends getaway, don’t believe me, you can ask any of the 16 friends who came along for the ride!
First up on our journey is a little something to awaken your taste buds and test your culinary prowess. Bangkok is known for its great food and no place shows you how to throw down in the kitchen like a local better than the world renowned Blue Elephant. Blue Elephant stays true to the culinary cultures and influences of Thailand and when you sign up for one of their cooking courses, not only do you get hands on experience making authentic Thai dishes like Massaman Curry with Beef, Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns and Stir-fried Chicken with Black Pepper Sauce, but you get a cute chef to show you the ropes, a cool apron, recipes to take home, a Blue Elephant Curry Cooking Set, a certificate, and best of all…new friends to sit down and share your yummy meal with! I love taking cooking classes when I travel and the Blue Elephant certainly didn’t disappoint.
If you don’t feel like spending money on a cooking class, then check out some of the amazing street food Bangkok has to offer. On practically every corner you can find super cheap and tasty delights like pad thai, coconut pancakes, deep fried bananas, fried chicken and even crickets and silk worms topped with soy sauce.
After flying literally 24 hours to the other side of the world, you’ll need a little rest and relaxation. Well look no further! The totally Zen Oasis Spa lives up to its name and provides a quiet oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle that is Bangkok. The friendly staff provides relaxing treatments that can rival any major chain and at affordable prices. I had a body scrub, massage and facial for just under $100 USD, and trust me it was worth every penny! Still need something a little cheaper? Bangkok has tons of local massage parlors on practically every corner where you can get a Thai massage or a foot, head and shoulder massage for as little as $6.50…no that was not a misprint. My friends and I lived in a little place near the Rembrandt Hotel called Ayothaya Massage. Heaven. On. Earth.
The beaches in Thailand are breathtaking! You haven’t been to a beach until you’ve visited a beach in this country, but from Bangkok popular beaches like Phuket involve a plane ride, which means spending more cash. But if you’re looking to get your tan on (which you’ll definitely get in the near 100 degree weather!) and have $6.58 USD to spare, you can take a train to visit serene Hua Hin beach located just three hours south of Bangkok. Hua Hin is the perfect mix of culture, food, luxe and relaxation, and when I stepped off my ridiculously early morning train ride and heard nothing but birds chirping I knew I had made the right choice. Hua Hin is more of a family destination compared to other local beaches so don’t expect too much to be going on. If you’re looking for something a bit more fast paced, you can visit Pattaya beach which is also about three hours outside of Bangkok. Pattaya is like the Miami Beach of Thailand with its strips of flashy stores and restaurants, old Russian men spending