Bangkok Musings: Hitting the Sights

Welcome back to Bangkok!

So as previously mentioned in my post, Bangkok Basics, we decided to be lazy and booked a small half-day private tour of the major sights in Bangkok.

If you don’t know it yet, I highly recommend booking a tour through Klook, it’s a great site to use in Asia to find some travel bargains. So just a disclaimer, this is only the first time I availed of any service though Klook, but in general my friends have good feedback about it.

Anyway. We booked this particular tour Bangkok Highlights Private Tuk Tuk Half Day Tour as it had a reasonable price for a private tour, good reviews, and had all the stops that we wanted to see.

So what follows is one pretty long review of this tour.

MEET UP

This tour kicked off on a bad note. We received 2 conflicting timings about the meet up at Sam Yan Station, 9am on the reminder mail, 930am on the Klook voucher. To err on the side of caution, we decided to show up a little before 9am, thinking the tour guide would be there early anyhow even if it was a 930am tour. Well she was not. Around 920am, we were already worried as several tour groups had already come and gone and still no sign of our tour guide. She finally arrived on the dot, but we were made to wait maybe 10 minutes longer for her apprentice tour guide to show up. Not fun when you’ve been there since before 9am.

Finally everyone was there but apparently even the tuktuk driver wasn’t available yet. We didn’t know it at the time, but they then arranged with a normal tuktuk to take us to the next location so as not to be further delayed. We got on the tuktuk and then this guy just suddenly goes full speed like he was auditioning for the next fast and the furious movie. We start to be a bit nervous because this guy is really going full speed into traffic, and our guide’s tuktuk is nowhere to be seen.

We get to the first temple and as a surprise to no one, this guy starts demanding for payment. We’re like no way, this is a tour we paid for, you wait for the tour guide. At this point we weren’t sure what was happening, just that we weren’t giving money. So it takes a couple of minutes for the guide’s tuktuk to catch up and by then the guy has asked us to pay him like 2 or 3 times because he said he’s late (for what I don’t know), and I’m like, no way, you decided to race here so you wait for whoever hired you. Anyway the guide finally arrives and the guy finally gets his money and leaves in a huff. The guide apologises and we go on our merry way.

Note that as we were going to temples, were prepared and dressed properly for this trip. As the post in Klook clearly says:

  1. Please wear appropriate clothing such as shirts or tops that cover your shoulders, long skirts that reach below your knees, t-shirts, slacks, pants, jeans
  2. Please refrain from wearing shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, as well as tights worn as outer garments, see-through shirts and blouses, sleeveless shirts or vests, scarves or shawls to cover shoulders or legs
Our real tuktuk driver

WAT TRAIMIT (Golden Buddha Temple)

So the first stop is at the Golden Buddha Temple. To be honest, I’m terrible at absorbing stories. All I know is that this is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) statue of buddha made of gold. There was a small story that this buddha was covered up and when they did some renovations, they discovered the gold hidden beneath it. We take some pictures, ring some bells, and finally we get back on a tuktuk, our real tuk tuk, with a way better driver.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Next stop is Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. We saw this temple from across the rooftop bar from the Midnight Food Tour. Here, the main point of interest are the towers which are all decorated by broken porcelain. There’s a fascinating story about why they have all this broken porcelain, but that’s a story for when you take the tour yourself 🙂 (Long story short – porcelain from trading that got broken during the voyages ended up here). The temple is a bigger complex than Wat Tri Mitr. There are several pavilions around the riverside area to explore as well.

Crossing Chao Phraya River

Wat Arun has an exit gate leading directly to the Boat Terminal. Here, we get in line to catch the next boat ride to the other side of the river. It’s a pretty quick boat ride of maybe 5 minutes, but still a fun experience.

After the river crossing, there are a bunch of food vendors right outside the boat terminal and we’re tempted by one particular stall.

Our guide says we have time so yay, we get a coconut with ice cream and it’s a perfect refreshment after all the walking in the heat.

Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple) 

We walk now to our next stop, Wat Pho or the Reclining Buddha Temple. The crowd of people in this temple is insane. We get in and line up to go inside the pavilion which houses the reclining buddha. Before we enter, we’re required to remove our shoes and put them in a bag. We finally reach inside the pavilion, and it basically houses only a huge reclinining buddha of which you can go around. There is a spot in this pavilion which has the best angle to be able to take a photo of the whole buddha. It is characterized by yet another long line of people wanting to take pictures. Anyway, at the end before you leave, you can pay I think around 20 baht (correct me if I’m wrong please), to take a pot full of coins from the monks. Along the wall are a long line of empty pots wherein you drop coins one by one on each empty pot for good luck.

The Wat Pho complex is also quite big and there’s a lot of interesting things to explore and see aside from the reclining buddha.

For us, we have no more time and it’s now back to the tuktuk for a lunch break.

Our guide takes us to a small local restaurant whose specialty are noodles and satay. She also orders for us some local juices which honestly really hit the spot. As usual, the food was amazing.

Wat Saket (Golden Mountain) 

Our last stop is Wat Saket or The Golden Mount. As is obvious from the name, this temple is found on top of a small mountain. You have to go up 344 steps to reach the top. Normally easy, but in the middle of the day, in the heat and humidity, it can be quite a trek. On the top, you have a panoramic view of Bangkok.

Drop Off

We now reach the end of our half day tour. Normally the tour drops you off at the National Stadium station, but the guide was able to arrange for us to be dropped off at Platinum mall instead. We only had to pay the difference between the 2 destinations.

In the end, it was a pretty nice tour. We liked having it be private and being able to dictate how long we would like to stay in a place. Our guide (I’m sorry I forgot her name), spoke really well and had interesting stories to tell about the places. It wasn’t overly detailed nor boring. Being on a tuktuk helped us avoid some troubles on traffic and parking as well.

Overall, I would highly recommend this tour, but maybe clarify the meet up point before you go.

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