How to Fall in Love with Bangkok

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Ah, Bangkok. Often seen as more of a foe than a friend to most travelers, this is where most begin their Thai journey.  And while many use this as a jump off point to explore other lands, eager to leave the twinkling lights and echoing chatter of the city, I came to befriend this mega metropolis. I look at it not as a place to avoid, but one to embrace. Here's how you can too.

 

TAKE AN EXPRESS BOAT ON THE CHAO PHRAYA RIVER

This is a major form of transportation for most natives, so take advantage of the scenic view and cruise up the river to the Grand Palace. There are several major sights accessible by boat:  Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Wat Pho is by far my favorite - the energy there is magnetic and it makes for a great selfie... just saying. The others are complete tourist traps so if you're set on going inside instead of admiring from afar (like me), beware.

SHOP THE CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET

The largest market in Thailand - and one of the largest in the world - has more than 800 stalls, selling things like antiques, clothes, furniture, art, home decor, ceramics, books and even food. Grab a pad thai with prawns and follow it up with coconut ice cream served in-shell, with peanuts and green tea soaked rice.

SEE THE SIGHTS AT THE SKY BAR

It may sound cliche, but the Sky Bar, which was made famous by the film, "The Hangover," (you may know it?) really does have the best views of the city. Yes, good enough to make you turn a blind eye to that $20 cocktail. 

TAKE THE SKYTRAIN TO ARI (OR BETTER YET, STAY THERE)

There's a suburb called Ari just outside of the city, sitting northeast on the way to more rural Thai grounds. Ari is seen as this sort of "hipster" neighborhood, but I think that term is used loosely to describe a more down-to-earth, approachable town of it's own. There are small, mom-and-pop restaurants, vintage shopping and incredible local eats. The SkyTrain, Bangkok's premier public transportation system is clean, easy and completely accessible and will get you right to the heart of it.

I stayed at The Yard while here, a little hostel oasis tucked away on a side street. It's made of shipping containers stacked one-by-one, and in the middle sits a "backyard" with hammocks, plenty of seating, and a bar. In the morning, the bar serves complimentary breakfast and plenty of smiles, and by night, an ice cold beer or "whisky spirit" according to the menu. They say "The Yard" in Thai means relative, and that's exactly what you'll be when you stay here. A part of the family.

EXPLORE THE NIGHTLIFE OF KHAO SAN ROAD

Khao San Road is all it's cracked up to be, both in rumors and in films. It's a backpacker mecca, lined with bars on both sides that let their liquified customers spill out onto the streets to dance to the music from surrounding watering holes. At the tip of the block, you'll find Mulligans, an approachable Irish pub that gives you sweet, mahogany nostalgia and serves beer towers, and in the middle of the block, a cave-like domain named The Club that will feed your need for electronic dance music.

Cherry