• An Article by Jeff Epps

The Great Bangkok


Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew

I first visited Bangkok last year in October for Chinese National Day holiday, on a 4-day Thailand-Malaysia expedition. I had always wanted to see it because it is one of the most visited cities in the world. There are many articles that confirm this, but one most notably discusses the Mastercard Destination Cities Index ranking (or just "Mastercard Index"), which put Bangkok at the top of their list in 2017:

(https://newsroom.mastercard.com/press-releases/defining-what-makes-a-city-a-destination/)

According to this article, Bangkok had 19.42 million visitors in 2017 while beating out other tourist-heavy cities like London, Paris, and Dubai.

This is why I call it "The Great Bangkok" when I refer to this Thai metropolis.

But there are several reasons why Bangkok is a major tourist destination, year after year, and I'm going to discuss those reasons in this article.

First Bangkok Trip (October 2017)

2017 was a big year for me. I had become debt free a few months prior and I was finally getting over the ugly breakup that I had with my ex-girlfriend that I had dated for three years. Also, the hangover that I had felt from working in Dalian, China for two years and the first two years in Wuhan was finally over.

The Christmas in Jakarta trip in 2016 had turned me into a new man and had given me a new perspective on my life. I felt FREE and had a piece of mind that I hadn't felt in years. Travel to me is therapeutic, as it is to most travelers. So after Christmas in Jakarta, I could feel the travel bug and I couldn't wait to do more of it. My goal was and still is to see as much Asia as I possibly can while I'm still stuck in Asia. January and February was "American in Two Weeks" for Spring Festival, May Day holiday was Singapore, my annual summer trip was Florida and Georgia (USA) and October was Thailand/Malaysia for National Day holiday. I was covering a lot of ground.

I arrived at the Don Mueang International Airport with nothing more than the knowledge that I had acquired from watching travel videos and reading article from other travel bloggers who had been there and done that.

The good news is that a couple of my friends were in town at the time, Helen, whom I worked for as a conference coordinator in Dalian was there on business and my friend, Sebastien, was also there on business.

Bangkok

Helen Zhao, CEO of Pioneer Century Science (http://www.pcscongress.com)

Helen was a vice president at BIT Congress, Inc. in Dalian but is now running her own congress at Pioneer Century Science which is based in Poland.

Pioneer Century Science

(http://www.pcscongress.com)

Bit Congress, Inc.

(http://www.bitcongress.com/)

Sebastien Clement Vidoukin Wuhan

Sebastien Clement, CEO of Vidoukin (http://vidoukin.com/en/)

Sebastien is from France and runs his own engineering business in Wuhan.

Vidoukin

(http://vidoukin.com/en/)

Sook Station

I had booked a very unique hostel that was near the Odom Suk metro station. It had a very unique theme to it. It was actually a hostel/business center combination that offered a variety of services, with a mock prison theme. I had never stayed in a any place like it before. The staff was lovely and I highly recommend this place to travelers, especially budget solo travelers. It is located in a convenient part of the city and has a great price.

Sook Station

Sook Station in Bangkok (http://www.sookstation.com/)

Sook Station

Sook Station in Bangkok (http://www.sookstation.com/)

I love how they gave me prison-themed pajamas and took my mug shot.

Sook Station in Bangkok (http://www.sookstation.com/)

Sook Station in Bangkok (http://www.sookstation.com/)

I know now where I'm going to stay now if I ever want an economical and fun business-oriented type of group atmosphere, where I can hold meetings, print documents and utilize other on-site available business resources.

The location is also not too far from downtown, as the Odum Sook metro station connects to all the other stations around the city. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and shopping centers within walking distance.

You can book a room at Sook Station for about $21/night. It's worth it!!

Chao Phraya River

During my first visit to Bangkok, which was this time, there was not a big bus type of city tour that I knew of. That's not to say that they didn't exist, but I was not able to find one. Perhaps now they do have one of some kind.

(http://www.bigbustours.com/) (https://city-sightseeing.com/en/home)

This really surprised me because usually Big Bus Tours or City Sightseeing Tours are alive and well in most major cities, worldwide. My guess is that the City of Bangkok or the Thai government does not allow them for some reason, otherwise, they'd most definitely be there. At least one of them would. But the good news is that there is an awesome alternative to the big bus tours and that is, the Chao Phraya River tours.

Chao Phraya River Tour

(http://www.bangkok.com/attraction-waterway/chao-phraya-river.htm)

The Chao Phraya River offers many attractions from several angles. You can see some of the best of the best on a tour of this river. The river also serves as water taxi transportation and has several stops along the river around Bangkok. It's actually a convenient and preferred way to travel because you pay one flat fee and don't have to worry about getting ripped off by the Bangkok taxis. Not to mention, there are NO traffic problems to worry about.

Chao Phraya River Tour (Gallery)

Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Chao Phraya River & Waterways
Chao Phraya River & Waterways

Chao Phraya River & Waterways

The Chao Phraya River tour was amazing. There were actually two separate routes that I had to choose from. I took the shorter route, two hours long.

There are several waterways that connect to the Chao Phraya River.

I highly recommend that if and when you do visit Bangkok, you take the time to explore the city via the Chao Phraya River. It really is a great and inexpensive way to see the best of the best of the #1 tourist destination in the world. Again, there may be a private bus tour of some kind, but a River tour really is hard to beat and the River has taxi services to get you around inexpensively and conveniently without getting ripped off by the city taxis.

Bangkok Food
Bangkok Food
Bangkok Food

Before enjoying my river excursion, I was able to enjoy some Thai food at a local restaurant that obviously caters to tourists. I enjoyed it while I watched the light rainfall in the nice warm tropical climate that is omnipresent in Thailand, year round. The food wasn't so Thai, but that was OK. I still enjoyed every bite of it. I'm not a good tourist with respect to food, I just eat what looks good and I tend to aim for dishes that look "Western."

King Rama IX

Memorial of Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) in Bangkok

King Rama IX

In 2016, Thailand lost its King. His name was Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as King Rama IX. King Rama had reigned since June of 1946, making him the longest ruling head of state in the world. His legacy was evident around Bangkok during my visit as there were memorials almost everywhere commemorating his legacy. I was able to capture much of it on my camera and phone. It's amazing to see just how much love one person can get.

Shopper's Paradise

CentralWorld Mall Bangkok

CentralWorld Mall in Bangkok (http://www.centralworld.co.th/)

I was only in Bangkok for a couple of days during this visit, but I was able to see and do quite a bit. One thing about Bangkok is that, like many global cities, it is a shopper's paradise. I was to meet my French friend, Sebastien, from Wuhan at the CentralWorld Mall the evening of my second day. He was in Bangkok for different reasons than myself, but we decided to meet up.

Other major shopping malls in Bangkok include MBK Center (http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-mall/mbk.htm) , the Platinum Fashion Mall (http://www.platinumfashionmall.com/), Gaysorn Village (http://gaysornvillage.com/en/index.php), Union Mall (http://www.unionmall.co.th/th), among others.

MBK Mall Bangkok

MBK Center (http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-mall/mbk.htm)

The Platinum Fashion Mall Bangkok

Platinum Fashion Mall (http://www.platinumfashionmall.com/)

Gaysorn Village

Gaysorn Village (http://gaysornvillage.com/en/index.php)

Union Mall Bangkok

Union Mall (http://www.unionmall.co.th/th)

Top-Notch Restaurants

Dining in Bangkok is a treat and there is something for everyone.

Maillard Butcher & Steak

Ten of the best restaurants in Bangkok are as follows:

1) Maillard Butcher & Steak (https://www.facebook.com/maillardbutcher/)

Maillard Butcher & Steak Bangkok

Bone-in-Rib-Eye Dish at Maillard's Butcher & Steak

2) Colonnade (https://www.sukhothai.com/bangkok/en/dining/restaurant-colonnade)

Colonnade

Colonnade, Bangkok

3) Primal (https://www.facebook.com/Primalbkk/)

Primal

Primal, Bangkok

4) Goji Kitchen & Bar (https://bangkokmarriottmarquisqueenspark.com/dining/goji-kitchen-bar/)

Goji Kitchen & Bar

Goji Kitchen & Bar, Bangkok

5) Tsu Japanese Restaurant (http://jwmarriottbangkok.com/dining/tsu-japanese-restaurant/)

Tsu Japanese Restaurant Bangkok

Tsu Japanese Restaurant, Bangkok

6) Yao Restaurant & Rooftop Bar (https://www.facebook.com/yaobangkok/)

Yao Restaurant & Rooftop Bar Bangkok

Yao Restaurant & Rooftop Bar, Bangkok

7) The Latest Recipe (http://www.latestrecipebangkok.com/)

The Latest Recipe Bangkok

The Latest Recipe, Bangkok

8) Flavors (https://www.facebook.com/flavorsbkk/)

Flavors Bangkok

Flavors, Bangkok

9) The Reflexions (https://www.facebook.com/thereflexionsrestaurant/)

The Reflexions Bangkok

The Reflexions, Bangkok

10) Shintaro (https://www.anantara.com/en/siam-bangkok/restaurants/shintaro/)

Shintaro Bangkok

Shintaro, Bangkok

I was able to see a great deal of Bangkok during my first visit there, but I was still a dry person who didn't consume alcohol. It wasn't until my second visit in 2018 that I was able to experience Bangkok like the average tourist does, with respect to Bangkok's extravagant nightlife options.

MBK Mall Bangkok Jeff Epps Outcast Vagabond

Myself, along with friends from the USA and the Philippines

Second Bangkok Trip (August 2018)

Shortly after my "Around the World in Three Weeks" travel campaign, I decided to book a second trip to Bangkok to see a friend whom I'd met online. I knew that this Bangkok trip would be different, because I was a different kind of traveler than before and I was having more fun.

I booked a subpar hotel near the Don Muang airport called, Mont Place Donmuang. I didn't mind the place so much until my GoPro headcam was missing. I checked with my friend who came over to see me and she didn't have it. I can only assume someone else was able to get into the room and nab it. It cost me about $160, so I was pretty pissed. I had to buy a new one.

But other than that little incident, I had a great time with my friends.

Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok Jeff Epps Outcast Vagabond

Me and Jovil at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangkok (https://www.hardrock.com/cafes/bangkok/)

I hooked up with my Filipino friend whom I'd met online and we spent the first day becoming acquainted. She had moved to Bangkok from Macau for work. I was originally supposed to meet her in Macau, but Bangkok worked.

After it was known on Facebook that I was in Bangkok, I then received a message from an old friend from Miami who happened to be in town as well.

We all three decided to meet up the next day to enjoy some of Bangkok's finest nightlife and rooftop bars. Since the weather is nice, year round, in Bangkok, there a quite a few outdoorsy kinds of venues that one can enjoy along with the great evening weather. And it's the weather that helps make Bangkok a very attractive place to visit anytime of the year.

Bangkok see temps as high as the 90s, as low as the 70s, and daily average temps in the 80s all year long. Who wouldn't appreciate those numbers?

Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok

Hard Rock Cafe, Bangkok (https://www.hardrock.com/cafes/bangkok/)

As for the first day with my Filipino friend, Jovil, we were gonna have dinner at one of my favorite global restaurants, Hard Rock Cafe. It was SO good.

Hard Rock Cafe, Bangkok (Gallery) (https://www.hardrock.com/cafes/bangkok/)

Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok

Hard Rock Cafe, Bangkok (https://www.hardrock.com/cafes/bangkok/)

Hard Rock Cafe, Bangkok (https://www.hardrock.com/cafes/bangkok/)

Hard Rock Cafe, Bangkok (https://www.hardrock.com/cafes/bangkok/)

After having some great food and listening to an OK Philippine cover band, we both decided to head back to the hotel and call it a night, well, almost.

The next day when I woke up I sat in bed with my MacBook and worked on my documentary from the TBEX Ostrava conference with my Filmora software. Jovil was next to me playing on her phone and chatting with her friends and family. As I mentioned, I had just wrapped up my first circumnavigation of the earth before my second Bangkok trip, and the Czech Republic was one of my stops. I had attended my first travel blog conference in Ostrava, TBEX, and it was a wonderful experience.

Canes in Bangkok Jeff Epps Outcast Vagabond

Me and Xanthia at the MBK Center Mall in Bangkok (http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-mall/mbk.htm)

I contacted Xanthia, my friend from Miami, and we agreed to meet up at the MBK Center mall downtown to prepare for a wild night out in Bangkok. The weather was great and it was nice to be able to catch up with an old friend, especially one who attended "The U" with me and helped to raise money for the University's Annual Fund at the Newman Alumni Center on campus.

We all three had some food and drinks and some laughs and then decided to head out and toward the #1 rooftop bar in Bangkok, Vertigo. I've developed a love for rooftop bars being in Asia. It all started when I went on a date with an Indonesian girl in Hong Kong in the Wan Chai district at a place called, Wooloo Mooloo Steakhouse (https://wooloo-mooloo.com/single_venue/wooloomooloo-steakhouse-wan-chai/). It was fascinating to see the Hong Kong skyline, on Hong Kong Island, while overlooking Victoria Harbour at night. Now rooftop bars are my thing.

Me, Jovil, and Xanthia on our way to Vertigo via Tuk Tuk (https://www.banyantree.com/en/thailand/bangkok/dining/vertigo)

We arrived at Vertigo and we were disappointed that the rooftop bar was closed due to inclement weather. But that didn't stop us from having a great time at the lounge directly below the rooftop, as we enjoyed some soft jazz, had some drinks, and shared some laughs to kill the time. We had a few drinks and then decided to head to another rooftop bar, Hi-So.

Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar is open from 5pm to 1am (Moon Bar) and 6pm to 10:30pm (Vertigo Grill), everyday.

Hi-So Party at Skyline Bangkok

Hi-So Rooftop Bar Bangkok (https://www.so-sofitel-bangkok.com/wine-dine/hi-so-rooftop-bar-bangkok/)