Thailand Need Not Be Expensive
Going on a date in Thailand need not be expensive, in fact it rarely is. The propensity of Thai girls to be happier with street vendor food than an expensive up market western based restaurant means you don't have to fork out $100 US for a meal for two as you may do in the States.
As internet dating is a fairly well accepted route in Thailand nowadays to meet so called middle class, office working ''good-girls'' what to do on the first date, beside what most guys hope for can have the potential to be a really fun night either way, even if her English capabilities are painfully poor. In all honesty, if you get a Thai girl to go along on a date, she'll undoubtedly call you again as Thai girls always seem to do, no matter how tight, sleazy or inappropriate your intentions may be.
Going to the movies really should be off the list as this stifles conversation. I found that using tuktuks in the evening when there is nice balmy weather, especially out of the main shopping districts to be really fun. Taking a Bangkok girl out to a really nice place in Bangkok that she's never visited is always a really great feeling. The fact that you can show her something beautiful and less visited in her own home city that she wasn't aware of is a great feeling.
Below are some of my favourite places that I found over time, and draw few foreigners. Some of these places are great for day trips, others to visit at night time. I know most local expats will know these however it might be nice to be reminded. I've included the GPS co-ordinates. You can go to Google Maps, right click, then click on ''what's here''. The search box will show the GPS co-ordinates, you can then input your own.
The Phra Nakorn Bar and Gallery has 4 different levels and 3 different bars and a gallery on the 2nd level. The top is an open air bar/restaurant. Close to Khao San Road, it has nice views of a nicely lit up temple and is high enough to be away from noise. It's not too busy, there are a few foreigners here but there's little western food to be had,.I don't even think the Thai food to be that great here either, however the view and the ambience of a cheap rooftop bar far make up for it. GPS — 13.756745, 100.498083
I realise there are many rooftop bars in Bangkok, but the popular ones you can find on a Google search tend to be a bit upper-class, ridiculously expensive or too busy. This bar I found, I had randomly passed four times on the Sirat expressway before I was quick enough to plot the GPS co-ordinates and search it out later. It is situated on top of a hotel, a little way out of the city. I think it took me about 40 minutes on the motorbike. You won't find any foreigners here and the food and prices are good. So are the seats, the service and the atmosphere. It's called the 'Air Bar'. GPS — 13.85928, 100.53267
I love the flower market in Bangkok, at night it's a hive of activity. Right near here is a fantastic little pier, pier 39 down Soi Tha Khan Rd. Going here at night with your girlfriend / wife / ladyboy is really beautiful and sometimes you'll have the pier to yourself, other times there'll be a couple of old Thai fisherman quietly chatting away to each other with old stories no doubt. It gives you a great view of Wat Arun, the temple that most people know by seeing it from "The Deck" restaurant. I photographed this with a long exposure so I could outline myself against the temple however due to the pier moving with the water it was a little blurry. Pier 39 GPS — 13.742829, 100492761
When I first came to Bangkok, I saw all the tourist markets – Lumpini night markets, JJ markets, Panthip Plaza, Khao San Road stalls, Chinatown stalls etc. I was taken to these places time and again with different people however it wasn't until just before I was about to leave that I was taken to Wajurat Markets. I'm unsure if it was just co-incidence that I had missed them, or not heard of them, however I think if you haven't been they are fun to go and have a look. More so for yourself than a Thai person. They are nothing special just a little different and I'd never been to them before. GPS — 13.74653, 100.50732
The next place is a little far out. I think it was about 1 hour and 20 minutes from MBK. It's only 25 km away but due to the atrociousness of Phet Kasem traffic it takes that long. There's a nice Dutch themed restaurant here, open grounds, windmills etc. The food is good and there's western food to be had. I would really only recommend here if you have your own car or bike, since riding up and down this expansive 4-lane empty road is awesome at night. Google calls it Thanon Uttahayan Rd but I've always known it as Attsa Rd. Either way, it's beautiful. There's a nice big park at the end as well. GPS — 13.778047, 100.359786
Finally it's always great going to any of the Rama bridges at night. Your date probably wouldn't have thought about going here by herself, but there is always lots going on under the bridges and there are often nice board walks around the area as well. Lots of uni students or kids that should be at home around
The following places are great for a half day or 3-hour trip during the day when you're bored in Bangkok.
"The Artists Residence". This place is excellent. Apparently an admiral bought this place and invited a famous artist and a few of his friends to fix it up and make their studio here. It's an L-shaped building filled with cards, handmade bags, paintings, painted postcards, retro stuff. It's all good quality and there are no sales pitches or anything like that. It's quite difficult to get to, and you have to go along Soi 20 (ridiculously narrow streets) off Phet Kasem Road, over a small bridge, and then proceed to walk along the boardwalk that is essentially the front of everyone's home until you reach this residence. It's been built up around this old stone pagoda and it's lovely, airy and a fantastic little place to visit. Thai people will love it. You can read more about it here
GPS — 13.731235, 100.463292
"Agalico" A fantastic place off Suhkumvit Road that is great for tea and cake. That's about all they serve, and it's the upper end of western prices but the setting is really lovely. The house / cafe has beautiful gardens and it's at least 3-4 degrees cooler here. A really nice quiet place to go if you've a thumping hangover and just want to chill out, relax and chat about the previous night. Brilliant. GPS — 13.72858, 100.576524
Lastly the planetarium and science museum is always kind of fun and silly. It's got lots of interactive things and great if you've got kids. If there's just the two of you it's still fun to walk around and it's all free. A fun thing to do during the day time when bored. Close to Ekamai BTS GPS — 13.720096, 100583286
I've travelled through Ubon Rachathani and its surrounding villages and into Laos. I visited Chiang Mai and was impressed with its beauty and greenery, Hua Hin and Chan Aam and watched the fishing boats with the green lanterns coax their prey to the surface, Phuket and watched the sun set on a blustery bluff, Hat Yai and Palaou Walking Street which was well over-rated but loved by Thai people who believed it to be like Europe. I visited a plethora of Koh islands, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Koh Samet, Koh Chang and a few others. Swimming in the waterfalls at Koh Chang was refreshing peaceful. But two places that really stuck out, not for any reason than I just remember them was the Mon bridge and sunken temple in Sangkhlaburi and the Hot Springs at Chiang Dao.
Mon village GPS — 15.144588, 98.450031
I was keen just to say I'd stepped into Myanmar, and I thought the easiest way there was through three pagodas pass near the Mon village. We came across the checkpoint, and they let the guy I was travelling with who is a Thai national through into Myanmar but not me. All the internet information says you can cross here, but the guards said, one foreigner went through and then something happened to him over there by some of the people and he was injured or something. I tried bribing them with $60 US dollars but they weren't having a bar of it, plus they had guns, were acting a bit weird and one guy had a mouthful of blood for some unknown reason but kept smiling at me. So I left it at that and thought I'd try another way.
I know there are some refugee camps around this area that you cannot access without visa permission, I wasn't keen to see these, but I thought I might be able to go up and around the border crossing through some back roads 15 km away. When I arrived, out in the bush there were two army guys who were camping here and stopped us and then questioned us and sent us back. I was a little nervous, but this is all there was to mark the border a big locked gate fencing in nothingness.
Finally it was pelting down with rain in Chiang Dao and we had 4 hours before our flight out. These hot springs felt like the middle of nowhere. Two cement round tubs of warm water next to a flowing stream, the warm white sulphuric water continually being replenished by plastic hoses leading into them. Myself and a long time friend stripped down and bathed in tubs, the rain splashing down, buffalo close by, surrounded by rainforest and not another person in sight. A good memory. Tha Pai hot springs GPS — 19.308277, 98.47325.
Thailand has so much to offer and there are so many new places to see and explore even around Bangkok. Often I find just riding to the closest Pier hopping on a ferry and jumping off when the time feels right and looking for a new restaurant or place to see is the best way to find these hidden gems.
Bangkok is a massive city with heaps of places to go and for sure, there's no need to confine yourself to Sukhumvit or the other neighbourhoods popular with Westerners.