Our 2015 Trip: Bangkok

I just realized that I drafted this blog post about our trip to Bangkok a few years ago, but I never posted it. Reading through it, I'd already forgotten about most of these things, so I figured I'd post it now for memory's sake: 
We just returned from two weeks in Thailand, which has been at the top of our bucket lists for a while. In stating the obvious, Thailand is really.far.away. We had to fly from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Bangkok. 24 (!) hours later, we landed in Bangkok tired, but ready for our trip.
While in Bangkok, we stayed at the Ariyasomvilla hotel, which we loved. Bangkok is a really crazy city - loud, smelly, and exciting. Ariyasomvilla was located in the middle of the city, but it was on a private street, so it felt like a quiet oasis tucked away from the noise. They have a pool, spa and vegetarian restaurant on site, so it was a great place to hang out on our first night when we were too tired from jet lag to venture out.

Taxis in Bangkok are inexpensive, but they are super unreliable (some drivers will flat out refuse to drive you if your destination is too far away), so aside from the taxi we took to and from the airport, we largely used the sky train and water taxis to get around from point A to point B.

We only spent two days in Bangkok at the beginning of our Thailand trip, so we wanted to make the most of our time there. We made sure to hit up the must see spots: the Emerald Buddha / Grand Palace and Wat Pho / Reclining Buddha temples. I was totally in awe of the architecture and grandness of these historic and religious temples, but I have to say I was underwhelmed with the experience of visiting them. If I had to do again, I would go at a more quiet time of day.
The Grand Palace cost 500 TBH / person to enter the grounds, which is super expensive by Thai standards. It was incredibly grand, but it was hard to appreciate because of how crowded it was. Most of the tourists were not there to worship, so it was hard to appreciate the holiness of it all. If I had it to do over, I would take a guided tour that allowed you to enter the grounds early before the official opening hours. I walked away with the same feeling I had when I visited The Vatican for the first time -- tired, hot, and claustrophobic. I think it's totally worth shelling out the extra dollars to tour it privately.

Was Pho was less crowded, but still packed to the brim with tourists, which made it tough to appreciate the grandness of it all. If you go, make sure you do your research and dress appropriately for the temples. Since it was scorching hot the day we were there, I was really happy to have a dress to wear (vs. long pants).
We ended our long day with a trip to the spa for Thai massages. I can't think of anything more relaxing after 24 hours of travel followed by a long, hot day of playing tourist. There are tons of cheap foot massage and Thai massage places, but we went to Baan Sabai Spa, which was a little more upscale (but still quite affordable by US standards). The perfect way to end our time in Bangkok before jetting north to Chiang Mai.