What’s in Bangkok for a Filipino traveler?
We hear about Bangkok. We hear about Thailand, but what’s to see when you’re from Manila or the Philippines? What’s to consider when visiting Bangkok?
Last July 2017, I stayed at Bangkok for four (4) days and three (3) nights. My parents attended a homecoming reunion hosted by one of my father’s college batchmates from Thailand.
I have a knack on going with loved ones and friends on trips, so I can spend time with them and benefit from the discount you get from group travels. I don’t plan group travels, I usually just join them unless I am very convinced it’s a place I have to be in (like my solo Japan trip last November 2016).
Too bad I wasn’t geared for this but I don’t have words enough to explain how Bangkok is ‘THE’ place to be if you want to go for a wardrobe overhaul. Converted to Pesos, you can get fashion finds as low as PhP 300. All this already with the quality, fabric and style as what I see at Forever 21 stores.
Their fabric, cloth quality and cut are refined craftsmanship. They are comfortable to wear. They have the flair. They set the trends (you see in Manila). The clothes are flattering.
Should I visit Bangkok, Thailand again, I’ll make sure to save up and bring home PhP 20,000 worth of fashion finds with half the cost.
If you plan to pay a visit, Platinum Shopping Mall is the place to be. If you have shopped in Hong-Kong or Korea, forget it. Bangkok. Is. The. Real. Thing.
Soaps, Incense, Essential Oils
As Thailand is teeming with fresh produce, byproducts created also abound. Soaps, dried fruit incense, oils and balms are sold in bulk. Bring them to Manila and you’ll think your home as spa when you get back.
Compared to Manila, branded Bangkok outlets sell on discounted prices and sometimes are a bit cheaper– this is even after you convert to Pesos. There are also stocks and styles that are far newer than those available in Manila.
Once in a while, I still think of that preppy Swatch watch priced somewhere around PhP 2500 . I haven’t seen it anywhere here and if it does, it could range somewhere around PhP 3000-PhP 5000.
Near to 50% of Thailand’s population are entrepreneurs. This means they usually own their small-medium businesses in the country.
As it is, local crafts are also sold at shopping centers. I find a lot of consumer products in Baclaran that are bulkly manufactured with China quality.
The crafts they sold there were refined and pleasant to look at even while they were similarly sold on stalls. As it was, I even brought back a handcrafted local fancy watch as a souvenir.
2. Food Trip
Thai’s food is, as it is, a daily routine. They’re usually a mix of sweet, chili, spicy, and sour experiences all at the same time.
The same goes true with street food in markets and city centers. You can pick anything, and it will be priced amply as when you’re in Metro Manila, or sometimes even cheaper, while still set in a very inviting manner.
4. Curry & Spices
One of the best things about Thai food is their wide variety of flavors. Being only a gulf accross India, and a land travel to the middle east, it’s no wonder they share a lot of trade goods, which includes curry and spices.
Being in Metro Manila, does not usually bring you a chance to taste something as vast. When I look back, I can still savor the flavour and the experience it brought during our stay. There’s one particular dish: The Thai Green Curry, which does not have an equivalent to the usual food available here.
So, as part of my experience, I made sure to bring home spices and curry at home. I liked Thai’s green curry the best. This way, I will enjoy the memory and the taste a little longer when I cook one of this week’s meals.
5. Milk Tea
I drink milk tea. I have been intentionally trying and visiting tea places around Metro Manila for a while now. Do I love tea? I’m still on the move for the best one. What I have learned however is, milk teas make a good pairing with spicy food because it alleviates the sting chilis bring.
In Thailand, most of their dishes are mixed with chili. Milk tea and milk products bind well with the compound that makes chilis hot. This makes it easier to wash the hot sensation away from our mouth. This is also true and observable in Indian cuisine that take lots of spices as well.
What’s more, Milk teas are sold cheaply for as low as somewhere around P45 in train stations and thorough-ways. I made sure I did not miss this, as a milk tea drinker myself.
2. Fresh Fruits & Veggies
A huge comparison with Manila would be, Bangkok is teeming with centralized fresh quality produce. Fruits in Bangkok are also priced in an all time low.
My parents enjoyed every bit of our trip because Bangkok’s cultural cuisine always consisted of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can easily tell how Thai people are being well fed and healthy. Majority of them are lean, due to their healthy diet.
What’s more, Bangkok has this gigantic harvest central marketplace. As a local reference, each market section is the size of a City of Dreams building in Pasay City. It was amazing.
As a tourist, it’s conceivable that their central government is making sure their food distribution is effective while every Thai-lander has adequate healthy food to eat.
6. Buddhist Temples & Ancient Ruins
We’re mainly a Catholic country. We are used to religious sites that are made of historic Spanish architecture.
When you visit Thailand, however, their central religious sites are roofed in gold. They also have a fusion of Hindu and Chinese religious architecture which is a cultural heritage on its own. This is something you should definitely spot away from your usual Filipino grind.
During the trip, we were also able to drop by one of UNESCO’s Top 10 sites at the Historic City of Ayutthaya. Here, Siamese ruins from 1350’s meld the present and the past in one place.
I made sure I touched those olden bricks. They somewhat bring me a feeling I was looking into the past. It’s a similar feeling I had when I visited Kyoto in November 2016.
7. Cosmetic Surgery
One of the common stories we hear locally are our kababayans who go to Bangkok for certain cosmetic procedures. Think Vicky Belo’s business in a national demand. This one’s very true.
My cousin, who now decided to work and live there, shares that even their elite highschool students go to cosmetic procedures for as low as P20,000. A professional’s month-worth of wages.
8. Industrialization & Architecture
As I was able to visit Tokyo, I can’t help but think that Thailand is setting its base with it’s trajectory being like Tokyo eventually. Humongous buildings are lonely constructed on the outskirts of the main thoroughways. They were not just high but also boulder like buildings.
Highways and interchanges have also been set in advance before the bulk of buildings start sprawling. Nonetheless, traffic is just as heavily bad. The massive population concentration in the city center makes midnight car queues observable.
9. Progressive Asian Blueprint
Compared to Metro Manila’s current progression, we are knots far away from Thailand by now. I have heard stories, how in the 80’s we used to be ahead our Asian neighbours. This is not the case anymore.
In Thailand, industrialization and progression has already run far from what we know at home. Should I score it based of scale, industrialization and progress:
Industrialization and Personal Progress Scores
Philippines – 1
Thailand – 30
Hong-Kong – 50
Tokyo, Japan – 100
Of course, no progress comes with social challenges and nationwide problems. As relating it to the home I know, they are almost similar, only that Thailand got a bit ahead while we squabble politically internally.
Thailand has it own economic, political issues. It’s still something to look out as you grow bigger as a country.
10. Economic Zoning
Lastly, here’s one of the most memorable things you have to see before landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. It’s a view only available through skyscape. If you can, book a flight that still allows daylight.
Thailand has a breath taking economic zoning skyscape. It’s something that’s even more awe-striking than Japan.
I think, this is mainly because, Thailand has well-built a centralized economic system. Vast lands are properly zoned and aligned. Well-partitioned farmlands, container yards, and factories: Goods are systematically assigned as to where they are produced, stored, shipped, and then distributed to the country and overseas.
I will go back
There were also experiences during our trip that were awkward. I can list some on my next post which could include topics such as: rude mishaps, animal cruelty, traffic (let’s not even go there for now), and socio-economic challenges.
But overall, I will come back for their produce.
I’d definitely consider how hoarding tons of fashion finds can be possible.