Disclosure: There's a good chance this post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through my blog helps me stay on the road! So, thank you!(Last Updated On: January 8, 2019)
Okay, so it was technically maybe a night and a half depending on how you want to look at it, but my one night in Bangkok slash first night in Asia was definitely one for the books.
My plane ever-so-unfortunately got into Bangkok at 1am. I passed out on the entire 7-hour flight before getting in, and since 1am in Thailand is 11am my time in California, I decided that I would forego purchasing that night of accomodation and hang out at the hostel until my travel partner, Zoe, woke up in the morning.
After a few attempted taxi scammings from the airport (some guy tried to charge me 1085 baht, about $30, for a 350 baht taxi ride. Thankfully someone let me know some great Thai advice – ALWAYS ask for the meter in a taxi!), I got in to the hostel around 3am. I set my stuff down, and went up to the roof where Zoe had told me that a few people were hanging out. I walked up to find a British, Dutch, and a Californian, and they immediately poured me a drink and took me in, talking about everything from politics to culture to our favorite foods back home.
Much to my jet lagged surprise, somehow we all agreed to go out around 4:30am. I wasn’t tired at all, but these guys were serious champs to accompany me out so late at night (early in the morning?). Our hostel was two streets over from the main tourist destination street in Bangkok, Khao San Road. This street is completely full of bars, street vendors selling all sorts of amazing and cheap clothes, street food (pad thai made right in front of you… dreams), restaurants, and thai massage places, and is always bustling with people, taxis, and small little open air 2-person taxi cars called tuk tuk’s.
Even as we walked onto the street at 4:30am, there were still tons of people about. It was the very early morning of Halloween, and the streets and bars were decked out in pumpkins and spider web decorations. I thought that since I was leaving the West I was going to miss Halloween celebrations, but apparently I was wrong! We found our way into a random club down an alleyway, which was completely full of local people. We decided it would be a better idea just to grab a beer at a bar, so we found a place where we could sit and people-watch on the surprisingly still bustling street.
Around 6, we went back to the hostel to find Zoe had woken up and was ready for the day. The boys went to bed, and after avery happy reunion we started planning our next travel moves. Zoe had already been in the city for about a week and was itching to leave, so we took the advice of a Brazilian guy in our hostel room to book a sleeper night train to Chiang Mai, our next destination. It was time to funny plan our trip backpacking Southeast Asia!
First Day in Bangkok: Planning our Travels
The online sales had closed for the train, so we decided to go to the station to get our tickets. After having about 3 taxis go by refusing to use the meter (meters start at 35 baht ($1) and move up very slowly. You can get all the way across town for less than $5) we found one to take us to the train station. I started feeling slightly rough and wondered if I would make it to the Halloween rooftop pool party that our friend had invited us to for Halloween – the jet lag was definitely starting to kick in.
After being helped out by multiple amazingly kind and helpful people at the train station, we got our tickets for a night train the next day. Thai people are so incredibly kind and welcoming, it is insane! Even to tourists they seem to always be open and happy to assist. This was the first of a few experiences we were to have!
Read More: Thailand Solo Travel Guide for Backpackers
We grabbed another taxi and headed over to our friend from high school’s place, who is studying abroad here. We figured we would find wifi and message her when we got to the area, but we soon found that having wifi everywhere is not totally a thing here. After failed attempts at what we found to be a police station, a 7-11, and a restaurant, a couple walked by asking if we needed help. This amazing stranger connected me to her phone’s hot spot, and upon receiving the directions from my friend, offered to walk us to the apartment complex because she knew where it was. Such a heartwarming random act of kindness and helpfulness really inspired us to pay it forward!
One Night in Bangkok: Infinity Pool Party
After a few drinks at her place with some new friends with familiar American accents, we got yet another taxi to take us across town to the Sofitel So Bangkok Hotel. Away from Khao San road and other Bangkok attractions, there is a huge ‘downtown’ area with tall skyscrapers dotting the skyline. I had not yet been to this area, so you can imagine my excitement when we walked into this insanely fancy hotel, were greeted by tons of people directing us to the roof terrace pool, and emerged from the elevator to see an infinity pool looking right over a huge park with the most impressive skyline in the background.
I couldn’t contain myself! I could’t stop smiling, laughing, and gaping at the incredible view. Less than 12 hours in Asia and I was lucky enough to be here! We took a swim in the pool and of course a ton of photos. We grabbed a few drinks and mingled around, listening to the great music and meeting people from tons of different places. And I of course could not stop staring at the view and feeling so happy to finally be in Southeast Asia.
We watched the clouds turn pink over the silhouette of Bangkok’s cityscape, and saw all the lights on the buildings turn on as the sun went down. We tore up the dance floor for hours, had some great banter with new friends and people we had met, and took a final dip before deciding to unfortunately part with the incredible view and head back to the hostel.
Slightly wet and extremely tired, we walked back into the hostel around 10pm to find everyone in our room getting ready to go out to Khao San road for Halloween. They were throwing a huge street party there, and all the bars were having events for Halloween. I had been up since midnight the night before and had quite possibly never been so tired after all of the day’s events… but I only had one night in Bangkok! The world was my oyster. Just kidding, but not really. Kindof. (I legitimately had that song stuck in my head the entire time though).
Tired or not, we knew we had to rally. After a quick change and trying to spend as minimal time on our beds as possible in order to not pass out, we joined the big group. With some other Californians, some Dutch, a Belgian, some Brits, a Frenchman, and some others I don’t quite know, we found our way back to Khao San road.
Busy was an understatement! The street was completely – and I mean completely – full of people. You could hardly move through the crowds! We grabbed a 35 baht (literally $1) pad thai on the street and wove into a crowd that had gathered in front of a makeshift stage with a DJ playing. The Bangkok streetfood is actually to die for! People weren’t as dressed up as they get in the States, but many were definitely festive. I saw tons of skeletons and other creative makeup, and there were black and orange balloons, spider webs, and jack-o-lanterns in every window. I was definitely wrong about thinking I was going to miss Halloween! I didn’t dress up myself, but they definitely celebrated it here in a big way. Although an “American party” as my first taxi driver comically called it in broken english, Halloween has made its way around the world for sure.
We moved along and into one of the most crowded bars on the road, which was seemingly having a competition with the bar across from it to see who could play their music louder. The photo below is not just the bar, its the actual street! Crowded is an understatement. We grabbed beer and settled in to watch the Rugby world cup final match and dance to the unfortunately god-awful electro remix music that was blasting through the speakers. It was the typical commercial pop-crap that has slightly taken over most bars in this day and age, but I have gotten used to it at this point. How strange it is that badly remixed Western music is a classic part of being in touristy areas all the way across the world! But it was so awesome to enjoy Halloween so far away with some great new friends in an amazing city that I have still not yet even scratched the surface of.
After a surprise monsoon-like rain storm, some failed attempts at meeting up with people we had met earlier, a few browses through other bars, and a McDonald’s cheeseburger, I finally decided it was time to call it a ‘night.’
I got back to my bed around 2:15am, and realized that I had indeed been up, about, and active for over 24 hours. My flight got in at 12:15 the night before, and I had not slept, stopped, or taken a rest for the whole 26 hours. From the first drink poured for me on the rooftop the night before at 3am, to the taxi’s, bartering, pool party, dancing, adventuring, surviving dense Halloween crowds, and my first real Pad Thai, I have decided that my night (and a half) in Bangkok was not only one of the best rallies of my life but a greatly effective way to combat jet lag.
Needless to say, I slept like a freakin’ baby that night, even in a 12 bed hostel room. So happy to be back on the road.
Like the old saying goes… One night in Bangkok and the world kind of actually was my oyster. Whatever that even really means. 😉