Celebrating New Year’s in Thailand

I know this is three months late, but I spent an unforgettable New Years in Thailand (just forgot to write about it, whups)!

A friend from the East Coast flew to Asia for the holidays and we made Bangkok our meeting point. The trip consisted of an unintentional visit to a sex parlour, forgetting how to get a massage, an amazing park, a temple visit and fireworks on the river.

Here’s how it went.

What to Do

Amber and I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Sathorn, which is conveniently located within walking distance to the metro. It also has various massage parlours across the and a great market/bazaar across the street.

If you stay there or nearby, check out Trinity Mall and surrounding market stalls for clothing, trinkets and local street food. Beware, it’s bigger than it looks and the inside is like a maze. I got lost trying to find my way back.

The Patpong Market is also nearby, and has cute goods and some food vendors.

Once you get some good shopping in and you have your souvenirs picked out, visit one of the temples to see a little bit of Bangkok’s history. We went to the Grand Palace, which was covered in intricate mosaic patterns made from colored mirrors and glass. It’s hard to imagine anyone shaping and laying those tiny pieces of glass one-by-one, but that’s what they did. If you visit, make sure you wear proper clothing, or you’ll have to rent/borrow some to get in. Cover up your shoulders and knees. Quick tip: Bring water and visit either in the morning or late afternoon. It can get hot.

No trip is complete without a visit to the park. Lumpini Park was conveniently close to our hotel and is a haven for nature-lovers amidst concrete streets and city buildings. Their park has awesome exercise play structures (I don’t know what else to call them–they help you exercise but it feels like you’re playing) and a lake you can boat around in. We rented a cheesy swan boat and peddled around the lake for a while.

After you play, pamper yourself with a foot spa. We visited Health Land, a chain of spa and massage parlours around Bangkok. Their prices are a little high, but their services are markedly better than the cheapy places I tried.

If you’re in Bangkok for New Years, get a river-side view of the fireworks. We took a cab to Shangri-La, but their countdown party was fully booked so we wandered into a hidden restaurant nearby called Jack’s Bar. It was right on the river and we decided to wait for 2015 there. It was the best decision of the trip. At first we didn’t know whether we would even see the fireworks, but three boats parked right in front of us carrying the main attraction (all the brilliant fireworks) of the evening. They were so close I could have jumped off the little pier and swam to them. The funny thing is, Jack’s Bar is surrounded by high-end hotels, yet it’s a simple unassuming little bar with a better view of the fireworks than we could have gotten on the rooftop of The Peninsula (right across the river).

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What Not to Do

Not a real massage placeIf you see a “massage” place whose sign features anything even remotely sexual, steer clear. Unless you actually want a sexy massage.

When you finally do get a massage, don’t assume they speak English. I was so confused by the instructions from one woman that when she put a pillow in her lap and pat it, I sat on her lap—instead of putting my head there. This was one of the cheaper places (about 300 to 600 baht), and I found out afterwards that they also perform “other” services. Although I just had the normal massage.

Don’t go to the super popular destinations on New Year’s Eve. Places like Asiatique or Central World will be crowded and it’ll be almost impossible to get home afterwards. Taxis don’t want to go anywhere near these places. The locals who go there to party go 6 hours early and park their cars there. If you like crowds, plan to drink and stay out until sunrise, then go right ahead. We were looking for a slightly less stressful experience.

Overall a fun trip with great people. Anything I should do next time I visit? Let me know in the comments below!

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