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Though I’ve been to the city numerous times and done it with a range of budgets – from slumming it in a jail cell of a room on Khao San and attempting to take public transportation everywhere, to visiting childhood friends of my boyfriend (and being the only white girl around…), to staying in 4 and 5 star hotels like the Atrium Hotel and dining on top of the world – I’ve certainly not seen all the city has to offer, but I have done quite a bit of exploring. I’ve never taken an organized tour however, I’ve actually never even thought about it since most places and activities are so easily accessible on your own. While I was intrigued about the tuk tuk tour, I also didn’t have very high expectations. Where would our drivers take us that I hadn’t been before?
Turns out, out of the 4-hour tour (that sounds long at first, but the time flies by) I had only been to one of the places (and it was definitely worth going back to…).
We started the tour on the west side of the river in the Thonburi district where we went to a local night market you definitely wouldn’t visit otherwise. Filled with cheap (cheap!) clothes and tasty snacks, we were the only foreigners there. From the market we headed over to the river and Wat Prayun Wongsawat with a gleaming white chedi which just received a UNESCO World Heritage Award.
One of the reasons I’m usually hesitant about tours is that often the food, well, sucks. It’s always awkward shuffling into some restaurant catering to tourist groups and the dishes are dumbed down. Though the tuk tuk tour was really about driving and walking around the city taking in the nighttime sights, Expique did not skimp on the food and provided lots of Thai treats most tourists definitely have not tried, like deep fried fish meatballs and green Thai custard flavored with bread for dipping, that were all a hit among the group). Dinner was at a local shop with arguably the best phad thai in town – in fact, this was the only stop where I had been before.
After dinner other stops included time at Wat Pho, the well-known temple home to the giant reclining Buddha near the Grand Palace (which feels like a totally different place at night!), and Pak Khlong Dalat, the city’s largest flower and produce market which, while open practically 24/7, really comes alive late at night until the early hours of the morning. I’m so glad that my boyfriend had refused to go to the market that day because of the heat, I would have completely missed what I saw that night – visit during the day and you wouldn’t experience the sprawling market’s real purpose and energy.
All in all, a surprisingly good evening. Plus, it’s just fun to ride around in a tuk tuk. Like, really.
Expique Contact and Details
Expique is currently running a couple different tours including their ‘Bangkok Night Lights’ tuk tuk tour. The tour costs 1600 baht (about $50 USD) per person and runs for about four hours beginning at 7:30 p.m. (although times are temporarily adjusted due to the current curfew). You can contact the company for more information here.
Note: I was a guest of Expique but all opinions and recommendations are my own…except about Bangkok’s best phad thai…many other people think that as well.