Three things I learned getting lost in Bangkok:
- How you can secure a table at the world-famous Jay Fai restaurant, even though it’s permanently booked out. Surely you’ve heard of this Michelin starred street food?
- The local canal boats are the best way to avoid the endless traffic jams.
- Airbnbs, despite being illegal in Thailand, offer excellent value accommodation.
Bangkok is huge
Let’s face it – Bangkok is one chaotic BIG city. Our local shopping centre was bigger than the MCG.
Fun fact: Wikipedia says the city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres and has a population of over of over eight million, with more than fourteen million people living within the surrounding area.
Where to stay
This time we stayed in Airbnbs. Great value. Even though they’re illegal in Thailand. Go figure. There must be thousands of Airbnb hosts giving their guests specific instructions not to tell anyone, especially the lobby staff, that you’re paying for a short term stay. You’re supposed to say you’re friends of the owners and temporary guests in their apartment if anyone asks.
In one place, an immigration officer had set up a desk in the lobby. Our host explained he (reluctantly) paid a bribe to the officer to avoid having his business shut down.
My new number one favourite mode of transport in Bangkok
Canal boats. This is how the locals get around. Most fares are around 11 baht. You have to be quick though. The boat only stops for long enough for the commuters to clamber off and on. You’ll still get where you want to go in half the time even when the traffic is gridlocked on the roads. And it’s much harder to get lost in Bangkok on the canals…
We spent one afternoon just going to the end of the Khlong Saen Saep line. Past the ever changing canal burbs. Moslem suburbs, Buddhist wats, mad markets and people just going about their daily lives.
We first heard about Jai Fai in the Netflix Street Food Bangkok episode and thought “We have to have one of those crab omelettes”.
Okay so you want one too? Raan Jay Fai is always fully booked. Every day. If you’re good at forward planning try emailing, email@example.com. But when we did that in November we got a response saying she’s fully booked until the end of January.
Right. Go visit then.
What you have to do is go there, around 10 or 11 am, before opening time, and write your name and phone number down on the booking page. You’ll get your assigned number. It’s about a ten minute walk from the Phanfa Leelard stop on the Khlong Saen Saep canal line. Then go back later and wait for your number to come up. And that’s a gamble… But you can have a beer or three at Tim Mansion https://www.timmansionbkk.com/ next door while you wait. Could be hours. Or you might miss it if you get the timing wrong. We had number 20 and ended up eating about 7.30 pm. Jai Fai is the only cook. When Jai Fai is ready, the staff write your number on the board. Good luck.
Or here’s an alternative. Hoi Tod Chaw Lae 1301 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Bang Lamphu Lang, Khlong San. Save yourself about 800 baht and order the Crab Meats Fried Egg. Yummy! Delicious!
Have you ever been to lost in Bangkok? What’s your Top Tip for Travellers?