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New travelers to Thailand are often surprised to hear me say how much I love Bangkok. It’s a city that needs time to grow on you, I agree, but now that it has I’m pretty much addicted. I love that after dozens of trips here, there’s always something new to do and discover. So what did we get up to in this five day session, other than lounging at our new favorite hotel, and taking a group field trip to the National Stadium? Actually, a pretty impressive amount considering we are all seasoned veterans of the city.

Bangkok Travel Blog

Of course, we hit up our old standards. We ran errands at Pantip and Platinum (I love the names of the malls here), we partied on Sukhumvit, and we went to Chatuchak Market and ate so many snacks we basically had to be rolled out.

Chatuchak Market

Chatuchak Market

Speaking of partying on Sukhumvit, I really can’t say enough good things about , my favorite area rooftop bar and eatery. Even if they did accidentally give us spring rolls covered in chocolate and ice cream when we ordered friend bananas as a dessert.

I also can’t really say enough good things about what good sports the local tuk tuk drivers were about taking us to McDonald’s on a nightly basis on our way home, a ritual that quickly devolved into french fry food fights in our hotel rooms. I never said we were classy!

Nest Bangkok

Nest Bangkok

Bangkok Nightlife

Bangkok Nightlife

But aside from that, we also made time for some really impressive new experiences. I swear. One such adventure? Finally trying out WithLocals, a site I’ve been excited about since their launch, for myself. The concept is to bring locals and travelers together in an authentic way and provide income to talented local chefs, artists, and guides. Hey, as much as we’d all love to get organically invited to dine in the home of a hospitable local person we meet on our travels, in reality it’s not that easy — or in the case of say, a woman traveling alone, necessarily safe. I love that WithLocals allows you to experience something between that dream scenario and the typical tourist reality of eating out every night in a restaurant.

We combed through biking tours, art workshops, and dining experiences before finally settling on , a dinner hosted by Bank and Mandy.

WithLocals Bangkok

We gathered on their beautiful rooftop, home to both fantastic views over the city and a lush garden used to produce many of the ingredients we were about to eat. Bank and Mandy were fascinating hosts, having met working on an organic farm in Northern Thailand and currently working on producing a documentary about food production in Thailand. Their food reflected that — organic, local, and seasonal. Not to mention delicious.

After booking, Bank sent over a menu that we were able to choose from. We settled on pomelo salad with coconut dressing, vermicelli salad with needle mushroom, chicken and mackerel kebabs with massaman sauce, and silken almond pudding in ginger tea for dessert. We were blown away — our friend Will, who is a chef as well, had joined us and even he was taking notes as Bank described her process and recipes. The meal was divine, the setting was gorgeous, the company was perfection and — I feel like I need to qualify this any time I’m with my Koh Tao crew — our hosts were really good sports about hanging with a somewhat chaotic group of characters.

Not only would I try WithLocals again, I’d actually go right back and dine with Bank and Mandy again too.

WithLocals Bangkok

WithLocals BangkokI almost cried when I saw this photo — we look so civilized!

After three nights of what boiled down to non-stop debauchery and indulgence, most of the boys returned to the island and just Heather, Chris and I were left to face the event that had inspired this trip to Bangkok in the first place. A through the streets of Bangkok. Yes, after three days of fueling ourselves on french friends and red bull vodkas, we needed to run. Put our sneakers on and run. Six kilometers. Through the streets. Of Bangkok. At night.

Running in Bangkok

As the evening approached, I could see that our enthusiasm levels were seriously dangling. While we indulged in a pre-run foot massage, I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. I was exhausted and felt like crap. Still, we gave ourselves a little pep talk, bought some ridiculous matching team tank tops off the street, and rallied for registration.

I couldn’t believe the crowds at the Amari hotel — or the fact that it was still EIGHTY FIVE DEGREES FAHRENHEIT when we were lacing up at 11pm. Bangkok — it’s nothing if not steamy!

Running in Bangkok

Our spirits were considerably lifted by the enthusiasm of our fellow runners. We didn’t know it was a dress up run!

Bangkok 5K

Bangkok Fun Run

Bangkok Fun Run

By the time midnight rolled around, I had absorbed some of the energy of the crowd and was pretty pumped. Plus, I saw that one of the sponsors of the run was the “Billion Million Trading Company Lt.” and that laugh alone would fuel me through the first mile.

Bangkok 5K

Bangkok Fun Run

Bangkok 5K

Bangkok 5K

We were both shocked and bemused to realize that no, the streets of Bangkok do not shut down merely for a few thousand citizens doing a charity run to raise money for children’s hospital! No! Traffic was kind of stopped one way, meaning we were constantly dodging cabs and sprinting past cars. Well, this Thailand — safety seventh!

Bangkok Fun Run

Bangkok 5K

Heather — who had literally run the Chicago Marathon and boarded her flight around the world forty eight hours later, because why not — and Chris are much faster than I, but were really sweetly encouraging and never made me feel like I was holding them back. I am so not a natural runner, and so I was really proud of myself for running the entire 6K, except for when I sipped and strolled through the water stops.

Bangkok 5K

And what kind of luxury run was this! There was even a popsicle and cool towel stop. Yes please.

Bangkok Fun Run

Bangkok Midnight Charity Run

I had a loose goal of finishing in under an hour and when I saw that we were getting close to both the finish like and that time on the clock, I found one last burst of energy to push through to the end. We actually made it with fine minutes to go. It was exhilarating.

Bangkok Midnight Charity Run

Bangkok Midnight Charity Run

It might not seem like much to some champion sprinters out there, but considering this was only my second ever official run, I was pretty pleased with the whole thing. For a few hours of our time and our $30 registration fee we had an incredibly unique Bangkok experience, we got to dress up and make fools of ourselves, we were really immersed with locals (I was surprised how few foreigners were there), and we even got to work off a few of those fries.

Plus we got these nifty medals.

Bangkok Midnight Charity Run

Bangkok Midnight Charity Run

Bangkok Midnight Charity Run

Bangkok, you continue to surprise and seduce me! Next stop, Pai…

. . . . . . . . .

Many thanks to WithLocals for hosting our dining experience. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.

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62 Comments...
  • Leah
    January 29 2015

    Ha! What I think you mean is…

    This is Thailand…what’s safety!?!?!?

    This actually looks like so much fun! You really couldn’t have picked better tank tops to run in. WithLocals sounds awesome too, I’m gonna do some research on that for sure.
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I can’t say Chris was THRILLED with the fit of his shirt, but I think we can all agree they were the best choice for the team.

  • Holly
    January 29 2015

    Hey Meihoukai! Your last picture is priceless. It sounds like you’re having so much fun! I haven’t heard the best things about Bangkok, but I love your open mindedness to it. I was originally planning on skipping it for my trip to Thailand, but for my arrival, but now I think I might have to sneak in a few days. Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Bangkok is the best! I so treasure and look forward to my time there — especially with a crew like this. There is so much to do!

  • pilar
    January 29 2015

    super amazing inspiring post!! you guys are my heroes! love every bit of it and left me wanting so much more! Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Ha, thanks Pilar! The boys returned to Koh Tao after this but Heather and I continued our trip around Thailand, so there is more to come πŸ™‚

  • Nicole
    January 29 2015

    Sounds like you had fun!

    Personally I need more time for Bangkok to grow on me, but I’m sure I’ll eventually really like it πŸ™‚ For now it just feels way too chaotic!
    Nicole recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I can understand that reaction… hence the need for the oasis-like rooftop pool πŸ™‚

  • Jade
    January 29 2015

    These photos are so fun! What a cool experience. And I feel like booking a trip to Bangkok just for that meal too.

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I don’t think that would be a bad decision πŸ™‚ Looking forward to eating with them again… and trying out other similar experiences.

  • Jenna Clark
    January 29 2015

    ahhhh! Okay, I personally didn’t like Bangkok. It felt like it was the SE Asia Rome. If you’ve ever been to Rome, you may agree haha I can’t imagine running a race in that traffic, how intense and insane!

    But you’ve inspired me to give the city of insanity a few more days of exploration when I’m there next…maybe actually visiting a rooftop bar will help my dislike hahah
    Jenna Clark recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I’ve never been to Rome! But it is one of my favorite cities ever so I don’t know if I’d agree with any analogies that paint it in a bad light πŸ™‚ And yes — the rooftop bars help!

  • Ashley
    January 29 2015

    I am not a runner, but this sounds like so much fun! I wouldn’t mind dodging Bangkok traffic during a marathon because it might keep my mind off the fact that I feel like I’m dying when I run.
    And I’ve been wanting to try WithLocals!
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Haha — that’s a great point. I wonder if that’s what helped me cross the finish line in time!

  • Maddy
    January 29 2015

    This looks like SO much fun! Glad you pushed yourself to keep going – running is HARD but when you feel like you can keep up, it’s a great feeling.

    This reminds me, I have to start training soon for a race this summer. Oof.
    Maddy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Yeah considering I did no training — kind of the opposite, actually — I feel pretty good about our finish time!

  • Kristen Noelle
    January 29 2015

    I don’t know how you manage to look so cute throughout a sticky sweaty run dag nabbit! Looks like a grand time in an even grander city. Gotta love the Kok. Absolutely must check out WithLocals… I’d seen some cool looking things here in LA but forgot all about it!
    By the way, in malls like Platinum, is haggling done there or is it more of a set-price environment? And, do you know if foreigners tend to be charged more?
    Kristen Noelle recently posted..

    • Kristen Noelle
      January 29 2015

      Ahh the site I was referring to is actually EatWith.com, exclusive to dining only, but same concept. I love all these new community driven travel-related resources popping up.

      • Meihoukai
        January 29 2015

        Ah I’ve heard of that! Yeah, WithLocals is Southeast Asia only, which I kind of like. It’s nice to specialize!

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Platinum is actually technically a wholesale mall so I wouldn’t say there’s haggling so much as discounts for multiples — great if you want to buy a dress in two colors or buy a bunch of tops for your friends. I could be wrong but I don’t think foreigners get charged more, as there are some shops that mark prices or will have one rack with a price marked, and those prices seem consistent with what I’m quoted elsewhere. It’s a great place to shop!

  • well done Meihoukai!

    As always you have entertained me with your stories of getting off the usual tourist trail and do things a little differently…, I love that about you!
    Paula Through the Looking Glass recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Aw, thanks Paula! This comment made me smile. I guess after a million trips to Bangkok, I better be off the tourist trail by now!

  • Emily
    January 29 2015

    I love exploring different sides of cities!

    Also, chocolate and ice cream on spring rolls = ewww!
    Emily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Ha, it was kind of worth it for the laugh the waitress had when she realized what had happened.

  • Jason
    January 29 2015

    What a blast! Such fun photos. I really like Nest too!

    I agree that Bangkok is a city that has to grow on most people. If it weren’t for the food and a truly special friend, I’m not sure I would have ever returned for more than a night after my first visit.

    But if my last few trips have taught me anything, I need to pack my BKK time in right after arriving because I WILL always get stuck somewhere else and end up staying there until there is only one more bus or boat+bus combo that will get me back to Bangkok before my flight out. I was supposed to spend a minimum of five days eating my way through Bangkok and doing all the shopping I didn’t do over the last four years as I planned for BKK to be the very last stop on my travels, and then I wound up rolling into the city 4 hours before my flight to New York was scheduled to depart. Oops!

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I ALWAYS schedule in some Bangkok time — gotta get that pre-departure shopping in πŸ™‚ But I can see your dilemma. There are never enough days in the week.

  • Sky
    January 29 2015

    What a cool experience!! I am far from a runner but I love 5k (well 6k in this instance) that offer a fun atmosphere. Can’t believe that they don’t shut down the road, though! Crazy!
    Sky recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I know, I’ve been trying to do another color run for ages since my last one! I never seem to line up with where they are.

  • Marni
    January 29 2015

    Running is one of those things that has been on my list to get into for years (right now I am such a non-runner). When I started reading this, I thought what an awesome idea it would be to do a midnight run, but after seeing the temperature, I’m wondering if it’s so late out of necessity. Also – I LOVE the idea of WithLocals! It sounds like a truly great experience.

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I wouldn’t consider myself a runner — I actually loathe it normally. But Heather is a huge one, and I’m really glad she pushed me to try this!

  • Winnie
    January 29 2015

    This looks like SO much fun. I’m doing my first completely solo adventure in SEA in 2 months and I’m so happy I found your blog. Your love for Thailand is so inspiring and I get so pumped reading your stories and adventures!

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Thank you Winnie! I loved this comment — it really made me happy to read. Solo travel in Southeast Asia, how fabulous! I should have a bit more inspiration coming up before your departure πŸ™‚

  • That last photo of you with the medal… cuteness! Sounds like a pretty balanced trip to me – good food, indulgence, nice hotel, debauchery, mayhem, chaos, run through Bangkok in general Bangkok-esque chaos. I love Bangkok too!
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Love me the iPhone selfie cam πŸ™‚

  • Rashaad
    January 29 2015

    Congratulations on finishing the race! Would you consider running longer than 6km? Now that I think of it, I should run a race in Bangkok.
    Rashaad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      I’ve definitely thought about doing a 10K, but this was pretty challenging for me. I mean that said, I did basically run the entire thing with zero training so maybe I’m being too hard on myself, ha. I bet with a month of warm up runs and a week of clean eating I could easily run a 10K — just need the discipline.

  • becky hutner
    January 29 2015

    i wish bangkok would reveal her magic to me!! but to be fair, she’s worth it for the food alone.

    i hope the only repeats were the eat & the rave & not the run!!
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Ha, well Heather was definitely running on repeat… she had just done the Chicago marathon seven days before! Girl is a madwoman.

  • Hailey
    January 29 2015

    I love your website and all the pictures in this post! All of it is so pretty. Keep it up πŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Thanks Hailey! I try to make my photos worthy of my gorgeous redesign πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  • Justine
    January 29 2015

    Ha, I think that’s hilarious that they don’t close the roads during the run. Ah, Thailand. WithLocals sounds like a great concept. I’m definitely going to do some research on that one. Thanks for the tip! Also, can I move to Bank and Mandy’s house because that rooftop terrace looks like a dream to me!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 29 2015

      Seriously! I can’t remember what they told us they pain in rent but it was something ridiculously affordable. We were dropping our jaws!

  • This run looks like such a scream! I’ve been to Bangkok 3 times now, and I would certainly find this run thrilling. I couldn’t really do it, I would die, but I’d certaintly die trying though, what with being surrounded by all the fun, entertainment, and life-threatening Bangkok traffic LOL!
    Great stuff Meihoukai!
    [email protected] The British Berliner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 30 2015

      Haha, as far as I know there were no casualties πŸ™‚ But it was a close one!

  • Helca
    January 30 2015

    Wow, this looks like so much fun..i have never been in Thailand but I’m planning my trip there as soon as possible πŸ™‚
    Helca recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 30 2015

      Make sure to give Bangkok a few days in your itinerary!

  • Joella in Beijing
    January 30 2015

    Funnily enough I loved Bangkok on my first (and so far only) visit! Everyone I knew said they didn’t like it but I thought it was a fantastic city! I liked the mixture of culture + cosmopolitan-ness (ok not a word) and how we could visit a temple in the day and go to amazing restaurants and drink cocktails by night. It’s definitely a place we could see ourselves living.
    Joella in Beijing recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 30 2015

      I loved it right away too πŸ™‚ One of my favorite places to return to over and over again — and I never run out of new things to see and do.

  • Kiara Gallop
    January 30 2015

    I keep reading about how awesome the whole With Locals experience is, I really must try it! I’ve added your Bangkok s to my With Locals list πŸ™‚ The run looks like fun too, I couldn’t do a half marathon (like you, I’m not a natural runner) but 6k would be nicely manageable πŸ™‚
    Kiara Gallop recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 30 2015

      Especially when you have two champion runners cheering you on! πŸ™‚

  • Katie
    January 30 2015

    Congrats on the run! I don’t think I could run a mile in Bangkok’s heat so I’m mighty impressed!
    We’ve been to Bangkok a couple of times but it’s always good to get ideas for new things to do next time we are there (and there is always a next time!) – great tips!
    K x
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 30 2015

      With Bangkok there is ALWAYS a next time, isn’t there? One of the things I love about it!

  • Julia Nix
    January 31 2015

    I like the last wordings you put “Bangkok, you continue to surprise and seduce me”. So is Koh Tao for you πŸ™‚ In your opinion (from all your travels around the world), which place has the most good looking guys and attract you the most?

    • Meihoukai
      February 2 2015

      Hawaii πŸ™‚ There’s an amazing mix of Polynesian, Asian and surfer dude (yes, let’s pretend that’s a race) that just combines into the most beautiful men on the planet!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    January 31 2015

    Look at you, speedy! Under-an-hour is an excellent time!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 2 2015

      I don’t know if it’s a brag worthy time or anything but… I do have little legs πŸ™‚

  • Charlie
    February 1 2015

    Wow, this looks like so much fun! And I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that about a 6k run before! I’d never heard of WithLocals,so keen to try this out!

    • Meihoukai
      February 2 2015

      Ha, I also said it about the Color Run πŸ™‚ But not many others!

  • Kristin of YesNomads.com
    February 5 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,
    This looks like fun. We’ve been to another part of Thailand last year and unfortunately weren’t so impressed but we have heard that Bangkok and its people are great. Glad to hear another good Bangkok experience…it is definitely on our list.
    Love your pics. BTW where are the ones from your french fry food fight? πŸ˜‰
    Wonderful, thanks for sharing.
    Kristin
    Kristin of YesNomads.com recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 6 2015

      Ha ha… I was too busy dodging ketchup to get my camera out! Bangkok truly is fantastic, hope you give Thailand another try!

  • Liv
    September 7 2015

    Hi Meihoukai, I’m doing a whirlwind four-month tour of SEA next year and I’ve totally lost myself in your website- it’s amazing! I have to ask- what eye makeup do you use that looks so perfect in sweaty post-race Bangkok?

    • Meihoukai
      September 10 2015

      Thanks Liv πŸ™‚ I use BadGal Lash mascara from Benefit. I love it! There’s a full list of my makeup and toiletries here.