As countries slowly ease their lockdowns after the COVID-19 pandemic, we reached out to Muslims all over the world to find out how life and travelling have changed where they live. A country that's on its way to recovery is Thailand, with less than 10 daily cases per day. We spoke to Supree Yarnkup, a Thai Muslim in Bangkok. Supree has been living in Bangkok for 31 years. Besides the pandemic situation in Bangkok, he shares with us some of his favourite underrated spots and halal restaurant in Bangkok!
This story was contributed by Supree himself. Note: Some parts of the article may have been edited for length and clarity.
COVID-19 situation in Bangkok right now
The average daily cases in Thailand now is less than 10. In Bangkok, it took 3 months before the lockdown was lifted in June. On public transport, we still need to wear masks but there no safe distancing measures. In restaurants and public areas, we're still required to practise social distancing.
Life has slowly returned to normal but with the compulsory wearing of masks and social distancing. There are also temperature checkpoints everywhere.
Travelling in the new normal in Thailand
Recently, I've travelled to Ayutthaya and Rayong. For both places, I went on day trips and drove from Bangkok. Nothing much has changed in terms of travelling around Thailand but in many places, there are temperature checkpoints now and we need to wear masks and practise social distancing. Before entering any places of interest, you'd also have to register your phone number using an app or writing it down on a registration sheet.
Hidden gems in Bangkok you should visit for your future tripOld Town Thonburi area (opposite the Grand Palace and Museum Siam river bank)
The Thonburi area is an old neighbourhood in Bangkok which used to be a part of Thailand's Thonburi Kingdom. This area, called the Kudichin Community has the old masjids of Bangkok and it's also a multicultural religious area of the city. One reason why I like this area as it shows how Thai people with different religions and culture live together. Here are some of the places of interest in the Old Town:
1) Masjid Tonson
A 400-year masjid with the cemeteries of many Muslim noblemen who served Siam.
2) Masjid Bang Luang
The only masjid in Bangkok that uses Thai architecture resembling a temple. It's also located within a heritage building.
3) Wat Arun
Wat Arun is the temple of dawn and it was used as a royal temple of the King of Thonburi in the olden days. From here, you can take the water taxi to the Icon Siam shopping mall or you can cross the river to get to the Grand Palace.
4) Santa Cruz Church
The Santa Cruz Church was founded 200 years ago by Portuguese and Vietnamese-Chinese Christians. There's a popular sweets shop here called Thanusingha selling Khanomfarang, a Thai-style cake which was inspired by Portuguese desserts!
5) Kudichin Museum
This museum tells the history of the Thai-Portuguese community in Bangkok. The Thai-Portuguese community was established around 200 years ago with the establishment of the Santa Cruz Church. During Christmas and other religious ceremonies, all the households here will be decorated in a festive atmosphere.
6) Masjid Kuwatin Islam
This masjid was founded by an Indian merchant in Siam. You can find out more about the mosque here
7) Thonburi Palace (Old Palace)
The Thonburi was the palace of the King Taksin, the King of Thonburi Kingdom. It also houses an old fort, the VichaiPrasit Fort which was built during the Ayutthaya Kingdom more than 300 years ago. The palace is under the Royal Thai Navy and it's only open to public access from 14-28 December every year. You can't take photos inside the palace as it's a restricted area.
Getting to and around Old Town Thonburi
To get to Thonburi, take the MRT Blue Line to Itsaraphap Station or the Chao Phraya Express Boat
to Wat Arun from Grand Palace. You can take a half-day walking trip to cover all the spots that I mentioned. All the places are within walking distance from each other. The total distance is around 4-5 km.
P.S. Check out this 4D3N Muslim-friendly itinerary of Bangkok for more hidden gems!
My favourite halal restaurant in Bangkok
One of my favourite restaurants in Bangkok is The Beef Master by Company B
at MBK Center. Located on the 6th floor of MBK, they serve Western and Thai-style beef. One of the owners is a Muslim celebrity but now he does da'wah together with his business.
For someone who loves beef, I'd recommend the Thai Dry Aged Beef Steak which is super yummy. Meat lovers, you have to try this place!
Halal-certified and Muslim-owned
#HHWT Tip:Find more halal eateries in Bangkok for your future trips here
P.S. Want to share your tips and stories to help Muslims travel better? Click on this link to share your experience