The Bangkok hit-list. How many nights is enough?
Admission… Bangkok wasn’t on my hit-list of must-see places in the world.
The line in the song, “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster” was enough of a deterrent. I hate oysters and my expectations of the city itself were deep-sea low.
However, when your husband makes a surprise holiday booking to visit friends in Singapore, those friends return to Australia after a decade away, and you’ve been to Singapore numerous times, serendipity becomes the travel agent of choice and Bangkok became our destiny.
So, we changed our flight, went for more than one night, (in fact five) and it just goes to prove that fate is best left to work when it’s not on a hit-list.
We stayed at the Pathumwan Princess Hotel.
Spacious and modern room, ample-sized bathroom, great rooftop pool and huge gymnasium.
Walking distance to the Skytrain and attached to the MBK Center, which is handy for shopping and has a grocery store on the bottom level if you want snacks or band-aids.
Tuk-tuks- we had many a fun ride in a tuk tuk, BUT negotiate your fare first. It should cost between 100-200 baht to get to most places.If someone wants to take you down the road for 20 baht or less, don’t fall for it. It’s a ploy to get you into some of the gem stores or other trading places that in turn gives them a kick-back for the business.
Metered taxis- cheap and clean. We took one for an hour to get to the floating markets for $1500 baht and read the newspapers on the way.
Skytrain- The best way to get around Bangkok. We travelled at least once a day this way. It’s an easy system to interpret and you get to see some sights on the way. What is most impressive is the orderly way everyone lines up to hop aboard. Even with masses of people about to get on, there’s no scrum and push, just a single line waiting behind a yellow line for those to disembark. (Oh yeh there is a train master with a whistle, which probably helps)
*Warning don’t confuse your chits, or like us you’ll go to Mo chit instead of Chit Lom. No chit.
DO go to the Skybar at the State Tower, where some of the memorable Hangover 2 scenes were filmed. The views over the city, when you emerge on level 64 are astonishing and the drink prices are not excessive. This is a highlight!
DO NOT, though eat at the Dome restaurant on the same level… The food was average and expensive and the wine list sour. Everyone understands a mark up but to charge $250 for an Australian wine that would cost $15-$20 back home is beyond ridiculous.
DO go here for a meal. It’s not as high as the Skybar on level 17 of the Central World shopping centre, but the view is still beautiful and the food is so much better. Book so you can get a table on the panoramic deck.
We didn’t get here, but a friend recommended it. We just felt two rooftop experiences were more than enough.
Where to Eat:
Jim Thompson House
It was walking distance from our Hotel, but we only discovered that when we had finished exploring and eating.
We went for lunch and it was one of the nicest meals we had on the trip, even though it’s a bit touristy. The grounds are oasis-like green and cool amidst the grey and haze of so many shopping mega-plexes.
Ban Khun Mae
Traditional Thai eatery in the city heart. We asked two different Thai locals on two different days and they both recommended this place. I’m not Thai but I’m recommending it too. We went twice for lunch, so go at least once.
This is in the Sathorn District and we caught a taxi to have dinner here. It was delicious thai food set back from the bustle of the busy Bangkok streets.
This is where the locals go. Lovely spot tucked right on the river with beautiful views and tasty food. Great for an early dinner as the sun goes down or a relaxed meal dining with those in the know and their families. Need to get a taxi to this one or if no traffic a tuk-tuk might be okay.
-Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, Central World et al.
All of these monstrous shopping malls lining Rama Rd, house every designer label from around the word and locally. Price-wise there were no real bargains in comparison to a recent trip to the United States, but if you love fashion and air-conditioning you’ll love to shop this strip.
-This is where you do your market-style shopping in climate controlled comfort. Prices are similar if not cheaper than some of the more “traditional” thai markets. You can get copies of anything from clothing to bags to technology to shoes here, as well as your nails done and a haircut.
Locals call it the JJ markets and you get here by rail. But they are only open Friday nights and Saturdays. Make sure you try some lunch at the little eateries here. Look for the clean one.
Find these at the river area near the Mandarin hotel. Lin Jewellers and Lin Silvercraft.
Other Bangkok Dos
DO go on a river cruise- get a tuk tuk to the River Oriental area.
DO visit Wat Po- loved the reclining Buddha.
DO go to Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets- Abut an hour away by taxi. When you get there you then pay another approximately 2000 baht per person to take the cruise, but it’s worth it. It’s like an asian Venice with a gondoleer driving through the skinny canals with a long, motorised steering stick. We saw locals washing their hair and riding motorbikes along the built up retaining walls. A little touristy but very entertaining and you can buy from the boat.
There’s an elephant tour attached to this, but we didn’t have time to take it. Would have liked to.
DO get a massage – almost anywhere is good.
DO go to Patpong for a look at the markets and a beer by the red lift district. The people watching is priceless.
DO consider tailor -made. We went to Asia House and they pick up from the Hotel. My husband got three suits made plus two extra pairs of trousers and two shirts, all for about a thousand bucks. We went for three fittings and ended up going to dinner with the Thai-born Indian tailor named Bince and his wife. (That’s how we discovered the local eatery)
But fate and Bangkok seem to travel hand-in-hand. We have just booked our next holiday and guess where we have one full night stop-over? Yep oyster town.