Bangkok in General

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Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok in General Reviews

Purdy Purdy
37 reviews
May 27, 2006
At the end of May/ beginning of June 2004 we headed off to Thailand for a 2 centre holiday. It was a special treat – my 30th birthday to be precise! Ive always wanted to travel to Asia – the mysticism, and oriental delights have always intrigued me. I settled on Thailand – why – l love the food! Plus there is the choice of both city lights and the beach bumming about too – what more could a girl ask for! We spent in total – 5 nights in Bangkok and then flew down to the islands and had a further 7 nights in Phuket. To combine both parts of our trip into one review would have me typing out reams and reams of pages so lm going to split them up.TRAVELWe flew from Belfast to London Heathrow with BMI – flights can be found on they are the only carrier to fly from Northern Ireland to Heathrow so we really didn’t have much of a choice – the flights booked well in advance cost around £80 including taxes. We then flew with BA to Bangkok direct – the flight taking approximately 12 hours. You should have seen the size my ankles reached when l got off that flight – most attractive!! Elephant feet! Prices from London to Bangkok Prices for non direct flights can start from around £450 and direct around £600. I got these figures from Expedia do a range of holidays flights and hotels, we actually booked our trip through the Travel Agent Bridge the world – web site But also check out Trialfinders,, or to get the best deal available for you. I have a colleague who is heading out in August for around £720 in total for a 2 centre trip, including flights (from Belfast), transfers and hotels – so there are bargains to be had!What l would recommend is checking the time of year you go. We went in June – this is the start of the rainy season and the weather can be hit and miss. Whilst we were in Bangkok the weather was fabulous – it didn’t rain once – in Phuket though it rained all the time. Apparently we should have gone to an island on the East Coast such as Koh Samui and it would have been better weather. The rainy season lasts between June to October and can be continuous rain – September is the worst month. The months to be guaranteed the weather is during our winter months – November through to February, fare the best. I would though expect costs to hike.So onto Bangkok. We stayed in the Conrad Hotel in the business district of the city just of Wireless Road. To put it mildly the hotel was unadulterated luxury. The lobby was in dark wood and utterly tasteful, understated contemporary bliss. It was a place to sit, drink coffee and watch the world go by with the wonderfully cool air con caressing your skin – now and again you would get a blast of the balmy heat from outside as the doors opened. The Thai staff – they really could teach people all over our country what customer service really is. We were checked into our room in the room not at the desk, we were presented with orchids to welcome us, everyone smiled and bowed slightly with their hands clasped together in pray position, with a swaddee ka or krup (male and female- hello!), there was a refreshing complimentary fruit drink brought to us, tipping was not expected and they took our photo for their records so that should we stay again we would be remembered! Amazing! Our room was fantastic also – queen sized bed, a glass wall in the bathroom with remote controlled curtains – surround sound from the telly so we could watch it through the glass wall! Little fabric elephants for us to take home – and a floating rubber ducky in an elephant shape!! To enjoy in our roll toped bath! The shower was phenomena – a rain shower and you had water cascading from all directions! That’s enough about the hotel and onto the city!My first impressions of Bangkok in from the airport – were nothing overly special – it was a big city. The traffic drove on the same side of the road as us in the UK. Although road safety did not seem to be a huge priority! Motorcycles with families of 4 on them were not an unusual site! Flat backed trucks used as a form of public transport were another common site! The background was the usual concrete jungle, with bill boards advertising the usual western commodities cars, coke, fast food etc – both in English and in Thai script! Every now and then the concrete jungle would be broken up with an elaborate and colourful Buddhist temple permeating the skyline!We traveled around the city using the newly opened sky train which l must admit was a fabulous invention. The trips were very inexpensive – less than a pound and it took you the major tourist areas. As yet the line connecting the city and the airport is not yet opened though it is due to be opened end of this year beginning of 2005. The metro whilst not opened when we were visiting is due to open very soon (if it has not already) and again this should take the congestion off the hectic Bangkok streets! The famous Bangkok tuk tuk (the 3 wheeled motor cycle) is a rip off lm afraid – they think they can charge tourists (and it’s pretty obvious you’re a tourist if you look at all western!) anything! Plus to me they don’t look very safe! A better bet is to try a taxi cab – these are relatively inexpensive perhaps 150 baht for a trip and will drop you at your destination door. Be firm with the drivers as they will try and take you to restaurants which they will get a kick back from the owners – our concierge at the hotel always spoke to the drivers for us first and ensured we were take to where we wished to go. Finally there’s always the water taxis, the sky train will drop you off at the river and there you can catch an express river boat or a standard one – these are great for visiting Chinatown, The Grand Palace, Wat Po or Wat Arun. Again relatively inexpensive and an absolutely cheap great way to view the sites of Bangkok! The river itself is rather dirty but it is interesting to see the houses on silts along the river side.Eating and drinking in Bangkok is cheap and a culinary delight. From eating on the food stalls along the sides of the road to the restaurants the quality and standard of the food is excellent. Try the corn on the cob from a street vendor – delicious! We ate a couple of restaurants which were notable – Sphinx – in the Gay quarter – delicious food; and The Mango Tree – this is just of Patpong area. Apart from the food being delicious (the mango salad is a real treat!) there is living traditional music playing to entertain the diners. We ate outside and it was a delight. One of my favourite dishes is beef holy basil – which is spicy beef stir-fry served with bamboo, chill’s and peppers this goes perfectly with an accompaniment of boiled rice. Also to wash it down try the lovely Singha beer (a big bottle of course). A cheaper alternative is Beer Chang but to be honest l prefer Singha!So when in Bangkok what is there to do – well no trip to the city is complete without SHOPPING! Get your counterfeit shoes, bags, tee-shirts, DVDs or cds. Or get your silk clothing. There is a night market in Patpong area – which l enjoyed – after a bevy or two and my confidence built – you need to barter! I was able to get 4 silk Kimono style dressing gown/wraps for my sisters and myself – for around £3 each! A Buddha head (which was really heavy!) for £4 – looks great in my living room. I also got a pair of fake Diesel trainers for £4, a diesel camera pouch for £2 and a Louis vuitton over night bag (and it looks pretty dam good!) for £14! We arrived late on a Sunday afternoon – meaning we missed out on a visit to the huge Chatuchak Weekend Market – a huge affair selling everything under the sun. It’s sectioned off into areas by goods. With the advent of the sky train you can get dropped at the door! This alone is enough to make me adamant a return trip to the city is called for!There are also the floating markets. Now these are not within the city boundaries – you will have to organize a trip out of town to visit them – your hotel should be able to sort you out or there are trip touts positioned everywhere through out the city. The trips will take you to Thornburi and you need to catch a river boat to enjoy the markets. The trips involve an early start 06.15 or 08.00! This is one trip we didn’t enjoy! Again another reason for me to visit again!The main attraction no tourist to Bangkok can leave the city without viewing is a trip to the Grand Palace. Here the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is housed – this is thought to be the most holy Buddhist statue in Thailand. Visitors are required to dress appropriately – though don’t worry – there are clothing hire shops at the entrance to the Palace. The entrance fee is a mere 200 baht. I found the experience entrancing – we must have spent around 3 hours in the confines of the Grand Palace. It was a sweltering day, but the sheer scale and opulence of all around made that pale into significance. I loved the huge scary faced Guardians dotted at the entrance to the temples and shrines! There are also loos and a coffee shop in the compound too.Close by the Grand Palace is Wat Po – home to the huge reclining Buddha. Entrance is only 20 baht. There is a peaceful tranquility about Wat Po. There are little gardens dotted around with mini water features running through. Wat Po is also the home of Thai massage, for a minimal cost you can have Thai massage.Across the river is the Temple of Dawn – or Wat Arun. Now we didn’t visit the wat internally – but from the outside it is quite lovely. There’s a great view from the river. Unlike the other temples this Wat is not brightly coloured and covered in mosaics but is basic brick. Should you visit – it’s apparently worth climbing the central prang (tower) to get a magnificent view of the city.The Snake Farm at the Queen Saowapha Memorial Institute to be found at Rama IV Road with admission charges being 70 baht. If you are there around 14.30 you will enjoy the “show” where the snakes are milked for their venom – which is used in research at the institute, and you will get a little snake education too. There’s King Cobras, Cobras, Pit vipers, Malyan Vipers, Green Vipers or Banded Kraits. I must admit l went in full of bravado saying oh lm not scared of snakes they don’t annoy me, but after my first sighting of a King Cobra l clung onto Paul for dear life like a big girls blouse!There are other sights to be enjoyed such as Jim Thompson’s he who set up the silk trade between Thailand and the west – we didn’t visit this – to be honest it didn’t really interest me that much! The Royal Barges Museum; various other wats and museums.For night life there’s the bars in and around Patpong. These aren’t for the faint hearted – expect to be hassled – though not in an aggressive manner – by touts looking for business. Don’t be surprised if you are invited in to watch a ping pong show or a pussy show (and l ain’t talking about cute little cats!). To be honest l did get my eyes opened to an extent, and it is sleazy, but it is part of Bangkok!I enjoyed the city immensely, and l will definitely go back – there’s so much to say or do. The city does have a hectic pace but it is possible to find quiet sanctuaries of peace and tranquility – generally if you are staying at good hotel they will have a pool area to chill out at. There’s something in the city for everyone – from families to couples. What you will find is that the Thai people are fantastic and are willing to go out of their way to help and show people their city.
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