A September 2003 trip
to Bangkok by ShannonBrooke
Quote: Bangkok was so different than I expected. I had dreamed of seeing its wats and temples for so long, but it turned out that the Temple of Commerce was the real draw of Bangkok.
Cultural Sightseeing and Shopping
You can ride the river on the Chao Praya Express, with a similar card. The skytrain connects to the boats at the Taksin Bridge. The tourist card is pricier than paying for a few single rides. It is hard to buy the regular fare ride because farangs are coerced into buying the tourist card. This Chao Praya tourist boat runs less frequently, but includes an English narrated tour and a bottle of water. It costs about to buy this card that lets you ride all day. However, we were annoyed since it wouldn't let us take the first boat down the river, and we had to wait for that Chao Praya Tourist boat. Sure, the seats were more comfortable, but I was more interested in getting to the Grand Palace before it closed.
Hotel | "Pathumwan Princess"
The Princess has many amenities, including a world-class spa, fitness center, and five restaurants. The included breakfast buffet is one of the best I've had in a hotel, with everything from congee to muesli.
I especially enjoyed the Olympic-sized outdoor pool and the quiet garden where the hot tubs are located. The eighth-floor patio is also the location of the Loop restaurant, their Italian offering. It is very pleasant to swim here under the stars, far above the traffic and pollution of Bangkok's street level.
The Pathumwam Princess is connected directly to the humongous MBK shopping center, its seven floors within an air-conditioned stroll from the lobby. In the vicinity, you can also visit three other malls and many small boutiques in Siam Square. This is the ultimate shopping destination in Bangkok.
The Pathumwam is very close to the skytrain, and we used the skytrain to get everywhere during our visit.
I visited their spa here and enjoyed a manicure and pedicure. Manicure/pedicures include a foot, leg and hand massage.
The only downside is the expense of laundry, which would have cost us $50 for the same load we did in Cambodia for $7. This establishment is quite pricey, but the quality shows.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 23, 2003
Pathumwan Princess Hotel
444 MBK CENTRE
Bangkok, Thailand 10330
We arrived without reservations and were immediately seated in a pleasant courtyard. In the wooden structure with the sounds of birdsong and running water, you feel as if you were dining in the jungle rather than Sukhumvit. Lanterns provide a warm light to the tables.
HFS offers frozen and iced drinks. I tried the iced coffee - delicious. Sample some of their drinks, as the spiciness of the food could overcome most Westerners.
We both ordered a salad and a soup, and shared. My soup was a hot-and-sour soup with chunks of chicken on the bone. My partner ordered a lemongrass-based soup. We ordered a pork salad and a spicy mango salad. The hot and cold temperatures in our meal added to the delicious contrast in flavors. My girlfriend, who often orders the spiciest dish on the menu, admitted it was the hottest food she had ever had. Ditto! Nevertheless, the food tasted so divine that we kept eating through the pain, with generous sips of the iced drinks, of course!
They also had the cutest waiters! Although we got through the meal through pointing and smiling, they really enjoyed our attempt to thank them in Thai. Too bad I told our waiter the equivalent of "Thank you, ma'am." I caught one of them doing an Elvis impersonation while we were waiting for the bill.
Getting there is the hardest part. We took public transportation, but you might be better off with a cab.
Skytrain to Phrom Phong, which puts you on Sukhumvit. You are between Soi 25 and Soi 26 at this point, approximately. At any rate, you want to walk down Soi 26 and follow the signs to Hualomphong Food Station. You turn off Soi 26 at a nightclub, where there is a sign. This is about a 15-minute walk through a sometimes desolate upscale neighborhood of gated communities. This unnamed road seemed to connect to Soi 34. I don't know why you wouldn't just come down Soi 34 instead, but the road where HFS is located seems deserted. We followed the guidebook's directions, given above, because we had gotten so lost the night before.
One Last Note
The next day, we had miserable food poisoning that stayed with us for the remainder of our stay in Europe. My nurse told me that sometimes a chili could burn your entire intestinal tract. It also could have been the ice in the drinks, or the salads. This is a highly-rated restaurant, serving the best food we ate on the whole trip. I can't say I regret our meal, despite the unfortunate aftermath. If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 12, 2003
Hualamphong Food Station
92/1 Sukhumvit Soi 34
0 2661 3538
Portions are small, and we ended up continually adding to our order. We started out with one roti and curry dish each, and ended up with four orders of roti and a mataba to polish off.
We dined outside at the plastic outdoor dining set, streetside, with a great view of the fort and the passersby. This place is a real gem, great for a lunch when you're in historic Bangkok. You won't find food like this on Khao San Road!
136 Phra Arthit, Banglamphu
0 2282 2119
Attraction | "Patpong Night Market"
The market stretches along Patpong and in some places becomes several rows thick. However, walking into any of the sois will result in offers of a different kind. For example, within 5 minutes, I was offered drugs and a ping-pong show! I can only imagine an innocent mid-western family thinking a ping-pong show would be great family fun! Anyway, this should come as no surprise as Patpong is a long-standing red-light district.
Patpong is one of those places you have to see if you're in Bangkok, like the Grand Palace. It's a fixture that every tourist sees, and it's somewhat fun to wander around the stalls, pushing through hoards of tourists and locals alike.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 12, 2003
The MBK is connected to the Pathumwam Princess as well as to the skytrain and Siam Square. I think it must be the largest mall in the world with its eight floors. Certainly the largest I have ever seen, and I live in the States! Walk in, look up, and you still have no concept of its size. The first floor is primarily small boutiques and a food court. With a mall this size, there is also food on every level. The next two floors seemed to be primarily fashion, as well as a Japanese department store where we picked up some groceries. Subsequent floors were often themed: furniture, mobile accessories, handicrafts. Within the mall, there is a huge flea market section with inexpensive T-shirts and souvenirs.
On the uppermost floors, we discovered the entertainment portion of the mall. Karaoke studios, massive multi-player gaming, arcades, and a huge movie theater. You could truly get everything you need without leaving this air-conditioned sanctum. We were picking up everything from inexpensive clothing to handicrafts, and even shoes! Yes, on the seventh floor I found a shoe store selling the funky brands that sell for hundreds in my part of the world. I paid only $30 for my monster-size pink platform sandals.
Leaving MBK, you can walk around Siam Square to the three other shopping destinations. Next, we went to Siam Discovery Centre - an upscale mall. Westerners will recognize many of the luxury stores here. On the first floor, we found a great handicraft shop, but the prices were a bit high. We ate here, at the Au Bon Pain. If you remember my food-poisoning story, then you know that we were trying to stick to bland foods.
This is a small mall, but luckily it's connected to Siam Centre, a fashion-plate's wet dream. Many of the stores were having sales, and the clothing selection was so different from what we can buy in the States. Some of the stores are chain stores, and others were owned by designers. The sizes run small all over Thailand, but my slim friend was able to purchase many items. Her best buy was a floor-length velvet mermaid skirt that she now wears often.
Next, we wandered around the streets, going into an unnamed mall with dozens and dozens of tiny boutiques. Engrish-spotting would be a good hobby here, as T-shirt stands sport many amusing examples. The teen clothing here was adorable, and Alli got a little black Gothic Lolita-style skirt for only $6. The store names are also quite delightful in their idiosyncrasies. One fashion boutique had named itself "Boobs."
Best of all, everything costs less here. I can't remember the last time I walked into a mall where I could buy anything I wanted within reason. This was a great pleasure to me. But even more fun were the endless variety of boutiques, the funky fashion, and the buzz of this busy shopping area. It's also a side of Bangkok that you don't see when you're walking around Banglamphu - it's regular Bangkok people (mostly teens) going about their lives. It is rather pleasant to be completely ignored, actually, if you've just spent a week in a tourist destination like Angkor Wat.