A May 2005 trip
to Bangkok by Kez
Quote: Although Bangkok offers many grand palaces and tourist attractions, we decided at the end of a month-long jaunt that had already included many similar sights that we would opt out of being the tourists and spend our time doing something that Bangkok is famous for - shopping!
Although transport in Bangkok is good, it is such a huge, spread-out city that you really need to decide how you wish to spend your time and base yourself in a particular area if possible.
If you are in Bangkok on the weekend, make sure that you take the Skytrain out to the colossal Chatuchak markets. This is one of the largest weekend markets in the world, and it is huge, steamy, hot, and just fantastic.
If you need to take a bus the public bus service is easy to take as long as you know which bus number but most Hotel Receptions can give you the bus numbers.
If the Skytrain is going your way it is one of the most stress free and convenient ways around the city.
Getting from the airport into town is easy on the airport bus, and they drop you at the door of most hotels. Cost is just 100 baht per person. A taxi is about 400, depending on your negotiating skills.
If you are in transit here and need to kill some time, you can take a Bangkok Transit tour. There are eight on offer, and you can hook up with them at the airport.
It was one of the most reasonably priced places that I found in this area where upmarket hotels abound. Rooms start at just $20 per night for a double. We opted to pay a couple of dollars more for a deluxe room, which was large, clean, and comfortable, not flasly, but adequate. The bathroom was clean and really big, with both a shower and bath. The room also contained an in-room safe, which, at the price, was a surprise.
The price includes breakfast, which was really good and freshly cooked, with a choice of Asian or various Western combinations, such as bacon and eggs or really great pancakes.
Before booking, check the Asia rooms website, as well as the hotel website, as we found that they were a fraction cheaper and they offered a really good booking service.
Within a 10- to 15-minute walk to the major shopping centres in the area, it is really convenient. The only downside is that a little way past the hotel, you have to walk past a long line of street-food vendors. It was okay in the morning, when everything was fresh, but by late afternoon, you just had to hold your breath and make a dash for it. There were some things there I don't even want to think about.
If you wish to visit Khao San Road from Samran Place, you take any number of buses, including the 59, 511, 60, and 2, or ask at the reception. The ladies working there might look scary, but they are really helpful.
From the airport, take the airport bus AB4, which drops you at the door. The cost is just 100 baht per person, as great value for the money.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 22, 2005
302 Petchburi Rd.
Bangkok, Thailand 10400
Restaurant | "Samran Place Restaurant"
I can recommend the fantastic seafood Tom Yum Goong or spicy Thai soup, guaranteed to raise the roof off your mouth.
If you are unsure of what you are ordering or how it will look, they have a picture menu, so you know before deciding.
They serve Thai, imported beers, and wine by the bottle.
All the nights that we stayed there, the security guard doubles as the resident pianist, plays beautifully, and creates a nice atmosphere.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 23, 2005
302 Petchburi Rd.
Although we didn’t stay here, the rooms looked okay for the price, 450 baht, and the restaurant and the staff were great.
The restaurant is located in a covered courtyard, with a water feature at the front of the hotel. Prices were reasonable, as it is essentially catering to the backpacker market.
We tried the steak, and it was tender and came with salad and fries: not very Thai ,but sometimes you just have to have a break. They also had a big range of pizzas and other Western choices.
We opted to try it, as it was tucked away, had a nice atmosphere, and was one of the very few places in this area that sells wine by the glass.
Their website is www.newjoe.com.
New Joe Restaurant
81 Trokmayom Chakrapongse Rd.
This is one of the largest weekend markets in the world and it is huge, steamy hot and very disorientating but still fantastic.
Everything you can think of is here, where to start? It is divided into sections which is a great theory but when you start wandering within it’s internal maze you will soon find that you won’t end up where you were hoping you would.
Loads of clothing outlets are here with all the International brand names such as Polo but all copies of course
If you are squeamish, make sure you avoid the fresh food sections, where all types of bits and pieces with the stench to match are enough to turn any stomach.
Likewise, the pet section can be upsetting, but on the whole, most of the animals for sale we saw were well looked-after, albeit a little stressed from the heat. I am glad that we didn’t stumble onto the protected/rare species section, as it would have been too much. There are signs up all over this section prohibiting photography, so there has obviously been criticism in the past. One of the funniest sights we saw was a cockatoo having a blow wave. He was sitting on a perch, looking bedraggled and scrawny and dripping wet whilst the store owner was blow-drying him with a hairdryer, and he was loving it.
For us, the aquarium supplies were the main find, with all sorts of bits and pieces at a miniscule fraction of what we pay at home, and we bought so much that we had to buy a bag to bring it home. Spoilt fishes.
The homeware section will also tempt you with everything from lamps, shades, soft furnishings but unfortunately we just couldn't carry anything more.
This market is well worth visiting to take a look.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Attraction | "Mah Boon Krong (MBK Centre)"
I think that I spent most of my time in Bangkok inside this shopping centre. With eight floors and thousand’s of shops it was really well designed with each level carrying a particular item or line.
For example the first three levels had all the "normal" Thai shops selling clothing, shoes, belts and all types of clothing. Although you need to be fairly small to fit Asian sizes.
On another floor the whole level covers mobile phones, new and second hand with all the accessories. My poor old mobile had been so badly knocked about, I had it rebuilt there with a whole new cover and new LCD screen for less than the cost for someone to even look at it at home.
Level three was great if you don’t want to carry your souvenirs with you when traveling as it had a huge range of carvings, paintings and fake "brand" name clothing aimed at the tourist market. I think it was more expensive than you would find elsewhere.
The centre also contains a huge department store called Tokyu with the most incredible shoes (sorry, my fetish), amongst other items that I have ever seen.
To get here, take the Skytrain to Station W1, on the Silom Line. The Station W1 is connected by a footbridge to Tokyo Department Store, and from there, you can access to MBK Center.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 22, 2005
MBK Center (Mah Boon Krong)
444 Phayathai Road
It really is a mecca for anything electronic, with over five floors to choose from and computers, laptops, LCD screens, cameras, and so on. There is so much to choose from, you will probably have a headache in no time.
If you are unsure exactly of the specifications of what you are looking for, slip out the front door, turn left, and walk along a block and there is an Internet café that is as cheap as chips. Do your research online and then walk back to close the deal.
There is also loads of pirated software and DVD’s for cheap, but not as cheap as other places we have been.
We were there when they were running their mega-sale, and it was so crowded! And nearly all locals.
As with most shops in Bangkok, it was open until 9pm at night.
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