An October 2006 trip
to Bangkok by SeenThat
Quote: Few cities are truly awake at all hours, fewer even manage to excite at all hours; Bangkok accomplishes both.
A huge metropolis, Bangkok offers so many hotels and guesthouses that it is recommended to arrive with at least an idea of the price range and area wanted. Khaosan Road offers some of the cheapest options, as well as a superb access to the best travel agencies in the country. Sukhumvit Road has many top-quality hotels nearby the biggest shopping and entertainment centers in the town. The Chao Praya riverside hosts the two best hotels in Bangkok: the Oriental and the Shangri-La. The Oriental is considered to be among the best hotels in the world and it is highly recommended to spend there at least one night; seldom is such quality so accessible. The Sukhumvit Road and Chao Praya riverside hotels have also the advantage of having access to the Skytrain, the fastest way to move in Bangkok during the day.
Visiting such a culturally rich city as Bangkok demands a careful planning, unless an unlimited time is available. On the other side, most of the main attractions appear in clusters, as in the Grand Palace area, thus facilitating the visit. Planning a day for each area is a good way to explore the city efficiently.
Wat Pho is a very popular, visiting the site at the early hours and planning for a Thai massage before noon, to help heal the body after the strenuous effort, is the best way to enjoy the place. There are endless opportunities to explore the waterways in Bangkok, sticking to the main ones, at least in the first visit, is the best way to ensure a good sight of the main attractions. Thompson House is so close to the main shopping centers, that it makes the perfect break during a busy shopping session. Bangkok’s humidity and heat can be overwhelming at the beginning; breaking a visit with short day trips in its surroundings is a good way to enhance the experience. Kanchanaburi and the Bridge over the River Kwai offer a combination of countryside with historic views that illuminate less known aspects of the Second World War. Ayuthaya, a former capital of the kingdom, is sprinkled with ruined stupas and oversized Buddhas, and Damnoen Saduak, a floating market, offers many postcard-like views of how is it to live in rural Thailand. Pattaya is the closest beach to Bangkok and offers a perfect Western-Thai hybrid environment.
Taxis charge according to distance and time; crossing the town from one bus terminal to another at the small hours – when the taxi can cross the city at 100KMH – costs around six dollars. However, at the peak hours, Bangkok avenues can remind parking lots, and then taxis are not convenient; arriving at the desired area early is suggested. The taxis local mutants, the tuk-tuks, are not recommended; sometimes you will find yourself at the driver’s tailor uncle instead than at your desired destination.
Bangkok is a huge metropolis and covering it by foot is not easy. Foreign letters, strange sounds, and many variations of public transport do not transform the task of traveling around into an easy one. Traveling in an air-conditioned bus is more comfortable than in a taxi and both advance at the same speed in this crowded metropolis. After boarding the bus, do not attempt to pay; a ticket seller will approach you during the trip, expecting to get approximately the right fare; do not pay the B7 fare with a B1000 note. Buses in Bangkok are very cheap and effective, and they will take you anywhere at anytime.
Northern Terminal (Mo Chit): not far from the Chatuchak Market, this is the departing point to Ayuthaya. It can be reached with bus #3 (7 Baht) which passes through the closest road to the Chao Praya River, just west of the road around the temple at the west end of Khaosan Road.Eastern Terminal (Ekamai): on the eastern side of Sukhumvit Road, Ekamai can be reached with the Skytrain and is the best departing place for Pattaya. Another option to reach it is with bus #2 (7 Baht) from the stop in front of the Lottery Building on the main road leading to the Palace, just south of Khaosan Road.Southern Terminal (Sathaanii Sai Tai Mai): this terminal is in the city of Thonburi (across the Chao Praya River from Bangkok) at the junction of Thanon Borom Ratchonni and the Nakhon Chaisri Highway. Due to its somewhat awkward location, a taxi is recommended (100 to 200 Baht). This is the departure point for Damnoen Saduak and Kanchanaburi.Taxis to Pattaya charge between 800 and 1000 Baht; to the other locations in this journal expect to pay a similar price, but bargain hard and agree on the price before the trip.
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