Hey people, hope everyones happy today! I've been doing a bit of research myself but would like some personal opinions from others. Which area of Bangkok would you recommend for a first timer in Bangkok?
I was wanting to check out the main spots i.e. Grand Palace, Jim Thompson's etc. but also do alot of people watching and just generally get a 'feel' for Bangkok.
Hopefully by the time i arrive (September) i will have got my tongue around a small amount of Thai so wouldn't mind staying in a very 'Thai' area???
Obviously the first choice for most would be Banglamphu/Khao San Road but (no offence meant) it sounds like my idea of hell! After my own research i was looking at maybe Thonburi? I know it's the other side of the river but i don't think the traveling would be too much of a hassle, and it would be a good excuse to get on the river lots!
Also i was planning on spending maybe a week in Bangkok, do you think this may be too long?
Thanks in advance for any answers/recommendations/comments. Peace and love, Danny J
#1 DannyJ has been a member since 5/10/2005. Posts: 36
Hi Dannyj, How are things? Bangkok is a very big place, so it is difficult to recommend a single place to stay. The advantage of the Banglamphu area is that you'll have lots of options, and it is close to the Grand Palace, museums, and many other great things to do in Bangkok. You can always pick a place near but not in the heart of Banglamphu, at least for the first few days, to give yourself a chance to get the feel of the town. Given an entire week, maybe you can try a few different parts of town for a different type of experience too. Some of my favorite areas are Pratunam (shopping, regular daily life), Sukhumvit Road (shopping, bars, western tourist ghetto), Thong Lo (more of a Bangkok daily life kind of area, near the Ekkamai bus station), Chinatown (temples, Hua Lampong train station), and Din Daeng/Huay Kwang (daily life, closer to airport). It would depend on what you wanted to do, how much money you had to spend, and if you were using Bangkok as a hub for some out-of-town adventures, like Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, or Samet Island. Have fun.
There is little in the way of guesthouses on the Thonburi side of the river, so unless you're willing to pay for a swanky hotel on that side, your options are limited.
You're right in thinking that Khao San isn't for everyone, a slightly more "local" experience is around the National Library area, a ten minute walk to the north of Khao San -- there is a bunch of guesthouses there, but it is nowhere near as commercial as KSR.
I'm not sure if you've seen it already, but you may want to read out feature on finding the right guesthouse in Bangkok
As for time in Bangkok, I spent 7 years there and didn't see everything!
For people watching try any of the following:
Khlong toei market
along with some of the good suggestions by exacto above.
I would say avoid Banglamphu at all costs unless you want to get a diluted taste of Bangkok. It is ok if you want to people watch "Farangs" like ourselves but it is very touristy and I know lots of people who get very tired of the constant hassle from touts. If you have picked up a little thai a simple "mai ow" (I don't want) does the trick in most cases. Again it is very much down to taste though. On my first trip to thailand 4 years ago I actually enjoyed the place. Since moving here 2 years ago my opinion has changed significantly.
If I were to suggest where to stay you might consider somewhere close to the BTS (skytrain) as that will facilitate movement around Bangkok. There is a place called the Sawadee on soi 57 at Thonglor which is relatively cheap and very well locationed. The Atlanta at the end of soi 2 near Nana is a good option also as again it is cheap and nice.
If you are near the skytrain you can get off at any of the stations and see a different side of thailand. If you want to see the commercial side of massive shopping malls and designer outlets you have Chidlom, Siam and Prom phong. At the end of the line you have the massive weekend market at Mo chit, populated by thais and foreigners alike. Then Victory Monument, a huge intersection, is predominantly thai, though as it becomes more trendy this is changing.
Hope this is of some help. feel free to ask any more specific questions.
#4 GARY has been a member since 7/3/2006. Posts: 2
Thanks so much to you guys for the info, all very helpful! Any more recommendations would be great for around Thong Lo or Din Daeng/Huay Kwang as advised by Exacto as this sounds like the kind of area i'm hoping to stay. To answer your question exacto i'm going to be in Bangkok just to check out Bangkok, i have plenty of time to explore the rest of Thailand. The only other thing that may have an effect is that i was hoping to train Muay Thai on a couple of evenings? I already train here in the U.K. and am heading down to Koh Phang Yang after Bangkok to train there so would like to keep my fitness levels up while in Bangkok. I've had a look into gyms around Bangkok but don't have my info here, i'm at work at the mo, info is at home.
Gary - You've been in Bangkok 2 years, lucky you! Where abouts do you live?
Any additional advise appreciated. Peace and Love, Danny J
#5 DannyJ has been a member since 5/10/2005. Posts: 36
Wow Dannyj, Muay Thai. You are a lot tougher than I am. If you are going to be touring around all of Thailand, odds are you'll be passing through Bangkok a few times on your way to somewhere else. I always try to stay in different parts of the city each time I pop through, depending on where I'm heading. For example, if I'm taking a train out of the main Hualampong station, I might go for the Chinatown area. Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglo) is great for taking buses out of the Ekkamai station to Samet, Koh Chang, and the Eastern Seaboard (including Pattaya). Etc. Also, you don't necessarily have to stay at ground zero in Banglampoo, and like Somtam said, there are some good but less touristy areas on the fringes there. Besides, you'll likely be down that way for a day or two anyway, checking out the main temples and the National Museum. Have fun.
I am living on sukhumvit 71 at the moment. It's pretty much thai for the most part but things are changing almost daily as prices push people further along the skytrain route more and more white faces appear. Still no sign of a starbucks as yet though!
It is a pity you will not be out until September as one of the guys who works with me trains Muay Thai also.By September he will be in Vietnam unfortunately but I am sure I can get him to offer you some advice on where to train. I know he has been training somewhere on Ekkamai with a teacher who is apparently quite famous for teaching an older style of Muay Thai.
Got to dash now but if anything specific comes to mind let me know and if I can answer it I will. Oh before I forget , have you checked out the site learningthai.com . It has a lot of information about Thailand, its culture, language etc...along with lessons in thai
#7 GARY has been a member since 7/3/2006. Posts: 2
Hey guys, thanks exacto, not quite that tough yet, one day maybe, he he! I proberly will be passing through Bangkok a few times as I plan on going south, north/northeast and into Loas and Cambodia so no doubt a few transits in Bangkok will be required for travel and visa purpose's.
Gary - no starbucks! how do you survive without your cappa-frappa-mocha-minta-cara-chino! can you feel the sarcasem, he he! I'd love to hear about the place where your work mate trains, would love to have a go at the older style Muay Thai, anything to increase my technique knowledge i'd love! Thanks for the heads up about learningthai.com but i'm already there, their online language course is a real gem, have picked up loads from that site!
So far i'm thinking about staying around Ekkamai/Thong Lo and using the skytrain and maybe spending a couple of days NEAR Banglamphu to be close to a big chuck of the sites i want to see. I figure i can see most of the main sites in a couple of days and then get out of the area to experience the 'Thai' side of Bangkok.
Thanks again to everone who posted, peace and love, Danny J
#8 DannyJ has been a member since 5/10/2005. Posts: 36