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First time in Bangkok - a few questions

Posted by santsingh on 27/8/2007 at 02:17

Hi All,
My husband and I are on our way home to Oz from an epic 14 month backpacking stint via Bangkok. In Bangkok, we want to do some shopping (from clothes to crafts to furniture) and we want to do a one day cooking school.

Can anyone recommend the best area to stay, a guesthouse/hotel to stay in (up to 20 euros a night) and a good cooking school.


#1 santsingh has been a member since 18/7/2006. Posts: 9

Posted by alisonmilliken on 27/8/2007 at 18:47

How long is your BKK stay? There are so many things to see and do...
For an EXCELLENT cooking school (one of the very best... bit pricey though...) The Blue Elephant restaurant does amazing things... Alternately, most guesthouses in tourist areas can assist.
If you want to be close to other travellers and also close to the river and the attractions there (Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, National Museum) then Khao San Rd is good. It has lots of cheap places to stay. But it is a bit of a traveller ghetto and you certainly won't see real BKK or Thailand there. It is good to make travel arrangements and things though.
The other drawback is that it is not on the Skytrain line, so it can be a pain getting around from there. (taxis are cheap, but traffic can be hell)
Alternately, there are guesthouses around the Siam Square area which is very central and right on the Skytrain. This bit of BKK is where all the cool students hang out, plus there is fabulous shopping around there... Siam Square, Discovery Centre, Mahboonkrang (MBK) where there are many many shops and stalls. (I particularly love MBK as it has market stalls where you can bargain plus great normal shops. 7 floors of shopping heaven - also it is airconditioned. Another OK area for staying is along Sukhumvit (on Skytrain also).
SHOPPING MUST!!!! Make sure you are in BKK oover a weekend so you can go to Chatuchak market. (on Skytrain - Mo Chit stop.) It is AMAZING!!!! Hectares of stalls selling everything you could possibly imagine. Including great clothes, cool homewares, fab art, lots of craft things and all sorts of mindblowing things... It is great fun but VERY hectic. Also good shopping can be found every night when the market stalls come to life. (Some are better than others, but it always makes the street life interesting...)
If you want more details let me know - I lived in BKK 3 years and know it pretty well.

#2 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

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Posted by santsingh on 28/8/2007 at 03:08

Hi Alison, thanks so much for that fantastic information! I do have some other questions. Would you be able to email me so I can ask them of you rather than tie up the forums? My email is
Cheers, Deb

#3 santsingh has been a member since 18/7/2006. Posts: 9

Posted by manna on 28/8/2007 at 03:31

Keep posting on the forum...we want to know, too!

:) Manna

#4 manna has been a member since 30/3/2007. Posts: 15

Posted by Jon_Mak_Mak on 29/8/2007 at 00:04

lol, Yeah! Dont keep this info private :)

#5 Jon_Mak_Mak has been a member since 21/2/2007. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 464

Posted by manna on 29/8/2007 at 00:12

Aaak...I have no idea why that posted 3 times. Sorry!

#6 manna has been a member since 30/3/2007. Posts: 15

Posted by exacto on 29/8/2007 at 06:18

hey. i think alison is exactly right with her recommendations. the khao san road area is inexpensive and fun and has lots of great traveller-related services. based on the shopping you want to do, the siam square area may be your best bet, particularly because it is on the skytrain route (for trips to chatuchuk) and adjacent to the MBK and siam square shopping areas. a distant third, as alison suggests, is the area on sukhumvit road from soi 1 until soi 21 (asoke) or even beyond. it is also on the skytrain route and has lots of shopping and places to stay. it is also close to the night market near lumpini park. cheers.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by MJS on 29/8/2007 at 16:22

I vote for soi kasem san 1. which is across the street from MBK and next to the skytrain. travelfish has reviews on the hotels on soi kasem san 1. i've stayed at Reno Hotel and Muangphol Mansion. Reno cost 20 euro's for a room without tv and fridge. Muangphol cost 14 euro for room with tv and fridge but has cockroaches. People are friendlier at Muangphol.

#8 MJS has been a member since 27/10/2006. Posts: 19

Posted by santsingh on 4/9/2007 at 21:17

Thank you all so so much for your advice :)

Here's another question for you....

I'm keen to get to the markets to shop, but is there somewhere we can buy quality goods as well, particularly shoes (sneakers) and electricals (cameras)?


#9 santsingh has been a member since 18/7/2006. Posts: 9

Posted by Jon_Mak_Mak on 5/9/2007 at 02:07


You can buy anything in Thailand. Cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai Ko Rat etc.. all have big shopping centres (malls) where you can buy stuff the same quality as in your own contry. Be carfull of the fakes tho. Yes, they do look the same and are a fraction of the price but if you buy cheap, fake t-shirts/shoes/hats etc.. form some where like Patpong market or in MBK they are cheap fake t-shirts and in my experience dont last as long as originals that you will find in the malls like central or 'the mall' (Bang kae, ko rat)

When your in Bangkok check out MBK, Siam centre/Discovery/Paragon and also the smaller 'central ' shopping centres.

Hope this helps.

#10 Jon_Mak_Mak has been a member since 21/2/2007. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 464

Posted by ChangFai on 5/9/2007 at 02:39

Personally , I would give buying electricals a miss .

Thailand is nowhere near as good as Singapore or HK in this type of shopping.

Especially cameras , all I see is old models at a higher price than I could buy online in the UK .


#11 ChangFai has been a member since 10/4/2007. Location: Thailand. Posts: 139

Posted by MJS on 5/9/2007 at 03:46

I agree with the last post. The camera's seem to be about the same price as in Europe. Sneakers at the malls are still expensive. example: 100 euro for a pair of Adidas sneakers. I suggest buying fake. They might be of lesser quality but it doesn't matter because you can just buy 3-4 pairs instead of 1 "real" pair.

#12 MJS has been a member since 27/10/2006. Posts: 19

Posted by alisonmilliken on 5/9/2007 at 17:25

Any shopping questions, just ask! Or other BKK/Thailand questions, I lived there 3 years and got to learn a few things.
If you are interested in electronics, head straight to Porntip Plaza (across from Amari Watergate Hotel, near Ratchathewi Skytrain station. It has alll the electronic stuff you could possibly want - real and fake. Including DVDs, software (everything we got has worked fine BTW) cameras, phones and many many other things... I got a much cooler mobile phone from BKK than you can find in Australia! Computer prices are about the same though, digital cameras are a little cheaper... Definitely worth a look.
Acrosas the road from Porntip is another great market, the Pratunam Market. It is good because it has great clothes that are a bit different fropm the same same stuff at other markets frequested by tourists. Also has fabric. It is near Baiyoke Tower (tallest in BKK you can see it all from up there if not too polluted!)
To get there it is on Thanon (street) Phetburi, and you can take the Skytrain to Ratchathewi, then it is a shortish walk or a short tuk tuk ride.
ANy other questions just ask!

#13 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

Posted by alisonmilliken on 5/9/2007 at 17:28

Oh, also I think you are silly if you worry about real/unreal clothes and such. I brought home SO MANY cool clothes (including 'fake' Tshirts) that are still fine after 2 and a half years. anyway, there are many other clothes around that are more intersting than just Tshirts that are very well made and WAY more intersting (and cheaper) than at home...
Including shoes, my shoes I brought home (many again!) are just fine, but who really minds when they were only 200-400B.

#14 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

Posted by ChangFai on 5/9/2007 at 17:59

Just to add to your shopping for clothes in the Pratnum area .

On the same side of the street and before your reach Pantip Plaza , there is a newish store called Platinum .

Its 99% ladies clothing at fantastic prices , plus there is the bonus that its air-con , which can make it a little more comfortable than the market on the other side of the street .

Plus its got a food court on top , if you need a seat and bite to eat.

Best Regards

#15 ChangFai has been a member since 10/4/2007. Location: Thailand. Posts: 139

Posted by alisonmilliken on 11/9/2007 at 15:27

If you are wondering about stuff to do in BKk, not shopping related...
MUST SEE: Wat Phra Khaow (Grand Palace), which is very bling bling (in a good way) and has amazing murals about the Ramayana and of course the Emerald Buddha. It is rally interstedsting, and it is even good to get a guide to explain what it all means, although that is not necessary. You have to remember to wear proper clothes tho, no singlet tops, shorts, mini skirts, or flip flops. Sandals with a strap across the back are fine, tshorts are fine, long pants are fine, long skirts are fine. They provide you with proper attire if you forget. Other temples aren't so strict - but it is the holiest place in Thailand, so there you go.
Wat Pho - around the corner from Grand Palace. Has the HUGE reclining Buddha, as well as interesting things to see. It also has a massage school. It is cheaper than the Grand Palace.
Wat Arun - if you go to the river (can walk from Wat Pho) you can take the ferry across to Wat Arun (temple of Dawn) this one is different from the other two - it is ceramic. A nice change and a different view from the other side of the river.
Chatuchak Market- Open at the weekends (although some parts are open all the time) it is immense and has everything you can think of, and way more. just wandering around and getting a little lost is great fun. There are huge sheds, but these can get very hot and stuffy. There is also heaps to see around the outside areas, if you don't want to brave the sheds. You have never seen so many stalls! It is organised into sections, so there are Art places, Buddist artefacts and antiique places, pet places, clothes and tourist places, food stalls all over, There is a fun map by Nancy Chandler to help. You get there on the Skytrain it is at Mo Chit station (can't miss it - follow the hordes of people.
OTHER: National Museum - it has lots of intersting artefacts and is worth a look.
Jim Thompson's house - An interesting collection of traditional Thai houses, plus Jim Thompson found lots of interesting Asian artwork to put in, The garden is also nice. Jim Thompson stores are very pricey though.
River ferry ride - Take the ferry and watch the people along the river. It has a totally different feel to the craziness of the rest of BKK.

Well, that is a good start anyway. It will definitely give you a taste of different things around BKK. I am sure other people can add to my list!
Cheers, ALISON

#16 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

Posted by Yun on 17/9/2007 at 17:11

So much good information here - thanks for that.

Just a bit more questions on choice of location, I've read this post as well as the feature on where to stay in BKK.

Although the Bangrak page quotes "Even more recently, the underground MRT has connected on Silom near the corner of Lumpini Park, making the area an excellent hub for exploring the city. If you need to choose an area of the city that has a range of hotels and easy access to the entire city, Bangrak really can't be beat.", it seems noone mentions staying around Silom/Bangrak.

There's a few places in Silom close to Chao Phraya River I've been looking at - such as Swan Hotel or Intown Residence.

Is this a good area to stay in also?

I'm thinking it has easy access to the river for sightseeing Grand Palace etc, it has apparently good food stalls and nightlife along Thanon Silom, and has good metro access to the shopping areas.

#17 Yun has been a member since 18/8/2007. Posts: 25

Posted by alisonmilliken on 17/9/2007 at 17:23

I personally wouldn't stay around Silom... but I don't like the whole sleazy feel to that area. IT is worth a look as a cultural interst thing though, And it can be a bit noisy around there.
That is why I would prefer going around Sukhumvit (not quite as sleazy and a pretty good range of places to stay) Or around Siam Square. That is really central and threefore really easy to get around. Although around the river would be Ok with a different feel... It is just at the end of the Skytrain line, so it takes a little longer to go into other places. Not bad though...
Cheers, ALISON

#18 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

Posted by ChangFai on 18/9/2007 at 01:25

I find it amazing that you would call the Silom area sleazy . If anything Silom is known as the business district .

I can only presume you are characterising the whole of the Silom area by the couple of streets that make up Patpong .

And of course its totally ironic that Patpong nowadays is full of your 'Mom and Pop' tourists doing shopping in the market that the area has become today.

"Sukhumvit not quite as sleazy as Silom" , another baffling statement to me .

Yun , I wouldnt recommend the Silom area , but on the same hand I wouldnt put you off staying there either . I personally have never found hotels to be that good value in that area , but that doesnt mean there isnt any .

Silom is on the Skyrain route , and you are close to the river , so geting around Bangkok from there isnt much worse than any other area .


#19 ChangFai has been a member since 10/4/2007. Location: Thailand. Posts: 139

Posted by alisonmilliken on 18/9/2007 at 17:31

Point taken, I was thinking of the area around patpong... so the other bits of Silom aren't too bad, true... And there are places along Sukhumvit to avoid for sleaze... (Nana springs to mind) Both areas are fairly big though, (sukhumvit is a really long street, as is Silom... )
So I understand your surprise... it really does depend on what smaller soi you are thinking of, I guess,

#20 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

Posted by grantroger on 18/9/2007 at 21:35

Soi cowboy on sukhumvit is another that springs to mind!

#21 grantroger has been a member since 25/10/2006. Posts: 16

Posted by ChangFai on 19/9/2007 at 00:57

Alison / Grantroger
I don't want thread-jack Yun's questions with a debate on the sleaziness of Bangkok , but I will say that the three areas you mention , Nana Plaza , Patpong and Soi Cowboy are not areas of Bangkok that you just stumble onto .

All these areas you must locate them , and enter them .

And yet it never ceases to amaze me how tourists acting as our moral guardians search out these areas , so they have tut-tutting stories to tell back home .

But of course the reality is , these places are quite tame and sanitized .

If they were really interested in seeing sleaze , then they would only need to take a walk around Lumphini Park at night time .


Best Regards

#22 ChangFai has been a member since 10/4/2007. Location: Thailand. Posts: 139

Posted by alisonmilliken on 19/9/2007 at 16:55

All too true, you do have to go there on purpose... and then you find the most unsexy things around... I guess it is an interesting experience tho.
if you factor in getting ripped off into your night...
Back to the question at hand...
BTW, That part of BKK and the 'excitement' therein are NOT on my list of sites to see...

#23 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

Posted by santsingh on 19/9/2007 at 22:55

Well, we've now spent 5 days in Bangkok and are leaving tomorrow and I can definitely say a big YES to everything posted here.....

Thank you so much for your info, we've had a fantastic time here in Bangkok. I'm now a confirmed fan of Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Kong at least).

I would like to add my own experiences to this thread.

Firstly, accommodation. We stayed in a guesthouse called 'Asha Guesthouse' (you can find it on It's run by an English man. It's a 15 minute walk from Saphan Kwai skytrain (north - costs 30 Baht one way into Siam), a 20-30 minute walk to Chatachuk Weekend Market or a 45 Baht taxi ride from the weekend market. It's approximately 140 Baht cab ride into Siam. It's relatively cheap, clean as, friendly as, has excellent food (not as cheap as food stalls, average meal costs 50-60 Baht), a small pool, free internet, tv room and pool table. It's down a small lane, so it's really quiet (except for the dulcit, yet not so soothing sounds crooning from the Karaoke bar nearby). I would definitelyn recommend it, however the beds are a bit hard.

The shopping.....We went to the Chatachuk Weekend Market, MBK, Suan Lum Night Bazaar and the market alongside the 'infamous' Patpong area. My summary of these goes like this: the Weekend Market is a definite must see, but you really need both Saturday and Sunday to get through it - we got lost and found ourselves going around in circles. Now we know what a rabbits warren would be like. The MBK is great - the prices in the 'market-like' shops are comparable to the Weekend Market. Suan Lum Night Bazaar was awesome. Near Lumpini Park, it has a great atmosphere. It's half the size of Chatachuk, but seemingly more organised and clean than the weekend market. It sells the same stuff as Chatachuk and the MBK, but there was a section that sold a lot of better quality household furniture etc. The goods were really quite nice. It also has a fantastic food hall with the best food I tasted and live entertainment (a little cheesy, but cool all the same). We found the cheapest shopping (essentiallly all the same things we saw at the other markets) was at the stalls alongside the Patpong area. True, we were constantly asked if we wanted to see a 'ping pong' show as we walked up and down the stall isles, but it wasn't so sleezy to make the market experience uncomfortable. At all the markets there were obviously so many 'knock-offs' that were cheap as chips, but there were also original goods that were priced equivalent to Aussie prices. Some of the electricals were cheaper however.

Sightseeing......Lumpini Park was mentioned above as being sleezy during the evening. This might be so, but luckily we weren't there during the evening. It is really quite a nice park with heaps of people enjoying the outdoors. There's quite a few areas that have circuit/workout equipment to use, freely open to the public. The reclining Buddha at Wat Po was phenomenal. Being that we've been travelling for 14 months, we've seen our share of amazing things, (including gargantuan Buddha's) but this particular experience is a definite must see. It cost 50 Baht to go inside to see the Buddha, and the wats surrounding it are just beautiful. We also went to the Grand Palace, but unfortunatley were too late. Seeing these two things was really easy. We went to the end of the skytrain (Saphan Taksin), and walked down the stairs straight onto Central Pier. We bought a tourist pass for 100 Baht each which allows you to hop on and off the ferry between 9am and 3pm (be careful of this, we thought we would have at least until early evening). There are heaps of things to see along this can get off and see quite a few temples and there is also a Barge Museum which apparently is fantastic (couldn't see it, all the barges are out rehearsing for the King's birthday later in the year). Chinatown is also along this route. If you intend to hop on and off during the day, I would say the 100 Baht ticket is good value, otherwise just buy a local ticket, it's definitely cheaper.

In a nutshell, everything that has been mentioned in this thread is entirely accurate. Thank you so much.


#24 santsingh has been a member since 18/7/2006. Posts: 9

Posted by ChangFai on 20/9/2007 at 03:30

Thanks for posting .

I always like to hear how people get on after asking for advice on here .

Not that I will always agree with it :-)

Good to hear you had a great time .

Best Regards

#25 ChangFai has been a member since 10/4/2007. Location: Thailand. Posts: 139

Posted by alisonmilliken on 20/9/2007 at 17:44

i am so glad you had a good time and the information provided was useful! Hooray!
Have fun trying to settle into normal life again after the big trip, that is always the hard part.

#26 alisonmilliken has been a member since 10/12/2006. Posts: 70

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