Hi Marian and everyone else. Here is Pam's and my trip report for the Bangkok portion of our travels this summer. Additional reports covering other places will follow.
Pam had never been to Thailand before, so we decided to stay in the Khao San Road area when we first arrived. Our travel from Los Angeles, via Tokyo, was scheduled to arrive at midnight BKK time. We booked at the Thai Cozy House, just around the corner from Khao San Rd, since they boast a 24-hour front desk. That worked out pretty well too, since our flight was delayed 2 hours in Tokyo, and we didn't arrive at our hotel until after 2 am.
Thai Cozy was a good choice, and we'd stay there again. We liked the location, the room, the staff, and the breakfast. We stayed 3 nights at 850 baht per night.
Three nights seemed like exactly the right amount of time to get settled, overcome the jet lag, explore the area, and sort out onward train and air travel needs.
The Khao San Rd location put us close to the main tourist sites in the Sanam Luang area. We visited the main temples of Wat Phra Kaeo and Wat Pho, but if I had it to do again, I might skip Wat Phra Kaeo. It's lovely, no doubt, buy the 250 baht per person entry fee for non-Thais has gotten out of hand, and I think that there are equally fantastic temples to see throughout the country that don't require getting soaked for the high foreigner-only entry fee.
There were a few particularly great things about staying in that area. The first was the National Museum. It is open Weds through Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm, and costs 40 baht per person. There are even free tours given in English offered on Weds at 9:30 am. The museum is well done, and for folks seriously interested in Thailand, it is a choice way to learn about Thai history, culture, art, and religion.
The second was the nearby Wat Bawon. Jet lag meant that we were up very early one morning, and when we went out to grab a few items at the ubiquitous 7-11 on the corner, we saw dozens of monks out collecting their food for the day. It was a fabulous and romantic sight.
Nearly two months later, at the end of our trip, we decided to stay in the Sukhumvit area so we could hit a few great restaurants and do our end-of-trip shopping before we flew home. I usually just wait until the end of a trip to do my shopping, and buy an extra bag or suitcase to hold all the stuff I buy.
We like to shop at Narayaphan, right near the Big C Supercenter in the Pratunam Area. Upstairs are high-quality handicrafts from all over Thailand, while the basement is more like Chiang Mai's night bazaar. Bargain hard! The MBK shopping center, right near the national stadium and directly accessible from the skytrain, also has great shopping.
For accomodation, we booked a room at the family-run PS Guesthouse on Sukhumvit Rd Soi 8. I'd highly recommend a stay here. Our 900 baht got us a fantastic room with all the amenities and hardwood floors right near the skytrain. We loved it. We stayed for 4 nights here, and while we enjoyed every minute, we could have accomplished our end-of-trip errands in just 2 nights.
Apart from shopping, the one must do in this area is a meal at Cabbages and Condoms restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 12. The restaurant itself is marvelous, with a charming atmosphere and great food at a reasonable price. But there is also a social consciousness side to the place, as it raises funds for AIDS outreach and other social programs in Thailand. Check out the adjacent gift shop to see all the cheeky potential gift items.
Another place in that area, but that we didn't visit this trip, is Cheap Charlie's Bar on a little side street down Sukhumvit Soi 11. It's a great hangout for expats and frequent travellers.
There were a few other times we passed through Bangers on the trip, such as heading from Laos down to Samui or back up on our way to Siem Reap. On those trips, we stayed at either PS Guesthouse, or at a place in Din Daeng/Huay Kwang called K.T. Guest House. Staying there made getting to the northern (Mo Chit) bus station a bit easier, but the reason we stayed there was the budget-friendly price of less than 600 baht per night, and the wonderful pool where we spent the afternoon just playing and relaxing. They aren't listed here in Travelfish, but they do have a website which is easy enough to find via any internet search engine.
I've lived and worked in Bangkok for over 5 years, and I really love it there. But the city isn't for everyone. It is noisy and crowded and expensive compared to other tourist destinations in Thailand. Still, it has a fun-loving style that keeps bringing me back.
Remember every time you fly out of Bangkok that there is that 500 baht departure tax, payable at the airport. Bummer. Also, the new airport is supposed to begin operations in September '06.
One last thing. Since our United Airlines flights back to the states routed us through Tokyo anyway, Pam arranged for us to have a 48-hour stopover there for no extra airfare. It was great. Even though Narita Airport is nearly 2 hours from the city, it was still worth it to store our bags at the airport and head into town for those two nights. We stayed at a budget ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) in southern Tokyo, but even then it wasn't cheap, as we spent about $350 all told for those 48 hours. But if you are travelling that route anyway, I'd recommend a stop in Tokyo to break up the trip and to see a completely different side of Asia. Regards.
Absolutely perfect Exacto.
Personal and informative. Eagerly anticipating the next installment.
Ciao for now
#3 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Cabbages and condoms??? Is that the actual name of the place?
#4 johnmckiller has been a member since 28/6/2007. Posts: 3
yup, that is the name, we went in november last year, the food was great and well priced.
you also get treated to a display of fine condom art!!
#5 g_singh has been a member since 3/7/2007. Posts: 24