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britman Bangkok - A travel report by Brit
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Bangkok,  Thailand - flag Thailand -  Krung Thep Mahanakhon
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britman's travel reports

Bangkok – Krung Threp, Thailand’s City of Angels

  22 votes
Page: 1 2
My love hate relationship with Thailand’s capital city continues after years of visiting. I love its sights, its people, their smiles, its food, but hate its traffic congestion, the seamier side of its nightlife, its pollution, noise and humidity.


Cheap transport -Sky train at Chit Lom
Cheap transport -Sky train at Chit Lom
I do however find myself returning and always enjoy a few days in steamy Krung Threp the City of Angels or simply Bangkok as you and I know it. Bangkok is the bustling capital and largest city in Thailand with a population of over 8 million smiling people. Although its notorious traffic infrastructure is, believe it or not slowly improving, Bangkok is still a sprawling nightmare of never ending construction and congestion and it is sheer hell to drive in unless you know it well - so at all costs avoid hiring a motor car here. Chauffeur driven limo’s and metered taxi’s are comparatively cheap by western standards but a daytime return trip to the otherside of the city could take you hours. The quickest way for one person to travel on the capitals roads is as a pillion on the back of a motorbike taxi. The real secret though is to stay near to a sky train station or the Chao Phraya River and use the Skytrain/Subway system; (BTS & MRTA) alternatively, use the public water taxis that ply up and down the meandering river and its khlong canal tributaries. The first part of the Skytrain system opened a few years back and is very popular and easy to use. The new subway extension was opened in mid 2004. These are the easiest and cheapest ways to get about in this smog ridden, congested City. A BTS tourist rover ticket costs 100 baht a day and lets you travel at speed watching the snarled up motor traffic crawl beneath you. The subway MRTA tickets cost between 14 and 34 Baht per ticket. Having stayed all over the City over the years I now look to hotels along the Skytrain/Subway Route. There is a lot of hotel choice along the Soi’s (side streets) off Sukhumvit or Ratchadapisek Road, otherwise look to the hotels along the River and use the Chao Phraya Express Boat – just 10 baht a trip up and down the river or connect to the Skytrain from Central Pier.

Favourite spots:
Grand Palace behind orchids Orchids
Grand Palace behind orchids Orchids
For the newcomer the following give the real flavour of Bangkok:- 1. Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha – The grandest of all temples in a country full of temples this Royal Temple is the ultimate. Admission 200 baht. Easiest way to get there is by the Express Boat alighting at either Chang or Maharaja Piers. 2. Wat Po – the oldest and largest of all of Bangkok’s Temples. It also houses the phenomenal 150 foot (46 metres) long gold reclining Buddha. 3. 10 baht Boat Ride along the Chao Phraya River and adjoining khlongs. 4. Chinatown is a maze of narrow alleys crammed with market stalls and easily accessible from the Ratchawong river ferry station or Hua Lamphong BST station. 5. Patpong – for its night market and an endless array of bargains – but you must bargain, offer a third to start, pay no more than a half of the first asking price! OK whilst you are there take a look at the Pong’s naughty nightlife – I doubt if it will really turn you on!

What's really great:
Thai Classical Dancers - Free Show at the Erawan Shrine
Thai Classical Dancers - Free Show at the Erawan Shrine
6. Chatuchak Market is enormous and is only present at weekends. It sells everything and anything (the new MRT subways end of the line is directly there – Skytrain passengers change at ASOK station) 7. Erawan Shrine: - At the junction of Phloen Chit and Sukhumvit (alight at Chit Lom BST station) by the Grand Hyatt Erawan & new Intercontinental Hotels this amazing bustling shrine is festooned with the garlands and offerings of thousands of Thai worshipers prayers. This is the best place to witness Thai Classical Dancers for free and get the feel of how important religion is to Thai People. Shoppers will find that they are surrounded by Bangkok’s glitziest shopping plazas and cheaper bargain basements. 8. Jim Thompson’s House is a great example of an authentic Thai wooden home to this famous American whose name is synonymous with Silk and Thailand. It is worth a visit and not far from the National Stadium Skytrain station.

Sights:
Bangkok Skytrain Map
Bangkok Skytrain Map
Other recommendations:

Getting There:-
Virtually every country has an airline bucket shops that sell discounted seats to Bangkok. In the UK look at: - www.airnet.co.uk In Australia: - www.lastminute.com.au Or in S.E. Asia www.asiatravelmart.com

Getting about costs:-
Limousine – 600 to 700 baht per hour.
Skytrain/Subway from 10 baht per journey, 100 baht one day tourist ticket, 270 baht for a 3 day tourist ticket.
Taxi – Flag fall 35 Baht or about 150 baht per hour
Tuk-Tuk – However much the driver can extract from you! Agree your fare first!
Pillion motor bike passengers are charged from10 baht up dependant upon distance.
Passenger River Boat – 10 baht per journey

When to go:-
The rainy season can be miserable best time to go is between December and May.


Time Zone: - 7 hours ahead of GMT.


Accommodations:
View of the Chao Phraya River at night from the Peninsular Hotel
View of the Chao Phraya River at night from the Peninsular Hotel
If you are thinking of staying in Bangkok look at www.sawadee.com before planning or booking any room – it will give you details of every hotel from budget to luxury and will allow you to book online at a discounted rate. Even budget travellers here can splash out on a degree of cheap luxury in this capital city. If you are an international jetsetter then you have the choice of some of world’s very best hotels for a fraction of their European or American counterparts’ rack rates:-
Some choices:-
Peninsula Hotel now voted the world’s best hotel but it vies with the
Oriental Hotel - for 25 years this has consistently been voted the world’s best hotel
Rembrandt Hotel – is a mere 4 **** hotel that equals any other 5 ***** in the world and has far less posing customers than the first two hotels.(My first choice)
Backpackers prefer the Khaosan Road which has numerous cheap choices from 100 baht upwards per night.

Nightlife:
Ramakien Figure - Grand Palace
Ramakien Figure - Grand Palace
A multitude of sins await, be it wine, women or men and song – look at www.bangkokbynight.com it tells you where to find various forms of nightlife from clubs to restaurants and even naughty nightlife.

Bernard “Trinks” weekly column in the Bangkok Post has sadly disappeared but read www.stickmanbangkok.com for a New Zealand teacher’s excellent weekly view and review of the capital through a farang’s eyes. Stickman reports every Sunday. All nightlife is supposed to end at 1:00 am but frequently depends upon the local “boys in brown” (Police) financial relations with the establishment concerned.

Hangouts:
Bangkok's tuk-tuks - negotiate, haggle and agree the fare before you enter
Bangkok's tuk-tuks - negotiate, haggle and agree the fare before you enter
Again in this vast city with so many establishments I restrict my recommendations to the mid Sukhumvit area:-

Robin Hood opposite the Emporium (use the overhead bridge from there)

Black Swan (by Asok BST on Sukhumvit)

Bei Otto Atmospheric Soi 20, German Pub with Otto on accordion when he feels like it

The Londoner and Bars on Sukhumvit Soi 33.

If you need more information try these useful web sites:- www.sawadee.com and www.bangkokbynight.com also read Farang Magazine & Time Out both give you all the pub and club info that you will need.

Restaurants:
Erawan Shrine attracts thousands daily to pray in the middle of bustling Bangkok
Erawan Shrine attracts thousands daily to pray in the middle of bustling Bangkok
The Thais seem to be constantly eating or grazing their way through the day. In this City there are countless choices and you could eat in a different restaurant every day of the year. I restrict my recommendations to a few varied places that I know, trust and enjoy in the mid Sukhumvit area:-
1. Rang Mahal – Soi 19 Sukhumvit at the Rembrandt Hotel. Bangkok’s best Indian Restaurant by far. Meal for two about 1750THB
2. Bei Otto Soi 20 – Sukhumvit German Beer House & garden with excellent food and large German ex-pat following
3. Lotus Garden Thai - Soi 24 Sukhumvit – Real Thai Food
4. Seafood Market Soi 24 Sukhumvit – A huge modern neon building where you can pick your own fish and get it cooked any style
5. Sign In – Soi 24 Sukhumvit - Tiny restaurant with superb cheap European food.

Other recommendations:
Gold Angel Guardians at the Grand Palace
Gold Angel Guardians at the Grand Palace

Exchange Rate: - Roughly, 74THB = £1.00

Visas: - 30 day tourist visas are granted on arrival to most Nationalities.
Language: - Thai. English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

Shopping: The main plazas and shop areas are around the Erawan Shrine and Chit Lom BST station. Nearby is the Panthip Plaza dedicated to computers, peripherals and software (often pirated). . Check out the hotel tourist maps for markets of every description but if you are there at the weekend Chatuchak Market is a must.

Best guides: - Lonely Planet Bangkok Pocket Guide; DK – Eyewitness Thailand Travel Guide. Backpackers, travellers and tourists should all get the latest travel information in the best Thai travel read that exists – ‘Farang Magazine’ just 100 THB monthly from most news stands..

Published on Monday October 18th, 2004


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Sun, Dec 12 2004 - 04:08 PM rating by esfahani

Wow... a really perfect report! (BKK)
I have been there several times too and like the city as much as you.
Thanks!!!
Ralph

Wed, Nov 10 2004 - 06:43 PM rating by magsalex

Excellent report!

Sun, Nov 07 2004 - 10:44 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii brit,
fabulous report and excellent picture and beautifully written.
keep it up
ravi

Fri, Oct 22 2004 - 11:11 AM rating by yellow_daisy

Hello Brit,
Wow!!! You just came back from Bangkok and brought to us a wonderful "gift". Thank Brit--I am really really enjoy reading your report which is so professional , full of love and passion. Thanks again for your "gift".
Take care.
Daisy

Fri, Oct 22 2004 - 08:33 AM rating by inzaghi

An excellent report filled to the brim with goodies! Keep up this great writing - now it looks like I have to extend my stay in BKK!

Wed, Oct 20 2004 - 08:37 AM rating by gloriajames

Absolutely Brilliant! Loved it.... Cant wait to go again. Deftly a plus *****

Tue, Oct 19 2004 - 08:38 PM rating by kcheepv

Excellent report!! Keep up the great work.

Tue, Oct 19 2004 - 07:18 PM rating by picasso

Brit,you have made it;a Travel compact bible for Bangkok.I think,before to go there,reading it is a must !!!!!!!!!

Cheers,Brit,and good luck!
Boris

Tue, Oct 19 2004 - 07:46 AM rating by rangutan

Increadible and informative. Beyond a report - a super mini-guide!

Tue, Oct 19 2004 - 02:05 AM rating by fieryfox

Excellent insights and information about the city and written with such passion and style. Perfect for those planning a trip to Bangkok. Well done Britman.

Cheers.
Farizan

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