Bangkok Vacation Advice

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Weather

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)32.0
(89.6)
32.7
(90.9)
33.7
(92.7)
34.9
(94.8)
34.0
(93.2)
33.1
(91.6)
32.7
(90.9)
32.5
(90.5)
32.3
(90.1)
32.0
(89.6)
31.6
(88.9)
31.3
(88.3)
32.7
(90.9)
Average low °C (°F)21.0
(69.8)
23.3
(73.9)
24.9
(76.8)
26.1
(79)
25.6
(78.1)
25.4
(77.7)
25.0
(77)
24.9
(76.8)
24.6
(76.3)
24.3
(75.7)
23.1
(73.6)
20.8
(69.4)
24.1
(75.4)
Avg. rainy days (≤ 1 mm)133616161820211761128
Source: Wikipedia

Bangkok’s weather is hot, hot, hot and as a result you sweat, sweat, sweat. I got by with just a pair of t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. However, the best time to go lies between November and April, when it rains at most 6 times a month. Surprisingly when I went to Bangkok during June 2008, it didn’t rain at all for the entire 4 days. But it did rain in Day 4 of Bangkok 2009 in April.

People

It is not common to find a person on the street who can speak English. Yes, the hotel receptionist can, the young crowd in bars and clubs can, the customer service at shopping malls can but that’s more or less about it. It is much harder to communicate in the streets. Even taxi drivers have a hard time comprehending some of the places I wanted to go to. Usually, they’ll have no idea what you are talking about. The solutions are to point towards what you want when ordering and have the hotel reception write down in Thai the places you want to go to.

bangkok receptionist

Also, there is another part of Thailand many have experienced. Scams. There are scams EVERYWHERE. Even in front of the Grand Palace entrance! You would see the scammer telling people about to enter that the Grand Palace is closed until 3pm (which in reality the Grand Palace opens from 8.30am-3.30pm) and convincing people to take their FREE tour which includes wasting your time by bringing you to jewelery shops, massage parlours, tailors, etc. where they get a commission if you buy something. That was what happened to us on Day 3 of Bangkok 2008.

My advice when in Bangkok is, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Transportation

Taxi is my No.1 recommended mode of traveling in Bangkok. But before entering you’d have to ask if he would turn the meter on. If the present one refused to turn on his meter, just get the next one. Rest assured, taxis are abundant in Bangkok. Keep in mind to always have small change as well.

Bangkok’s public transit is pretty connected around town. You can easily access major tourist areas like Siam Square (Bangkok’s shopping district), Chatuchak Weekend Market, Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown), etc. Take it especially during rush hour on weekdays and dinner time on weekends when Bangkok’s traffic goes insane.

You must sit in the Chao Phraya Express Boat and check out the view of Bangkok from the Chao Phraya river if you haven’t. It is super cheap and you can use it to travel to several landmarks along the river like Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Khao San Road, Yaowarat, etc.

chao phraya river

The cheapest mode of transportation in Bangkok has to be the Khlong Saen Saep Express boats plying the Saen Saeb canal in the middle of the city. It’s also another thing to include in your to do list as you’ll see another view of Bangkok. This time, it’s the backs of the buildings. Do note however the water isn’t the cleanest but they will raise a plastic sheet of curtain to shield passengers when moving. Cool thing is, you’ll see helmet wearing ticket collectors hanging dangerously on the outside of the boat.

NEVER ride on a tuk tuk in Bangkok. Fuck tuk tuks. 10/10 are scammers. These syndicates have been going on for years yet the government does nothing about it.

tuktuk

Things To Do

Marvel at the plethora of temples in Bangkok. The 3 must visits are Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Pho, all just within walking distance with each other. Tip #613: Decline EVERYTHING offered to you by strangers, especially near Grand Palace, and only talk after entering the temple’s compound.

Watch a Muay Thai match in one of these 3 stadiums in Bangkok. I didn’t get to do it because my schedule didn’t fit. =(

Lumpini Stadium
Rama IV Road, Bangkok
Tel: (662) 252-8765, 251-4303, 253-7702, 253-7940
Fight Nights: Tuesdays and Fridays from 6.30 p.m, Saturday afternoons 5-8 p.m., Saturday nights from 8.30 p.m.
Ticket prices: 500, 1,000, 1,500 Baht (ringside)

Ratchadamnoen Stadium
Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue
Tel: (662) 281-4205, 280-1684-6
Fight Nights: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, starting at 6.30 p.m.
Ticket Prices: 500, 1,000, 1,500 Baht (ringside); special discount on Sunday nights

Channel 7 Stadium
Behind the old Northern Bus Terminal (Morchit), opp. Chatuchak Park, Bangkok
Tel: (662) 272-0201
Fight Schedule: Sundays, from 1.45 p.m., third Wednesday of each month starting at 12.00 noon.
Ticket prices: Free admission

muay thai

Get a genuine full body Thai massage at a nearby massage center for THB500 including tips. I always try to schedule a session at the end of every tiring day traveling around Bangkok. There are only 2 types of massages in the world that I love. Thai and Balinese.

If you are in town 13,14,15 April, you will be able to immerse yourself in the Thai festival of Songkran that happens simultaneously throughout Thailand.

Another place 1 hour away from the city which I highly recommend is the Ancient City in Muang Boran that has scaled replicas of buildings from all over Thailand. Have fun driving yourself around learning about Siam’s history in a rented golf buggy that costs THB100/hour (2 seaters) and THB200/hour (4 seaters). You can easily spend an entire day here as there are plenty to see. Much like a photographer’s paradise!

Cycle around Bangkok with a tour company. Compared to walking, you cover a bigger radius, compared to walking, while discovering the city up close when cycling.

Bangkok is famous for it’s transvestite shows aka cabarets. However, I would like to recommend you instead to check out the highly, highly rated Siam Niramit. It is family friendly and EVERYONE I’ve come across who attended the show LOVED IT and said it was their best spent evening in Bangkok!

Shopping

The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the biggest weekend markets in the world! It has more than 5000 operating stalls and receives about 200, 000 visitors each day! 8 of my friends and I got lost in the rows of stalls spanning 1.13km². I highly suggest arriving right after breakfast at around 9am, walk till lunch and walk again till it closes at around 5pm. Believe me, you will love it! (especially if you’re a girl)

I would also suggest a visit to the malls in Siam Square. Siam Paragon and Central World are worth to walk around in as they are pretty huge and modern.

Platinum Fashion Mall on the other hand is a must visit female shopping paradise. And oh, the food court at the top floor serves very delicious and reasonably priced meals.

Food

THB100 is enough to get you a good meal. Below are my must eat items for Thailand.

Pad Thai. Common item available all around the place.

Tom Yam Kung. World famous spicy soup.

Green Curry. Usually it’s with chicken.

Thap Thim Krob. Dessert made out of coconut milk with water chestnut with jackfruit.

Pork Knuckles. Usually comes as a set with rice but also available individually as a dish.

Coconut ice cream. I highly recommend the one in Chatuchak weekend market.

Sweet basil pork. Usually the meat of choice is pork.

Drink

A large 630ml Singha beer in 7-11 cost about THB60.
A small 330ml Singha beer in a bar cost about THB60 – THB150.

There are 3 bars situated around Bangkok with magnificent views overlooking the city. I’d recommend going to any one of these for drinks and food too, if you don’t mind paying super steep prices. These 3 places are namely Sirocco, Vertigo and Red Sky.

Clubbing in Thailand rocks! I loved it! Even the after clubs rocked! Famous ones for a crowd of mainly Thai young working adults and college students are Route 66, Slim/Flix, Nung-Len, Escobar, Escudo, etc. Red Label (the Thais were drinking this so we just ‘did as the Romans do’) costs about THB1400 and is enough to get you a table provided you arrive early or make reservations beforehand.

Gogo bars are highly concentrated in 3 areas. Patpong the sleaziest, Nana Plaza where you can find a building full of it and Soi Cowboy, with bars on the left and right side of that one road. I’ve only seen the ones in Soi Cowboy and you’ll experience what it feels like to be Brad Pitt for a night (the waitresses will call you out, hold your arms or ‘accidentally’ trip on you) when you walk past the gogo bars. 😈 There are some etiquettes to adhere to while around these areas like having a drink in your hand at all times (although walking in just to check out the place is permitted) and no photographs inside.

Accommodation

During my travels to Bangkok, I stayed in different hotels around the city center. During Bangkok 2008, we stayed in Bangkok City Inn. To me, it’s the most convenient budget hotel under THB1500/night. You have Big C supermarket just behind it and 5 minutes away is the super huge Central World. Plethora of food available in the form of street vendors and restaurants everywhere around it.

And in Bangkok 2009, we stayed in All Seasons Bangkok Siam. The internet was free, rooms were brilliantly clean, service was impressive, breakfast was awesome! Compared to Bangkok City Inn, it’s less convenient but you get more comfort for the price you pay which is also under THB1500/night.

Budget

My initial allocation for the trip was :

Transport : THB 100/day.
Food : THB 500/day.
Drink : THB 700/night.
Hotel : THB 700/night.

THB 10,000 is enough to cover 5D4N in Bangkok with money to spare for a day of shopping.

If you haven’t read about my Bangkok trips yet, you should!

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