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Monday, December 26, 2016

DIY Bangkok in 3 days

This post is for someone who:
  1. 1st time ever experiencing a diy travel
  2. 1st time in bangkok
  3. has 3 full days in bangkok - 5 days in total (1st and last day for departure and arrival)
  4. wants a combination of sight-seeing and shopping
  5. has someone with them who can not walk for long hours
This was my first time to make a diy itinerary in a foreign country which was also my first time there.  I think first-timers can get some useful tips from fellow first-timers as well. 

What I love about this DIY travel is its flexibility.  I was with my father, who has a knee condition, so cannot walk for long hours.  I recently just had my surgery, so I'm not too sure either of my strength in travelling either. Let's begin...

We were in Thailand for a total of 5 days.  1st day we left at 2:30 pm Philippine time and after 3 hours of travel time we arrived at Thailand's international airport.  There's a 1 hour difference in the time of Philippines and Thailand, with 1 hour advance in Philippines compared to Bangkok.
At Thailand airport

Upon arrival, we went to find a taxi.  Just follow the signs and you can see a kiosk with touch screen monitor for you to call a cab.  The monitor will tell when it has found a taxi for you.  You can choose between a sedan or a van type depending on how many you are.  

Upon sitting in the taxi, the taxi driver immediately declared that the three of us, fee will be 500bht.  This was what I searched through the net, don't agree to these scams, always ask for meter.  So we insisted to have the meter on. Travel fee from airport to Bangkok is around 360 bht.  Your total travel fee will be = meter + 50bht (airport fee) + 130 bht (toll fee).  I think if 500 bht includes the toll fee, you will not be overcharged that much.  But if the 500 does not incude the toll, then don't agree to it.

Traffic is a major problem in Bangkok, in fact, I think their traffic is worse than that in the Philippines.  We arrived at our hotel at around 7:30 pm (Bangkok time). Oh yeah, we stayed at Arnoma Grand Hotel in Siam area.

We had our dinner at:

  •  Som Tam Nua - 392/14 Siam Square Soi 5, Siam Square; 889, Siam Center, 4th Floor, Rama 1 Road, Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand
    •     You look for the Siam Square mall and there you can see this restaurant
    •     They can speak a little english here, and the food is amazing.

Day 1 (full day) - Bangkok's Past

I'll describe this day tour as tour of temples, since we went to all must see temples.
  1. The Grand Palace - 2-3 hrs
  2. Emerald Buddha - 1 hr
  3. Wat Pho - Reclining Buddha - 30 min - 1 hr
  4. Wat Arun - Temple of Dawn - 30 min - 1 hr
Things to take note during this day:
  • Dress code: 
    • Men - wear long pants and shirts with sleeves -- no tank tops. If you're wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks (in other words, no bare feet.
    • Women must be similarly modestly dressed. No see-through clothes, bare shoulders, etc.
    • If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entry that can provide clothes to cover you up properly. You must leave your passport or credit card as security.
  • Bring hat, sunglass and a bottle of water per person - it's really hot
  • Selfie pod for your cameras will be also good for people who loves taking selfies

Breakfast: 7:00 am - 8:00 am

BTS Skytrain (Silom Line)– Saphan Taksin Station (S6 Station) -> Exit No. 2-> Sathorn Pier -> Chao Praya Express boat (14 bht/person) -> Ta Chang Pier (No. 9)

What's great about the BTS skytrain and Ferry boat is that you will be able to avoid the lost time you'll spend in traffic if you go by taxi or van.

Once you reach the Ta Chang Pier, follow through where the people are going, you'll be going through the Ta Chang Pier Market and then just follow the people.  You will see the great white wall of the Grand Palace.
  • Take note of the boats... there are 2 types of boat:
    • Chao Praya Tourist boat - 150 bht/person unlimited rides for 1 day. Clue: few people ride this boat since it's expensive.
    • Chao Praya Express Boat - 14 bht/person - orange flag
  • We decided to just have the Chao Praya Express boat since we'll be going to 2-3 piers only.
Here we were riding the Chao Praya Express boat - notice there were lots of people riding it, even standing.
You'll pay the boat fee inside the boat, just like in a bus in the Philippines.  There's someone who will go around holding a cylinder with coins inside. Then you pay the 14 bht/person then you'll receive this ticket.

  1. The Grand Palace
  • Admission fee: 500 bht/person - includes grand palace, emerald buddha and other small museums around the grand palace
  • Operating hours: 8:30am - 3:30 pm
  • Once you reached the Grand Palace, tour guides will approach you if you want a private guided tour.  Or you can rent an audio guide for 100 bht /person + passport in the counter
The Grand Palace Entrance

The architecture inside is pretty much AMAZING! It's a real eyecandy!

2. Emerald Buddha

  • This is just beside the Grand Palace, to tell you the truth, I was expecting the Emerald Buddha to be big, but it was small.  Pictures are not allowed inside the temple to respect their religion.
  • You'll be asked to remove your shoes before entering the temple.
By this time, it was around 11:30am and we decided to have our lunch.  We went back to Ta Chang Pier and there's a Pad Thai Blue restaurant there and we went to eat there.  This was already the needed break for my dad's knees.

After our lunch, we headed back to see the  2 remaining temples to see.

3. Wat Pho - Reclining Buddha
  • Same as the Emerald Buddha, shoes are not allowed inside.
  • Here, you can take pictures inside.
4. Wat Arun - Temple of Dawn
  • There's a ferry boat that will take you accross to Wat Arun from the Grand Palace, the trip costs 3.50 bht/person
  • Too bad when we went there, the tower was still under rennovation
  • Be careful of steep steps!
This is just one of the small towers in Wat Arun, there's a really big tower, however it was under rennovation when we got there.

We were done at around 2 pm.  Due to the heat and tiredness, we decided to go back to our hotel.  The line in the Chao Praya express was long since a lot of tourists are headed home also, we waited for around 1 hr before we got to an express boat.

Due to our tiredness, we slept at the hotel and we woke up to have dinner.  We had dinner at:

·      Baan Khun Mae - 458/6-9 Siam Square Soi 8, Rama 1 Road, Patumwan District, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

o   Opposite hello kitty café, right opposite eentrance of Siam Square One
o   Glass noodles, you can specify spiciness  
o  solid Central Thai dishes, including prawns in red curry, fried morning glory, grilled pork, and roasted duck in red curry sauce. Definitely try the fried chicken wrapped in pandan leaves — it's glorious.
o   Mother’s Home Cooking  

Day 2 (full day) - Cheap Shopping

  • Pratunam Market
  • Platinum Mall
  • Sampeng Market / Chinatown
  • Siam Square One
Breakfast: 6:00am - 7:00am
1. Pratunam Market - This is Bangkok's Divisoria.  You can see lots of clothes here and lots of people holding trolleys, buying bulk of clothes.  It's difficult to haggle here, since most sellers don't allow your lower price. 
Tip: if you find something you like, buy it already, you'll get lost if you'll come back, stalls here sell different types of merchandise.

We bought a pajama-like pants with thailand inspired design here for 90 bht per piece provided you buy wholesale (which you can find at price ranges 100-150 bht in malls and stores).

2. Platinum Mall - This is just across the Pratunam Market.  This is like their 999 or 168 mall version in the Philippines.

3. Sampeng Market / Chinatown
Here we took again the BTS train -> Saphan Taksin Station (S6 Station) -> Exit No. 2-> Sathorn Pier -> Chao Praya Express boat (14 bht/person) -> Ratchawong Pier (Pier No. 5) -> follwo the signs to Sampeng Market/ Chinatown

This is also like their Divisoria in Philippines.  
What I love most in this street is the: 
They have character inspired, hello kitty, disney-inspired stuffs and many other more.  The place consisted of 3 floors.
The prices of the products has posted 2 prices.  The wholesale price and the regular price.  To get the wholesale price, you can either:
  1. get 6 of products of same category (e.g. bags, may have 6 assorted designs)
  2. if the total of your purcheses reached > 1000 bht already
If you satisfy any of the 2 criteria, you will be given the wholesale price.

Due to lots of people, my dad got tired of all the people shopping.  So we then decided to head back to the hotel again with ferry boat and the BTS train.

We ate at a restaurant near siam square.  I couldn't remember the name already.

Day 3 (full day) - Exploring the Unique in Bangkok

  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
  • Elephant
  • Central Mall
Here we had the help of a local tourist guide.  Since it was peak season the tourist guide charged us at 700 bht/person.  But I've heard if not peak season, you can get this for 500 bht/person.

The package of 700 bht included pick up from your hotel, to the elephant camp, then to damnoen saduak floating market with motor boat ride along the floating village, and then a trip back to your hotel.

  1. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
This is the tourist congested floating market of Thailand.  It takes 1 hr and 30 minutes travel from siam area to here, it's like going from Manila to Pampangga.  I've researched there were more floating markets with more authentic Thailand local look, but it's only open on weekends.  Since we were there on a weekday, we'll just settle with this.

Upon arrival, you'll be asked to ride a boat for 150 bht/person, we've decided to try this, since we want to experience riding it anyways.  You'll be brought here to the floating market, people are selling all sorts of things, barbeque, ice cream, desserts in their individual boats and on the river side you can see the stalls selling tourist stuffs.  Haggle away when you buy here, because prices are 3x the prices I saw in the malls in siam area and in Sampeng Market.  Good thing we went to cheap shopping the previous day, so we have an idea how much are the prices.

The pants we bought at Pratunam Market at 90 bht / pc will have a price at the floating market at 800 bht/pc. I mean that's too high!!!! You have to haggle more than half the declared price.

After the boat ride, you'll ride the motor boat to another part of the village, here you can no longer buy anything.  You'll go into like swamp area, and you can see lizards (bayawak) swimming around.

2. Chang Puak Elephant Camp
We don't have enough time to go to Chang Mai to go to the Elephant Conservation Facility, so we just settled here, this is the one I think nearest to Siam area.  My sister was against going here, since they're not 'ethical' in treating the animals.  But I said, I wanted to see an elephant, so we just went here.

Entrance fee was included in the 700 bht package.  Inside you can ride the elephant at 600 bht/person and feed the elephant with turnips and bananas for 100 bht/bag

Since it was unethical to ride the elephant, we settled for feeding the elephants.

Our half day tour then was concluded and we headed back to the hotel. We left at 12:30 pm and we arrived at our hotel at 3:00pm.  Can you imagine the traffic?! From a 1.5 hrs trip going to 3 hrs because of the traffic!!!

3.  Central Mall
Central Mall is like their SM in Bangkok.  There's a wide range of average price brands to expensive brands inside the mall.

We had our late lunch here, since we arrived at siam area at 3:00pm due to traffic.  We ate at:

Kum Poon Central World, 7/F, Beacon Zone, Rachadamri Road | Pathum Wan, Bangkok, Bangkok 10330,Thailand

  •      Food is delicious! Don't order the Thai Milk Tea though, I've tasted better in other restaurants.
We had a taste of their desserts also, from Yenly Yours
Their buko ice cream is really delicious, it's very tasty, more tasty than the buko ice cream in the Philippines

Mango with Coconut Noodles - We got curious what was the coconut noodles, only to find out, it's coconut, just grated to look like noodles.  Their mangoes are sweet but I prefer Philippine mangoes since our mangoes are more fragrant than theirs.

Oh yeah, also worth a try is their Mango Sticky Rice.  It's like suman topped with mango ang coconut milk and sometimes pinipig.

Our last day was when we went back to the airport.  Again with the 500 bht from the taxi.  In going back there's only 1 toll-fee (20 bht) without airport fee, so insist on meter.

Disclaimer: Some pictures, taken from the internet, sorry, I was lazy in finding their respective owners, I'm not claiming them.  I have watermark on pictures from my camera though.

PS: Would like to thank Mam Melissa Miles for giving me tips and info before I went on my trip to Bangkok. 😊
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