Seven ways to enjoy
Use metered taxis or the skytrain...
first-time visitors to Thailand make
the mistake of either trying to walk
everywhere or hiring three-wheeled 'tuk
tuks' to get around town. Walking long
distances in Bangkok's pollution, up
and down the uneven pavements, and risking
life and limb crossing streets where
pedestrians do not have right of way
is not advised. Tuk Tuks meanwhile expose
you to both pollution and scams -- drivers
quoting you highly inflated flat rates
or insisting on detours to a gem shop,
tailor or other tourist shop where they
get commissions -- and they don't get
you where you are going any faster than
a taxi will. Metered taxis are available
all over town. Avoid parked taxis waiting
for customers as these drivers are often
the ones that refuse to turn on their
meters. Wave a passing taxi down instead
and then make sure they put on the meter
when you get in. Small tips of B10.00-
B 20.00 are appreciated, but not expected.
You can also use the skytrain to reach
many of the city's top shopping areas.
It is new, clean and comfortable, the
only setback for visitors being the
three stories you have to climb to get
to the station, not so easy if you are
carrying several packages.
Take a private river boat trip...
a private long-tail boat for your own
tour of the 'Bangkok Noi' area. It's a
good two hour trip and may cost you about
B300.00 (US$ 7.50) per person these days.
Bring a sunhat, sunlotion, your own drinks
and you'll enjoy seeing the contrasts
that make Bangkok so special: orchid farms
between factories, mansions beside old
wooden houses along the inner canals,
skyscrapers and bridges that mark the
Bangkok skyline, etc. You can rent boats
privately from the 'tour desks' at the
ferry stops next to the riverside hotels
(Oriental, Royal Orchid Sheraton/River
City). I suggest that you go in the early
morning or late afternoon to avoid the
the free ferry...
a drink on the other side of the river.
Visitors often try to visit The Oriental,
one of the world's best hotels, for
a drink by the river, but I recommend
the new Peninsula Bangkok for the best
riverside view -- its situated right
opposite the Shangri-La and the Oriental.
To get there, catch the hotel's free
ferry from the pier next to the Shangri-La
Tea in Authors' Lounge...
you do wish to see The Oriental, aim to
make it for afternoon tea in the old Authors'
Lounge. This part of the hotel has been
very well preserved, the almost colonial
ambiance retained, the walls decorated
with images and articles about the many
authors who have stayed in the hotel.
It represents the historic role of The
Oriental for westerners in Thailand as
a hotel, boarding and social institution.
If this interests you, pick up a copy
of "The Occidentals," one of the
only novels about old Bangkok by a western
woman who lives in Thailand.
Enjoy the chocolate buffet at the Sukothai...
one of Thailand's top hotels, The Sukothai
hosts a chocolate buffet on weekends from
2:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Well worth a visit
if you have a sweet tooth and an interest
in mixing with Thai high society. Forget
about the extra calories. You'll burn
them off sightseeing and shopping.
Price products downtown before venturing
into the markets ...
the second floor of Narayanaphand (opposite
the World Trade Center) and the new Thai
Craft Village in the basement of the Le
Meridien President Hotel, both in central
Bangkok. Both carry a range of crafts
generally direct from the factories but
priced at slightly higher prices than
elsewhere. If you absolutely must have
something you see here, buy it. Otherwise,
take note of the prices of items you like
and use them as guidelines when bargaining
at the Weekend Market or the new Night
Bazaar. (Note: The Night Bazaar, located
opposite Lumpini Park on Withayu (Wireless)
Road, is very young and still building
traffic so you're likely to find some
good bargains there - check out the Ayutthaya
Section, Sois 1-9, one 'block' of shops
on your right after entering through the
Visit Jim Thompson's House...
tourist attraction is a must-see for anyone
interested in Thai architecture, interior
design and silk. American expatriate Jim
Thompson revived the silk trade in Thailand
and later disappeared without a trace
while on holiday in Malaysia. His life
story and his accomplishments as well
as his love of quality Thai products are
all part of the guided tours of his former