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Bangkok 101 by Fravel

Planning your first trip to Bangkok and keen to experience the high-intensity, energetic Bangkok lifestyle?  Fravel lines up a basic guide for you to ease your way through the hustle and bustle of Bangkok’s busy streets!

Useful information:

  • SGD$1.00 = THB26.00. This rate might fluctuate, but it will be advisable to keep an eagle eye on “SuperRich”, the orange-coloured moneychanger, as they tend to give more favourable rates!
  • Recommended to use local SIM cards. Can be purchased at the airport, approximately for 399 Baht (7-day tourist SIM, unlimited data). “True” telcom booth located at Suvarnabhumi Airport is a good bet. The red booth is located right at the arrival hall, and the staff will help you to configure the settings.
  • Credit cards accepted at most shopping malls, hotels and restaurants, except street/night markets. Always prepare small notes (20 and 50 Baht) just in case!

Travelling during Songkran:

 Songkran is a festival celebrating the traditional Thai New Year, held in April and marked by the throwing and sprinkling of water..

  • Officially celebrated between the 13th -15th April, but celebrations usually last the entire week.
  • Most office buildings, banks and small family run shops are closed, but major shopping malls will remain open.
  • Everywhere is going to be packed with people, so keep a close eye on your valuables at all times.
  • Shopping in Pratunam
    • The malls will be open, but not all the shops inside the malls will be operational. So it really depends on your luck. Platinum Mall is a good bet, but ladies might be disappointed by the lack of variety during this period!
  • You are GUARANTEED to get wet. Take precautions on what you are carrying
    • Be careful with your expensive cameras/clothes/shoes/laptops/phones/wallets
    • Recommend wearing older clothes
    • Carry/keep your valuables in waterproof bags. Unfamiliar to us, but essential during Songkran
  • Not all the water is clean, so keep your mouth closed when water comes your way!
  • Songkran makes you feel part of the festivities; don’t be annoyed when you get wet. Just smile and join in the fun!
  • Songkran is a different experience in itself instead of the usual shopping and eating, and is very interesting. A must-join if you’re hanging around in Bangkok during this period.

 

Photo by Gerald
SONGKRAN – Festival celebrating the traditional Thai New Year, held in April and marked by the throwing and sprinkling of water.

Getting Around:

 From Airport to Hotel

    • After exiting the baggage collection area, turn right and head to Basement 1. These are where all the queues for taxis are (you will see official counters).
    • The journey from Suvarnabhumi Airport to your hotel should not be more than 500 Baht.
    • The counters inside the airport are for limousine taxis (usually very expensive, approx. 1,500 Baht). Avoid them at all cost!
    • Do not take taxis that are not from the counters. These touting drivers are usually out to cheat unsuspecting tourists
    • If you’re more adventurous, take the Airport Rail Link to Makkasan (link to MRT) or Phaya Thai (link to BTS). You run a lesser risk of getting cheated by the shady taxi drivers!

 

  • Within the city
    • BTS (Sky Train)
      • If you will be taking this a lot, Fravel recommends buying the prepaid card for 150 Baht (SGD6.00). This covers you for one day.
      • You can just buy per trip cards from the machines, but we’d still suggest purchasing the one-day pass if you’re taking at least 3 long haul journeys that day.
      • BTS in Bangkok
        BTS in Bangkok
    • MRT (Underground trains)
      • Same as BTS, but slightly more convenient as you can buy tickets at the counters directly, unlike the BTS where all tickets are generated from the ticket machines (counters only entertain changing from notes to coins).
    • Taxis
      • Most taxis nowadays run by meters, so make sure you tell the taxi beforehand that you want to go by meter. But always be vigilant because the meter might jump faster than expected!
      • You may have problems getting a taxi as roads in shopping areas are jammed, and taxis may not want to take or will offer you a fixed price instead of meters (about 200 Baht, still cheap in my opinion but take only as last resort. The BTS is still way more convenient!
    • Tuk Tuk
      • For tourists mostly
      • Try if you haven’t taken before!
      • More expensive than taxis (200-400 Baht, although you can bargain)
Photo by Gerald
Public Transport in Bangkok

Eating in Bangkok: 

  • Som Tam Nua

 Try their traditional papaya salad, chicken wings (MUST ORDER), and pork dishes!

How to Get There

  • Take the BTS to Siam Station (Sukhumvit Line)
  • It is on Siam Square Soi 5, across the street from Siam Paragon
  • A black-coloured building with a huge open area in front of it

Address: 392/14 Siam Square Soi 5
Phone: 08-1257-5384 , 02-2514880
Open hours: 10:45 am – 9:30 am

Som Tam Nua Som Tam Nua 2

  • After You Café

 Great place for resting your legs, having a coffee and desserts. Famous for its Shibuya Honey Toast! Needs no introduction, really…

How to Get There

  • Take the BTS to Siam Station
  • Located at Siam Square One beside the BTS
  • Very near to Som Tan Nua
  • Tip: beat the queue by visiting the outlet located next to BTS Ari (Aree Villa)

Address: Siam Square One, Ground Floor

Opening Hours: 11:00am – 12 Midnight

After You2

Photo by Gerald
Shibuya Honey Toast!
  • Hello Kitty House

The name speaks for itself! For Hello Kitty Fans.

How to Get There

  • Take the BTS to Siam Station
  • Located at Siam Square One beside the BTS
  • Next to After You Café

Address: Siam Square One, Ground Floor

Opening Hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm

Hello KittyHello Kitty2

  • The Best of The Boat Noodles

Traditional Thai Boat Noodles, also known as Kuay Teow Ruea. Typically small bowls of noodles in different styles and are about one-two mouthfuls per bowl. It is known as boat noodles, because these noodles were originally served from vendors on boats floating in Bangkok’s network of canals back in the old days. Why the small portion? This prevents the noodles from spilling out of the bowls in choppy waters. Nostalgic…

How to Get There

  • Take the BTS to Victory Monument Station
  • Walk out towards the big overhead roundabout passage (head towards the monument if unsure) and take the route on the right side
  • Take the stairs down once you see the green colored Fashion Mall building on your right.
  • Walk in the small lane and walk further inside once you start to see some small stalls
  • If you take a taxi, tell the driver “Anu-sawari-chai” (Victory Monument) and kuay teow ruea, as they might not know if you say Victory Monument.

Address: Sutyot Kuetiau Lua Payak Phaya Thai Bangkok 10400, Thailand

Opening Hours: 11:00am – 9:00pm

Boat Noodle How to get there

Boat Noodle Feast!
Boat Noodle Feast!
  • Waterside Resort and Restaurant

Great place for dinner, with beautiful landscapes and very decent, affordable seafood.

How to Get There

  • You have to take a Taxi
  • Best to show the address to your hotel concierge and ask them to inform the driver for you

Address: Soi Pradit Manutham, Nawamin, Bueng Kum, Bangkok 10230, Thailand

Opening Hours: 5:30pm – 1:00am

Waterside Resort & Restaurant Waterside Resort & Restaurant

  • Mangkorn Seafood Buffet

For cheap, all you can eat seafood buffet with free flow drinks at only 399 Baht (SGD16.00)! It has a 90-minute time restriction per seating though, but still more than sufficient to pile on those pounds!

How to Get There

  • Take a taxi as it’s located far from the MRT and BTS
  • Show the address to the taxi driver, or call the number and ask the driver to talk to the staff

Address: 1394 Soin Prachasongkhro 21, Prachasongkhro Road, Dindaeng 10400, Bangkok

Opening Hours:  4:00pm – 2:00am

Contact: +66 830966379 or +66 944825598 (open for reservations)

Mangkorn Seafood Buffet Mangkorn Seafood Buffet2

  • Thip Samai Pad Thai

Dubbed the best Pad Thai in Bangkok by both locals and foreigners. Other than the Pad Thai, remember to try their orange or coconut juice!

How to Get There

  • By Taxi
  • Tell the Taxi Driver “Pratu Phi Pad Thai” and they should know

Address: 511, Maha Chai Road , Samran Rat , 10200 Phra Nakhon , Bangkok, 10500, Thailand

Opening Hours: 5:30pm – 1:30am

Thip Samai Pad Thai Thip Samai Pad Thai

  • SabX2 Pratunam Wanton Noodles

Famous wanton noodles that most Singaporeans flock to, right smack in the middle of the Pratunam Shopping District. Try their braised pork rice too!

How to Get There

  • Walk if you stay in Pratunam area
  • By Taxi to Glow Pratunam Hotel / Petchburi Soi 19
  • 5-8 minute walk opposite the mall, right across the overhead bridge

Address: 4/32-33 Soi Petchburi 19, Pratunam, Bangkok, Thailand

Opening Hours: 9:00am – 4:00pm

SabX2 Pratunam Wanton Noodles SabX2 Pratunam Wanton Noodles

  • Local Thai Cuisine

For local Thai cuisine, Fravel recommends eating noodles from their local street stalls. It is as tasty as those from the restaurants and a lot cheaper. It allows you to feel the authentic local vibe, too! They are located all over and you can find these in almost every other street or lane. But avoid extremely dirty stalls (look out for their pans and woks to see if they are clean) – you would not want to leave Bangkok with food poisoning!

Recommended dishes to try:

  • Fried Chicken (Gai Tod)
  • Grilled Pork (Moo Ping)
  • Grilled Honey Roast Pork (Moo Yang)
  • Beef ball Noodles (Sen lek look chin liang diow krab!)
  • Rice with Chicken/Pork/Beef and Basil (Pad Krapao)
  • Coconut ice cream

These are just some of countless dishes – there are too many to name! You wouldn’t go wrong with them, really!

Fried rice with retro Pepsi!
Fried rice with retro Pepsi!
Roadside food stall - similar to Malaysia's Lok Lok
Roadside food stall – similar to Malaysia’s Lok Lok

DSC_0827 DSC_0828

Shopping in Bangkok:

  • High End Shopping Malls

Typical branded goods shopping malls, those that can be found in almost any country in the world. Bangkok has an exceptional number of them, with almost one at every train station.

More prominent ones include:

  1. Siam Paragon (BTS Siam)
  2. Central World (BTS Chid Lom)
  3. Terminal 21 (BTS Asoke)
  4. Central Chidlom (BTS Chid Lom)
  5. Central Embassy (BTS Ploen Chit)
  6. Emquartier (BTS Phrom Pong)
  7. Emporium (BTS Phrom Pong)
Siam Paragon
Siam Paragon
Terminal 21
Terminal 21
  • Wholesale style Shopping Malls

Shopping malls selling clothes by the bulk. You might be able to find some hidden gems within!

Popular ones include:

  1. Platinum Fashion Mall (BTS Chid Lom)
  2. MBK (BTS National Stadium – Silom Line)
  3. Union Mall (Phahon Yothin MRT)

Markets / Night Markets

The Bangkok experience will never be complete without experiencing weekend markets or night markets! From local to exotic food, wholesale clothes and fancy knick-knacks, you can find anything at these places. But of course, be prepared to soak in with the crowds as everyone goes to these places – both locals and tourists alike!

  • Rod Fai Market (Train Market), Srinakarin

An authentic open-air bazaar selling vintage items and also lots of stuff from local aspiring designers and lots of unique stuff.

How to Get There

  • By Taxi. Tell the driver Seacon Square
  • You may have trouble getting a taxi due to bad traffic on Friday/Saturday nights so in that case take the BTS to On Nut Station and get a taxi from there (Best bet!)

Address: Srinakarin Road Soi 51 (Behind Seacon Square)

Opening Hours: 5:00pm – Midnight (Thursday – Sunday)

Rot Fai Market

  • Asiatique The Riverfront

Combining a night bazaar and a mall, this market offers a different experience. Definitely a place to check out! With over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants housed under a huge replica warehouse complex, the concept speaks for itself. Good for photo opportunities as well!

How to Get There

  • Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin station
  • Take the free boat shuttle at the end of the pier which only takes 10 minutes (shuttle runs till 2300Hrs)
  • You can take a taxi but not recommended as traffic can be a nightmare in this area

Address: Chareonkrung Soi 74-76

Opening Hours: 5:00pm – Midnight

Asiatique the Riverfront

  • Rot Fai Market 2 (Train Market 2), Ratchada

The new and second train market, located in the Ratchada area of Bangkok. More accessible and at the same time bringing the same night bazaar feel, with street food, snacks and stuff to buy! Also surrounded by a number of pubs and bistros for people who want to have a drink and at the same time enjoy the atmosphere! Be sure to also try their BIG BOWL wanton noodles, where it is one bowl and all of you eat out of it!

How to Get There

  • Take the MRT to National Cultural Centre Station
  • There are signs showing you to the market
  • Walk towards Esplanade Shopping Mall (the market is behind the shopping mall)

Address: Ratchadapisek Road

Opening Hours: 5:00pm – Midnight (Thursday – Sunday)

Photo by Gerald
Rot Fai Market
Photo by Gerald
Talad Rod Fai (Next to Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Station)

Rot Fai Market 2

  • Chatuchak Market (JJ Market)

Need I say more? Arguably the most famous weekend market in Bangkok, and often described as a must visit place for tourists. This is where you can literally shop till you drop due to the sheer size and number of stalls, with a 35 acre area and more than 8,000 stalls. Recommend going in the morning before the crowd and more importantly, the heat kicks in. Do remember to get a map from the staff at the entrance to make your shopping easier as the market is split into different sections selling different category of goods!

How to Get There

  • Take the BTS to Mo Chit Station.
  • If you are unsure of the direction, just follow the crowd. Everyone is heading in the same direction!

Address: 587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

Opening Hours: Fridays, 6:00pm – Midnight, Saturdays and Sundays, 09:00am – 6:00pm.

On the way to Chatuchak
On the way to Chatuchak
Inside Chatuchak
Inside Chatuchak

*Special shout out for this article contribution, Benjamin, for sharing this comprehensive guide with us. Not forgetting our Bangkok-based correspondent, Gerald, for additional insights and excellent photos!

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