Follows from this post: My friend is Going to Thailand!
A few tips before getting started:
1. Get a small guidebook with good maps.
*When you’re looking for a name in the map, remember that we try to rewrite Thai in English, so just find something with similar pronunciation, not necessarily exact match. (“Ph” = “p” not “f”, “Th”=”t”)
2. Try to break down your bills to B20 or B100 or coins. Things are cheap. Don’t flash around your B1000 bills. The current exchange rate is around B31 = $1.
3. For any English name, the Thai way of pronouncing it is always trying to break down all syllables and say them with no stress on any particular one. Go all American accent and the cab driver won’t understand you.
Day 1: Welcome to Krung Tep! (Do learn how to say its full name.)
11AM: Airport – Hotel – Robinson Lad Ya (lunch at MK restaurant) – Museum Siam – 5PM Yaowarat (dinner in China town) – 9PM Khao San Road
1. First destination is of course to check in your hotel. This is a good opportunity to learn how to get around in Bangkok. Means of transportation here include BTS, MRT, Airport Link, and taxi. For your reference, this map is all you need to know:
At the airport, take the airport link train (lower level in the airport. look for direction signs). Get out at the end of the line, “Phraya Tai” station. Now you need to look for sign for BTS (the skytrain) which is connected by a bridge. Then, figure out how to use BTS ticket machine. Your destination is “Wongwian Yai” station. Once inside the station (with your ticket), you want to look for a train going toward “Bearing.” Exchange at “Siam” station. This station is basically the center of Bangkok. It’s a very happening area surrounded by megamalls. You’ll come back here later. Once you get to the destination, make sure you go down the steps on the right side of the street to walk to the hotel (you cannot cross the street there once u get down from the station).
* Don’t forget to pick up a namecard in Thai from the hotel in case u get lost. Not all cabs understand english and your pronunciation of Thai names.
2. Lunch. It’s probably 1-2pm already. You guys must be hungry.
I suggest something not too exotic just yet – a Thai style hotpot. There is a chain restaurant called “MK Sukii” (It’s a family restaurant with good quality. All Thai people love it).
Get on a cab in front of your hotel. Go to “Robinson Lad Ya” (โรบินสัน ลาดหญ้า). It’s is the closest (small) mall with MK. One thing I like to do when visiting a foreign country is to explore their grocery/convenient stores. See what kind of food we eat. 7-11 is everywhere here and food there is much better than ones in the US. Anyway, at Robinson, MK is on the first floor. Ask around for “MK sukii.” Do check out the grocery section on the lower level (I think).
MK: We call hotpot “Sukii” here (from Japanese). MKs have english menu, so you’re ok. Order a small vegetable set. Thai people usually put most veggies + fishballs in the pot and close it til boil first. Then add meat later. My favorites are “MK meatballs”, “stuffed squid”, and salmon-looking fishballs. The dipping sauce is very different than Chinese style. Add garlic, chili, and lime juice and you’re good to go. Their roast ducks and dimsums are good too.
3. Take a cab to Museum Siam
(พิพิธภัณฑ์สยาม เลขที่ 4 ถนนสนามไชย แขวงพระบรมมหาราชวัง เขตพระนคร กรุงเทพฯ โทรศัพท์ 02 225 2777 โทรสาร 02 225 2775). Robinson is just in between your hotel and this museum. This museum is a new hot spot, good as a dating spot as well. Several Thais I know just visited there and all said it was good.
4. Dinner in Yaowarat (China town)
Take a cab from the museum to Yaowarat (เยาวราช). Again this is not too far, but if possible, try to avoid rush hours (schools end at 4-5pm) or else you’ll be spending a lot of time on the road. Bangkok has one of the worst traffic jam in the world. When getting a cab, you can use an address of a restaurant below. If the driver gets confused, just say it’s in Yaowarat.
Once you’re there, walk around and eat away. Below is a list of recommended dishes (my favs) and restaurants. Each restaurant usually sells only a few dishes. If you want to try many different dishes, you can order one dish to share and hop to a different restaurant. Though, you might get a weird look, but I know you’re thick-skinned. Note that this area at night is very lively. There are more food carts with a different type of food.
Here are some street food famous in this area. You can also go into a better-looking Chinese restaurant for real Thai-Chinese food.
a. Kao Moo Daeng (ข้าวหมูแดง) – Literally means red pork rice. It’s rice and BBQ pork with sweet sauce on top (Address: 59 Thanon Plaeng Nam Samphanthawong, Bangkok (59 ถนนแปลงนาม เขตสัมพันธวงศ์)). The sweet sauce and black dipping sauce are the key to make a restaurant of this type famous. THIS IS MY SUPER FAVORITE (anywhere in Thailand).
(picture from this website.)
b. Kuey jab (ก๋วยจั๋บ) Just find any food cart on this street. Show the picture to someone and ask him/her to point to one. It’s rolled noodles in dark soup with fried tofu, five-spiced eggs, pork, cilantro, congealed pork blood.
(picture from this website.)
c. Hoy tod (หอยทอด) fried mussels in gluey starch with orange sriracha sauce. This restaurant is on the same street as Option a. (Thanon Plaeng Nam (ถนนแปลงนาม)).
(picture from this website.)
5. When it gets darker, take a cab to Khao San Road (ถนนข้าวสาร), again not too far. It’s a good spot to hang out at night and meet fellow foreigners.
Day 2: Cultural day.
Grand palace – National museum – Street food at Tha Phrachan (lunch) – boat ride – Wat Arun – Afternoon tea in Mandarin Oriental hotel – Dinner on a river cruise
Today’s schedule is partially based on this: http://www.bangkok.com/top10-short-tours.htm
1. 8.30am take a cab to the Grand Palace/ Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว). Foreigners will get charged for fees. Act Thai. maybe you can get in for free. Read your guidebook (I told you to get one!) about its history and importance.
2. Walk over to the National Museum, north of the grand palace (you need a map). It should be in walking distance. Or just take an auto rickshaw or Tuk Tuk (ตุ๊ก ตุ๊ก) to save energy.
3. Walk to Tha Phrachan pier (ท่าพระจันทร์) for lunch. A LOT of good street food along the river. Right next this, you probably walk pass Thammasat, one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand (Aum did her undergrad here.)
Across the river, you can see many big buildings. It’s a teaching hospital called “Siriraj” where a lot of my friends study and work. King Bhumibol has been staying here for recovery in the past few years. It might be interesting to read something about the Thai monarchy system.
Some common street foods in addition to those in Yaowarat are as follows. The ones with stars are recommended in Tha PhraChan area.
i*. Pad Thai ผัดไทย (no need to explain this dish?)
ii. Moo Yang หมูย่าง (grilled pork on stick). Eat with sticky rice ข้าวเหนียว (kao niew)
iii*. Moo Satay หมูสะเต๊ะ (grilled satay pork on stick) . Eat with a clear sauce with cucumber.
iv*. Roti Mataba (โรตีมะตะบะ) – a Muslim dish, very famous here.
v. Kao Pad Kra Phao Moo ข้าวผัดกระเพราหมู (rice with stir-fried ground pork) [say “mai ped” for non spicy]
vi. Kao Mun Gai ข้าวมันไก่ (hainanese chicken rice) [you have got to try this. The sauce is different than the Singaporean one. Also, it comes with delicious chicken soup.]
4. Next might be a bit challenging, but I don’t want you to miss my favorite experience in Bangkok. It’s time for a boat ride!! So the settlement in Bangkok started along this Chao Phraya river. By taking a boat, you will see a lot of temples, forts, and many other historical buildings.
[*if this is too complicated and you don’t want to do the boat thing, just take a cab to “Wat Arun”, once you do 4.1. (cross the river before you take a cab)]
- Take a boat at the pier to cross to the other side. This pier is called “Wang Lang (Siriraj) pier.” (ท่าเรือวังหลัง).
- Now, you’re going to catch an express-line boat down South to a temple called “Wat Arun.” See in google map. It’s like taking a bus. You’ll see a lot of people going about their lives here. You need to tell the ticket booth, where you’re going, buy a ticket and someone will check it on board. There are different boat routes identified by the flag colors on the boats. Ask for a ticket to go to Tha Tien pier (number N8 ท่าเรือท่าเตียน) and ask for flag color as well (The current stop is N10). Enjoy the ride!
- At Tha Tien pier, take a crossing boat across to “Wat Arun” pier (3 baht to cross).
5. Wat Arun = Temple of Dawn. Beautiful pagodas and etc. Read your guidebook!
6. Cross the river again from Wat Arun pier back to Tha Tien pier (N8). Then take an express boat (the same one you took) to Oriental pier (N1 ท่าโอเรียนเต็ล). Google map “Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok”. If the boat doesn’t stop there, you can go to the last stop called “Sathon Fak Phra Nakorn Pier (CEN)” which is connected to a BTS station. Then walk to the street and take a cab to Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok for an afternoon tea (http://www.bangkok.com/restaurant-dining-experiences/afternoon-delight.htm).
8. Next is a dinner on a river cruise. Book online ahead of time. The cruise includes a traditional performance and a dinner buffet. http://www.bangkok.com/dinner—shows-tours/grandpearl.htm
To get to the “River city pier,” take a cab from the Oriental hotel to “river city shopping complex” (ท่าเรือริเวอร์ซิตี้).
***The cruise leaves at 7.30. The traffic is CRAZY, so plan for 1-1.5 hours ahead of time.
9. If you’re not too tired by now, go experience some nightlife scenes in Silom or Thong Lor.
Day 3. Shopping day
Chatuchak Weekend market – Shopping malls near Siam Square (Siam Paragon, MBK, Central World) – Fancy dinner of your choice
1. Chatuchak market (ตลาดนัดจตุจักร).
Take your time today. You can leave around 10am. Take BTS to “Mo chit” station (or a cab to Chatuchak). You can grab lunch there.
When buying stuff there, do bargain (say 10-20%) But not too much, they’ll really kick you out. Aim to round the number down (219 to 200). If you buy more, you can get more discount. Normally, I think they don’t overcharge you.
When you’re tired, take the BTS to “Siam” for a higher class shopping experience. Hang out in a cafe somewhere there to get your energy back. Use a map. You can stay closer to the BTS station in Siam Paragon or walk further to Central World (bigger).
Each mall usually dedicates one floor as a food area (either 1st or 5th). Do try a gelato place called “iBerry.” There are flavors with Thai exotic fruits (tamarind flavor is my favorite. Gooseberry and Rambutan are good well). You should be able to find a variety of street foods (with higher quality) in the food court as well.
You should also go to MBK (มาบุญครอง) (BTS to National Stadium or just walk on the bridge from Siam, but I’d take the BTS anyway). Shop for souvenirs on 5th or 6th floor (on the side opposite the train station). There are also fake brand-name winter gears. Some of them are not really fake. Just taken from the real factories in Thailand to sell illegally. lol
Across from MBK (walk on the BTS bridge) is an Art gallery – a cool place to hang out. There are cute art stores there.
1. You can eat in one of the malls here. Siam Paragon has many fine dining places. Just pick one. Ask me if you want some names.
2. (Fine dining, but need to take BTS somewhere else)
- The Dome at Lebua hotel (this is the rooftop restaurant in Hangover2)
- Bo.Lan (a celebrity-owned restaurant. It’s supposed to be good at modern Thai cuisine)
- Baan Khanitha (More traditional Thai)
- Other options. Along Sukhumvit 55 road (BTS Thong Lo.), there are a lot of good restaurants. It’s like a mini Jap town around this area. Also, at night, there are a lot of classy bars in this area.
Day 4. Day trip outside of Bangkok
I recommend a day trip outside of Bangkok to Amphawa floating market (an hour drive). http://www.amphawafloatingmarket.com/
(You can buy a tour or I can give you a detail instruction of how to get there using public transportation. It’s quite difficult but do-able when you can’t read signs). There are quite a lot of things to do there. It’s a place where some Bangkokians take their day trip.
Day 5. Figure it out yourself. Pick up a guide book. By now, you would have experienced Bangkok enough to choose.
Have fun and safe trip :D