Even though Bangkok is just 2 hours 5 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, I never stepped into the capital of Thailand before. I have been to other cities of Thailand but not Bangkok.
We went to Bangkok during the Deepavali holidays which stretched over 5 days including weekend. Besides our family, my parents in law are with us on the trip. Except my wife, J and K have never been to Bangkok as well.
My wife already planned for this vacation months before the trip. First by making a flight reservation, of course. Then booking of accommodation and planning out the itinerary.
We have planned the itinerary almost perfectly but as it turns out, not all are being followed. Below is what we do in Bangkok, written in chronological order, day by day.
But first, let me share some insider tips that you should know when traveling to Bangkok.
- Communication still a problem as majority of Thai people canâ€™t speak basic English even taxi drivers and waitresses. Fortunately our hotel staff are quite fluent in the language.
- Bangkokâ€™s traffic is one of the most notorious in the world. Be prepared for it especially when you travel to the airport during peak hours. Make a buffer in case youâ€™re caught in the jam.
- The weather can be extremely hot during this time of year. Bring along your hat or umbrella. Wear breathable clothing. Even we go prepared, we still canâ€™t stand the heat.
- If you travel in a group (4 or 6), itâ€™s cheaper to travel by taxi or Grab. If you travel alone, bus or train (BTS) is your best friend.
- Bargain, bargain, bargain. Bargain and agree with a price when you shop at a market (eg: Chatuchak). Itâ€™s even more so for taxi. I find the fare of a taxi (who doesnâ€™t use meter) is much higher than a Grab taxi . To give a proper perspective, I can take a Grab for 72 baht while a taxi not using meter or tuk tuk ask for 100 baht for the same ride. On one instance, they even ask for 200 baht!). The taxi drivers donâ€™t usually use meters but if you can find one who does, grab it. For our group of six, Grab is our goto transportation. If we canâ€™t get a SUV or MPV, we split into two sedan cars.
- For those who want to be connected all the time in a foreign land and donâ€™t want to pay an exorbitant price of international roaming, thereâ€™s a highly affordable solution that is to use a local SIM card provided by a local telco DTAC. Details below.
- For accommodation, we use Agoda. Over there you can find any type of stay that suits your budget and lifestyle.
- For other travel packages that make your life easier such as private transfers, group tour packages, entrance tickets, we use Klook. Sometimes, what you pay at Klook is cheaper than what you pay at the establishment.
Day 1: 25 October
Parking at airport and flight to Bangkok
As with our Kuching trip last year, we park our car at the airport car park. As it turns out, based on our calculation, the car park fee is cheaper than if we were to take a cab to the airport and back. In this case, we need two cabs. So the fare is double. For 4 days of parking, the fee is RM178.
Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok takes 2 hours and 10 minutes. We reach Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) in Bangkok at 8.17 pm local time.
Immediately after exiting the arrival hall, I collect my pre-booked local SIM card at a counter in the airport. I purchased this â€œ4G SIM Card for Thailandâ€ via Klook. The price of RM18 (100 baht) is highly affordable and the SIM card lasts for 8 days with unlimited data, calls, and texts. I can even do Hotspot sharing with this card.
Checking in hotel
To get to our hotel, we have arranged for a private transfer before hand, also through Klook. The cost is RM131 but if youâ€™re in a small group, taking a cab might be a cheaper alternative. We wait for the driver based on instructions in the email but nobody is there waiting for me. I immediately put the newly inserted SIM card to use.
I contact Klook to seek clarification. Luckily thereâ€™s reply from them on WhatsApp. It happens that we are waiting at the wrong place due to an outdated instruction in the email. We are supposed to wait for the driver in front of Gate 2, the meeting point. There’s a Klook staff (with other operators as well) manning the makeshift kiosk with all the customersâ€™ names pinned up.
After the minor hiccup, we finally board a van. A huge, nicely decorated VIP van. We reach hotel in 40 minutes. After checking in and putting away our luggage, we go down to look for dinner. Itâ€™s already over 10 pm by then and the hotel receptionist tells us that all shops are closed by now.
Luckily, thereâ€™s a McDonaldâ€™s just next block, only one minute walk. I try the pork burger which is not available in Malaysia. Anyway I donâ€™t find the burger good. That dinner wraps up our first day in Bangkok.
Day 2: 26 October
Despite the reputation as the â€œworldâ€™s largestâ€ market with 10,000 stalls, we almost skip Chatuchak Market as I think itâ€™s too touristy and only cheap and low quality products are found there.
It turns out I was wrong after I go there.
Fortunately we go ahead somehow. The hotel receptionist advises us to call for a taxi instead of taking BTS train to Chatuchak Market as we are in a large group. It works out that the train tickets cost almost as much as a taxi, if not more expensive. By taking a taxi, we donâ€™t need to walk so much as we will be dropped at the market entrance. The taxi fare arranged by our hotel costs 350 baht.
It is about 20 minutes of drive to Chatuchak from where we stay (Bangkok CBD).
Chatuchak Market is seriously a huge area and we can get lost easily if not careful. You can get a map of Chatuchak Market at Gate 1. The market sells everything under the sun, literally. From foodstuff to pet stuff, from clothes to souvenirs, from medicine to aromatherapy, from Thai silk to Thai massage. You name it, they have it.
We buy some bags, purses, and clothes. Plus Tiger balm for my mother; ChaTraMue green tea and Nestea.
I hunt for roast pork which I read about while doing research about Chatuchak. Itâ€™s so tempting that I have to buy it and chew it down there and then.
We spend about 4 hours here and still not done yet. Were it not for the hot weather, we might be able to finish walking the market. We give up and call a taxi back to hotel at Gate 2 of Chatuchak Market. The taxi driver offered 400 baht but we managed to bargain for 300 baht. They do have big taxi such as Innova for 6 persons which suits us perfectly well.
Note: We go to the Chatuchak in the morning around 9:30. But my wifeâ€™s Thai friend advises that the best time to go there is in the evening. While itâ€™s not too hot and many peddlers are throwing discounts on their products before the day ends. Thatâ€™s the right timing if you want to buy more with less.
Opening hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 09:00 – 18:00
Fridays 18:00 – 24:00
Lunch at Pordee
We ask the taxi to drop us at a pad Thai restaurant near our hotel so we can grab our lunch. Pordee Pad Thaiâ€™s specialty is pad Thai. About 90 baht per plate. After that we walk around the area where many shops sell sports equipment. We dropped by 7-Eleven to check out their products. We buy Oishi black tea lemon and Betagen yogurt drink.
My wife buys Lays potato chips with special Thai flavours such as tom yum, salted egg from Tesco. We find that the chips are so much cheaper at a supermarket than Chatuchak Market.
Most people will agree with me that if we donâ€™t go for a massage in Thailand, your trip will not be complete. Hence, my wife and I head to a nearby parlor (walking distance from hotel) for a neck and shoulder massage: 200 baht for a 30-minute session. It is reasonably well. Other than that, it offers various types of massages: foot, oil, Thai, neck and shoulder, and even manicure and pedicure. A great way to relax your stiff muscles after a dayâ€™s of intensive walking.
Dinner with a Thai Friend
We have dinner with my wife’s former colleague who lives in Bangkok. He takesÂ us to a hugely popular restaurant calledÂ Ohkajhu. Why I say popular? He is so kind to be there early andÂ he has to wait for one hour to have a seat. You canâ€™t make a reservation unless youâ€™re somewhere near the restaurant and you can only do so with their app.
We walk there by following Google Maps. Itâ€™s about 20 minutesâ€™ walk from our hotel. The restaurant is just opposite Hard Rock. The place is packed to the brim with people.
Our friend orders on our behalf. He showers us with Thaiâ€™s warm hospitality and generosity by ordering a lot of food for us. It is so much that we can’t finish our food. Even K who always complain about not enough food surrenders.
The portion is scaringly huge and the food is fresh and tasty and healthy without overpowering seasoning. We are really grateful to him for bringing us there.
What makes this restaurant popular is the concept of farm to table. That means they plant their own vegetables in Chiang Mai and itâ€™s transported to their restaurants around Thailand. And it’s all organic. It has 3 restaurants the same vicinity and yet it’s still very crowded.
Later we walk to Erawan Shrine. It’s quite a distance from the restaurant; about 30 minutes. Erawan Shrine is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in downtown Bangkok. Itâ€™s in front of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, at the corner of Ploenchit and Ratchadamri Road.
Throughout the day (and night), you’ll often see crowds (locals as well as foreigners) paying their respects, presenting flowers and incense sticks to a gold sculpture of Brahma God, Than Tao Mahaprom. Some prayers even dedicate dance to the four faced Lord.
We are too tired to walk back to our hotel and we try to hail a taxi that stuck in the jam. He quoted us 200 baht which I think is too expensive. We walk away and find a tuk tuk who also offered us 200. I too find the price is ridiculous and I slash the price to 50 baht but he rolls his eyes and drive away in an unbelievably look. I finally use Grab and the fare is only 72 baht. However we have to wait for about 15 minutes due to traffic congestion.
Lesson learned: It’s better to use proper taxi and negotiate for a more reasonable fare. Tuk tuk can be quite a risk unless you want the thrills of the ride.
Location: Ratchadamri Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. ( In front of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel )
Opening Hours: Daily from 6am to 11pm
Day 3: 27 October
Day Trip to Ayutthaya UNESCO Town
Before the trip, I contacted a driver I found on Facebook to book for a day trip. After comparing 3, I finally picked one with the best rating but not the cheapest. The transport from Bangkok to Ayutthaya costs 3400 baht (initial quote is 3500) for a 10-hour tour. The van is nicely decorated with lights and comfortable upholstery.
Ayutthaya is 80km north of Bangkok and the historical town is about an hourâ€™s drive from the Thai capital. Itâ€™s awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 1991.
Bang Pa-in Summer Palace
First stop is Bang Pa-in palace. An old palace with an area of 46 acres, a huge compound with a lake. The view is grandiose and serene but you have to walk a bit. With the hot weather it doesnâ€™t help. If walking is not your thing, you can rent a buggy for 400 baht per hour. And you can choose to have a driver or you can choose to drive yourself.
The palace has many interesting structures such as a Chinese temple, a lookout tower, a bridge. The palace is well maintained and clean. We sweat like hell and we canâ€™t finish touring the whole palace.
Bang Pa-in Summer Palace
Address: Bang Pa-In District Ayutthaya District.
Opening Hours: 8 am to 4 pm. Dress appropriately, no shorts and slippers.
Admission: 100 baht
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
The second stop is Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (Mongkhon). It was built by King U-thong in 1357 A.D. for the use of the monks who had returned from Ceylon after studying under Phra Vanarat Maha Thera. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol is located a few kilometers southeast of Ayutthaya (island). You’ll have to cross the Pridithamrong bridge out of the city.
A totally different kind of view. The Buddhist monastery is majestic and breathtaking. And thereâ€™s huge statue of the Buddha with flight of steps. A nice spot for pictures.
Also thereâ€™s a reclining Buddha near the entrance.
I am not sure if we need to pay for the entrance but when we are there, nobody asks us to buy any tickets.
Lunch at Kauy Tiew Pak Wan
I found a few places for lunch while in Ayutthaya and propose to the driver and he picks Kauy Tiew Pak Wan. I thought it was small outlet but boy was I wrong. The restaurant is huge and packed with hungry customers when we arrive. The place is extremely popular with the locals and its Ayutthaya specialty â€” kuay tiew. We wait for a while to be seated. Again, language is a problem here because they canâ€™t explain to us what they have on the menu. We just guess our way through. Some we get it correct, some wrong. The food turns out okay but most of it very sourish and super hot.
In fact, thereâ€™s not much choice for food in Ayutthaya and we canâ€™t be picky about what we eat.
Kauy Tiew Pak Wan
48/3 à¸‹.à¸à¸¹à¹ˆà¸—à¸à¸‡ 4, Tambon Ho Rattanachai Chang Wat Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, 13000, Thailand
Restaurant, Thai, Halal, Asian, Vegetarian
Everyday 7.30 am to 9 pm
Wat Maha That
After lunch, we continue our tour and this time we stop at Wat Maha That.
Wat Phra Mahathat is mostly famous for having a buddhaâ€™s head entwined in the roots of a banyan tree. Itâ€™s more than that.
Itâ€™s a huge area with an ancient temple around it. It takes a while for us to complete the tour. Itâ€™s even longer if you stop and take pictures.
Admission 50 baht.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
We walk until the entrance but we don’t go in. Too hot and too tired.
Along the road to the entrance of this monastery, you can spot some elephants ferrying people on the roadside.
Admission 50 baht.
We canâ€™t continue sight seeing anymore due to its super hot weather. We ask the driver to drop us at a cafe for us to cool down and relax.
Based on my research this is one of the best cafes in Ayutthaya. It has a restaurant and a cafe. We donâ€™t dine at the restaurant but drink at the cafe. They serve coffee, cold drinks and pastries. We bump into a British who teaches in Ayutthaya at the cafe and he recommends us to go to Krungsri Night Market. He highly recommends it as its not too touristy and itâ€™s beautiful. But it only opens at 6pm which is too late for us. We have to give it a skip this time as we need to reach the city before 8 pm.
Malakor Kitchen and Cafe à¸–à¸™à¸™, à¸‹à¸à¸¢ à¸Šà¸µà¸à¸¸à¸™,
Tambon Tha Wa Su Kri Chang Wat Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, 13000, Thailand
10 am -10 pm everyday
Since we did not finish what we planned out to do in Ayutthaya, the driver is kind enough to suggest an alternative place we can visit before we call it a day. The place is in the suburb of Bangkok and itâ€™s called Chocolate Ville.
When youâ€™re there, itâ€™s like you are transported to a European country. You donâ€™t feel like in Bangkok anymore. You wonâ€™t find chocolate there but the view is breathtaking. Itâ€™s an excellent place to to take stunning pictures. Best of all, the entrance is free.
Inside the â€œtheme parkâ€ is an open air restaurant, serving fusion food ofÂ Italian, Thai, and Asian.Â Chocolate Ville takes up a huge area and it takes at least an hour for you to enjoy the view on a stroll. The park cum restaurant is about 30 – 45 minutes from Bangkok CBD depending in traffic.
Soi Nawamin 74, Yak 3-8, Kaset-Nawamin Road, Klong Kum Subdistrict, Bueng Kum District.
Bangkok, Thailand 10230
Dinner at MBK Mall
We ask the driver to take us to MBK Mall which is near to our hotel for a quick dinner. After searching around, we finally settle atÂ Yum Saap, a local Thai foodÂ chain. Unfortunately, overall we donâ€™t like the foodÂ there.
To compensate for that, we have dessert at After You, one of the up and coming dessert cafes in Thailand, on the third floor. Though the price is steep but we enjoy the desserts.Â K especially lovesÂ the Shibuya Honey ToastÂ (195 baht). The toast is yummy and the butter smells good.
Mango sticky rice kakigori shaved icedÂ (265 baht) is another dessert we order whichÂ is fine too. Itâ€™s cooling and its melt-in-the-mouth goodness will make you forget where you are.Â After You can be found all over Bangkok in every mall. You wonâ€™t have a hard time looking for it.
Day 4: 28 October
Based on our original itinerary, we plan to go temple and palace hopping (Gand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wan Arun. And we will end up in Chinatown in the evening) today along the river. From our experience yesterday, we canâ€™t stand the heat of Bangkok. With great sadness, we scrap the plan.
We have to go for an alternative instead.
Baan Silapin (The Artistâ€™s House)
I wanted the driver to Ayutthaya to drive us to Baan Silapin on the way back from the ancient city but he refused as he claimed that it was out of the way. He will do it unless we pay extra. Of course I didnâ€™t.
What we do instead is we get the help of hotel receptionist to rent a taxi to Baan Silapin. It turns out to be a ToyotaÂ Fortuner, forÂ 400 baht. I read about this place while doing research and many tourists recommend this place. So I put in on my list of places to visit in Bangkok. The most popular activity there is puppet show and itâ€™s free. Unfortunately, no puppet show that day.
So thereâ€™s nothing to do there really. You can get yourself some souvenirs or have a cup of coffee.
I just stroll along the river on the platform. You can have a closer look at the houses along the river. These are real people living there. The houses on tilt are old but some are well maintained.
Or you can buy colorful fish food to feed the fish in the river.
We also want to visit a nearby floating market but itâ€™s not open that day.
Central World Shopping Mall
We go back to the city and do some shopping at Central World byÂ Grab taxis. Almost the same priceÂ as we came here:Â 400 baht. Not easy to book a big taxi. So we book 2 Grab taxis. Due to heavy traffic we took 45 minutes to reach Central WorldÂ Shopping Mall.
We have lunch at Nara Thai Cuisine on the 7th floor. The decor is cosy and feels luxurious. The restaurant is packed and full of customers.
We go to Uniqlo and are in shock to still find KAWS X UNIQLO t-shirtsÂ there. They are on sale. These t-shirts caused a huge stir in most Asian countries when they were launched about 6 months ago and it ran out of stock literally the minute the shops were opened.
We also try Thailand’s famous Thai milk tea, Cha Tra Mue. But I find the jasmine flavor is overpowering.
We take a Grab taxi back to hotel. Again it’s proven that normal taxi and tuk tuk are more expensive. They don’t want to use meter as it’s cheaper by 50 percent. The taxi and tuk tuk quote me 100 baht. But Grab only costs me 72 baht.
We plan to go to Chinatown in the evening but the hotel staff advise us not to as street food is not allowed to open on Mondays in Bangkok. The main attraction of Chinatown is food. If you go there and thereâ€™s not much food available, then it defeats the purpose of going there.
We end up having dinner at Tesco Lotus, near our hotel. We dine at MK Restaurant, a steamboatÂ restaurant. The dinner sets us back by 1300 baht. Again, language is a huge barrier as not many waitresses speak English. We canâ€™t even managed to get soy sauce for the dinner, for Godâ€™s sake.
Later we go to Tesco to buy more Lays chips with exotic Thai flavors (self consumed and as gifts) and Mama instant noodles – Thailandâ€™s home brand.
Supper at Jeh O Chula
One of the hottest dining places in Bangkok. We are prepared to wait long for this. We walk to Jeh OÂ ChulaÂ for its famous MamaÂ tom yum noodles. We reach 10:14 pmÂ and are told the waiting time is one hour.
First thing when you reach is to get a queue number. In anticipation of a huge crowd, there are stools provided while waiting. Have a drink first if you’d like.
Our number is called at 10.53Â pm, quite a relief as itâ€™sÂ less than one hour. Besides tom yum noodles, they do serve other dishes.
We order roast pork (100 baht), Chinese sausage (40 baht), and the main attraction of the night tom yum noodle. There are 3 varieties (seafood, pork balls, roast pork, or all-in-one) but we order the all-in-one good for 3 withÂ medium level of spiciness. It turnsÂ outÂ the noodles areÂ not spicy at all. So we can order the high spicy level next time.Â Though the Michelin rated restaurant is packed, the crowd is well organized. The service is excellent and prices are highly affordable.Â We areÂ done in 30 minutes. Total bill is 450 baht.
Insider tip: you can call in to make booking. Waiting time is just 30 minutes. Â
Day 5: October 29
Last day of our trip. We have only first half of the day to spend in Bangkok before taking a taxi to the airport.
Jim Thompson House
As usual, we have breakfastÂ at the hotel. After which, we walk to Jim Thompson House which is about 250m from where we stay.
Jim Thompson is famous for Thai silk.Â From dresses to scarfs, from handkerchiefs to hats.
If you like architecture and gardening, Jim Thompson HouseÂ is a must go. It consists of a boutique, cafe, a Thai restaurant, and the main starÂ attraction:Â museum. The admission is free except the museum. JTH is well maintained and it has a well-manicured garden.
We take the elegant tuk tuk provided by JTH back to our hotel.
Jim Thompson House
Address: Soi Kasemsan 2, opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road.
BTS: National Stadium Address: 6/1 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road
Tel: +66 (0)2 216 7368
How to get there: Take exit 1 from the BTS National Stadium Station, turn right into Soi Kasemsan 2 and continue walking all the way to the very end. The museum will be on your left-hand side.
Entrance fees: 200 baht entrance fees and 100 baht for under 22.
Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00 (last guided tour at 17:00)
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)
Another attraction that is close to where we stay. Only a 5-minute walk from our hotel and itâ€™s located opposite MBK Mall. The Art and Cultural Centre is the hub of Bangkokâ€™s burgeoning art scene and offers the widest range of contemporary art, design, music, theater and film in the city. Located only a few minutes walk National Stadium BTS it hosts a number of changing exhibitions from both Thai and International artists.
The architecture of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is also unique with its spiral stairs. Many shops and cafes lined up the hallways of the art centre; selling handicrafts, stationery, jewelry, books, paintings.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Location: Rama I Road (Opposite MBK shopping mall)
BTS: National Stadium
Opening Hours: 10:00-21:00, Closed Mondays
We take a private taxi we booked through Klook to the airport after we have lunch at the hotel.