Sunday, August 24, 2014

What to do and where to go when in Bangkok!

It's been more than a year since my last trip abroad and you won't know how itchy my feet was to go places last year. 2013 had been a busy year for me, a lot of decisions to be made that I chose to just settle down for a while. A lot happened so atleast I was preoccupied for the rest of the year. And here comes 2014, I know it's already past half of the year and I almost lost track of the days due to work. But last July, we heard about the upcoming Travel Madness Expo to be held at SMX and good thing one of my college friend was game to go with me anywhere, being this would be her first trip abroad. And fast forward to the present, I got my 1st trip abroad for the year and 1st trip outside the country without my mom with me. We decided to choose BKK as I've always raved about how cheap shopping is over there. haha!

This would alreadybe my third time in BKK and honestly, I wouldn't get tired of it. I love this city, I love the nice people and i love how the shopaholic in me comes out whenever I'm here. Haha! This was a spontaneous trip with only one month of planning but nonetheless fun, because this was my first trip out of the country without my family. Next goal would be a solo trip abroad *fingers crossed*.

I was, as always, in charge of our trip itinerary and hotel bookings. Honestly, I'm already having thoughts on being a travel agent. Haha! I've always been the one who's in charge with all those past family trips and all the time they give positive feedbacks on how "sulit" our trip was and how I seem to be always ready wherever we go. So feel free to contact me for future bookings. I do give discounts. Kidding. Haha.

Hello Bangkok!

This trip consisted of 70% shopping and 30% sightseeing. And as always, we stayed in my favorite place which is the Pratunam area for more chances of shopping. Haha! Sightseeing part consisted mostly of the usual tourist spots as this is the first international trip of my friend and staying true to my duty as a good tour guide, we just had to take that tourist path but in a "local" way  :)

Here's a rundown of places we went to during our short 3day trip in BKK with some tips and tricks you could use:

1. Pratunam and Chatuchak Weekend Market

One day is not just enough to scour all the shopping streets centers in this area. A comfy shoes and large shopping bag is a must when you go here for ease in shopping. It will also help if you wear leggings so you can try on those shorts or pants before you buy because the measurements are hard to tell especially when they say its large but in reality it will only fit those small to medium frames. Tape measure will also be a good choice to bring as some of the vendors won't let you try on before buying.

We weren't able to go to Platinum Mall because as I've said, the streets of Pratunam market is more than enough for those bargain buyers out there. Yes, you don't usually read the Pratunam market on some travel blogs as they mostly suggest MBK or Platinum Mall or the famous Chatuchak market. I don't know why, but honestly if you're looking for bargain shopping, go straight to Pratunam street market. You'll be amazed. Shopaholics on a budget will go crazy. Trust me :)  But if you're in for some unique finds and it's you first time in BKK, you may go try the Chatuchak weekend market but make sure it's your last as you'll be bidding goodbye to your tired feet after.. Haha.

The Chatuchak Market last 2012

Chatuchak can really make you sweat buckets, and more. Don't forget to bring water and umbrella. A lot of refreshments and eateries are also available in the middle part of the market.

2. Grand Palace / Wat Pho

Ticket to enter the Grand Palace is 500baht and they are open from 8:30am to 3:30pm. It is highly recommended to bring umbrellas as this requires long walks for the area is so big, it would at least take you 2-3 hrs to see everything. The admission fee includes 3 attractions: Museum, Grand Palace and Vimanmek Mansion which we didn't able to go to because it's located in another area. Be sure also to follow the proper dress code. They strictly check it in the entrance, if you're not in the proper attire, they will let you rent a sarong/cloth with deposit fee of 200baht. Make sure you don't lose your receipt and present it with your rented garment when you get back to make sure you get your deposit fee back.


Proper dress code. Yes, even tight/skinny jeans and leggings are NOT ALLOWED.

After Grand Palace, Wat Pho is just a 15-20min walk from there. just walk along the white walls of the Grand Palace on the side facing the river and straight ahead you'll reach Wat Pho (it is located near Tha Tien (N8) boat station). Here in Wat Pho is where you can see the famous huge reclining buddha. Entrance fee costs 100Baht inclusive of free bottled water. Why not.

108 bronze bowls will be seen in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. It is believed that it will bring you good fortune if you get to drop coins on each of these pots. In cae you don't have enough coins, you may have it changed in the counters outside. Nevertheless, this would also help the monks in maintaining the Wat.

How to go to Grand Palace/Wat Pho:

If you're coming from Pratunam and you are a group of 3-4, you may just take a taxi as it would be cheaper though taking the MRT and ferry is still an experience to have for first timers. 

From Ratchaprarop station we took the train going to Phaya Thai, from there we bought train tickets (42baht) going to Saphan Taksin. Take the train heading to Bearing and get off at Siam interchange station (second station) to take the train heading to Bang Wa, and the sixth station will be Saphan Taksin. When you reach Saphan Taksin station, most probably than not, you will see most of the people going to the direction of the boat station. Go downstairs and you will see the Chao Phraya River waiting for you. 

Fare is 15baht and you will pay on board so it helps if you would have the exact amount ready. Grand Palace is located at Tha Chang (N9) station. 

It's about 30mins from Saphan Taksin, just be mindful and get near the exit when your stop is already near as a lot of people boarding might block your way. If you wish to visit Wat Pho first, you may alight at Tha Tien (N8).

3. Discovery of Siam Museum
This museum is just 2 blocks away from Wat Po. After passing by a school, you will see the sign and the entrance gate of this museum on the next block. Security staff in Wat Po will also gladly help you on how to go there. We timed our visit at past 4pm so we could avail of the free entrance :) Regular ours would cost you 300Baht if you're a foreigner.

Siam museum is not just you're ordinary museum as it is packed with interactive learning resources for one to enjoy as you learn what Thailand is back then and how it developed to the present. You will even get to also try their native costume and also their native games and instruments.

4. Wat Arun

Wat Arun is located in the other side of the river so it's best if you finish all the spots you'll visit in the Grand Palace side before going here. It is also often recommended to go here just in time for the sunset as it looks more grand and scenic during those times. There's a fee if you intend to go up at the top of it. As we are already dead tired from all the walking we did, we just took pictures of it from the ground then took off already to have a rest.

Wat Arun from the other side of the river

Close look

The boat to get you back to the other side

5. Terminal 21

No, this is not in the airport and no, it's not some kind of a club or bar. Basically, this is a mall. Yes, I included this in one of our places to visit because besides the reason that we only have a short time in BKK, this is also a place you might want to visit most especially when you're just killing time before going to the airport. Anyway, if you already googled it, Terminal 21 is not just a mall but a shopping mall with a concept. Each floor represents a famous city from around the world (eg. Tokyo, SFO, London) and each level is also designed as to the city it represents which is perfect those who like taking pictures and stuff. Weird enough, one of the things you should do when you're here is visit each restroom in each floor which is all equipped with automatic toilets (the one you mostly see in Japan). I really appreciate the design and concept they did in each restroom (of course, including also the whole floor) and it's also just fun to see famous photo spots for each corresponding city on each floor.

All their toilets here have these buttons that reminds me of Japan. crazy.

And also, one thing you sure shouldn't miss is their foodcourt at the top floor. You have a lot to choose from and the price is very affordable, which I didn't expect as it is in a mall. They also implement the cash card here so you have to go first the top up counter to have your money credited in a card which you could refund in case you still have credits left. 

What I had for lunch. All of these for only less than 100Baht!

For the shopping part, the prices here is higer as excpected for a shopping mall. There are also some boutiques from local designers if you're interested on that kind. They also have H&M store inside but most shops here are in the high-end side in general. So basically, you may want to visit Terminal 21 for the photo ops and the foodcourt, just like what we did. haha!

Catholic and visting Bangkok on a Sunday?

For Sunday Mass, we always go to Holy Redeemer Church when in Bangkok. The earliest they have for English mass is 8:30 am and 9:45am. We took a taxi going there as it is located inside a vicinity. Some taxi drivers don't know this Church so better if you bring a map and point it to him. But from our experience, we're still transported to the wrong place even if we already gave him our map after pointing out the location of the Church. Good thing, I've already been there twice so he just asked for directions from other locals there and after some few minutes, we reached the Church though we're already late :( Holy Redeemer Church has white exteriors with a very high roof so you won't surely miss it if you're already near the area.)

This is what it looks like. (photo grabbed from google search)

And that it folks! Bye Bangkok! See you again, soon! :)

You could check out my next post for the place we stayed in. Thanks! :)

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