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Help Me Plan My Asia Trip: Bangkok!

by on March 21, 2012 · 62 comments

in Trip Reports

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As many of you saw from my Tweets, I survived the world’s longest commercial flight, SQ21 from Newark-Singapore, and have been enjoying my time in Singapore so far.

My Asian adventure doesn’t end here, though. Next stop: Bangkok for the weekend. I’ve never been and while  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from friends and fellow travelers, I love when TPG readers offer advice so that others can take advantage of the great recommendations as well. I know that tons of TPG readers will have advice to share on what to see and do and where to eat (tell me where to find the best food!), so I’m asking you to leave your comments with travel tips and advice below. If any TPG readers are around, I’d love to meet you while I’m in the city, so speak up!

You can follow my meanderings on Twitter and Facebook, and of course, in my posts here on TPG. For those of you who live in other parts of Asia, I’ll be asking you for your advice on my next destinations on this trip including Cambodia and Hong Kong so stay tuned. As always – I appreciate your advice!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jill

    Thanks for this subject. I’m in the same boat and am very curious to hear the suggestions.

    I’m also going to Phuket on July 1st and have no idea what to do or where to go. Any suggestions or links would be very much appreciated.

  • David

    Cheap Charlies is a fun outdoor expat bar in Sukhimvit.

  • Cory

    Sounds like Khaosan Road is a crazy place full of backpackers, tourists, and food carts. My kind of place, actually :)

  • Joel

    Call the Pan Pacific Suites and ask for Khun Mai. He was my personal concierge and took me to a restaurant where expats frequent. It’s by no means upscale but the food is good and authentic. I was able to get nine Thai and Vietnamese dishes and a drink for 340 Baht / $11 USD! Also, the best mango and sticky rice can only be found in Thailand. Cheers!

  • Amy

    I was in Bangkok in January. The best massages ever is at Lavana Spa (http://www.lavanabangkok.com/). And so affordable! A wonderful, clean, luxiorious spa and experience. Don’t let the road that it is on dissuade you. An hour massage was $15. Similar to Bliss Spa in NYC. One of my favorite parts of Bankgok. I also did a bike tour of Bangkok through Grasshopper tours, which I would highly reccomend. It was an amazing way to see the city and see things you wouldn’t normally miss.

  • Joel

    The restaurant, I believe, is called the Indy Restaurant. Though I’m not sure how it’s correctly spelled (Indie, Indy…).

  • vantang

    Try Suda Restaurant for an authentic, tasty “off the beaten track” Thai meal. It’s in central BKK on Sukhumvit 14 (near the Sheraton Sukhumvit if you happen to be staying there). As for accommodations, my wife and I go annually during December – January (I’m from Thailand). We never stay at the chain hotels, but rather opt for the many boutique hotels in BKK. Suggestions: Tenface Bangkok (http://www.tenfacebangkok.com/), The Metropolitan Hotel (http://www.metropolitan.bangkok.como.bz/), Bangkok Tree House (https://www.facebook.com/bangkoktreehouse) and The Heritage Baan Silom (http://www.theheritagebaansilom.com/). Take the Skytrain from any location to Saphan Taksin stop. Exit, find your way to the pier only a 100 meters or so away from the train station on the Chao Phraya river and catch one of the river shuttles to “Chang” Pier stop at the Grand Palace (Emerald Buddha). When you’re done there, go to Wat Po (reclining buddha). And if you still have energy, go to Golden Mountain near Khao San Road where you should end up for a short adventure down the backpacker area. If not Golden Mountain, then I suggest hopping back on a boat across the Chao Phraya (it’s another type of boat for crossing the river only) to visit Temple of Dawn (if it’s not under repair) and then hop back on a boat to the Oriental Hotel for high tea – another great experience. I’ve got so many more suggestions if you’re interested. Hit me up for more suggestions!

    Cheers,
    Van

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_42LG4U6FW4AY2NCMFOUOETXJBE Alexis L

    I highly recommend the Chatuchak market. I found some nice souvenirs, some typical and others more unusual (always bargain!), but I really enjoyed the market for the atmosphere. Lots of locals and tourists, and lots of food stalls with delicious fresh fruit smoothies (which I highly recommend because they are so delicious and cheap) and Thai iced tea. Great people watching!

    I also enjoyed taking the river taxi because you get a different view of the city, and, of course, the palace, which is a definite tourist attraction but so different from anything I’ve ever seen that it was worth it to me.

  • tommyhtown

    Khaosan Road is a great place for tourists and backpackers, but Chatuchak Weekend Market is where the locals go on the weekend. The market has one of the best coconut ice cream and Thai tea stalls in BKK (both stalls located near the Kamphaeng Phet station). I can watch the them make Thai tea (CHA-Chuk in Thai) all day! The food, the unique merchandise, and the energy made we visit Chatuchak Weekend Market every time I was in BKK.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41900029 Josh MacDonald

    Hmm, what would you like to do more shop or go sightseeing?
    You could see most of the major sites Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun etc… or you could enjoy Chatachuck and get lost in the chaos. Whatever you do decide make time and go to Heathland Spa and get an aromatherapy massage. Eat on Soi 38 at some point, look for Khanom Tokyo’s (they will change your life). Try Tom Yum Goong and Mango with sticky rice.

  • RakSiam

    Only a weekend? You’ll barely scratch the surface.

    Everyone who goes to Bangkok should see the Grand Palace/Wat Po/(and to a lesser extent) Wat Arun triple play. You can hire a longtail boat to zip you around the canals. Not exactly the most picturesque views, but you see how people live along the klongs. And its a lot cooler on the river too.

    Avoid Khao San Road. It is nothing but a tourist trap…and not even a very attractive one at that.

    I must admit I have never been to Chatuchak (or JJ) Market. In the heat of this time of year I am guessing it is especially oppressive. But it is one of the biggest attractions in town…literally and figuratively.

    To cool off stop by Siam Paragon and see the luxury car stores inside the mall. Or go to Central World which is my favorite mall in town.

    You may want to check out the Muay Thai fights at Lumpini Stadium. Pretty sure the schedule there is still Saturdays and Tuesdays. Get the ring side seats. Not cheap at around 2000 baht, but the spectacle is quite interesting.

    For sure you should get a massage somewhere. Plenty of good places all over town.

  • RakSiam

    And one more thing…there are a few open air bars up in the sky that offer great views of the city. A great way to see the place all lit up at night. The Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower gets the most press. I know people who like the one at the Banyan Tree hotel as well.
    http://www.bangkok.com/rooftop-bars.htm

  • Ian

    Chote Chitr was a place my wife and i really enjoyed for lunch one day when touring the palaces/temples…had seen it recommended on FT prior to our trip. Would also recommend the bar on top of the banyan tree hotel for some great views at night.

  • Mase

    Agree with seeing the major sites Josh recommends. In addition, as I love seeing urban parks and public transit, I would check out Lumphini Park (early morning and sunset are the best) and be sure to use the SkyTrain and Metro (subway).

    One thing I didn’t do that looked very neat was the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute (Snake Farm) — they do anti-venom for hospitals.

  • Amanda

    I second the mango sticky rice at Soi 38!!

  • Joel

    Do not be fooled by swindlers and tuk-tuk drivers. If you go to the major sites, they will be outside waiting for you. They might say, “The Grand Palace is closed. We will take you to temples for only 50 Baht.” The scam is that they take you to places which require you to pay (tailors, fake gem stores, etc.), and the tuk-tuk driver gets a cut of the profit.

  • Supon

    Well…I am in Bangkok at the moment. Grand Palace is a must. Also, a day trip to the old capital of Thailand–Ayudthaya City. Take tour bus to see the King’s Summer Place and take a boat back to Bangkok. Best trendy restaurant is “EAT ME” (yes, that’s the name!) on Convent Road near red light district. Reservation is recommended and ask to be sitting inside. (with AC). Then dance the night away in red light district– DJ Station is a must!!!!

  • Supon

    ohhh, Brian! Love to meet you but I am leaving BKK at 2:15 am. (a few hours from now!)
    have fun.
    supon

  • Dan

    A good, basic rule is – never eat with a roof over your head. Anything outdoors is going to be cheap, and may end up being the best food you’ve ever had in your life. Places indoors/with air-con, less likely. I had the best fried chicken leg of my life from a guy in a cart near Lumbhini Stadium. Yum.

    Also, Chinatown! It’s totally nuts there. Second the water taxi to get to the Imperial Palace area. And just wandering around.

  • Dealswelike

    I also highly recommend Soi 38! Best pad thai, mango sticky rice, and smoothies you’ll ever have! You can take the BTS right there, really easy.

  • tommyhtown

    Yes, the food around Soi Thong Lor (Soi 38) is great!

  • Carl

    Vertigo restaurant on the roof of Banyan Tree hotel. Thai foot massage at any cheap storefront massage parlor. Thai food court at new Pier 21 mall. Soi Cowboy at night.

  • SeaSinger

    Agreed, but … if it’s raining or just too hot outside, and you are near Sukhumvit, look for a FoodLand (yep, it’s a grocery store) and dine on a stool at the counter with the locals (Thai and expat). I know of two, Sukhumvit Soi 16 and Soi 5 but there may be others.

  • Lark

    But maybe TPG will get Lucky and this won’t happen to him…

  • Klrsmith

    If you need to get your geek on or find you need to replace some broken or lost tech, you really need to make sure you drop by MBK (National Stadium BTS station) – There are floors of mobile phones and electronics (and of course a bunch of other stuff) and you can grab a foot massage if you get tired of wondering around. Pantip plaza is also on my recommended list – it’s a bit of a walk from Central World Plaza, but evey taxi in BKK knows where Pantip is.

    I agree with other posters on the food stalls (look for the ones with locals lined up) and the rooftop bars are Banyan Tree and Lebua State Tower are awesome at night.

  • http://necessaryindulgences.com/ NecessaryIndulgences

    Highly recommend Tour With Tong – she will set you up with a private guide, which is a great way to see a lot in a short time. Here are brief descriptions w/photos of 3 different days we spent with her people:

    Tiger Temple and Elephant Village: http://necessaryindulgences.com/2010/11/elephant-village-bangkok/

    Thai Fishing Village: http://necessaryindulgences.com/2010/12/thai-fishing-village/

    Bangkok Temples & Markets: http://necessaryindulgences.com/2010/12/bangkok-markets/

    The last one is all the usual stuff around the city that you should see while you’re there – but you can do this on your own or see this stuff from just about any guide.

    The first two, though, are really special and will be very unique experiences you will remember for a long time to come.

    Here is a link to Tong’s website: http://www.tourwithtong.com/

    j.

  • http://necessaryindulgences.com/ NecessaryIndulgences
  • Aspen Smith

    Eat: Pad Thai, Fried Bugs and Nutella-Banana pancakes.
    See: Dont spend too much time in site seeing since you have only 2 days.
    Do: Thai massage (foot / authentic /xxx based on your liking), cheap shopping.

  • Rob

    Brian, I’ll be there Saturday night till Monday afternoon for my honeymoon. If you’d like to meet up, my fiance’ and I owe you a drink at the very least. I won’t be of much help because it’s my first trip as well, but it might still be fun. Staying at the Courtyard Marriott in BKK. Not sure if that is anywhere near you.

  • Crismanila77

    For an authentic Thai massage experience, go to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)… After checking out the enormous Buddha, ask to be redirected to the massage center. I go here every time I visit BKK, it’s authentic because you recceive your massage next to other patrons. Great experience.

  • Laura

    Wanted to hook you up with my nephew, Carlos Roman who is the senior director of development for Oracle Corp. in the Asia Pacific & Japan Division. He works and lives in Singapore and due to his job discription travels to Hong Kong, Japan and all of the Asia Pacific area frequently. He is 36 years young and enjoys the good life… fine dinning, fine wines, has traveled all over the world, LUVS a good time, and will be happy to hook you up with the best restaurants and what there is to see in Singapore,etc.. I e-mailed him and he said he would love to speak /meet up with you and help you in any way he can. He can be reached at ….[email protected] and his cel # in Singapore is #65 8139 0225

  • elbereth1

    Wanted to hook you up with my nephew, Carlos Roman who is the senior director of development for Oracle Corp. in the Asia Pacific & Japan Division. He works and lives in Singapore and due to his job discription travels to Hong Kong, Japan and all of the Asia Pacific area frequently. He is 36 years young and enjoys the good life… fine dinning, fine wines, has traveled all over the world, LUVS a good time, and will be happy to hook you up with the best restaurants and what there is to see in Singapore,etc.. I e-mailed him and he said he would love to speak /meet up with you and help you in any way he can. He can be reached at ….[email protected] and his cel # in Singapore is #65 8139 0225.

  • PJ

    Brian, are you still on the same award ticket ? I missed how you booked ( points etc) to fly to SIN and beyond or on the way back
    I bet you do know in case you want to fly short hauls where Cathay flies Avios will get you fly HIGH and High or you can check out asia air (?)

  • http://twitter.com/allisonemarino Allison Marino

    hands down a thai cooking class called “cooking with poo”. we had a blast. it was a half day thing complete with a trip to a non-touristy market and making about 4 dishes. i think it was 50 or 60 bucks with the transport to and from the hotel main area.

  • A. S.

    I’m doing a similar (i.e., short!) trip in June and am following this post and its comments with great interest! However, one thing nobody has mentioned so far (unless I missed it) is where one should stay in Bangkok (hotel, I mean). I’m looking for somewhere central from where I can see all of the recommended places either by foot or short/quick ride. But also nice, semi-upscale to upscale.

  • Ashley

    I can’t wait to hear your feedback about Bangkok! I’m headed there in about 2 weeks!

  • elbereth1

    Highly recommend Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. We were there in August 2011 and the location, rooms, service and resturants where all top of the line!

  • RakSiam

    The great thing about Bangkok is that it abounds in 4 and 5 star hotels at quite reasonable prices…especially if you don’t go with one of the big chains. There are also lots of serviced apartment type places which give you more space and amenities like a kitchen and sometimes a washer/dryer for less money than a hotel.

    Because there are soooo many nice hotels it’s hard to choose. The two most usual recommendations are to either stay along the river or stay at a place with easy access to the BTS (Skytrain). If you stay on the river you can make use of the water transport system to get to the Grand Palace easily. From elsewhere in town you need to take a taxi. Getting around on foot is not quite so easy in Bangkok. And with the weather being so tropical you probably wouldn’t want to do too much walking anyway. The nice thing about staying near the Skytrain is that you can avoid getting stuck in traffic jams and ride along in air conditioned comfort. The subway (MRT) is quite nice as well.

    I have spent quite a bit of time there in the last few years. I tend to stay in the Silom/Surawong area most of the time. I like the Siri Sathorn serviced apartments a lot. But it is a bit of a walk to the BTS (altho they offer a shuttle van which is helpful). The Le Meridien on Surawong is pretty nice but the rooms are on the small side. Last year I spent a couple of nights in the Sukhumvit Soi 11 area. A night at the Fraser Suites serviced apartments which is very nice but again a hike to the BTS. They have a tuk-tuk shuttle though. And I also stayed at the new aLoft Sukhumvit soi 11 shortly after it finally opened. Room is compact but well-designed. A bit closer to the BTS but also offering a tuk-tuk.

    Great service is the norm in Thailand. Everywhere I have ever stayed has had very gracious service.

  • arcticbull

    You know, you may want to edit this message because that contact info is visible by everyone here :P

  • http://twitter.com/angelinaaucello Angelina Aucello

    I’ll be in Bangkok April 2-5! Excited to hear as well

  • Flyer Fun

    Points Guy or Staff, I suggest you erase the email address and phone number. LOL. I have already written it down and will tell him that Laura sent me. Just joking. I am just saying.

  • http://www.sjbvision.com/ Sandeep

    Go get a drink at the rooftop bar at the Lebua State Tower. The views are fantastic, the bar itself is pretty cool and they have some great drinks. It opens at 6 PM so dont go before. Try to be there around sunset for the best views.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41900029 Josh MacDonald

    I stayed at the Four Points on Soi 15, pretty central super close to the MRT and BTS

  • MN1971

    Places to Go / Things to Do:
    Wat Po
    Royal Palace
    Reclining Buddha
    Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
    Floating Market: Get up early and leave hotel by 6:30AM. It is about a 60 to 90 minute drive south via expressway. Take a longtail boat through the canals and then switch to a small boat where you will be rowed through the market. Eat in the boat and buy nice things. It is a real market, not only tourist crap. Good and fresh food. Very Thai experience.
    Hire a Long tail boat at the Oriental Pier for a private tour through the Klongs (canals) on the Chao Phraya River
    Night tour in an old rice barge on the Chao Phraya River
    Chinatown: A must after sunset. Eating and just floating around.

    Hotels:
    By the river:
    Mandarin Oriental
    Peninsula Bangkok
    Shangri-La

    Other locations
    Banyan Tree Bangkok
    Four Seasons Bangkok
    Conrad Bangkok
    JW Marriott
    Le Meridien Bangkok

    Restaurants:
    Baan Khanitha (Thai) – the best restaurant I ever been in Bangkok
    49 Soi Ruam Rudee 2 Ploenjit Rd., Bangkok, Thailand

    Lemongrass (Thai) – second best
    5/1 Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok, Thailand

    Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar (Bar) – amazing view of Bangkok. Go there on the sunset
    Banyan Tree Hotel – 21/100 South Sathon Road, Bangkok, Thailand (61st floor)

    Bai Yun (Chinese) – very good Chinese food
    Banyan Tree Hotel – 21/100 South Sathon Road, Bangkok, Thailand (60th floor)

    Le Dalat Indochine (Vietnamese) – great Vietnamese food
    14 Sukhumvit Soi 23

    Chote Chitr
    146 Prang Pu Thorn Tanao Road, Bangkok, Thailand

    Eat Me
    20 metres off CONVENT Rd (in Soi Pipat 2) Silom, Bangkok, Thailand

    Shopping:
    Central Chitlom
    Emporium
    Paragon
    Siam Center
    Silom Road
    Antiques and Handicraft: Oriental Arcade (next to oriental Hotel) – very high end and real Oriental Antiques.
    Thai Handicraft: Narai Pan
    Silk: Jim Thomson on Surawong Road

  • Steve

    I stayed at the Mandarin in January. It’s a great hotel and the service is superb. Our butler kept the room stocked with fresh fruit and bottled water. The hotel restaurants were very good. As others have mentioned, the view from the State Tower is great, but the food was very overpriced for what you got. If I go back, I would probably just have a drink.

  • Timothy Roberts

    Bed supperclub is an interesting way to dine…and not a bad after party. Also, the Hansar was a superb stay.

  • Vandymom

    Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetite magazine recommended that we dine at Baan Khanitha restaurant while we wer ein Bangkok a few years ago. Pure Heaven! We asked that the owner order for us, and we were happily surprised by every dish. Here is the website!
    http://www.baan-khanitha.com/

  • Sean Reeder

    Hansar Bangkok is a must to stay at! Despite not being a major franchise, i would say it is well worth it.

  • Cory Graham

    Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit was pretty nice, and if you’re SPG, they just sent out an email with some great April deals.

  • Cory Graham

    3 words…Ping pong show!!

    hehe jk

  • Jessica

    Spent the weekend with my family in Bangkok last week. We ate the BEST Thai food at Blue Elephant (http://www.blueelephant.com/bangkok/). Go for the set menu.

    Also, a $6 foot massage is heaven. There is a nice place down the street from Lemongrass (I see someone already recommended it) near the Emporium Mall called Arbora – 33 Sukhumvit Soi 24, take BTS skytrain to Prompong Station, exit at Emporium mall and walk down to the street. Enjoy!

  • Marylynn

    We plan on traveling to Thailand (Bangkok and a southern Marriott beach resort) and Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Siem Riep) exactly a year from now, so we’re following this thread with great interest. Keep the great ideas coming!

  • A. S.

    Thanks to all posters who have replied to my post! Some great tips here — keep them coming for the benefit of others (and myself, who still has 2 months to decide!) :)

  • A. S.

    @TPG: You should have someone on your team start making city guides from all of these “help me build my trip to XYZ” threads! Then put them in a special “City Guides” section of your blog… I know that you already have links by city/country, but they’re just links to threads, not purpose-written guides. It would be some work, of course, but I’m sure so many people would appreciate it and you may even get approached by a publisher to print them! ;)

  • Guest

    Eat great Thai food on the river at either the Shangri-La, Manadrin Oriental or Peninsula Hotel (I can’t choose a favorite).

    Buy Jim Thompson silk products for you and all your friends back home.

  • Gary

    Sunday brunch at the The Peninsula Bangkok was awesome on my trip in April.

  • RobM

    Awesome thread !!! My initial visit to BKK was next week, but I have postponed the visit till later in April, so I can stay 5-6 days. I appreciate everyone’s input.

  • Kalboz

    Answers to all your Thailand questions are here: http://milepoint.com/forums/forums/thailand.282/

    If you have a question about any given property in Bangkok, please don’t hesitate to ask … I’ve stayed at many 4-5 star properties there and have trip reports (with photos) throughout MilePoint.

  • thepointsguy

    No I did one award ticket EWR-SIN, another SIN-BKK then bought a BKK-Siem Reap and then have a BA award (from pre-Avios) SGN-HKG (stop)-JFK

  • Xhe41

    Stay at The Peninsula – I’m staying there right now!

    Try Patpong at night for an hour or so

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=19212261 Brendon McCarthy

    +1 for Eat Me

  • thepointsguy

    Great idea… working on it :-)

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