Me love you short time
June 21, 2005 10:54 PM   Subscribe

I will be in Bangkok from 7.30am on a Saturday to 3pm on a Sunday. What shall I do?

I am 25-y.o. British male student travelling solo en route back to Australia. I'm looking for unique cultural experiences, but at the same time I feel a bit pensive about the "overwhelming" hustle and bustle of the place. What were the best things you did in Bangkok?

Oh, and for future googlers, I have been recommended the fabulous-looking Reflections hotel.
posted by cogat to Travel & Transportation around Bangkok, Thailand (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I hear the zoo rocks.
posted by Dean Keaton at 11:37 PM on June 21, 2005

Chatuchak weekend market rocks.
posted by the cuban at 12:39 AM on June 22, 2005

Chatuchak totally did my head in. TOO MANY PEOPLE. TOO MUCH STUFF.

The 3 big temples are absolutely awesome. Really.

Thai boxing is fascinating to watch - actually, the audience at the boxing is fascinating to watch. Get the middle priced seats if you go - the cheap seats are full of backpackers and the expensive seats full of rich foreigners:-)

The Cabbages and Condoms restaurant was one of the most enjoyable meals I had in the 3 weeks I was there. Quite a place to visit.

But for something out of the ordinary, go to the snake farm. It's run by the Red Cross (they keep the snakes to develop antibodies). They run a show twice a day where they describe the process and "milk" a cobra.
posted by handee at 1:54 AM on June 22, 2005

When I view this thread without being logged in, the Google Ads are for Liver Transplants (2), Transplants in General, and Heart Transplants. (Yes, really.)

Does Google know that you can leave your heart in Bangkok -- and get a new one?
posted by orthogonality at 2:25 AM on June 22, 2005

Check out the Grand Palace, there will be plenty of tourists, but very worthwhile. If you watch Thai boxing, the music will leave you in a trance. Suggest lunch at the Mango Tree in the Patpong region (off the famous Silom Rd), get around in cabs or tuk tuks.
posted by Chimp at 2:42 AM on June 22, 2005

Our Thai friends reliably informed us that tuk tuks in Bangkok invariably rip you off whilst taxis are metered so are much less likely to. Tuk tuks are great fun though. The sky train is fantastic and dirt cheap so we quite often taxied to the nearest sky train station.

Another useful thing: when you arrive at BKK don't pay any attention to the taxi touts in the terminal - just outside there's a booth where someone will sort you out with a proper metered taxi. The queue was fairly impressive both times we were there, but moved quickly.
posted by handee at 3:20 AM on June 22, 2005

Hah! handee doesn't know what he's talking about besides the fact that if you're gonna use a taxi (which I don't recommend) to make sure he meters it.

Here's what I gathered from when I visited Bangkok twice while backpacking last fall:

To get to the Koa San Road area (backpacker mecca, very close to lots of sights including the palace) from the airport take the A2 bus. It's a minibus that is air conditioned and only costs 100 baht (about 3 australian dollars). The ride is about an hour long. You can get your ticket from the stall right next to the bus stop. If you take a taxi instead the ride will be about 30 minutes but cost you about betwen 300 and 500 baht or more if you get stuck in traffic. To give you some perspective, that same 500 baht you can get you an air conditioned coach bus with movie and reclining seats to Surathani, 7 hours away, plus a ferry ride to the nearest island, so save your money and take the A2 instead. Again for perspective, the city bus only costs 5 baht.

Even before you're settled in, Tuk-tuk drivers will hassle you all the time, but they do provide a valuable service when you need it. First tip: make sure the driver has a blue uniform type shirt (compare diff tuk-tuk drivers and you'll figure out what it is), that means he's a registered driver and less likely to over charge you. I'll probably get this part wrong but it seems to me it's the yellow tuk-tuks and have a little license on them. Anyways, the uniform part should be the first clue.

Here's the sweet deal with tuk-tuks. Get a driver to tour you around to at least 3 major sites in a half day for 30 baht (yes, 1 dollar, and he'll wait in the parking lot for you as you spend an hour looking around), trust me when it should cost 30baht total (we did it for with 3 people in the tuk-tuk and it cost 10baht each). The reason it is so cheap is that in addition to the 3 sites (standing buddha, palace, sitting buddha, or other combinations) is that he will drop you off at two places, the first is the TAT (thai tourist commission) a gov't run site that will try to sell you packages. Be honest, tell them you're there for the day, and take advantage of the setup to get some flyers or maps for free. Also enjoy the air conditioning :-). Next he'll take you to a tailor to try to get you to buy a suite. Again, look through the catalogues for ten minutes as you enjoy the air conditioning, and heck, if you feel like it get a suite while you're at it... I can't remember the exact prices but I think you could get 3 custom suites, 2 custom shirts and 2 ties for 300 cdn, with them mailing it to you free of charge (and they don't scam). In exchange for all of this, the drive gets a fuel voucher so he gets to pocket the money you gave him (no tipping in thailand, and no tax btw). Don't forget that a police officer in thailand only makes 200 baht a day, so a taxi driver getting 30baht for half a day is perfectly normal.

Oh, and just to add some understanding, tuk-tuk drivers and taxi drivers will constantly shout at you "MAI PAI?" which means "where go?" and you can just politely respond "PAI NAI" which means "don't go". If you tell them that they usually understand and are perfectly cool with it (say it with a smile, just like you should say everything in Thailand).

I recommend going to Lumpini stadium for the maui thai's great to see the fights and the people. 3 ranges of seats, with the cheapest still only about 50ft from the ring, and that's where all the betting happens which is real fun (I'd love to take the time to explain the betting system but I'm pressed for time). I paid 150baht to get to the stadium by tuk-tuk (split it 50baht each with 2 others) to give you an idea. I think the matches start at 6pm, ask around and you'll find out. BTW, the ride is almost too long to do by tuk-tuk (at least from KSR) so for comfort you may want to take a metered taxi instead. Once the match is over there will be plenty of people trying to get you to take a tuk-tuk back for 500baht, again, just laugh and say you can go to Phuket for that price. He'll understand you know better and will quickly adjust his price. I think out of fatigue and desperation we paid 300baht to get back to KSR.

Oh, another thing I recommend, a thai massage. They last 1 hour, are completely non-sexual (usually given by little old ladies) but totally worth the 200baht (or less) that they cost. It's a workout and you'll actually be a bit sore after, but it will remind you where each and every muscle in your body is. Highly recommended, and lots of places offer it.

I won't get into accomodations other than to say that I've stayed in holes in the wall for 100baht, and also places with cable tv and flush toillets for about 12 dollars.

Remember to haggle on prices when you buy stuff off the street (except food, and i don't recommend buying most street food in the KSR area, YMMV).

Anyhoo, I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have. Send me an email or post them here and I'll check later.
posted by furtive at 5:16 AM on June 22, 2005

I can't resist. It's one of my favorite karaoke songs:

""One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me""

Are there any mefites living in Bangcock? Maybe you could do a meetup?
posted by Radio7 at 5:47 AM on June 22, 2005


posted by the cuban at 5:54 AM on June 22, 2005

Furtive's got the taxi conversation the wrong way round; they ask "Pai nai?" [go where?] and you respond "mai pai" [lit, "no go"].

Definitely get a Thai massage.
posted by Pericles at 5:56 AM on June 22, 2005

Grand Palace - Saturday will be busy but if you can get there early (Airport - Hotel - Dump stuff & freshen up - go GP) you'll do OK. It shuts at 3pm so don't get caught out (like I have done twice!). A stunning place to visit...Get the Sky Train to Saphan Taksin (southern end of Silom Line) and a river taxi from Central Pier to Chang Pier.

Evening out - Sky Bar. Best view of any bar in the world. Address & more details here. Get there when it opens (6pm?) and you can watch the sun set over BKK. Then again, if you don't have a head for heights...

The Silom area has some good night life (from gogo bars at Patpong to more classier stuff).

For dining try this Fodor's thread. Bed Supper Club is s'posed to be good.

Transport - hotel right next to the Sky Train is a bonus. Getting around the old part of Bangkok (around the Grand Palace) is either river or Taxi. If it's really busy, moped taxis are fast, fun & furious ;-) You'll see the guys hanging out all over with numbered bibs on. WRT all taxi/tuktuk etc, agree a fare before starting or have the meter running...
posted by i_cola at 6:14 AM on June 22, 2005

Geeksville = Pantip Plaza. Lotsa cheeeep DVDs, CDs and all sorts too ;-)

Probably the only geek place run mainly by women...
posted by i_cola at 6:16 AM on June 22, 2005

Oh, if you go to the grand palace, wear pants and long sleeves, and closed toe shoes, although if you don't have closed toe shoes they should have some available to borrow.
posted by furtive at 6:30 AM on June 22, 2005

Seconding Sky Bar at night, unless you like being tugged at by scantily-dressed prostitutes, in which case you should go to Patpong instead.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:38 AM on June 22, 2005

If you're looking for something offbeat and completely bizzare, take a trip over to Bangkok's Forensic Museum where you can see mummified sex offenders and what a liver looks like after it's been hit with a train.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 6:43 AM on June 22, 2005

Go back to the Bangkok of 40+ years ago, when it was a quiet little town full of canals and you could watch the King and Queen drift by on a gilded boat. I don't know why anybody would want to go to the overgrown, hectic, crime-ridden city it's become since the Vietnam War. Well, for the sex and the heart transplants, I guess.

But since you're going to be there, I'd suggest checking out a temple or two; also, there's discussion of quiet places in the city here.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 AM on June 22, 2005

If you want to rough it and hang with fellow backpackers, then Khao San Road is the place to go. And I'll just say it since no one else has--if you want female companionship (friendly girls, but not hookers (though they're definitely around as well)), then head to Gulliver's Bar at the west end of the road. Looks very much like an American sports bar, and gets pretty packed most nights, especially on Fri. and Sat. A mix of backpackers, expats, Thais.

If you're into that kind of thing.
posted by zardoz at 7:13 AM on June 22, 2005

I went to Gulliver's, it's pretty much a western pub. Has pooltables upstairs, lots of A/C and free internet in one of the corners. The girls and katoey (lady boys) start to flood in around 11 (when they put boards over the two pool tables downstairs), then everyone bumps and grinds until last call. Once the music stops and the lights turn on you'd swear you're watching some form of musical chairs...everyone grabs the first girl they can before they are all gone and then gets the hell out of there. It was funny to watch and the beer was cold, but nothing to write home about.
posted by furtive at 10:19 AM on June 22, 2005

Stay the hell away from Khao San road. My god, I hated that place. Why do I want to go to another country and hang out with the frat boys from major American universities? And don't go to Western-themed places. If you're going to Bangkok, go to Bangkok instead of a little America transplanted over there.
posted by goatdog at 10:36 AM on June 22, 2005

Yeah, if you can handle massive crowds, hit Chatuchak. it's really an amazing experience. And plzpostpics okthxbye
posted by luriete at 12:26 PM on June 22, 2005

At the back of the Temple of the Reclining Buddah (right next door to the Grand Palace), is the Thai National Massage School. They offer great massages for 300 baht for 1/2 hour -- it's the students of the school doing their internship / training but it's very good. It's supposed to be the Harvard of Thai Massage schools. I've been to BKK twice and I went both times.

I highly recommend the weekend (Chawktuk) market if you want to buy stuff. Or if you just want to gawk at the hordes and the unbelievalble selection of stuff that's available... It's endless, so just see a few (thousand) vendors and take off.

If I were there for 40 hours, this would be my itenerary.

7:30 arrive bkk. Take A2 bus or Air-Con bus 516 (note you can't take 516 if you have a ton of luggage!). A2 costs 100B and 516 costs 16B. Both go to Kho San Rd. I know that Kho San is not the Real Bangkok, but it's cheap and convenient to the temples and stuff. Lodging and Food are cheap. Nice park nearby (on Th Phra Atit).

8:30 check in to somewhere and shower up. We stayed on Tha Phra Atit, which is not on Kho San proper. It's much quieter and has lots of new funky restaurants and Thai bars. And a great ex-pat breakfast place, "Pete's Place" or somesuch (it has a red dragon on the sign).

9:30 - Get some breakfast and head out. You want an orange bus (aircon) #3 to the Weekend Market. Ask for it and the conductor will tell you where to get off.

10:30 - 1 PM Market market market market. There are plenty of good and cheap food choices. BE VERY CAREFUL with your bags and wallet and moneybelt. Seriously.

1 PM - Take either the #3 bus or a taxi to the temples. and see a couple but I guess from reading above that they close at 3, so get in there pronto! Get a massage.

Go back to Kho San in a Taxi (never take a Tuk Tuk, the heat and polution are not worth it, and they're not much cheaper than a taxi). Chill at the hostel and shower up.

Evening - Hit up the nightlife of your choice, skybar for the eurohipsters or bad american dance music on Kho San. Patpong has sex shows but also respectable hip-hop and dance music clubs packed full of Thais. Pick up a copy of Farang magazine (or just look at one) for recommendations on hot clubs and cool restuarants.

Morning - wake up and eat.

Walk in the park along Phra Atit and look at the new bridge across the river.

12:00 - Catch a mini-bus (90B) to the airport from Kho San. It takes an hour so you'll be right on time to sit and wait at BKK.

Remember, YOU NEED 500B in cash to leave from BKK, so don't get stuck with only 1 crumbly 20B bill in your pocket. You can get cash at the airport, but don't, of course.
posted by zpousman at 12:28 PM on June 22, 2005

DO NOT GO TO THANON KHAO SAN!! (Khao San Road). A total waste of time unless you have some desperate need to loaf around with a bunch of bored Westerners. Stick with the recommended Reflections.

To all the people who recommended TKS...why?!?! The guy is staying in a 2000Bt-a-night place so why ruin his one night by sending him off to cockroach corner?

handee is right about the taxis at the airport. You'll get to your hotel for about GBP 4-5 and it'll be a lot easier/quicker than buses. You want to make the most of your time there...
posted by i_cola at 2:07 PM on June 22, 2005

Yeah, fuck Khao San - it really is just full of gap year students and bootleg DVDs.
posted by blag at 3:46 PM on June 22, 2005

You're such a crumudgeon, langagehat; you ought to get out more. ;^)

Make sure you ride the canal taxis. Dirt cheap (maybe 10 baht) and you get to see a lot of the city. Sabai dee!
posted by squirrel at 1:48 AM on June 23, 2005

furtive mate, you're wrong. handee does know what she's talking about.
posted by handee at 1:47 AM on June 24, 2005

I love Thailand.
That said, while in Bangkok...

...please, for the love of Pete, do not buy any gems/jewels unless you know what you are doing -- like you are a gem buyer back home and make your living buying and selling gem stones. There is a (in)famous gem scam in Thailand; Tuk tuk drivers or well-dressed people approach you in touristy areas.

Where are you from? Oh, I have a brother that goes to school there... nice city/country. You know, today is the last day of the tax-free day? Yeah, you can buy gems here for cheap then send them back to your country and sell them when you get home and more than pay for your trip!

It would be funny if it weren't so sad, the amount of people who fall for this -- dropping a thousand or two on gems that they don't find out until they get back home are not worth a tenth of what they paid for them.

For more info check out The Gem Scam [], The Bangkok gem and jewelry scam [], The Thai Gem Scam Group [] (who's visitors have collectively lost almost two hundred thousand dollars in this scam), Stickman's The Gem Scam [], or Google ["thai gem scam"].

(And if you do go to Khao Sarn road, and you do buy the unofficial "I've-Been-To-Khao-Sarn" uniform that is the Red Bull (for the ladies) or Beer Chang (for the blokes) tee shirts, please don't go full-on crazy and think "Hey, yeah, I would look great with my hair all beaded up.". Cause, yeah, you won't.) /snark
posted by blueberry at 4:27 AM on June 25, 2005

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