Asian Vacation
August 25, 2004 6:33 PM   Subscribe

A friend and I will be travelling from Bermuda to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore for a three week vacation in late October - early November. We are straight single guys, 30, and would love to find some cool places to stay and things to do while we are there. We don't mind paying anywhere from $100 - $250 a night.

If you live in one of these cities, and can recommend some places to stay and things to do off the beaten track, it would be our pleasure to take you out when we get there.
posted by jasondigitized to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For that money, Thailand is your oyster. Not so much HK and Singapore, but you can still be comfortable.

I personally don't care much for Singapore, and though I haven't been to HK, other than the food, I suspect I'd feel the same. Cities are cities, pretty much.

I can't recommend strongly enough that you give Bangkok a miss completely, do not leave the airport, do not pass go, and fly immediately down to Koh Samui, say, after which you can island hop out to Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, then over to say Krabi.

You won't regret it. And on money like that, you can literally live like a king there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:00 PM on August 25, 2004

Cambodia?! Maybe you'll see John Kerry there?

Seriously, what makes Bangkok so awful? The pollution? The poverty? What?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:15 PM on August 25, 2004

Stav is right -- Krabi is the bomb.

Bangkok is cool, especially with $100 - $250 per day. Sheesh for that money, you could stay at the Oriental Hotel. Its supposed to be great, and Bangkok has great food, cool shopping, and all kindsa fun.
posted by zpousman at 8:28 PM on August 25, 2004

Specifically for Thailand, there are some good answers in both of these forums. But I disagree with whomever said Cambodia is just about Angkor -- and with the kind of money you're willing to spend, you should *definitely* try to get up there, at least on the way to HK. Hit Bangkok on the way out, and you can pick up souvenirs there on the cheap without having to lug them around to each place.
posted by fionab at 9:06 PM on August 25, 2004

PP: Yeah. Noise, pollution, filth, commerce, traffic, people. None of which I enjoy much. I'm not a big fan of cities, for the most part. If I were me (and I am, last time I checked), and coming halfway across the world (and just visiting two other places that are effectively city-states) I'd just give the metropolis a miss, and hit the south (or, as luriete suggests, although it's not my thing) the north.

Sun, sand, surf, sail, scuba and copious booze woohoo is my idiom (when I can get it). Your mileage, of course, as they say, may vary.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:58 PM on August 25, 2004

*Oh, some NSFW stuff in the Thai site.*
posted by the cuban at 1:57 AM on August 26, 2004

stavros (for once) is full of shit.

Bangkok-Singapore-Hong Hong will give you a great slice of SE Asian big city life. All 3 are up there with the likes of NYC, London, Paris, Tokyo & Sydney as some of the world's greatest cities. You cannot fail to have a blast.

In recent years there has been a big push to clean up Bangkok's polution/traffic problem. The (eventual) completion of the Sky Train has helped a hell of a lot and it is so much easier to get around. It doesn't go into the old part of the city but the river taxis take care of that.

Two things to see which show the old & new are the Grand Palace - simply stunning and the Distil/Sky Bar/Sirocco Resturant complex on top of the State Tower. You could stay at the Meritus which comes in around $90 and is in the same building. BTW, the bar & restaurant are on the top of the building. No roof & stunning views.

For techie stuff go to Pantip Plaza. Get a good guide book and go nuts.

The nightlife in BKK is never ending & covers everything from the ping-pong-ball-out-of-the-pussy shows upstairs at Patpong to the upscale bars like The Met. Decent Guardian article here.

Civil_Disobedient can laugh as I post links to pictures of the Grand Palace & Sky Bar again ;-)

[The southern islands, on the other hand, are feeling the pressure of an onslaught of tourists over the last 5 years. I was on Koh Tao & Koh Pa Ngan in January. KT has had a real boom in diving but it is beginning to have problems sustaining the number of visitors it is getting. KPN still has some secluded beaches but the main spot at Haad Rin (where they hold the full moon parties) is turning into a hell hole. Too many bad drugs & the bad people that come with them.
There are better islands to head for 'specially on your budget.

That said, if you've never been there before you won't notice the difference and you too could have the time of your life ;-)

But if you've got a week in Bangkok then just stay there & soak it up. And ignore all the weenie backpakers who can only deal with the city if they're holed up in Koh San Road.
posted by i_cola at 4:38 AM on August 26, 2004

stavros (for once) is full of shit.


Hey, I told you what I like, and why. That's not full-of-shitness, or travel-snobbery, it's honesty. So bite me (but gently, OK?), my friend.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:32 AM on August 26, 2004

*heheh* You just out of date falang ;-) *tender nibble*

Back to the job in might want to check out the Peninsula & Oriental Hotels. Very swanky and within your equally swanky budget ;-) Just, in the case of the Oriental
posted by i_cola at 6:09 AM on August 26, 2004

When in Bangkok, as the Guardian also advises, get to Radio City (Patpong) around 10pm and settle down for the nightly Thai Elvis and Tom Jones show (now with Thai Tina Turner too!). There is an almost hidden Japanese restaurant a few doors down which used to be one of Bangkok's best kept-secrets (yes, I know there are millions of them). Sadly, while it has been a dive all along, it seems to have gotten a lot filthier lately (food is still good and the katoy waitress still has not lost her smile even as her good looks have faded).

During the daytime, I recommend the snake show in the same neighborhood to find out how the sight of 4 loose cobras can make just about anyone squirm in panic from many feet away.

Also, FUCK THE PENINSULA AND THE ORIENTAL. The Shangri-la (on the river) and the Sukkothai (not on the river, but close) offer the same luxury and none of the retarded attitude found in the aforementioned snob dens. I am partial to the Sukkothai, but I have to say that the Shagri-la staff has always gone miles beyond what should be expected of them without losing a beat. The same, BTW, applies to the Dusit Thani (and the Sukkothai, of course). If you do not stay in these places, try to at the very least have dinner in one of their top-notch restaurants (The Shangri-la terrace on the river with traditional dancing, for instance).

(The Silom Village hotel seems to be a interesting mid-price offering, BTW)

As for islands, I mostly go to Koh Samet, about a 3 hour bus/boat trip from Bangkok. Not as isolated as Koh Chang, not as spoiled by tourism as Koh Samui. Not many place sto dance the night away, but you can dine seafood, have a drink and maybe something more while sitting in some amazing terrace right on the beach / cliffs. Samet gets extra karma points because approximately 50% of the visitors are Thai ... and THERE ARE NO GIRLY BARS. Staying there is very cheap (last time, we paid $50 bucks for a nice and large aircon bungalow right on the water - and that represents the high-end of the spectrum - but not the highest either).
posted by magullo at 6:45 AM on August 26, 2004

Stavros is so right. Bangkok is an awful city. Have a wee look around and then get thee to a beach 8though if you're coming from Bermuda maybe that doesn't appeal)

I second magullo's Ko Samet recommendation. I stayed at the Ao Prao Resort which is very exclusive and tranquil; there were about 3 other people on the beach on a little bay protected from pirates by a huge gunboat!

The other side of the island is more downmarket but great too; a truly beautiful beach, plentiful drugs, not too many creepy foriegners, an oddly loved-up atmosphere.

Hong Kong is also great--I can't believe you haven't been Stavros!
posted by dydecker at 8:30 AM on August 26, 2004

Look, the guys are going to least help 'em out there!

God I hate backpackers...
posted by i_cola at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2004

posted by i_cola at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2004

On the Singapore side of things, Little India is a great area to head for Indian food (& a cleaner version of the real thing!), a walk along the river from the Sir Thomas Raffle Statue towrds the Durians (the concert halls) on the Esplanade at night and more shopping than you can shake a wallet at on Orchard Rd. Wasn't there long enough to take in the night safari but I know folks who loved it.

Easy to get around on the subway.
posted by i_cola at 10:20 AM on August 26, 2004

Hong Kong has some of the best Chinese food you can find. How familiar are you guys with Chinese cuisine (and do you like it much, of course)?
posted by swank6 at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2004

In HK, do visit Macau and potentially one of the small islands. Find the market in Kowloon (near the water) that has street performers of Chinese opera, as well as all sorts fortune-tellers. Finally, if there on a Wednesday, go to the horse races. Everything else is probably too damn expensive.

And Bangkok has arguably the best Japanese food experience ever. Find some nice restaurant in some of the top-notch Japanese hotels and indulge yourself. The food is excellent - it's regularly consumed by sophisticated Japanese patrons, after all - and the prices several magnitudes cheaper than anywhere else on earth for the food you're getting.
posted by magullo at 3:17 PM on August 26, 2004

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