9.21.2008

Must Do Things in Bangkok

Take a river trip along the Chao Phraya River. This is a great way to get away from the road traffic and pollution. The express boats stop close to the pier at Saphan Taksin Skytrain station. They are classed as Standard Express Boat which has no flag and stops at all the piers on the way to Nonthaburi, whilst the more limited stop express boat has a orange flag on the bow of the boat. There are only a few stops left out on this one, so this is not such of a problem for visitors who may want to use river travel to visit The Grand Palace

Enjoy a Thai massage at one of the small spas in the city. Many visitors make a journey out to one of the big resort hotels, or use one of the expensive 5 star hotels in the city. However there are plenty of small, good quality massage places in the city, tucked away down Sois. In Soi 55 on Sukhumvit there is the Leyana Spa, who will also pick clients up in a London Taxi, and then there is the highly rated massage and spa at Ascott Somerset Park in Suan Plu. In Soi 25 Sukhumvit there is the Divana Spa. A full list of Day Spas can be found at www.spasinbangkok.com

Visit The Grand Palace An absolute must for any visitor to the city, this is one of the most impressive architectural sites in Asia. A guided tour is available, or visitors can simply wander from one temple to another. Headphones for multi language commentary can be rented which is a good way of learning about the history of the temples without the restrictions of a guide. There are revered Buddhist statues and artifacts in the temples so full respect must be paid. Shoes must be taken off and when sitting in the temple look to see how local Thai people tuck their feet away from pointing towards any images of Buddha.

Try some street food on any of the Sois of Bangkok. Language can be a be of a problem but chicken is easily understood, as is noodles. If in doubt - just point!. The variations are tremendous with barbecued chicken, pork with noodles or duck with rice. Most of these meals come with a bowl of soup, although the portions are often not that great. But at a cost of around 30 or 40 Baht, then two can be ordered. The outdoor seats and table are plastic or metal and placed along the pavement – best to go for a place which is not too close to the road. In the less touristy places of Bangkok it’s possible to have a good meal, a couple of beers and watch a live football game from Europe for the grand total of 130 baht!

Have a night in one of the live music bars There are enough bars in Bangkok to keep most visitors in a stupor for the entirety of their trip. Many have live music almost every night. It depends on what type of music is enjoyed but there are a number of foreign rock and rollers who have found a home in the capital. Pedro’s Bar on Sukhumvit between Asoke and Soi 23 have a band playing Friday nights, and Hilary Bar 1 in Nana Soi 4 have two bands every night. Foreigners and Thai people pack the bar at Hilary especially on the weekends. The second band performing are particularly good, with a very strong female singer up front.

Things to try not to do in Bangkok

Avoid crossing the road without looking both ways. Especially during the peak hour traffic when the road system switches directions – but only in some lanes!! What was a three lane road with traffic going on one way, changes around 5pm to one lane going in one direction and the other two lanes going in the other direction. Avoid getting hit by a big red bus by looking both ways. This happens in Sukhumvit Road and in Lard Phrao, Pathon Yothin and many other major roads where the traffic flow is very heavy.

Do not sit in the seat allocated for Buddhist monks - it is their specified seat or reserved area. On the Skytrain and the underground Metro there is one seat nearest the door which is for Buddhist monks, should they get on. There’s a sign above the seat, and this seat should also be given uop for the elderly and pregnant women. On the express river boat there is a section reserved for monks and in the airports a section of seating is available nearest the boarding gate

Do not let the taxi driver tell you the meter doesn’t work If it is broken then get out and use another taxi. There are plenty about. It is very rare for a taxi meter to be broken and the drivers who try this one are the ones who will then charge 400 Baht for a 200 Baht journey. The meter starts at 35 Baht for the first section and then goes up in 3 Baht increments. The distance for that 3 Baht is likely to change very soon as the fuel costs rise.

Try not to be disappointed when you find the Tag Heuer watch you bought in Sukhumvit Road is not real. That also goes for the Ray Bann sunglasses, the Burberry handbags and the Lacoste polo shirts. The clothes will last fine, but the sunglasses may not be quite so robust. Watches vary and there are ones which will keep good time for ….. a long time. What tends to become worn are the straps and metal watchstraps corrode over a period. But as the Sukhumvit trader said to the lady when she asked if the 1000 Baht Omega had a real guarantee "I’ll pretend it is a real guarantee if you pretend it’s a real Omega"

Do not smoke in bars or restaurants. This rule has finally hit Bangkok and Thailand, and to date seems to be upheld, particularly by the foreigners. Maybe because this law has been active all over Europe and the USA, for quite some time, smokers are now used to having to go outside for a cigarette. Bar owners have become very nervous, when they hear stories of places being caught with smokers inside and 20,000 Baht fines being handed out to the owner, not the smoker. What does happen is that any atmosphere built up over a period quickly disappears as the smoking community head for the door, leaving some places quite empty.

1 comment:

Debs E said...

Suggest indian head massages at Leyana; love head massages anyway and especially this style as it is the most 'trippy'; I come away feeling sharper for the next day or so.

- Mostly request therapist 'Merplang' (? - not sure of spelling).

If have more time go for half day packages with rose petal bath.

Book in advance as they give 30% off.