This is my third time travelling to Bangkok. Although it was a short vacation however, it was a fulfilling trip as I went to a few places that not many tourists had gone to. We went to explore the inner Bangkok for 3 days 2 nights between 21 and 23 Feb 2014.
It was a planned trip since Dec 2013. We booked the Jetstar air tickets and accommodation as well which is located at the central Bangkok. But we were indecisive of whether should we proceed our plans to Bangkok when the protests were started in many areas in Bangkok since January 2014. Change of flight tickets was a problem because Jetstar would incur S$100 two ways for postpone flight details. Hence two persons would incur charges of S$200! We decided to go on as planned as the penalty by Jetstar was too expensive, we might as well use the money on accommodation and to stay further away from the protest areas.
We monitored the situation in Bangkok every day. The situation became bad to worse. There were bombings happened in many parts in Bangkok. Due to this we stayed further from Bangkok central still with easy access via BTS station. We booked 31 Suite Boutique hotel near Phrom Pong BTS which is one station away from the protest site, Asok.
We are happy with the hotel. The hotel is considered a budget hotel with essential room and hotel facilities. It was a pleasant comfortable stay for two nights.
This itinerary trip was to stay away from the Bangkok city.
Day 1: Chatuchak Market & Chocolate Ville
This was our 3rd trip to Bangkok within 2 years. Our last trip, we did not visit Chatuchak market. As soon we arrived Bangkok at 11am, we immediately leave our luggage in the hotel and went to the market which every Friday is wholesale day. There are good and bad to go on the wholesale day. The good side, there were so much less people especially tourists. The down side was most of the garment shops were closed. There are two MRT stations or known as BTS stations to reach Chatuchak Market. You may alight at Mo Chit BTS station and take about 5 minutes walking distance. Another option is you can change train at Mo Chit BTS to Kamphaeng Phet BTS station. Kamphaeng Phet BTS lead you to direct entrance of Chatuchak Market.
If its your first time visiting Chatuchak Market, it would be best for you to go on weekends as all shops open. Although the market opens at 6am-6pm but I would advise you to arrive at around 8-9am so that most shops open at that time.
After the Chatuchak Market, we scheduled to go to Chocolate Ville (CV). CV is a theme park, No not the theme parks that there are rides available. The uniqueness of CV is it has got nothing to do with Chocolate ingredients at all. The buildings and architectures are in the oldies of American and British themes. CV operates at 4pm to 12am every day where there are many picturesque scenes for photo shooting and also a high end of dining experience (Western & Thai food). There is only one restaurant there. The restaurant tends to be very crowded, so to ensure you get a table, make sure you reserve a table one or two days before you plan to dine there. You may make reservation at CV’s facebook page. So how to get there?
For us, we travelled to CV by taxi as it is the only means of transport. Outside the Mo Chit BTS there are many taxis on queue to pick up passengers. We took one of the taxis to Chocolate Ville. Make sure you have a printed Chocolate Ville map with you to show to the taxi driver. Even though they are Taxi Drivers but does not mean they know the place as the place is pretty outskirt.
Also ensure when taking a taxi, ask the driver if he use meter or flat rate. Leave the taxi if he charge on flat rate. Meter charges are always cheaper than the flat rate. Our meter transport to CV cost only THB145 with 45 minutes journey include traffic jam. Of course, travelling from city centre may cost more as the location is further than Mo Chit BTS. Returning from CV may have trouble due to limited taxis available. However, not to worry, if you leave early, there shouldn’t be any problem getting a taxi. We arrived about 4:30pm and left at 8pm. We walked out to the main road and there were already 3 taxis waiting, unfortunately all charges us flat rate. A taxi driver charged us THB400 going back to Mo Chit BTS. We managed to bargain and reduce the price to THB350 which was still double rate than the meter fare. Darn! The taxi driver was quite reluctantly to reduce the price claiming there were traffic congestion which we found it was not bad after all. Therefore I would advise you to go early and leave early taxis from CV are limited. CV is not a touristic place but for locals where most of the locals travel by car.
So if you are also planning to go to Chatuchak Market and Chocolate Ville, just like us, you may consider to go to Chatuchak Market in the late morning. But beware that Bangkok can be really hot in the afternoon. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and stay hydrated.
Day 2: Chinatown, Sampeng Lane, Pak Khlong Talat, Asiatique and Terminal 21
Chinatown is our next place in our itinerary. We had been to Chinatown before, it’s just that in order to go to Sampeng Lane, we need to bypass Chinatown which is along Yaowarat Road. Sampeng Lane is another wholesale market. The nearest BTS station to Chinatown is Hua Lamphong. However, we encountered “helpful” by passer twice. Once was in my first trip and now again. They volunteered to be helpful to guide lady travellers for direction even they were not been approached. Lady travellers travelling alone or two are best to ignore them as we do not know their motives. Thailand is well known with black magic. On this trip, we were approached by a security uniform man who speaks English. Though we were not harm but better be safe than sorry. If we want to ask questions, the best people to ask are staff working in 7-Eleven, those working in cafes or by passers who are youngsters. Although these people may have the difficulty to converse in English at least they do not have motives and they are genuine.
Along Yaowarat road we saw they were market with crowded of people. We took a left turn. The road led us to Soi Wanit 1 Road. Retails and stalls, and fruit stalls are often seen.
Walking straight along Soi Wanit 1, we finally arrived Sampeng Lane. The lane is very narrow and the retails are very near to each other. Sampeng Lane has very big crowds of locals. Human congestion! You can find many wholesale items. Make sure your belongings are safe at all times as you know pickpockets appear at crowded places. We just walked half of Sampeng Lane due to the crowd.
We continued to the Yaowarat Road which already the end of the Chinatown Road to have a break at KFC restaurant.
Walking further about 10 minutes from KFC, we finally arrived Pak Khlong Talat (Flower Market). We had never seen so many flowers before. And more over the red roses were so cheap. Only THB50 for two dozens of roses or maybe more. There are other flowers such as carnations, orchids and flowers for prayers. It was a great experience eventhough we did not buy any flowers.
The flower market is very near to Victory Monument Pier, where we took Chao Phraya ferry ride to Sathorn Taksin Pier for to transfer to a free shuttle ferry boat to Asiatique. Public ferry ride on Chao Phraya river is a very convenient transportation for the tourists and as well for the locals. You may make any stops however, please beware in order to differentiate which ferry to take, people identify them on the flag colour of the ferry boat and the directions. There are green, blue, yellow and orange maybe more others.
Some are tourist ferry boats. The lowest cost where the ferry stops at each Pier would be the Orange flag. Orange flag cost only THB15 per person. Just enter the ferry boat, probably you may see many people enters the boat.
No worries although you do not have tickets with you. Soon you will hear a lady ferry conductor came from nowehere. She will shake her collected coins in the metal container to get your attention that she is here to collect money for tickets. The conductor could not identify whether you had already paid for tickets but this is based on thrust. Just ask how much for a ticket. Other colours of flag may skip on certain piers as some are express ferry boats.
Coincidently once we arrived Sathorn Taksin Pier, the Asiatique ferry boat arrived. Need not to wait. Asiatique is a shopping mall converted from warehouses. It is a very interesting mall that it has got the similarity with the Red Brick Warehouse in Hakodate, Hokkaido where originally the buildings were used for trading but now it has converted to shopping centre.
I guess Asiatique imitated the idea from Red Brick Warehouse. Do not go early because the Asiatique opens at 5pm to midnight.
Asiatique have various shops available such as clothings, home decor items, jewellery accessories, accessories for doggies, eyewears, arts and more.
There are also many restaurants there such as Western, Thai, and Japanese cuisine. After walking and shopping for some time, since we in Thailand, we always chose Thai food – we selected a restaurant called Yum Saap. I often see this restaurant in other malls. We tried and the food was good plus the price were reasonable.
To get back to the city centre, just take a return Asiatique ferry boat and back to Sathorn Taksin Pier. The Saphan Taksin BTS station is just right infront the pier.
As this was our last evening to spend in Bangkok, eventhough our foots were breaking apart.. and since my watch says 8:30pm, we made a one last stop at Terminal 21. When we arrived at BTS Asok, there were big crowd of protesters seen gathering at road junction and they were watching big screen projector. Large Thailand flags were seen waving. Speech were given by one of the protester leaders. Anyway, as long they guai guai sat there and don’t make any mess,.. Bangkok is still peaceful for tourists to visit.
We took an hour brief walk around the mall and we went to Gourmet Market (Lower Ground Floor) to get some snacks and also for our tomorrow’s breakfast. We bought salad for tomorrow’s breakfast. Well, gotta eat healthy after many heavy eatings in Bangkok. The unique of the salad, you can pick any dishes available. Once you picked the selections into a bowl, give it to a staff near the salad counter. She will weight and pack for you. If I’m not wrong, my bowl of salad was around THB100.
Day 3: Benjasiri Park and Au Bon Pain cafe
We woke up early so we still have a bit of time to take a short walk nearby our hotel before we head to the airport. The nearest shopping mall is Emporium which that time it was yet to open. Beside the Emporium there is a park called Benjasiri Park. There were many Japanese expatriates exercise at the park. All of a sudden at that moment I felt i was in Sapporo Park. There was a large pond and the pond has got many tortoises. If you have children, do bring some breads along to feed the hungry tortoises.
Just opposite the Benjasiri Park there is an American cafe called Au Bon Pain. Too bad this cafe chain is not available in Singapore and Malaysia. We ordered Caramel Latte and Ice Blended Green Tea. The ice-blended was good but not the Caramel Latte as it was tasteless. Anyway, you can give a try on other drinks.
It was a full filling trip as this trip we explored some new places such as Chocolate Ville, Sampeng Lane, Soi Wanit 1 and Pak Khlong Talat (Flower Market).