Vacation in Thailand? Yes Please! (Bangkok)

 

Thailand has become one of the most common abroad holiday destinations for us and rightly so. It’s a country which can cater the need for almost all tourists around the globe. If you want a calm and serene holiday, Thailand is the place; If you want white beaches and crystal clear water, Thailand is the place for you; If you want adventures like para-sailing, bungee jumping, white water rafting, sky diving, again Thailand is the place for you; If you are a shopaholic, look no further, go book a ticket for Thailand. Oh and If you like to party hard, they welcome you too.

Getting There:

There are a number of airlines operating daily flights to Bangkok from Dhaka. It is important to book air tickets smartly, as airfare is pretty much 50% of your entire travel budget. So any savings you make here, contributes a great deal on your overall budget. At present airlines flying this route directly are:

  1. Thai Airways
  2. Bangkok Airways
  3. Biman Bangladesh Airlines
  4. Regent Airlines

It’s a very short flight so direct route is basically are the only feasible options. There are many parameters when you decide on a flight. For me the 2 most important factors are Airfare and Time. For a 2.5 hours flight service is not an issue for me. I have seen that you get the best rates in Bangkok flight if you book minimum 25-30 days in advance. The later you book the ticket prices gradually increases and can go as high as 50% over the previous price. Also as Thailand is a popular tourist destination now, tickets are sold out even 7 days before the flight date.

 

If I book now for a return flight dated June 13- June 20 I see the following rates:

  • Regent: 23,000
  • Biman Bangladesh: 25,000
  • Bangkok Airways: 33,000
  • Thai Airways: 87,000!!!

 

Not sure why the Thai rate is showing so high, normally it’s around 50-60K. These are online rates and you are sure to get a better deal from your travel agent if he is genuine. You can use these prices as a bench mark and push your travel agent for a better deal.

 

Another thing to note here is that Regent and Biman are day flights and Bangkok Airways is a night time flight. So if you travel Bangkok Airways you can save a day but prepare to reach Bangkok at 2AM. For me I prefer Bangkok Airways simply because I can travel by night and add 1 extra day to my vacation.

Also there is a common conception about local airlines not being very good and that they have very bad service. I don’t necessarily agree with this. I have found Regent Airlines having a very professional service and a good Boeing 737 plane  for their international service. Of course it’s all about the fare here and you can’t compare Regent with Thai Airways. As for Biman, I am always weak towards our national carrier. I love their new planes and whenever there is a chance, I try to travel Biman. They use the new 737-800s Mayurpankhi and Meghdoot for these short haul flights and they are absolutely brilliant with the Boeing new Sky Interior. Biman is still a bit down on service, especially when it comes to inflight catering. I really hope they get a professional chef in order to make their food worthy of the new planes.

 

 

Bangkok

Bangkok is an amazing city if you ask me. If you like hustle and bustle, then this is the place. If you like shopping then Bangkok is second to none. If you want to do some sightseeing then there are some temples and parks where you can roam around but my suggestion for Bangkok stayers is to Shop and Eat.

 

Where to Stay:

 

Sukhumbhit road is the most widely known area in Bangkok for tourists. There are thousands of hotels here and most give very good rates. From the airport you can take a taxi to Sukhumbhit road. Once you take your luggage follow the signs to the taxi stand. Normally it takes around 270-300 Baht from Airport to Sukhumbhit road by metre. To avoid jam, ask the driver to take the expressway. Although you will have to pay the 60-70 Baht toll charge it’s worth it to save 30-45 minutes of traffic. There is also a Train Service from Airport to Sukhumbhit road but I am yet to try that out.

 

As for hotels in Bangkok, you can book ahead by asking your travel agent. You can also book online in sites like Hotels.com or Agoda.com. It’s worth having an account here as you can get some really sweet deals that your travel agent may not be able to give you. You will need a dual currency credit card to book in these sites. Even if you don’t have a credit, still check these sites to get a reference. You can get really good 4 star hotels for $35-50 in Bangkok. Check user reviews in tripadvisor.com before confirming your hotel, the reviews there are pretty accurate. I would avoid booking hotels at the airport or during visit as you may end up paying a lot more than usual price. When you pick a hotel, make sure it’s close to a MRT station otherwise you will have to walk a lot, along the narrow alleys of Sukhumbhit Road.

 

Where to Shop:

Like I said before, Bangkok is the place for all shopaholics. From designer labels to big wholesale markets to pawnshops on the road, Bangkok has it all. If your target is the brand shops then you can check out these places:

  1. Central World
  2. Siam Paragon
  3. Central Embassy Mall

These are the mother of all malls. The sheer size of them are huge and the stores are tastefully decorated. Although I loved roaming around these malls, buying anything here is totally a different matter. I rather checked out the only IMAX Theatre in Bangkok in Siam Paragon, so you can check that out too. These malls also have really good food courts serving different cuisines.

 

For us normal folks, try the MBK Centre or the Platinum Fashion Mall. These two malls are really good for clothes and shoes. There are hundreds of shops here, ready to give you a good bargain. Rule #1: Always Bargain. You can find T-shirts, Polos, Pants, Jeans, Tops, Underwear, Shoes, and Accessories all at very affordable price and they are off pretty decent quality too. Also check Robinson Store in Sukhumbhit Road. They sell many brands but there are always some kind of SALE going on there and you can end up getting some really good deals. I have also heard about a legendary market named ChatuChak weekend market. It is basically a street market of epic proportions. I suggest you Google about this market before you set foot in Thailand.

 

If you are looking for IT products, you can visit Pantip Plaza. It’s a lot like IDB back home but 5 times the size. I tried to buy a laptop here but I could not trust a single shop. Also the price is not as cheap as you would think. For IT products and Mobile Phones, Singapore is much much cheaper. I found the prices similar if not a little cheaper than Bangladesh.  If you want to buy a phone, try to buy from a good well established retailer in the bigger malls like Platinum 21, Central Plaza or Siam Paragon. I once bought a Samsung Mobile from Samsung Showroom in Central Embassy Mall. The rates there were okay and they gave 1 Year Thai Warranty.

 

 

Places to Visit:

 Truth be told I have never visited any of the tourist spots in Bangkok. Whenever I am there its always business. But I remember going to a Crocodile Farm when I was very young, maybe 12 years ago.

I suggest to check online to get some idea. I have heard of Grand Palace & Wat Prakeaw to be really majestic. Another nice temple is Wat Arun also known as the Temple of Dawn. Then there is Chinatown, Floating market and the old town. I am not sure how much one can enjoy them but it’s worth a look I guess if you have time in your hand.

 

In my last trip I found a gem of a place, Khaosan Road. This road will give you the whole essence of Thailand in a space of 2 hours. It’s a lively place with roadside shops, lights, rock bars, restaurants with live music, food carts, massage parlours all locked together. For me it was a stunning experience. Especially there is another road parallel to Khaosan Road, Rambuttri Alley. If you ask me, this is one of the best place in Bangkok. It’s beautifully decorated with colourful lights, and the restaurants here are playing soft live music and massage parlours on the road side giving very good foot massages. There is a stark contrast between the 2 roads which fascinated me. Khaosan Road was all about the hustle and bustle, rock and roll and Rambuttri Alley on the other hand seemed more serene but it was still musical and colourful.

 

 

What to Eat:

For food, there is nothing much to add. It’s very good wherever you go. The street food looks really yum and I only tried the seafood and they were very tasty. There are hundreds of restaurants serving such a varied kind of food, I cannot even think of what to suggest. I can just say try Coconut Ice Cream and Sea Food. If you want to eat a little upscale try the food courts in the mall. If you want to eat halal food, there are also good options. You will find many Arabic restaurants serving halal food. Unlike Singapore, McDonalds and KFC don’t have halal certificates in Thailand. After all this, if you crave for bhat and alu bharta, go to Soi Sukhumbhit 11 behind Ambassador Hotel, there are 2-3 Bangladeshi restaurants serving good old gorur mangsho.

 

How to Move Around:

Taxi is the most readily available transportation in Bangkok but it is on the expensive side. If you are travelling more than 1 person then I suggest to take the Tuk Tuk. They are fast and cheap. Bargain with the driver to get a good fare keep your eyes open as they may not be 100% safe. Sometimes the Tuk Tuk driver will suggest you to take you to a shop, basically he will get commission if you buy anything from there. Thai taxi drivers are also known to be a little notorious. They tend to take the longest possible route from point A to B to increase the fare, so keep Google maps with you and don’t be hesitant to give the drivers instructions. A good way to travel in Sukhumbhit road is using the Sky Train. It’s very cheap, safe and convenient as most of the stations are connected with the big malls. You just need to follow the signs. For the tickets, you will need to use the machine and if you need coins, you can go to the counter and they will change your notes to coins.

 

 

This is a very noob guide to the city of Bangkok, I will try to add another Phuket Guide in the coming days. Hope it helped.

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