Bangkok, Thailand’s capital and most populous city, is a haven to cheapskate, shopaholics and temple lovers alike.
Also known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or “City of Angels”, Bangkok is a pleasant contrast of old and new. With a long strip of hawker food stalls, streetside vendors and amazing temples along Chao Praya River, Bangkok is definitely a go-to place for people who love a good mixture of culture and shopping. Thailand’s currency is Thai Baht, which is roughly equivalent to Php1.30, depending on the forex.
If you are planning on heading to Bangkok anytime soon, then this travel guide might help.
By Air: Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia fly to Bangkok. Travel time is approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes. There’s a time difference between Thailand and Philippines, Manila being one hour ahead.
Hotline: 855-8888 (open 247/7)
Hotline: 7020-888 (open 247/7)
Hotline: 742-2742 (7am-11pm, Mon-Sun)
SOME FRIENDLY AND IMPORTANT REMINDERS
This is an international travel so it is only necessary for you to have a valid passport. You can secure one from the Department of Foreign Affairs. If you already have a passport, make sure it is still valid for 6 months from the time of travel. Meaning, if your passport will expire on June 21, 2018, then it is still safe to travel and return back before December 21, 2017. Any date beyond December 21, you’ll no longer be allowed to leave the country. If in doubt, you can always call Thai embassy in Manila, or Pilipinas Teleserve (24-hour Passport Assistance) 737-1000.
Note: This 6 months validity period only applies in certain countries, including Thailand. If you plan to go to other countries, specifically in European countries, check with their respective embassies here in Manila.
– Filipino citizens are allowed to stay in Thailand up to 30 days if entering via international airport and up to 15 days if entering through a land border checkpoint from neighboring countries like Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
– Always bring with you 2 valid IDs in case the immigration asks for it.
– Always bring your passport wherever you go. That’s always an SOP when traveling to other countries.
– Bangkok is very notorious for its heavy traffic so plan your travels accordingly to avoid delays.
– Be wary of your surroundings. There are also pickpockets or snatchers in Bangkok. Better be safe than sorry. Don’t flash your cell phone or money anywhere.
– These thai language might come in handy especially during shopping and haggling. sawatdee- hello; kop kun- thank you; tâo-rài- how much?
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
There are lots of hotels in Bangkok but staying in backpacker hostels and inns in Pratunam area is probably your best choice if you plan to shop till you drop and go on a food trip until the wee hour of the evening. Accommodation in Bangkok is very affordable so more often than not, majority of your moolah will be spent for your shopping spree.
Hotel Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam
220 Petchaburi Road, Ratchatevee, Bangkok
Baiyoke Sky Hotel
222 Ratchaprarop Rd. Ratchathewi, Bangkok
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
48 Orienta; Avenue, Bangkok, Bangkok, 10500. Thailand
Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok
991/9 Rama 1 Road, Bangkok, Bangkok
HOSTELS/INNS (all located in Pratunam area)
122/44 Rajchaprarop Road, Khweng Thanon-Phayathai, Khet Rajchathewi, Bangkok
39/3, Soi Petchburi 15, Petchburi Road, Ratchatewi, Bangkok
Good Day Hostel
1/13, Soi Petchaburi 15, Petchaburi Road, Rajthevee, Bangkok
The Period Boutique Hotel
39/4 Soi Petchburi 15, Petchburi Road, ThaninPhayathai, Rajathevi, Bangkok
Food in Bangkok is very affordable and readily available everywhere, especially if you’re staying in Pratunam area. Surprisingly, even their pork chop with rice meal are being sold in the street. Your Php100-200 would definitely go a long way.
The main transportation system in Bangkok is their Bangkok Mass Transit System or commonly known as BTS or Skytrain. Their tuk tuk is very famous among tourists but can be very costly so make sure to haggle if ever you plan to ride one, to be honest, one tuk tuk ride in Bangkok is already enough just for the sake of experiencing it, surprisingly, riding a taxi is way affordable than riding a tuk tuk, that’s how some tuk tuk drivers take advantage of tourists so be vigilant. One can also opt to ride a bus but because traffic in Bangkok is terrible and their buses are crowded, one bus ride just for the sake of saying you were able to ride one, is already enough.
No need to hire a tour guide in Bangkok. After all, who needs a tour guide when your only plan is to go shopping. Visiting the nearby temples near Chao Praya River is also a breeze so you’re good as long as you have researched the addresses and directions to the places that you want to visit.
THINGS YOU NEED TO HAVE
Comfy footwear. You’ll do lots of shopping and temple visiting so this is a must!
Camera. This is kind of optional unless you’re really into temples and want to capture the intricate details of the statues. Nowadays, smart phones have cameras with high megapixels already so no need to bring heavy DSLR if you’re not really into photography. This explains the absence of really nice shots in this blog. You can also opt for a mirrorless camera if you happen to have one. It’s much lighter than DSLR and can capture great photos too.
Money. You’ll need lots of it. Believe me!
Extra Lugagge. With lots of clothes and stuff to choose from, you’d definitely run out of space to store your newly bought items. You can also opt to buy cheap suitcases in Chatuchak Market or in the side streets of Bangkok. Soft suitcases can go as low as Php600 or less, depending on the size and style. Don’t fret, these suitcases are very popular among shoppers so you can easily find one anywhere.
Shades. Protect your eyes
Sunblock. Temperature in Bangkok can get pretty hot and humid so better protect your skin especially when doing the temple pilgrimage.
Bring US dollars with you and exchange them to Thai baht when you’re already in Bangkok. To be safe, exchange your dollars from banks in Chatuchak and Pratunam areas. We always go to Kasikorn Bank (the green bank) because they always have good rates.
- Good for 2 persons for 4 days and 3 nights
– Accommodation: Php3,300-Php5,000
– Food: Php 2,000
– Transportation: Php 1, 500
– Shopping: Php5,000-6,000
– Miscellaneous (incidentals & entrance fees): Php 2,000
You need to have: A budget of approximately Php20,000-Php30,000 (good for two and exclusive of plane ticket) is more than enough money for your Bangkok trip. You can save more if you opt to stay in a hostel and if you’ll resist the urge to shop, although I highly doubt that because seriously, Bangkok is a mecca for shoppers and there’s no point in going to Bangkok if you won’t buy a thing or two for yourself.
If you want to cross border to other countries from Bangkok, buy your ticket in advance and go to the bus station on your first day in Bangkok. This is assuming you arrive in Bangkok first thing in the morning. In our case, since we plan to go to Sieam Reap after Bangkok, we went at Mochit Bus Terminal right after having our lunch before heading to Chatuchak Market in the afternoon.
1st stop: Chatuchak Weekend Market. As the name implies, Chatuchak Weekend Market is only open during weekends so make sure you spend at least one weekend in Bangkok if you want to experience the literally “shop till you drop” experience in Chatuchak. Wear comfortable shoes as you will do lots of walking just to check out all the 8,000 stalls in the 35-acre area of the market. In our case, we weren’t able finish all the stalls since it rained and we’re really tired already. Chatuchak Market is definitely a bargain hunter’s paradise that all seasoned shoppers should and must visit.
2nd stop: Pratunam Night Market. If you’re still not contented with all your stash from Chatuchak, then might as well take a stroll in the evening and check out the various and out of the ordinary stuff being sold on the side streets of Pratunam. Aside from clothings, there are also lots of hawker food in Pratunam area just in case you get tired with all the shopping and walking.
1st stop: IKEA. Everything seems to be affordable in Bangkok so make sure to visit IKEA Bangna. There’s a free shuttle bus from BTS Udumsok station that will drop of you off Megabangna and IKEA so shopping at IKEA is a breeze.
2nd stop: Platinum Fashion Mall. If you’re not yet drop dead tired will all the shopping and walking at IKEA, you can also check out Platinum Fashion Mall in the afternoon, which is just around Pratunam area. Imagine an indoor and airconditioned version of Chatuchak Market and more or less you will get an idea how crazy Platinum Fashion Mall is. With four floors of more or less 2,000 shops, visiting Platinum Mall will definitely leave you breathless. If you are into online shopping, you’ll immediately notice that most of the clothes hanging on their racks are very familiar. Only that you can see and fit it before deciding to buy it. How cool can that be?
1st stop: Temple Pilgrimage. If you want to do temple hopping in Bangkok, the easiest and most convenient way to do it is via the Chao Praya Express Boat.
From BTS, go down at Saphan Taksin station in Silom Line and walk few meters to the Sathorn pier or central pier where you can purchase the one day unlimited express boat ride. You only need to buy one ticket and you can already freely get on and off at any pier of your choice to explore the sites in each station.
There are eight piers served by the Chao Praya Tourist Boat but to be able to visit Wat Arun, Grand Palace and Wat Pho station, you only need to get off at station N8 or the Tha Tien pier and both Grand Palace and Wat Pho temple are just few minutes walk away. As for Wat Arun, at the Tha Tien pier, you need to ride again another boat to cross the river via a small boat for only 3-5 baht. Just a word of caution though, be very wary of scammers, especially on your way to the Grand Palace. The most popular scam in the area is a friendly stranger will approach you and say “The Grand Palace is closed”. Don’t fall for it, just ignore them and pretend you don’t understand what they are saying.
2nd stop: Siam. If you’re already tired of too much bargain shopping and is already aching to check out other malls in Bangkok, then going to Siam Mall might be worth a visit. Nothing very special in this place though, just your typical mall.
MUST TRY AND BUY IN BANGKOK
Authentic Thai Massage. Need I say more? If you’re a certified spaholic, then having an authentic Thai massage in Bangkok should be in your bucket list. Bangkok is sprawling with local massage shops so your only dilemma is where to go. In our case, there’s a small massage parlor in the ground floor of our hostel (Ten Stars Inn, Pratunam) so we just booked a massage in the comfort of our own room. I did not set my expectations too high because I did not research in advance but I was bowled over because our massage was REALLY GOOD! Therapist doesn’t speak fluent English so it was kind of hard to communicate with her but it’s no big deal because she did great. To top it off, the massage only costs less than Php1,000 for an hour of good Thai massage.
Hawker’s food. Yummy and affordable food is everywhere so don’t be afraid to be adventurous when it comes to food. Eating on the side streets is the “IN” thing when in Bangkok, in fact, locals and foreigners alike love dining al fresco so find a spot and experience the authentic thai cuisine.