We arrived n Bangkok from Hong Kong on a flight with Thai Airlines. First let me say that the airlines in the US need lessons from Thai...they were great. We took a taxi from the official metered stand at the airport to our hotel the Grande Sheraton. All I can say is WOW. We really enjoyed the hotel. I did review this hotel of those who wish to check it out. Bangkok is a bustling city and it took me a bit to acclamate for lack of a better term. Hot hot hot. But in the streets no car horns and as busy as it is a calmer feel to me than NYC. The hotel is on Sukhumvit, a busy shopping area with malls, high end hotels, restaurants in the area, 2 great massage places you can take your family to, street food, and street shopping. The hotel sits at the junction of the Skytrain and the subway which is great. Oh and of those with a wish to experience the sex street.....there is one located within walking distance but you need to know where it is...we happened upon it one night and walked right through....no problem. Dinner was at Suk 11 1/34 Soi Sukhumvit 11....great dinner.
Our first full day we headed to the Grand Palace and Wat Po. It was a great day and we ignored the touts outside the walls telling us where to get tickets, and found the official entrance. Once inside, there was what appeared to be an information desk so I approached and asked if the line to my right was for tickets. No, I was told it was for those who did not dress appropriately who had to rent clothing. But he said we were dressed very well and that we could get tickets and even a guide if we wanted...I asked where do you get a guide and he said with a big smile I will be your guide...we said OK and off we went to get tickets. He was great fun and we were really glad we had him to guide us through the Palace. Was he an "official" guide you say..I have no idea but it was fun. The Palace is beautiful and should not be missed. Note how the buildings change in color as the sun moves. All that gold really glitters.
From there our guide pointed us in the direction of Wat Po which is an easy walk from the Palace. Again, ignore the people outside who are trying to get you to go in another direction. Wat Po is another place where you must be dressed appropriately. It too was beautiful. We located the Massage school and signed up. Wow, what a massage!!!
You have to do this!! And cheap too.
From there we took the water taxi down river to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The dock is down a side street and through an old building that looks like it will fall down any minute. These water taxi's are a must do and you get to see the city from a different perspective. Once at the Mandarin we decided to dine at the hotel's outdoor restaurant as the sun was setting. Lovely and great dinner.
The next day was Dursit Park and Vimanmek Palace. Nice park and lovely old Palace...very different from the Grand Palace...very European in style. Dress code in action. This is where we learned leggings don't count as coverings....bought a sarong for 100 baht which happened to be a great purchase. The tour in English was about a 45 minute wait. You can't go in without a tour and the times are few and far between for English tours. We happened to see a Chinese tour group arrive so had our daughter who speaks Chinese ask the leader if we could tag along and so we did. She translated for us. It was interesting and if your timing is right you can figure about 45 minutes for the Palace. We then walked a bit of the park and being hot and tired opted to head back to the hotel. We inquired about a massage and were pointed to the King and I just down the street. Excellent, just what we needed. My husband had seen a massage place advertised in a local booklet he picked up and when he asked the front desk about it they said "This is not a place you should take your daughter" That's when they suggested The King and I. Point taken :)
We then headed to dinner and found an interesting looking Italian place......landed there because the place we were looking for we couldn't find and we were hungry and tired. Not a good choice. Giusto Italain restaurant.....food not up to what we expected and the service was "cold" not friendly like we had experienced the night before or in Hong Kong.
Saturday and it was time to hit the weekend market....Chatuchak Market. We took a taxi but you can get here by subway/skytrain. This is a great fun place. Watch your belongings and jump in and have fun. It's huge. Bought a few items to bring home but you could go crazy if not careful. If you see an item bargain hard and get it because you might not find that booth or item again. Headed back to the hotel to shower and go to theater. We went to Siam Niramit. It was an extravaganza. We chose the dinner and transportation option through the hotel. You can certainly do this on your own. It is touristy but fun....I got to feed an elephant!!!
Sunday and it's the floating market. We were going to the one in Bangkok but a nice taxi driver convinced us to go out to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. He was a great taxi guy and took us to a place where we rented a klong, went through the canals to the market, stopping at a place where they make coconut sugar..tastes like maple sugar candy...and then in the market we made a couple purchases. Spices. From there to the elephant farm around the corner from the klong rental where we rode elephants. From there he took us to Maekong Station to see the train come through the market...unfortunately the train was not running due to mechanical issues. We liked this taxi guy so much we hired him for the next day to drive to Ayutthaya. Upon our return to Bangkok from the floating market, we had tea at the Shangra_La hotel overlooking the river. Turns our they have a high tea dance every Sunday with a live band. That was fun and there was so much to eat it became our dinner.
The next day our driver picked us up and we headed to Ayutthaya and the Summer Palace. Dress code again. We were ready. The Summer Palace is beautiful..the grounds gorgous. From there we head to Ayutthaya. It is very interesting. The colors on the ruins are lovely and change as the sun moves.....redder in the later afternoon. Glad we had the driver because the ruins are spread out over the city and you need to get from one to the other. I would say get a driver or rent bikes but you probably are not walking it.
Tuesday we had to hit the electronics market...not because we wanted to. Our daughters computer died so we needed to find an Apple Store. Apple referred us to the Pantip Plaza iStudio by UFicon. They were helpful and kept the MacBook Pro for diagnosis. We would know in 2 days for 1000 baht. So we left her prized possession...all worked out well...we got it back 2 days later up and running for $34 USD. Can't beat that!! The Pantip Plazea is a sight to see...but if you want to make a purchases d your homework in advance. From the market we head to Little India, The Cloth Market, Sampang Lane, and Chinatown. Very compact area, more street shopping and I was not impressed. I would say if you need to skip something skip this area. The fabric markets are great if you know what you want but otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming. So we headed back for another massage..this time at Urban Retreat near the hotel...great place.
Wednesday we took the Skytrain to Jim Thompson's House. Very interesting house full of antiques and history. A quiet oasis in the middle of a bustling city. A must see. From there we headed to The Golden Mount. Wow. You must walk to the top for the view. The neighborhood seems to to be the lumber area...we found people who were carving front doors...wish I could have taken one home. So if you are in need of a front door or any door bring your measurements with you and know how you are going to ship it. From there we headed to The Deck, a restaurant on the river overlooking Wat Arun. Great lunch!! By the time we finished it was later in the afternoon and we took the water taxi over to Wat Arun. We were there as the light was changing and the colors began to pop on the Temple. Beautiful. Water taxi to River City. Went inside the Sheraton for a drink and then to River City to shop. What a disappointment. It was very empty. Many shops were closed or gone.
Our last day we picked up the computer in working order and after dropping it back at the hotel headed to Robinsons Department store. Just like any other department store. Off to the MBK Mall. This is more interesting. A mix of high end shops with street/market shopping all in an air conditioned mall. Lunch was at a place outside the MBK. S+P Simply Delicious. We were referred there by a university professor who saw us on the street trying to figure out where we were. He suggested this restaurant over one we had been looking at in a guide book. It was a good move as the food was great. We headed back to the hotel, changed into nicer clothes and headed to the SkyBar at State Tower. It was sunset when we got there...WOW. What a view. My husband was so enamored that he decided to stay for dinner. We ate at Breeze on a lower floor but with the same beautiful view. What a dinner!!!!!
I know this is long...we stayed 8 days in Bangkok and saw the city at a leisurely pace. We loved it. Do your research, be a smart traveler and you will have a wonderful visit. P.S. the tours from the hotel all left at 6:30 in the morning and we just didn't want todo that....most of what you do on a tour you can do with a good taxi driver.......I am happy to share the contact information for our driver if you are interested. Just send me a message. Happy Travels.