Bangkok, also known as “Krungtep” or “City of Angels” is a fascinating city of more than 11 million people. It is rich in culture, a haven for shoppers and food lovers. Thai people are warm and friendly. The language is beautiful and sounds like music.
We arrived in Bangkok on Friday. Checked in at The Chatrium Suites Hotel on the riverbank of Chao Phraya River.
The hotel has 3 towers – two of the towers are condominiums and one is the hotel with 36 floors. I have previously booked a Grand Suite Riverview. It was a huge suite with an entrance hallway, an L-shaped kitchenette with a dining table and 2 chairs, a huge bedroom with King size bed, a balcony overlooking the river and daily life on the river and a huge ensuite with separate bath and shower. It costs AUD$400 for 3 nights, complimentary international buffet breakfast for two and a return hotel – airport transfer in a Mercedes Benz.
The hotel offers free river taxi to Sapan Taksin Skytrain station that connects to other interesting places in the heart of Bangkok. This is the best way of travelling in Bangkok, avoiding the heavy traffic.
After we checked in at the hotel, we hopped on the ferry to Sapan Taksin station.
It was a short 5 minutes ride. At the Skytrain station, we enquired at the station counter and exchanged some paper notes into coins. It costs 30 Bahts (about AUD $1) from Sapan Taksin station to Siam station. Around the Siam station are many shops and mega shopping centres – The Paragon, Siam Centre, Siam Discovery and MBK. Unfortunately Centre World was burnt down during the Red Shirt supporters riot with the police in May 2010.
The Skytrain (or monorail) and river taxi are our favourite mode of transport when we come to Bangkok. We got off at Siam station and went to The Paragon’s Food Mall.
It is probably the largest food mall in the world! There are endless of choices. We were hungry and searching for a place to eat. There were food court style areas with giant fish tanks, separate casual café style areas, fast food chains including Krispy Kreme (which has a long crazy queue of Thai sweet donut lovers) and upmarket classy style restaurants.
We wanted a quick and light lunch. I saw this cute little Thai café with limited seatings and a few other people waiting in queue. Everything on the board was in Thai language. I looked at the crowd – almost all Thai people with a bowl of very spicy looking noodle soup. It has to be good. We waited in the queue – took less than 10 minutes before we got a table. We looked through the small menu. Thank goodness there were pictures and English word for the foreigners like us! We ordered a pork cake snack with Thai spicy dipping sauce and two different types of noodle dish – one with pork mince in a thick curry sauce served with fresh shallots, pickled onions and fresh limes, and the other a very spicy chili noodle soup. All three were very good. A good Thai street food in a mall ambiance. I love this place so much that I went back again the next day for a light snack and tried a different noodle soup dish.
Our trip to Bangkok is to eat and to shop. The next morning we went to the biggest weekend market in Bangkok, Chatuchak Market. It opens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The best time to go is early in the morning to avoid the heat and crowd. The market is huge. It will take at least a day to browse all the little shops and sections in the market.
Each section of the market is covered by metal roof. Imagine walking in there with people everywhere, an aisle of one metre wide and an outside temperature of more than 30 degree Celsius! The market sells everything you can imagine including pets. It is not a wet market for fresh produce and meats. A visit to the market is a must if you can stand the heat, the crowd and love bargain hunting for a good buy to take home.
On Sunday morning, we took the hotel ferry to Sapan Taksin ferry terminal for a ferry taxi to Phra Arthit ferry terminal. A single trip will cost 25 Bahts, or a full day unlimited stops at a few other interesting places along the river for 150 Bahts. Phra Arthit terminal is a short distance walk to Khaosan district – a popular backpackers haven – great bargain accommodations, eating places, pubs and shops.
We were lucky to be in Thailand in the weekend. When I booked our trip I had no idea that it will coincide with the Loi Krathong Festival – a water light and candle festival. Throughout Thailand where there is water canal, river and pond there will be people celebrating the festival with candles and incenses lighted on the “krathong” and set afloat in the water for offering of peace and happiness. Each “krathong” is handmade with leaves and flowers weaved and stitched together into a water lotus form with candles and incenses in the middle.
We celebrated the festival at the hotel with an international buffet, a cultural performance and fireworks. A great night to end our weekend trip to Bangkok.