Going to Bangkok on Saturday!

Well, it’s time to take my GREs, and because of poor planning on my part, I’ll be taking them in beautiful Bangkok, Thailand (no doubt a great place to get some peace and quiet before the big test :stuck_out_tongue: .) I’ll only be there for a few days (October 3-7), but hopefully I’ll get to spend some time getting to know the city.

Any suggestions?

Ugh. Can a mod fix the thread title to spell “Bangkok”. Thanks!

Nothing wrong with banning it on Saturday, as long as you don’t ban it for the rest of the week. :slight_smile:

My wife and I visited a few years ago. I wasn’t looking forward to it so much, but found it to be much less grotty and sleazy than I was imagining. My wife, on the other hand, found it to be grottier than she expected but still enjoyed it. All about expectations and preconceptions, I guess.

I’ll leave it to more experienced visitors to the city to make recommendations.

There have been some recent threads on this same topic. Try running a Search using my name and “Bangkok” or Thailand" in the thread title.

Just briefly, ride the Skytrain from end to end for a good look at the city at rooftop level, then use it to connect to such shopping palaces as Siam Paragon, the Emporium and MBK Center, as well as to access Siam Square.

Ride the river on the Chao Phraya Express taxis.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace near Khao San Road, plus the Vimanmek Teak Palace over in Dusit district (same ticket gets you into all three). Wat Pho, Wat Arun. Chinatown. Royal Barges Museum. National Museum. Khao San Road itself, especially at night.

Chatuchak Weekend Market (Sat-Sun). Suan Lum Night Bazaar (every evening).

I’ll assume you’re not into bars, but a stroll down Soi Cowboy after dark is a must just to see all the neon. (If you do enter a bar there, rest assured there are no rip-off joints in Soi Cowboy.)

Koh Kret, a Mon island community in the Chap Phraya River north of Bangkok. (Spelled Ko Kret in that link. As you’ll discover, there are lots of ways to transliterate just about everything.)

For a day trip, go see the ruins dotted around Ayutthaya, about an hour and a half north of Bangkok.

Pay very close attention to the Bangkok Scams website.

Do you know about which area you’ll be staying in?

Done.

And of course, that’s also the Chao Phraya River. There is no second Chap Phraya River.

OK, so my post now makes no sense unless readers know that it was originally Bankok. Not that it makes much more sense knowing that, but still …

Confucius say, “Man who go through airport turnstile sideways, going to Bangkok.”

I have a question about the airport…is there a conveniently located ATM? I’d rather not mess with converting my Yuan if I can just use an ATM instead.

I’ll be staying at this hostel, which as far as I can tell is fairly centrally located.

All of the ATM’s that I used charged me a service fee that turned out to be around 3% of my withdraw amount. And all merchants will charge you about the same to use plastic. Any way you look at it, it’s going to cost you something to get your baht.

There are plenty of ATMs in the airport and throughout the city. I believe all banks’ ATMs do charge a service fee for foreign ATM cards, but I’m not up on the rate. Call us old-fashioned, but we always use traveller’s checks, as I’ve had my ATM card swallowed by a machine twice in my life: Once here and once in the US. It’s a nasty feeling when that happens.

Merchants are becoming better about not charging you an extra fee for credit cards. Almost no one does that now, certainly no major place. However, many people do not realize that credit-card companies often charge a hidden “conversion fee,” which usually takes the form of a slightly disadvantageous exchange rate when they’re calculating your bill. We’ve never found that excessive, though.

My advice is not to change too much money at the airport. Maybe US$100 worth or so, just to get you started. I’ve usually found the best rates in town on Khao San Road, although admittedly I’ve not checked that for a while. No shortage of banks there, and they even have mobile foreign-exchange vans open 7 days and at night.

That’s not a bad area you’ll be staying in. Not too far from Khao San Road, although a little bit of a hike. I see the Airport Bus stops fairly close. If you don’t have too many bags, that might be worth taking. I think it’s 150 baht (US$4.50). The problem with the airport is there are so many scam touts trying to funnel you into their overpriced “limousines,” which are usually beat-up Japanese sedans. At the airport, no matter how official someone looks who walks up to you, DO NOT believe them. Follow the signs and find an airport information counter. And make sure it really is an information counter and not a hotel or private-transport counter. Otherwise follow the signs to the airport-taxi queue and use one of those. You pay the metered fare plus all tollway charges plus 50 baht. It’s not a bad deal, will cost you maybe US$12 or $13 to get to your place. I see the website has Thai writing, so print it out to show the driver.

They’ve started a campaign to try to sweep out the touts, but they’ve only been a little successful. The main problem is that although there are three or four isdentified gangs behind the touts, a very, very influential figure is ultimately behind them all, someone from a Family That Cannot Be Named.

You’ll be in the Rattanakosin area, the original Bangkok, which was founded in 1782. No, this is not an ancient city. There was a sleepy fishing village on this site before then, but Bangkok became the capital and started to be built up in 1782, when they moved from across the river in Thonburi, and even that was the capital for only 15 years.

Lots of stuff will be within walking distance for you. The main drawback to the area is they won’t let the Skytrain or subway into the area, because they don’t want to disrupt the historic ambience, which is laudable. You’ll have to take a bus or taxi to get to the Skytrain, but taxis are cheap here. Flag fall is 35 baht (US$1.05); most places in the central city can be reached for a couple of bucks, $3 at the most. Don’t even talk to a driver who won’t turn his meter on. At tourist sites, you’ll probably have to walk a block over to hail a cab; the ones parked usually want a flat, inflated fee, which is completely illegal. You’re also not all that close to the river.

In fact, except at taxi queues at shopping center’s, it’s always best to hail one from the stret. The way it’s done here is to hold your arm straight out, palm down, and wave it up and down a bit. You’ll see others doing it. (Never ever beckon to anyone palm up; that’s how the Thais call a dog to them.)

I see from the map on your website that you’ll be by the Golden Mountain. That’s worth a look. It’s a manmade hill from the days of King Rama III (reigned 1824-51). Formed when a large stupa under construction collapsed. Rama IV had a small stupa erected on top, and it grew over the years until it’s now the temple you see. Nice view from up on top. A nice walk up, not too difficult, and I think it’s only 10 baht (30 cents) to go up on the roof of the temple.

I also see you are just off of Bamrung Muang Road. That was one of Bangkok’s first streets, originally an elephant path leading to the palace.

Thanks for all the great advice! I can’t wait to get there!

Go to Jim Thompson’s house.

It’s really beautiful and filled with wonderful traditional objects, definitely worth it.

The wife just said she’s not sure how readily yuan can be changed in Thailand. You may want to check into that. I do seem to recall whenever we’ve gone to China, we’ve had to finish using our yuan there, but then we’ve always had US-dollar traveller’s checks and did not end up with much yuan at the end anyway. If possible, you may want to change your yuan there to a more convertible currency before you leave.

The baht’s been strengthening recently. The official rate is about 33-1/2 to the US dollar now.

Keep in mind the rainy season is still going on, so you may encounter some short but strong rains at any moment. So better carry an umbrella with you if you do mind a good soaking.

Odd, but I could not log on this morning at home. I could read the Board and access everything else on the Internet, but I could not log on. All I got was an error page. I could see that others were logged on. I’m using a computer elsewhere right now and will try again at home later.

But as for rain, yes, pack an umbrella. October is always the rainiest month in Bangkok, and we’re about to get some rain from that Typhoon Ketsana, which has just lashed the Philippines (submerging 80% of Manila!) and Vietnam. It’s looking awfully gray outside today, and I believe 18 provinces in the Northeast are under flood alerts.

And a second storm seems to be heading toward the Philippines. :frowning:

One more thing before you go. It seems it may not be too difficult to change yuan here, at least not in the major bank branches. But the exchange rate for yuan is rather lousy. Best if you can bring along a hard currency, such as US dollars or euros.

And yes, it is rainy now.

Enjoy your trip!