We left Bangkok yesterday so I thought I’d do a brief round-up for anyone who might find it interesting/useful.
For future reference, £1 is roughly THB 44. So £5 = THB 220, and £10 = THB 440 etc. Our (unrealistic) daily budget goal when we planned the trip was £50/day (THB 2200) but with the £ kind of sucking atm, we’re resigned to spending more than that.
We stayed in the Soi Rambuttri area, very close to the Khao San Rd but a little more picturesque and also quieter. It’s a street with some connected alleyways, that wrap around the grounds of Wat Chana Songkhram. The trees that grow around the Wat make the street leafy and verdant as their canopies spread over the walls of the temple grounds. The green foliage complementing the orange-red bricks below your feet. When we were here 10 years ago the area was much quieter with only a few cocktail vans lining the side of the street in the evenings, and some chilled out restaurants and guesthouses. Now the whole length of the street is lined with food and market stalls, mostly selling your typical traveller’s clothing of Chang Beer T-shirts and elephant print harem pants, amongst a slew of other floaty skirts and wispy tank tops in boho prints.
Our first port of call was Four Sons Village, which I booked for the sole reason that it was the cheapest place I could find, and from memory, having stayed there 10 years ago, was not a total dive. It pretty much lived up to my expectations – fairly soulless and the staff were perfunctory in their personal interactions, but it was clean. No expectations were exceeded, but it was in all ways adequate for the price we paid. I booked on Agoda.com and got two double rooms with a/c and a balcony for THB 550/room/night. When I wanted to extend our stay by two nights, I couldn’t find any more rooms on Agoda so I asked at the front desk if we could extend for the same price we had been paying. They said we could not, and would have to pay the normal rate of THB 650/room. So we left.
So far my experience using Agoda to book hotels in Thailand is that you can actually get better deals on there than the walk-in rates the guest houses will give you. I was surprised and had expected it to be the other way around. So I hopped on Agoda and found two double rooms with a/c and balconies at a place called Wild Orchid Villa just around the corner. It had a pool and the price was THB 700/room/night. Again, this was cheaper than the price I was quoted when I walked in to enquire. While this ate into our budget a bit more, we felt it was a good choice. The kids LOVED having a pool and the rooms had a much nicer atmosphere than at Four Sons. Admittedly, one of the first rooms we were given had bedbugs, but the other room was bug-free and the room they immediately moved us to was also fine. So it could have been an isolated instance rather than an infestation. It does go to show that it’s always worth having a look for them before unpacking!
Taxis here are abundant. They have meters which will give you a very reasonable rate, but whether or not they will agree to use that meter seems to depend on various factors, none of which I am privy to. We had mixed success. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Ask before you get in if they’ll use the meter, and if they won’t you can always try another taxi. I guess you could always get a meter-fare if you persevere long enough, however, after 5 taxis in a row said they wouldn’t use the meter, and each quoted the same price to our destination, we figured we were out of luck on the meter-score. It seemed to have something to do with the time of day but I couldn’t get any more info as to why. I figure there was some method to their madness. I just don’t know what it was.
If you and your destination are anywhere near a water taxi pier then that’s an ideal way to travel. Being on the river is cool, and journeys are relatively quick with interesting views along the way. Just opt for the local yellow or orange flag boats, which cost THB 15/person (with kids of certain heights going free – Ben was always free, but we had to pay for Chloe on one of the two trips we took), rather than the Tourist Choaprayah Express boat which is THB 180/person to hop on/off all day. You’d have to do a lot of pier-hopping to make that worthwhile.
There are other options – Tuk Tuks and the SkyTrain, but we didn’t use those this time around.
Cost varies hugely here, mostly depending on the ambience you want to pay for. Want to sit somewhere on comfy sofas & cushions, hooked up to free WiFi, watching the world go by as chilled-out tunes play in the background? Then you can pay THB 150 for a plate of Phad Thai. Don’t mind quick eats, while sitting on a plastic stool on the sidewalk under some tarp, and being cooled by a fan if you’re lucky? Then you can pay THB 50 for a plate of Phad Thai. Both will probably be delicious. On our budget you’d mostly find us on the sidewalk, which was just fine with us. I only had one meal that wasn’t delicious and that’s because we sat down at a stall that specialised in congee, a dish I can best describe as rice gruel. We were not fans. In my defence, I chose the stall cause it was packed full of locals. Clearly it is popular here for reasons I cannot fathom. One of our favourite places was just around the corner from our guest houses. It was a semi-permanent street stall butting up against the wall of the Wat, with many geckos frequenting the underside of it’s tarp roof in the evenings. I have no idea what it’s called, we called it “The Gecko Place”. The lady who ran it was super friendly, as was an elderly woman who I think was her mother. They always called out hello to the kids when we went past and tried to show Chloe how to properly use chopsticks. It was here that Ben discovered his favourite breakfast – pancake with chocolate sauce. Nothing like a healthy start to the day. The menu was extensive, all the food we had here was delicious, and it amazes me the variety of dishes they can turn out of such a small kitchen.
All in all we didn’t actually do that much in Bangkok, but I think it was enough for the kids, and we all needed some time to readjust to the timezone. After almost a week there it was feeling like time to leave, so we hopped on a train and made our way to an island. But that’s a story for another post.
All content including images © Leigh Eros 2017. Do not reproduce without permission.