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4 days in Bangkok?

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This will probably be our only trip to Thailand. Prior to boarding a cruise ship in February, we want to see the country. Currently we are set to stay in Bangkok for all four days. The first port of call on the ship is Ko Samui so visiting a beach is not necessary.

Is there something else suggested to see & do, (no more flights, please) that would be better spent than Bangkok? I'm looking to get a better overall look at the country than just a big city, as beautiful as it might be.

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    If it were me, I'd spend all 4 days in Bangkok. It really is a remarkable city. And there are so many things to see and do (and eat) to give you a real flavor of the culture. There is no place a drive away that I'd recommend.

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    Yes, spend all four days in Bangkok. If you feel you will need a break, do the Ayuttya/Bang Pa In Summer Palace bus/boat trip which takes all day and gets you out of the city - the return by boat is very interesting.

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    Grand Palace
    Wat Po (try the traditional Thai massage at the school in the temple)
    short walk to the river for a ride on a long tail boat
    visit the floating market (the real one outside Bangkok)
    Suan Lum Bazaar
    Mah Boon Krong (mall Thai style) with good food court

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    I agree with the above. Hands down...all four days in Bangkok. I've been vacationing there, almost annually, since the 90s and spend one to three weeks straight in Bangkok at a time and still find plenty of new things to do and experience. I've been to areas about an hour and a half to two hours outside of Bangkok, by car/bus,but would rather spend the time in Bangkok. Happy Travels!

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    I would spend all 4 days in BKK as well. I have just got back from Thailand and I absolutely loved my 3 days in BKK. I could certainly spend a week there.

    Here are some tips (from a friend of mine that lives in the city) to spend your 4 days. If there's a weekend involved - don't forget the weekend market.

    HOTELS

    The Peninsula - on the "wrong" side (meaning, other side) of the river, meaning to go to the center or take the Skytrain, you have to take the hotel ferry and cross the river which is the last stop on the Skytrain. I think we have a DB corporate rate here.

    The Metropoitan - modern minimalist hotel, decor is mostly dark woods, light stone, nice large rooms. Sister of the Metropolitan in London. Near the finance district, and also right beside the Sukhothai. Can enjoy drinks at the hop Met Bar.

    The Sukhothai - designed by the guy who developed the Aman resorts. Contemporary, sleek, understated Asian design. Their Thai restaurant Celadon is probably the best hotel restaurant that serves green chicken curry. If you need my help, I can reserve for you with the DB rate since I think we can get it cheaper.

    The Conrad - modern business hotel, good value for money. Just 2-3 years old, so rooms are quite new and nice. We also have a DB corporate rate here. Let me know ahead.

    RESTAURANTS

    Koi - Modern Japanese. Branch of the LA celeb hangout. Hip place. 26 Sukhumvit Soi 20. 02 258 1590. Dinner only.

    Celadon - elegant Thai resto. The Sukhothai. 13/3 South Sathorn Road. 02 344 8888.

    Bed Supperclub - Asian fusion food. Coolest place in Bangkok (supposedly). Call ahead since the place turns into a club after dinner. Cool concept where you get to eat in long shared white leatherette beds. From the outside the building looks like a white spaceship. Not to be missed. Not sure if they serve lunch though. 26 Sukhumvit Soi 11. 02 651 3537.

    Sala Nim Ram - Restaurant at The Oriental. Take the free hotel shuttle from the pier. A bit touristy but for first timers to Thailand this is a must go. Open only for dinner. In the evening there is a performance by classical dancers.
    Buri Tara - relaxed, contempo, riverside Thai restaurant, resort-like garden, complete with decking, palms, passing barges. Soi 30/32 Rama 3 Rd. 02 682 9457.

    Somboon Seafood - Excellent seafood but zero ambience, always full but place is huge. Famous for seafood - can choose from the aquarium for live seafood fare like prawns, lobster, crabs. Specialty is chili crab curry. 169/7-11 Surawongse Rd. 02 233 3104. No credit cards here.

    Lunch/Brunch

    Kuppa - very popular, fashionable, spacious, brunchy, relaxed. Good coffee and desserts. Serves Thai and western food. In a quiet neighborhood and has good couches for lounging around. Closed Mon. 39 Sukhumvit Soi 16. 02 663 0450

    Biscotti - Excellent Italian. Four Seasons Hotel. 155 Ratchadamri Rd. 02 250 1000.

    Thompson - you can rest here after shopping/touring Jim Thompson's house - uber-hip eatery set in the garden. Soi Kasem San 2. Off Thanon Rama 1. 02 612 3601.

    Coffee/Cake

    Lenotre - prime destination for dessert lovers in Bangkok. Also serves tasty lunches and very good coffee. 61 Soi Lang Suan. 02 250 7050.

    Agalico - no name, no sign from the street. English, pure-white tearoom with homemade cakes. Book the aircon gazebo. 20 Sukhumvit Soi 51. 02 662 5857 x 111.

    Coffee Beans - grab a sofa and laze around at this popular haunt, complete w/ mags, thai savories and terrifi cheese cake. 20/12-15 Soi Ruam Rudee. 02 254 7117.

    * Chocoholics should go to The Sukhothai's infamous Chocolate Buffet. Fri-Sun. 2-6pm.

    Bars/Clubs

    Diplomat - Live band at The Conrad. Fridays full of banker types. The Conrad Hotel.

    Zuk Bar - classic, clutter-free, chill place, great cocktails. Sukhothai Hotel.

    Bamboo Bar - good jazz, small and busy bar at The Oriental Hotel.

    Bed Supperclub

    Q Bar - Branch of Q Bar in Ho Chi Minh. Stylish joint but the crowd can get slutty. 34 Sukhumvit Soi 11. 02 252 3274.


    SPAS

    The Spa at The Oriental - located across the river from the main hotel, same area as the Sala Rim restaurant. Rated as one of the best spas in the world. Cool, tranquil setting. Book ahead in advance. Try the Thai massage, or even one of those 5 hr treatments.

    I.Sawan - Luxurious Thai-zen complex set around a pool. Treatments are in private bungalows . Grand Hyatt Erawan. 494 Ratchadamri Rd. 2 254 1234.

    Nicolie - Stylish, back-to-basics, massage-only winner. Foot and body massages. Run by former Oriental Spa manager. 1041 5 Sun Square Silom Rd, bet. Soi 21-23. 02 233 6957.


    ACTIVITIES

    The Grand Palace/ Wat Pho - unmissable but these are sacred so no baring of shoulders, wear easily removed shoes. Can just take a cab (easy way) or start by 9.30am latest, take a ferry from The Oriental (the public Oriental pier), enjoy the Chao Praya, alight at Tha Chang Pier amd follow the crowds to the Grand Palace. Take a cab and go down the block to Wat Pho. See the giant reclining Buddha. Grand Palace closes at 3pm.
    Wat Arun - religious complex rising from the banks of the Chao Phraya. Climb the steep steps to see the Chao Praya river, Wat Po, Grand Palace. Late afternoon visit recommended if you want to enjoy the sunset.

    Jim Thompson's House - tour the teak house, shop for fabric/houseware, also lunch. Soi Kasem San 2. Off Thanon Rama I. 02 216 7368. Mon-Sat 9am-4.30pm. Skytrain: National Stadium.

    Ayuthaya - this was Thailand's second capital (after Sukhothai, before Bangkok). Glorious old ruins well worth a visit. Hotel will usually arrange an aircon bus to take you to Ayutthaya, leave around 9am, return via boat. Some boats serve lunch on board.

    Floating Market at Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi - I haven't visited this yet, but this is the floating market seen in those ubiquitous Visit Thailand ads/posters. Food vendors sell their goods from small boats to locals in other boats. More authentic and less touristy than the Bangkok floating markets. Easiest way is to go via organized tour or have the hotel arrange private car.
    River Cruises - Sunset or dinner cruise along the Chao Praya river. Manhora Cruises (02 476 0022 ext 1416) has these meticulously restored rice barges a (and turned them into luxury cruiser Or can have the hotel book you on another river cruise, tour the river, with lunch or dinner onboard. Or go to the Oriental Pier, walk through the hotel gardens and out to the terrace and look for the boatmant in charge.

    The Blue Elephant Cooking Course- Return back home and impress the family. Chef drags you to the market to buy produce and teaches you how to make delicious Thai food. Branch of the Blue Elephant in London. 233 South Sathorn Rd. 02 673 9353.
    Freeman - Drag show, rather seedy but fantastic. Show starts at 12.30am, get there a few minutes early or you won't get a good view. Freeman Dance Arena. #60 18-21 Silom Rd. 02 632 8033.

    SHOPPING

    Gaysorn Plaza - upscale mall, mostly European, US high end brands. Skytrain: Chit Lom.

    Central Department Store - Greyhound Cafe for snack/lunch. Some good basic home, bath and table ware, also some good wood and lacquer. Skytrain: Chit Lom.

    Siam Square, Siam Centre, Siam Discovery Centre - lots of Thai brands, funky designers, also has a Boots Drugstore (1/F Siam Centre). Kinokuniya Book store is in Siam Discovery Centre. Skytrain: Siam.

    Siam Paragon - biggest, newest mall, full of big name/well known lables, not much local brands. Kinokuniya Books at 3/F. Home stuff: Q Concept Store, Pasaya. Good food options for lunch -- Another Houng by Greyhound Cafe, Grill Tokyo or Orangery (4/F) for a round-the-world lunch menu.

    Chatuchak Weekend Market - granddaddy of all markets. Take the Skytrain to Mochit. Follow the signs or the throng of people exiting the station. Warning: no aircon, it's hot, sticky but worth it. Be in by 9.30am, agree on a meeting place as this is humongous. Best to buy Nancy Chandler's map as the JJ market as it's called, sells everything (pets, army surplus, home decor, jeans, clothing, accessories, used books...).
    * Section 26 - antiques, fabrics, other nice things
    * Section 7 - quiter than the main market, definitely worth braving. Filled w/ art, furniture, stationary, cafes.
    Also lots of food stalls here for lunch, always crowded, hard to get a table, food is authentic Thai street food, nothing fancy.

    Suan Lum night bazaar - daily from 5pm till late. Take a cab. A nearer and less crowded alternative to Chatuchak market. Saner and well signposted. Full of tiny stalls. Zone Sukhothai - souvenir items. Zone Ayuttaya - clothing, accessories, homewares, Zone Lopburi - home, decor. Lots of cheap food stalls, authentic Thai street food.

    Almeta Silk - hand-woven, bespoke silk, better than Jim Thompson. Hundreds of jewel colors to chose from. Woven to order. Curtain/cushion service (bring your measurements), monogramming, bed-ware, sill wallpaper, stylish wraps/accessories. Luxe. 20/3 Sukhumvit Soi 23. 02 258 4227.

    Budji Living - highly styley furniture and decor collection from the Philippines using traditional materials with a modern touch. 7 Thonglor Soi 25, Sukhumvit Soi 55. 02 712 9833

    Jim Thompson Factory outlet - discount fabric nirvana, also clothes and lifestyle accessories. 153 Sukhumvit Soi 93. 02 332 6530.

    Loom & Reed - choose from a beautiful collection of vintage Indian and Thai textiles and they will turn it into a special hand-made carry-all or handbag.

    Kit-ti's jewelry - unique "contemporary ethnic" necklaces, bracelets using beads from all over the world, Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stones. Unit A11, Baan Silom, Silom 19.

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    Braziliantraveler...Excellent shopping list. All of the places you've listed I know of or have been to except Loom and Reed. Where is it located? I'm back off to Bangkok in a few weeks. Thanks. Happy Travels!

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    Also shopping: Lad Prao (pronounced Lat Pro) shopping mall. Air-con 22 bus or taxi (20 mins - about 120 baht).

    Emporium Mall, Phrom Phong Skytrain station.

    Pinklao shopping mall. South of the river and a short ride from Khao San road, Grand Palace, and Wat Arun.

    Another shopping mall few tourists go to at the end of 15 bus route. I catch bus from Saphan Taksin near Skytrain station, direction left when facing river.

    Chinatown has lots of shops, stalls and 2 big markets.

    Silom and Surowong night market (Sala Daeng on Skytrain), which also covers Patpong redlight district.

    Khao San road is full of stall and shops and is full of backpackers and tourists. An interesting area.

    And there are more.

    National Museum near Khao San road.

    Vimanmek museum just past the zoo on Rajavithi road (near Victory Monument.

    King Prajadhipok museum on Lan Luang road, also nerar Khao San road.

    Taxis are cheap and there are a few tourist offices about (one at junction of Silom and Rama IV road).

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