Bangkok using the Skytrain

Old Nov 5th, 2008, 08:55 PM
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Bangkok using the Skytrain

Hi, I have, in the past few months, read just about every post that has come up about Bangkok, plus "back-tracking" through searches that went to 1999. There are many posts recommending using a guide/driver to see the various sites--but investigation seems to point to 8-10 hour days.

Others seem to think that it is possible to see the "in Bangkok" sites, using public transportation. Mainly the Skytrain. Our tour offers some optionals, but some are "far flung" and others seem spendy for the amount of benefit.
Is it possible to get Day Passes for the Skytrain?

We will be on a commercial tour and have an orientation tour/visit to some of the Wats and temples. But we have 2 1/2 days to "do our own thing" and are leaning toward trying to do as much as we can via public transportation. Is this even feasible? Mainly we want to see the Grand Palace and environs, Jim Thompson House, perhaps Face for a massage, and other "minor" temples, maybe a riverboat cruise. Our hotel is near the Victory Monument stop for the Skytrain, so it is tempting to use it. We will be in Bangkok in mid-February.

Thanks for any comments. Ciao. mhm

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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 09:36 PM
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I'm not a fan of using guides in Bangkok. We do all the things we want to do using the water taxis and the skytrain. Doing it on your own will help you fell like you know Bangkok - going with a guide often makes people feel they can't do it on their own. Bangkok is an easy and delightful do it yourself city.

Since you are near Victory monument, you won't be able to take the water taxis to the main wats. You'll need to use taxis from time to time. But since the water taxis are such a Bangkok experience, I'd recommend that you take a water taxi when you leave the Grand Palace/Wat Po to Taksim, the stop at the Skytrain station.

There are day passes for the Skytrain, but I'd recommend a stored value card instead. For instance, we bought stored value cards with 400 baht each on them and we used all but 25 baht during our week-long stay.

Buy yourself a Nancy Chandler Map - the little book that goes with it gives the Skytrain stops for locations near the line.
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 10:49 PM
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Hi mercy:
It's so easy. Really. I can sense your nervousness and I had that. But if my words can soothe your fears...

It's e-e-e-asy.

It's SO easy you'll want to go on them everywhere, just to show yourself you've conquered your fear. Even Dogster, who can get lost and confused in a MacDonalds managed to master them in a milli-second. Remember - all you have to do is stand and look confused. Ask someone. There are attendants and people everywhere, leave aside the perfectly friendly Thais. It's a breeze. So just rel-a-a-a-x on that.

Kathie's advice of a pre-paid ticket is good. But they're cheap. You can just grab a ticket easy at any station.

To me in BKK taxis are more of an issue - but that's another story.

Go Skytrain. Go-o-o-o Skytrain. The only thing to fear is fear itself. One try and you'll be hooked. Easy peasy, puddin' and pie...

go mercy GO! Do it yourself. This board will hold your hand every step of the way. There are some serious BKK experts in here.

Yes, you CAN!
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Old Nov 5th, 2008, 10:58 PM
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lol. I meant to say 'LET ALONE the perfectly friendly Thais.'

I'd never suggest you leave them aside. That'd be your great loss.
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 01:14 AM
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For the most part I would say you donít need a guide, but a driver may be helpful in some cases, which I will discuss further below. But first, you should ask, if you donít already know, where your commercial tour is going. I would be knocked off my feet if your tour did not include the Grand Palace and environs like Wat Po. Those are probably the first places on the tour. It may well also include the Golden Mount temple and then a boat cruise to the floating markets and maybe the royal barges. Once you know where you are going (and where you are not), you can then determine where you might want to go on your own and whether a guide is necessary. You may, for example, want to go back and spend more time at the Grand Palace, for which you could always get a guide AT the palace, or from your hotel, you donít necessarily need a driver/guide just for that. A good guidebook, like the DK/Eyewitness Guide, has wonderful cutaway drawings of sites and good explanations and frankly can be as good or better than a guide, esp for a second trip.

The National Museum is excellent and I highly recommend it, and they have guided tours or you can tour the collections on your own, so you donít need a guide for that. You can use a taxi or public transport to get to it; it actually should not be too far from your hotel if you are near the Victory Monument.

For ďminorĒ temples, I am not sure that a guide may know much more of the history than YOU would by reading guidebooks, as well as a culture book of Thailand that will explain the typical layout of a temple and what you may see going on in terms of worship. These types of books may be more helpful to you than a guide, who may not have any formal training in any event.

For Jim Thompson, you have to use the house guides, so you donít need a guide, but having a driver take you there is fine if you want to use that as part perhaps of a day going to other places that require a car. Otherwise, you can use public transport or a taxi. The Weekend Market (an absolute hoot) does not require a guide (but the Nancy Chandler map is invaluable, I assume you have the link, but let me know if you need it). You can take the subway, but if you think you will be buying a lot, you can use a car and driver, or just take a taxi back.

If you are not attending a Thai boxing event with the tour, you can do that. I would not bother with a guide, just sit next to a Thai and ask them to explain (of course you need an English speaker, but that should not be too difficult to find in my experience).

Since you have 2.5 days you night also want to consider the day trips to Ayyuthia and the Kingís summer palace which includes a nice long boat trip down the river on the return; I think this is a very interesting trip and a good way to see the river. Again, you donít need a guide as guides are provided (although again reading up on Ayyuthia would be helpful.) This is an excursion that is worth the price, IMO, and I rarely take organized tours.

I would not take a riverboat cruise, other than the Ayyuthia trip I mentioned, or dinner on a very small boat like the lovely converted rich barge the Manohra Song (operated by the Marriott Riverside). Otherwise, just take the very fun, very scenic, and very cheap public water buses. Same view as the river cruises. You can go quite a way down the river, get off and explore and then go back. Also, even though you are not a guest at the river hotels, you can hop on and use their free shuttle boats, no one will think to question you. The Marriott Riverside one is a good one to take from the River City Shopping Centre or the skytrain stop down to their hotel, as it is quite a long ride. The hotel has a nice pool area for lunch or a snack (or get a massage poolside), and then hop the boat back. There is an OK shopping arcade at the hotel too, and there is a McDonalds, pizza place and a Swensonís Ice Cream if you want that.
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 08:06 AM
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Thanks for the great responses. In answer to a question about the orientation tour--Wat Trimitr, Wat Po, and the White Temple are listed. We will consider taxis but would like the Skytrain experience.

I have several guide books (including the DK) and have printed out many suggestions from this BB.

Kathie, do you know if the Nancy C map is available in any Seattle bookstore--I will be in SEA in January? ---Although it sounds as if it may be easy to get it once in BKK. However, having it pre-trip would be my preference, so may order it.

Any more suggestions, comments are cenrtainly welcome. Ciao! mhm
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 10:16 AM
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for me the issues whether to have a guide or not is one of time....some of the sites are close to one another and some are not....a guide/driver assists with getting you from one place to another with minimum of hastle....for instance taxi drivers near to GP are very difficult to deal with...

you have limited time so that makes you time precious....its hot and humid and you would make mistakes on your own....the skytrain is not near to most sites...

i use a combo of skytrain and taxis...but i know my way around...

bkk is a bit confusing so knowing which direction you need to go in can be difficult...the heat adds to this confusion..

a driver/guide for one full day for you could be very helpful for in town sites..
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Old Nov 6th, 2008, 03:59 PM
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mercy, If anywhere in Seattle has the Nancy Chandler map, it would be Wide World Books in Wallingford. You can order it from nancychandler.net

It is easily available in Bangkok, but it would be nice to get oriented to the map before you get there.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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For the reasons Bob enumerates ... Get Ratt for your driver.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 09:48 AM
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the map is a big help in many ways and i suggest you buy it, but it can make things look very easy which in many ways they are not....it is not to scale so what looks like a 10 minute walk may turn into a nightmare 30+ minute walk...

for drivers/guides it is never too early to book as their time fills up very quickly
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 10:52 AM
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have you checked the official Bangkok skytrain site?

http://www.bts.co.th/en/index.asp

You can find a lot of information on routes, daypasses, etc. at this site.

If you take the skytrain (change trains at the chentral Siam stop) to the Saphan Taksin stop, you'll be near the Shangri-La hotel. Very close to the Krung Thep wing of the Shangri-la is one of the ferry stop piers (Just head for the river frm the skytrain stop). Taking the ferry is an easy way to a lot of the sights along the Chao Phraya River.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 11:02 AM
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You just walk down the stairs from the Skytrain and you're almost at the water taxi stop - just a short stroll to the dock - follow the crowd!
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 05:57 PM
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that would be the stairs towards the river...there are several stairways....continue in the direction that the train was moving to head towards the river...
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 07:17 PM
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Thanks for the various replies. I have contacted Cherry and Ratt and will see what develops. We are really just interested in a 1/2 day tour to some of the places not readily accessible--within Bangkok, tho. We will be hitting some of the out-of-Bangkok sites, as we travel north on our tour. We realize that we will not see everything. However, if I love it this time, I may be able to convince my husband to go with me next time.

Any more comments and/or suggestions are welcome. Thanks. Ciao!!mhm
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 07:22 PM
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don't remember your time constraints, but in a 1/2 day you will not accomplish much....for instance the grand palace and wat pho would consume that time easily
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