First Day in Bangkok for First Time

May 8th, 2008, 10:53 AM
  #1  
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First Day in Bangkok for First Time

My husband and I will be traveling to Bangkok in October for the first time. I have reviewed many of the discussions on this forum, and just recently emailed Tong to see about getting a tour with her. We will be in Bangkok for 3 days, and I was thinking of spending 2 of them with Tong. I cannot decide, however, whether they should be the first 2 or the last 2. Part of me feels that we will be jet-lagged and we should spend the first day relaxing, getting Thai massages, going to a first fitting for suits (my husband wants some custom suits, if anybody has recs for that), and seeing some sites that we could see on our own very leisurely (any recs. for those would be great too). But, another part of me feels we will be really excited and want to hit the ground running. Any thoughts on this?
I also have another concern. I would love to use public transportation, how difficult is that? I realize there are posts on this, but my specific question is, are there signs in English to guide you? Are the transit maps in the train in English as well? I just don't want to get lost and not be able to read any signs.

Thanks!!!
Angie525 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 11:32 AM
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Public transport in Bangkok is not a problem. Both the skytrain and the MRT (subway) have signage and maps in English. Their announcements are made in Thai and in English as well.

I have never toured with Tong (but I've met her, she's a sweetheart). My gut feeling is to allow yourself time to relax that first full day. Your idea of massages and fittings is good.

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 11:38 AM
  #3  
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Thanks Carol! Do you have any other suggestions for must-sees/must-dos for a first-time Bangkok tourist.

I appreciate your help with this.
Angie525 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 11:45 AM
  #4  
 
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I just made my 13th trip to Bangkok and returned only days ago. I'm still seeing things that I've not seen before. It took me until my 10th or 11th trip to make it to the "top" sights, so I might not be the best one to tell you what is a must-see... haha

The Grand Palace is of course number one. Next would be Wat Po, and Wat Arun (these three are clustered together so easy to do in one day). Many of us enjoy a klong tour (that means a boat ride on a longtail boat, going into the smaller canals). The Jim Thompson house is a nice place also.

Others will chime in here with more ideas for you. Many here have toured with Tong and can suggest what to do/see with and without her.

Carol
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May 8th, 2008, 11:56 AM
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Where are you coming from? If you've flown from the US or Canada, I'd recommend a more leisurely day for the first day. I'd recommend massages, perhaps a bit of shopping and a trip to the Jim Thompson House.

Public transport - the Skytrain - is easy to use. Ther is English signage and English announcements and maps are available in English. The water taxis are a bit trickier - you need to know which color flag boat you want and need to know the stop you are going to. There are large signs explaining this at a number of the stops.

Many people you encounter will speak some English, some will speak excellent English. They will be glad to help.
Kathie is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 12:36 PM
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We are coming from the U.S. So, I suppose it would be better to rest/take it leisurely the first day and then do more of the tours on the second and third days. Are most things accesible by the Skytrain? So, you think the Jim Thompson house is something we can easily see on our own/get to by Skytrain without a guide? Because then we can not waste time on it with Tong (assuming she writes me back and has availability).

Thanks to you both!! I really appreciate it, not only is it our first time to Bangkok, it's our first time to Asia.
Angie525 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 12:57 PM
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Public transportation couldn't be easier. I have no problem figuring it out in BKK, but when I visit friends in N.Y. I get a big headache trying to figure it out. So, just use the skytrain. Get a Nancy Chandler map, before you leave, and go over it. nancychandler.net. With a combo of skytrain, taxis, and riverboats, you can go to all of the Bangkok sites. I prefer skytrain over taxis as taxi drivers can be a headache from time to time. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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The Jim Thompson is very easy to tour without Tong. Once you get to Bangkok (where are you staying???) you will easily find out about the skytrain and the stations. The J T House is located very close to the National Stadium (MBK) station, so yes, skytrain is the best way to get there!

Carol
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May 8th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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The Jim Thompson House even supplies you with a guide. If you want to tour with Tong that's fine, many people like it. But you could easily do all of the in Bangkok things on your own (Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha, Wat Po, JT House, etc). Having a car and driver or a guide is most helpful when you are going to out of town places. This isn't to discourage you from using Tong, but to let you knoe that Bangkok is easy to get around and do things on your own.
Kathie is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 03:21 PM
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I have not booked my hotel yet, but am thinking I will stay at the Peninsula. Is that a good spot? We have definitely done cities on our own and with guides, and find that with a guide, you tend to get information about the spots and the history that you might not get on your own. With this in mind, and that you said we could do a lot on our own, how long do you think we should go with Tong for? 1 or 2 days or maybe 1/2 day for 2 days so we have time to explore on our own? Thanks again, you guys are great.
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May 8th, 2008, 03:24 PM
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Angie-
Since Tong offers so many experiences outside BKK that you wouldn't find on your own, and since transportation in BKK is so easy with the express boats, Skytrain and metered taxis, I'd save Tong for the unusual and see the temples near the river on your own. Ditto Jim Thompson House. Have a great trip!
susncrg is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 03:45 PM
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Yes, the Peninsula is a good spot. It gets super reviews.

I'm of a different opinion than the others. Our theory is that on our first day in BKK, we're up early and getting active. We crash around 3:00 p.m., but it's a quick way to get over the jet lag. A massage on the first day feels great. You can call the Wat Pho School of Massage and arrange it.
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May 8th, 2008, 05:10 PM
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jgg
 
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We just returned from our first trip to Asia last month. As everyone has said the skytrain is REALLY easy. If it works with Tong's schedule I would suggest first and third day with Tong and the middle day on your own. That allows you to head out with Tong when you are really excited, then have a slower day in between rather than two in a row. Tong likes to start early in the morning (6:30-7:00am).

With Tong I would suggest one day at the Floating Market and Tiger Temple and the next day at the Fishing Village. I would do the BKK stuff on your own (Grand Palace, Jim Thompson, Reclining Buddha, etc.)

Here is a link to my trip report with details and pictures of our days with Tong: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=35121993
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May 8th, 2008, 05:11 PM
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One more thing - we also stayed at the Peninsula - FABULOUS!! You can't go wrong there!
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May 8th, 2008, 06:18 PM
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Well, we only have 3 days in Bangkok, and JGG you suggested going with Tong to the floating market and tiger temple and one day to the fishing market. That would only leave us with 1 day in Bangkok proper, and I'm not sure if that would be enough to see the sites, get massage, and just enjoy the atmosphere of the city. What do you think? If we were just going to do 1 tour with Tong outside of the city, which one would you suggest, the floating market and tiger temple, or the fishing market? Can you tell me specifically why you would choose which one?

Gpanda, how do I contact the Wat Pho School of Massage to arrange massages? How does that work when you're staying in a hotel where they don't want you to get massages in the rooms? B/c I have read on this site that the Pen doesn't allow it? I looked at the Wat Pho School of Massage website and only saw classes offered, but no place where I could contact them to arrange a massage.

Thanks so much for helping me with this!! You guys are providing me invaluable advice, and I really appreciate it.
Angie525 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 06:40 PM
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Since you only have three days in Bangkok, I'd spend two in Bangkok and not more than one outside the city. Choose where you want to go. Some options include the Floating Market (people either love it or hate it), the "secret place", which is a fishing village and the Tiger Temple. Note that the tiger temple is quite a drive.

There have been mixed reports of whether the Pen allows outside masseuses. Also, note that the Wat Po masseuses only offer Thai massage. If you've never had Thai massage, know that it involves a lot of pushing, stretching and such and is rather "rough." One poster's girlfriend ended up with a neck injury which significantly impacted the rest of their trip. While such mishaps are rare, if you have any kind of back problem, old accident injury, etc, you will likely find that Thai massage exacerbates it. One of the advantages of going to a spa is that you will have a choice of massage types as well as other kinds of treatments.
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May 8th, 2008, 07:04 PM
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If you are into shopping and markets at all, then BKK is a real treasure! Do allow yourselves time to have a look. There are upscale malls and then there is MBK (lots of posts on this forum) and then there are street markets, Suan Lum Night Bazaar, and the Weekend Market (Chatuchak). Each has its own special features.

The Peninsula is an excellent choice for your first time in BKK. I have stayed there twice. I am not a massage person so I cannot comment on whether you can have outside people coming into the Pen from Wat Po. Wat Po is the massage school. I had a food massage there, and it did the trick. I had sprained my ankle my very first day in Bangkok and opted for foot massage to get up and get going again. It worked!!!

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 07:07 PM
  #18  
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Thanks for the recommendation and the discussion about Thai massages. I may still try it because I feel like it's something you should do when you're in Thailand. But, my husband -- who is less adventurous than me -- will probably either pass completely or get something else done. Do you think it's better to see the floating market or the fishing village? I think we may do 1 day in the city with Tong and 1 day doing one or the other (the fishing village or the floating market), and then our third day relaxing, doing the massage and maybe shopping some. How does that sound?

Thanks again!!
Angie525 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 09:04 PM
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We did the floating market in the morning with the fishing village after that, and it worked well. It really depends on what you want to see. The fishing village is a totally different experience and not another tourist will be there. You will have a great lunch prepared for you by the local family and likely see lots of monkeys. It's very scenic.

But if you're more of a big city person, there's tons to see in BKK. The tiger temple is quite a long drive and with only 3 days I wouldn't want to lose that much time in the car.
susncrg is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 09:08 PM
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Oops! I forgot to say that you can always get a great foot massage in many places and it would give you a taste of Thai massage and not take up too much of your time. If your husband is not the full massage type, he might go for this (it also includes a little back and shoulder massage).

Peninsula is a great hotel too.
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