Therese Trips: Bangkok, January 2010

Jan 24th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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Therese Trips: Bangkok, January 2010

This thread covers the third segment of my January 2010 trip to Asia. Earlier stops were Japan and Singapore, and they will be covered in separate threads.

By way of introduction, I'm female, professional, married with two teenage kids. Because my husband doesn't particularly enjoy travelling I often take off on my own (or with the kids if they're not in school, or with friends if any are available), and have come to enjoy the flexibility that comes with solo travel. I keep things easy by traveling with relatively minimal luggage, and plan ahead to as to make sure that I've got nice, reasonably priced lodgings. I take advantage of Fodor's as well as other on-line resources like FlyerTalk, and have found these and similar resources to be very helpful, so thanks to all of you for contributing. If I leave out some detail that you might find helpful please feel free to ask for more information.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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Bangkok: Getting There

I flew AirAsia from Singapore to Bangkok on a Monday, mid-morning. I booked the flight on line (well in advance and without any problems) and went ahead and paid to check a bag (up to 15 kg) and for the privilege of priority seating (which they call a "hot seat", I believe). It was still unbelievably inexpensive. Boarding went smoothly. I'd chosen a bulkhead aisle seat and the two seats next to me were occupied by a Russian couple. As the first five rows of the flight were reserved for hot seat passengers and there were only perhaps ten people total who'd paid for the privilege I asked if I could switch seats and so got a row of three seats to myself. The flight departed and arrived on time. Very, very pleasant experience.

Immigration, baggage claim, and customs were all easy and speedy. No problems using my card at an airport ATM. I made my way to the taxi meter queue and was assigned a driver. There's a 50 baht fee for using this service and the driver went to some pains to make sure that I understood that the fee was on top of the meter (which I knew, and reassured him) and he asked if I'd like to take the highway and I again assured him that I'd pay the tolls. We made good time and my fare to the Bangrak area was 275 baht + 50 baht + tolls.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Bangkok: Staying There

I tend to choose lodging based on proximity to public transportation, value, and comfort. I tend not to pick true luxury properties as they tend to lack things that I want: unlimited internet access, laundry facilities, etc. Centre Point Silom ended up being a really terrific option for me, as it was a very short walk to both the BTS SkyTrain and the central boat pier (served by both the hotel ferries and the water bus). I booked on Agoda (again, well in advance) and specifically asked for a room with a view of the river (the hotel's just behind the Shangri La, so similar views). Check-in was easy and my request for a river view was honored.

The room itself was very large, with a king size bed, sliding doors onto a balcony, bathroom with separate tub and shower (shower enormous---I could have hosted a small dinner party). Wooden floors, decor mostly white, nice closet and storage space, in-room safe for valuables. Units at Centre Point properties typically have kitchens, and mine featured a full size fridge with freezer, two hob cooker, microwave, and washer/dryer combination (Italian---who'd have though that knowing Italian would come in so handy in Bangkok?).

Wifi and breakfast were both included. The breakfast buffet was large and varied, and changed daily. Made-to-order omelets and other egg items, dim sum, fruit, salad, congee, pastries, juices, hot beverages (including soy milk with things like basil seeds and tapioca pearls to add), curries, breakfast meats (including pork-free items), cold cereal, and dried fruits. Oh, and baked beans, because there are people in the world who like baked beans for breakfast. I'm not one of them.

Centre Point Silom is located on top of a Robinson's department store, so very convenient if you've forgotten to pack enough underwear or whatever. The basement features a Tops supermarket and several restaurants as well as a small food court and take-away vendors. The area immediately surrounding the hotel at street level features many, many food vendors as well.

The restaurant serves lunch and dinner as well as breakfast, and there's also room service. There's a nice pool and a fitness center, neither of which I used. Laundry service is available for a fee, and there's a beauty salon on premises. Staff extremely pleasant and helpful.

Altogether a great property from my perspective. I can't recall now what I paid, but likely under US$100/night. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 07:41 AM
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great start....now what did you do in bkk
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Jan 24th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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Bangkok: Getting There (more info)

I forgot to pont out upthread that I'd specifically paid to check a bag on AirAsia because their carry on policy limits you to 7 kg, a limit which even I find daunting (particularly given that this was a 23 day trip in two entirely different climates). But as it turns out that 7 kg limit is more of a suggestion: most passengers had bags that clearly exceeded the limit, and many had several bags that likely would have been denied on US mainline carriers. As the fee was small and there was little risk of my bag being lost I didn't let it bother me.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 11:33 AM
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Bangkok: What I Did There

I'll preface my day-by-day description of my time in Bangkok by pointing out that I am probably the world's worst tourist. I'll set out to see something famous and get distracted or lost or just decide hat I'd rather have a drink instead and that's the end of my touring. I still enjoy myself, though, and probably get more out of my detours than I would have from my original plans, so once again just don't let it bother me.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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Day 1: Getting My Priorities Straight

By the time I'd unpacked and taken a little tour of the hotel it was already about 3 o' clock, so I set out for my first destination: Cotton House. Cotton House is one of the many, many tailors/dressmakers in this neighborhood, and it gets high marks from more than one credible source here at Fodor's and elsewhere. I have always wanted to have clothes custom made: the idea of a dress in a particular style, made in a particular fabric and color, to my exact measurements is the stuff of fantasy for me. With this in mind I'd brought along a favorite dress to have copied. Said dress was originally purchased at The Gap, so hardly a high end garment, but the cut is flattering to my body type.

So I decided on two fabrics, a moss green cotton and a watermelon washable silk, and detailed measurements were taken, and I was instructed to return the next afternoon at five.

By the time I left Cotton House the streets in the area had become very crowded with teenagers who'd gotten out of the various schools in the area. All of them wore some sort of modestly-cut school uniform and most of them were enjoying some sort of snack purchased from one of the sidewalk vendors.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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you did not say where you are staying??

what is cotton house charging for a dress these days?
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Jan 24th, 2010, 01:04 PM
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Centre Point Silom was where I stayed in Bangkok.

The cotton dress was 3000 baht and the silk dress was 4000 baht.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 03:23 PM
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Therese

Your style of travels agrees with me, completely! I prefer no planning (or very little planning) ahead of time, and I will definitely get sidetracked on the way to a tourist spot! I didn't go to the Grand Palace in BKK until my 11th trip!

Centre Point is a good hotel option, as far as ease of getting to transportation and dining options. Glad it worked out for you. I have not stayed there, preferring to be in the Sukhumvit area in the city instead.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 03:28 PM
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sorry... you did say CP silom.. my mistake

good buys on the dresses and they fit like a glove i bet
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Jan 25th, 2010, 02:37 AM
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Therese: Thanks for posting. The hotel looks really good and you make a good point about the fact that luxury hotels do not often offer the convenience of internet and laundry. the hotel pools looks really good and I have marked CPS for the future.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 12:26 PM
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I'm not much of a shopper, Carol, so Sukhumvit isn't as appealing to me (though of course I did do some shopping in the end). I liked the idea of being close to the river specifically because I wanted to use boats to get around as much as possible. I had a great view of the river from my room, and a have a great morning shot of the river, looking south, with the SkyTrain and traffic-clogged Taksin bridge in the foreground.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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Day 1: Beer, and why it's harder to get in Bangkok than you might think

Having finished my business at Cotton House I headed back to the hotel. By this time it was full-on rush hour, with sidewalks packed with food vendors on both sides and packs of hungry school children still clogging things up. The sidewalks in this area actually have railings, which presumably serve to keep people from jaywalking (and traffic running more smoothly) but also come in handy when for keeping people from being pushed into traffic. Everybody is polite, and there's no shoving or testy attitude, it's just crowded. The locals are remarkably tolerant of gawping, slow-moving tourists.

I stopped at a 7-11 a couple of blocks from the hotel to purchase some baby powder and beer, figuring that I'd relax (with the beer; the baby powder does not figure into the question of relaxing) in my room for an hour or so before heading out for dinner. A couple of young Italian women had the same idea, but unlike me neglected to notice the sign on the fridge pointing out that no alcohol could be sold between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00 PM. So when they got to the cash register they got to hear the bad news from the cashier.

So instead of relaxing I headed to the Robinson's that's located below the hotel to see how similar it might be to the Robinson's in Singapore, and as it turns out they had some reasonably priced shoes and I bought a couple pair of sandals (so maybe I do like to shop after all, Carol).

And by this time it was getting to be dinner, so I headed downstairs to the supermarket/food area to see about getting some takeaway (and a beer from the supermarket, as it was now after 5:00), but instead ended up at a restaurant, along with hordes of locals. The restaurant was part of a chain called MK Restaurant and it specializes in something called suki. It's the Thai version of sukiyaki/shabu shabu: you order raw ingredients and cook them in a pot of boiling broth on your table. Fun and very healthy, as it's a small amount of lean meat and a large amount of vegetables. So you don't feel the least bit guilty about drinking an entire large Singha on your own.

Early to bed.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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As Bangkok is my favorite city, I'm enjoying following along with you. Quite a number of Fodorites have loved the Centrepoint Silom and it sounds like it was just perfect for you!
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Jan 25th, 2010, 01:50 PM
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Centre Point Silom worked out very nicely for me. I never did use the pool even though it looked quite nice, as I'm very fair-skinned.

Here's my recipe for getting a tan in Bangkok:

(1) Apply SPF 50 to all sun-exposed skin.

(2) Keep to the shade.

(3) Use a parasol at any time you're not in complete shade.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 01:59 PM
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Another way we are alike: keep to the shade, use sunscreen. I'm never in BKK or the beaches, for that matter, to work on a tan. That's the farthest thing from my mind!

I'll have to take a closer look at Centre Point. Maybe for a summertime trip? April will no doubt be back at soi 8 at the Adelphi Suites.

Enjoying your report.

Carol
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Jan 25th, 2010, 02:11 PM
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Therese
I just looked at CP on Agoda. They are saying that there is no coffee maker in the room. Is that true? If so, I won't even consider staying there! Gotta have my cuppa coffee in the morning, before getting dressed!!! Other than that, it looks nice, but priced a bit higher than my fave, Adelphi.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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they have kitchens... i'm sure there is a coffee maker..
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Jan 25th, 2010, 07:29 PM
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Come to think of it I don't remember seeing a coffee maker in the kitchen. Great electric hot water kettle? Yes. Toaster? Yes. Cutlery, dishes, pots and pans, knives and other coking utensils? Yes. But no actual coffee maker.

As it turns out I drink coffee very rarely and don't even necessarily drink tea in the morning, so not a deal breaker for me. My husband drinks coffee but prefers to make it with a melitta filter so when our last fancy coffee maker (that I'd given him as a gift) gave up the ghost we didn't replace it.

If you didn't mind showing the world your not-very-groomed and unbathed morning self (and I certainly don't) you could just go ahead on down for breakfast, where both brewed coffee and tea are available. Or you could make yourself endless cappucinos with their groovy coffee-to-order machines. There was also a hot beverage set up in the ground floor reception area that seemed to always be available, as well as bananas. And I gather that some sort of afternoon food spread was laid out but I was never there to enjoy it.

I was thrilled to have hot sweet soy milk with basil seeds, but then I like pretty weird food.
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