Using a driver in Bangkok

Sep 2nd, 2004, 12:13 PM
  #1  
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Using a driver in Bangkok

Hi all:
I'm thinking about our trip (with three boys) to Bangkok this winter and wonder how much time those of you who use drivers use them for. I imagine taking public transportation - river taxis, taxis, even the dreaded tuk-tuk might be fun and interesting for us (especially the boys) at least for part of the time. Am I deranged? So my question is when do you use drivers and how do you decide when to use one vs getting there on your own more public steam?
annmcd is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 12:20 PM
  #2  
 
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You may want to give more info about where you are staying and your interests and how long you will be there. I think if you are in one of the river hotels- you certainly want to experience the river boats and ride the Sky train- however be careful with the taxis and the tuk tuks- they may take advantage of you if you do not know the ropes.
Having a driver will actually save you time and money so I would advise using Ratt for some of your time there.
BillT is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 12:40 PM
  #3  
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Hi BillT and thanks for replying. I am planning on using Ratt but just don't know how much time to book her for. We will be there for 2 full days with 2 travel days on either side at the beginning of the trip and then back for one evening and one full day before we leave. We are staying (thanks to all the great advice given here) at the Marriott resort for the first part and the Peninsula for the second (New Years Eve). This is our first visit so I'm sure we will want to see the big tourist sites, including a night of thai boxing, but since we have three boys, there is absolutely no shopping on the agenda!
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Sep 2nd, 2004, 12:48 PM
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Annmcd -- we can wave to each other across the river on New Year's Eve. I'll be at the Oriental.

This is the busiest time of the year in Bangkok so there will be a lot of tourists at the major sights -- I'd try to get to the biggies as soon as they open in the morning before the tour buses start to pile up. If you have limited time I would use Ratt for as much time as possible since she'll save you time. But have you booked her yet?
Because I have her from reserved from December 21 thru 25 and December 30 and 31.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 12:52 PM
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Gloria is right on- you need to get her booked for your time there. I would say use her to get you to all of the sights- atleast 4 hours in the mornings and maybe all day as your time is short.
BillT is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 02:07 PM
  #6  
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Glorialf:
So YOU are the person who already booked her over New Year's! That is too funny, We have her from the 19th to the 21st - thank goodness that part doesn't overlap! I shall definitely wave on New Year's Eve -we'd be at the Oriental if they didn't have that darn dress code!
annmcd is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 04:28 PM
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You can also bok Julie, wwwjuliestaxi.com in case Ratt is not available. The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Vimanmek are not accessible at all by BTS so suggest u see them all by taxi on the same day. Jim Thompsons house is actually very near a BTS stop.
hobbes is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:44 PM
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It sounds like I'm the only person on Fodors who never uses a driver in Bangkok. I like the flexibility of moving from one mode of transport to another. However, with three kids, you might well appreciate the convenience of a driver.
Kathie is online now  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:46 PM
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By no means. I've never used a driver in Bangkok, in Asia, or anywhere else, for that matter.
Spygirl is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:02 PM
  #10  
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Glad to hear the voices from the other side. One problem for us is that we are five so she needs to use her van which means she wants us to fill eight hours. That seems like a big committment of time, especially when I know the boys are going to want to come back to the hotel and swim in the middle of the day. Anyway, I think we'll split the difference and have her for two days and fend for ourselves on two days. Thanks as usual for all the insight.
annmcd is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:12 PM
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That sounds like a good plan-annmcd-I very much doubt whether your boys (or you either) would want to be couped up in a van every day being driven around-you lose touch with the local experience by doing that too much. Trying different modes of transportation-river boat, tuk-tuk-is part of experiencing the local culture, and you know your boys will find that way more interesting than being chauffeured around. I would advise taking the tuk-tuk during the day for only a very short period, if at all-the pollution is just too much, however, at night, it's not too bad, again for short periods of time. But using the public transportation river boats (not hiring a longtail boat) to go upriver to see the wats is something that I found quite fun, and for around 15 cents a head, you should consider doing that at least once as well.
Spygirl is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:35 PM
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let me see how i view this....i have only used a driver twice in bkk and that was on this last trip---our 6th time in bkk... having said that i do use tons of taxis....i have very little problem with them because my instructions are very specific..as are those of the door men from where i am leaving...

now you have a unique situation...you are 5...that is a problem because unless the kids are small then you will not fit in a standard taxi...for a short ride you would be ok, but not for a general sightseeing...

you will want some time on your own: to take the skytrain and then taxis (you can easily get two taxis---they are so cheap, especially if you are leaving the hotel or a building with a doorman)...

for your sightseeing you are best with the van as the sites are spread throughout the city....i disagree that this is the fastest---it is not, but it is the most relaxing, comfortable and easiest on the body....the skytrain is by far the fastest....you could easily go to the grand palace on your own using either a long tail boat, directly from the hotel pier (arranged by the hotel staff) or the chao pyra express...the dock is not far from the entrance to the palace..easy to do...

you will need breaks i am sure as the kids won't put up with constant motion and sightseeing without breaks...

if ratt is requiring 8 hours that is tough in my opinion...if you plan it real tightly and get the kids to buy into it in advance then it might work...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 04:55 AM
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annmcd-- I've stayed at the Oriental 18 times and have never had a problem with the dress code -- I think it's more for the "sightseers" which they are trying to cut down on since 9/11 as it makes security harder. I never wear shorts because I look awful in them but I have seen hundreds of people who are staying at the hotel wearing them along with all kinds of sandals. And I've sent at least 20 friends there and none of them have had a problem either. Now they might have a problem with ripped, dirty clothing but I've never seen a resident being hassled. Now I'm sure it's happened but in my experience it is the exception. I consider it the hotel experience of a lifetime and would never consider staying anywhere else. Well, actually I did try the Penn once and while it is fabulous I didn't think it could compare with the warmth and intimacy and service of the Oriental. On the other hand, the Penn has all kinds of high-tech stuff that might appeal to your sons more.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 05:04 AM
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I've also used all forms of transportation in Bangkok. This is the first time I'm using a driver as much but it's largely because of the person I'm travelling with whom I think will be far more comfortable in a car and periodically the skytrain and boats. I also think it's wonderful for getting to a lot of different places that are hard to get to in one day and is definitely better than taking a group tour when you go out of the city.

As for the 8 hours -- even if you only use her for 5 of them, you're only spending an extra few dollars. Seems to be well worth it.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 05:31 AM
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I agree woth Gloria- its worth it paying for 8 even if you only use 5 or 6.Do this- start early in the morning with Ratt- say 8 am. Do the temples/palaces/Wats until mid day. have Ratt drop you all off at the hotel for lunch and a swim and rest. Then have Ratt take you all out again for the remaining time.
Also be aware that if you are taking 2 taxis- there is no guarantee that both will wind up at the same destination in the same time frame- its a bit risky.
With a big group- 5 - I think using Ratt has a lot of benefits- do go on your own to experience the Skytrain and the river boats- but then use Ratt to cover a lot of ground going to all of the sights. With 5 people someone is going to want to go to the bathroon, someone will be thirsty, etc. etc. Ratt can handle these issues a lot better as she carries cold bottled water for everyone and can stop for rest stops whenever you need them.
BillT is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 05:40 AM
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Bill's right on target. That's exactly what you should do and book her now before someone else does.

BTW-- her husband sometimes does overflow clients. I actually have him one day. People on previous threads said he was fine but his English is not as good as her's is so if you end up using him one day I'd go to places where "commentary" might be less important.

Where else are you going besides Bangkok?
glorialf is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 06:29 AM
  #17  
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Thanks for all the input everyone. You guys are amazing. Bill T, you are of course right about the 8 hours, expense and the size of our group. Gloria, to answer your question, after four nights in Bangkok, we are going to Angkor for three nights, then to Khao Sok on a kayaking trip for two nights (Christmas Eve and Christmas!) and then...I just can't figure out the next four nights. My husband and kids want the beach and I have made some reservations, but I keep hankering to go to Chaing Rai. It just seems that the North will feel like nowhere else in the world while the beach, though beautiful, will be just another beautiful beach. Any thoughts on this very lovely dilemma to have?
annmcd is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 06:36 AM
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I'm absolutely with you -- go north. There are lovely beaches but there are lovely beaches in lots of different places a lot closer to home. The north is beautiful and "different" and if you want a resort atmosphere there are wonderful resorts in the area where those who want to just "hang out" can do so and those who want to do other things can do so. I love northern thailand and January is a wonderful time there.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 07:02 AM
  #19  
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Glad to find a kindred spirit (I just might have to see if the Oriental has availability on the 30th and 31st!). So if you were going to try and convince a husband and three boys - well, two, because the youngest, Eliot, can be bought off with the promise of an elephant ride - where in the north would you go for four or five nights? Chaing Mai sounds too touristy and shopping oriented. I already checked with the Anantara and they are booked and I'm not sure we need that kind of luxury anyway - we want luxury in Bangkok! Any ideas?
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Sep 3rd, 2004, 07:13 AM
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I'd try the Dusit Island Resort which was one of the first resorts in that area and while it definitely does not have the "charm" of some of the others, it is quite nice in an international way. It also has a lot of amenities which I never used but which your kids might enjoy. It's very near Chiang Rai which is a nice city and has a much less touristy night market than CM. It's also easy to get to some of the top sights in the area -- whether it be the Golden Triangle, local villages, the incredible botanical gardens (not to be missed), opium museum etc.

And I do hope you come across the river and join me at the Oriental.
glorialf is offline  

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