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What Makes Bangkok Magical to You?

Old Apr 7th, 2013, 02:58 PM
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What Makes Bangkok Magical to You?

My husband and I (in our mid-50s) are returning to Bangkok in July. We were in Thailand in 2010 and loved it, but we somehow felt we didn’t do Bangkok right. We are city people (we live in NYC), and think the only way to get to know a city is to truly experience it: the way the locals live, eat, the quirky neighborhoods and hidden gems. We know many of you on this board consider Bangkok to be one of the great cities of the world. So, my question is, what is it that you find magical about Bangkok, and what should we do, over the course of four full days, to discover that magic? To clarify, I pretty much exclude typical tourist destinations (we’ve been to the Grand Palace, Jim Thompson House, Saturday market, fishing village, floating market). These are fine, but not what I am looking for, just as Times Square and the Empire State Building are not, to me, what make New York magical.. What are the neighborhoods, the boat rides, restaurants and walks we cannot miss? Where is the street life that we can’t get anywhere else? What is it that you miss most when you leave?
Really looking forward to hearing what you suggest!
Sue and Bob
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 04:02 PM
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its really a combo of many things: fantastic shopping both in local markets like pratinum or platinum fashion mall, or alleys that service a certain industry like monk bowls... its wonderful food from all over the world (we don't do street food).. its the people we meet in restaurants, shop keepers, service people... its the wonderful river and klongs... its the lux of tea at the peninsula, dim sum at liu, chicken cashew at tongue thai, fried morning glories at harmonique, etc...
its people watching at paragon, asiatique, the oriental, the skytrain...
its the wonderful bkk airport..
its the amazing beaches and beach resorts..
its 5* lux at a 3* price...
its meeting a hanuman, tong, ratt, porn and others
its watching a 90 y.o. western man with oxygen, arm in arm with a 20 y.o. thai girl on soi 4.
its ladyboys

NO WALKS

its the huge pics of the king and queen everyplace as well as the king's pic in every business
its custom clothing for the price of off the rack or less
its everyone's attitude of being the very best at what they are doing, no matter whether it is the CEO or janitor

its being able to put up with me and humor me...

its relaxing in the back of a cab stuck in traffic for an hour and the price is less than $5, and not getting stressed one bit..

its doing things you have done before like visiting the JT house and enjoying it even more the 2nd or 5th time..

its visiting an orphanage and all that envolves..

its the monkeys, the elephants, the greenery floating in the river, the river traffic, swimming pools, places like prasart museum...
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 04:55 PM
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Staying on the river and using the water taxis to get places.

Riding the Skytrain

(As you can tell, we like using local public transport. While we use taxis when most convenient, we always prefer water taxis and skytrain)

We love the wats and visit a new one or two each time. Once you get away from the big 4 or 5, you're unlikely to encounter any westerners.

Wandering through Chinatown and other atmospheric areas (unlike Bob, we do walk, though sticking to the shade when possible). Many of the sois off of Sukhumvit are interesting walks, as the area around Wat Saket.

The fabulous Thai food!

Meeting up with old and new friends.

Shopping at favorite places - we always enjoy the JT outlets, though we don't always find things to buy, and we enjoy the high-end arts and crafts places.
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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RHK above has summed it up well. I can add some additional perspective but first I'll say that Bangkok is more like LA than NYC. And it has changed a lot since our first visit 13 years ago, especially prices (but it is still quite reasonable). We appreciate that it is warm (or HOT!) but while our first visit was in July, we now go in the fall or winter. We love the people, the smiles and the service. Get RHK's restaurant list - awesome cuisine from all over, not just Thai. This is the place to get clothing custom-made with fine fabrics at great prices. Do a klong tour, visit the Vimanmek Palace, the Prasart Museum (mentioned above), take a Thai cooking class, see the Siam Ocean World aquarium at Siam Paragon, and shop for crafts at Narai Phand beneath the Intercontinental Hotel...
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 06:11 PM
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We love the 5 star hotels at 3 star prices. We love taking the hotel boats across the river and then riding the sky train. Having a 2 hour massage at your hotel for $25! Great breakfast buffets and checking out the weekend market.
And of course the friendly Thai people always helpful always smiling.
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Old Apr 7th, 2013, 10:56 PM
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What makes it magical to me is the chaotic craziness, yet there's still a weird calmness.

Happy Travels!
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 06:04 AM
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For me it is the people. I have made countless friends over the years, and what draws me back is seeing all of them again and again. Period. I am not a tourist in a lot of respects. I did not visit the Grand Palace until my eleventh time to the city! I have to give my son credit for introducing me to the city twelve years ago, and I will make trip #31 one week from now.

That said, the shopping at Platinum Fashion Mall and in Pratunam market and the weekend market is truly unique.
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 08:23 AM
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Hi Sue,

Here are some places I have really enjoyed….check whether they will work for you too…

1. Flow House Bangkok -it is a Game/Entertainment centre.

2. Boat dinner in Chao Phraya River

3. Bungsamran Fishing Park – Have fun with fishing

4. Lumpinee Boxing Stadium – I don’t know why Thais are crazy about boxing…But this is one place you can see some action. Betting also available if you are interested. Make sure you don’t get caught to crooks.

5. Chinatown - Bangkok – Nothing much…but can visit and see..you will be able to get some different tea and spices.

6. Benjasiri Park – If you want to sit and relax.

7. AIS 4DX Theater – I don’t know whether you get 4-D movies in your country. If not better to try this off. But make sure that 4-D movies are available where it is not there every day.

8. Soi Cowboy – Different ! check this out !

9. Seven Spoons Bar and Restaurant – Try this place…whenever I visit Bangkok I don’t miss this place even with a busy schedule.

10. OPUS Wine Bar – This place is very very cozy. Take BTS to Surasak and it is walking distance from there. You would love this place. Just take my word for it.

Hope this would help….enjoy !!!

-Sunny
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 09:59 AM
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I was really interested in the replies to this thread, since I keep winding up in Bangkok when I'm in Asia, and as some of you know, I still am not charmed by it. But to summarize the responses to date - shopping, shopping, shopping, food, luxury hotels, people. I don't shop, I can eat very well in other places in Asia (and if I'm in Bangkok I want to eat Thai), and I don't stay in luxury hotels. Still awaiting replies that will outweigh the heat, the humidity, the pollution and the traffic. (Sorry, fishing and boxing are not it either!)
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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Hmmmm- based on that last reply maybe Bangkok is really not your cup of tea- give Lonely Planet a try and see if they suit your interests.
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 01:08 PM
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ok, thursday, tell us what you might like that would entice you to enjoy a place and return to it often...?
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 01:09 PM
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Plenty of culture in Bangkok,wonderful people, great food. I love the jarring reality of east meets west, high end meets slum. Chaos and order
Thursdaysd sounds like you should change your flight schedule!
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 01:28 PM
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Thai traditional massage school, towards the back of Wat Po., where I have had the best massage possible.
The full body, and foot massage had on the mattresses or chairs, in the rooms full of people, both locals and tourists.
This is a highlight of my trips to Bangkok.
The weekend market, early in the morning, where I find the unexpected in each area and soi.It isn't for the just for the shopping but rather for the whole experience.
And the river taxis with the breeze in my hair, and the spray of water, making it the cheapest and most enjoyable river trip, especially if I go to an indefinite and further away destination. A wonderful to leave the tourist sites and se a little of the life of the local people.
Chinatown and at certain times the seeming impossibility of ever getting across the roads teaming with traffic.
Truly Bangkok is a must visit whenever I am in the East.
Marymai
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 01:47 PM
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BillT - since when is Lonely Planet a place???

Bob - temperate climate, interesting architecture (extra points for Art Nouveau), good food and wine and coffee, good museums (not modern art and arts and crafts rather than paintings), enjoyable place to wander around on foot, also good scenery - mountains, lakes, waterfalls but not relevant to cities.

Asian places I've fallen for - Luang Prabang, and trip up river from there to Green River, Phnom Penh, Battambang, Hanoi, Hue, area south of Kunming, area outside Lijiang, Beijing, Chengdu, much of Myanmar, K.L., Japan aside from Tokyo, Tainan.....
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Old Apr 8th, 2013, 04:06 PM
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There's no law that says you have to love Bangkok. If you don't, maybe you should try looking for flights via other gateways cities, or just heading out of the city as fast as you can.
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Old Apr 9th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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lcuy - I don't have a problem with not loving Bangkok, but every so often I'm reminded that there are a number of people here who do love it, and wonder if I'm missing something. But it always seems to net out to shopping, food and hotels.
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Old Apr 9th, 2013, 12:17 PM
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and what's wrong with that??? it's about travel today... some people want or need to be comfortable, eat well (no street food for sanitary reasons), and who doesn't like a bargain when shopping or finding interesting items to enhance one's life and home..

these same people visit historic and religious sites, meet locals, visit museums, etc...

please don't be so critical..
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Old Apr 9th, 2013, 12:40 PM
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Saying that I don't care to shop is "so critical"? Defensive, much? I have more "stuff" than I need already, in fact I need to get rid of a bunch prior to renovating my house and moving. I can eat well and sleep comfortably in many places, I don't have to go to Bangkok for that.
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Old Apr 9th, 2013, 01:29 PM
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I agree with Thursdayd, I lived there for a while and I really don't feel a need to go back. The Thai people are really great, but I have little interest in shopping and I can get great Thai food where I currently live.

I also find Thai Air to be sub standard compared to Singapore, Cathay etc in all classes, so unless its a knockout price, I use other airlines to get to Europe
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Old Apr 9th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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Fortunately, we all like different things.
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