Ever been to a new place and felt like you want to stay there forever?
That’s exactly how I felt about Bangkok. Everything about Bangkok was in juxtaposition to the laid back, chilled Cape Town I am used to.
We arrived late on a Friday evening. Once exiting the huge airport, a gush of sticky heat hit me and I knew I was no longer home!
Read any travel forum or Bangkok post and the first thing anyone complains about is the horrendous traffic. The sheer volume of cars is ridiculous. It made our 20minute drive to the hotel take about 90 minutes. Our driver made it clear to us that he is not a tour guide, making the trip long and quiet.
Then the hotel! I love this hotel. We stayed at the Pathumwam Princess Hotel. It is a beautiful 5 star hotel but the best part of it is by far, is its location. It is attached to the MBK mall which is a super mall (Canal Walk doesn’t stand a chance compared to this place). The hotel rooms are clean and beautiful and the decor is modern. Everything from check-in to the check-out was smooth.
The huge heated pools and jacuzzi were heaven after long days of touring and shopping. Apparently they have a Olympic standard gym but you won’t find me near the gym when I’m on holiday. The buffet breakfast was diverse and ample- they have sufficient vegetarian items for those who can’t eat the meat. I don’t have a single complaint about the hotel….well, maybe one. One night we decided to have coffee at the hotel bar. I had a mocha which to a SAffer equates to a latte plus hot chocolate – but not in Thailand! I paid R50 for a tiny espresso with cocoa powder. It was so bad but I guess it was my fault for assuming that a mocha is a mocha on every continent.
I felt my first Earthquake tremor when I was on the 26th floor of the hotel. I literally felt the room swaying. I thought I had vertigo. It was a strange welcome to Bangkok.
The BTS (express trains) station is literally a 5 minute walk away which is perfect for a lazy traveler like myself. From the BTS you can practically visit all the most popular sites in Bangkok. It does take some research to navigate with the connecting MRT, Buses and the Chao Phraya express boats but that’s why I love TripAdvisor. Using the public transport is the best way to avoid getting ripped off by the terrible taxi drivers and to avoid the traffic.
It can take you days to get around the MBK mall. It is huge! Its a great starting point for anyone who wants to do some shopping in Bangkok as the prices are more a less standardized between stalls or shops which gives a good reference as it is so easy to get ripped off in markets if you are a foreigner thinking everything is a bargain.
Siam Square is just outside the MBK and it is a hipster’s dream. Ankle Biters and Iphones are everywhere. Its a great place to get unique pieces from new designers but they obviously more pricey than the markets (the JJ weekend market sells a lot of the same designer pieces at a cheaper price- Its a must see).
The Siam Paragon and CentralWorld are a short walk away. These are both very westernized malls. Once inside you can feel like you are in any major city in the world. All the usual high-end brands were there which didn’t interest me. Lets face it, I can’t afford Louis Vuitton in Rands or Baht.
I Highly recommend staying at the Pathumwam Princess, especially if you are are a first timer in Bangkok and even more so if you enjoy shopping. The location allows you to easily navigate the city and every taxi and tuk tuk knows where the MBK is so you just cannot get lost. It is very pricey though.
-Halaal note: Halaal food is not as easy to come by in Bangkok as it is in Phuket. The Fifth Food Avenue food court in the MBK mall has a couple of halaal stalls to keep you well fed for a few days.