Bangkok Has It All
Written: Jan 5, 2000
a Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Sights, Food, Exotic Culture, Shopping
Cons:Traffic, Pollution and Suffocating Heat
Bangkok is a city easy to hate on first impressions, but give it a chance and you'll be richly rewarded. Yes, the traffic is the world's worst, and the heat and pollution are suffocating, but it's exotic, vibrant, and culturally rich. If you're just passing through on your way to or from Katmandu or going to the hilltribe rich north or dazzling waters of the south, give it at least two days.
If you have an early flight out, it's better to stay near the airport and take inexpensive taxis or buses into the heart of town for sightseeing. After you pass through immigration and go downstairs, go to the hotel phone bank and call, for example, the Quality Suites at 99-401-486. They're five minutes from the airport and the very reasonable rate includes roundtrip transfers, buffet breakfast, and a very clean, spacious suite for the price of a Motel Six in the U.S.! If you don't need to be by the airport, check your Lonely Planet guidebook for a wide range of choices.
If you go in July or August, keep a poncho in your daypack for those sudden cloudbursts, along with a good city map. Don't be afraid to venture out on your own. People are very helpful except for Tuk-Tuk drivers who want to steer you to certain shops to earn commissions. Be firm the them and just say, "No Thanks!" Of course, you'll have to visit the Grand Palace, Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn), Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha), and Jim Thompson's House. Remember to dress appropriately for the temples.
Also enjoy wandering through Chinatown off Yaowarat and Ratchawon Roads. Take a Chao Phraya River Express Boat just north of Krungthep Bridge at Tha Wat Ratchasingkhon to escape the traffic bedlam and see Bangkok life from another vantage point. If you stay on for the whole length, it takes 1 1/2 hours and runs every 15 minutes from 6am to 6pm.
If you love to shop and bargain and don't mind intense heat, visit the Chatuchak Market on Saturday or Sunday. You'll see everything from gemstone paintings, silk ties, great clothes, to endangered species and enjoy a great lunch. Just ask the hotel desk clerk which air-con bus to take to get there.
Of course, you'll have to check out the notorious PatPong district, which at first glance is a night market full of street stalls selling good-looking fake leather goods, watches and clothes but is also lines with bars brimming with young prostitutes.
There are so many other worthwhile sights. If you're adventurous, you'll love Bangkok. If not, stick to boring, sanitized Singapore when passing through the region!
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