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Survival Guide To Shopping In BangkokSurvival Guide To Shopping In Bangkok Shopping in Bangkok is a ‘must do’ on any trip to Thailand. The place is a shopaholics dream city with many different shopping malls ranging from the sophisticated Emporium to the legendary Mah Boon...

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Bangkok River CruiseBangkok River Cruise A superb way to have a relaxing night off from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok would be to enjoy dinner on a Bangkok river cruise along the Chao Phraya river. But beware of the type of river cruise you...

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Andaman Dive Sites – Hin Daeng & Hin MuangAndaman Dive Sites – Hin Daeng & Hin Muang Two of the more popular dive sites in Thailand, Hin Daeng & Hin Muang are usually dived on the same day due to their close proximity to each other. In fact they are so close you can swim from one...

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Toy Thailand

Posted on : 01-02-2011 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Phuket

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I have been looking out for new videos using a technique called Tilt Shift. I’m not really sure how they do it but the end results are amazing. I came across this superb video by Joerg Daiber who uses Bangkok, Phuket, Tonsai and Railay as the backdrop.

Update: The video is no longer available on Vimeo.

Not a big fan of the music he used but I guess that’s what he imagined it all to be, serene and peaceful. I would have preferred a more active piece of music to portray the high levels of movement around energy in the video. Hope you enjoy this and share it on, it deserves it.

Survival Guide To Shopping In Bangkok

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Holidays To Thailand

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Shopping in Bangkok is a ‘must do’ on any trip to Thailand. The place is a shopaholics dream city with many MBK Shopping Bangkokdifferent shopping malls ranging from the sophisticated Emporium to the legendary Mah Boon Krong or MBK as its better known. The best thing about these malls is the transport between them can be so easy if you plan it right but the worst thing about them is you will never have enough time to visit them all on just one short trip, I mean the Central World mall has over 500,000sqm of retail space alone, but then again this is the biggest in Bangkok.

When you’ve had enough of shopping in the malls there are all those markets to get around as well. With over 15,000 stalls, the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market is the biggest outdoor market in the world I believe but I’ve not been to them all so correct me if I’m wrong here. Then you have your night markets in the Patpong area and floating markets at Damnoen Saduak to name just a few.

With so much shopping to do in such a short time it’s a good idea to be prepared. I’ve listed a few things that I think could help when shopping in Bangkok and also may help to make your shopping trip that bit easier.

Plan Your Shopping Trip – You should have a idea of how many days you will be in Bangkok so plan what days you want to go shopping. Early morning and late evenings are the best time to visit those markets with the temperatures and tourist numbers not yet peaked. Visit the air conditioned malls at the hottest time of the day for some lunch and leisure shopping. Its best to try and have an idea what you want to buy and plan where to get it, this will target focus your shopping in Bangkok instead of wandering about in the heat and humidity wondering where to go next.

Transport – Bangkok has a multitude of ways of getting around the city, tuk-tuk, taxis, Skytrain and underground are just some of them. Although very inexpensive public buses are best avoided, you will waste a lot of time trying to find the right bus. Taxis and tuk tuk’s are often your best method of transport in Bangkok but watch out for those that want to take you some where else first. Make sure before setting off the driver wants to take you to your destination without any detours. I have, more than once, been driven a few hundred meters and then got out because the driver changed his mind about the destination. Another thing to consider with your taxi and tuk tuk is the Bangkok traffic, it’s notoriously bad at certain times of the day and getting stuck in traffic won’t help your shopping plans.. The skytrain and underground are both air conditioned means of transport but unfortunately don’t cover all of Bangkok. If you can get either of these close to your final destination then walking a short distance may be the best plan at certain times of the day.

Opening Hours – Bangkok shops open anywhere between 9-10 am and stay open until around 8-10p six days a week, with Sunday closing. The biggest shopping malls however may still have some shops open on a Sunday but I wouldn’t advise planning any shopping for that day.

Comparing Prices & Haggling – Like other shopping trips you do, don’t just buy the first item you see. Shop about a little and check out what others have that item on sale for. If you are in a mall shop with a price tag save yourself the embarrassment and don’t try to haggle with the shop assistant. If getting a bargain is what you are after ask about a Tourist Discount Card or VAT refunds at the airport. The best place to try your haggling skills is on the street market stalls. Bartering, haggling or bargaining on stalls is very normal and indeed will be expected in most cases. The first price you get from a vendor will be marked up considerably and it is your job to try and get them down to a price that both you and they are happy with. There are many different ways to haggle and each person will have their own technique and it will develop the more you do it. In the high tourist areas like Patpong it would not be uncommon to offer a price less than half of the vendors asking price. Some points to remember when trying to get your item for a cheaper price is to treat it a bit like a game. Have fun with the vendor smile lots and be polite. Getting angry and shouting because they wont come done anymore on a price won’t help and in fact they may refuse to sell to you. If you are unhappy with the price thank them for their time, smile and walk away, if they really won’t come down any more they will let you go, but if they want that sale then maybe you have just won the game when they lower the price.

Safety – Bangkok is no different than any other major city when it comes to petty crime. Although you are on holiday to enjoy yourself don’t let your personal safety slip. Remember to keep you possession close by you and if in a crowded area don’t carry your rucksack or bag behind you. Pickpockets are common in busy areas so take care of your wallet and purse and always know where it is.

What To Wear – Bangkok is a hot and humid city all year round so what you wear to combat these conditions should be thought about carefully. Your first priority should be a good pair of walking shoes. The streets of Bangkok are not that easy to traverse, often resembling obstacle courses with exposed manholes, potholes, vendor carts, the odd beggar and garland maker. There is nothing faster than a broken toe to stop a shopping trip so although maybe cool and trendy sandals and reef shoes should be left in the hotel. Cool light weight cloths will help when outside but if you plan a full day in an air conditioned mall maybe something a little heavier would be best. Oh, and beach wear is never best in Bangkok except by your hotel pool. My first purchase when I arrive in Bangkok is always some bandanna’s and some wet wipes. These help freshen you up on a long shopping trip. Quick tip – keep the wet ones in the fridge if you can.

These are just some of my tips on how to make shopping in Bangkok easier than normal, there will be many more I’m sure. One thing I will say is that if you are traveling to Thailand with children then none of these tips will help easy the pain of shopping with children.

Bangkok River Cruise

Posted on : 13-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Holidays To Thailand

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A superb way to have a relaxing night off from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok would be to enjoy dinner on a Bangkok river cruise along the Chao Phraya river. But beware of the type of river cruise you are joining. Loy Nava Bangkok River CruiseEssential there are 2 kinds of river cruise in Bangkok, the one’s that have many people on board and dinner is a buffet style with a music after, and the ones that are more exclusive and have limited seats, your own table with table service and music as part of the meal.

Loy Nava is in the later category and I can strongly recommend it. This converted rice barge is made of sold teak and just drips in Asian traditions of wood carving and boat building. It is said to have been the first to start dinner cruises in Bangkok and maybe that is why the food is nice. Highly decorative and pleasing to the eye, to food is most definitely 5 star even if a little tempered to our western tastes so no real spice, but I have that complaint about most restaurants in Thailand that cater for westerners.

The service is outstanding from the moment you get picked up at your hotel to the moment you get dropped off. Staff on the boat are dressed in traditional Thai cloths and perform a water ceremony as you board the boat. Slowly drifting along the river, sitting at your candle lit table listening to traditional Thai Kim music Kim Player(xylophone style) played in the background by a tradionally dressed Thai girl will lead to a very romantic evening indeed and made all the more so by the abundance of fresh flowers everywhere scenting the place.

The Loy Nava river cruise starts at either 6pm or 8pm so both have the advantage of seeing all the Bangkok sights lite up. You are given a beautifully designed map of the Chao Phraya river describing 34 of the lite up landmarks you will see on your dinner cruise. Just in case you might not notice these the staff will also prompt you as you pass a place of great importance to Bangkok and her people.

You can book the Loy Nava from most hotel reception desks or direct with them. If you do have a spare evening in Bangkok with a loved one then this would be a perfect way to spend some time together in my opinion.

Website : www.loynava.com

email : loynava@hotmail.com (best to use there contact page from the website)

Telephone +66 (0) 24 377 329 or +66 (0) 24 383 098

5 Fun Things For Kids To Do In Bangkok

Posted on : 13-11-2010 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok

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Travelling with young children is no easy task, especially in a built up capital city like Bangkok, with heat, traffic and humidity. I have listed a few fun things for kids to do, should you find yourself there for a couple of days. Most can be done in a half day but as shopping centres are never far away I’m sure you’ll spend a little longer.

Siam Ocean World – Covering an area of the size of two football pitches Siam Ocean World is in the the basement level of the Siam Paragon shopping mall. This place has mixed reviews with some saying that, although one of the largest aquariums in Southeast Asia there is not much underwater creatures on offer and that the water clarity is not great. Other love the fact that its in a shopping mall so can enjoy a full day in an air-conditioned building. As yet I have not spoke to anyone who as tried diving with the sharks, but having tried that myself in the UK I’m not expecting huge things from it.

2) Ice Skating – This is something that is most definitely on my list to do the next time I’m in Bangkok with the kids. I was surprised to find out that there are 3 ice rinks in the city. Sub Zero Ice Skating Club brings out some laser lights and D.J’s as the sun goes down to turn into a nightclub with a difference, maybe not one for the kids! Open Ice Skate is a smaller rink located on the fourth floor of Imperial Lad Prao. Like the name suggests, this rink is open for viewing so you will become a spectacle to many of the local Thais to watch. Imperial World Ice Skating is the only Olympic-size rink in Thailand complete with skating facilities like first aid, training room, changing room, and Pro Shop. This rink is located 15mins outside Bangkok, on the top floor of Imperial World Samrong.

3) Ten Pin Bowling – Many of the large shopping centres in Bangkok will have a bowling ally. The main ones to consider would be MBK, Central world and Siam Peragon. Having spent a lot of time in MBK, this is one thing I would miss out until my children get older and I could leave them there unsupervised. The place is FULL of teenage kids hanging out with their friends, playing hundreds of game machines and generally acting like …. Teenagers!

4) Water Parks – Always a hit with the kids, Bangkok has some large water parks to spend the day at. Leoland Water Park is a little out from Bangkok centre but worth a visit if near that area. It’s on the roof of the Central City Bangna shopping mall so you can combine a shopping day with a something to do with the kids. Fantasia Lagoon is on the roof top of yet another shopping mall. With huge water slides and whirlpools this water park is popular at weekends and bank holidays, but the daddy of the all must be Siam Park. This place is again on the roof top of a large shopping mall but this time it’s the the 400-metre Super Spiral water-slide and giant man-made sea pool with artificial surf that are the star of the show. Shopping won’t really be on the cards at this place which boast swimming pools, water-slides, whirlpools and a lake, as well as playgrounds, botanical gardens, an open zoo and an aviary. A note of warning though with all these attractions it does get very busy so try to go on a weekday as weekends and public holidays gets pretty busy.

5) Dusit Zoo – Dusit Zoo or “Khao Din” is regarded as the most popular zoo in Thailand. Built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) as his private garden adjacent to the royal palace was converted to a zoo in 1938. Today the zoo is run by the state Zoological Park Organization who control many of the other zoos around Thailand. Its distance from the city makes it a nice trip out of the heat and traffic and if you go there midweek you will find it even more quiet.

There are other things for children to do in Bangkok so if you think i’ve missed a good one then plaese leave a comment about.

Nightlife in Bangkok

Posted on : 13-07-2010 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Thailand Travel

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In a recent post discussing shopping in Bangkok I suggested that after the sun goes down you should head off to the night markets dotted about this city. If however shopping is not your thing there are many other nightlife experiences to be had in Bangkok, without the obvious Thailand bar girls!

1. For a romantic experience you should head for one of the evening dinner cruise that slowly meanders along the Chao Praya River. I have posted already about the Loy Nava, one that I have experienced myself but there are many others to be had if it’s not exactly romance your looking for. These types of cruises are an ideal way to see the city from a different angle, learn about about its history and culture or just enjoy the cool river breeze.

2. If it’s the club scene you are looking for then you won’t be disappointed. Bangkok nightlife club scene is alive and kicking hard, even with tight closing regulations! You can find clubs in almost every part of Bangkok with most of them open every night of the week offering different styles of music.  If it’s a trendy type bar you want then start with the bedSupper Club or try the loud music in the mega-clubs of RCA, Flix or Slim.

3. For that feeling of sophistication you should try Cocktails on a Rooftop Bar at sunset. Not only is this a great way to beat the rush hour madness in Bangkok you can also avoid most of the sunset mosquitoes. The highest drink you can sip in Bangkok would be from the Rooftop Bar on the 83rd floor of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel or try some real sophistication and relax on the open air decks of the Moon Bar on top of the Banyan Tree Hotel.

4. Live music is available in Bangkok if you look hard enough. I should say good live music is available if you look hard enough! From Thai acoustic music in your hotel lounge to freeform jazz in a smoky club, Bangkok does have it all on offer even large stadium type concerts. Don’t think these will be easy to find, most marketing and advertisements will be written in Thai so if live music is your thing do some research before you get there.

5. Bangkok’s not known for its theatrical shows but for something spectacular you should not miss out on the Siam Niramit Cultural Show and Thai dinner. Performed on the worlds largest stage this show combines Thailand’s historical and spiritual heritage in a blaze of colour. There are many other cultural shows on offer in Bangkok some good some not so good so beware when booking any of these and ask in some forums for what other people have seen.

This is just a few suggestion of what Bangkok nightlife has to offer except for the obvious shopping and Go-Go bars most tourist end up frequenting. There is nothing wrong with Go-Go bars and shopping but it can become boring after a while so the next time you visit Bangkok try and think outside the traditional tourist paths.

5 Things Not To Miss In Bangkok

Posted on : 13-01-2010 | By : Brian | In : Bangkok, Holidays To Thailand, Thailand Travel

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When people arrive in Bangkok the heat and humidity often saps their energy, so much so they miss out on some of the cities most wonderful sights. I have listed, in order, the top 5 things to try and see while in the city, why only 5 you may ask? There will be other post on this site detailing things to do, see, experience and avoid while in Bangkok, so with all the lists combined there should be enough to fill most short trips to Bangkok.

I would suggest that you try and spend at least 3 full days in Bangkok to see most of the things the city has to offer, that’s without the sideline trips to places such as Kanchanaburi or the floating market which take a full day themselves.

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN BANGKOK

  • The Royal Grand Palace – The number one must do while in Bangkok. To save time and enjoy the place more it is best to spend a little extra on this and book an organised tour and guide and best of all get a personal guide for you and your group, just not one who stands outside the entrance and touts.
  • Wat Po & the Reclining Buddha – This temple is older than Bangkok itself and was enlarged in 1801 by King Rama I, the founder of Bangkok. Among many of the buildings on the grounds you will find the reclining Buddha lying cramped up in a temple just large enough to house it.
  • The Temple of Dawn at Wat Arun – A different kind of temple along the river that is often missed but if you like temples and are already on a river cruise this is worth a visit.
  • Wat Traimit & the Golden Buddha – This very unremarkable temple hidden at the end of Chinatown is home to the worlds largest golden Buddha. Weighing over 5Tons and standing 15 feet tall this sitting Buddha has been estimated to be worth US$1Million.
  • The Jim Thompson House -Thailand is renowened for its silk and without Jim Thoampson it may not be that way. He revived the trade after moving to Thailand to settledown in the 1940’s and falling in love with Thailand traditions and people.

You will hear people say that you don’t need a guide for many of the tourist sights in Bangkok as it is cheaper to get your own transport and find your own way around. This is so true, it will save you a few £’s, $’s or Baht, but take the advice from someone who has done it both with and without a guide, you see a lot more, have a more structured day and save your short trip time with a professional guide. On top of these benefits from using a guide service it is also a very good way to get to know a little more about the people of the country.

There is only so much someone can say about a building so after all the tourist chat, Thai people like to find out about other countries and in return like to talk about their own. This is a perfect way to gain an insight to what it’s like to work and live in Thailand, but don’t think of the person that guides you as an employee think of them as your friend in Bangkok and who knows maybe you may make a new friend half way around the world.