Trip to Bangkok - May 2007

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The gold BuddhaSawadee kaa, beautiful wats, excellent food, tuk-tuk drivers that tries to rip you off, shopping galore, go-go bars, people in yellow tops celebrating the king, monks is orange robes, the city with the longest name in the world (“The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn”) - welcome to this trip report from the city which we normally refer to as Bangkok :-).


A short summary
A Buddha image full of gold leat at Wat PhoThis trip report will focus on the trip that my wife, Nikki, and I took to Thailand from May 10th – May 22nd 2007. We started out with a few days in Bangkok and then we went to Koh Samui for some beach and relaxation. This first part of the trip report will focus on our stay in Bangkok. We have been to Bangkok before (click here to see trip report from 2002) so we had already seen a few of the attractions but Bangkok is always a fun city to visit. Please get in touch on if you have any questions or comments. All pictures are taken by Nikki and Gard with our Canon Powershot S1 IS camera. The trip report is split into several sections: Click here to check out the interactive Bangkok Google map which will indicate where attractions are located, click here to see more pictures from Bangkok and click here to read a review of Lebua at State Tower, the hotel we stayed at.

Update: I stayed at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit in June 2008. Here is the review. I also stayed at Centara Grand at CentralWorld in December 2008. Click on the link for a review.


Gard and Nikki at the restaurant Breeze at LebuaAs some of you will remember this is not the first blog from Thailand. Nikki and I have been there twice before. In 1998 we visited Bangkok, Phuket and Samui (check out the trip report here) and in 2002 we visited Bangkok, Krabi (Ao Nang) and Hua Hin (check out the trip report here). This time around we found out that we wanted to travel with our friends Olav and Allis to Thailand again and the plan was for Nikki to stop in Thailand on the way back from a business trip to South Korea. It turned out that these plans got changed in the last minute when Nikki’s uncle died in a tragic car crash in South Africa. This trip report is in the loving memory of uncle Ishmael.


Planning the trip
In the months leading up to the trip we searched the net for good deals on tickets to Thailand. In the end we found a ticket at the Norwegian online travel agency and the ticket was just about 6000 kroner (about 1200 USD) per person which is quite a good price for a round trip to Thailand from Norway. We also decided that we wanted to check out Samui again to see how that had changed in the nearly 10 years since we were there last. To find hotels I decided to send out requests to various hotels where I asked them if they could give us a good deal as I would write a review to post on this page. We ended up booking a room at Lebua in Bangkok and Kandaburi in Samui.

Map of Thailand

Map of Thailand. Map provided by


The trip begins
Getting ready to travel to Thailand from StavangerAs I mentioned our plans got changed in the last minute when Nikki’s uncle died in a tragic car crash in South Africa. Due to this we both went to South Africa on May 3rd to attend the funeral but as my ticket to Thailand was a “cheap ticket” it was non refundable, non changeable etc. Because of this I had to return to Norway alone on May 7th (arriving in Norway on May 8th) and I went to Thailand on May 9th. I don’t think I have ever spent that many hours in the air in the course of one week. Nikki came to Bangkok a few days later on a different route via Frankfurt.


My flight started from Stavanger airport with the airline SAS at 10 am on May 9th and after a short stop in Copenhagen my flight continued to Bangkok with Thai Airways. I still think Thai is pretty good: the legroom on the 747 was not bad, the service was good, they serve lots of drinks etc. The only thing I missed was a personal TV screen.


Arriving in Thailand
I landed at the “new” (and maybe infamous) Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport at about 6 AM. The airport opened in the end of 2006 and there have been a number of problems with it and they even had to re-open the old Don Muang airport for some flights. I did not notice much of the problems when I arrived and getting through immigration and customs were pretty fast and efficient.


Lebua seen from a distanceI was very tired after lots of long flights and when I came through customs there was a taxi stand there. So I went over to this airport limousine taxi and asked how much it was and they told me that it would cost 1100 Baht (about 35$) and I found this to be a bit much so I asked if there was a public taxi that I could use instead. The reply I got was that there was no other taxi service. Later on I found out that there was another alternative - if I had gone one floor down I would have found the public taxi stand and that would have been cheaper (about 400-500 Baht). I think they have changed the layout of this now so hopefully you won’t run into this problem.


Note: A new skytrain line is being built to the airport and hopefully this will make it easier and faster to get into town.


The lobby at LebuaIt is always a pleasure to arrive in Bangkok. I’m fascinated by this huge city and I spent the entire taxi trip looking out of the window - and trying to turn down the air-con in the taxi :-) I’m not sure why they always insist on running the air-con on max. I arrived the my hotel Lebua at State Tower by the river in the morning and I got a warm welcome (as usual on nice hotels in Asia) and I got to rest in a deep sofa while they prepared the paper work. I was happy when I heard they had a room for me this early in the morning and it was great to be able to get this early check-in and take a shower after the long flight. You can read my review of the hotel here.


Note: The currency in Thailand is Baht. If you want to calculate currency you can use Google. Put e.g. 100 THB in USD in the Google search field to find out how much 100 Baht is in dollars.


Struggling with jetlag
View of Bangkok by night from LebuaThailand is about 7 hours ahead of Norway and as usual I faced the issues of jetlag. I guess it is amplified when you arrive early in the morning and you have to stay awake all day long. I see that the topic of jetlag is up for discussion on many travel forums and I’m not sure there is an easy way to deal with it. My remedy is to stay awake all day long and try to stay up as late as I can to get into the rhythm as soon as possible. In Bangkok there are several ways of doing this. First of all I didn’t stay long at the hotel after arriving - the bed looked pretty tempting so I found out that I had to get out of the room to stay awake. I had strong coffee at various coffee places around town and they also have a very good (and strong) Red Bull drink (in small, dark glass bottles). In addition to this I went for a workout at the gym at Lebua and after 1 ½ hours on a stationary bike and step master I was pretty worn out. Towards the end of the evening I was running on empty but I did manage to stay awake until 11-12 PM. I slept like a baby that night :-)


How to get around Bangkok?
A view to the massive skytrain lines in BangkokSince I visited Bangkok the first time in 1997 it has gotten a lot easier to get around. With the introduction of the BTS skytrain and subway/metro you can cover at least part of the city in a fast and efficient way. But there are many other ways of getting around that are more fun. If you are going to e.g. A Chao Phraya river express boat at a pierGrand Palace you can take the Chao Phraya river express boats. There is a connection to the skytrain at the Saphan Taksin skytrain station and the boat trip up the river gives you a great view of the river banks with the combination of nice luxury hotels, beautiful temples, old houses that looks like they are about to fall down etc. A motorcycle taxi in BangkokYou can also take smaller boats on the canals of Bangkok (klongs). There is e.g. a route that takes you from the Golden Mount past Jim Thompson house and then it goes more or less parallel with Sukhumwit road.

If you want to get from A to B fast and you are a bit of a daredevil, you can always try out the motorcycle taxis. Remember to agree on a price before you take of and make sure the driver knows your destination :-) I wouldn’t recommend this as Bangkok traffic can be a bit - eh, well chaotic I guess is the right word and you are not very safe on the back of a bike.


Taxis are a great way to get around as it is cheap and comfortable just make sure the driver agrees to use the meter. But note that it can also take a bit of time if you get caught in a traffic jam.


Another tourist walking into a tuk-tuk tourist-trap :-)And then you have the tuk-tuk's. These three wheel cars/bike can be a pretty effective way to get around but it feels like they drive like maniacs, it is noisy and the chance of being ripped off is pretty high. It seems like you can always find tuk-tuk's outside hotels and they are always trying to tempt tourists with tours etc. When we tried that a few years ago it was a waste of time so I wouldn’t recommend this :-) Remember: if the price is to good to be true then you are probably being conned into something :-)


Note: Read more about Bangkok transportation on


Bangkok revisted – Bangkok street report
After I had dropped of the suitcase at the hotel I ventured of into the streets of Bangkok right away. If you haven’t been to this part of the world before it is quite an experience. I have been to Thailand a few times before but I had actually forgotten how hot and humid it can be in Bangkok and it didn’t take long before I was soaking wet in sweat - not a pretty sight at all :-)


Note: Remember to use sunscreen. The sun is very strong in this part of the world and if you have a tender pale skin like me you will get fried.


Victory monument in BangkokWalking along the streets of Bangkok you get exposed to everything. The heat and sun is intense, the combination of fumes of food being prepared on the pavement, exhaust from the traffic, incense and sewer mix together in a strange blend, the noise can be unbelievable when a roaring bus pass you by or when a tuk-tuk comes up next to you to ask if you want to go for a drive. There are stray dogs and stray cats all over the place but they don’t seem to be aggressive. But I have to admit that I was nervous from time to time when I had to step over sleeping mongrels that were sleeping in the middle of the pavement. But I have never experienced being attacked ;-)


The Thais love their royal family and a sign of this could be seen in the way people dressed. On a daily basis I would see people dressed up in yellow shirts to show their support to the king.

Note: If you go to the movies in Thailand you should be ready to stand up before the movie when the national anthem is played.


Don’t be surprised if you get approached by strangers when you come out of your hotel. I got in touch with many when coming out of my hotel Lebua and all conversations started out with them asking me where I stayed and then they would say that they worked at the hotel, a nearby embassy etc. They all tried to convince me to walk up Silom road instead of taking the skytrain. I assume that they are some sort of con men but I’m not sure exactly what the con is. On my previous trips to Bangkok I have also experienced being stopped by people on the street near by e.g. Grand Palace and they have claimed that the Palace is closed due to a Buddhist celebration or something like this. I have never experienced this to be true so don't fall for scams like this!


Beware of tuk-tuk drivers offering you very cheap tours. If the price is too good to be true, it normally is :-). I have experienced taking a tuk-tuk and he agreed to take us to a destination but after a while he wanted to drive us somewhere else. In the end he refused to take us to our destination and he basically kicked us out of the tuk-tuk. We have also taken cheap tours where you are taken attractions on one stop and then a gem store or tailor on the next. Even if it is cheap it is a waste of time in my opinion.


Sightseeing in Bangkok
I spent the first few days alone in Bangkok and this is more or less a chronological résumé of what I did the first few days. The arrival day was just spent looking around Bangkok, dealing with the jetlag, working out etc. So I started my sightseeing on day 2.


Note: there are lots of ATMs around Bangkok so there is no need to bring cash from overseas. Just bring your card and get cash when you need it.


Wat Pho – Temple of the reclining Buddha

As I was staying near the river I decided to use the Chao Phraya River to get to the Grand Palace area. I went to the Saphan Taksin pier and bought a ticket for the Chao Phraya River express and I thought the lady behind the counter said 30 Bath (1$) so I gave her that. But then the woman behind me in the line also said one ticket and the girl behind the counter looked a bit confused. It turned out that she thought I was with the women behind me in the line as I had given her too much money. I thought she said 30 Bath but she was actually saying 13 Bath - communication is not always easy. As I am a true gentleman I told the woman that the ferry ride was on me - well, it was only 50 cent :-)


Seeing Bangkok from the river is great even if it can be a bit noisy and crowded. It stops on scheduled piers along the river and the boat man and the captain communicates with the boat man using a high pitched whistle. On one trip on the river we also had an engine breakdown by the way but we were “saved” by another ferry.


The recling Buddha at Wat PhoBack to the sightseeing: I jumped of at Tha Tien pier and I walked over to the temple Wat Pho (or Wat Phra Chetuphon as it is also called). I have been there once before (in 1998) but I decided to stop by this time as well. It was only 50 Baht (about 1.6$) to get into the temple and I was hoping to get a guided tour for 200 Baht but as it included a bit of waiting I decided to just walk around on my own and use my guidebook.  The face of the recling Buddha at Wat PhoWat Pho is one of the largest temples in Bangkok and one of the oldest. While I was there, a bit of construction work going on and takes away a bit of the beauty of the temple. But the reclining Buddha is still the largest in Thailand and it is easy to be impressed by this 46 meter long (150 feet) and 15 meter (50 feet) high gold plated Buddha image. But in total there are about 1000 Buddha images inside the temple so there is a lot to look at and the great thing is that it is less crowded then Grand Palace. One of the fascinating things about Thailand are the contrasts. In one house at Wat Pho there was a Buddha image that was filled with gold leaf that people had put on it, there were lots of beautiful flowers, incense burning etc - and in front of it they had put down a Winnie the Pooh plastic cover that people could sit on.


One of the other reasons to visit Wat Pho is that it is a centre for traditional Thai massage. I have not tried this before but I figured that I had to try it out at one stage so I went for a 30 minute massage for 220 Baht (7$). It was great to lie down and get a massage as I was sore from the day before (sore from walking and working out too much). It was not a miracle cure in any way but it was still very nice.


Grand Palace – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo)
Some of the beautiful figures at Grand PalaceWhile you are in the Wat Pho area you should also check out the Grand Palace. I have been to Grand Palace on all my trips to Bangkok and it is fascinating to walk around this place. It used to be the home of the Royal family but even if this is no longer the case, it remains an important place for Thais. Inside the Grand Palace you will e.g. find the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo) which is said to be Thailand's most sacred site.


Note: there is a dress code to get into Grand Palace. That means long pants and t-shirt at least. If you don’t have the “correct” outfit you can rent some clothes. I normally wear convertible pants when going to hot and humid cities like Bangkok.


Scene from Ramakien at Grand PalaceInside the Grand Palace you will find beautiful temples, golden pagodas, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (which is surprisingly small), golden mythical figures and the ramakien. Scene from Grand PalaceThe ramakien is the national epic of Thailand and you can see it painted on the walls surrounding Wat Phra Kaeo. From the story it seems like Gods, humans and even apes are involved. Grand Palace is worth a visit for the 250 Baht it cost to get in. But be aware that it can be quite crowded so if you are seeking peace and quiet you should go to another temple. There are probably lots of quiet temples around Bangkok. I have been to e.g. Wat Suthat (located by the Giant Swing not far from the Grand Palace) and it was more or less empty when I came there an early morning during my trip in 2002.


Note: The ticket to Grand Palace also gives you access to Vimanmek Mansion.


Vimanmek mansion – former royal palace
On the Chao Phraya river expressAfter I had been to Grand Palace and Wat Pho I went back on the Chao Phraya River express boat. And the pier at Grand Palace I had some trouble finding the right pier - people were sending me back and forth. In the end I saw the boat coming and rushed over and jumped on it as it was about the leave the pier :-). I jumped of at Thewet pier and started walking. You will never have any problem finding food in Bangkok. If you can’t find a restaurant/café you can be sure to find someone making something from a little street stand. As it was lunch time I went into a small café and I went for a bowl of soup and chicken in green curry and a Chang beer. The waitress told me that they only had large bottles but that was absolutely not a problem for me :-) I was warm after walking around for hours and hence it was excellent with an ice cold beer. This meal including the large beer was 110 Bath (3.5$).


Vinamek teak mansionWalking to the Vimanmek mansion took a bit of time so if you are in a rush I think the best option is to take a taxi. On my way I passed by the parliament and there was some sort of protest going on outside. I finally reached the mansion and it seemed like they had changed it a bit since I was there in 1997. Vinamek teak mansionAs I had a ticket from the Grand Palace I didn’t have to pay for the entrance but before going in I had to leave my backpack and my camera in a locker - so I did not get to take any pictures inside :-( The ticket includes a tour of the mansion and as usual you have to tune your brain into a certain mode to understand their version of English. I’m not saying this to be mean but in general Thais seem to have a bit of problem with speaking the English language. I guess they laugh at us when we try to say anything in Thai. The tour of the largest teak mansion in the world is informative and if you have time to combine it with the ticket from Grand Palace, you should do so.


Dusit zoo – largest in Asia?
Elephants at Dusit zooI think I read somewhere that the Dusit zoo is the largest zoo in Asia. As the zoo is located near the Vimanmek mansion I decided to check it out while I was in the neighbourhood. I paid 100 Baht (3$) to get in and I have to admit that I didn’t stay very long. A funny sign at Dusit zooIt was not a very exciting zoo even if it is a bit of an oasis in the big city jungle of Bangkok. The most entertaining moment in the zoo was when I saw the sign at the crocodile section :-) It is not only in the zoo you can see the local wildlife. When I was walking along out of the zoo I was walking along the moth of the Chitralada Palace (the residence of the King) and in the water I could see some sort of huge lizard swimming along.


Art of boxing- muay thai boxing
Muay Thai boxing at Lumpini stadium BangkokAs I was alone and Nikki is not really into the boxing thing I decided to go and check out some muay thai boxing at Lumpini stadium on Friday night. I took the subway over and after walking around a bit in the area I was able to find the Lumpini boxing stadium. I paid 1000 Baht (about 30$) and that gave me the cheapest tickets in the back (no seats). I think this is a so called "farang" price - the price that the foreigners have to pay. I suspect that it is far cheaper for locals.


Muay thai boxing at Lumpini stadium in BangkokWhen I walked in I have to say I was a bit disappointed as calling it a stadium is a bit of an exaggeration. The most annoying thing is that the structure of the stadium has a lot of internal beams to keep the roof up and hence it blocks the view. But I managed to find a spot in the back and the locals were very friendly. A guy next to me offered me a cigarette and tried to explain to me where in the program we were (there were lots of matches) but it was hard to keep the conversation going as he didn’t speak English and my Thai is very limited *grin*.


Each match starts with a warm up that seems to be a ritual dance of some sort with the fighters wearing flowers, head bands etc. You can read a lot more about the art of Muay thai on Wikipedia. Each match was three rounds and in each round there is music in the background when the fight is on and the music seems to speed up when the round is about to finish. Maybe this is a sign for the fighters. The audience seemed to be very quiet to start with in the match but as the fights reach round three there was a lot of activity and betting seemed to be the name of the game. What the rules of the game inside the ring are is a bit of a mystery. It seems like you are allowed to throw punches, use the elbows, kick using both feet and knees etc. I guess it is simpler to explain what you are not allowed to use *grin*. The fights are hard and one guy was punched out and they had to carry him out of the ring so this is no joke.


As there were lots of fights it took a bit of time and I got hungry. Right outside it was possible to buy simple food like satay for 10 Bath (about 30 cent) and a Chang beer was 40 Baht (about 1.3$). The eating area is pretty basic with plastic chairs and tables and dogs sleeping around. But the satay was excellent and the Chang beer was ice cold :-).


If you get a chance don’t miss out on a fight night at Lumpini stadium to see Thailand’s national sport. If you are willing to cough up a bit of extra money you can sit ringside and that will provide you with a better view.

Jim Thompson house
Jim Thompson houseIn my previous visits I have never gotten around to visiting the Jim Thompson house so this time I decided that it was about time. So one day I took the skytrain to the national stadium stop and Inside Jim Thompson houseI just walked over to the Jim Thompson house from there. Jim Thompson house was the home of the American guy James Harrison Wilson Thompson. He came to Asia on assignment for OSS (a forerunner to CIA) but he was discharged and turned his attention to building up the silk industry in Thailand. I guess he did well because he managed to collect some amazing artefacts still on display in the house. In 1967 he disappeared while on a trip to Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.


Gard and Tam, my guide at Jim Thompson houseI paid 100 Baht for the ticket and this included a 30 minute tour in English with a guide called Tam. She did a great job and spiced up the story of the house and Jim Thompson with some jokes. The Thai humour is a bit different than the Norwegian humour but it still turned it into an entertaining tour. I talked a bit with Tam after the tour and it turns out that we share a common interest for traveling and writing trip reports. While I was at the house I could hear the roar of engines right outside the fence around the house. It turned out that there is a canal that runs right outside the house and that goes parallel with Sukhumwit road.

Walking around Bangkok - The Buddha march
When I went to Bangkok in 1998 we took a very cheap tour and it took us to a Golden Buddha, a large standing Buddha etc. The problem was that every second stop was a commercial stop - a tailor, a gem store and eventually we got fed up and just terminated the tour. Well, as we were on a tour it was hard to keep track of where we were in Bangkok and this time around I decided to revisit these places independently.


The golden Buddha at Wat TraimitSo one morning I got on the skytrain/subway and I went to the train station Hua Lumpong and from there it was just a 5 minute walked to Wat Traimit or temple of the Golden Buddha. The story tells that this Buddha was once covered in plaster so it never got much focus. But one day when they were moving the Buddha image they had an accident and dropped it. The plaster cracked and the layer turned out to cover a huge 900 year old Buddha in pure gold weighing in at more than 5 ton! The Buddha statue is beautiful but I can’t help thinking about what it is worth - just the gold in the statue must be worth a fortune. And it is basically standing out in the open for anybody to steal - not that it is easy to get away with a 5 ton and 10 ft high Buddha without being noticed :-)


The golden Buddha of BangkokI left the temple and walked towards Chinatown to check that out but I guess I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere as I ended up in more or less empty streets. I ended up in some areas that were a bit dodgy actually. I was walking in some streets where they seem to specialized in stripping cars and the scent of oil was in the air and the ground were slippery from all the oil. But I also walked past regular homes where I looked straight into people’s homes, the preparing of food etc. A couple of places I also ran into dogs that didn’t seem very friendly but I never did get into serious problems. My aim was to walk through Chinatown and end up at a ferry stop on the Chao Phraya river. I did reach the river in the end but not the ferry stop that I had planned.


The standing Buddha at Wat IntharawihanI got on a Chao Phraya river express going up river but it didn’t take long before we heard some strange noises from the engine and propel and all of a sudden the boat stopped. We ended up drifting around until two other boats came to our assist and we were pushed into one of the ferry stops. I got the feeling that they had done that before :-) I jumped into one of the other boats and continued up river to the Thewet stop and from there I walked to Wat Intharawihan home of the huge 32 meter standing Buddha figure. It is not as impressive as the Golden Buddha but it was still nice to revisit it. Khao San Road, backpacker territoryFrom here I walked to the famous backpacker street of Bangkok: Khao San Road. This street is filled with bars, restaurants, hostels, souvenir shops etc and it is of course also filled with lots of backpackers :-) I just walked through the place and as I was late for an appointment with Nikki I went for the fastest option to get to Chitlom: a moped taxi. The driver initially asked for 150 Baht but I offered 100 Baht and he agreed on that - I’m quite sure that I paid too much for the trip. He got me to Chitlom Central pretty fast but I guess you can call this form of transportation a bit on the dangerous side.


In September 2007 I returned to Bangkok for a short weekend stay in connection with a business trip and I got a chance to check out Chinatown again but this time I found the Chinatown that most tourists visit. I started out on the river express boat again but this was actually a bit different compared to what I had taken before. It cost 20 Baht and featured a lady speaking away about the various sights along the river. Unfortunately it was not that easy to hear what she was saying as a combination of the bad speakers, her English and the roaring noise of the engine. I jumped of in Chinatown and walked around there for a while and it is fascinating to walk thru these narrow streets. There are small stores every where and even if the streets are narrow you will have to be on a look out as people transport merchandise in there on both motorcycles and carriages. In some cases it was unbelievable to see how much you are able to pile up on one little scooter. As always it was warm but when you can get a bottle of water for 10 Baht it is not a problem keeping hydrated - and for another 10 you get a Redbull to keep up the energy. Some of the stores had a funny combination of stuff for sale - one had cotton buds, car wax, toys etc.


We saw some simple houses along some of the canalsI also took a walk around the Grand Palace area during my September trip to Bangkok. There are still some old soi’s (side streets) going down towards the river. I went into one and it was like peeking into someone’s living room. When I walked past the various houses I walked past people sleeping on the floors in some houses, kids playing or watching TV, a dog barking like mad at one of the doors etc. The alley was really dark and it seemed like it gets flooded if the level on the river rises and hence the houses was elevated about 1 ½ meters. The video above shows a short clip from one of these soi's (sorry for the bad quality - it was taped with my SonyEricsson cell phone)


Along the way around the University there were lots of fake stuff for sale and it was funny to see a police patrol sitting with their feet up in their car right next to these people selling fake stuff. I assume that even Thailand has laws about selling fake stuff and that the police are supposed to enforce this :-)


Weekend market
The weekend market in BangkokIf you are looking for bargains you should head out to the weekend market. As the name implies it is open in the weekends and you can get to this place by taking the skytrain to Mo Chit station. It is hard to miss as you can just follow the masses of people heading to this market. Inside the market they sell more or less everything and the stalls are side by side, back to back and you can get lost by walking into this maze. It feels like a sauna walking around there but you needn’t worry as they sell water and soft drinks all over the place. Remember to bargain on what you buy but I’m not sure I can give any good advice when it comes to that process as I’m not really used to bargaining.


Eating out in Bangkok
The first rule of eating in Bangkok and Thailand: be adventurous! There is so much good food to be tried and eaten. I see that many worry about getting into trouble if they eat from street stalls, local restaurants etc but I have never had any trouble when eating in Bangkok. Here are some of the places that I have tried out.


Note: traditionally the Thais eat with a fork and a spoon.


The entrance at Breeze at LebuaOn the 52nd floor of the Lebua you’ll find this restaurant located in open air and with a great view of the river and Bangkok in general. We came there at 7 PM and the walkway to the restaurant was lit and it is very stylish. At first there were some problems with my reservation but when they found my name we got an excellent table on the edge with a GREAT view of Bangkok. A starter at Breeze at LebuaWhen I booked the hotel I informed them that Nikki was turning 30 and that we had a 10 year anniversary. So when I checked into the hotel I talked to the PR person and she said that they had the pleasure of inviting us to dinner at Breeze. I was not sure if this meant that the meal was complimentary and hence we chose not to go totally overboard :-). You can go for a pre-set menu that will cost you 5000 to 7000 Baht (up to 200 USD) and that gives you an indication of the price level. A Singha was 290 Baht (9 USD), a glass of wine 600 Baht (19 USD) and a bottle that Nikki was looking at was 6000 Baht (185 USD).


Prawns for starter at Breeze at LebuaFor starter I had prawns and Nikki had dim sum. I was expecting prawns straight up but instead I got already prepared and deep fried pieces but they were excellent. The main course for me was lobster with Malaysian spices (I think this cost 1900 Baht) and on the side I had vegetables in Szechuan sauce and the Breeze rice with lobster and crab. The lobster was very nice but the Malaysian spices are maybe a bit too much on a lobster as they “steal the entire show”. Nikki went for sea bass in claypot but her favourite was actually the dim sum for starter. For dessert Nikki had the strawberry sherbet and I had the cheesecake. The cheesecake was presented in a beautiful way on a large plate but must admit that I have had better cheesecakes.


Lobster at the restaurant Breeze at LebuaSo what is the conclusion of this? Well, Breeze is a beautiful restaurant that serves very good food and it is presented in a nice way. The restaurant offers an excellent view of Bangkok and the river area and is great for a romantic dinner. But it does cost a pretty penny and I’m not sure that it is worth the cost. There is so much great food to be found on street level in Bangkok and for the price of the meal we had at Breeze you can eat a lot on a “regular restaurant”. It is also sad to see the prices of beer and wine being so steep. I guess the selection of still water shows that they want to be a quality restaurant - it seemed like we could either choose Evian or Voss (from Norway). But I want to send a huge thank you to Lebua and Kanokrat Petchpornprapas for the great meal that we had at Breeze. Thank you for making this a special meal and evening for Nikki and myself.


Cheese cake at Breeze at LebuaWe ended the evening with a drink in the Skybar at the top of the building. It is an outdoor bar and once again you get a lovely view of the city. But note that there are lots of restrictions when it comes to dress code, taking pictures etc. I get a bit annoyed by stuff like this and this combined with the prices (750 Baht (23 USD) for a mojitos and a strawberry daiqury) makes it likely that I will go to another place the next time I go to Bangkok. We went to Vertigo on the Banyan tree building the last time I went to Bangkok and that was great.


The rambutan is a nice fruitNote: when in Thailand you should not miss out on trying some of the local fruits. Try out fruits like rambutan, mangosteen and of course the legendary durian. You will find them for sale on every street corner. Durian is a favorite in south east Asia but most foreigners don't enjoy it. It has a distinctive smell and taste so say the least. But be sure to try it out :-)


I do enjoy some good wine and if you want to go out for some wine in bangkok you should try out a place called V9 at Sofitel Hotel on Silom road. It is located on 30th something floor and there are large windows that gives you an excellent view of Bangkok. And the best thing about this place is that they have a great selection of European wine at pretty good prices. I think a bottle of wine started at 800-900 Baht and that is not bad at all in Thailand. And you can also get some great small dishes to go along with the wine. Highly recommend if you want to go out for a few glasses of wine.


Silom Village – soi 23 on Sukhumwit
Prawns at Simom Village restaurantWe went out to eat with our friends Olav and Allis one night and we didn’t want to go to far from their hotel (Grand Sukhumwit by Asok skytrain station). So we just jumped into a tuk-tuk and he took us to Silom Village on Soi 23. We had a great meal with whole fish, duck in curry, prawns, squid, tom kha gai (the sour, spicy, coconut milk based chicken soup), spring rolls etc. It was a great meal with a lot to choose from :-) We had plenty of food for 5 adults and 2 kids and it cost us 5000 Baht.


Cabbages and Condoms
Phad Thai at Cabbages & CondomsThis place is mention on quite a lot of travel forums and it seems like it is often mentioned due to the decorations. So we decided to check out this place out one night. Getting from our hotel Lebua to the restaurant located on Sukhumwit Soi 12 proved to be a bit tricky. A condom dress at Cabbages & Condoms restaurant in BangkokTaxis didn’t want to take us as there was a lot of traffic jams around the time so we ended up taking a tuk-tuk to a skytrain station and from there we took the skytrain to Sukhumwit and walked the rest. When we walked in it was easy to see why this place is mentioned due to the decorations. Everywhere there were stuff made from condoms, signs with information etc etc. But the food was not bad but maybe we went for some less exciting dishes this evening - we had masaman curry, phad thai etc and we ended up paying about 4000 Baht for 5 adults and 2 children. It was not a problem getting a taxi home afterwards by the way - for 70 Baht we were taken back to our hotel Lebua :-)


Tonje with another watermelon shakeWe had lunch one day at a small place about 10 minutes from Khao San Road. I can’t remember that name of the place but I think it was run by Indians and it seemed like their speciality was roti (a sort of pancake) with various dips. We had a full meal for 4 guys for about 350 baht. I was glad we had a Thai guy with us so that he could take care of the ordering of food as it didn’t seem like they spoke much English. But the most interesting part was going to the bathroom. I had to step over parts of the stuff that were coming in for dish washing and manoeuvre myself into the small toilet. When I closed the door it felt like there was a 100 degrees in there and I assume that this was because the kitchen ovens were right next to the toilet walls so it was radiating heat. It was of course a standard squatting toilet but for a guy that does not really matter that much :-)


Baan Kanitha is located on Soi 23 on Sukhumwit and when we came there we were not sure we had the right place as it was pretty low key. But the interior was nice and it was a Thai style house serving Thai food. I can’t really remember what we had at this place but I do remember that it was a bit on the expensive side (compared to Bangkok prices in general). But the food was excellent and I would love to re-visit this place if I go back to Bangkok.

Wildlife and city life

One morning I went to Asok BTS station and after a drink at the pool bar at the Grande Sheraton Sukhumwit I took a walk around “the block”. We took a right turn into the main road called Ratchadaphisek from Sukhumwit and after 200-300 hundred meters we took another right turn and walked along a canal. First we went thru some residential areas and once again I felt like I was looking right into someone’s home as people were going about their everyday business when we walked past. Sukhumwit road is quite hectic and noisy with all the shops and all the traffic - A walk along a canal not far from Sukhumwitat this canal we were only a few hundred meters away from it but it felt like we were in another world. It was so quiet and peaceful that I would never have guessed that it was in the middle on Bangkok. The water of the canal was really murky and I didn’t expect to see anything alive in there. But all of a sudden we saw movement in the water and a huge lizard swam away. Further in we saw another big lizard crawling on land and into a pipe. It was such a contrast leaving the busy and noisy Sukhumwit road and all of a sudden walk along a canal where it was so peaceful.


Boys with some huge beetles in BangkokWe continued to walk and after a while we walked on an elevated path in a Muslim dominated area. We met two young boys and they were carrying a small cage with HUGE beetles. I guess they had bought them as pets and we got to take some pictures of them and the boys were laughing when they got to see the pictures of themselves afterwards. In the end we walked into Lumpini park. We had a cheap lunch at a street stallThis huge park is located at the corner of Silom road and we walked a bit into Silom road as well. We were hungry so we decided to have a snack and we sat down on plastic stools on the pavement and ordered chicken and rice from the local vendor. The meal was like 30 Baht (1 USD) per person so you can eat for next to nothing in Bangkok. It sets things into perspective when you order a coffee at like Starbucks and it turns out that it cost like 4 times as much. Silom road is where you will also find a night market and also the infamous Patpong area - but I don’t think I will go into the detail of that in this report :-)


Buying something from a store is a different experience here in Bangkok compared to back home. First you have to melodic “Sawasdee Kah” greeting when you walk into the store and the traditional wai (the greeting on putting the palms together). This wai is not to be returned to service employees if I’m not mistaken (like people working in shops, the person that opens the door for you at the hotel etc) but smiling back never hurt anyone right? :-) When you do buy something you get the Kap kuhn kap (thanks) and another wai. The Thai language seems to be hard. We jumped into a taxi and we had gotten instructions to meet up with someone at the restaurant Baan Kanitha. In Norwegian there is not really much fuzz when saying this but to get the taxi driver to understand this we had to put our feelings into pronouncing it. We did manage to get it right eventually.


The famous MBK shopping mallI still think that the shopping in Bangkok is pretty good. The main and huge shopping malls are located around the Siam Square area. You have places like Siam Central, Siam Paragon, Central World Plaza, Chitlom Central etc. They all offer stores that you can find more or less all over the world. It seems like the Thai like to shop at the huge MBK center also located in the Siam square area. Here you will find department stores, small booths, little shops - I think you can find everything in this place. It is funny to see some of these shopping stalls (not in the more fancy malls) where there are lots of people on duty and some seem to be very, very bored. In MBK one girl was cutting her toe nails, one was trying to catch some sleep resting on her own arm, one girl was squeezing a zit and many were busy putting on make up using tiny mirrors.

Time to move on – going to Samui
On Tuesday May 15th we checked out of the hotel to go to the airport. We had decided to split our vacation in Thailand in one part in the city and the rest in Samui for beach and relaxation. The taxi to the Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport cost 350 Baht (11 USD) and we checked in to fly Bangkok Airways to Samui. You can read more about our stay at Samui in part 2 of this trip report.


Bangkok traffic and skytrain systemBangkok is still one of my favourite cities and I hope that I have been able to describe a bit of the atmosphere of Bangkok with this trip report. For me it is still an adventure to walk the streets of Bangkok as it is so different from back home in Norway. The food stalls that you can find everywhere (and that has great food by the way), the heat, the exhaust and roars of buses that are driving past you, the combination of smells from food, incense, sewer, the tuk-tuk drivers that are trying to find out where you are going and trying to convince you to go on a tour - these are all impressions that I'm stuck with after a trip to Bangkok. I’m actually a bit sad and happy that I have been here a number of times before. Sad as there will never be anything like a first time in Bangkok and getting an overdose of all senses compared to what I’m used to. But I’m also happy that I have been here before so I can avoid some of the problems that you can run into here.


I hope that I have given some useful information in this travelogue and feel free to get in touch on if you have any questions. If you get a chance to go to Bangkok you should not hesitate. This is a city that deserves a few days so don’t plan for a 1 or 2 day stay - go for 4-5 days instead. Bangkok, what a city!


Some “useful” tips
So what do you need to bring to Thailand? And how do you plan a trip to Thailand? Here are some useful tips:

  • Wondering if it will rain in Thailand? Check out weatherbase to get some weather stats so you know what to expect. The wet season is roughly from May to November but it is warm all year round.

  • A good guidebook: yes, you can find a lot of useful info on the internet. But get a good guidebook with a comprehensive street map. Which one to buy is up to you :-)

  • Which forums to ask questions: Try TripAdvisor, Fodor’s, SlowTalk, Frommer’s and Travelers to Go!

  • Are you bringing a laptop? We did and it was great to use this to check out attractions and opening times, maps etc. There are wireless connections where you can buy surf time.

  • Do you wonder how far it is from one place to another in Bangkok? Why not use Google Earth/Google Maps to measure? I find this to be a great tool.

  • Here is an interactive Google map where I have highlighted some of the places that we went to.

Feel free to check out the next section of this trip report: the interactive Google map of Bangkok, more photos from Bangkok and a review of our hotel Lebua at State Tower.



Back to index pageGet in touch if you have any questionsClick here to see an interactive Google map of Bangkok