Travel

Welcome to the Land of Smiles (Thailand)

This is country where most of you have visited: Thailand. Bangkok has almost 20 million visitors in a year and we expected the number to increase. My own country, Singapore has just over 13 million visitors.

Before your trip (again), like many of us who cannot survive without WiFi, you can get a good deal from Klook to buy 4G SIM card with 3GB & 100-min talk time for 8 days at just S$6.30.

Where We Stayed

For my wife and I, we booked the following hotels for Bangkok and Khao Yai (a National Park, about 2.5hr drive from Bangkok) from 26 Apr to 2 May 2018:

  • Promratchada Residence & Spa, Bangkok (S$50 per night), which is located near Thailand Cultural Center MRT and Big C Supermarket
  • My Ozone, Khao Yai (S$140 per night), an incredibly beautiful romantic Castle resort with Tuscan inspired house and hotel blocks
  • Belmont Village ($75 per night), colourful and comfy Dutch inspired houses

Things to See & Do

We booked a local tour from Hotels.com to visit Damnoen Saduak floating market, which is the pioneer and most popular floating market in Thailand. The tour cost us S$50 and included 1.5-hr bus ride from hotel to there (100km from downtown Bangkok) and 30-min long-tailed boat ride. However, paddle boat ride is a separate cost (900 thai baht for private boat or 450 baht for sharing).

We also booked a car from Holiday Autos to drive from Bangkok to Khao Yai and we chose Toyota Vios for stability and boot space. It just cost us S$32 per day.

Our first stop was the Grand Palace, which was built in 1782 and was the home of Thai Kings and the Royal court for 150 years. The palace has beautiful architecture and intricate details.

After which, we headed down to Siam Museum to learn about Thainess. It is a very large neoclassical house with historical artifacts and mannequins. An interesting fact: Tuk Tuk bike is a Thai symbol, recognised internationally, is actually from Italy. The Piagglo Ape, a three-wheel vehicle, was first produced in 1948. After that, a similar-looking model – Daihatsu Midget DK, was created in Japan in 1957. That model was imported to Thailand in 1960, and later, the Midget DK was imported and sent to Ayutthaya and Trang Provinces. The name, Tuk Tuk, originated from the sound it makes. That iconic sound has become its name.

We had our lunch at Muse Kitchen By Elefin Coffee, just next to the main building of Siam Museum. After visiting the Grand Palace, this was a perfect place away from the crowd and the food was scrumptious for us.

By checking with the staff of Museum, we found out that we can take a blue bus (524) to Chatuchak market. It just cost us 16 thai baht each (less than S$0.50) but the journey was slightly over an hour due to the traffic. The bus conductor could even recognise who just board the bus and collect the fare from them using a traditional portable ticketing tool. In that evening, it was raining cats and dogs and to our surprise, the rain water slipped into the bus and some passengers had to change seats. That was the true lifestyle of the locals.

On the second day, we had to wake up super early, at 5.30am so that we can board our bus at 6.10am to Damnoen Saduak floating market. We rested during the bus ride to enjoy the boat ride and shopping later! Food vendors fill their vessels with cauldrons and charcoal grills and we bought pork skewers and fried banana (not nice, don’t buy). The goodies are generally more pricey than other places (tourist attractions = more expensive).

In the afternoon/evening, we headed down to Platinum mall and Terminal 21 for shopping! Amazingly, Terminal 21 is a unique concept mall by bringing the world to Bangkok. Each level showcases different cities like Tokyo, London, Istanbul, Rome and San Francisco.

On our third day onwards, we journeyed to Khao Yai and it took me awhile to familiarise with the roads. Thank goodness to the inventor of GPS! We will never be lost unless we ventured into less travelled paths. We visited Primo Piazza (Palio), which is modelled after a Tuscan village, Italy. It has a small farm of sheep and alpacas.

Finally, here is our most favourite picturesque hotel: My Ozone @ Khao Yai. We love the fresh mountain air, spectacular forest views and expansive gardens with fresh flower essences.

On the next day, we visited a thematic hotel that features Hobbit and Santorini houses. Very stunning imitations for photo-taking but may not be so comfortable to live in. The surrounding scenery is only average.

If you love branded goods, you can check out their Premium Outlet store. We bought a 28″ luggage, clothes and undergarments! You can also find local snacks along the main road and at some petrol kiosks. Our new luggage was solely used for our packed food and gifts!

Our last hotel was Belmont Village. It gave us the feeling of countryside staying. Cute and colourful village but don’t be frightened by the creepy crawlers!

For our trip, we didn’t miss out their local night markets (e.g. Pak Chong Night Market) and roadside “restaurants”. Super cheap clothes (as low as 50 thai baht), bags and delicious food e.g. steamed fish, beef & pork noodles, butter bread with condensed milk!

Travel Tips

  • Beware of scams involving Tuk-Tuks, gem shops, and tailors, particularly around popular tourist attractions. Remember, there is no such thing as a free ride.
  • It’s better to flag down taxis that are already driving (the red light means empty). These will generally use the meter while parked taxis typically ask for higher fixed fares or will take you for the proverbial ‘ride.’
  • During the monsoon season months of June through September, rains come quickly and heavily, particularly in the afternoon. Adequate footwear and an umbrella are advisable.
  • When visiting temple/palace/museum, dress politely and be composed. Take off your shoes before entering a religious building or area. Avoid touching monk an artefact or ancient object, especially the reliefs or paintings to maintain their original condition.

(from Tourism Authority of Thailand)

More Photographs 

Click HERE to view the gallery.

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