Thailand Guide

Bangkok

Shopping

One of the things that you will notice when you shop in a department store in Bangkok is that you will be surrounded by sales staff if you look like you are remotely interested in something. It is also not uncommon for a staff member to follow you around the stop. This is common practice so that they can be ready for any questions you have and not an indication of a lack of trust. Though don’t be surprised if you turn to them and ask a question and they get wide eyed and run away. It is generally to grab another person who speaks better English.

It is also very common for them to take your credit card from you at the spot where the item is and disappear to the register to ring you up. You can choose to follow them if you would like.

The best market in Bangkok for everything you could want has to be Chatuchak Weekend Market. This is the go to market for many in Bangkok. Here are my tips though, if you go take the Sky Train to the Mo Chit Station. Be sure to arrive at that station as close to 9am as you can so that you can be there when it opens. Then be sure to leave by 11:30 when it starts getting really hot and really crowded! Also be sure that you buy something if you like what you see as you may not be able to find that stall again!

Another great area to find just about anything, especially stickers for kids and fabric is Chinatown on Yaowarat Road. There is no real start of finish as this is just an area of town but it can hold many great finds and is a great way to spend a day.

A new site I found in April 2018 was Terminal 21! This was a great mall with great food and really interesting bathrooms! The whole idea is that it is like an airport terminal. It has easy access from the Asok BTS station.

Maps

The best Maps for Thailand are the Nancy Chandler maps. They have amazing nuggets of awesomeness built into them and are like playing where is Wally/Waldo in really life. One of the good things about them is that they are actually researched and therefore things are where they say they are, in general. (I just found out that they are going out of business but if you can find one they are great.)

Books

The two big English bookstores are Asia Books and Kinokuniya. Be aware of the plastic wrap it is common for them to offer to wrap you book in plastic, which you can politely decline.

Chang Mai

I highly recommend the Elephant Nature Park as a spot to visit if you are in the Chang Mai area. It is a great way to spend a day or few days as they have overnight stays available. This is a great way to learn about the Asian elephant and what is being done to protect and care for these amazing animals.

Another reason to visit Chang Mai is the Loy Krathong festival which happens towards the end of the year, usually October/Novemberish.

Ayutthaya

Sunflower Festival 2005

Ayutthaya was the ancient capital of Thailand. You can take a train, bus or drive up and spend a day exploring the ruins of the ancient city. It is a very large site so be prepared for a lot of walking. If you go at the end of the summer you may also be able to catch the Sunflower festival.

Beaches

My favorite Island in Thailand was Kho Samet. It is easy to get to from Bangkok via taxi or public bus. There are ferries that take people to the island or you can charter a private speed boat. I have done both and they are both interesting ways to get to the island. My favorite place to stay and eat was a place called Jep’s Bungalows. I have no idea if they are still there but if they are they would be worth a look. Always get an AC room as you will appreciate being able to cool down.

This is my Thai beach strategy.

  • Get up, have fruit pancakes for breakfast. While you are having breakfast have them set up a chair for you on the beach.
  • Spend about an hour in the chair enjoying the cool morning. When the massage ladies start arriving and ask you for a massage tell them that you will have your massage and foot scrub at 1 or 1:30.
  • At noon go have lunch with an amazing fruit shake.
  • Go back to your chair for about 20 minutes, or just long enough to get hot. The massage ladies will then come get you and say “Lady, it time for your massage.”
  • They will then take you into the shade and give you a massage and foot scrub.
  • After your massage go into the ocean for a few minutes to rinse off the massage lotion, but do not spend a lot of time in the water or you will get burnt!
  • Get out go back to the restaurant have an afternoon snack or fruit shake.
  • Move your chair into the shade and take a nap or go back to your room for an AC nap.
  • Come back to the beach around 5 or 6 and pick out the skewers that you want them to grill you for dinner. Have dinner and don’t forget the mosquito spray!
  • Now go for a walk down the beach to the other hotels along the water. Be sure to have a Roti for dessert! Lemon/sugar ones are my favorite.