Bangkok Day 1: Pratunam

We arrived in Bangkok mid morning. We had several options for getting to the hotel from the Suvarnabhumi Airport including using the airport rail link which connects to Bangkok’s fantastic BTS Skytrain system. Instead we chose the fuss free method of catching a public taxi. For fellow travellers, don’t get conned by the fake taxi drivers waiting for you outside the arrival hall, instead, head to Level 1 and follow the signs outside to the Public Taxi stand where you will be given a ticket listing your taxi driver’s details.

Your total taxi fare will include toll charges (70 Baht), airport pick up surcharge (50 Baht) and your meter fare (ours was 250 Baht). It cost us 370 Baht in total to get to our hotel in Pratunam. Please note that there is no airport surcharge to be paid for the return leg to the airport.
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Citin Pratunam Hotel was our humble abode for the rest of the trip. Very affordable and located conveniently in Pratunam (10 mins walk to Platinum Mall). Overall Citin is situated in a good area if your main destination is Platinum Fashion Mall, they provide a free tut-tut service every half an hour which sends you to Platinum or the nearest BTS station (Ratchathewi sstation for us). However it also requires quite a bit of maneuvering through crowded streets /markets to get to the main road. Citin is situated along a narrow alleyway lined with food stalls (good part) which makes it difficult for vehicles to get in and out (bad).

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Their wifi was patchy at best, but they also have PCs for use in the lobby. The staff were very good though, friendly and conversant in English. There’s also a tour agency booth at the lobby, a currency exchange office outside the hotel and a tailor shop!

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The hotel room wasn’t spacious, but bright, clean and neat so that was good enough for me.

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Once we were settled, we headed straight out to explore the nearby surroundings. While we were initially not hungry, the enticing smell of food wafting out from all the nearby stalls called to us. We only lasted about 10 metres before sitting down at one of the stalls for some food. First meal in Bangkok had to be none other than Tom Yum! It was spicy, sour and all things Tom Yum should be.

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I ordered Pad Thai, one of my favourite Thai dishes. Not sure whether it was because it was the first meal in Bangkok, but I reckon this was the best Pad Thai that I had in Bangkok. Everything was bursting with flavour and so tasty. The best thing was not feeling like you had to gulp down gallons of water to wash out tell tale signs of MSG afterwards.

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This is Pantip Mall, also known as the IT Mall in Bangkok. So as you can guess, the whole mall was just filled with IT accessories and all things computer related. This is where I would recommend all geeky computer nerds to go.

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I wasn’t in the market for IT goods, so Pantip Mall was a quick scan and we headed for more important things like PLATINUM FASHION MALL! Dear sisters and female friends, this is THE place you go to for shopping heaven. I will put up some pics of the shops in the mall in future posts (I visited it err.. close to everyday) but this is six floors (two buildings btw) crammed with little shops selling all kinds of fashion at wholesale prices, shoes, bags, accessories, clothes. You will get lost but I discovered the system (ok, R did, I’m not so organised) of making sure you don’t miss out on a single shop, the mall is spilt into zones, floors and numbered lanes, so just go by number and you won’t miss anything.  And the bonus attraction, they have a great food court on Level 6!

Platinum Fashion Mall and Pantip Mall is located on Phetchaburi Road.

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Shockingly, I didn’t buy anything from Platinum on the first day.. because I hadn’t exchanged any money yet. So that was my next destination. The best currency exchange place offering the best rates in Pratunam is Super Rich, which is located next to this Big C supermarket opposite the Central World shopping plaza. Don’t forget to bring your passport or photo id to Super Rich.

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After getting our $$$, we escaped the heat by exploring Big C. April is the hottest month in Bangkok, obviously we found out too late and it was really very hot and humid. So when I spotted this Swensens at the ground floor of the Big C building, I knew we were going to get some sundaes.

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I’ve never been a big fan of Swensens. I remember reading a Bangkok travel blog where the author stressed that Swensens was her must eat place in Bangkok because it’s so much cheaper than Swensens in Malaysia. Haha, being such a cheapskate, that point stayed with me. They had great looking posters of their summer specials which was all about mango too, so we had a summer mango sundae. It was actually really nice (69 baht) and very Thai with green coconut milk infused glutinous rice and mango icecream.

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This was our main purchase from Big C hahaha.

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Bangkok traffic is terrible, especially around the Pratunam area, it’s just jam packed with vehicles. Which adds to the overall heat of the vicinity.

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Central World, which according to Wiki is the third largest shopping center in the world. Hmm.. it didn’t feel that big to be honest. My first impression of Central World wasn’t great. I mean it was definitely lush and clean and big, just like those Singaporean shopping malls, but there wasn’t much to buy besides the big branded stuff (Wendy and Jason, they have Zara there) and I’m more about bargain goods. I changed my mind a couple days later and Central World soon became our second most visited mall besides Platinum.

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What changed my mind about Central World? It wasn’t just because there’s an ice skating rink in Central World. They also have Mister Donut. (^__^). Beard’s Papa creampuffs (^__^). BreadTalk (^___^). 399 Baht international buffets.  And a fantastic cinema.

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Back outside in the heat. The outside of Central World is also pretty great. Locals can be seen praying at the shrine in front of the plaza any time of the day. In fact there seem to be more people praying late at night. At night, stalls selling knick knacks like flowers, clothes, belts, sunnies line the street. And then there’s the food carts and the seafood stalls with bbq whole fish on the racks.

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Time to head back to the hotel. This husband and wife combo became a daily sight on our way back to the hotel with their food stall located along the narrow alleyway. They sell oyster omelette and pad thai which somehow are always sold together in Bangkok. Eash dish costs 30 Baht.

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Dinner is tasty.

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And so is dessert of fresh mango and sticky rice, also bought from one of the food carts along the street.

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First day in Bangkok, first Chang beer in Bangkok. Guess how many beers he went through in our days in Bangkok?

Winner wins a crystal elephant. Just kidding, I couldn’t find a crystal elephant anywhere! Hope you enjoyed the first Bangkok post!

6 Responses to “Bangkok Day 1: Pratunam”

  1. 1 wendy April 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I feel like a beer right now!! Next time I would feel shop til drop. 😛

  2. 2 ria April 19, 2012 at 2:44 am

    looks like fun!! can’t wait for the next couple of bangkok posts. We fly to Bangkok & Phuket in Oct!!

  3. 4 slappedbygunk April 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I had a Chang beer top! Bought it from the backpackers’ area in BKK.

    Wah your Swensen’s sounds so posh – coconut milk infused glutinous rice hahahahaha.

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