If there's one reason why I would go back to Bangkok, It's definitely Shopping! I can let go of the golden temples and magnificent palaces but not the never ending shopping. There’s no better place to get everything you need at reasonable price than in Bangkok. There's the 7-Floor mall, Terminal 21 (where I got a limited Kobe 9 Baskbetball Shoes at a price 20% less than it's selling price in the Philippines), the Central World, MBK, Siam Square and Paragon. Everything there is so cheap. In my 3 days, I spent only less than $100 for food, fare, few drinks and some gifts (excluding the shoes my friend asked me to buy).
Bangkok is Thailand's capital with over 8 million people. It is known to have incredible traffic jams, crowded streets, kinda polluted environment and locals who hardly speak English. But behind these impressions lie a colorful and beautiful city with a distinct taste and still rich in cultural heritage.
It is one of the world's popular tourist destinations. Global brand MasterCard ranked Bangkok as a top destination city by international visitor arrivals in its Global Destination Cities Index, with over 16 million visitors a little over a year ago. Bangkok is ranked 4th in cross-border spending, after the high-end New York and the exquisite London and Paris.
Thailand's Department of Tourism recorded over 10 million foreign visitors to Bangkok a year ago who were accommodated by almost 100,000 hotel rooms. The city has a lot of Classy and Posh hotels and are offered only at a price half than its usual cost in other countries. You can even get a decent room from value hotels at $50 a night.
So where should you go and what should do in Bangkok?
1. Let's start with the nearest from Aloft Hotel, the famous Charlie’s, one of the most popular night hub in the city. Enjoy a drink with other foreigners then move in to other bars with live bands.
2. Visit the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Temples, Ruins and the famous Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an ancient spot known to have magnificent and huge monasteries.
3. Try a real Thai Massage. It's very cheap and available in almost every street.
4. Visit the floating market and ride the river boats to Bangkok’s central Chao Phraya River.
5. Get yourself an authentic Thai food. But don't eat anything you would come across. You can go to Sukhumvit Soi 38 where a lot of stalls are offering spicy soup noodles, thai salads, stir fried dishes, and freshly sliced fruits.
6. Watch a movie and experience their luxurious theaters. Most of the cinemas are inside the shopping malls and are known to be the hub of modern cineplexes with karaoke facilities.
7. I know I have discussed shopping already in the earlier part of this article but let me just give you detail information. For night markets, check Siam night market, located near the Siam station. Then Spend few hours in Khao San road. On weekends go to Chatuchak, a shopping haven offering almost anything from 20,000 vendors. If you are a wholesaler and you want good deals on clothes and accessories, then go to Pratunam.
8. If you are in Thailand between April 13-15, then you are up for a major event, The Songkran Festival! It's the Thai New Year celebrated through water fight where everyone gets literally wet!
Here are some reminders for first time travelers:
1. Travel lite - Don't bring too many clothes. Remember Bangkok is a paradise for shoppers. You can get a shirt for only P100 ($2) each.
2. Wear comfortable shoes! You'll find yourself walking a lot abroad! I find that Zalora PH has the best range of men's loafers. You can check their affordable yet classy collection here.
3. Have en extra Cash, Credit Card or Debit Card for emergencies. You'll never know what surprises you'll meet there! Being ready is always better than worrying in the end.
4. Bring your passport and a pen with you all the time. Some establishments would ask that you show it to them especially when you ask for Tax Refund, Discounts, or even Wifi Password. If you are from the Philippines and a Smart Telecom Subscriber (both postpaid or prepaid), I suggest you register to their all day roaming for only P500. They have partnership with True Telecom, one of the leading network providers in Thailand. You'll be assured of no unwanted data charges to your account. To register:
1. Text ROAM ON and send to 333 at least 30 minutes before leaving the country.
2. Check your network settings & make sure you are connected to SMART’s Conexus Roaming Partner.
3. To access the USSD Menu, Dial *133# and Press ANSWER then enter 5 to choose DATA ROAMING.
5. Choose Thailand and True Telecom from the list of countries and roaming partner.
6. Select the All-DAY SURF ABROAD 500. If successful, you'll receive a confirmation. For more details, check out #SmartAllDaySurfAbroad