What do you do on the last day of your holiday when you have a late afternoon flight? Usually I laze around the hotel, enjoy the spa or pool, pack leisurely and generally waste time until it’s time to leave for the airport, all enjoyable but not really exciting ! Afternoon flights are always a challenge, never really enough spare time to do anything and instead a whole day seems to be lost travelling, or so I thought – wanting to make the best of my last half a day in Bangkok and hit the streets with a mission to pack in as much as I could in the final four hours before the airport pick up.
So here’s what I did :
On Foot : A short walk from the hotel, Siam@Siam located in Siam Square gave me an opportunity to do a bit more people watching and to try a new drink for me called Butterfly Pea which changes colour from a vibrant blue to a purple when you add lemon juice to it.
This is the second time I’ve stayed in Siam Square, it’s a great area to use as a base for a Bangkok stay. There’s good access to the Skytrain, some great shopping from street shopping, high end to mid range and casual. It’s also home to Jim Thomson House
Travel tip – Bangkok is easy to get around on foot, it’s a bit humid in October but perfectly comfortable temperature to at least spend some of your day exploring on foot. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, don’t look too much like an obvious tourist, don’t flout your cash/jewellery etc be vigilant for pickpockets and you should be fine. If you like people watching and street food this is highly recommended for you. Keep hydrated too, my favourite has to be coconut water (usually costs about 25/Baht) straight from the coconut, no tetra packed coconut water for me thanks !
I then caught the Skytrain (BTS) : where I headed to the river at Tha Sathon (Saphan Taksin stop) and then took the boat to Yodhiphiman Riverwalk.
Travel Tip : The traffic in Bangkok can be fairly brutal and slow, from my experience you can never expect to be on time when you travel by taxi, the Skytrain and MTV are therefore perfect for commuting around town and are fairly reliable. Tickets are cheap and the routes are quite comprehensive, best of all you can get around Bangkok fairly easily without the frustration of sitting in traffic. Peak times can be crowded and you need to have your wits about you to ensure you are on the right train etc, listen out for stop names or watch the overhead TV screen as the station names are not always easy to spot from the carriageway. If you plan on travelling on the Skytrain and MTV a lot then get a travel card which you can top up and just swipe at the gates. The bridges linking the Skytrain to the street give some perfect changes to people watch and see the city from new perspectives.
Commuter Boat : From there I boarded the commuter river boat and spent an enjoyable time people watching and river spotting, to be honest I could have stayed on the boat and had a fab time too as I love being near or or water.
Travel Tip : River travelling comes in three main forms. The Commuter boat is the cheapest and most flexible for times, costing 25/Baht per trip this is the main form of transport for those living in Bangkok and offers the most authentic trip but can be crowded and busy. The Tourist Boats, operate every 30 minutes or so, tend to be quite crowded with tourists and you get a guided tour along the way, though when I hopped onto this the guide spent most of her time telling us about the luxurious hotels on either side of the river rather than pointing out the historic sights etc – either pay per trip at 40/Baht or buy a pass covering the whole day allowing you to hop on and hop off at 150/Baht, these trips can be a great initiation to Bangkok and river life if you are visiting for the first time, they start running from 10.00 am. Alternatively you can have your own private boat which can leave the main river and head off down the smaller canals, I was offered this at a cost of 1,000 Baht for a one hour trip, suspect you can haggle the price down. If you stay in one of the swanky riverside hotels they often have their own transfer boats, and if you have some extra cash to slash a riverboat dinner cruise is a lovely way to see Bangkok at night.
Back on foot and after clicking a few shots of river life I stopped at Yodphiman Riverwalk where I grabbed a coffee then headed towards the Fruit & Veg market and then the Pak Klong Talad Flower Market. We had visited the Flower Market before at night time but my camera battery died so I only managed a few shots and wanted to visit again during the day time.
Travel Tip :Yodphiman Riverwalk is a great hangout for dinner. There are some cute restaurants and coffee shops, a perfect way to watch the sunset over the river. Officially it opens at 10.00 am but I found a few coffee shops open on the lower levels before then. A few nights earlier we dined at Ban Maeyui and had a great Thai dinner. This is a perfect base from which to explore the Flower Market or to move further up the river to continue a river trip.
The Fruit & Veg and Flower Market are great places for on foot exploration and people watching. Most traders are friendly and happy for you to click shots, though its always best to be polite and ask. This is a market open 24/7 and is always busy, so watch your back and feet for the porters who rush through the market all the time with trolleys laden with produce. It’s not essential to buy, but I usually buy one or two things along the way.
By Taxi : Taxis are relatively inexpensive compared to the UK and Dubai, but come with a warning that it takes time to get around due to the traffic. Hunt around in the bottom of the back seat and you should be able to locate the seat belt buckles which for some reason the guys like to hide …. Thai pronunciation can be difficult (well it always is for me) causing many a puzzled face by the taxi driver so it’s usually easier to show them a hotel card or to show them where you want to go in your guidebook or on your phone – I use Google Maps a lot when travelling. Taxis are metered which removes the need for haggling over a fare.
I got my taxi to drop me back to MBK Shopping Mall – famous for it’s huge foodcourt amongst other things. I had a few bits of last minute shopping to do and most importantly needed to eat something substantial before my trip home as I rarely eat on planes preferring to eat prior to a flight.
Travel Tip :
A final stop off in a supermarket is a great place to get some final purchases if you didn’t manage to pick up spices, sauces etc along the way during your trip, it’s a must place for me to visit. This time I came back with Thai Coffee from Chang Mai, some Coconut Milk Toffee, dried Mango and Durian chips, Lemon grass sauce, Tom Yum dried spice pack (cheating I know!) and some local pepper and honey.
By Tuk Tuk – with my arms laden with last minute bits and pieces I took a short Tuk Tuk trip back to the hotel, a firm “no thanks I don’t wish to visit a Gem shop along the way” resulted in a short 10 Baht transfer to a Thai Massage shop close to the hotel where I managed to fit in a last minute final treat a Thai foot massage ! Unfortunately I didn’t have time for the full one hour treatment, but spent a blissful thirty minutes in my version of Thai heaven, having my weary feet and calves massaged as I relaxed (no pics as frankly I won’t subject you to a click of my somewhat swollen feet after an evening encounter with some mosquitos !).
A quick dash back to the hotel, a speedy shower and a super quick check out meant that I was ready and waiting for my airport transfer at 1pm feeling satisfied and happy that I had crammed all I could have done into my last few hours in Bangkok…. until next time 🙂
And the grand total for my morning out and about :
Skytrain | 50 baht
Drink | 20 baht
Riverboat | 25 baht
Coffee | 120 baht
Spring Rolls | 20 baht
Taxi | 80 baht
Late Breakfast/lunch 300 baht
Foot massage | 200 baht
Tuk Tuk | 10 baht
Supermarket shopping and gifts – not accounted for
Grand Total | 830 Thai Baht – a Grand total of 83/AED or about £15