Destination Guide To Bangkok & Pattaya

Destination Guides

Location overview and Attractions and Activities guides to Bangkok and Pattaya

Pattaya - Guide, Activities and Attractions

Shopping Up A Storm

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Shopping Up A Storm

In Pattaya one of the best things you can do practically 24hrs a day is shop! The city caters to all tastes and budgets and never fails to offer that perfect souvenir, gift or personal memento. Here we list for you some of the biggest and brightest of the bunch.

CentralFestival Pattaya Beach is the city’s newest kid on the block. This mega seven-storey shopping mall is located next door to the Siam Bayview Hotel in the centre of Beach Road. Opened just 12 months ago in January 2009, it’s Asia's largest beachfront shopping complex. Built on prime beachfront land over 220,000 m², this 7-billion-Baht megaproject features more than 200 fashion outlets and boutiques (such as Top Shop, MNG, Esprit, Miss Selfride), countless restaurants (Sizzler, A&W, The Pizza Company, Starbucks, Swensen’s), a Central Food Court, international supermarket, fitness centre and spa, large SFX cinema (with 10 screens), bowling alley and more.

Down the road about a km you’ll find the old Royal Garden Plaza shopping mall. This place is well known as a family oriented retail and entertainment destination, equally popular with Thai and foreign tourists. The small complex is home to many national and internationally recognised brands including Guess, Esprit, Timberland, Swarovski, Boots, Asia Books and CD warehouse, not to mention Thailand’s most common food chains: McDonalds, Sizzler, Swensen's and The Pizza Company. Besides that, the site’s main draw card is the world renowned Ripley's Believe It or Not! on the top level. This is where kids young and old come to marvel at persons and feats of daring that boggle the mind.

The Avenue is a centre for lifestyle and entertainment in a space of 40,000 square meters on Pattaya 2nd Road. The project was designed by a team of architects, from Contour Company, who put emphasis on bright and airy buildings, highlighting a large walkway which connects each shop. Notable shops include Starbucks and an Apple Store. At night the space comes alive with a bubbly night market selling clothes, brick-a-back, accessories and so on.

Mike Shopping Mall, located between CentralFestival and Royal Garden, commands a prime location in the heart of the city. There are over 200 shops here with decent prices. This is truly a shopper’s paradise for all tourists and local people alike. You might have to fight your way through a gauntlet of tour buses and then a hoard of Taiwanese tourist, but once in you’ll have limitless opportunities to spend, spend, spend! Supposedly the price for expats, tourists and Thai is same, but I have my doubts and suggest you haggle hard. On offer are knock-off bags, watches, clothing, accessories, beach paraphernalia and so on; the perfect place to pick up holiday souvenirs and presents.

Tesco Lotus is related to the Tesco retail chain based in the U.K. It is the leading retailer of consumer goods in Thailand, with a network of stores and hypermarkets throughout the country. A great place to pick up sporting equipment, household good, basic clothing, cosmetics and IT equipment.

Big C Supercenter emerged with a new concept for retail business under the theme "super center", which means the stores main focus is food and non-food items. It is simply a combination of discount store and food outlets that provide utmost customer satisfaction and quality products at very low everyday prices under one convenient roof. I good place to browse if you need foodstuffs or are just interested in seeing what the locals like to shop for.

Another new (2009) entertainment area in Pattaya is the Pattaya City Walk. This is a wide lane between Beach Rd and Second Rd. Inside the lane are small shops, an open air entertainment area, a hotel and restaurants. Over the Beach Rd entrance hangs this large and colourful sign inviting in people passing by... Not a bad spot for a leisurely evening stroll, window shop, cooling beverage and spot of people watching (always a worthwhile pursuit in this part of the world!).

Last, but not least, a little ways (about 5km) out of town can be found the Outlet Village, stocking brands like Adidas, Esprit, Callaway, Nike and a slew of local and international gold brands. Worth the trek out if you’re in the market for genuine designer threads and would appreciate a modest discount. That said, discounts can get over 50% during the Thailand’s annual Sale Season.

 

Explorer Museum & Bar

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Explorer Museum & Bar

The Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa’s Explorer Bar & Lounge is really cool. This uniquely designed and fitted out bar is a veritable mini-museum. Here guests are able to leisurely examine up-close a painstakingly collected array of precious antiques, artefacts, sunken treasure, ancient relics, old maps, curios, exploring equipment and paraphernalia from around Asia and the globe.

The bar, or “museum” is it’s referred too in-house, is the brainchild of Kamala Sukosol, president of Siam Hotels & Resorts, and her youngest son, Krissada ‘Noi’ Sukosol Clapp, best known as front man of the iconic Thai brand Pru and winner of a Best Actor award for his critically acclaimed performance in the film “13”. What the owners have done is create a magical and enchanting world, a time capsule if you like, juxtaposed to the hurly-burly of modern-day Pattaya. To my mind, this is the kind the establishment where you can truly step back in time to relive a bygone era when travel was a real adventure and intrepid men and women traversed the oceans blue in search of distant and exotic lands...

An unbelievable plethora of curios from around the globe are on display. Of particular interest are Thai daily household tools and belongings, along with sunken treasures from China and Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital city. Furniture and ornaments take pride of place, such as a 1920s Sino-Thai herbal medicine cabinet, baskets from Mozambique, Tanzanian fabrics, vintage weaponry, magnifying glasses made of horn and ivory, Naga tribal spears, Burmese antique mah jong tables and a Thai pushcart used to sell fabrics. More curios artefacts include vintage cameras, Vietnamese stamps, a forest tiger’s skull, volcanic rock from Bali, medicine ‘tubes’ from Java and a cane made from snake bone. There are (of course) essentials for ship travel too: an English deep-sea diver’s mask, a cast iron chest, a naval telescope and compass. Lastly, there is a canal boat from Thailand’s famous Floating Market. Bangkok was once dubbed as the ‘Venice’ of South-East Asia and such a boat was very much a part of everyday life, selling everything from fresh market food to clothing, toys and whiskey.

Ships that sank in the South China Sea are also of particular interest because many of them were sailing on the Marine Silk Road, carrying wondrous bounties from China. These shipwrecks are veritable time capsules giving us a picture of life in a bygone era. Perhaps the most famous of all is the Nanking cargo which attracted worldwide media attention when it was auctioned by Christies Amsterdam in 1986. The Geldermalsen set sail in 1751, loaded down with 160,000 pieces of porcelain, tea, raw silk, textiles and gold ingots. Sadly, just 16 days after setting sail it hit a reef and sank in the South China Sea. The cargo was recovered and sold two hundred and thirty four years later! At the Explorer Bar you can view the remnants of similar great wrecks, such as the Binh Thuan, Ca Mau and Vung Tau, ranging from the 14-18th century.

More than even a museum and bar, the Explorer is a cosy and inviting lounge (open 9:00 am – 1:00 am daily) where you can just sit-back and relax with a beverage or snack [my tasty sabai-sabai set me back Bht 190++ and generous club sandwich Bht 195++]; play a few rounds of pool; try your hand at a board game (connect four, chess, checkers); watch sports on the flat screen TV or snuggle up with a good book [an extensive library of books and magazine is on offer]. Best of all, the bar has a great daily ‘Happy Hour’ from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, with a very tipple-worthy ‘buy one get one free’ offer.

To end, Ping Amranand, an internationally renowned Thai photographer:

“Entering the Explorer Bar & Lounge is like taking a step back into nostalgia, to an era of the gentleman’s club, where in dimly lit corners one can expect to find dusty travellers – gin fizz in hand – regaling each other with stories of their latest adventure.”

Bangkok - Guide, Activities and Attractions

Getting Around the City of Angels

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Getting Around the City of Angels

Bangkok’s heaving traffic is legendary, presenting a constant challenge for residents and visitors alike. River and canal boats, along with the BTS skytrain and MRT subway systems, offer some reliable alternatives to getting stuck on the roads. Nonetheless, traffic remains horrendous, particularly mid-week. Below is a layman’s guide to inner-city transport choices.

RAIL

SKYTRAIN

The Bangkok Transit System, or BTS, is a two-line elevated train network covering the major commercial areas, from up north at Mo Chit all the way past Siam Square to On Nut and from down-town National Monument all the way over the river to Wongwian Yai. Trains run every few minutes from 6am to midnight, making the BTS a quick and reliable transport option, especially during heavy traffic jams. Depending on stops involved, fares range from Bht 15 to 40; special tourist passes allowing unlimited travel for one day (Bht 120) are also available. www.bts.so.th.

SUBWAY

Bangkok’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is another fast and reliable way to get around town. The 18-station line stretches 20kms from Hualamphong (near the central railway station) up to Bang Sue in the north. Subways run from 6am to midnight daily, with trains arriving every 5-7 minutes. The underground connects with the BTS at MRT Silom/BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Sukhumvit/BTS Asok and MRT Chatuchak Park/BTS Mo Chi. Subway fares range from Bht 15 to 39 depending on distance. www.bangkokmetro.co.th.

RIVER

CANAL BOAT

Khlong Saen Saep canal boats operate from Banglamphu across the city to Ramkhamhaeng University. However, you have to be quick to board them as they don’t usually wait around long. Canal (khlong) boats tend to be frequent and cost around Bht 8 to 18 depending on distance. Tickets are bought onboard. Note that the piers are a tad hidden, which makes them somewhat difficult to find, pick up a handy route map from any pier to help.


EXPRESS RIVER BOAT

Bangkok’s vast network of inter-city waterways offer a quick and colourful alternative for visiting some of city’s top sights, such as the Grand Palace. Express boats ply the Chao Phraya River from Saphan Taksin Bridge up to Nonthaburi, stopping at some 30 main piers along the way. Fares range from Bht 9 to 32 depending on the distance, with tickets being purchased either onboard or at the pier, depending on how much time you have. Boats depart every 20 minutes or so between 5:030am and 6:00pm. Cross-river services operate throughout the day from each pier for just Bht 3. Like their klong brethren, these tugs don’t hang around, so make getting on and off a hasty affair.

ROAD

BUS

Bangkok has an extensive and inexpensive public bus service. Both open-air and air-conditioned vehicles area available, respectively for Bht 5 and Bht 7.50-23. As most destinations are noted only in Thai, it is advisable to get a bus route map, available at hotels, TAT offices and bookshops. Note that for many of the buses you board in the middle set of doors and exit from the front and rear. Tickets sellers will come to you once onboard.

MOTORCYCLE TAXI

In Bangkok’s heavy traffic, motorcycle taxis are the fastest, albeit most dangerous, form of road transport. Easily recognisable by their colourful oranges vests, motorbike taxi drivers gather in groups beside department stores, outside restaurants, at the end of long sois or nearby tourist spots. As with tuk-tuks, fares definitely have to be negotiated beforehand. On average you are looking at Bht 10-30 for a 3-10 minute ride. Whilst drivers wear helmets, they will not offer or have a spare one on hand for passengers, you ride at your own risk.

TAXI

Bangkok has thousands of metered, air-con taxies available 24 hours. Flag fall is Bht 35 (for the first 2km) and the fare climbs in Bht 2 increments from there. Be sure the driver switches the meter on as this is a popular swindle played on unsuspecting visiting guests. Whilst there is no tipping expected, rounding the fare up to the nearest Bht 5 or 10 is considered nice. Note that additional passengers are not charged, nor is baggage. For trips to and from the airport, passengers should pay the expressway toll fees. When boarding from the queue outside the terminal, an additional Bht 50 surcharge is added.

TUK-TUK

Those three-wheeled taxis (or samlor) are best known as tuk-tuks, so named for the steady whirr of their engines. A 10 minute ride should cost around Bht 40, but always bargain before boarding as drivers can be notoriously sneaky when it comes payment time. Also, be on guard if a tuk-tuk driver offers to deliver you anywhere for Bht 10, it’s part of a setup that will lead you to an overpriced souvenir or jewellery shop.

Museums & Historical Buildings

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Museums & Historical Buildings

Bangkok and its surroundings are home to scores of museums catering to various interests, including the history-filled National Museum, modest but sombre war memorials, and the charming, architecturally rich Jim Thompson House Museum located in a cluster of traditional Thai houses. Here is a list of some of the top ones you won’t want to miss when visiting the City of Angels.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ayutthaya Historical Park; 84km north of Bangkok; daily 8am-5pm; entrance charge; go by train, bus or boat.

The old capital of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful city, founded in 1350, was built by 33 Ayutthayan kings over 400 years. Although it is in ruins, impressive remnants of it rich architectural and cultural achievements can still be seen today. As fast as it rose to greatness it collapsed, suffering destruction so complete that it was never rebuilt. Burmese armies had pounded on its doors for centuries before occupying it for a period in the 16th century. Siamese kings then expelled them and reasserted independence. In 1767, however, the Burmese triumphed again. They burned and looted destroying most of the city’s monuments and enslaving, killing and scattering the population. The royal court resettled south near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River in what is today’s Bangkok. Even after the Burmese were defeated, Ayutthaya was beyond repair, a fabled city left to crumble into dust. Today, the ruins, collectively known as the Ayutthaya Historical Park, stand on the western half of the island, with the modern city of Ayutthaya on the eastern side.

Death Railway Museum

Kanchanaburi; 130km west of Bangkok; www.tbrconline.com; daily 9am-5pm; entrance charge; go by train or bus.

Opened in 2003 and founded by Australian Rod Beattie, the local supervisor of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Death Railway Museum at the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre has eight galleries that trace the history and recounts the sufferings of the people involved without making biased judgement (of particular note is reference to Hell Fire Pass). It even has a full-scale replica of the original wooden bridge. The Japanese began work on a railway between Thailand and Burma in 1942. For most of its 400-km length, the railway followed the river valley because this allowed its construction to take place simultaneously in different areas. The Japanese forced some 250,000 Asian labourers and 61,000 Allies POWs to construct 260km of rail on the Thai side, leading to the Three Pagodas Pass on the Thai-Burma border. An estimated 100,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allies POWs lost their lives in 1942-5 from beatings, starvation and disease. Adjacent to the museum is the Allied War Cemetery (daily 7am-6pm; free). Lined up row upon row are the graves of some 7,000 Allies soldiers from Britain, America, Australia, Holland and other countries, representing less than half of the soldiers who perished.

Jim Thompson’s House

Thanon Rama 1; www.jimthompsonhouse.com; daily 9am-5pm; entrance charge includes compulsory guided tour; BTS: National Stadium.

Standing on the bank of the Khlong Saen Saep canal is Jim Thomson’s well-preserved Thai house. An architect by training, Thompson arrived in Thailand at the end of World War II, serving as a military officer. After the war he returned to Bangkok, where he became interested in the almost extinct art of Thai-silk weaving and was credited for reviving the industry. The compound comprises six teak structures that were transported from Ayutthaya and elsewhere to the silk-weaving enclave of Ban Khrua, just across Khlong Saen Saep, before being reassembled at its current spot in 1959. The structures, making up the various rooms of the house, are painted the red-brown hue characteristic of Thai houses. They feature dramatic outward-sweeping roofs covered with rare tiles designed and fired in Ayutthaya. The entire structure, enveloped by lush tropical greenery, stands elevated a full storey above the ground as protection against flooding. Thompson also made design choices that departed from the conventional Thai style. Instead of laying out the rooms in a cluster, he opted to have them in rows, adjoined to one another or linked by raised corridors. The buildings are now a museum housing Thompson’s collection of Thai artefacts. His assemblage includes precious Buddha images, porcelain, paintings, and finely carved furniture and panels collected from old homes and temples throughout Thailand. Next to the old house is a wooden annex, housing a pond-side cafe with an elegant bar and restaurant, while opposite is the Art Centre, a contemporary gallery that holds regular exhibitions of local and international art and crafts. Before leaving, be sure to stop by and pick up some silk accessories from the branded Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company.

Kamthieng House

Sukhumvit Soi 21; ww.siam-society.org; Tue-Sat 9am-5pm; entrance charge; BTS: Asok

On the grounds of the Siam Society is the Kamthieng House, a small pocket of northern Lanna culture transported to the heart of Bangkok. The 150-year-old wooden home, originally from the banks of Chiang Mai’s Mae Pink River, was reassembled here and is now an ethnological museum presenting audio-visual displays on northern folk culture and daily life. The home is reputedly still inhabited by the ghosts of three former residents.

MR Kukrit Pramoj’s Heritage Home

Soi Phra Phinji; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm; entrance charge; BTS: Chong Nonsi.

Born of royal decent (signified by the title Mom Ratchawong – MR), the late Kukrit Pramoj had a brief stint as prime minister during the disruptive 1970s, but is better remembered as a prolific author and cultural preservationist. His splendid traditional Thai home comprises five single-room stilt buildings that were brought over from separate locations in the central plains over a period of time, beginning from the 1906s. Three of the building are more than a century old and are linked by a raised verandah with an open living space beneath. The buildings are now a museum, enlivened by antique pottery, memorabilia and photos of the famous statesman. The ornate garden adds a sense of serenity.

Museum of Forensic Medicine

Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok, Mon-Sat 8:30am-4:30pm; entrance charge; pier Tha Wang Lang.

Within the Siriraj Hospital complex is the Museum of Forensic Medicine, frequented by medical students. Green arrows point the way from the hospital grounds to the museum, located on the second floor of the Forensic Department. The stomach-churning exhibits are definitely not for the queasy. Mummified corpses of Thailand’s most notorious criminals, deformed foetuses in formaldehyde and a gallery of disturbing post-mortem photographs are among the exhibits here.

Museum of Old Cannons

Thanon Sanam Chai; daily 24 hrs; free; pier Tha Chang.

Across the street from the Lak Muang is this remotely interesting battalion of antique armoury belong to the Museum of Old Cannons. In front of the 19-century European-style former barracks are displays of battle-worn and bulky cat-iron cannons.

National Museum

Thanon Na Phra That; www.thialandmuseum.com; Wed-Sun 9am-4pm; guided tours Wed and Thu 9:30am; entrance charge; pier Tha Phra Ahtit.

To learn about Thai history and culture, the national Museum, located between Thammasat University and the National Theatre, is a good place to start. Besides housing a vast collection of antiquities from all over Southeast Asia, the museum has an interesting history of its own. Its grounds and some of the principal rooms were part of the former Wang Na (Front Palace) of the king’s second-in-line, the Prince Successor, a feature of the Thai monarchy until 1870. The oldest buildings in the compound date from 1782. These include the splendid Buddhaisawan Chapel, built by the Prince Successor as his private palace of worship within the palace. In contains some of Thailand’s most beautiful and best-preserved murals, depicting 28 scenes from the Buddha’s life. The Sivamokhaphiman Hall, originally an open-sided audience hall, is devoted to Thai history, covering everything from the Sukhothai period to the present Rattanakosin period. Then there is the Prehistoric Gallery, with 5,000-year-old exhibits excavated from the Ban Chiang archaeological site in northern Thailand. Also on site is the Red House (Tamnak Daeng), an old golden-teak dwelling that once belonged to King Rama 1’s elder sister. Built in Ayutthaya style, the house has an ornate wood finish and elegant early Bangkok-style furnishings. The central audience hall of the Front Palace is divided into rooms containing various ethnological exhibits of elephant howdahs, woodcarvings, ceramics, palanquins, khon masks, musical instruments and other treasures. Most exhibits are weak on contextual information, so buy a copy of the museum guidebook or join the excellent guided tour.

National Museum of Royal Barges

Thanon Arun Amarin; daily 9am-5pm; entrance charge; go by boat.

On the northern bank of the Khlong Bangkok Noi canal is the national Museum of Royal Barges. Its dry-dock warehouse displays eight vessels from a fleet of over 50 that are rarely put to sail except on auspicious occasions, such as the anniversary of King Bhumibol’s 60th year on the throne in 2006. During the royal barge procession, barges sweep down the Chao Phraya River in formation with stretched nearly 1,200m wide. The 52 gilded barges were manned by 2,200 oars-men while the king watched and entertained visiting royals from 25 nations from the old palace of King Taksin. The current fleet was built during the reign of King Rama 1 and originally numbered over 100. Half of these were destroyed in World War 11.

Prasert Museum

Thanon Krungthep Kreetha; Thur-Sun 10am-3pm only by appointment; entrance charge.

Although little visited, partly because of its rather remote location in the Bangkok suburban of Huamak, this museum makes for a worthwhile excursion. Set within a garden, it displays a Thai antique arts and crafts collection that belongs to the private collector Prasert Vongsakul. The artefacts are contained in several magnificent buildings, all of which are replicas inspired by the region’s architectural classics. These elegant structures include a European-style mansion, a Khmer shrine, and teak houses from Thailand’s northern and central regions.

Royal Elephant Museum

Dusit Park; daily 9:30am-4pm; entrance charge, or free with Grand Palace ticket.

This museum was formerly a stable with three very rare white elephants. It now displays a large model of one of the present king’s prized living pachyderms, tusks and other paraphernalia. The white elephant is regarded as Thailand’s national symbol, and every white elephant found in Thailand rightfully belongs to the king. White elephants look nearly the same as common grey ones. It is only by a complicated process of examining skin colour, hair, eyes and genitalia that an elephant’s albino traits can be determined.

Suan Pakkad Palace

Thanon Si Ayuthaya; daily pam-4pm; entrance charge includes guided tour; BTS: Phayathai.

The name Suan Pakkad, meaning ‘Cabbage Patch’, refers to the ground’s former use as farmland before the palace was constructed in 1952. The former residence of the late Prince and Princess Chumbhot, who were prolific gardeners and art collectors, Suan Pakkad comprises eight traditional teak houses sitting amid a lush garden with a lotus pond. Converted into a museum, the wooden houses display an electric collection of antiques and artefacts, including Buddha images, Khmer statues, paintings, porcelain, musical instruments and ancient pottery from Ban Chiang. At the rear of the garden stands the Lacquer Pavilion, which dates to the mid-17th century. Prince Chumbhot discovered it in a temple near Ayutthaya and restored it as a birthday present for this wife in 1959. Depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life, the Ramakien and the vernacular life of the period, the pavilion’s black-and-gold leaf panels are considered masterpieces.

Vimanmek Mansion

Dusit Park; ww.thai.palaces.net; daily 9:30am-4pm; entrance charge, or free with Grand Palace ticket, with compulsory tours every 30 minutes.

The Vimanmek (meaning ‘Palace in the Clouds’) Mansion is billed as the world’s largest golden-teak building, originally built, without the use of a single nail, in 1868 as a summer house for King Chulalongkorn on the east-coast island of Ko Si Chang. The king ordered the three-storey, 72-room mansion dismantled and reassembled on the Dusit grounds in 1901. The gingerbread fretwork and octagonal tower look more Victorian than period Thai. The king and his large family lived here for only five years, after which it was occupied on and off over the next two decades before being abandoned and later restored for the Bangkok Bicentennial in 1982. Vimanmek offers an interesting glimpse into how the royal family of the day lived. Only 30 of the rooms are open to the public. A highlight is the king’s bedroom, which has a Europeans-style four-poster bed and what was probably Thailand’s first bathtub and flushing toilet. Among the porcelain and hunting trophies are rare find such as the first typewriter with Thai characters.

 

Wat Phra Kawe Museum and Coins and Decoration Museum

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew; www.palaces.thai.net; daily 8:30am-3:30pm; entrance charge for Grand Palace; pier Tha Chang.

The Wat Phra Kaew Museum, located in the Grand Palace complex, showcases seasonal costumes of the Emerald Buddha and a superb collection of small Buddha images made of silver, ivory, crystal and other materials. Next to the ticket office is the Coins and Decorations Museum, which has a collection of coins dating from the 11th century and also royal regalia, decorations and medals made of gold and precious stones.

 

Pier Shopping Along the Chaophraya

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Pier Shopping Along the Chaophraya

For a fun-filled day of adventurous shopping ‘off the beaten track’, do what Bangkok’s hordes of dek naew (trendy youths) do and head to one of the city’s vibrant piers for cool picks you’ll never find in the malls. Here is a list of some top spots to help you get started:

KLONGSAN (N3)

Where: Get off the express boat at Si Phraya Pier (N3) and take a cross-river ferry.

Who: Thonburi residents picking up bargain outfits on the way home.

When: Daily from 10am-9:30pm, but go from 2pm onwards.

What: Donman Shoe has pairs of shoes made from genuine leather and affordably priced at Bht 150-450. Can’t find your size? Place your order and come back a day later to pick up. Bung Bag Shop is a vintage bag Mecca where indie kids rummage through hundreds of adorable pieces. Ranging from faux-retro to authentic luxe brand names, their pieces are just as eclectic: Bht 400-4,500. Sakda Karnwaen is the home of nerdy eyewear. You don’t need to drop big bucks here, Bht 190-250 will suffice. Since it’s also a proper optical shop, you can get your lenses done here too.

PRACHAN (N10)

Where: Get off at Wanglang Pier and take a ferry or get off at Ta Chang Pier and walk.

Who: Oldies and monks go for amulets while Thammasat and Silapakorn university kids grab bohemian threads and have their fortune told.

When: The amulet market is open from around 9am-7pm but for the other stuff, it’s better to head there after the uni kids finish class, from 3-6pm.

What: Leum Mai Long is cramped with vintage T-shirts sporting old skool Thai singers and typography. Price are between Bht 150-350. @Means is a one-stop shot for girls on a tight budget (Bht 200-450) and schedule. With cute shoes, bags and even cosmetics, the shop can have your new look sorted within minutes. Nong is where you come for the newest CD singles from Thai and international artists. Rodsanyom is located out in the open, right on the street, it has two parts: glasses and women’s clothing. The clothes (Bht 390-790) are self-designed and handmade – mostly brand copies with a pattern or detail added for good measure. The other stall sells fashionable glasses and sunglasses (Bht 199-290); just make sure you change the lenses.

WANGLANG (N10)

Where: Get off at Wanglang Pier.

Who: Dek naew dig up vintage gems hidden in piles of old junk while neighbouring hospital employees fill their tummies.

When: Open 10am-6pm, but avoid noon-1pm when the market is packed with lunching office workers.

What: 59/1 selld ready-to-wear gear like what’s on sale in Siam Square, only 30% cheaper. Starting at around Bht 290 for a dress and Bht 300 for a pair of high heels the place is hard to fault. Ma Ha Eng nearby has handmade earrings, hair pins and necklaces studded with glittering crystals. Prices vary, depending on how bling it is, but nothing exceeds Bht 280. So Pah is a unisex fashion shop in Wanglang Plaza. Shirts (Bht 199-590) are relatively colourful and neatly cut but the trendy designs mean they become ‘last season’ quite fast. Almost Famous, in the same plaza, is a family-run business with another outlet at Chatuchuk Market. The blouses are self-designed and handmade, but the T-shirts are from elsewhere, so make sure to check the tag. Shirts start at Bht 290, and dresses go for Bht 700. If you’re not feeling too hot, you can also grab a pair of denim jeans for Bht 690.

THEWET (N15)

Where: Get off at Thewet Pier.

Who: Garden lovers go for their horticultural and floral needs.

When: The market is open 6:30am-6:30pm but it’s recommend you go between 10am-3pm to avoid the jams caused by parents dropping their little darlings off at one of five nearby schools.

What: Pis Prom is packed to the rafters with cactus and bonsai in a wide range of types and sizes. Prices start from as low as Bht 20 but can rise to more than Bht 10,000 if the owner needs to import a plant from Japan to meet your specific needs. She even flies there herself to pick out the best ones! Chor Prayong has super friendly vendors and very fresh offerings. Check out the bright yellow marigolds (Bht 20 each) and the large pots of gypsy flowers (Bht 180). Napaporn, located at the mouth of the street, is where you get the hardcore gardening stuff, from trowels and trellises to fertilizers; all at reasonable prices.

PHRA ATHIT (N13)

Where: Get off at Phra Athit if you arrive via a slow boat or orange-flag boat. Get off at Phra Pinklao Pier if you’ve taken a yellow- or green-flag boat, then take a ferry.

Who: Indie kids meet backpackers, thanks to its location between tourist central Khaosan Rd and the universities of Thamassat and Silpakorn.

When: No actual market but shops open from around 11-1am, but go after 4pm once the sun starts to set.

What: The Trapeze Swinger is a hidden gem in a small alley that connects Phra Athit and Ram Butri roads; this is undoubtedly the coolest shop in the soi. Here you can get exclusive collections of retro fashion items, rock-band T-shirts, old CDs and cassettes, and even vinyl discs. The Chonabod takes its design inspiration from popular Thai culture (think famous phrases and funny images) and applies it to everything from screen print tees to notebooks and mugs.

GETTING THERE:

Tourist boat: Stops at Central Pier (BTS Saphan Taksin), N1, N3, N5, Wat Kanlayanamit Pier, N8, Maharat Pier, N10, N13. Daily 9:30am-7:30pm.

No flag: Stops every pier. Mon-Fri 6:20-8:05am, 3-5:30pm.

Orange flag: Stops at Central Pier, N1, N3-6, N8, N10, N15-16, N18, N21-22, N24, N29/1-30. Daily 6am-7pm.

Yellow or green flag: Stops at Central Pier, N3, N5, N9, N10, N12, N15-16, N24, N30, N32-33. Mon-Fri 6:15-8:10am, 3:30-6:05pm.

Yellow flag:  Stops at Central Pier, N3, N5, N10, N12, N15, N22, N24, N30. Mon-Fri 6:15-8:30am, 3:30-8pm.

Vans @ Victory Monument

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Vans @ Victory Monument

The number of public vans commuting between Bangkok and upcountry has grown significantly in recent years and they provide tourists with a convenient option of travel around Thailand.

These vans, available up the road at Victory Monument, now connect not just neighbouring Ayuthaya and Rachaburi but provinces further afar – Trat, Phitsanulok and Uthai Thai – all in all some 25 destinations nationwide and, with their timely departure and arrival, have won the hearts of a wide cross-section of the commuting public and weekend travellers. You can literally travel anywhere.

One advantage with public vans is that they save you the trouble of having to travel to the outskirts of the city, where the inter-provincial bus terminals are located (e.g. Ekkamai), before you can catch a bus or air-con coaches to take you wherever you are going.

Fashion Mall

Angthong, 5:00am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 80

Ratchaburi, 5:00am-8:00pm (Mon-Thu), every 20 min, Bht 100

Ratchaburi, 5:30am-9:00pm (Fri/Sat), every 20 min, Bht 100

Ratchawithi

Kanchanaburi & Lat Ya, 7:00am-7:30pm, every 60 min, Bht 140

Lopburi, 5:00am-8:00pm, every 20 min, Bht 110

Nakhon Nayok, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 100

Nakhon Ratchasima, 6:00am-8:00pm, every 60 min,190

Pak Thong Chai, 6:00am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 190

Petchaburi, 4:30am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 120

Cha Am, 4:30am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 160

Hua Hin, :30am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht180

Century Plaza

Chachoengsao, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 100

Phanom Sarakham, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 100

Chonburi & Phanat Nikhom, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 40 min, Bht 100

Lopburi, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 120

Kanchanaburi, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 110

Petchaburi, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 20 min, Bht 100

Prachinburi, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 100

Ratchaburi, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 40 min, Bht 100

Suphanburi, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 120

Underneath Expressway (East Side)

Chonburi & Pattaya, 6:00am-8:00pm, every 40 min, Bht 150

Nakhon Ratchasima, 8:00am-6:30pm, every 1.30 hrs, Bht 300

Bua Yai, 8:00am-6:30pm, every 1.30 hrs, Bht 300

Nakhon Sawan, 5:00am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 170

Phichit, 8:00am-6:30pm, every 1.30 hrs, Bht 300

Phitsanulok, 7:30am-5:00pm, every 2 hrs, Bht 280

Damnoen Saduak, 8:00am-7:30pm, every 60 min, Bht  90

Sa Kaeo & Aranyaprathet, 6:00am-6:30pm, every 50 min, Bht 220

Uthai Thani, 3:00am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 180

Underneath Expressway (West Side)

Nakhon Nayok, 6:15am-6:30pm, every 15 min, Bht 110

Khun Dan Dam, 6:15am-6:30pm, every 15 min, Bht 110

Nakhon Sawan, 5:00am-7:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 170

Sam Roi Yot, 5:00am-8:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 300

Kuiburi, 5:00am-7:00pm, every 60 min , Bht 240

Aranyaprathet, 6:00am-6:00pm every 60 min, Bht 230

Samut Songkhram, 6:00am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 70

Suphanburi & U Thong, 6:00am-8:00pm, every 45 min, Bht 130

Trat, 5:00am-7:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 320

Victory Point

Kanchababuri, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 110

Ratchaburi, 5:30am-8:00pm, every 30 min, Bht 100

Pattaya, 6:00am-8:30pm,  every 15 min, Bht 100

Ban Phae, 7:00am-7:00pm, every 60 min, Bht 160

WHAT’S WHAT

Angthong = Municipal Market

Aranyaprathet = Rong Klue Market

Ban Phae = Samet Island

Damnoen Saduak  = Floating Market

Kanchababuri = River Kwai

Lopburi = Train Station

Nakhon Nayok = Nakhon Nayok Hospital

Nakhon Sawan = Tha Thong Market & City Hall

Pattaya = Siam Bayshore Resort & Siam Bayview Hotel

Ratchaburi = Big C & Floating Market

Trat = Chang Island & Ao Thammachat Ferry