Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Work cum Family Trip to Bangkok August 2014

Gosh!! I forgot to publish this!! (*_*). I can't even remember when was my last post to this blog.

I had the opportunity to bring the family to Bangkok as I was attending a training there. Went to Bangkok for 5 nights, 18th - 23rd August 2014. Since I will be in training during the day most of our sightseeing/shopping activities were done at night except for the arrival day and the last day.

Day 1 : Monday (Arrival Day)
We arrived at around 9.30am on 18th August 2014. Alhamdulillah...we had a smooth flight. We already had a driver waiting for us with my name clearly spelled. hahaha....the perks of going to a 5 star training. Most of the things are arranged. The cost is about THB1610 (that's about RM162.61) on way per car. It took about 45 minutes to reach out hotel Urbana Sathorn at Sathorn South Road. And we were lucky to be able to check in early. By 11.30am we got to go into our room and freshened up. 

Around 1.00pm we went out to lunch at a small stall at the junction of Sathon 12 road. It is actually not hard to find halal food if you ask Mr Google first before you travel. heheheh...

Picture of the shop - opposite 7E (Source :
It opens from Monday to Saturday, 7am-5pm.
The food was nice and cheap. I had fried rice and my husband ate something that looks like padprik but a bit different. :)

Our original plan was to visit the Grand Palace Temple but since Wildan is still small, hubby decides to go somewhere else. So then we continue our journey to Pratunam Market. There is a whole bunch of things you can find there. Most of it are clothings and handbags. You can bargain here...but most shop are with fixed price. I was told to find Durian chips and glad that I found it. I don't really eat durian (yeah...yeah...I know what you are going to say) but the chips doesn't really have that punging taste. It was quite nice. :) We also tried to find some souvenir like fridge magnets and keychain...but apparently there was not much choice there. So we didn't buy anything else. Nearby is a wholesale mall called Platinum Mall. If you live in KL, Platinum Mall is much like GM or Kenanga Mall. Lots off nice cheap clothes sold there. It is even cheaper if you buy in bulk. I think it is business people heaven. Or, if your aim is to come and shop for clothes, come with empty luggage and pack it will all the cheap clothes and things you can buy from here. Unfortunately, I came with a packed luggage :P Our next stop was Hard Rock Cafe because a friend of mine had asked me to buy HR fridge magnet for her. I was a bit annoyed with the taxi driver and more annoyed at myself. I could have save the transport cost by just taking the skytrain. The taxi driver didn't use meter and charge us THB100 but I think with the distance it couldn't have been more than THB50. After burning some more money in Hard Rock Shop..bought things that I didn't plan to buy..we went back to the hotel. This time we took the train as it was peek hours and most the taxi didn't want to use meter and charged high. We didn't know much about the route so this is also a lesson learn. The CS told us to stop at Surasak which actually was about 1.7km walk to our hotel. Soon after that I got to know there is a nearer stop which is only 500m away from our hotel. It took us about 45 minutes to walk to our hotel from Surasak Station. *faint*

For dinner we went to Anis Bistro as Mr Google told me is a recommended place to eat halal food in Sathorn Road area. We had a hurdle with the taxi driver as he didn't actually know where it is. Be reminded that taxi driver in Bangkok can turn into a vampire at night. They charge you a mighty high price especially if you are a tourist. He dropped us at nowhere. By saying nowhere..I mean we literally don't know where we were except the fact that I have printed a map to the place. So I have some idea where we were. We asked around and these two muslims restaurant owner were kind enough to send us there. It was just about 300m away from where we were dropped off. The food was great!! We even had the sticky rice with manggo slice. YUMS!! After that we took tuktuk back to our hotel and end the night. If you plan to go to Anis Bistro, write down the address and show the taxi or tuk tuk driver as they might not know where it is.

(Source : Anis Bistro Sathorn FB)
Address : St. Louis Soi 15-17, South Sathorn Road, Yan Nawa DistrictBangkok 10120Thailand

Day 2 : Tuesday 
My training starts today. Training schedule is between 8.30am to 5.00pm. So we didn't go anywhere during the day for the next 3 days. My hubby only brought Wildan out for a stroll in his stroller in the morning after his bath and breakfast and he sleeps most of the time every day for the next 4 days. He tried to bring Wildan for a swim but he was asleep in the evening and the only time he succeed, it was too cold for Wildan. The distance between the training location and my hotel is about 10-15 minutes walk. I didn't stay in the hotel where the training is held because it was super expensive. :P So, I clean up once I reached my hotel after training and get ready to go out.

That day we went to Asiatique The Riverfront market. One of the guys from my training group mentioned of the place and we decide to go there that night. At first we wanted to go to Chinatown but were advised not to go as there was nothing much for us there. Being a muslim and with a baby, Asiatique is a much more better place to go. And it was. It was a new market build in 2011 and is very hip and happening. It has clean and comfortable layout. Easier and more comfortable if you are travelling with a baby or toddler. You can find lots of things here. There are more options of souvenirs items here and price isn't bad either. I would advice you to scout around first before buying anything at a particular shop because you may find another shop that may offer the same thing at a cheaper price. It happened to me...:( We bought some t-shirts, kids dress and Thailand souvenirs there. That night we had beef kebab at Champion Kebab. That is the only halal food stall that we spot there. The taste was not bad. I give them 6/10. It is located near Warehouse 1 in the market.

We manage to get a one hour foot massage + neck and shoulder massage while Wildan is sleeping and it cost us THB300. That is the cheapest there. Outside this place, I saw some place charge you at THB250 an hour. However, just when our massage is about to end Wildan woke up and saw the guy patting his babah's back and thought the guy was hitting him. He threw the worst tantrum ever! So we had to go back. Lucky we had finish our tour and bought the things we aim for.

We took taxi to Asiatique and it cost us about THB120. Going back it was THB200. You can actually take the skytrain to Saphan Taksin BTS Station and take a free boat ride form Sathorn pier nearby the station. Unfortunately we didn't know at first so we took taxi.

Day 3 : Wednesday
We didn't really do much that day. We went to MBK Mall. Took the Skytrain from Chong Nonsi to National Stadium. The train station is only about 7mins walk from our hotel. And National Stadium station links directly with MBK mall. Just like our monorail here in KL linked to Berjaya Times Square and few other malls. It was kind of late when we arrived. So we had dinner at Yana Restaurant. It is the only halal restaurant in MBK Mall located on level 5 opposites it's food court. The food was nice and some of the waiter do speak Malay. So it was even easier for us. Unfortunately I didn't take any photo of the food. When you are hungry you tend to forget about blogging and what not and quickly dig in to what you are served. :P

Yana Restaurant is definitely a recommended restaurant. The price is considered affordable cafe/restaurant standard price. Environment was good, clean and pleasant. It offers both Thai and western/international menu.

(Both Pic Source :
Yana Restaurant, Level 5, MBK Centre,Pathumwan, Bangkok,Thailand. Tel/fax: +662 611 4589

We wanted to walk around the night market around the area outside of MBK Mall. We saw a lot of small stalls owner setting up their stalls. Unfortunately it was raining so we decided to call the night off and go back to our hotel. Hubby and me were soaking wet when we reach the hotel. We run/walk under the rain from the train station to our hotel. Only Wildan was spared as he was securely comfortable in his stroller protected by an umbrella.

Day 4 : Thursday
I have booked a cruise dinner for that night. It is not a five star cruise but we wanted to experience it. The scenary was great. We took the Loy Nava Dinner Cruise package. The package included hotel pick up and return. So it was easy and comfortable. There are not many halal dinner cruise so you will need to ask for info on that. I will give you a list of halal dinner cruise I found online. The driver came to pick us up at 7.00pm and we were back at our hotel by 10.45pm.

Pictures taken on and from the cruise

Day 5 : Friday
My course ends today and it ended early at around 3.00pm. So we had the opportunity to travel around more that day. We went for late lunch/early dinner at a small cafe nearby Anis Bistro. The owners were the one that helped us when we trying to find Anis Bistro on Monday. They were kind so we decided to repay them by at least eating at their cafe. :)

Our next stop was Madame Tussauds Bangkok. It is located in Siam Discovery next to Siam Centre and Siam Paragon Mall. You can easily go there by taking the skytrain to Siam station. You can also take the bus but I think skytrain is the easiest. Skytrain is also connected to MRT, so you can check which station you need to change train to get to Siam station. It is very much advisable for you to buy your ticket online as the price is cheaper but you must purchase it at least 24 hours before your visit. The online ticket is not applicable for same day visit. If you buy the early bird ticket, it is much cheaper but you must enter before 12.00noon. It took us about 45 minutes to tour the place and it was kind of exciting too. :) I wish I can go to Madame Tussauds London one day.

Some of the celebrities wax figurine in Madame Tussauds Bangkok. Will Smith looked so real.
After Madame Tussauds we continued our journey to Chatuchak Night Market by taking the skytrain again to Mo Chit Station. Chatuchak Market is actually a weekend market with hundreds of shops selling various items. We were unable to go during the weekend because we have booked a floating market tour and we were flying back right after that so we decided to go to the night market instead. During this night market, not many of the shop inside the Chatuchak Market are open but there are a lot of small stall set up around its area. And still, you have many options to shop for. I think we would have gone crazy if all the shops were to open and 2-3 hours wouldn't be sufficient. My leg hurts just by walking down the night market itself. We were happy we got all the things we came to buy and we went back to our hotel after that. :) It is the best place to shop for cheap items in Bangkok.

There are almost everything can be found here at a bargaining local price (not a tourist price), and most vendors actually come from local factories, like antique wood carving, clay handicrafts, local souvenirs from every parts of Thailand, Buddhist amulets, wooden furniture, hand made decorated flowers, plant, ceramic wares, dolls, Thai Bejarong, Chinese wares, garden decorated plants, stones, trendy fashions, silk, hill-tribe outfits, fluffy dogs and more miscellaneous, etc.

You can see how large the market is by looking at this mapOpen on Saturdays and Sundays, 09:00 - 18:00, and Fridays (night market) 18:00 - 24:00.

Day 6 : Saturday (Departure Day)
As floating market is one of the Top 10 attraction in Thailand, I decided to book a tour. Since the tour only starts in the morning, we had to book one on Saturday, the final day we were in Bangkok. Our flight was at 7.25pm so we had plenty of time to finish the half day tour. I book the tour from the same agency I booked the dinner cruise. I find their price is fairly reasonable. We were picked up from our hotel at 7.00am that day so we checked out early. I have packed all our stuff the night before and woke Wildan early that morning. He was a bit cranky at first but was better once we arrived at the pier.

The package included a long boat ride to Dameon Saduak Floating Market, Elephant Village and a wood carving exhibition centre. We burn a lot all of our cash at the floating market. That was our last place to shop for what were left in our list which mostly was souvenirs for our family. We spend 1.5 hours there and later continue to Elephant Village. We took this opportunity to experience the Elephant ride. It was somewhat exciting and a little bit scary. hahahah...but we glad we did it. Each ride cost THB 600 and not included in the tour package price. You can even feed the elephants by buying a full basket of banana at THB100. They took our pic and framed it and you will need to buy it at THB200. Now I regret the fact that I didn't buy it. I even regretted the fact that I forgot I brought my polaroid cam with me. The tour guide was kind enough to offer to take pictures of us on the elephant but we used my hubby's handphone instead. sigh...being older and forgetful is shameful sometimes. :(

We got back to our hotel at around 1.30pm, took our bags and freshened up. We had lunch at the hotel cafe and then it was time for us to depart to the airport. The driver was there early to send us to the airport. We spend about 1.5 hours in the airport waiting for our flight since we arrived very early. Wildan had a good time waiting since the waiting area had a playground. We safely arrived at KLIA2 at 10.30pm..Alhamdulillah and reached home at almost 12.00 midnight.

This trip has been tiring since I have to attend a course but so much fun and delightful for me as I get to experience some of the best attraction there are in Bangkok. Hubby said we will have to go again for a full holiday arrangement. :) InsyaAllah next time.

Here are some tips if you are planning to travel to Bangkok.
1) Find a hotel nearest to a BTS or MRT station. 5 minutes walk is acceptable for us. It is the easiest way for you to travel around Bangkok. Taxi will be expensive at night especially if you are a tourist. They tend not to use meter at night. However, if you are using a wheelchair/stroller some station may not be OKU or child stroller friendly. If you are travelling with a stroller, make sure you are using a light easy to fold one.

2) If you are a Muslim, do research on Halal food places before you go. These are two sites I found that you can use as reference.

3) If you want a free and easy holiday, you can book a separate tour at your own convenient time and arrange you own schedule. Site you can visit for tour booking.
  • - Loy Nava (Halal Cruise) and other tour available
  • - Manohra Cruise (5 star Halal Cruise)

4) Bargaining  - generally you can bargain at most of the market. If you go to Damneon Saduak floating market, they will open with high price, just offer them the lowest possible price. You will be amazed at how low they can actually go to sell their goods. We were offered THB650 per child tshirt at first but only agreed to pay THB200 and the seller accepted. See what I mean?

5) Shopping - if you have time, walk around first before you start purchasing anything because you might find another shop selling the same things at a much cheaper price. Lesson learned for me. dduuuhhhhh!! In Dameon Saduak market itself, there is a shop that sell souvenirs at a fixed price. It is located at almost the end of the market (mezzanine floor). The souvenirs such as bags, coin purse, key chain are the cheapest around there. Even if you bargain at other shops there you won't get that price. Clothing there are a bit expensive compared to other shops around.

6) Cash - please bring extra money (our own currency) in case you need to change more because ATM may not be available nearby and if there is one, your ATM may not work there. Happened to me too. Sigh....

7) VAT Refund - If you shop at any major malls or merchant that charge you VAT, you can claim back the VAT at the airport. Minimum purchase per transaction per receipt per shop is THB2000 for you to be eligible for the refund. And this is important!! YOU WILL NEED TO ASK THE VAT REFUND FORM AT THE MERCHANT SHOP and ask them to endorse for you with the receipt. We didn't know this, so we can't claim our VAT refund. :( You can refer HERE for the guidelines.

Sample of VAT form

All in all, I recommend a minimum 3 nights stay in Bangkok for you to cover most of it's interesting places. If you want to go to Chatuchak Market (which is highly recommended) make sure you stay there during the weekend. :)

Hope this entry help to give you some insight if you are planning to go to Bangkok.

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