What a fabulous trip!!
I thought I would share some of my experiences and maybe help someone with some information.
We arrived in Bangkok on Singapore airlines. Having had so many bad experiences with airlines lately, especially with Delta, we swore that we would fly Singapore air whenever possible. We flew economy but were treated better than the first class passengers on any other airlines. Upon arrival we were met by a Thai friend and driven to the hotel. Thanks to her efforts we were privileged to see and do some things that we probably would not have done on our own.
Because we had a timeshare exchange, we stayed at Best Western around Silom Rd. At first glance I was ready to go somewhere else since the street was narrow, old looking and to my American eyes a little threatening. However Annie (our Thai friend) said that it was perfectly safe. The accommodation turned out to be quite spacious and the location was perfect. Within walking distance to the river and the Skytrain as well as a large shopping center. It is my understanding that the price of Best Western is quite reasonable so do not be scared by the location.
Of course we did the required things and saw the Royal Palace, and the major temples which were unbelievably beautiful. Had dinner on the river, went to Chinatown, went to Chatachuck week-end market (what a feast for the shoppers), had a 2-hour Thai massage for 300 Bhat, etc. By the way, do not miss the food and fruit and vegetable market across the street from the Chatachuk market.
The following are a couple of things that might not be on everyone’s list – but SHOULD be. A visit to the 24-hour flower market is a MUST. What a feast for the eyes – I would suggest doing it as soon as you arrive so that you can buy an armful of gorgeous orchids for less than 50 Bhat ($1.40) (and I mean an armful) and enjoy them in your hotel room while you are in Bangkok. The market is located on Chak Phet Street and surrounding small streets and is called Pak Klong Talat wholesale flower market.
Another fun thing to do is to visit Vinanmek Mansion (you get a free admission ticket with the purchase of the ticket to the Royal Palace) and then take the river boat at, I believe, stop #15 (if it is stop 14 someone please correct me). Right where you board the boat there are stalls selling huge bags of dried bread which you throw into the water and watch hundreds, upon hundreds of large fish jumping out of the water to eat the bread. – especially fun for children.
HERE IS ONE NOT TO MISS – SIAM NIRAMIT – “Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Siam”. It is a theatrical presentation of the history of Siam. I must say that I have seen quite a few plays in my life in places like New York and London and I have never seen a presentation of such proportions and beauty. It was magnificent!! With more than 500 beautiful costumes and countless actors. There were beautiful Thai girls flying across the stage, real elephants as well as mythical creatures, a river running across the stage, etc. and the narration was in several languages, including English. I cannot imagine a more enchanting hour and a half and it is perfect for adults and for the children. At the end of the program the actors as well as the elephants walk down the isles to the delight of the audience. The price was under $50.00 and included a good buffet dinner. Here is how to get there: 800 meters from MRT Thailand Cultural Center Station. There is a free Shuttle Bus at Exit 1.
I would suggest getting there no later than 7 pm and having a leisurely dinner (which is included in the price). Showtime is at 8 pm. Reservations did not seem to be required but if you want information, their phone is 66 (0)2649-9222. The address is 19 Tiamruammit Rd., Huaykwang, Bangkok 10320. After the performance you can take pictures with the actors and feed the elephants.
I hope I am not boring you all. If you permit me, I would like to continue with the narration of our trip tomorrow.