Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Travelogue: Bangkok (BKK)

Spent the new year in BKK shopping! Went there from 31 Dec 2014 to 3 Jan 2015 for a family vacation. Didn't really get to go most of the places I wanted to visit (like the sunflower field in Lop Buri and the Alpaca farm) or tried the food people recommended though. Worst of all, I feel like I haven't shopped enough ): I guess one can never have enough of shopping...

We probably went at the wrong date too cause on the 31, stores closed earlier than usual and some remained closed throughout the first 2 days of the new year... Tough luck. So a note to anyone who's planning to celebrate the new year in BKK, go for sightseeing on the first few days of the new year before doing shopping. By 2 Jan, most shops should be opened. Anyhow, still enjoyed my short getaway with my family, shopping till my back and feet hurt.

Booked our flight during the SQ 2-to-go promotion 1-2 months before. The timings for the flight were great as it was a morning flight there and a night flight back. Which meant that we got to spend 4 whole days in BKK. It was quite a last minute decision by my mum, but what's new? The past few family vacations we had were mostly impromptu too. Haha.

After booking the air tickets, I researched on the hotels near Pratunum area and we decided on Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel, as recommended by my aunt who stayed there previously on her trip to BKK. The hotel was quite pricey, considering we could get a cheaper price for a 5 star hotel nearby but we went with that recommendation anyway.

So off to BKK we go!

Day 1: Arrival in BKK, Siam Paragon (After You Cafe), Central World

Hello BKK!

After clearing immigration, we went out to get the 3G SIM card. They have different service providers (AIS, DTAC) which charges the same rate (299 baht) for 7 days unlimited 3G internet and 100 baht talk time. We went with AIS and got it settled within minutes.

We took the airport city rail to Ratchaprarop Station which took around 30 min and cost 40 baht per pax. It was cheaper than taking taxi which would cost around 300 baht and since we only had 2 luggage, it wasn't that much of a hassle. Our hotel was about 2 or 3 streets away from the station and it was easy to locate the hotel.

Even though it was only 10:30am when we reached, the receptionist checked us in immediately. Rested in the room for awhile before heading out to get lunch.

First stop, Siam Paragon. Walking from our hotel to Siam took about 15-20min.

Headed straight to the food area to look for lunch. Saw the "After You" Cafe that everyone has been raving about and without hesitation I told my mum that I'm gonna have that for lunch. Haha. So we ordered 1 Shibuya Honey Toast ($175 baht) to share. I'm gonna admit, their cafes aren't exactly cheaper than those in SG (or rather even pricier) but since everyone raves about it, I had to give it a try.

I do love it! It's similar to having hot and crispy waffles with ice cream! Heavenly taste. However, it was ultra sinful. The toast is covered with butter, but I guess that is what makes this toast so yummy!

After the dessert, we headed to the food court to get more food. In BKK, the food you get from the food court tastes as great as those in the restaurants! I love their Phad Thai! Non-spicy food for a person like me who cannot take spicy food hehe.

We walked around the ground floor and found this other dessert store which sells eclairs and this really cute chocolate "toast bread"!

Walked around in Siam Paragon for awhile but since all the shops there are mostly international brand or branded goods, we decided to go to Siam Square for more budget shopping.

However upon reaching there, most of the shops were closed cause it was New Year eve... What a bummer. I didn't expect that as I read online reviews saying that BKK shopping is open 365 days a year. They weren't exactly wrong since the shopping malls do open all year round, but not the individual shops along the streets.

So we moved on to our next shopping destination, Central World. Walked about 10min from Siam Paragon via the "overhead bridge" or connecting walkway to Central World.

This was another huge shopping mall with many international brand such as H&M and Topshop. Yet another mall where there's no opportunity for budget shopping, so we mostly window shopped.

They have this Snoopy themed decoration all over the shopping mall which was really cute!

Directly opposite Central World, there is the Big C Supermarket. We went there to see what goodies and snacks we can buy back to SG. Bought cup noodles and chips for late night snack in the hotel and headed back to the hotel for a short rest before heading out for dinner.

The view from 20th floor of Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel. They had a new year's eve dinner which costs about 200 SGD per pax.

Streets of BKK. On the left is Pratunam Market and on the right is our hotel.

Had dinner at Black Canyon Cafe but I wasn't satisfied. Hence after shopping around the "night markets" along the streets, we went to Tom N Toms Coffee for supper. Without hesitation, we ordered 2 tortilla pizza.

I first had it when we were at Busan last year. I love it to bits that I had 2 servings in one meal. And now since I chanced upon it in BKK, I felt like I could eat this every meal (and I ended up having at least once every day throughout the entire 4 days I was there).

After supper, headed back to the hotel as the streets were getting crowded since everyone was heading towards Central World for the countdown party.

We wanted to have an early night since we were waking up at 5am the next morning for Pratunam market. But the noise from the countdown party everywhere was making it impossible to sleep. So when it was midnight, we manage to catch some of the fireworks display from our hotel room.

Happy New Year!

Day 2: Pratunam Early Morning Market, Platinum Fashion Mall, Terminal 21

Woke up at 5am and went down to the Pratunam Morning Market to start our day of shopping. However, the streets were still rather quiet even though it was about 6am when we went there. Probably due to the countdown last night, many vendors was prepared to open later in the day. The early morning in BKK can be quite cold. It felt like 20 degrees with the wind blowing. Nonetheless, I still manage to get a few items from the early market. Went back to the hotel for breakfast before heading out to Platinum Fashion Mall.

Platinum Mall has 3 zones. Zones 1 and 2 are in the same building but zone 3 can be accessed either from the ground floor or the 2nd level. In zone 1 and 2, levels B1-3 are mostly women's clothing and level 4 is mostly men's clothing. When you're tired with the shopping, you can head to the food court on the 6th floor. So let the shopping begin! Was too busy shopping to take photos hahaha. And besides, the shops at Platinum mall don't really allow photography, so if you do take photos, do take them discretely!

The prices in Platinum mall is around 200-300 baht even for wholesale prices, which wasn't exactly cheap to me. I did manage to find a few 100-150 baht tops which were of quality material. You just need to comb through every floor thoroughly. Didn't manage to walk through every lane on every floor that day though.

After a whole day of shopping, we went back to the hotel to rest and put our loots down before heading out to Terminal 21.

Terminal 21 is another massive shopping mall with different country themed levels. Each level has different country as its theme. Even the toilets on each level is different.

Shopping at Terminal 21 isn't cheap either. And on the top level is the food count. The price here is surprisingly even cheaper than the food court at Platinum Mall, but the food isn't as tasty. The decoration along each floor is what attracts tourists here I guess!

Day 3: Coffee Beans by Dao @ Central World

We decided to split up today to do shopping. My parents went to Chinatown to get the snacks and goodies they couldn't find at Big C or the other supermarkets we went to, and my bro and I decided to carry on shopping at Pratunam Market and Platinum Mall.

So after shopping, we met up and went for late lunch at Central Mall. Couldn't decide what to eat so we went to the highly recommended cafe Coffee Beans by Dao. Ordered a few of their cakes to try. I love their Chestnut and Chocolate Green Tea Crepe Cake the most! Hehe.

Next, we had early dinner at Santouka Ramen.

Love their ramen! Saw that they have an outlet in Singapore too. Shall try it soon!

Day 4: Chatuchak Weekend Market

Last day of our trip in BKK, we went to Chatuchak Weekend Market. Went there early in the morning at around 9am after breakfast. They have anything and everything under the sun.

Shopped around for some household items for the new house. Bought a pair of flats and a top. Much less than what I expected to spend there.

Tried the famous coconut ice cream, but didn't like it actually. Cause the coconut made my stomach uncomfortable ):

They have a food zone that sells live prawn. We had lunch here before continuing with the shopping.

And after shopping for about 4 hours, we headed back to the hotel to do our final packing before heading to the airport.

My loots from the past 3 days of shopping!

The taxi from the hotel to the airport costs 700 baht for a 7 seater car. We had to get that car cause the normal taxi size wasn't big enough to fit all our luggage and carton boxes. It took about 20 minutes to reach the airport as there wasn't any jam along the way.

Caught the sunset on the way to the airport.

And that concludes my BKK trip. I would definitely go back again but probably this time with my friends to do more shopping! Hehehe. Gonna start planning my next trip soon!

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