Behind the scenes of the DIY Bangkok Trip

Making your own travel itinerary may seem tasking, but several members in travel forums I've joined say it's easy. Just how easy is it?

When I made our itinerary for Bangkok, it's as if I faced a major road block--- I didn't know where to begin.

For this particular trip, I don't have to worry about accommodation since it's already free. We just had to call Club Astoria to inform them of our preferred dates and they're the ones who would take care of the reservation process. (For those who read my first post on my DIY Bangkok itinerary, you now have a clue on how we got our free hotel stay.)

Next would be the flight. In this case, it's deciding whether to fly Philippine Airlines (PAL) or Cebu Pacific. In the end, we chose to fly via PAL even if it's more expensive since they provided the convenient flight schedule for us.

Cebu Pacific's flight schedule to Bangkok (as of January 20, 2010) 

After deciding on the flight and flight schedule, I was able to start drafting the details of my itinerary. I started by familiarizing myself and orienting on landmarks in the area where we are staying.

Googlemaps was a very helpful tool in preparing for this trip. In fact, I still refer to this site for my upcoming Hong Kong - Macau trip this year. For future Bangkok visitors, you are lucky since Bangkok map is supported by most features of Googlemaps such as estimate distance from one point to another (very important when estimating cab fares) and public transportation details. I wish Macau is supported by Googlemaps the same way Bangkok was.

For a more detailed map of Silom, I recommend the map from Travelfish. It has legends of useful landmarks (banks, moneychangers, shopping areas, etc.) which gives you an overview of your hotel surroundings. What I did is to print a copy and add labels in case there are important points not included in the map.

For example, in this area of the map, I marked where our hotel's supposed to be. Since we only had 40 USD exchanged to Baht in the airport, we had to have our remaining US dollars exchanged into Baht in a money changer. Bangkok experts in forums repeatedly reminded prospective travellers not to have all their money changed in the airport for the exchange rate is far more favorable for you when you have your money changed outside. Since number one thing after settling in the hotel is to have our money changed to baht, I labelled the map for the nearest money changer which is in Silom Village. Of course, on our actual arrival in the area, there were lots of other money changers near Silom Village so we scouted for one with the most favorable rate that day.

map doodles :)

For those staying in other areas than Silom/Bangrak area, Travelfish do have maps for Khao San, Sukhumvit and Chinatown in case you are staying in these areas.

Possible dining options, useful places like convenience stores and pharmacies were added to my map with the help of BKK pages. This site provides a way for you to scout for certain places near the area you're staying, as long as it's in downtown Bangkok. You can customize your point of origin at the "My Neighborhood" page. Click on the said tab, and you have the option of typing your hotel address or choose from the names of hotels or hostels from the drop down list.

snapshot of bkkpages' My Neighborhood page

After taking note of useful areas around your hotel or hostel, you can make an outline of places you want to visit and what you want to do. My outline went like this:
  • temples (Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace and Wat Pho)
  • buy cheap Wacoal undies (Tokyu Department Store in MBK)
  • phad thai hunting
  • take pictures of Wat Arun at sunset
  • Suan Lum Night Market  
For the temple tour, I narrowed down the choices to the 3 most famous Bangkok sights. I had a back-up addition to the temple tour, which is the Vimanmek Mansion, in case we finish early or if our feet can still tolerate more torture hehe. Entrance to the Vimanmek Mansion is included when you pay for the Grand Palace fee so it wouldn't cost us more if we make this side trip, except for the cab fare of course.

Not to be excluded in the essential sites for a DIY Bangkok itinerary would be the websites of the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) and Chao Phraya Express Boat. Both are very useful in calculating fares (for budget estimates) and grouping your places to visit according to BTS or boat station.

For the above-mentioned temples, we had to walk towards Surasak BTS station, take the BTS up to Saphan Taksin for the the Central Boat Station. Then we'll take the orange flag boat to Tha Tien/N8 (if you start with Wat Pho or Wat Arun first) or  Tha Chang/N9 (if starting with Grand Palace) to begin our temple tour. It is also possible to take the local line (white flag) but this boats takes more stops than the orange line.

More on our DIY Bangkok temple tour next post!


Thien Nguyen said...

Hi! I’m Thien from Vietnam. Thanks greatly for your sharing! That’s really helpful! Have you visited Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam yet? Remember to take a Duong Lam Village day trip to fullfil your experience.

Hope to see you in Vietnam!

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