I was off for a week’s to Bangkok (BKK) in October with Pakcik. Although more than 1 month has past, I feel that my soul is still in BKK and my mind is in lala land. Luggage is still on my bedroom floor, not yet unpacked. Photos have finally been sorted out and uploaded on fb and now I have some time to write about my shopping trip.
Some people like to splurge when they are in BKK because everything is cheaper due to the currency exchange rate. Some people like to go on budget trip so that they can spend more on food and shopping. For us, we go on a semi-budget trip this time. I am going to share on how much I spent on airfare, transport, and accommodation in this post.
First of all, the airfare. Since BKK is just about 2 hours’ flight away, we usually go for budget airline. We feel that spending $300+ on a 2 hours’ flight is not so worth it, because we don’t need food for the short flight, entertainment is not necessary as we would have arrived before we can finish 1 movie, and check-in luggage is only required for the return trip.
So, for our flight, we took Jetstar Asia. I bought the promotional tickets in Dec 2013, (yes, I am very kiasu!), and it only cost us $93 per pax for a return ticket with 25kg return check-in luggage allowance. Yep, it’s really only $93 nett. Some people might be screaming now, and some probably slapping themselves if they have spent more than $150 on budget airline tickets.
Ok, here are some tips on getting cheap air tickets. (See, I am not selfish at all. I love to share lobangs~ If you have lobangs, do share with me too!)
1) Be an opportunist
Do sign up different airlines’ newsletter subscription and you will be notified of promotional tickets. Once there is a promotion, grab the tickets without hesitation! Of course, being an opportunist also means that you need to be flexible in your travelling schedule. If you work/school doesn’t allow you to go on leave easily, then read on for other tips.
2) Book your flights early
Most airlines (be it budget or not) have early bird promotion tickets. Mine was really early because it’s such a great deal.
3) Travel during off peak season
Air tickets tend to be more expensive during peak seasons like festive period and school holidays. Travelling during off peak season not only gives you cheaper air tickets, but also cheaper accommodation~
4) Have a ready-to-travel partner
A lot of times people missed out promotional tickets because they don’t know who they should travel with or if their travel partners are available. So for myself, I have a fixed ready-to-travel partner, Pakcik. His annual leave application is very flexible so I just have to book the tickets and inform him later. Normally for Jetstar’s very good promo ticket, it runs out within the first 1 hour. So, grab it while stock lasts!
And so, I managed to grabbed the $93 tickets and off I go to BKK~!
I bring an expandable cabin sized luggage, so I can save some money by buying check-in luggage only for the return trip. I bought 25kg check-in luggage for the 2 of us to share. Plus, the allowed 10kg hand-carry luggage, we will have 45kg in total for the return trip.
When we reached Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, we went to take the Airport Rail Link. The airport rail link is located at the basement of the airport. Just follow the signage in the airport. From the airport to Phayathai BTS Station it only cost 45 baht per pax. From there, we will take the BTS to National Stadium Station where our hotel is. Normally when I have 4 people travelling, I would choose to take cab, but for 2 people, train is cheaper.
We bought the Rabbit card from the BTS station (50 baht issuing fee + 50 baht deposit + whatever value you want to top up). It works like our EZ-link card, so simply top-up the value for usage. It saves us the hassle of finding coins and queuing up to buy BTS train tickets for every trip. It also cost a bit lesser per trip when you use the Rabbit card. However, if you are not going to take the BTS frequently, then don’t bother buying this card. Simply because the non-refundable issuing fee of 50 baht per card might be more than what you can save from the trips discount.
Anyway, remember to get a refund of the remaining unused value and 50 baht deposit at any BTS station before you leave the country.
Our hotel is Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam Hotel located just next to National Stadium BTS and 3-5 mins walk to MBK shopping mall and Siam Discovery mall.
I booked and payed my hotel via Agoda.com. For 5 nights with breakfast, it cost us $440 ($88/room/night). Of course there are plenty of cheaper hotels in Bangkok, but this time I decided to spend a bit more for a newer and more conveniently located hotel. There’s also a McDonalds next to the lobby.
Checking in was a breeze and the staff are extremely friendly and polite. The hotel is very new and clean.
We were given a room at level 20.
The room and toilet are very new, clean and spacious. There is a choice of firm and soft pillows, but I didn’t like them because both became very flat after lying. Bed is very comfy. Sound-proofing is not very good in the room. After switching off the TV, I can hear my noisy neighbour and the faint noise from the BTS track. Otherwise the room is comfy.
There is no room service, but I can order KFC, Pizza and McDonalds delivery from the room. Vending machine is also available at level 7 and lobby. Breakfast has limited selection but there is an option for breakfast-to-go. The gym at the top floor is new and well maintained. Room access card is required to enter the gym. I used the treadmill for 3 days and it works perfectly. Towels and water are provided in the gym room as well. Overall, I am pleased with the hotel stay.
After resting, I brought Pakcik to Somtam Nua in Siam Center level 4. Saw it in the travel show and I went there in August with my colleagues. The food is pretty good.
I highly recommend this spicy fried fish. It’s only about $10+ for the whole fish. The fish is fresh and the gravy is slightly sour which makes it very appetising. The combination of onion, mint leaves, spring onion help to reduce the greasiness of fried fish.
Another must-try dish is this fried vermicelli. There is so much pork floss that you can’t see any vermicelli in this picture. Anyway, it’s very flavourful and the fried pork lard is the main highlight of this dish. Forget the calories, just eat it.
The fried chicken wings with garlic is good too. The batter is very light and crunchy. The chicken is well marinated and juicy.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy is the Thai milk tea. It was way too bland. But everything else is good!
Although the food here is more pricey than those you can get from local street stalls, the quality is good and the taste is easily accepted by foreigners (meaning not too spicy or too sweet). Plus, the air conditioning is a must-have in the hot Bangkok weather.
After lunch, we went to Amari Watergate Bangkok Hotel to tailor-make Pakcik’s suit. I found good reviews for Alex’s Fashion, located at level 2 of the hotel, so we went there to take a look.
There are a few shops but we went straight to Alex’s. The friendly boss showed us the price list in Singapore dollars when he knew where we were from. Below are the options (price accurate as of Nov 2014).
1) 4 shirts + 1 pants = $196
2) 3 shirts + 2 pants = $221
3) 6 shirts + 2 pants = $323
4) 8 shirts + 3 pants = $438
5) 12 shirts + 5 pants = $660
6) 1 Jacket + 2 pants + 4 shirts = $362
7) 3 Jackets + 3 pants + 5 shirts = $700
8) 2 Jackets + 2 pants + 5 shirts = $510
9) 15 shirts + 1 free shirt = $510
10) 10 shirts = $340
11) 6 shirts = $204
After looking at the fabrics and showing the tailor the design we wanted, Pakcik decided to get option 6 (1 jacket, 2 pants and 4 shirts + 2 ties included). We can choose to pay either in Thai baht or SGD.
I helped Pakcik choose the navy blue fabric for his jacket and 1 pair of pants while the tailor took his measurements.
The first fitting is 1 day later, when Pakcik will try on the jacket, 1 shirt and 1 pair of pants. Once the measurement and design is confirmed, the tailor will duplicate for the rest of the shirts and pants. Collection is on the 3rd day, which means you need to be in Bangkok for at least 3-4 days to get your suit done. Alternatively, Alex will come to Singapore on certain dates to take measurements for his customers and mail the completed garment to the customer.
Overall, Pakcik is pleased with the suit and shirts.
Since Platinum Fashion Mall is just across the road, we headed there to shop. I didn’t take any pictures because the mall was pretty crowded and my hands are full with bags of clothes. =)
For dinner, we went to the food court at level 5 of the mall.
The food court uses this card for payment. So just head to the counter to get this card, top-up with the amount you want, and use it to pay for food at individual stalls. After the meal, simply return the card to the counter and you will get the remaining value back.
One thing to highlight, the mango sticky rice (100 baht) sold at this food court is really good. You must try it if you go to Platinum Fashion Mall. The mango is really sweet and the rice is so so so fragrant. We ate it 3 times during this trip.
We ate at this food court when Pakcik returned for the first fitting and final collection.
The tom yum goong with vermicelli is another must-try item. The soup is so smooth and milky, very mildly spiced, and filled with big succulent prawns. The vermicelli absorbed the soup and tasted really yummy. For 130 baht, it’s really value for money.
I tried the pig intestine soup with rice roll (50 baht). It’s quite different from the Singapore version because the soup is starchy and the rice roll is harder. The nicest item would be the pig’s skin. It’s so QQ and collagen filled.
I can’t leave Bangkok without eating the stir fried chicken and basil. Love it lots!
This is one interesting Thai dessert that Pakcik tried. It’s basically warm bobo chacha with a poached egg. Don’t ask me why is there an egg. I still prefer the dessert with the egg.
Whenever I go to Bangkok, I will definitely drink the Thai milk tea from Black Canyon Cafe. During my trip in August, I didn’t managed to drink it, so this time, i make sure I drink to my heart’s content.
There are many Black Canyon cafes in Bangkok. The ones I went are in Platinum Fashion Mall and outside National Stadium BTS. Although there is one outlet in Fusionopolis in Singapore, it kinda pricey.
– To be continued –