We had a fun-filled couple of days in Bangkok, staying in the Centrepoint Silom hotel in an apartment. Total luxury to have more room than just a hotel room, and a great pool and good location. During our visit we checked out the view from Lebua at State Tower, visited the Chatachuk markets, caught up with friends, and visited a new (for us) area of Bangkok at the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall and restaurants in a nearby street, Dinso Road. Which will definitely be worth further exploration.
If you’re going to the Skybar for sunset, just be aware that the lovely lift ladies now usher you to a side balcony unless you are very clear that you want to go to the actual bar. The view is still spectacular though, if you’re not too particular. Drinks prices uniformly overpriced – but what a location, location, location!
Food court behind Centrepoint Silom/Robinsons – great food and minimal price
It took discussion with hotel staff, 2 taxi rides, a short family argument and advice from a tuktuk driver and the military to get here, so maybe not so well known as yet – but a wonderful 2 hour tour about the history of Thailand/Bangkok, with some hilarious interactive moments. And some amazing temples nearby yet to be explored.
Performance mask at the Exhibition Hall
Non-verbal communication of Khon dancers at the Exhibition Hall
Excellent desserts at a bar on Dinso Road near the Hall
One last pad thai for breakfast before leaving Thailand
Our chosen hotel happened to be across the road from Phra Ram Park. Usually a peaceful place, according to the blogosphere, on our arrival it was alive with a large event crew setting up for a big event. Our BnB proprietor told us that a huge muay thai championship was being held on the Friday (we arrived Wednesday night), and was quite relieved when we said we would be checking out by 10.30 am on Friday – as he needed our room for the Mayor, who would be officiating at the ceremony.
As we were within walking distance of a number of historic sites (some of which M and I are lucky enough to have seen about six years ago) we headed off on Thursday morning to check out some places. After lunch we rested in the air conditioning – then did a late afternoon boat tour, ending with dinner at the fabulous night market. We enjoyed our two nights in Ayutthaya, but I have to say for ancient temples, Sukhothai and Si Satchanali were my preferred locations. And on Friday when we left for Bangkok (taxi door to door – 1400 baht) it pelted with rain about 30 minutes into the journey. I hope the mayor didn’t get wet.
And so we had to say goodbye to our home away from home, Noom Guesthouse, and take up our second class train tix (good seats, no aircon – but fans) to travel to Ayutthaya. We arrived late afternoon so our first temple viewing was great timing for some sunset shots.
The Sukhothai UNESCO historical zone also encompasses Si Satchanalai, which is a short drive (about 60km) from Sukhothai. The site is another fabulous place to visit for ancient, impressive wats, set in a lovely leafy park. It’s easy to walk to the main sites, or you can hire bikes or engage an electric trolley. We elected to walk (slowly) and it was a fine morning’s entertainment.
Serendipitously, we happened upon Kulab Restaurant in Si Satchanali town for lunch after our temple viewing. Excellent food, it’s popularity confirmed by the local tour bus that turned up about three minutes after we’d finished our meal.
We also had fun viewing the market, and on the opposite side of the street, a gold textile museum and souvenir village.
On the way home we tried to get to Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat. It was market day and although we were following another car that drove through the market, the road through got more and more narrow. Luckily M found a way out and pedestrians, stalls and car were all unscathed. An excellent day out.
The primary reason to stay in Sukhothai is proximity to Sukhothai Historical Park. There are numerous fascinating ruins from the 12th century and later, with three main areas of ruins – inside the old city walls, and Eastern and Northern sections. For the latter two, it was great having the car to get around, as it was pretty hot while we were there. People mainly used bikes and motorbikes to get around the outer sections. The central section we did on foot – we didn’t see all of it, but spent most time at the main wat. And we came back in the early evening when it was cooler to see one of the smaller temples. Each of the sections required a ticket – just 100 baht per person.
We left Chiang Mai knowing there are still plenty of things for us to do on our next visit, whenever that might be. We caught the 8.50am train from Chaing Mai, alighting at Phitsanoluk at about 2.30pm. The second class air con seats were very good, and included a snack and lunch brought to your seat. M had organised hiring a car, which we had to pick up from the airport. It was very easy to negotiate an open taxi ride to get there too. The airport was very neat and had at least 4 other hire car stands besides our chosen company in the terminal, along with ATM machines and coffee shops.
We headed for our destination, Ruean Thai Hotel. The staff are very welcoming, a good source of local knowledge, and they have a great pool there as well. And it’s close to the Sukhothai Historical Park. (As with all my recommendations to date, not a paid endorsement – I just really like the place).