Bangkok first-timers chart a memorable weekend experience
By Ruby Asoy-Lebajo
Creating an authentic travel experience in Bangkok is a must. Well-known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, it isn’t surprising why Thailand’s capital is a favorite destination for many foreign tourists.
Its attractions are endless: dazzling temples, thrilling tuk-tuk rides, boats to the floating market or just to cross the Chao Phraya River, shopping sprees at chic emporiums, and tasting culinary delights with their fresh and unforgettable flavors, savored at either fine dining restaurants or street-side stall. It is an amazing place with something for everyone.
If you are a first-timer here, exploring the city without a guide is part of the challenge.
How many charming and unforgettable locations will you find without losing your way? It’s fun to make your way around in a foreign country and return safely to the comfort of your hotel at the end of the day. That is truly an accomplishment.
This is what we discovered on a trip to the City of Angels, in partnership with the Erawan Group, ibis, and Mercure Thailand. True enough, a fun-filled getaway here is accessible at almost every street corner.
A must for any shopaholic is Chatuchak weekend market. It has everything you can ever want from all over Thailand. And yes, you have to haggle to get a bargain.
Easily accessible by BTS Skytrain, it is best to designate a meeting place near the market’s entrance where you can all gather after exploring the markets many alleys. For almost half a day, we discovered outstanding finds that we all wanted to bring home.
If you are going there, wear light and comfortable clothing and shoes. Protect yourself against the sun by wearing sunglasses and a hat, and use sunscreen liberally. Bring enough cash. Most vendors do not accept credit cards. Beware of pickpockets, and watch your belongings.
Any tour of Bangkok’s temples should start at Wat Pho. It’s one of the largest temple complexes in the city, and is famous for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 meters long and is covered in gold leaf.
The Grand Palace is one of the most visited places, and is probably the most stunning attraction in the city. Built in 1782, it served as the home of Thai kings and the royal court for 150 years. It now welcomes millions of visitors each year coming from all parts of the world. Wat Phra Kaew, the temple inside the Grand Palace, is where you will find the Phra Kaew Morakot, or the Emerald Buddha, a sacred image carved from a single block of emerald.
Since our hotel is located by the river, the trip would be incomplete without experiencing the magnificent Chao Phraya River at least once. We spent a relaxing evening there after touring the city.
Comfort at the Best Price
Our home in Bangkok was the ibis Bangkok Riverside, one of the economy brands of AccorHotels, which promises modernity, comfort and service at the best price.
Located by the banks of the Chao Phraya River, it offers outstanding value and beautiful river views. Situated close to the BTS Sky Train, which will whisk you into the heart of the city in minutes, it is also a short ferry ride from the riverfront lifestyle shopping and dining venue, Asiatique, and close to many other cultural highlights including the glittering Grand Palace.
ibis Bangkok Riverside has 266 cozy, contemporary rooms with double or twin beds, a desk, LCD TV with international channels, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, refrigerator, tea and coffee making facilities, personal safe and hairdryer for a comfortable stay. The hotel also has a revolutionary bedding concept called Sweet Bed by ibis. It also has three spacious function rooms for up to 100 persons.
Taste, its all-day dining venue, reinvents tapas with new flavors and authentic local dishes. The Lobby Bar serves a wide selection of snacks and refreshments, while room service is available 24 hours a day. A highlight of the hotel is a fabulous riverfront swimming pool set in a beautiful garden, and a petanque field for fun with the family.
Created in 1974, the ibis hotel chain is now the European leader in economy brands and the fourth largest chain in its category worldwide, with over 1,060 hotels and 135,000 rooms in 64 countries.
The Mercure Bangkok Siam, the seventh midscale Mercure property in Thailand, and ibis Bangkok Siam, the ninth economy ibis in the country, two hotels located in the central Siam area, provide guests with convenient access to all of the city’s top shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
Mercure Bangkok Siam has 189 rooms with a contemporary design, fully equipped facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, three meeting rooms for up to 126 delegates, a swimming pool, fitness center, and the Sky Bar. Privilege rooms come with a coffee machine, a variety of local teas, additional bathrobes and amenities, and an iPod dock. Guests also enjoy exclusive access to the Executive Club with its all-day refreshments, business center facilities and an outdoor terrace.
The Mercure’s signature restaurant, The Eight, is named after its location, and services guests from both hotels.
This all-day dining outlet features an extensive menu of local and international cuisines with indoor and outdoor terrace dining.
On the other hand, ibis Bangkok Siam has 189 modern rooms equipped with LCD TV, a fridge and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access. All rooms also offer newly upgraded beds that are supremely comfortable. The hotel’s Quick Bite restaurant is open day and night, offering round-the clock light meals. Guests also have access to the swimming pool and fitness center facilities at no extra charge.
AccorHotels, the world’s leading hotel operator, is present in 95 countries with more than 4,000 hotels and 240,000 employees. Its portfolio comprises internationally acclaimed luxury brands including Raffles, Sofitel Legend, SO Sofitel, Sofitel, Fairmont, onefinestay, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman, and Swissôtel; the popular midscale and boutique brands of 25hours, Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter and Adagio; the much-prized economy brands including JO&JOE, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget; and the regional brands Grand Mercure, The Sebel and hotelF1.
With so many places to see and so many hotels to stay in, only one thing is certain: a return to Bangkok is needed to discover more of its many attractions.