World Travel
New Original Fiction
Books & Movies

Film Space
Movies in depth
Dreamscapes Two
More Fiction
Lifestyles Archive
Politics & Living
Sam Hawksmoor
New YA fiction


••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year:Traveling with Mom Series

Thailand Highlights: 5 days by car, boat and metro.
• Gisele Ribeiro

Why not NY-Taipei-Bangkok?
Flights from JFK in New York to Bangkok are exhausting. They can take more than 20 hours, including at least one stop. Instead, you can take a 16-hour direct flight to Taipei, experience some of Chinese traditional culture and then fly to Bangkok. For less than US$300 you can fly there round-trip.


Day 1

Ratchada Night Market

Mom and I arrived in Bangkok from Taipei little after 1pm and missed the opportunity to have a car booked by X2 Vibe Bangkok Sukhumvit Hotel because they need 24 hours-notice. China Airlines’ food and comfortable seats are above average, by the way.

Ratchada Night Market

Taxi rides transfers to this hotel are broadly negotiable and it can cost anywhere from 500 but no more than 1500 THB (US$15 to US$47) depending on the driver. Sukhumvit is an upcoming area, with lots of new condominium residential developments. The closest BTS metro station is On Nut and it takes about 30 minutes to get to the farthest stations to the left: Siam on the light green line and National Stadium on the dark green line. They are the closest to Bangkok Old Town. X2 Vibe offers a free shuttle to the nearest metro / train station from 11 am until 8 pm, departing every half-hour. It is a big plus! It takes a 10-15 minute on foot, which would be hard for us due to our mobility difficulties.

Our first adventure riding the metro in Thailand was getting to the vibrant Ratchada Night Market, where there is a vast variety of cheap and exuberant clothing and all sorts of exotic merchandise. To get there we had to transfer to the dark blue line at Asok E get off at Thailand Cultural Center station. Despite the exciting name, nobody I asked knew where this center was. But certainly there was a shopping mall and a little praying/offering site nearby, as in Bangkok you see them almost everywhere. BTS modern, efficient and beautiful transit system is almost as good as Taipei’s and it is very similar in many ways. Actually, you may find interesting cultural similarities as devotion to temples and night markets!


Day 2

Tha Maharaj and Chao Phraya River

What we thought to be a great idea, the Hop on Hop Off in a Tuk Tuk, became a frustrating experience but led us to a wide array of possibilities. The concept of this service offered by this Urban Mobility app is wonderful but needs to be improved. Living in a WiFi and cell phone apps perfect world, along with a traffic-jam-free Bangkok would certainly contribute to a better service.

Sukhumvit is out of reach for designated pickup points for most group tours, including Hop on Hop Off in a Tuk Tuk that serves only Phyathai, Siam, Silom and Sathorn areas.

We were picked up by our first tuk tuk (a picturesque way of transportation in Thailand) at the National Stadium BTS station, right in front of Mercury Hotel and Ibis Bangkok Siam. There you can contract tours to Ayuttaya and Pattaya as well. However, they are more expensive than if you get tours arranged privately with drivers or through hotels such as X2 Vibe.

From there we headed by tuk tuk towards Bangkok Old Town, Tha Maharaj and Chao Phraya River. Tuk tuk drivers usually don’t speak English, so don’t expect any guided tour around town. Tha Maharaj pier and community mall offer good food and drink options, besides being the key point for the Hop On Hop Off Boat along the Chao Phraya River. It’s a very pleasant place and has beautiful views. Although we didn’t do that, I suggest getting the One-Day River Pass (200 Baht) and spend the day along the river visiting or just getting a glimpse of Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Pak Klong Taladd, Rachawongse, Icosiam and Asiatique. It’s good from 9 am to 5:30 pm. They also offer One-Night River Pass from 3pm to 8:30 pm for the same price and All Day All Night Pass from 9 am to 8:30 pm (300 Baht). Be alert that most places have entrance fees so make sure you do your price research beforehand!

Another option would have been to take the metro from On Nut to BTS Saphan Taksin and take the boat from there. The estimate travel time between these stations is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Or you can get a pink taxi cab and enjoy the ride!

Day 3

Ayuttaya, the best day trip from Bangkok!

Yes, we chose to travel by car about 1 hour than adventure ourselves more deeply into Bangkok Old Town! And we got a wonderful private driver, Mr. Cap, who picked us up at 7am with his green and yellow car after a great breakfast buffet at X2 Vibe Bangkok Sukhumvit Hotel .


The cost of visiting 4 different locations in Ayuttaya for the whole day until late evening was less than US$35 per person. In this trip, all locations are free or charge very small entrance frees except for an elephant ride ($25 for 2 people during 15 minutes) or a boat ride along the Floating Market (about U$6 per person).

Monk Dress codes are very strict for entering temples in Thailand and this is also true for the Bang-Pa-In Summer Palace, our first stop. But don’t worry. If you are not dressed properly, there will be plenty of gorgeous Thai-style pants and skirts to choose from on street stands for U$3! My favorite place for souvenirs, pants and skirts is the Bang-Pa-In Summer Palace’s store. So many beautiful things and so cheap!

After strolling around the magnificent gardens and artificial lake at the palace, we were ready to see the Giant Gold Buddha at Wat Phanan Choeng where gilding smaller Buddha images in the temple is common devotion practice. Make sure you don’t forget to take off your shoes at the temple entrance and get them back!
Floating Market and Elephant Village was the next stop, a very tourist-oriented place, but you can get some taste of the Thailand in the past. Very interesting. On the other hand, Wat Mahathat was a real Royal monastery in the center of old Ayutthaya and is considered “the temple of the Great Relic”. It features the Seated Buddha covered in a gold rap, Khmer style prangs and the famous Buddha Head in Tree Roots. Elephant Village


Day 4

Pattaya, Koh Larn Island (Coral Island) and Nual Beach

Although you can find very good prices for X2 Vibe online, you can save even more at Studio Ekamai on Sukhumvit Road. Unlike X2 Vibe, it is a very simple hotel, small rooms, no breakfast and some noise coming from the train passing by but, besides very affordable, it is only a 2-minute walk to Ekkamai train station and there is a 7-Eleven store almost next door for breakfast, which you can get for about US$3.

That’s where we bought ours before heading to our day trip outside Bangkok at 5:30 am. Usually, hotel breakfasts don’t start before 6 am anyway. Depending on your budget and promotions, both hotels are a great deal for exploring Sukhumvit neighborhood attractions, day trips to Bangkok outskirts or an overnight stay to other further beaches.

We wanted to have a taste of the paradisiac beaches with white sand, turquoise, quiet and warm water for which Thailand is known. If you have a flexible budget, I suggest beach resorts in Phukket which may require at least 1.5 hour-flight for no less than US$50 from Bangkok.

The closest option to have this kind of experience near Bangkok is Coral Island, although you have to be willing to deal with crowds. I suggest going very early in the morning when the Chinese avalanche of tourists didn’t have time to arrive yet. The first Ferry boat from Pattaya (Bali Hai Pier) to Koh Larn Island departs at 8am, takes about 50 minutes to get to Tawaen beach and costs 30 THB.

As soon as you get to the pier, make a right on a narrow boardwalk instead of going straight to the main beach. There you’ll find a more secluded area with corals and trees. It’s gorgeous there! It won’t be so secluded for long though. Later in the morning, it will be packed. Then go to the main beach area and take a 10 minute ride Baht bus to Nual beach for 40 THB. It’s also known as Monkey beach and it has a real monkey there, besides corals and small tiger fish. The water is clear and good for basic snorkeling. It is located on the far end of the island and tends to be less crowded. Be alert to the last ferry and baht bus schedules! It’s a good idea to get the ferry back at Naban Port instead, so you’ll take a peek at the other side of the island! Monkey Beach Nual

Day 5

Grand Palace

Among the many temples and landmarks in Bangkok’ old city, the Grand Palace is a definitely a must-see attraction. My mother recalls watching the first making of Anna and the King of Siam (now Thailand). The 1946 Hollywood production was considered an “inviting escape to an exotic past" and replicated many of the sites at the Grand Palace complex.

Grand Palace
Grand Palace Entrance The 500 baht entrance fee could discourage many people from visiting it but the place was packed. Dress code is strict, so do your research. No tank tops, shorts or sandals, please! I recommend getting there as early as possible. Be prepared to walk and spend the day! Hours are from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm. There is a free shuttle bus that takes you to watch the traditional “Khon - Thai Masked Dance” at Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre, which is included in the ticket. I’m very sorry we missed it! It runs from Monday to Friday at 10:30 am, 1, 2:30, 4 and 5:30 pm. Besides the show, the entrance ticket also includes visiting Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Phra Kaew Museum.

Our trip to the airport from Studio Ekamai included this short visit to the Grand Palace. We just had time to take pictures at the outer gardens, but it was well worth it!

*Back to Taipei with Gisele

Our overnight at Zhongshan district allowed us to take the 260 bus and visit Taipei Fine Arts Museum next day before heading to the airport back to New York.

I hope you enjoyed the tips! Instagram: @Linkme2tours


© Gisele Ribeiro May 2019

More travel in Hacktreks

Share |


© Hackwriters 1999-2019 all rights reserved - all comments are the individual writer's own responsibility -
no liability accepted by or affiliates.