The story appears on

Page B4

December 13, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Bang for your buck in Bangkok

ANYONE who's visited Bangkok can attest to the fact that it is one of a few metropolitan cities where you can easily come up with reasons to overstay without a second thought and pamper yourself without worrying about your wallet.

In the capital city of Thailand, a country known for its Buddhist spirit and superb standards of service, there is a cornucopia of charms for everyone, from the affluent to the budget-conscious.

Bangkok lives up to its name as a paradise for holiday makers. Pleasures range from spicy and tasty Tom Yam Kung to body-stretching and refreshing massage; from purse-friendly markets where offbeat items can be discovered to world-class mega malls offering the most stylish shopping experience.

You can treat your palate to authentic Thai cuisine - sour and sweet, hot and spicy - and indulge your body with floral aromatic baths followed by skin-revitalizing massage. These are not to be missed.

But there are some lesser-known delights.

For those interested in textiles and arts, the Jim Thompson House is the place, opposite the National Stadium on Rama 1 Road.

The house is comprised of six teak buildings, most of them two centuries old and brought to Bangkok from various parts of the country. It was the home of American Jim Thompson, who made major contributions to the silk weaving industry. The architecture itself is a treat.

Representative of early Thai architecture, the houses are a full story above the ground, a practical precaution to avoid flooding during the rainy season. And the roof tiles were designed in an ancient style rarely seen today and fired in Ayudhya. The red paint on the exterior is a traditional preservative. The chandeliers were a concession to modern conveniences, but even they belong to a past era, having come from 18th and 19th century Bangkok palaces.

An American serviceman who settled in Thailand after World War II, Jim Thompson was probably one of the most mysterious players in Thai history.

He was fascinated by the art of hand silk weaving, a long-neglected cottage industry, and devoted himself to reviving the craft. Highly gifted as a designer and textile colorist, he played a major role in the industry's growth and helped raise the profile of Thai silk around the world.

What added to Thompson's fame, sadly, was his sudden disappearance in 1967 during a visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Not a single credible clue pointed to what might have happened.

Of course, the Jim Thompson cotton and silk products are elegant but pricy, compared with other brands.

However, for those seeking purse-friendly retail therapy, Jatuyak Weekend Market is the destination. Easily accessible by public transport (buses, BTS sky trains and MRT underground metros), the market is said to be one of the biggest of its kind in the world, offering everything from live animals to antiques. It's easy to spend a day - and get lost.

At Jatuyak, a map is necessary if you don't want to waste too much time getting lost again and again. Stalls are organized into zones selling apparel, electric appliances, books, silks and leather products, paintings, furniture and home decors, gadgets of all kinds and just about everything else.

Bargaining is fun and not daunting. Prices are pretty reasonable as locals often shop there. Roving around, jostling and juggling bags or purchases you really understand what it means to shop till you drop.

Mercifully, you can recharge yourself because cheap and tasty food and drinks are everywhere. Iced fruit juice and sticky mango rice just cost a few dozen baht, and then you're ready to shop again.

Dinner cruise

Sunset is the signal for a special Bangkok night with a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River, the main artery of the Kingdom of Thailand.

Floating past famous landmarks such as the Temple of Dawn and the Grand Palace, you find the buildings take on a different character at night, glistening in contrast with the dark sky and river. They look gorgeous and sacred.

Going to the top deck, you will be embraced by the cool river breeze, a delight after the scorching daytime sunlight.

At the end of the journey, everyone dances and lets go in a wonderful conclusion to the trip.

While there's always plenty to enjoy in Bangkok, you can also visit Pattaya for a one-day excursion and overnight stay. Just 90 minutes by car from the capital, Pattaya was once world renowned for its steamy, seamy and exotic nightlife.

Nowadays the beach resort is trying to rebrand itself for a wide range of visitors, and families, offering diverse attractions. These include the brand-new Pattaya Floating Market on the city's outskirts.

It is said to be the world's largest floating market and is divided into four parts representing the culture and heritage of the four regions of Thailand.

The market in a wetland area includes islands of various sizes with traditional teak wood houses. Wooden bridges link the islands and more than 80 paddle boats take visitors around - the bridges are so low that passengers have to duck their heads.

Floating along, one can appreciate the traditional architecture and traditional ways of life along the water where vendors on boats sell freshly cooked food.

Alternatively, you can wander through the market on foot, taking a closer look at buildings and checking out more than 100 boutique shops selling handicrafts and other souvenirs.

There's also a wood carving museum. Cultural shows and martial arts demonstrations, including water boxing, are staged daily.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend