This was our second trip to Thailand and we can confirm that it is still a long way from Ottawa to Bangkok.
We started the trip in Ottawa with a 5:00 pm flight to Toronto. We had a very fancy dinner at A&W before boarding a 12 ½ hour flight to Dubai on Air Canada. The online reviews of the food on this flight included one which said “the only people who should eat the food on this flight are people practicing to be on fear factor” The food was not great but it really was not that bad. It was a new plane so we had great entertainment systems but no foot room. Dinner was served at 11:00 pm our time followed by breakfast at about 11:00 am our time which was about 7:00 pm local time.
We have never been to Dubai before and we only saw the airport. Very modern with McDonalds, KFC and Starbucks. They also had large boxes where you could leave your excess carry-on baggage for disposal. We found that quite odd. Who just throws away their excess carry-on and if you do leave bags around in an airport don’t they get blown up?
We left Dubai at 9:40 pm local time on Royal Thai Airways. The food was much better and the seats reclined much further. They even had cologne in the bathrooms for smelly passengers. We also got warm moist towels to refresh ourselves. Standard on any Asian flight and a sign that we were back on that side of the world.
We arrived in Bangkok at 4:00 am Dubai time, 7:00 am Bangkok time and 6:00 pm Ottawa time two days later than we left.
Bangkok airport and customs are easy to navigate. You just get into one line and you are given at 30-day visa on entry. When you enter you fill out a customs card. They keep the big piece and they give you the smaller piece. It is important that you don’t loose the smaller piece as you are required to give it back when you leave the country.
We bought SIM cards in the airport. We paid 600 Bht for 30 days and 6G of data. Its really easy to do, all you need is money and a passport. On our previous trip you could buy SIM cards all over the place but they have tightened things up. The days of cheep and sketchy SIM cards are gone so there is no reason not to buy one at the airport.
We also changed some money at the airport but not upstairs in the airport. There are money changers in the basement by the sky train. These booths had exchange rates as good as any we found anywhere else in Thailand. The rate was better than the rates being offered on the infamous Khao San Road.
Another new addition to the airport is the sleep capsules which are in the basement. A sort of hard shell tent for one for $65 US a night.
The best way to get into Bangkok is the Skytrain. It’s fast and it’s 45Bht each. You can buy a ticket at the machines in the airport. We were staying in the Khao San Road area which is not serviced by the Skytrain but we took it to the last station and hired a taxi from there. The taxi from the station to Khao San Road cost us 100 Bht.
We stayed at the New Siam 3 which is in the Khao San Road area but not actually on Khao San Road. We have stayed there before and we like the location. It’s close to the action but a little quieter. The rooms are basic but clean, the showers are hot and the AC works. Once we have been in Thailand for a while the AC is optional but landing in Bangkok coming from a Canadian winter we need the AC for the first few days!
We were able to check in early so we dropped off our bags and went off to find an adventure and to try and stay awake.
Our favorite way to travel around Bangkok is by boat. The Chao Phraya Express Boat company operates the boat equivalent of buses up and down the river and stop #13 is an easy walk from Khao San Road. We took the orange express boat to Wat Arun for 15Bht each. Taking the boat is an adventure in it’s self. There is a definite protocol for getting on and off and you have to be fast or you miss out! The views from the river of the city and the other boats are worth the trip even if you don’t actually go anywhere!
When you buy your tickets you need to specify that you want to take the Express Boat because by default they will sell you the more expensive Hop-on Hop-off tourist boat ticket which is 200 Bht for the day of 60 Bht per ride.
Wat Arun is impressive, with remarkable mosaic everywhere. You can actually see a lot without paying the 50 Bht entrance fee. We paid to get in and took lots of pictures to put on Facebook and annoy our friends. Wat Arun, like all Wat’s has a dress code and here it was strictly enforced. No shorts, no uncovered knees, no tank tops, no bare shoulders and they send you back to rent clothes if you don’t pass. We actually saw them send back a baby they felt was inappropriately dressed!
We took the boat back home and stopped at the 7-11 to buy beer. You can buy anything at the 7-11 in Thailand but you can only buy beer between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm or after 5:00 pm.
We had Pad Thai for dinner and almost fell asleep eating it but we made it to 6:30 pm and slept through the night.