Travel: Family vacation in Bangkok, Thailand

A temple with a panoramic view, safari of wild animals, shopping every step of the way, massages and perennially congested traffic.

End of year is a good time to visit Bangkok, when it’s not so hot and it doesn’t rain so much or at all.

End of year is a good time to visit Bangkok, when it’s not so hot and it doesn’t rain so much or at all. Taken with Samsung GALAXY Note 3.

Thailand used to be a frequent destination for our year-end break, being so near to Singapore, and the friendliness of its people.

Our whole family had a whale of a time, “interacting” with the wax figurines. Visitors are allowed to touch and pose with wax replicas of Justin Bieber, Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities.

Our whole family had a whale of a time, “interacting” with the wax figurines. Visitors are allowed to touch and pose with wax replicas of Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities. Taken with Samsung NX2000.

What we liked most was how doting they were to little children – wherever we went with our young children, you could see the face of the locals brighten up with a smile, some going out of their way to chat with them and pat them.

Water fountain outside Siam Center.

Water fountain outside Siam Center. Taken with Samsung NX2000.

This year we’d planned to visit Yangon in Myanmar until the sticky visa-application process put us off so much that at the last minute we changed our flight tickets to Bangkok – no visa application, familiarity with its sights and getting around, and a curiosity of how the country might have changed for the better after five years.

Fancy meeting the Prime Minister of your country in Madame Tussauds.

Fancy meeting the Prime Minister of your country in Madame Tussauds. Admission at the entrance: 800 baht for adults & 600 baht for children. There was an additional 20% discount when we went. There’re supposedly additional discounts for online bookings. Taken with Samsung NX2000.

And we’ve not looked back since.

For the first day, we checked in the hotel, hit Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery Centre, MBK and had a rolling good time in the Madame Tussauds wax museum.

Siam Paragon food court just above the Siam Ocean World. The same fish tanks from years ago for diners to view the fishes as they partake their food. Occasionally, the fish swims to the top, do a backflip and send a spray of water onto you - and your food.

Siam Paragon food court just above the Siam Ocean World. The same fish tanks from years ago for diners to view the fishes as they partake their food. Occasionally, the fish swims to the top, does a backflip and sends a spray of water onto you – and your food. Taken with Samsung NX2000.

For the rest of the break, we’ll be hitting Safari World, the Golden Mount temple, as well as more shopping and massages.

Installation art: “Boy about to step on turd”.

Installation art: “Boy about to step on turd”. Taken with Samsung NX2000.

Bangkok is bringing back pleasant memories already.

We used to visit every year, until we got stuck in Bangkok for an extra week in Conrad back in 2008 because the yellow shirt demonstrators held up Suvarnabhumi Airport.

We were fortunate that we could arrange to work from Bangkok during that week.

Nobody ever credits the Thais for pioneering the “Occupy” movement – but they had “Occupy Suvarnabhumi” before Occupy Wall Street in September 2011.

The familiar traffic congestion in Bangkok, in our taxi from the airport to the hotel. Taken with Samsung GALAXY Note 3.

The familiar traffic congestion in Bangkok, in our taxi from the airport to the hotel. Taken with Samsung GALAXY Note 3.

Then there was the fire that destroyed CentralWorld shopping mall in May 2010 – this time round by the Red Shirt protesters.

So it was not surprising that we stopped visiting Thailand since then.

Sparing a thought for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The next issue of this in-flight magazine will probably have very different write-ups for these two destinations. I’d wondered if I should’ve been on a flight to help out in Tacloban instead - but decided that’s not a good idea - best leave the groundwork to those who are better trained/equipped than add to the ground problems. The best way for us to help is to donate money or clothes/food to those collecting on behalf of the victims.

Sparing a thought for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The next issue of this in-flight magazine will probably have very different write-ups for these two destinations. I’d wondered if I should’ve been on a flight to help out in Tacloban instead – but decided that’s not a good idea – best leave the groundwork to those who are better trained/equipped than add to the ground problems. The best way for us to help is to donate money or clothes/food to those collecting on behalf of the victims. Taken with Samsung Note 3.

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16 Responses to “Travel: Family vacation in Bangkok, Thailand”

  1. Helen Miren says:

    Yes the Thais seem to really love children. They’re generally kind anyway!

    • tech4tea says:

      And this love for young children manifests itself in their everyday life and business operations as well. When you’re queueing to clear customs at the airport for example, there’re always customs officers roaming around the queues looking for families with young children. Many times, we have been taken out of the queue to proceed to the next available counter to minimise the waiting time for young children. Every single time we deeply appreciate the gesture and feel the warmth of Thai hospitality. Conversely, it invariably reminds me of my own airport back in Singapore which – despite the efficiency that I’m really proud of – feels really cold and uncompassionate. Perhaps that’s what Aung San Suu Kyi was alluding to in her comments about Singapore/Myanmar when she was a guest in Singapore.

  2. Jennifer Hodges says:

    Is there a safari park in Bangkok? I suppose it’ll be in the suburbs or something. I’m flying there next week and my son loves animals. Was it any good?

    • tech4tea says:

      Yes it’s called “Safari World” and you’re right – it’s in the suburbs roughly between the old Don Muang airport and Suvarnabhumi airport – about 45 min – 1 hour drive. It comprises a drive through safari and a regular zoo full of animal shows/performances. I’ll be blogging about our day trip there so stay tuned. But basically it was not cheap but fantastic!

  3. Joe Chan says:

    Is it really that difficult to get a visa to Myanmar. I’m considering going sometime next year.

    • tech4tea says:

      Yes and no. The application process can be really tedious for the unprepared/uninformed. But I suppose most people get approved eventually (I’m speculating here). A friend of mine went there and shared some really useful tips on the visa application process.

      You can find it at her blog here. http://merewanderlust.tumblr.com/post/63373790149/myanmar-tourist-visa-application-in-singapore.

      Note that you HAVE to apply for an appointment online before heading down to the Myanmar Embassy in Singapore. And that appointment may only be available the following week. So don’t leave the visa application to the last minute. Otherwise, you’ll have to go to the little window at the building next to the embassy gates to beg for a queue number. I saw a large crowd there remonstrating with the poor guy. Many of them were complaining about difficulties with using the online appointment system.

      Also although the website lists visa fees as S$35, it’s really S$45 (don’t know where the extra S$10 go to though). I also saw quite a few distraught applicants who’d queued all morning going off and asking where the nearest ATM was. So just bring lotsa cash.

      And the last straw – if you or anybody in your party are journalists/editors, be prepared for weeks of waiting because they have to check with their Ministry of Home Affairs on whether you can even apply for a visa. They look at your occupation on the visa application form and your name card to see what your job is. I know journos/editors from foreign wire services whose visa applications got rejected.

      Otherwise, barring all the above, you actually submit your visa in the morning and collect it the same afternoon. Good luck!

  4. Peter Duneshaw says:

    Wow, didn’t know there’s a Tusauds in Bangkok. That’s something I’ll be putting on my itinerary when I bring my family there over Christmas.

  5. Lee KH says:

    Did you get your tickets at the wax museum itself? Or do you need to book in advance from a tour operator?

    • tech4tea says:

      No. The travel counter at our hotel told us they sold tickets cheaper than at the museum so we paid them 3,200 baht for 2 adults + 2 children. Turned out the we would have paid only 2,400 baht if we’d bought the tix at the entrance. So don’t make the same mistake we made. But despite that, we really enjoyed the wax museum. oh don’t forget to check the rates for online booking from the museum’s site as well.

  6. Jane Peh says:

    How much is the taxi fare from airport to the city? Do they go by meter or issit pre-negotiated?

    • tech4tea says:

      There is a taxi stand outside the airport building where you tell the person your destination. He/she will then direct you to a taxi that’ll take you to your destination based on meter. The fare to the city is around 250-400 baht depending on distance and time (especially due to congestion). You have to pay any extra tolls to the driver (+50 baht to the driver for the airport taxi service). Seems like the drivers know the market rates (as promulgated online) really well. Our fare would have been 363 baht but the driver quoted us 400 baht.

  7. Ben Rogers says:

    It’s a shame with all those protesters. Although most of the time they don’t affect tourists. But the airport hold up was most disruptive. I had to find my way to some remote airport just to catch the SIA flight back. Not surprised it put you off Thailand after that.

    • tech4tea says:

      Yeah, you’re right in that most of the time they don’t bother the tourists. But the airport holdup was a total nuisance. And the bombings in 2010 didn’t help. The good thing is that things have somewhat normalised over the past few years. We’ve had such a good trip that we’re looking forward to resuming our annual jaunts to Bangkok.

  8. Mui Fong says:

    I know it’s a bit late but any recomendations for a good charity to contribute to Haiyan victims?

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