Children of Laos, Burma & Thailand

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Thailand and Laos (and Myanmar if I can manage it)

Hello, Sawatdee kaa and Sabai dee,

My next trip will be Thailand and Laos, and this is all about the before, the trip and the after - similar to my Malaysia/Cambodia blog. I am putting together from start to finish - tickets, do's and don'ts, tours, where to stay, places to see, things to do, as well as useful extras like transport, good places to eat, what to wear, climate, tourist traps, tricks and tips and whatever else I can think of that will be useful.

If you have any tips or advice, please, feel free to leave a comment and add your bit - whatever you think may be helpful or interesting.

Thailand map

View Bangkok Thailand in a larger map

Playlist - My Travel Videos

Saturday, December 18, 2010

35. Vang Vieng Accommodation Booked

After a long search, I have finally booked my one night's accommodation at Vang Vieng. A few places had been suggested, but alas their price outweighed my wallet! I had been advised to choose somewhere away from what is nick-named "tubing corner" as this is where a lot of drunken backpackers hang out.

I settled on Ban Sabai Bungalows which is a little further away than the pricier options I'd been looking at but not too far from the centre of town. It was a little cheaper booking online with one of those booking places and it cost US$36. Going through their website was US$41, although I heard later from someone that places will meet the same price as online booking systems.

Above: Ban Sabai Bungalows
The bungalows look quite nice. There's no television but it's only for one night.

Above: Deluxe
This is the Deluxe bungalow - funny how they don't show the standard models. Perhaps the decor is plainer and the view not as good. Who knows?

Above: River view
The above pics are from their website. I must say that view looks splendid.

Below is a town map of Vang Vieng. Due to the map length, I have done it in two sections. The first is the "top" part of the map.

Above: Vang Vieng town map
I have marked my accommodation with an "X". To the right along the main road is the bus stop, so it isn't too far a walk.

Monday, December 13, 2010

34. Vientiane Accommodation Sorted

Lane Xang Hotel
Accommodation in Vientiane has been booked. After agonising over finding places with a lift or ground floor rooms, I settled on the Lane Xang Hotel in the riverside are. All rooms have a balcony - either facing the river or the swimming pool. I opted for the riverview. It is possible there won't be much to see as the river looks like it's been dragged and there has been building going or for quite some day.

Above: Lane Xang Hotel
Photos taken from the hotel's website,

Reason for choice
There was more than one reason for chossing this place, it has a lift, there are smoking floors, the balcony, and it wasn't that much higher than my price range.
Also, it has a riverview, so it will be quite nice sitting on the balcony after dark facing the river.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

33. Bangkok Accommodation - Booked

I just booked my accommodation for my four nights in Bangkok. Yippee! I'm glad to have that out of the way - at least I know where I'll be. After weighing up the pros and cons, I decided on Bhiman Inn. Below are photos from their website.

Reason for Choice
Firstly, the location. Although the other two were closer to Khao San Road and cheaper, I realised the one located in KSR itself would be very, very noisy. Now I don't mind noise but seeing their check-in time as being 4.00am meant it could possibley be very noisy indeed plus I don't think the rooms would be as nice.

Secondly, appearance and atmosphere. New Siam II was my original choice but seems to lack a certain something in comparison. A friend advised that Bhiman Inn was in a nicer location and on looking at some maps, it's fairly close to the river and the river taxis.

Thirdly they offer a full breakfast and all rooms have a mini bar.

Above: Front of building

Above: The interior

Above: Map
It would probably be adviseable to print a copy of this to show the taxi driver.

Monday, November 22, 2010

32. Kanchanaburi Accommodation & Map

I have a few places in mind for my two night stay in Kanchanaburi,
PLOY Guesthouse
Pong Phen Guesthouse
and the Jolly Frog Backers. (No website)
Sugar Cane GH which has two - Sugarcane GH 1 and Sugarcane GH 2 The first one is closer to town, the other is 1 km further away. Guesthouse 1 is 2 kms from the River Kwai Bridge, Guesthouse 2 is 1 kms from the bridge.

There is a closer to town raft house called Sam's River Rafthouse but so far I haven't seen a good review.

Just noticed on a website, Sam's River Rafthouse is closed for renovation. Still no closer to making a decision.

I emailed Ploy GH and the Category 1 room is in the single story building and is more open and faces the private garden with the outdoor shower, plus it has a fridge.
The Category 2 rooms are on the ground floor of the two story building. This guesthouse includes morning coffee/toast and offers free pick-up from train / bus station. They don't have a restaurant.

If I choose Pong Phen GH, I'll go for a room in the guesthouse around 500/600 baht and I'd select the one with air con plus they have a balcony.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

31.Bangkok Accommodation

Well now, it looks like I may not be staying at the New Siam II after all. A friend who is well travelled said he was staying at Bhiman Inn and I had a look around their website. Comparing rates, although New Siam is cheaper - 790 baht per night, and Bhiman Inn 1000 baht per night, it also includes a full breakfast. Now by my calculations that works out at $7.15 for breakfast which may work out cheaper in the long run. Not being familiar with food costs in Bangkok, I'm presuming that it would cost me about the same were I to have to buy breakfast.

So now it's a case of

a) Pay 790 baht a night, no breakfast.
b) Pay 1000 baht a night breakfast included.

I somehow like the idea of breakfast included for a number of reasons. It means I can just go down for breakfast in the morning without having to having to go and check out prices either at New Siam or surrounding shops/stalls.

Anyway, I'm not sure which direction I'll go. I have plenty of time to make up my mind, but if the full breakfast includes tea and coffee, then I think it may have just won me over. I'll also check reviews and compare them.

I will need to find out if "net" includes tax and service charge. If it doesn't then I will most likely opt for New Siam II.
Emailed then (Bhiman Inn) and the price includes taxes etc.

Another Alternative ~ Cheaper Accommodation?
I heard from someone who stayed at Siam Oriental Inn on Khao San Road - 190 Khao San Road, cheap rooms for 500 baht. They seemed quite happy with it, then again they are about half my age and are backpacking around over something like 18 months or so. The place is right on Khao San Road and there's a 7-11 nearby with a pharmacy across the road and the police station near by. I think it would be very noisy and not sure if it's where I really want to be, although the fact that it is half the price compared to the Inn makes it seem like a very attractive alternative.

From their website

1-2 persons

C1-C2, 500 baht, fan and air con, hot shower, free american breakfast, international tv, window, plus free tissues, soap and safety box.

There's also 2 persons deluxe for 700 baht which offers the same things. Perhaps the room is a little larger? Or doesn't face the noisy street? Somehow I don't think they will have a lift.

So, it's either 500 baht in the noisy area or 1000 baht in a nicer, quieter area. As this is the very last part of my trip, it might be nice to go for the dearer option and stay in the better location. Looking through the photo gallery of Birhman Inn, I am drawn to staying here. $33.87 a night, making a total of #135.51 add on a few dollars for the international exchange rate etc. say $140 for four nights including breakfast it still isn't a lot of money especially when you compare that staying in a dorm hostel in Canberra is around $30 a night and you don't get breakfast included.

So yeah...I think this might be the one. I'll spend the day or so to think it over before making a final decision.

I just asked Junior (20 yo son) should I stay on the noisy street an pay $67.50 for four nights with breakfast of on the nicer, quieter street and pay $135.50 for four nights with breakfast. His ansewer? The $67.50 one. Given the fact that the cheaper one lists check-in as it 'd likely be very noisy and somehow I don't think I'd really relish the thought of drunken backpackers stumbling in at 4 in the morning. Decions, decisions, decisions. I know if I were to ask people familiar with Bangkok they would say go for the dearer option.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

30. Bangkok Itinerary?

Trying to work out my Bangkok itinerary this is a first draft. I'll probably end up changing things around but at least this gives me something to go on.

The things I know I want to do are Ayutthaya, Pattaya, the temples and a market

Friday 25th - Arrive HuaLamphong Train Station 6.35am. Taxi to New Siam II.
Wat Arun, Royal Palace, Wat Po. Canal excursion? Royal barges?

Saturday 26th - Ayutthaya day trip

Sunday 27th - Jim Thompson's House, Siam Square?, Chinatown, Chatuchak market? Night market?

Monday 28th - Pattaya day trip. Train or bus?

Tuesday 1st - Depart

Palaces and Barges
Ferry at Phra Athit down to the stop off for Wat Pho and Wat Arun.

8.00am ~ Canal excursion
10.00am ~ Taxi to Royal barges on the Pinklao side 10.00 - 11.00am
11.30 Wat Po
12.30 Wat Arun
13.30 Royal Palace
15.30 Return to hotel?

Taxi to Patpong, Silom for the market? Fare around 100 baht using meter.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

29. Visas

For information regarding visas and travel documents, please click the link above. This can be found at the top of the page under "Visas".

Friday, October 15, 2010

28. The Nagi of Mekong - fact or fallacy?

Those who have been reading this blog may remember me posting about my proposed trip on the Nagi of Mekong from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang.

What I find strange - I have been unable to find any photos of the Nagi. Other than those on adisak's website, there is nothing, absolutely nothing. This I find peculiar - every body takes photos of their holidays and trips, so why are there none taken by tourists/passengers who have travelled on this Nagi? Does the boat actually exist or is it a phantom? A mythical boat of an over-active imagination or just a scam?

I am not saying it is a scam nor am I making accusations ~ but I have an enquiring mind and I for one would like to get to the bottom of this. Where are the reviews? Where are the photos? Where are the happy snaps?

I did read one positive review which was posted last November (2009), yet have read more than one negative review.

Apart from the email saying my booking had been accepted, I have received no further communication regarding my query about their overnight package, although in the same email confirming my seat on the Nagi it said, and I quote, "Let me get back to you about the bungalow at Baan Nai Sra in a day or two." That was on the 10th August. It is now October - two months later. He never did get back to me. I am still waiting.

Am I right to have... concerns? Where is the booking number and reference number? Seems a funny way to do business.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

27. Green Discovery

I came across a tour company in Laos called Green Discovery. A friend said he'd had several experiences with them going through their Vientiane office and wasn't happy with them and knew of others in the same boat. Yet someone else said they'd heard negative reviews from their Luang Prabang branch.

Perhaps they have lifted their game by now, perhaps not. If you do use this company it may be wise to ask around first. Remnember the Boy Scouts motto - Be prepared.

Friday, August 27, 2010

26. Food in Thailand

Thai Cuisine
It helps if you know what type of food to expect when travelling overseas to a country for the first time. Dishes from Asian countries are far different to dishes from Australia, or indeed other western countries. And "Asian" dishes in Australia often bear little resemblance to Asian dishes in Asian countries.
When I was in Cambodia, I ate the most delicious Thai food at the guesthouse where I was staying, and the Chinese food I had in Malaysia was wonderful. Coming back to Australia, I have to say the Thai and Chinese meals I've had here are "Western" Chinese/Thai foods. Believe me, they are definitely not the same thing!

Rice - khao, is the staple food in Thailand. In southern and central Thailand, many people eat khao jao (plain rice) with every meal, while people in the north and northeast eat khao nieow (sticky rice) with their hands, sort of what we'd call finger food. The sticky rice is rolled into a small ball then dipped into different sauces. What we would call a main dish or side dish is called gap khao (with rice), so everything is "with rice".

The Four Tastes
There are four main tastes in Thai dishes - hot (spicy), sour, sweet, and salty and it is the combination of these tastes that gives Thai food its delicious flavour.

What if you don't eat spicy foods?
If you don't like spicy food, ask "Phet mai" which means is it spicy?
Chan au mai phet na ka means I don't want spicy please. "Mai phet" translates as not spicy. Mai sai prik means do not put in chillies. If you do happen to bite something that is too hot eating either plain rice or noodles will help as they soak up the spicy oil. Don't make the mistake of drinking water - it only spreads the oil around your mouth and you still feel like you have a volcano sitting there.

I wish I'd known this before, when I'd gone out with friends to an Indian restaurant and ordered what I was told was the mildest dish and not hot at all. Hah! We live and learn eh?☺

Popular dishes
Neua phat bai ka prao ~ Beef, stir-fried with vegetables and Thai basil.
Phat tai (Pronounced "pat tai") ~ Fried noodles with bean sprouts, peanuts, and lime juice, usually not spicy.
Gai phat met ma-muang ~ Chicken, stir-fried with vegetables and cashews.
Khao naa pet ~ Rice with roast duck, non-spicy normally found in shops with roasted duck in window display.
Khao phat ~ Fried rice, usually not spicy.
Kuoi tiaw ~ Chinese noodles, served as soup (kuoi tiaw naam) or dry (kuoi tiaw hang).
Plaa thawd ~ Savoury deep-fried fish, often whole, tilapia or catfish.
Phat pak lai yang ~ Stir-fried vegetables.
Raat naa taleh ~ Wide noodles (raat naa) with a selection of shrimp, squid etc in a light gravy. Not spicy.
Som tam ~ Green papaya salad with hot chilis, lime, tomatoes, peanuts, and a special sauce and a specialty of Isaan, in northeast Thailand.

And something to drink
Cha yen ~ Thai iced tea made with black tea, ice, and condensed milk. It is often served in a plastic bag with a straw for you to carry away.

25. Bangkok Tourist Attractions

What to see in Bangkok
If you decide to do a tour of the temples and the Grand Palace, be aware that the Grand Palace is not included in the temples tour, so if you're on a budget rather than paying two lots of money, if you do book a tour, choose the temples one, then see the Grand Palace by yourself.

Top Tourist Attractions
1. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
2. Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon or Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
3. Wat Arun - (The Temple of Dawn)
4. Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)
5. Vimanmek Mansion
6. Chao Phraya River - take a boat ride
7. Bangkok National Museum
8. Khaosan Road
9. Chinatown (Yaowarat)
10. Chatuchak Weekend Market

The Old City
Below is a map of the "Old City" of Bangkok - you will find many of the temples etc are in this part of Bangkok.

Above: The old city

Another popular pastime is to go to Emporium Park, stroll around the lake or sit one of the seats and feed the doves. Pack a picnic lunch and you're all set.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

24. Food - Thai Travel Menu

Some of the best (and cheapest) food in Thailand I've been told is to be found at the food stalls on the street - food hawkers. The may not have menus written up and chances are if they do, they're most likely in Thai. Which can present a bit of a conundrum for tourists who are unfamiliar with the Thai language, although you could of course point to something on the "menu" and ask the person working there what it is.

Menu Explained
Take a look at this menu board below

Above: Menu board
It has great dishes on there like chicken fried with cashew nuts, fried thousand year eggs with crispy basil leaves, spicy squid in a basil & curry sauce and many others for 20 baht each. Yet many people don't get much way past the fried rice or fried noodles.

Over rice
Many of the items can be ordered "over rice", so including rice. Ordering an indivudal dish over rice is cheaper so probably the best thing when you're travelling by yourself. If you order seperately you get more, but the price will be a little higher.

Chanchao wrote a Thai Travel Menu which you can find here. The Travel Menu is a PDf file and it requires Adobe Reader to open.

Chanchao's travel menu is the copywright of Chanchao and
Many thanks to Chanchao for giving me his permission to use the above information in my blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

23. Maylin Guesthouse

The Maylin Guesthouse in Vang Vieng has been recommended to me.

With prices being from 40,000 kip to 80,000 kip per night - ($5.45 to $10.95) this is a pretty good price. It's away from the noisy backpacker scene and tubing corner which is where the "action" happens.
Vang Vieng is fast becoming known for "tubing" - flying over/down the river in a rubber tyre and drinking copious amounts of beer.

Edited to add:
I checked online and put in random dates for check in and check out for this property with two different websites. One gave the price as $33.75 and the other was showing $40 something and that was in US dollars. The dollar amount(s) I gave ($5.45 to $10.95) are Australian dollars. Now it may be a case of being a far higher price if you book online through accommodation websites.

Above: Maylin Guesthouse and bungalows

Above: Vang Vieng town map
As you can see, No 17 is Maylin GH, the red arrow is the Main Highway heading towards the Bus Station. The marked letter T (in yellow) is the High Street. And the broken white line near number 34 (Thavornsouk guesthouse) is the Song Bridge.

17. Maylin Guesthouse

Eat and Meet
A: Erawan
B: Jeska Bar
C: Kangaroo Sunset
D: Luang Prabang Bakery
E: Nazim's
F: Organic Mulberry Farm Cafe
G: Sakura
H: Smile
I: Stalls set up in front of Kang Temple
J: The Rising Sun
K: Viengchampa
L: Viewpoint Restaurant

Attractions and Activities
4: Green Discovery
5: Laos Rock Climbing
6: Tubing Co-operative
7: Wat Kang

2: Bus Station

Vital Information
1: Bank
3: Exchange

Sunday, August 15, 2010

22. North Thailand and Laos

Northern Thailand

The above map shows the main attractions around Chiang Mai and rivers and roads to other towns. I'll be going from Chiang Mai>Chiang Rai>Mae Sai across the border to Tachilek (Burma), the Golden Triangle, back to Chiang Rai then across to Chiang Khong for the border crossing into Laos.

The main cities and towns of Laos. The border crossing Thailand>Laos, Chiang Khong across the Mekong to Huay Xai. From there I'll be sailing down the Mekong with an overnight stop in Pakbeng, then continuing the following day to Luang Prabang and staying there for three nights. Travelling down to Vang Vieng where I'll break my journey then next day on to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Staying here for three nights.
From there it's over the Friendship Bridge back to Thailand and train from Nong Khai>Bangkok.

Maps courtesy of Ian from Ginny Place

Saturday, August 14, 2010

21. Kanchanaburi - Getting There

I've come across a very good website for information about Kanchanaburi. It's called Kanchanaburi and is in English and German. One of the things I really liked about it is not only does it tell you how to get there from Bangkok, it also has the bus timetables. You catch the bus from the Southern Bus Terminal. It gives timetables, bus numbers, duration and fares. There is also information for buses from Kanchanaburi to other destinations in the area.

Suvarnabhumi Airport to Kanchanaburi
Reading the information on this page, (Post 8) I will need to get Bus No. 556 from the airport to the Southern Bus Terminal, and then get either Bus No 81 1st class for 99 baht, or Bus No 81 -1 2nd class for 77 baht. The trip takes 2 hours. As my flight lands at 11.40am and allowing at least an hour to clear customs, an hour for the bus ride from the airport plus a good 30 minutes to get my bearings, I should hopefully arrive at the bus terminal in Bangkok around 2.15pm. Another 2 and a half hours or so and I should be in Kanchanaburi by 4.45pm.

Then of course I will have to get to my accommodation place. Not sure yet how long that will take or where exactly the bus stop is in relation to the town.

I'll most likely be staying at the Jolly Frog which is a backpackers and cheap. The rooms I believe are very small, but then so is the price. Unfortunately, they don't have a website, so I can't book online. As the time draws nearer, I may decide to stay elsewhere - somewhere that does have online booking, is close to town and not too dear. The trouble is finding them. One place that was recommended sounds very nice but is about five times more. Something to think about anyway.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

20. Things You Should Not Do In Thailand

There are some things you definitely should not do when you're in Thailnd and it's a good thing to learn before going so as to avoid giving offence.

Criticising the King
The Thai people have a great love for their king and not only is it rude to make negative remarks about the King, the royal family or the institution of the monarchy, it is also a crime. Lèse majesté is enforced in Thailand.

Patting the head
The head is the most important part of the body, so no touching someone's head.

Pointing the feet
The feet are considered dirty - you should never point them at someone, it is considered offensive. And don't point your feet at any Buddha statue.

Visiting a temple
Remove your shoes before visiting a temple.

Getting angry
Raising your voice or losing your temper is a big no-no. Not only will it not get you what you want, the local people won't respect you.

Saving face
It is important never to cause someone to lose face. So don't shout and yell in public.

Palm down
When you hail a taxi, or wish to beckon a waiter or anyone, have your palm down and fingers straight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

19. Laos Currency

Lao Kip:
Lao money is the Kip which is inconvertible outside Laos. Due to the instability and inflation. You'll find there are too many zeros and too many notes which aren't very pratical for travellers - you'd end up with a fistful and makes carrying large amounts of Kip inconvenient. A friend who lives in Laos said he had a huge suitcase full of Kip when he bought his house! You can use Thai Baht and US Dollars.

Currency Rate:
At the time of writing this (11 August), the actual currency rate is -
AUD $1.00 = 7,481.75 LAK
US $1.00 = 8,235.00 LAK
Thai Baht 1 = 257.880 LAK

Lao Kip (LAK; symbol ₭) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of ₭50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. There are no coins.

Important Note:
a) You can't convert your kip back into dollars or baht when leaving Laos
b) You can't use up your kip at the duty-free shops, as they only accept US dollars and Thai baht.

Below are the most commonly used denominations.

Above: Kip - Smaller denominations

Above: Kip - larger denominations

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

18. Nagi of Mekong

Well, I've just booked my seat on the Nagi of Mekong and had an email confirming my booking.
Sailing down the Mekong to Luang Prabang is something I really want to do. You can go on the ordinary "public" longboats which I suppose the majority of backpackers do and it's a lot cheaper. Around $30, but it's not very comfortable. Hard, wooden seats, no food or drink, and when you get to Pak Ben you have to arrange your accommodation etc.

With the Nagi, it's more like a cruise and you get taken care of. Nice, soft cushioned seats, tea/coffee and fresh fruits, two hot lunches and your accommodation at Pak Ben. Plus, you get to stop off at one or two villages and you also get to do a tour of the Pak Ou cave. Cost is $158 twin share and $178 for single. True it's more expensive, but I think I'll enjoy this so much more.

17. Itinerary - 2

My Itinerary So Far:
The places I will be staying have been worked out, it is now just a matter of fine tuning - what to do, when to do it and in what order.
Day 1:
Arrival at Bangkok International Airport. Bus to Bangkok bus station. Catch bus to Kanchanaburi. Check into accommodation, probably the Jolly Frog. Check out tours for tomorrow.

Day 2:
Ride on the Death Railway, see Hellfire Pass. Museum and World War II Cemetery. Boat or raft cruise if time permits and finances allow.

Day 3:
Afternoon train to Bangkok. Bangkok Railway Station for overnight train from Bangkok-Chiang Mai, air-conditioned compartment - lower sleeping berth.

Day 4:
Arrive at Chiang Mai Railway Station. Bus to town, check into accommodation.
Tour Wat Phathat Doi Suthep one of the most important temples of Chiang Mai. The tour includes a climb up some 290 steps to the temple on the summit of the mountain (Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep). San Kamphaeng to visit some artisans' workshops to observe the creation of Chiang Mai's most famous products - celadon, pottery, umbrellas, silver and wood carvings, paper-making and silk and cotton weaving.

Day 5:

Day 6:
A short distance outside of Chiang Mai City, watch elephants perform their work hauling and stacking the teakwood logs. You can observe them taking their daily baths along with their babies-and can even take a ride around the compound on one of the them. Orchid Farm for lunch?

Day 7:
Early morning leave for Chiang Rai overland (183 kms. away) across mountain, valleys and picturesque landscapes. Check into accommodation. Bus to Mae Sai, cross border to Tachilek into Myanmar for some shopping of the local handicrafts. Bus back to Chiang Rai.
? Lunch at a restaurant by the Mae Khong river in the golden Triangle area. Visit the opium musuem and some old monuments in this old capital of Lanna Kingdom called Chiangsaen.?

Day 8:
Visit to “Doi Tung”? Hmong hilltribe village and local market? Bus to Baan Nai Sra, dinner and overnight at House In The Pond.

Day 9:
Leave Baan Nai Sra for Chiang Khong pier and after immigration formality, cross the Mekong River to the Laotian side for the same. Board the Nagi of Mekong - boat leaves from Houi Xai main pier at 09.00, tea & coffee and fruits served, after two hours of the relaxing cruise, a stop is made at a ethnic Lao village along the river where you may observe primitive way of life of the people. Hot lunch is served on board, afternoon arrival at Pak Bang and check in at Petch Chokxai hotel or similar. Total distance traveled to day is approximately 150 kilometers, about 80 nautical miles, in seven hours including a stop for sightseeing at village along the river.

Day 10:
A walk to the nearby local market is a "must" return to hotel for breakfast and check out, boat leaves the dock at 08.00, another stop is made at a village by the river prior to hot lunch on board. A stop is also made at the famous Pak Ou cave just before arrival at Luang Prabang main pier around 4 PM. Total distance traveled to day is approximately 180 kilometers or about 97 nautical miles in eight hours including stops for sightseeing at village along the river and Pak Ou cave.

Price in twin sharing is THB.4,600 per person.

Single occupancy surcharge is THB. 600 per person.

Included in the cruise prices are:

Special chartered boat with soft cushion seats, modern toilet and safety equipments on board.

Room and breakfasts at Petsokxai hotel or similar in Pak Bang.

English speaking staff & admission fee at Pak Ou cave.

Hot lunch on both days of journey, tea & coffee, fruits in season.

Day 11:
Rise early to witness the age old tradition of morning alms giving to the monks. Visit the local market.
Trip to the Kuang Si Falls?

Day 12:
Morning half day city tour which will include the highlights of this old Capital of Laos such as Wat Xiangthong, Wat Vi Soun, The Royal Palace of the former King of Laos, Baan Pha Nom, the weaving village and the local market. Afternoon at leisure for own exploration of the city or optional tours.

Day 13:
On the road today taking a spectacular mountain drive through breathtaking scenery to the riverside town of Vang Vieng. Surrounded by limestone karsts scenery. Check into accommodation.
?Visit the local caves and take a local boat ride up the Nam Song River?
Watch the sunset and have a drink.

Day 14:
Bus to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Check into accommodation.

Day 15:
City tour - temples, Patuxai, based on the ‘Arc De Triomphe’ in Paris.

Day 16:

Day 17:
Songthaew to Nong Khai for overnight train to Bangkok. Airconditioned compartment - lower berth.

Day 18:
Arrive Bangkok 6.30am. Taxi to accommodation.
Temple tour and/or grand palace tour?
Home of the Kings of Siam of the Chakri Dynasty. Originally built by King Rama I, it served as the royal residence until 1946. Today the palace is still used on certain occasions for visiting royalty or special guests of the Kingdom. Adjoining the Grand Palace you will find the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keo), this is probably the best known of the royal temples. It is regarded as the most important temple in all Thailand and it is the venue of many of the numerous religious ceremonies in which the King participates, especially at the beginning of each of the three seasons when His Majesty personally changes the elaborate robes of the Buddha image, carved out of a single piece of emerald-green jasper.

Day 19:
Day trip - train to Pattaya?

Day 20:

Day 21:
Day trip to Ayutthaya - you can go by train and do it yourself. For tours, there's a bus tour or cruise there. Bus is cheaper.

Day 22:

Day 23:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

16. Chiang Mai Thai House

The fourth accommodation place I'm looking at in Chiang Mai is Chiang Mai Thai House which according to the website, is in a quiet lane between the main city gate and the night bazaar area and is more "boutique style". It also has a pool.

Above: Chiang Mai Thai House

a) 700 Baht - $24.29 per night for double room with air con.
b) 950 Baht - $32.95 per night for deluxe room with private garden.

They also offer a number of tours plus transfers to your next destination as well as transport to Laos including the slow boat to Luang Prabang.

To lift or not to lift?
From what I can see, I don't think any of these guesthouses have lifts. This one has what looks like four floors and I can't risk getting a room anything above first floor. (Bad knees - arthritis). Although their rooms with private garden could be ground floor.
The alternative is to go for a more expensive property that does have lifts, but then I'd probably be paying a much higher price which would be way outside my budget. With this in mind, I think I'll go for the cheaper one(s) which have only ground floor and first floor.
Alternately, I could email them for information and ask about the viability of getting a room on the first floor. Something to think about anyway.

Above: Location map

15. Awana House

The third accommodation place that I'm considering in Chiang Mai is Awanahouse which is located at
7 Ratchadamnoen Road, Lane 1, Thapae Gate, Chiang Mai 50200. All their rooms have air-conditioning, television and a fridge. Some rooms have balconies, some have mountain views and some have street views. They also have a couple of rooms on what they call the "Panoramaroof" - which are cheaper but have a fan only, no air-con.

Pros and Cons:
One of the pros is you can rent a laptop for 60 baht an hour (the most you'll pay is four hours).

ON the flip side of the coin, I'm not very happy with their form of payment - you can either transfer money to their Dutch bank account in Euro currency, transfer to their Thai Bank account in Thai baht currency or use Paypal. From reading their website, it looks like you can only use a credit card if paying with Paypal. It seems a long drawn out affair making payment - if you live outside the Netherlands, you have to have a code, and a BIC, then you have to go to a bank and have the money deposited into a their account. A bit too much trouble if you ask me.

Another thing I thought a little odd - "For Awanahouse it is important that the Dutch (European) accent continues in the guesthouse, one of the wishes of meanwhile deceased Jan van Delft. That’s why Ron Bertsch, Dutchman, is the new supervisor and host since july 2007."

Above: The guesthouse

a) Double room - TV. fridge, balcony with mountainview, 650 baht, (750 Jan - March)
b) Double room - TV. fridge, balcony with streetview, 600 baht, (700 Jan - March)
c) Double room - TV. fridge, 500 baht, 550 high season
d) Single room - TV, fridge and balcony with streetview, 500 baht, (550 Jan - March)
e) Room on the Panoramaroof with fan and double bed, 1 person , 225 baht, 2 people 350 baht.

The higher rates shown are from 20th January to 20th March - what we would call "shoulder season". I've not listed all the rooms and rates, only the ones that I would be looking at.

Special Rates:
This is what would be called "peak season" and the dates as follows -
1 July - 20 August
20 December - 20 January
9 - 16 April (Sonkran)
You can find them on their website.

Above: Awanahouse logo
Awanahouse also runs a number of Tours.

Above: Map showing location

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

14. Ginny Place

One of the accommodation places in Chiang Mai is Ginny Place located in the heart of the old city and in a great location.

114/1 Ratchapakinai Road
Tambon Phra Sing
Amphoe Muang
Chiang Mai 50200
Phone: (0)6 587-6249 / (0)5 30272009

Above: Ginny Place Bedrooms
Bright, colourful cheerful rooms although basic, are all scrupulously clean. The guesthouse provides a towel and hot water is available in both shared bathrooms and private ones.
The guesthouse is very popular with budget travellers with rates from 100 to 300 baht per night. I was hoping to stay here but they don't take online bookings, meaning you can't pre-book, so you just have to try your luck and hope they have a vacancy on the day you arrive.

I have heard the people who run the place are very friendly and helpful - Tee also runs a travel agency and can help arrange tours and sightseeing and answer questions like "Where do I get the bus to such-and-such a place"? and Ian will quite happily sit with you and have a drink.
They have wi-fi available as well as television.

Above: Ginny Place

There's a cafe called The Be Bee Cafe at Ginny's which serves reasonably priced meals. Below is a sample menu:


Big Breafast - 150 baht
The big breakfast consists of 2 Sausages, 2 rashers of bacon, 2 eggs (fried, scrambled, or poached), baked beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, french fries, toast with butter/jam, orange juice and tea or coffee.

Aussie Breakfast - 120 baht
Also sounds delicious with 2 sausages, 2 rasher of bacon, 2 eggs (fried, scrambled, or poached), baked beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, toast with butter and jam, orange juice and teoa or coffee.
The only difference between the two is chips.

Omelet - 80 baht
Served with cheese, ham, onion, tomato, butter and jam

Plain Pancake - 40 baht
Pineapple Pancake - 50 baht
Banana pancake - 50 baht
All pancakes are served with syrup

Toasted Ham and Cheese - 65 baht
Toasted Tuna - 60 baht
~ combination of chunky tuna, onion, and tomato

Grilled Chicken Supreme - 75 baht
~ grilled chicken, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, thousand island dressing

Club Sandwich - 120 baht
~ ham, cheese, fried egg, bacon, tomato, and lettuce and served with french fries

Chicken Sandwich - 60 baht
~ grilled chicken, tomato, onion, cucumber, and lettuce.

Above: Chiang Mai town map showing location Map courtesy of Ian from Ginny Place.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

13. Travel Inside Bangkok

Public Transport:
Public buses and air-conditioned buses are plentiful and inexpensive within metropolitan Bangkok. The red and grey air-conditioned microbuses are for longer urban journeys. A bus route map can be obtained from most hotels and bookshops.

Taxis and Tuk Tuks:
Hotel taxis have fixed fares. Public taxis are air-conditioned, comfortable and have starting fares of 35 Baht for the first 3 kilometres and approximately 5 Baht for every additional kilometre. Be sure the driver resets the metre every time you enter the vehicle.
Tuk Tuks, three-wheeled taxis, are a symbol of Thailand. They are popular for short journeys and can cost anywhere from 20 Baht to 150 Baht, depending where one chooses to go. Important - Fares must be bargained for before the journey is undertaken as there is no metre.

Mototcycle Taxis:
The fastest way to plod through the traffic congestion of Thailand's major cities is by motorcycle taxi. Look for the driver with the coloured vest. Fares are negotiated before departure. Hold on tight.

River Taxis:
There are many types of boats that navigate the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Private "cigarette long - tail boats" are fast and available for tours of the city's huge canal system. A 2-hour private tour runs about 500 Baht. Public river taxis run from dawn till dusk from Khlong Toei to as far north as Nonthaburi. The journey takes over an hour. Smaller trips between other landings can cost as little as 9 Baht.

Air Taxis:
A special package tour which allows tourists to experience a beautiful view around Bangkok and provinces nearby. For more information - telephone 66 2504 3839-40, or go to Royal Sky.

There are two lines in operation: the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line. BTS Skytrains run daily from 6.00am to 12.00pm with frequent services throughout the day, particularly during rush hours. The fare is based on the distance travelled. For more information, visit their website Bangkok Metro

The MRT Chaloem Ratchamongkhon Line has 18 stations and operates from 6.00am throughout 12.00pm and connects many of the top tourist attractions with the accommodation areas, and the business district. The fare is based on the distance travelled. For more information, contact their website - Bangkok Metro

Canal Boat:
Khlong Saen Saep canal boats operate from Banglamphu across the city to Ramkhamhaeng University. Tickets are bought onboard. Note that the piers are a little hidden away, which makes them sometimes difficult to find.

Monday, August 2, 2010

12. Merry V Guesthouse

Bangkok Accommodation The Merry V Guesthouse
The third in the series of suggested accommodation places in Bangkok. Have heard if you want something nice at Merry V, you need to get a room in the back part. The rooms in the front section are a bit tired looking plus they only have share bathrooms. Also, I've been advised to pay for an air conditioned room as the ones with fans are hot and stuffy. They are larger rooms and the price difference so I'm told is around 300 baht.

The service personnel is reported to be friendly and helpful and you should take your own padlock for your room as there have been reports of theft.
The location is very good, being only a short walk to Khao San Road, but the amenities sound pretty basic.
33 Chana Songkram, Bangkok
T: (02) 282 9267;

Room rates:

Double fan share bathroom - 200 baht
Dobule fan private bahtroom - 400 baht
Single fan share bantroom - 140 baht
Single fan private bantroom - 250 baht

Single air-con private bathroom - 350 baht, that's AUD$11.92 per night
Double air-con private bathroom - 500 baht which is AUD$17.05 per night.
Triple fan share bathroom - 270 baht
Triple fan private bathroom - 450 baht
Triple air-con private bathroom - 600 baht

If I do decide to stay here at the Merry V, then I would either get a single with air-con and private bathroom, or a double with air-con and private bathroom.

Mind the stairs!
One young chap said he had to go up three lots of stairs.

Above: Merry V

Sunday, August 1, 2010

11. Rambuttri Village Inn

Another post on accommodation in Bangkok. Rambuttri Village Inn, a few minutes walk to Khao San Road.
I liked the look of this place and after reading from their website, thought this could very well be it! Reading the reviews though, made me a little wary, they weren't all that crash hot, and the common theme seemed to be the staff were unhelpful and very rude.

Nevertheless, I emailed them asking for their rates for the dates I required - I had decided on a Deluxe room as the Deluxe rooms have a fridge, complimentary water and a garden view, but mainly because of the fridge. That meant I could keep some fruit or something and drinks in it, plus I could make tea and coffee if I bought along a small travel electric kettle. But it did also depend on whether there was a lift.
The return email - "For one person cost 650 baht/night.
Please take superior single room cost 650 baht/night 1st,2nd,3rd,4th,5th floor have elevator too.
For deluxe single don't have elevator and don't have first floor only stairs."

This was very disappointing and I must admit I found this confusing - how can the superior room have a lift but the deluxe one doesn't? Remember too, the deluxe room is a higher price than the superior. It looks like this is probably out. Some of the photos I've seen show rooms with windows facing the pool. I think I'd much prefer a garden view.

Above: Entrance

Price: Nov 01, 2010 - Mar 31, 2011
a) Standard Single Room - 600 Baht - $20.85
b) Superior Single Room - 650 Baht - $22.55
c) Deluxe Single Room - 750 Baht - $26.10
d) Junior Double Room - 780 Baht - $27.10
e) Superior Double Room - 880Baht - $30.53

Security Deposit:
1000 Baht - $34.69 per room at check in to guarantee payment of any incidental charges. It will be returned when checking out.
#You have to leave your room key at reception when going out.

Above: Map showing location

Above: Room facilities

Above: Street entrance view

Friday, July 30, 2010

10. Thai Foods

Lunch anyone?

From left to right,

Row 1: Rice Porridge with Pork = joke, Egg Noodle Soup = ba-me, Fried Noodles of Thai Style = phat thai,
Row 2: Fried Vegetables = pad pak, Spicy Lemonglass Soup with Shrimp = tom yum kung, Papaya Spicy Salad = som tum,
Row 3: Green Curry = gang khee-o wan, Omelette = kai jee-o, Egg Noodle Soup = ba-me, Chicken cook in Spicy Basil = kai khapraew,
Row 4: Chicken Fried with Cashew Nuts = kai phat met mamuang himmaphan,
Meat in Coconut Cream = pha naeng, and Chicken with rice = khao mun khai.

9. Exotic Thai Fruit

There are many delicious and exotics fruits in Thailand and Laos. To help first time travellers recognise them and their names, I have made a collage of the most common ones.

Above: Exotic Fruits

I have given the English name followed by the Thai word for these fruits. Going from left to right, top to bottom:

Row 1: Banana - Kluai, Pomelo - Som oo, Coconut - Ma praw, Papaya - Ma la gore, Star Gooseberry - Ma yom.
Row 2: Mango - Ma muag, Mango - Ra gum.
Row 3: Durian - Tou rian, Star Fruits - Ma feu-ung, Guava - Fa rang, Custard Apples - Noi nar.
Row 4: Lychees - Lin gee, Rose apple - Chom poo, Orange - Som, Pomegranate - Tub tim.

Bananas (Kluai)
There are several types grown in Thailand, some of which are
Kluai Hom - Fragrant Banana
Ripe fragrant bananas are a popular all-day snack. It goes well with breakfast cereals and is ideal for making banana fritters, cakes and ice-cream.
Kluai Khai - The Egg Banana
Has a thinner golden-yellow skin when ripe. It is eaten fresh or cooked in a light syrup. It is also popular as dried banana, candy, or cake.
Kluai Nam Wa -
Sticky and sweet when ripe, Kluai Nam Wa is valued for its high nutritional value. It is often used in a dessert known as Kluai Buat Chee in which slices of banana are cooked in coconut milk. It is also a key ingredient of steamed desserts made with glutinous rice, or rice flour, such as in Khao Tom Mut or Khanom Kluai.
Kluai Hak Mook
A cooking banana that is delicious when roasted or grilled.
Banana blossoms known as "Hua Plee" are used fresh as a garnish for the famous Pad Thai noodle dish, used in Thai salads or yam, or eaten raw as a salad vegetable served with chilli dips called nam prik.

DURIAN (Tou rian)
Peak season: May to August

Considered to be the 'King of Thai Fruits', Thais prefer a durian that is just ripe. The flesh should be slightly soft to the touch but without being crunchy.

Durians are an acquired taste and ripen quickly in the hot tropical climate. As the fruit ripens, the flesh takes on a creamy consistency and the intensity of the aroma increases. (Given this lingering and at times overwhelming aroma, durian is banned from hotel rooms, cinemas, aircraft, limousines, coaches and vans.)

To find out about other fruits click here AN INTRODUCTION TO THAI FRUITS.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

8. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

Suvarnabhumi Airport is Bangkok's new airport. For those travellers who are going to Thailand for the first time, it can be bewildering getting from the airport to your hotel or guesthouse or next destination, so I have put together this information in the hope it will make your time a little easier and less confusing.

As you will see below, it is fairly easy to go from the airport by public transport. Included too are a few little tips on dealing with taxis and drivers that I have gleaned from others more familiar with Thailand.


Bangkok Airport Shuttle Bus Service
Free shuttle bus service is provided for passengers and airport staff. Expess route connects the main terminal directly to the transport center. Ordinary route connects to other airport facilities. For passenger convenience shuttle buses serving Suvarnabhumi airport are low-floor type.

Shuttle Bus Express Route:
1. Passenger terminal
2. Car rental center
3. Public transportation center and bus terminal

Above: Public Transport

24 hour public bus service is provided from the Bus Terminal at the Transport Centre (See photo above). Take a shuttle bus (Express route) to the Transport Centre.

Bus fare is 35 baht.

Public Bus Service to Bangkok and area.

Bus Number 549 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - Minburi
Bus No.549 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Minburi via Ladkrabang Road, taking a right turn to Rom Klao Road, cutting left to Sihaburanukit Road, taking left turn to Seri Thai Road. End the route at Bangkapi.

Bus Number 550 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - Happy Land
Bus No.550 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Happy Land via Ladkrabang Road, On-Nut Road, turning right to Sri Nakarin Road, turning left to Ladprao Road and turning right to Happy Land.

Bus Number 551 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - Victory Monument (Expressway)
Bus No.551 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to the Victory Monument via New Bangkok - Chonburi expressway to Srirat expressway for exit at Rama 9 toll gate to continue further along Asoke-Dindang Road and Rachawithi Road for the final stop at the Victory Monument.

Bus Number 552 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - On Nut BTS station
Bus No.552 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to the On-Nut sky train station via Bangna-Bangpakong Road, taking a right turn to Sukhumvit Road until the On-Nut sky train station.

Bus Number 553 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - Samut Prakan
Bus No.553 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Samut Prakan province via Ladkrabang Road, taking a left turn to Kingkaew Road, turning right to Bangna-Bangpakong Road, turning left to Sri Nakarin Road, turning right to Sukhumvit Road, turning left to Sai Luad Road until Samut Prakan.

Bus Number 554 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - Don Muang Airport (Expressway)
Bus No.554 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Don Muang Airport via New Bangkok-Chonburi expressway, turning right to the eastern ring road, taking a left turn to Ramintra Road, Changwattana Road, turning right to Vibhavadi Rangsit Road until reaching Don Muang Airport.

Bus Number 555 - Suvarnabhumi - Rangsit (Expressway)
Bus No.555 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Rangsit via Department of Employment - PTT Don - Muang - Vibhavadi Rangsit Junction - Rangsit.

Bus Number 556 - Suvarnbhumi - Southern Bus Terminal (Expressway)
Bus No.556 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Southern Bus Terminal via Yommarat - Democracy Monument - Thammasat University - Pata Department Store - Southern Bus Terminal.

Bus Number 557 - Suvarnabhumi - Wongwien Yai
Bus No.557 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Wongwien Yai via Rom Klao Junction - Chalarat Hospital9 - Technology Business Administration School, Samut Prakan - Chalarat Hospital 4 - Rung Chareon Market - Suksawat Road - Ratburata Hospital - Wat Sawetchat - Wongwien Yai.

Bus Number 558 - Suvarnabhumi - Central Rama 2
Bus No.558 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Central Rama 2 via Central Park Hospital - Chalarat Hospital 1 - Ramkamhaeng 2 Junction - Srinakarin Junction - Bang Na - Soi Lasan - Rung Chareon Market - Suksawat Road - Lotus Bang Na - Bang Pakaeo - Bhuthabucha Junction - Bang Mod Hospital - Central Rama 2.

Bus Number 559 - Suvarnabhumi - Future Park Rangsit
Bus No.559 connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to Future Park Rangsit via Dream World - Ek Prathum Hospital - Future Park Rangsit.

Public Bus Service to other provinces.
Bus Number 389 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - Pattaya
Bus Number 390 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - Talad Rong Kluea
Bus Number 825 - Suvarnabhumi Airport - NongKhai

Airport Express to Bangkok Hotels
AIRPORT EXPRESS provides air-conditioned bus service between Suvarnabhumi Airport and first-class Bangkok hotels.

Above: Arrivals

Public taxi stand is located on Level 1 (Ground Level)
> Contact Taxi counter, Level 1 - Ground Level, near entrances 3, 4, 7 and 8.
> Pick up area: taxi stand Level 1 - Ground Level
> Taxi fare: metered taxi fare plus 50 Baht airport surcharge, and expressway fees.
> Public taxis serving Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport must be less than 5 years old.
> Public taxi drives must be certified by Airports of Thailand.
> Passenger drop off at DEPARTURES (level 4 - outer curb).

Getting a taxi from the airport:
On floor 1 (not far from the Airport Express kiosk) is the Magic Food Court, the cheapest place to eat at the airport or so I've been told.
Look for a blue colored podium style desk, there is a picture of a taxi on it which says "Public Taxi." The desk clerk will ask you where you are going, tell the driver in Thai, write that destination down on a receipt.

Keep the receipt!
The receipt tells you how to complain about a bad driver, etc. You pay the surcharge of 50 baht and meter fare at the destination (hotel/guesthouse or bus station.) You pay any tolls during the ride. Have small notes and change available, the driver can't change a 500 baht note! (Some drivers claim to not have any change anyway, in the hope tourists will say "keep the change!") Meter starts at 35 baht, make sure that nothing is blocking the meter.

Keep your bag with you on the back seat - if you have to hop out quickly you won't have to wait to get your bag out of the boot! It's quite normal for the driver to ask for toll money during the ride. Prices are clearly posted. Meter taxi desk clerks are supposed to verify that the taxis are safe and record the serial numbers of the taxis.

Take his photo:
For females taking a taxi alone, for added security you can use your mobile phone to photograph the taxi and driver and then have the photo sent to a friend. If the driver sees you photographing his taxi and face he knows that his photo will be on TV or in the newspapers if he does something wrong. Or, you can just fake it by pretending to take a photo of the chap, etc.

Anytime you bargain the taxi fare in Bangkok you pay more! Meter charges are cheaper and fair. No need to tip a lot either! If you want to round off the fare and get rid of some coins go ahead but is not necessary. (These tips are from people living in Bangkok.)

Above: Departures

Above: Ground Level

Saturday, July 24, 2010

7. Smilehouse Guesthouse

Smilehouse Guesthouse in Chiang Mai is at 5 Rachamankha Soi 2, Phra Singh, Muang, Chiang Mai, Tel: 053 208 661-2, Fax: 053 208 663. Located in the Old City, within walking distance to wats and nightlife, only 5 minutes from Sunday Walking Street and 5 minutes to Night Bazaar.

Above: The Guesthouse
There weren't many photos available of this guesthouse, above is what I was able to find.

Large, air conditioned rooms.
There is a swimming pool adjacent to the cocktail and food service and garden in true Lanna lifestyle and they have tours such as jungle trekking, rafting outdoor seasonal tours. They also have Thai culinary schools.
Services and Facilities:
1. Room with air conditioner: 700 baht per night (AUD$24.29)
Room facilities: bathroom, cable TV, single or double bed
2. Room with fan: 400 baht per night
Room facilities: bathroom, single or double bed
3. Room with fan (external bathroom): 200 baht per night
Room facilities: single bed
4. Cable TV in the lounge
5. Laundry service
6. Bicycle / motorbike rental service
7. Car rental service
8. Tour operation service
9. Air ticket booking service
10. Buffet breakfast - 100 baht.

Above: Directions
This is what you show the taxi driver.

Above: Location map
Map showing the location. As you can see, it is in the old city, not far from the Ping River and the Thapae gate.

6. Bangkok Accommodation 2

From friends at TT, : New Siam 2 or 3, Merry V, or Rambuttri Village Plaza - in that order.

Some people have said if you want a "nice" room at Merry V, then choose a room in the back part. The rooms in the front section are looking a bit tired and past their prime plus they only have share bathroom.
Air con rooms with private bathroom at New Siam 3 was a favourite with some - but if you're on a tight, tight budget, you might be advised to go for Merry V as they're a fair bit cheaper. Four Sons Inn was also recommended, it's up the road on Soi Rambuttri in a slightly busier area and has a similar price to Merry V.

So far we have:
a) New Siam 2
b) New Siam 3
c) Merry V
d) Ramnbuttri Village Plaza
e) Four Sons Inn

5. New Siam II

The place I want to be when I'm in Bangkok is Khao San Road. Yes, yes, I know it's full of backpackers, and yes, I know there are stories but, it sounds lively and fun and the photos I saw on flicker decided me - this is where I want to be.

I thought I'd like to go for a bit of style and class and Buddy Lodge at the beginning of Khao San looked just the thing - you even get your own little balcony. Then I saw the price, $85 a night. That's out of my budget. (Sigh)

I've pretty much decided on two places - the Merry V guesthouse or the New Siam II. Both would fit my needs - the Merry V perhaps would be more what I'm after a or two or three or... and good for people watching. Over the years as time has gone by, it had become more popular and there's a variety of travellers staying there, including older backpackers after cheaper accommodation.

Above: New Siam II collage

The New Siam have four guesthouses and New Siam II is the one best suited, it has a lift which is what I need. Climbing stairs is difficult. The address for New Siam II is 50 Trok Rong Mai, 10200 | Chanasongkram, Bangkok 10200, Thailand. I read their restaurant is a bit on the pricey side but they did offer a buffet breakfast in 2007, not sure if they still do though.

Above: Location map
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