What can I say or write about the MBK that has not already been written or said…….. :, so there’s not much new to say. A 30-year-old veteran shopping center that has become “a legend in its lifetime” and almost sacred amongst tourists!

MBK stands for Mah Boon Krung and the complex opened its doors to the public back in 1986.

Opinions are divided regarding the MBK that on the one hand has many fans and on the other, many who are not particularly keen on the place. I will try to be objective and say that this place pretty mediocre. The merchandise sold is of repetitive and of medium quality and price. The daily contact with literally thousands of tourists certainly does not do much good for the Thai employees working there. However, it goes without saying that MBK is a vibrant place that magnetically attracts tourists with numerous shops selling nearly everything and anything, a sort of huge, indoor, air-conditioned market.

Part of the MBK complex is a rather old and quite shabby department store named Tokyu and some of the tourists use this name when talking about the shopping center. The fourth floor of the MBK is mainly devoted  to small stores selling cellular phones and related gadgets and a recurring question is, “are these fake or genuine phones?  And the answer is, BOTH it depends who and where you buy them from. My personal recommendation: I would not hesitate to buy a used cell phone there but when buying a new one , I (personally) would think twice.

 

Opening hours: From 10:00 to 22:00 (though some of the shops and stalls close earlier)

 

How To Get There: MBK is in proximity to the National Stadium Sky Train station and the entrance is via Tokyu Department Store. For those arriving from Sukhumvit Street, you will have to change trains at Siam (same floor about 15 meters away) and go one more stop.

Take into account that this is a very busy area during rush hour traffic, it may be difficult to find a taxi, and some drivers may refuse to turn on the meter. So for those staying or living near a train station, its a great advantage!

I have prepared a short video along with a short presentation in the hope that actions speak louder than words in purveying the atmosphere.

Have Fun!

Lalai Sap Market

One of the most popular markets in Bangkok, which is well known to locals yet unknown to tourists, is Lalai Sap Market. Due to its somewhat hidden location between Silom street’s office buildings, the place is hardly visited by tourists. The literal interpretation of Soi Lalai Sap is ‘the street where you’ll spend all your money…’ and indeed, the market prices are low and tempting, and you’ll find lots of things to buy here – clothes, fashion accessories, shoes, bags, gifts, authentic delicacies and more.

Opening Hours: The market operates during the day. It opens around 10 AM and closes before 4 PM (only during regular weekdays). Towards noon time, many clerks and white collar workers who work nearby come to visit the market, enjoy their lunch and shop there.

Despite its central location, Lalai Sap market is rather hidden and thus remains authentic and untouched by tourists. The enjoyable visit to the place provides a glimpse into the daily lives of Bangkok residents. Personally, I recommend planning your visit towards the busy, lively noon hours, when lots of locals are in the market.

Directions: The lalai sap market is located on Silom road, Soi 5, right next to Bangkok bank main office building. You can get there by taxi (every taxi driver knows the place) or by Skytrain – you can get off either at Saladaeng or Chong Nonsi, as the market is halfway between the two stops.

I personally recommend getting off at Saladaeng, visiting the market and continuing to Chong Nonsi, as the lively way is filled with stands, and the view of Chong Nonsi station is spectacular.

I’ve also made a short clip of the lalai sap market , which will hopefully give you a taste of the place and its atmosphere.

Find more about Thailand markets : Thailand Best Markets And Shopping

Samut Prakan ( 3 Headed Elephant temple  ) is a province to the south east of Bangkok, which extends its branches to the center of the city. Apart from Bangkok airport which is located in the province, it has various attractions for all age groups including: the 3-headed elephant temple (Erawan Museum), the old town (Muang Boran), the crocodile farm and zoo, the floating market (Bang Nampeung), the seagulls beach (Bang Poo), Bangkok’s green lung (Bang Krajao) and many more places to visit.

In Samut Prakan you’ll also find the biggest lying Buddha statue in Thailand – which is larger and more impressive than Wat Po in Wat Bang Phli Yai Krang.

This article will be dedicated to Phra Pradaeng – a district of Samut Prakan province, which is located at the very center of Bangkok, though in municipal terms, does not belong to the city.

Phra Pradaeng appears on the map (circled in pink as a branch of Samut Prakan which enters deep into Bangkok (5 minutes’ ride from Terminal 21 shopping center). It is surrounded by the Thai neighborhoods of Phra Kanong, Bang Na, Yanawa (where I live) and more.

Although Phra Pradaeng is located at the very center of the gigantic, busy city of Bangkok, the entire area offers a nature reserve surrounded by an urban jungle. Visiting Phra Pradaeng is like walking back in time, and finding a serene, rustic area, with parks and gardens, water canals and small villages.

Although while visiting the place, you are just minutes away from the beating heart of the busy metropolis, the shift is stunning and almost inconceivable. A complete opposite of Bangkok city – Phra Pradaeng offers a relaxed easy going atmosphere. There is no rush or sense of urgency, and you may be surprised to see the most popular vehicle in the region – bicycle rickshaw.

For those who wish to get away for a while from the city rush and business – Phra Pradaeng is the ideal destination. In a few minutes’ car ride or boat cruise, you’ll find yourself in an entirely different world – though you will still see Bangkok in the background.

I cannot stress this enough, as most tourists are unaware of this wonderful place, and how close it is to the city center. Usually, the only tourists here, are those who take the bicycle tours from one of the companies – so that after this article, you’ll know you can easily get there without a bike – simply by taking a taxi or a boat (which will cost you just 5 baht).

The vast majority of Phra Pradaeng is abundant with nature, parks and gardens. I have already described certain parts of the area in my article about Bangkok’s green lung, Bang Krajao, and the one about the authentic floating market Bang Nampeung.

You will also find in Phra Pradaeng an area which resembles a small town in the northern part of Thailand, which will make you completely forget that you are just minutes away from the busy sukhumvit.

Although most locals here are no English speakers, they’ll welcome you with their big smiles, seeing that the chances you’ll see tourists here are close to non.

That being said, you will certainly find here plenty of shops, boutiques, markets and stalls – all of them authentic. You can stroll around, enjoy the colorful markets and taste the delicious dishes around you – the selection is huge and the prices are low.

If you wish – take a bicycle rickshaw and ask the driver to drive you around the area. You should also tour the place by foot, stroll along the riverbank, around Phra Pradaeng pier. You’ll see Bangkok’s skyscrapers on the background, at the other side of the river. You can also watch the bridges, the river and the large ships passing by.

You will find Phra Pradaeng town right upon your arrival to Bang Kraja, Bangkok’s green lung. In a few minutes’ ride, you will find yourself surrounded by the abundant, wild flora of the area. In order to get back to the center of Bangkok, you don’t need to pass through the town again. Just cross the river in a boat from Bang Krajao pier to the opposite pier (Klong Toei Pier) and from there, take a 5 minutes’ taxi ride to the center of Bangkok (sukhumvit street and Terminal 21).

Directions – there are several ways to get to Phra Pradaeng: either by car (taxi) or by crossing the river with a boat.

By car:  head south from sukhumvit-asoke intersection through Rama 3, then go up the huge Bhumibol bridge, where you can see the spectacular views of Bangkok.       Get off the bridge by taking the left exist to Suksawat street, and in the next intersection take the left turn once more. You will then find yourself in the middle of Phra Pardeang town. The path allows you to get to the area from the southern side of Bangkok, which is farther from its center.

By boat: here you will enter from the northern side of Bangkok, closer to the center. Take a taxi to Klong Toei Pier, where you will find boats to the other side – of the Bang Krajao pier. It will cost you just 5 baht to take a boat with other passengers, or 20 baht if you prefer a private boat. Once you’ve crossed the river, you can take a Tuk-Tuk taxi which will take you to wherever you want in the area.

From Klong Toei pier, the access is only by foot or on bike, so if you want to use a motorbike, use Bang Na Pier.

On the picture to your left, you can see a group of cyclists crossing the river to Klong Toei pier.

FYI: TipTop Private Family Adventure Tours includes a visit to Bang Nampeung floating market in our Bangkok luxury tour programs.

As always – I have attached a clip/presentation with various pictures of the area…Enjoy!!

 

 

 

On August 2012, an innovative attraction was launched in Bangkok, where you can learn, practice and simply enjoy closed hall wave surfing – the Flow House.

It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced wave surfer who wants to enjoy his favourite hobby or a newbie who wants to experience and acquire surfing essentials – without the hassle of going to the beach and the need to have suitable weather, wind and wave conditions – the Flow House is the ideal place for you!

The Flow House is located at the center of Bangkok, at the end of Sukhumvit soi 26, (almost at the corner of Rama 4), in A-Sqaure Center, which also offers many restaurants, and an IT computer, cell-phones and gadget center. Right in front of the relatively new center, you’ll find an older, smaller center, called K Villange, which is covered by another article posted on this website.

Other than the surfing facility itself, the “Flow House” offers a shop of clothing, bathing suits and various surfing accessories – Rip Curl – and a small hall which can host events such as birthday parties etc.

On the ‘beach’, you will find tables, sofas and chairs, where you can get comfortable while your child enjoys surfing, and a cafeteria/restaurant with various foods and drinks (I recommend their great burger).

Additionally, the place has professional photo services which will take photos of your kids and capture the surfing experience in a great souvenir. The visitors also have available lockers, showers and bathrooms at their disposal.

Opening Hours – every day from 8 AM to 11 PM.

On Fridays and Saturdays – the place is open until midnight.

Costs – you can enter the “Flow House” free of charge, yet surfing (including equipment and guidance), costs 550 Baht for hour on Mondays -Fridays (until 18:00), and 650 Baht for hour later than that, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays.

What do you have to bring? – other than bathing suit/s – nothing! Everything else is provided on site. If you plan to come as a big group – I recommend calling first to book your place.

Directions – as I have previously mentioned, the “Flow House” is located on Sukhumvit soi 26, right next to Rama 4 and in front of K Village. You can get there by using the elevated train (BTS) to Phrom Phong station or the metro (MRT) to Sirikit Convertion Center, and from there, take a brief taxi ride.

As always – I’m attaching a short presentation/clip I took in the place to give you a taste of the experience…Enjoy!!

 

 

Bang Nampeung –The Floating Market in Bangkok – Directions and Tips ,  Up until recent years, the vast majority of tourists and even foreigners who live in Bangkok, didn’t know there is a big floating market, which is highly popular among Thai people, open on weekends only and located at the heart of Bangkok, in an area titled Bang Krajao, also known as Bangkok’s Green Lung.

In formal and municipal terms, Bang Krajao belongs to Samut Prakan district, and specifically, to the Phra Pradaeng sub-district. It is located in a tongue-shaped area which was created by the river twist, and reaches very close to the center of Bangkok, only a few minutes’ ride from sukhumvit asoke intersection (as you can see in the attached maps).

Bang Krajao is a place where nature is nurtured and legally protected. There are strict laws prohibiting the construction and built-up in the area, in order to maintain it as Bangkok’s pastoral green lung. The place is a wonderful oasis which blossoms at the heart of the distinctly different city of Bangkok. The gigantic, busy and crowded metropolis is filled with crowded buildings and skyscrapers, and Bang Krajao offers the complete opposite; its scenery includes small villages, lush parks and green gardens, and also the completely authentic floating market titled Bang Nampeung.

Before you head to check the directions, I recommend reading the articles I have posted on this website reviewing both Bang Krajao and Bang Nampeung

Independent arrival to the area

In order to get to Bang Krajao, you must cross the river. You can get to the area by taking a car, a boat or a fairy which allows you to transfer cars and motorcycles (Bang Na Pier). However, in this article, I’d like to present two suitable options for tourists: either by car (possibly a taxi) or by taking a boat (Klong Toei Pier).

Getting there by car: as you can see on the map, you can get to the area by car (behold the yellow line). If you are standing at sukhumvit asoke intersection – take a taxi heading south (Queen Sirikit Convention Center and Rama 4 street).

The taxi will drive on Rachada Pisek (which is the continuation of asoke street), take the exit and go up the ramp (above the intersection of #4 Rama street) and will then cross railway tracks. It will arrive at a market place (Klong Toei), and then pass by an almost unnoticeable traffic light for pedestrians and an intersection with traffic lights (Nang Linchi).

After you’ve crossed the intersection, you’ll have to take another exit and go up another ramp (Naratiwat street), after which you’ll see yet another exit with a ramp. This time – do not take the exit, but rather continue driving with the ramp to your right, until you’ve reached the first right turn with a traffic light – right under the aforementioned ramp. Take this right turn and you’ll reach the entrance to Bhumibol Bridge which will get you across the river.

The bridge is very long since it crosses the river twice, but you should take the exit at its middle – to Suksawat street. There, take the left turn, and hundreds of meters later, on the Major complex junction, turn left again, pass by Phra Pradaeng neighborhood, and you will reach your destination.

The ride from sukhumvit asoke intersection to the bridge should take you no more than 10 minutes and once you’re on the bridge, you’ll have a 10 minutes’ ride (more or less) to the floating market location. The bridge is very high and allows you to enjoy the wonderful view around you as you drive along – you can see both Bangkok’s skyscrapers and the pastoral Bang Krajao.

 

Crossing the river by boat

You can easily get to Bang Krajao by crossing the river in a boat, which will bring you to the area. There, take a Tuk-Tuk taxi which will await at the other river side, and can take you anywhere in the area.

On this side of the river, there’s a very limited number of passage way, and you should be well acquainted with the riverside to find the passage – and here you will find the explanation. As you can see on the map to the left – you should reach the Klong Toei pier and cross there.

Klong Toei pier: the pier is located at the very center of Bangkok, right next to Rama 4 street. The pier resides by a temple, so that you should enter the alley in the temple which will lead you to the pier. There, you’ll find boats taking passengers to the opposite pier (of Bang Krajao). It will cost you just 5 Baht to take a boat with other passengers and get to the other side; if you prefer a private boat, it’ll cost you 20 baht.

Once you get off at the other side of the river, you’ll see a Tuk-Tuk taxi which will take you on a short ride to wherever you want (floating market, park etc). You can also rent a bicycle, which will cost you some 50 Baht for day, and independently explore the area.  To get back, simply use the same way – to Bang Krajao pier and from there back to Klong Toei pier, where a taxi will take you wherever you may need.

You can easily enhance your Bang Krajao experience by adding K Village and the “Flow House” closed hall wave surfing, attractions that are very close to Klong Toei pier.

FYI: TipTop Private Family Adventure Tours includes a visit to Bang Nampeung Floating Market in its Bangkok tour programs

For your convenience, I’ve prepared a short clip on Klong Toei Pier, which I hope will help you find your way around the place.

 

Indoor Activities for Young Kids & Toddlers in Bangkok , In recent years, Thailand has become a very attractive destination for families with kids in all age groups. I’ve decided to give the children the respect they deserve, and dedicate them an entire chapter on the website, filled with updated, high quality information.

On the website, you will already find articles about places such as the “KidZania” – the new kids’ city, “Flow House” indoor wave surfing, Karting and more.

This time, I decided to pay special attention to the youngest kids and toddlers (from 6 months and older). This article will highlight selected Bangkok places that were created especially for kids and toddlers, where you can spend hours of fun, in a designated, indoors, air-conditioned location.

Bangkok is a huge, bubbly and lively city, but visiting it requires careful planning, as a bad plan can turn the potentially pleasant experience into an ongoing nightmare. Therefore, it is important that you give your visit to Bangkok the proper attention!

Believe me when say that even the strongest of men will crack under the burden of walking for over an hour in the hot and humid weather of the King’s Palace and such, let alone kids, especially the younger ones. I can guarantee you, they will not enjoy strolling the markets and buying knick-knacks…

For your sake and theirs’, I’ve gathered here a few places of fun and games that were made especially for this purpose. These are high quality, indoor, air-conditioned and conveniently located places in the city center. I did my best to find places that are close other attractions, so that you’ll have the option to split the family/group if you wish to do so.

Playtime – an activities and games site for toddlers aged 6 months and older. The place contains many facilities, a small skating ring, slides and zip-lines, electric bikes, drawing and cooking areas and more. It also has an in-house restaurant.

Activity Hours: Every day between 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM.

Location: In a small shopping center called – “Park Lane” on Sukhumvit Soi Street 63, (Ekamai) opposite Ekamai Soi No. 2

Transportation: In a Taxi or through the Train (BTS) to Ekamai station and from there, about 500 meters on the left sidewalk.

No other attractions worth mentioning were found in the area.

Funarium: a rather similar attraction to PlayTime

Activity Hours: Every day from 9 AM to 7 PM

Location: Sukhumvit Soi Street 26, behind the Big C Rama 4 and a small shopping center called K Village.

Transportation: There is no train station within a reasonable walking distance. Take a Taxi to the location, or a Train to Phrom Phong station, and from there a Taxi, for a brief 3 minutes’ ride.

In the close vicinity you’ll find the luxurious shopping center Emporium, the small shopping center K Village, Flow House – indoor wave surfing and a good, decent massage parlor called – Yunomori

 

Fun Planet

While the two previous locations are very similar in their nature, this is a completely different experience, with lots of electronics, computerized games etc.

Activity Hours: Every day from 10 AM to 10 PM.

Location: the new, huge shopping center – Central Plaza Rama 9 (7th floor)

Transportation: this is the easiest venue to reach – take the underground train (MRT) to Phra Ram 9 station, just 2 stops away from Sukhumvit. There is an exit right from the train into the shopping center (Exit No. 2)

The shopping center itself is huge, with an abundance of shops, restaurants etc. Here you will also find the largest skating ring in Thailand, as well as Bowling and more. Fortune Town – the best computers and gadgets mall in Bangkok In my opinion – is located opposite of the site.

In Conclusion:

I tried to find out which attraction of the first two – the Playtime and Funarium – is more popular among kids. I spoke to the 5-year-old son of a friends who preferred the PlayTime (because of the Zip-Line), and also asked a kindergarten teacher who works in an international kindergarten in Bangkok for her opinion. She also told me the children prefer Playtime, because of the sand box.

These 3 venues will provide you and your children with hours of fun and games. I suggest you consider the little ones’ needs and instead of dragging them through the hot, humid markets and crowded shops, take them to one of these places where they -and you- can have some fun!

In the clip below, you can see all 3 locations in detail, and I suggest you visit them all, just don’t forget to tell me how it went…

I wish you and your kids many hours of fun and games!!!

 

 

 

Wat Sampran – Dragon Temple , Many tourists are not familiar with Nakhon Pathom district right next to Bangkok, although they cross it on their way from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. The very few who do know of the district, are aware of it thanks to a very famous tourist attraction, which features some of the organized tours, the well-known Rose Garden.

You should know, however, that at the same SAM_0989_tndistrict, literally on the road to Kanchanaburi, there are two entirely distinct attractions; each of them is unique and interesting by its own merits – the one and only Dragon Temple (Wat Sampran) and the Jessada Car Museum – a huge, spectacular collection of antique cars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article is dedicated to the Dragon Temple ( Wat Sampran ). A piece on the Jessada Car Museum will be uploaded in the near future.

SAM_0906_tnAt first glance, the Dragon Temple might look like a psychedelic structure, and possibly an attraction you’d expect to find at Disneyland. However, it is in fact, a real, famous temple, which is widely known to many Thai people, who attend the place to preform religious rituals and meditate.

The Dragon Temple – Wat Sampran was very famous and highly active until the 80’s, when it received particularly bad publicity, due to the fact that its main abbot (hermit), Phra Pawana Puttho was caught and convicted of many acts of rape. He was sentenced for an extended period in prison, and consequently, the temple’s appeal has reduced. However, it is still a center of attraction for many Thai people.

 

 

 

The Dragon Temple – Wat Sampran pink structure is enclosed by a fierce dragon figure. Its feet are on the ground, and the dragon is wrapped around the structure, with its head rising above the temple roof.

SAM_0939_tn

Despite its convenient location, on a main route used by many tourists, the temple is unknown and not even mentioned in Thailand guidebooks. However, it is a highly recommended attraction, and surely, it is worth a visit!

The structure is hardly the only attraction here. Inside and around the temple, you will find many interesting treasures, and if you’re lucky enough to have a good guide to lead the way, you’ll receive information and interesting explanations about the multiple symbolic exhibits, rituals and ceremonies held in the temple.

 

 

 

 

When visiting Dragon Temple – Wat Sampran , you’ll probably see many women dressed in white, as they arrive here for meditation and various ceremonies.

SAM_0960_tn

A common belief suggests that one can draw strength from the dragon’s power. Indeed, as you can see in the video below, the women come here to gain strength and encouragement from the dragon.

In the Dragon Temple – Wat Sampran movie clip, you will notice a woman in white standing beneath the dragon, on a designated spot. She touches the dragon with the palms of her hands, for an extended period of time.

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Temple – Wat Sampran Address: Sam Phran 11, Khlong Mai, Sam Phran, Nakhon Pathom

As usual, here is a video of the attraction. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Dr. David

Thailand Expert : Thailand Travel Guide

 

Asiatique , Bangkok’s Night Market was opened on April 2012, Asiatique on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. Since the bazaar is located in my neighbourhood (Yanawa), rather close to my home, I’ve been following it consistently from its opening.

Like every other new place, Asiatique initially went through some ‘growing pains’ – shops and restaurants were in different stages of renovations, the market had fewer visitors than expected, there was a sense of emptiness during the weekdays etc.

Today, more than 4 years since its opening, Asiatique Night Market is functioning as planned and seems to be doing just great. It has become a lively, bubbly, busy venue, which consistently attracts many visitors, tourists and locals alike. Many of the restaurants and pubs in the place are open until midnight, outdoor shows entertain the many visitors, and the crowd comes pouring in throughout the entire week, and even more so during the weekend.

Famous shows such as the Ladyboys, “Calypso” and Joe Louis Puppet Theatre, have also found their place in the bazaar, along with Asiatique Sky, Bangkok’s giant Ferris wheel. Hence, in a short time, Asiatique has become one of the most prominent attractions in Bangkok’s nightlife, and I’ve decided to review is in detail through this updated article.

Location: Asiatique is located in the famous street of Charoen Krung (soi 74) – a very long street which contains some of the most luxurious hotels in the city, the Oriental and the Shangri-La.

Asiatique spreads across a very large territory. From one side, it borders on the Chao Phraya river, and from the other, meets the Charoen Krung street. The market is located some 2 km. away from the Saphan Taksin train station (where you will also find the public boats central station). This means it’s possible, yet certainly not advised to walk towards Asiatique – especially not with children.

Due to its location on the riverbank, Asiatique planners have built a wide, 300-meters- long promenade, which allows visitors to watch the beautiful river views and enjoy a nice breeze. Upon visiting, you’ll see plenty of Thai people strolling and spending their free time, including cyclists who come here to practice their tricks.

Asiatique night market is located in a territory that was once home to Bangkok commercial port (some 100 years ago). The vast bazaar is divided into 4 squares containing unique structures, which reconstruct the old port hangars.

The planners and architects did a nice job maintaining elements from the past, but generally speaking, the place exudes up-to-date and upbeat, modern atmosphere and referring to it as a bazaar or night market might create the wrong impression.

Asiatique is more of a mall filled with modern boutiques, which doesn’t resemble any other shopping center or market in the city. Ultimately, it entwines the mall and the market experience but has a unique, distinct vibe of its own. The design is perhaps a bit posh, and some would say it’s overly stylish, but this doesn’t harm the pleasant atmosphere and good energy of the place.

As I previously mentioned, Asiatique is divided into 4 squares. 2 wide avenues cross the area from Charoeng Krung street to the promenade on the riverbanks. There is even a rail-cart for visitors who want to travel from one end to the other. The huge area has more than 1500 stores where you can buy almost everything that comes to mind – clothes and accessories, souvenirs, arts and decorations etc.

The boutiques are neatly designed to welcome the visitors. Despite the appealing, modern look, the focus here is hardly on high fashion and expensive designer brands, but rather on a wide variety of small boutique shops.  Of course, you will find here some famous brands but also more than a few items you can find in MBK or during your weekend visit to a market. At any event, it’s very hard to believe you’ll walk out of here empty handed.

Other than the stores, you’ll also find here a wide variety of coffee shops and restaurants – Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Italian and almost every other type you can possibly think of. Some of the restaurants are fancy, while others are inexpensive, so that everyone can find their favourite foods here. Additionally, Asiatique is also home to many pubs, some of them playing live music, and in the bazaar’s open spaces, the crowd can gather around and listen to performances by local rock bands.

In conclusion: Asiatique Night market is definitely worth a full evening or a night out, regardless if you are a family, a couple or a group of friends visiting the bazaar. Beyond the abundance mentioned above, the place also offers Asiatique Sky, Bangkok’s giant Ferris wheel, which adds much fun to your eventful night.

This article wouldn’t be complete without comparing Asiatique to Suan Lum – the good old night bazaar that was closed a couple of years ago. While the old bazaar was designed especially for tourists, the Asiatique appeals to many locals, who come to shop, dine, stroll or simply enjoy a fun night out – so that the crowd is assorted, which in my eyes contributes to the positive experience of visiting the place.

Opening hours: 17:00-24:00 (you should take into account that Asiatique is pretty packed during weekends and calmer during midweek)

Directions to Asiatique: as I was frequently asked about this, I’d like to elaborate on the directions.

Basically, you can get to Asiatique either by car (a taxi) through Charoen Krung street or by a boat through the river. However, the relatively narrow Charoen Krung has always been rather crowded, and since the night market has opened, the street has heavier traffic, which gets even worse over the weekends – so I highly recommend taking a boat through the river.

The simplest, easiest way is to take the Elevated Train (Silom Line) to Saphan Taksin, where you will find the central boat station (also titled Saphan Taksin). On the left side of the pier, you will see the Asiatique shuttle boat (on the picture to your left), which will take you on a few minute’s cruise (for free) to the night market.

Pay attention – those of you who intend to get to the area using the public river boat (from China Town, Khao-San area etc.) – I’ve noticed some self-titled online ‘experts’ sometimes tell you to get off at Saphan Taksin and then take the Asiatique shuttle boat, as they mistakenly think  Saphan Taksin is the last stop of the line.  So no, there is absolutely no need to do it!! Saphan Taksin is not the last stop, and the public boat has 3 more southern stops until it reaches its final destination – right next to Asiatique!!

So if you arrived at an orange flagged public boat – simply get off in its final stop, where you’ll find yourself by a temple, in an alley leading outside (soi 74). Walk through the alley for some 150 meters until you get to the main street (Charoen Krung (, turn to the right, and you will shortly see you have arrived at Asiatique.

FYI : TipTop-Travel Private Family Adventure Tours includes a visit to Asiatique Night Market in one of its tour plans “A classic night tour in Bangkok” – which also includes, other than the bazaar, a ride on the spectacular Ferris wheel and a pleasant 45-minutes’ night cruise (sailing from the Asiatique pier), to watch the illuminated, remarkable views of the King’s palace, Wat Arun and more.

Ko Kret – the island in Chaopraya river, Nontaburi, Thailand

Ko Kret is a small island in the Chaopraya River, very close to the north bounds of Bangkok.  It is formally located in Pak Kret, a district of the Nonthaburi province, which borders on the northwest side of Bangkok and constitutes, along with the city itself, one giant urban sequence. The border between the two practically goes unnoticed.

Ko Kret’s history dates back to 1722, when it was decided to dig a canal in order to create a shortcut to the local river bend. The canal was widened and ultimately created an island, known today as Ko Kret. The island served as a haven to the Mon Tribe people, who brought along the art of traditional pottery. Some of the tribe people live on the island to this very day and practice the ancient, traditional art.

The island creates a square shape and it is not too big; 2 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide. Its population consists of some 6000 residents, who live in in 6-7 villages, the biggest of which is titled Ban Mon.

Ko Kret was severely damaged during the floods around Bangkok a few years ago. As you can see in one of the attached Map, the island is very close to my workplace, in the Thai Ministry of Public Health, and I have watched closely to observe its restoration, which occurred quite recently. Even though the island has yet to be completely restored, it practically regained its full function. Hence, I decided to write this article now, and not during the recent months.

On the island you’ll find several temples, the largest and most important one of them titled Wat Poramai Yigawat. It is an ancient temple, which is built in the Mon style, and plays a significant part in the tribe’s live by hosting most of their activities. One of the island’s symbols is the temple’s slanted Chedi (as you can see in the photo to the left).

Ko Kret island conveys the complete opposite of Bangkok’s busy, urban atmosphere. The distinctly different vibe that prevails in the giant metropolis, can be found only meters away from the pastoral island. Much like Bangkok’s green lung – Bang Krajao, Ko Krett offers a lovely feeling, as though you are visiting a small rural area, far away from the capital. Since Ko Kret is much smaller then Bangkok’s green lung, it is very easy to visit the island independently and find your way throughout.

The temples are hardly the main attraction on the island. Rather, the 3 prominent are handcrafts, various foods and pottery. All three are attributed and ‘bound’ under the title OTOP, which is probably known to those of you who already visited in Thailand, and I’d like to briefly elaborate on that.

OTOP are the initials of One Tambon One Product – a project that was initiated in the early 2000’s by Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The project aimed to encourage and assist the villagers who live across the entire Tambon sub-district, in producing a distinct product. Focusing on a specific product would allow them to enhance their specific expertise and self-sufficiency, while improving the particular product quality and its marketing, and enjoying the guidance and financial support offered by the Thai government.

Today there are some 36,000 OTOP associations creating various products – from traditional handicrafts through weaving, fabrics and clothing, fashion products and accessories, various foods and pottery creations – all can be abundantly found in Ko Kert island.

You can find here a huge variety of delicacies, sweet and savory dishes, local desserts and snacks – some of them extremely unique and only produced in the island. One of the most unique desserts here is called “Khao Cher” –  a local specialty of rice served with chilled fragrant water and a few small side dishes. Khao Cher was a royal favorite for the hot summer days, made by the Mon tribe people. Today, you cannot find it anywhere besides here, in Ko Kert.

While the wide variety of foods draws Thai crowds to the island over the weekend, for us tourists it seems far more interesting to explore the small boutique shops selling unique, local handicrafts, clothing and home décor supplies I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in Thailand. It’s an extraordinary experience to stroll through the shops and enjoy the endless number of unique products and creative ideas you probably won’t find elsewhere.

We cannot possibly review the island without mentioning Ko Kert’s unique pottery, which is one of the main reasons the place gained its fame. The island is not only a home to plenty of different pottery shops, but you will also find here 2-3 villages who focus on creating traditional vases and vessels, using the unique methods and designs of the Mon tribe. In these villages, you can witness the artisans while they work, which is a unique, fascinating experience.

Before I get to the important know how of the directions to the Ko Kret island, it is important to specify how you move through the island, as it has no roads and cars and contains just 2 routes – one by walking and the other by bike, which you can rent for a very low cost. The island is netted by concrete roads and it is very easy to travel.

For those of you who only want to travel in the markets area – there is no need of renting bicycle and a walk is certainly preferable, particularly on the weekends when the place is crowded and busy. For those who wish to explore the natural part of the island – I highly recommend renting a bicycle, but the ultimate solution is to combine the two – use the bike for a small round circling the island, and then return them and stroll through the markets by foot. Another option is to join a big boat which travels around the island and has several stops (which costs some 60 Baht).

Directions to the Island

As I have previously mentioned, Ko Kret is located in Pak Kret, in the Nonthaburi province, which borders on the northwest side of Bangkok. The place can be reached in several ways but I will list the simplest ones:

By car: in a 35-40 minutes’ ride from the center/south of Bangkok using the highway. Head north in the highway and turn left to Ngam Wong Wan street. Hundreds of meters later, in the first junction, you must turn right (under the bridge) to Tiwanon street. Drive along the street until you reach a main junction (Chaeng Watana). Then, turn to the left, and immediately to the left again (where you will already see signs). The street will then take a turn to the right and eventually you will reach Wat Saman Nua temple. There, you will see the pier to cross the river, and a parking place for those who arrive by car.

By bus: line 166 will take you from the Victory Monument to Wat Saman Nua temple, by the pier to cross the river.

By public transportation – a public boat: green flagged public boats are available during the early morning rush hours, sailing to Pak Kred (N33). However, to visit the island during regular times, take the orange flagged boat and travel until it gets to its final destination – the last stop is Nontaburi pier (N30). The cruise takes an hour but allows you to enjoy the beautiful river view. From Nontaburi pier grab a taxi to Wat Saman Nua (a 15-20 minutes’ ride). You can read more about the public river boats in an article I published on this website à my item on the public river boats.

On your way back – take a Cycle rickshaw (Salmor) from the temple, and it will take you back to the main road where you can easily find a taxi.

When to arrive and how to plan your visit

During the week, the island is rather slow and drowsy; most shops are closed during the week days, so I highly recommend visiting the place during the weekends, when the island is active, lively and bubbly. Most of those visiting the island are Thai people, rather than tourists. I’d advise you to get there around 10 AM to avoid the hot noon hours and the crowded late hours.

Your visit to the island will probably take some 3-4 hours so you should finish it by noon. Those of you who wish to continue shopping/eating etc. in a big, new, air-conditioned shopping center, have two of those nearby:  Central Plaza Ratana Thibet on Ngam Wong Wan street and Central Chaeng Watana on Chaeng Watana street.

You can also continue your day by exploring one of the interesting exhibits or fairs held in the Impact Arena fair center, located in the nearby Muang Thong Thani.

In conclusion: not that there is anything wrong with it – but the real Thailand has nothing to do with tourist designated shows like the long neck women of the north or the Damnoen Saduak floating market. You won’t find the real Thailand in MBK either, but rather in such places like the Ko Kret island, within easy reach.

As you can see in the video below, Ko Kret island is a wonderful microcosmos which depicts – and thus allows you to experience – the good old Thailand, a country that is well connected to its roots, affected and respectful of its heritage. Here you will witness and experience, in a small property, the actual Thai culture as is, its graceful magic and warm, welcoming residents, well beyond the market shops and food stalls.

Please notice: At the moment, Ko Kret island does not appear in the travel plan posted on the website (it may certainly appear in the future). However, if you would like to visit the island and need some assistance, please don’t hesitate and use the “contact us” tab. I will do my best to help you.

The video: Ko Kret’s versatility and richness cannot be accurately described in words nor captured by few images. I hope that the video I have filmed and edited will give you a proper glimpse of the unique, wonderful atmosphere of the island.

Enjoy!!

Dr. David

Thailand Expert  : Thailand Travel Guide

 

 

 

 Chao Phraya Express Boats . Much like BTS (Skytrain) and MRT (metro), Bangkok public river boats –  Chao Phraya Express Boats – offer a great means of transportation inside the city, without being dependent on the heavy traffic or having to worry about traffic jams.

 

 

 

 

Beyond serving transportation needs, cruising is an exciting experience for both young and old. Going through different websites, including the official boat site, might be confusing due to the different line types, stop titles, timelines etc. In this article, I’ll try to make things simpler, even for a tourist who visits Bangkok for the very first time. I’ll focus on the 3 main issues, that are particularly important and useful for most tourists: the public river boats, the river boats for tourists and the river ferries.

 

 

 

 

Let me start with a general explanation on the public Chao Phraya river boats – this ‘boat-bus’ travels in different lines, at pre-scheduled times, and stops in fixed piers. You will recognize the different lines by the colour of the flag on the boat rooftop, at its back.

 

 

 

 

There are 5 different Chao Phraya lines: with no flag, yellow flag, orange flag, green flag and blue flag (not to be confused with the boat company whose yellow flag is located at the front of the rooftop). The relevant lines for tourists are the orange and blue flag lines, which I will refer to in my explanation.

Chaophraya express boat Information

Boat Stops (piers): the central boat station is called Sathorn Pier, and it is located right by Shangrila hotel, under the Saphan Taksin bridge. Here you will also find the Skytrain station (Silom Line), which is known as Saphan Taksin station, and located just dozens of meters away from the boat station (as you will see in the clip).

There are 33 boat stops north of Sathorn Pier (the last one is Ko Kret island which I’ve reviewed in a separate article), and 4 stops south of the pier (the last one by Big C Rat Burana). Every stop is both titled and numbered. Most tourists are interested in the northern stops which are numbered up to 15.

Most stops (piers) are in the eastern riverbank. In order to cross the river and reach its other side (to visit Wat Arun for instance), you should take a ferry which is located at the same stop, but in a different pier.

For your convenience, later on in the article, I will briefly review the most significant stops for tourists, their numbers, nearby sites and attractions.

Chaophraya Map and Piers

The Chao Phraya public boat lines – There are 5 boat lines, 4 of which serve the general public and the 5th one, blue flag line, is designated for tourists and will be reviewed separately. Out of the 4 other lines, only the orange flag line is suitable for most of the tourists. The flagless boats stop at every station (pier) and are thus very slow, and the yellow and green flag lines skip over most tourist attractions, so I simply recommend focusing on the orange flag line.

You should pay close attention to 2 important things:

  1. Every boat stop has 2 piers – one for river boats and the other for the ferry to cross the river – so make sure you don’t confuse the two. In the attached clip, you will see Sathorn Pier and the opposite pier which belongs to the pier! You should turn left as the clip shows in order to get to the boat pier.
  2. At the boat pier, the boats stop on their ways to both opposite directions – so you should make sure you know which direction you’re going, or simply ask on-site.

The (orang flag) public boat costs 15 baht.

Operating times: every day from 6 AM to 7 PM, in 10-20 minutes’ intervals (depending on the hours).

The Blue Flag Line – Tourist Boat: a service line for tourists, with different-looking boats (as you can see in the picture and clip). The tourist boat travels between 8 stops that are popular among tourists. For 150 baht, you can travel freely, as much as you like, using this line as well as others. There’s also an English explanation (as you’ll see in the clip). Get on board at the same pier used for the other public boats.

Blue Chaophraya Tourist  boat Information

The blue line cost: 150 baht

 

Operating time: every day from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM (depends on the stop), every 30 minutes.

The river ferry: most boat stops are at the western side of the river. In order to cross the river to its other side, you should take the ferry. Every boat stop has a pier designed for the ferry – which you will recognize by its square shape and green-white colors.

 

 

 

 

The (3 baht) cost is payed at one side of the river – sometimes at the entrance, and sometimes at the exit.

As I’ve promised – here is a short, partial list of the main destinations you can easily reach using the boats:

China Town – Ratchawong (N5) pier

The Flower Market – Memorial Bridge (N6) pier

Wat Arun I Wat Po – Tha Tien (N8) pier

The King’s Palace – Tha Chang (N9) pier

Kao San – Phra Arthit (N13) pier

Dusit – Thewet (N15) pier

Please note: I didn’t mention Saen Saep Express boat line since it is irrelevant for most tourists and imposes a health risk because of the canal’s highly polluted water, so               I recommend to avoid using this line. Also, this article doesn’t cover the longtail boats, which you can take for higher costs in piers such as Saphan Taksin, River City and others. These are usually tourist traps and I personally recommend taking an organized canal tour which is cheaper, more effective, and allows you to see more views.

I’m attaching a clip which will hopefully help you get to know Bangkok river boats – Chao Phraya .