I just got back from a lovely weekend trip to Pattaya, which is about two hours away from Bangkok by car. I had always written off Pattaya as a holiday destination because of its rather seedy reputation, but to my surprise I had a great time.
I stayed at the Hilton Pattaya, which has the most amazing view over Pattaya Bay. The hotel is located on top of a shopping center called Central Festival Pattaya, which is just like most of the Central malls in Bangkok. It’s great – really convenient since you can stay and dine in the hotel and shop and watch movies at the mall below.
Here’s the view from the room:
Isn’t it gorgeous? There’s also a jacuzzi on the terrace, which I never used because the daytime temperature is so hot. I booked the hotel from Guest Friendly Hotels in Pattaya, which lists all of the good hotels in Pattaya for couples by area. The Hilton is a little bit expensive, but it’s worth it for a nice weekend. Overall, hotels in Pattaya are slightly cheaper than Bangkok and in my experience, the rooms feel ever so slightly more spacious. Maybe it’s just the sea view!
Anyway, one of the best things about Pattaya is the dining. I always thought Pattaya was just full of bars, but it actually has some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to in Thailand. I especially loved Casa Pascal, which is on 2nd road. Great food and a nice atmosphere.
Looking forward to returning again soon…
Sorry for constantly blogging about Thailand. I haven’t moved, but over the last two months I’ve spent very little time at home and spent most of my free time in Thailand and Vietnam. I actually just returned home from Bangkok, where I spent two days chilling out in my hotel room after having dental surgery.
The surgery (By the way, is this the right word to use? Maybe “procedure” is more correct) was porcelain veneers. I have hated my teeth for years and always wanted to get them fixed, but the cost at home is huge and in Singapore it’s not much better. I ended up flying to Bangkok, using a dental company there that works with foreign customers, and then flying back once I had recovered.
Results? No pictures yet, but I will provide an update very shortly. My experience with the dentist was great, and their service was fantastic, but I once again remembered why I could never live in Bangkok. Getting to and from the dentist’s office (which was maybe ten miles from my hotel, at most) was a multi-hour journey in the city’s horrible traffic. I really do believe most people in Bangkok spend more of their lives inside their cars than they do outside them. It seems totally impossible to go anywhere in that city without running into traffic.
So, dentistry in Bangkok fairly good. Traffic, not so much. I look forward to returning in the future (and going to some other destinations in Thailand — Phuket coming up shortly) but even after experiencing the city’s great food and beautiful temples, I have no desire to live in a city with Bangkok’s traffic ever in my life.
One of the hardest parts of traveling is taking your clothes with you. I’ve spent the past few months on and off the road, and fitting everything I need into one suitcase (a necessity if you’re using budget airlines) while still keeping everything you need to look your best is, to put it mildly, a challenge.
With this said, it’s possible to still keep a versatile wardrobe while you travel by making a few changes to the way you pack and the way you dress. It also helps to compromise and realize that you will never have the same level of versatility when you’re living out of a suitcase as you will when you’re living at home.
Right now I travel with a simple selection of clothes:
- Two to three tank tops for warm weather (it’s hot where I live and travel)
- Underwear, bras and other obvious essentials
- One pair of jeans, three pairs of shorts, and two dresses (one casual, one formal)
- A pair of training shoes, a pair of casual walking boots and one pair of heels
The key thing to remember is that you don’t actually need that much when you travel. I have enough in my suitcase to “fit in” at almost any situation, from a dinner with friends to a formal party. All of this fits neatly into my tiny suitcase without ever being a burden. It’s possible to create different looks with the same clothes by mixing around accessories and combinations. Remember, it’s much easier to carry around extra earrings or a few colorful belts in a suitcase than it is to pack another five pairs of shoes.
I think the best way to keep a good balance of style and practicality when you travel is to learn that you’ll never get quite the selection you’ll have at home, and then stick to your favorites and the basics. Personally, I’m happy to sacrifice a little bit of style if it means I can travel without using the cliché 50 liter backpack I see so many other people lugging around unnecessarily.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Bangkok. The city is not perfect (there is a major traffic problem that makes it almost impossible to get around by taxi and too much sleazy nightlife) but there is also a lot to like. One of Bangkok’s biggest qualities is its shopping. There are more shopping malls in Bangkok than anywhere I’ve ever visited, including Singapore, which I previously thought was the world’s mall capital. Here are my favorites from my time in Bangkok:
This is a new shopping mall near Phrom Phong station on Sukhumvit Road. It was a short walk from my hotel and I found myself browsing around here most of the time I was in Bangkok. The bottom floors are the usual brand names but the upper floors of a section called the Helix have the most amazing food court I’ve ever seen. The building spirals round and round, so every restaurant faces outwards. Very cool, with great views from every place to eat.
Siam Paragon (and Siam Square)
This is much the same as EmQuartier, at least in my brief experience. The area opposite the mall, however, is very cool. It’s called Siam Square and it reminds me of a cross between Chinatown in Singapore and Shibuya in Tokyo. There are lots of small shops selling shoes, dresses and other items and the prices are extremely low. I picked up some great outfits for less than it would cost for discount clothes in Singapore.
I was told to visit this place by some friends and felt a little bit shocked after I walked in. The mall feels like a giant maze, with hundreds (or maybe thousands) of small shops selling everything you could possibly need, from fake watches to cellphones. Definitely not the most reliable place in the city to shop, but a fun sight to visit and a unique experience that I will remember forever.
In the end, I spent a little more in Bangkok than I expected to, but I got a lot for my money. Like Singapore, it’s a foodie paradise, but it’s also a great place to shop for a wide variety of items. Prices are generally lower for simple items than Singapore, but the brand name products I found were more expensive. Buy your Prada at home, and pick up some stylish and simple clothes in Bangkok instead.