We took advantage of the PSLE marking dates to travel off peak, and went on a short 4 night trip to Bangkok. It cost us just about S$200 each on SQ which was a steal. The kids have not been there before, and I have not been there in over 8 years. I have also been quite busy, and also planning the other upcoming school holiday trips, so I didn’t do much research on Bangkok, except for consulting a few reliable friends.
On the first day we arrived quite late, so we headed straight for the apartment to settle in. If it was the old days, without kids, I’m sure we’d have gone straight out for night markets, supper, and such, but everyone was ready to retire, and kids just love running and jumping all over hotel rooms, so they were duly entertained.
We stayed at the Somerset Sukhumvit Thonglor, in a 2 bedroom apartment, which fit all of us plus my MIL, and we had plenty of space to hang out, AND a washing machine to wash our clothes. Yay! It is also located right across the road from a Swensen’s and a relatively large supermarket although it is rather upmarket.
Thonglor is a Japanese enclave, and there are many Jap restaurants in the area. One night we had dinner right at the Somerset Thonglor, which has a few restraints including Baan Ice. We were the only foreigners there and they don’t even have an English menu, so it was well worth it.
Thonglor is also famous for Soi 38, the street food market right at the Thonglor BTS station, and a short walk from our apartment. We checked several blogs for recommendations, you can read about them here and here. THIS page is the best as they show the actual location of the stalls (subject to changes, if any). Do note that there were some reshuffling of stalls, so a few of them don’t look the same anymore. I feel like eating there just thinking about it now!!
Here are some of our thoughts on the street food vs. what we read in the blogs:
- Pork porridge – the Thais aren’t really famous for their porridge are they? But this was fantastic
- “Famous” satay – very bleah. Nothing phenomenal. Is it because their satay is just different from what we are used to? I’d say, save your stomach space.
- Mango Sticky Rice – lovely!!
- Dessert stall – their Cheng Ting has the most things I’ve ever seen in any Cheng ting and I had it 2 days in a row. The kids loved it too. The red rubies is less inspiring.
- Wanton mee – just next to the dessert stall, this is supposed to be well known too, but we were just too darn full!
- Pad Thai & Tom Yam soup – they open at around 7 and already had people waiting before they opened. I loved the soup more than the Pad Thai even though the latter was good too.
On another day, deprived from shopping, and wanting an authentic Bangkok experience, I arranged for all of us to go to Chinatown to shop. Unfortunately it rained, and we had to adjourn to Kidzania. Although a lot of people say Kidzania must go, it wasn’t on my radar because I was more interested in more Thai experiences. But with kids, and rain, what are parents to do?
What I liked – There are really so many stations to go to! We were there on a Monday afternoon and it was pretty packed. You can definitely spend a whole day there if your kid likes it. What I didn’t like – it’s really not suitable for kids below the ages of 4. There are several activities toddlers can do, and they even have a list for you, but on the day we were there, I couldn’t meet the timing for some, some others she was not interested, and some were closed. So basically, she just did Stabilo. Which is just an activity to do colouring. She DID want to join some other activities, but when they asked how old she was, they didn’t want to take her as she is below 4.
The next day, we hired a van to bring us to the Bangkok Safari World and back. We were traveling with friends and had 16 people in total so we had a reasonably big van. The big van was great for the kids, it was higher than cars, so they get a better view, and they were able to move around to see the animals, and we weren’t packed like sardines for such a long period of time.
The safari part is quite amazing, and takes less than an hour. They do have many many animals, perhaps 10 tigers, a whole herd of zebras, and herd-loads of deer, goats, rhinos, and according to a signage they have 250 giraffes! It didn’t look like 250 but there were TONS of them.
After the Safari drive through, the driver parked and we we headed to the Park where we walked around and saw a few shows. The Park is quite large and sparsely located, so apart from the shows which were absolutely packed (probably because it was a weekend?), there were some times when we hardly saw anyone at all.
I felt the Sea Lion show was ok but wasn’t exciting, and I am ambivalent about the orang utan show. The cowboy show was IMHO the best because you don’t see such shows elsewhere, and if you’ve head my previous post you’ll know I like talking to the kids about special effects, so this was all about stunts! There is shooting, people falling, horses…
One of the highlights was the giraffe feeding, perhaps because they have just SO MANY giraffes, and they were busy lapping up the bananas. The kids loved it!
The kids decided they wanted to see the giant sting rays, so we went to find it, but we were disappointed because they were apparently in a very large and murky lake. So as you might have guessed, we didn’t see any. But we walked along a little further and saw 3 walruses, and I think I have never seen any walruses in my life. And just by the walruses were 3 Asian elephants and their mahoots who were available for feeding! The kids fed them sugar cane, and we got to see up close how they use their nimble trunks. Then the mahoots let the kids sit on the elephants for a 2 minute ride, get lifted up on their trunks, and even got the elephants to do some IG-worthy poses. There wasn’t a “price” for that, so of course we gave them a tip, which the mahoot instructed the elephant to take. We (or at least I?) were blown away.
What I didn’t like about the Park, was as I mentioned I felt quite ambivalent about the orang utan show. While it was rather funny to see them mimicking a Muay Thai show, I’m not sure how I feel about the orang utans being dressed up all the time. Well that’s just a show, but worse, later I saw a keeper leading an orang utan around to mingle with park goers, and accepting all kinds of food from the guests. He was drinking some soda with ICE, and eating a colouring and sugar filled pink cake! I had half a mind to ask the keeper what he was doing to the poor primate?! I quickly reinforced to the kids that I did not approve of such behavior and that we do not feed wild animals.
I would still recommend Safari World to visitors to Bangkok, but I hope they change their management practices. And at the same time, I am so thankful that the WRS don’t engage in such activities.
We stayed for 4 nights in Bangkok and we’ve decided we can’t wait to go back again! But hopefully next time I can get some shopping in the next time!!