Alaska Inside Passage & Cruise, August 2015 Part 6 - Victoria, Seattle and final thoughts
Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 2 - Chiang Mai & Temples

Thailand December 2016/ January 2017 Part 1 - Bangkok & Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak

I have always wanted to go to Thailand. After what seemed to be months and months of dreaming and planning it finally came true. This was our first trip to Asia, and our first to Thailand. I had used Tripmasters for our Costa Rica trip, and so I decided to use Tripmasters again. The site also allows you to pay off your package in installments. We left Denver December 27th, 2016, and returned Friday January 13th, 2017.

Our itinerary: Flights via Tokyo (Narita) to Bangkok. Three nights in Bangkok, and then a short flight to Chiang Mai, and 10 nights in Chiang Mai.

Part 1 - Bangkok, & Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak.

Part 2 - Chiang Mai & Temples

Part 3 - Chiang Mai & Thai Farm Cooking School

Part 4 - Chiang Rai, White Temple and Golden Triangle

Part 5 Chiang Mai - Maesa Elephant Camp, & Long Necked Hill Tribes

Part 6 Thailand - Fishing for Mekong Catfish & Closing thoughts.

We flew All Nippon Airways (ANA) to Bangkok from Denver via Tokyo (Narita.) For some odd reason I did not quite realize the flying times. The Denver to Narita flight is about 12 hours. The flight from Narita to Bangkok is about a 5 - 6 hour flight. We arrived late - at midnight. I had arranged to be met at the airport by a driver, and taken to our hotel, Triple Two Silom. In Bangkok the BTS Skytrain closes around midnight. Due to our late arrival we would not be able to use the Skytrain.



Photo: Triple Two Silom Boutique Hotel.

This hotel is a modern, very comfortable hotel located in Bangkok's Silom district. All electrical outlets were international, so there is no need to bring adapters. We had a large comfortable room with a king size bed. The mattress was firm and comfortable. The hotel is not far away from the BTS Skytrain station (Chong Nonsi.) Superrich money exchange is located nearby. Restaurants are plentiful. Soi 20 has numerous tasty street food alternatives.


 Our first day in Bangkok we decided not to schedule anything, but to just have time to explore. Firstly we needed to buy a tourist sim card for my cell phone. This was very easy to do. We found a 7- Eleven and asked to purchase the tourist sim (for 299 Baht.) The very nice ladies helped me load it onto my unlocked phone. It worked beautifully while we were there. (For an extra 100 Baht you can buy "top-ups" at any 7-Eleven.) Really easy, cheap and convenient. This option is much better than having to pay for expensive international data roaming charges on US providers.

We decided to walk to the BTS Skytrain station, and catch it towards the Chao Phraya River. I had done some reading that the best way to see Bangkok is by river. I also wanted to be outside after being cooped up indoors for 30 hours. After we got our bearings we found the very impressive Skytrain. BTS is very new, impressive and easy to navigate. All announcements and signs are in both English and Thai. If you don't have exact change go first to the ticket booth. There they will confirm the pricing and give you coins. Then to get tickets go to the ticket kiosks to get tickets. The charges seem to be by station/ stop. We went from Chong Nonsi station (closest to our hotel) to Staphan Taksin Station, the station closest to the Central Pier.

As you exit the station, you need to go under the station towards the river to locate the Central Pier.

Beware of the Bangkok scams. While wandering around trying to get our bearings, we were approached on two separate occasions by well dressed, English speaking persons who were very friendly and extraordinarily helpful. Before long they were suggesting a tuk tuk ride to help us out. Avoid! This is a scam. The idea is to get you into a tuk tuk which eventually takes you to a tailor or a gem store or something like that, where you will be forced into purchasing stuff you do not want or need.  For both occasions, we politely thanked the individual and went on our way.

At the Central Pier we decided to purchase tickets for the tourist express boat. For 150 Baht each, this allows you to get on or off a variety of tourist spots up and down the river. This ticket is valid for one day. The other option, which we did not do is simply purchase tickets on the various boats (by color flag) or catch the ferries to cross the river.

I highly recommend this way of seeing the Bangkok sites. We used this boat to go to the Grand Palace, but there were a number of different piers and sites that you have access to. Before each stop they do announce the stop and the tourist sites to visit at each site. Announcements seem to be in Thai, English and Chinese.


After a tiring flight we really didn't want to do more than simply watch Bangkok and life on the river. The ride to the Grand Palace took no more than 20 minutes.


The route from pier to Grand Palace is well sign posted. When we were there was already quite the crowd. Of course, many Thais were coming to the Palace to pay their respects to the late king.


We saw crowds and crowds of mourners dressed in black making their way to a special Thais only entrance. Security was tight. Tourists had to go through a security check point, where we had to show our passports.

Dress code is strict. Absolutely no shorts (for both men and women) or short skirts. If you don't have the correct clothing you will not be allowed into the palace. For a fee you can buy skirts or long pants to wear. Kevin ended up purchasing a pair of long pants that he wore over his shorts.


 We made our way into the courtyard/ gardens of the Grand Palace. You are not yet in the Grand Palace proper. There is an entry fee of 500 Baht per person to get into the Grand Palace itself. We opted not to go in. Instead we wandered the gardens and enjoyed the day. It was beautiful.




 It was such fun people watching. After a quick lunch we decided to amble back to our boat, back to our hotel.

The next day we had booked a tour of the Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak. We caught a tour bus that collected us outside our hotel. It was about an hour~ drive, stopping at a coconut farming demo, orchid farm and market before catching our long boats that took us into the floating market.


For an additional 200 Baht each we hired a long boat to take us down into more of the market's narrower canals. This was well worth it. We got some very interesting photos.


It was fun shopping for fruit, or coconut ice cream!


It got quite crowded...


At some of the waterways I was amazed that there were not more collisions.


We even had time to share a bowl of broth and noodles - all cooked from a long boat.