Arrival & Documentations
Since 1 May 2022, Thailand has fully re-opened its border with only some additional paperwork to complete. Travelers arriving via flights are able to enter the cities in Thailand by applying for the Thailand Pass via the following link : https://tp.consular.go.th/
Get ready soft copies (in jpg files) of your passport information page, vaccination certificate and travel insurance certificate to be submitted via the website. Although the Morchana Thailand’s health tracking application (available on Android and Apple Stores) was previously used, this has not been actively used in Bangkok based on observations.
Upon arrival from the flight, there are queues to get all the documents checked before proceeding to immigration clearance. Hence printing out a copy of the relevant documents including the Thailand pass, vaccination certificate, travel insurance certificate & hotel accommodation will be helpful to expedite the checks.
Downtown Sukhumvit @ Bangkok
Flying after a 2-year hiatus is literally quite exhilarating & exciting, albeit a short flight to Bangkok. The airport is still relatively quiet but we would not be so sure in the next few months.
Hotels prices were relatively cheap when I booked in mid-April 2022. Upon arrival in early May 2022, there are many hotel dwellers and occupancy seems high. The hotel staff seems to be extremely busy to cope with the returning tourists. There are still not so many tourists, but visitors from neighboring countries are returning.
Once we reached downtown Bangkok, things are generally back to normalcy with the welcome of snarling traffic jam at the start of the Friday weekend evening. Along the busy roads at Sukhumvit, the only telling signs of the embattled economy is the shuttered doors of a few establishments – some massage & spa, restaurants and cafes. Thank goodness for the public transport BTS and MRT lines, and the shaded walkways linking various buildings and shopping malls.
Most people are very disciplined in masking up indoor and outdoor, even in the middle of the hot sun or rain. If you are not masked-up, you will be quite outstanding, and perhaps with a few glaring stares from others too! 😀
Cruising along Chao Phraya River
Although this is not my first visit to Bangkok, a new found gem is to go for a cruise along Chao Phraya River. The views are especially pretty right before sunset and at night. Using public transport to Saphan Taksin station on the Silom BTS line, take a short walk to the pier and take the free shuttle boat to either Icon Siam or Asiatique.
Another way to enjoy the river view is to find a nice restaurant or café with the view over Wat Arun. Sip some tea or drink refreshing coffee with the time slowly passing by.
Icon Siam is the latest addition to the sprawling shopping paradise of Bangkok, really an icon living up to its name. First open to the public in end 2018, the shopping mall is really built to impress. Arriving via the free shuttle boat, you are immediately drawn by the entrance with all the neon lights.
Enjoying sunset is quite the norm at the main entrance, whereby crowds will be out to watch the light and water performances as well. Once you enter the shopping mall, all your senses are heightened. The dim light welcomes you to all the eateries, and leading you to SookSiam which brings you all the street food vendors in an air-conditioned place for you to choose and eat! The colorful desserts are tantalizing and feast for the eyes. Mango sticky rice, coconut rolls and pancakes, local orange juice which is super sweet.
The public toilet looks like one from a 6-star hotel! The section on IconLuxe provides all the luxury goods for you to stare at (and of course to buy if you can afford them). There is also a section with local Thai brands on various crafts.
At the same pier, there is another free shuttle boat that will take you to Asiatique – The Riverfront. A little more dated compared with Icon Siam, Asiatique has its old charm, with the big Ferris Wheel and the Sirimahanmop Ship to welcome any visitor. There is the also the market stalls, although many shops did not seem to open. Business does not look good, but these enterprising small owners soldier on. Having a drink at the open bars & cafes is a popular activity for many, cooling down for the day while overlooking the happenings along the river.
Drop by to Chatuchak Market if you are into more shopping. It is almost deserted, an extremely rare but welcomed respite from all the crowd & commotion. Taking the public transport and dropping by the Kamphang Paet station at MRT Blue Line is most convenient, but the MRT station is almost deserted at 8 pm!
And who can forget Platinum Shopping Mall and Pratunam Market too! Crowd is more in these two areas, mainly with local shoppers. Beware that prices of most things have gone up, at least compared to the last time I was here in 2016. Generally prices for women clothes have gone up almost by 50% to 100%. An hour’s massage previously set us back by THB150 to THB200, while minimum price is now THB300.
One convenience that I love having during the trip is Grab apps. Rides are so convenient at your fingertips. No haggling on price or difficulty in describing the drop-off place. Food delivery is even better! Hungry for a late night snack at 11 pm? Thirsty for a cooling drink in the middle of the afternoon but too lazy to go to the nearest shop? Scroll the Grab apps on the phone, and select based on the pictures (well – mainly as the descriptions are mostly in Thais hence the pictures help a lot!). Most hotels allow delivery up to the lobby, you can either take it from the set areas or meet the driver at the lobby. Ride prices are almost equivalent to metered-taxi rates. Food delivery is super cheap ranging between THB10 to THB50!
Next will be to explore outside of Bangkok!