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Filipino American Expat in Singapore

Posts from the Thailand Category

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This Songkran was extra special.

It’s that time of the year again! Thailand (and some neighboring countries) are celebrating Songkran. This year is special because I’m able to share the experience with PJ.

Here’s our not-so-ambitious Songkran itinerary. I wanted to queue up some of the gay clubs and scenery but for some reason, I felt exhausted. Lol.

Thursday – flew in before midnight and stayed at a friend’s house (thanks Joy!)

Friday – squeezed in the Grand Palace and ICONSIAM before checking into U Sukhumvit Hotel

Saturday – First day of Songkran, experiencing it while riding a tuk-tuk in Sukhumvit and by visiting the water fights in Silom by nightfall. Dinner at the Train Market and drinks later on at Maggie Choo’s. Followed by delish supper at Bamboo (middle eastern food) near Nana.

Sunday – omg, stayed at the hotel. I had this phobia of water guns suddenly. We spent the whole day lounging by the swimming pool of our hotel. And getting room service.

Monday – getting a massage at Health Land Spa and Massage in Asoke. Followed by some souvenir shopping and lunch at Terminal 21. We flew back to Singapore in the evening.

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PJ dumping his water on a nearby bush outside Terminal 21. You can’t bring water into the mall.

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But of course, minutes earlier we were with Ulrike buying said water guns in the Sukhumvit area.

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Silom with Colin and his friends. We reached before dark so the streets were pretty wet and messy already.

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I brought my pink water gun from the previous year.

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The festive streets of Silom with Ulrike and her friend Domenica.

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A beer break at 7-11 along the Silom stretch.

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The train night market. Drenched after someone in the alley dumped water on us! Grrr!

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Ready for an afternoon of water fights.

I’ll share tips for Songkran in my next post. 🙂

A new addition to Bangkok’s lively shopping scene is ICONSIAM. This mixed-use development brings the shopping experience to the other side of the Chao Phraya River. I wanted to take a peek during my visit to Bangkok for Songkran 2019.

My three highlights from ICONSIAM

  1. It’s a new shopping experience on this side of the Chao Phraya. It’s one of Bangkok’s new mega-malls. Until the ICONSIAM gets its own BTS station soon (on the ‘Gold’ line, sounds cool right), you can take a shuttle to access this mall.
  2. There’s an indoor floating market. It’s colorful and, well, air-conditioned. We had lunch at one of the restaurants in the basement which is tastefully designed to look like an indoor floating market.
  3. Great terrace overlooking Chao Phraya. Who’s not a fan of rooftop bars? Whenever I visit a major city I like to enjoy it with a view from the top. ICONSIAM has a nice terrace that overlooks the Chao Phraya River. It’s not a rooftop bar, but it gives a spectacular view while you enjoy your Singha or fave cocktail.

Here are some photos:

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The basement level has a SOOK Siam ‘indoor floating market’.

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ICONSIAM signages during the Songkran period.

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ICONSIAM’s gold motif throughout the shopping complex.

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Cocoon structures that house some of the restaurants on the upper levels.

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Weave designs found on the upper levels.

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The cinema area has a tall ceiling.

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Decor on one of the top floors.

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More cocoon structures on the upper levels which house restaurants.

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Indoor waterfall at ICONSIAM.

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Restaurants on the top floor.

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This one has seats.

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Makes me want to try the food in each restaurant.

We had some drinks outside on the terrace.

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View of the Chao Phraya River from the ICONSIAM terrace.

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I love enjoying a beer at the bar. Have one here on the terrace.

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The place fills up fast at sunset. Try to get here during happy hour.

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The terrace is split into two restaurants.

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The seats by the edge were occupied but we found one on a nearby landing.

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Two of my favorite beers. Hoegaarden and Beerlao.

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Enjoying the sunset with my boyfriend.

How to get to ICONSIAM?

One method is to take the train to BTS Saphan Taksin and then a free boat shuttle to take you a kilometre upriver to ICONSIAM. Another method is to take a shuttle bus which originates from Krung Thonburi BTS station.

*During Songkran, all of my transport between districts was via Grab taxi. I didn’t want to risk getting wet every so often.

If you’re looking for an affordable and good Thai massage in Bangkok, try the one at Health Land Spa and Massage. For 600 baht (USD 20.00/SGD 25.00), you can enjoy a good 120-minute traditional Thai massage.

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A friend recommended we try out the treatments at Health Land Spa and Massage.

We tried the branch at Asoke which was a few minutes walk from our hotel in Sukhumvit. If you’re looking for a hotel to stay at in Sukhumvit, I recommend the U Sukhumvit Hotel which I write about here.

Health Land Spa and Massage in Asoke covers eight floors. YES, EIGHT FLOORS! That’s several floors of treatment rooms. They offer a wide selection of massages but PJ and I signed up for the Thai massage.

A facility that has eight floors dedicated to massages definitely targets mass tourism and a large clientele. The lobby area is large with several seats for those waiting their turn. While waiting you can enjoy some welcome drinks.

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Yes, it was colored pink.

Once called, you’re led down steps into a basement area where you have your footwear replaced by slippers. A therapist comes by to pick you up and will lead you to the elevator to take you up to your massage room. PJ and I were led to the eighth floor and a room with two beds. Inside are clothes you change into.

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Two pieces. Loose slacks and an oversized shirt.

The massage room is simple. It has dim lighting and some hangers for your clothes. There was a TV set with a remote but we kept that off. Some relaxing music would be playing.

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Wait, who said anything about roleplaying?

Once you’ve changed clothes, the therapists enter the room and the massage begins.

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After 120 minutes I started to feel like a mashed potato.

Massage review. A Thai massage involves pressure points and stretching. We didn’t opt for the compress version so this was a dry massage. For 600 baht, I thought this was a steal. That barely buys you a decent massage in Singapore.

PJ, however, thought the massage was too strong for his liking. I went in expecting to be wrestled and hurt. LOL. For me, I walked out feeling refreshed. Like the muscles that haven’t been massaged thouroughly in months (or years!) were awakened.

This delicious hot tea is served downstairs as you change back into your footwear.

Tipping. I always tip for a massage when in Thailand or in the Philippines. I thought 100 baht was fine (600 baht was the massage price). But I think that will depend on you.

Should I make reservations? Yes, always do. Getting a massage should be a relaxing process from start to finish. Making reservations means you arrive at the venue in time to begin your massage. During Songkran however, reservations may not be possible. Give them a call first or walk-in at least an hour before your intended time.

Map. 55/5 Asok Montri Rd, Khwaeng Khlong Toei Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand. It says they’re open until midnight but please check with them. I recommend you book ahead of schedule. Map here: https://goo.gl/maps/umCqom6huX3D3QmH6

Learn more from their website here.

Three or four-star accommodation in Bangkok is pretty affordable. I stayed previously in Sukhumvit in 2013 and the neighborhood is easily accessible via the BTS Skytrain.

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Nice and cozy accommodation in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit district.

For Songkran 2019, we wanted to stay somewhere that’s a comfortable distance from the madness of the water fights on the streets. We booked ourselves a room at U Sukhumvit Hotel on a friend’s recommendation.

Location. U Sukhumvit Hotel is in Soi Sukhumvit 15. It’s about a 10-minute brisk walk from Terminal 21 and BTS Asok Station. On the map, it looks like it’s a nice stroll down a street. However, on experience, it really is deep into the Soi as you pass by other large hotels. There seems to be only one 7-11 store and an Italian restaurant. Otherwise, it’s a very long stretch of boring road. Good thing the hotel provides complimentary tuk-tuk transfers to/from Terminal 21 and Sukhumvit MRT on a first-come-first-served basis.

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The exterior of U Sukhumvit Hotel in Soi Sukhumvit 15.

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Black and gold is always a good combination.

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It’s a quiet part of the Sukhumvit area. There are barely stores in this part.

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Complimentary tuk-tuk rides are available for hotel guests. First come, first serve.

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The lobby area of U Sukhumvit Hotel in Bangkok.

Amenities. The hotel has a boutique feel to it. It doesn’t feel bland at all. The lobby area is tucked beside the ground floor parking area. The lobby is a loft type where the mezzanine is the hotel restaurant. Behind the hotel’s reception desk is a large map of Thailand. There’s a gym on the third floor and a swimming pool with a bar and library on the top level. This is probably my favorite amenity at U Sukhumvit.

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The dining hall is a cozy size that’s perfect for this type of hotel.

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My favorite part of the hotel is the rooftop swimming pool. It has a relaxing view of Sukhumvit.

Room. We got the deluxe room which is just the right size. It has a mini-bar, security safe, and a comfortable bathroom in dark hues. There aren’t too many good options on the TV (the cable channel offerings were news channels and basic stuff). I packed my own Bluetooth speakers which were entertainment.

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The rooms at U Sukhumvit Hotel have unique motifs.

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I love the dark colors. It always looks more elegant.

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There’s a rain shower.

Food. Over the course of our 3-night stay at U Sukhumvit Hotel, the breakfast offering was more or less the same. They have tasty bacon with juicy fats. You can ask for eggs served your way (omelette, poached, sunny side up, scrambled). They had ‘farmers’ sausages in chicken and pork. They also have some noodles. A selection of ‘western’ cereal offerings and bread. A juice bar with an assortment of concoctions is available. Knowing that breakfast would probably be the same each day, I deliberately planned which day I’ll try what. 😉

Price. It’s in the three-star price range (honestly the hotel is very comfortable and is marketed as four-star). I’d put it at SGD 100.00 or less on off-peak. It’s one of the cheaper ones given the proximity to the city area. Value for money. I booked via Agoda.

Would I recommend this hotel? Yes. It’s in an affordable price range which also provides a nice rooftop swimming pool and a generous happy hour serving (1 for 1 on beers and cocktails from 5 to 8pm). We had a great time lounging on the roof deck during the 2nd day of this year’s Songkran festival. It was relaxing.

Special mention. All the staff we encountered at U Sukhumvit Hotel during the busy Songkran 2019 period were wonderful. If Thailand is the land of smiles, this hotel definitely had those. It’s that extra hospitality which always makes a hotel worth returning to.

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Visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok on the eve of Songkran 2019 celebrations. ❤

Vacation time! Flew across the pond with PJ to enjoy the sights and sounds of Songkran. I’ll be writing about the following:

  • Where to Stay: U Sukhumvit Hotel
  • Thai Massage: Healthland Asoke
  • Bekpackr’s Guide to Songkran
  • Photo Walk: Iconsiam Mall
  • Drinks over the Chao Phraya: Iconsiam’s Terrace
  • The Grand Palace in 2019
  • Songkran in Photos
  • Songkran in Videos

 

 

This remains my favourite holiday to date. Exploring a city for the first time. No itinerary at all. Just a checklist of things-to-do… that we could do at any time. No frills. Comfortable hotel, beautiful city, and between my boyfriend and I– a feeling of youthfulness.