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.
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
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.
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.
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:
We had some drinks outside on the terrace.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.