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Thread: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

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    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Happy 2013 everyone, I'm flying to Bangkok next month for a week. Would like to ask the following questions to fellow ClubSnappers who have ventured there before as this will be my first time:
    1) Which telco/SIM card should I get and how much value? I won't be making phone calls much as I'm using mostly data for Google Maps/WhatsApp/checking train schedules as I go/etc and for emergency calls
    2) When do I tip and how much baht? Here in Melbourne tipping is not mandatory but some people will tip between A$5 to A$20 depending on the situation
    3) Is it safe to drink tap water from the hotel? Or is it advisable to drink bottled water only?
    4) Does anyone have any 'lobang' for renting a camera and lens around Asoke/Sukhumvit/Emporium shopping centre? I'll be staying around that area and was thinking of not bringing my camera/tripod to save luggage space, plus I was thinking of renting a newer camera and using the opportunity to try it out, hopefully an Olympus OMD or a Sony RX1.
    Currently based in Melbourne / No longer living in Singapore

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    U may purchase SIM from the airport counter.
    Tipping usually around 20baht to 50baht.
    Buy Bottled water to drink. Very cheap.
    There are a few camera shops in MahBoonKong (MBK) shopping ctr. But dun know whether they do rental service.

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    Happy 2013 everyone, I'm flying to Bangkok next month for a week. Would like to ask the following questions to fellow ClubSnappers who have ventured there before as this will be my first time:
    1) Which telco/SIM card should I get and how much value? I won't be making phone calls much as I'm using mostly data for Google Maps/WhatsApp/checking train schedules as I go/etc and for emergency calls
    2) When do I tip and how much baht? Here in Melbourne tipping is not mandatory but some people will tip between A$5 to A$20 depending on the situation
    3) Is it safe to drink tap water from the hotel? Or is it advisable to drink bottled water only?
    4) Does anyone have any 'lobang' for renting a camera and lens around Asoke/Sukhumvit/Emporium shopping centre? I'll be staying around that area and was thinking of not bringing my camera/tripod to save luggage space, plus I was thinking of renting a newer camera and using the opportunity to try it out, hopefully an Olympus OMD or a Sony RX1.
    1) Get from DTAC at Bangkok Airport when u come out of arrival on the left side of the airport. Cost 299 baht and comes in SIM card size and breakable to micro SIM further. It is unlimited data for 7 days and activation is immediate.
    2) same as digitalphoto. Tip up to you, if is cabs, usually i ask them to keep small change or 20 baht. if massage is 20-50 baht.
    3) I boil water, but the hotels I stayed such as Ibis, novotel and recently glow and they are very clean in my opinion and I did not have tummy problems. I do buy mineral water (those very big ones) from Big C opposite CentralWorld.
    4) Cant help... No experience at all in renting camera, you can try pantip (looks like singapore's SLS)... I lug my 5dmk3 with a joby in Bangkok. Not sure how much u can save space as my camera holster bag is not considered as part of cabin luggage, so is my macbook air. Asoke I only remember Terminal 21 and healthland, dun remember any camera rental shops...

    hope that helps. Enjoy Bangkok!
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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    1) Which telco/SIM card should I get and how much value? I won't be making phone calls much as I'm using mostly data for Google Maps/WhatsApp/checking train schedules as I go/etc and for emergency calls

    I used DTAC - Happy Call. Cant remember how much but the talktime is around 100thb worth. 3G-ing is okay as i dont really surf much unless i need to look for something.
    Topping up and purchasing can be done at 7-11 stores. Top up ranging from 50 thb - 200thb.
    Another one you can check is from AIS.


    2) When do I tip and how much baht? Here in Melbourne tipping is not mandatory but some people will tip between A$5 to A$20 depending on the situation

    Tipping? Depends on individual. If the person goes the extra mile, then by all means just tip the guy. I think around 50-100 thb is sufficient. But again depends on yourself.

    3) Is it safe to drink tap water from the hotel? Or is it advisable to drink bottled water only?

    Water? I used the tap water and boiled it to make my coffee every morning so im guessing it okay?
    4) Does anyone have any 'lobang' for renting a camera and lens around Asoke/Sukhumvit/Emporium shopping centre? I'll be staying around that area and was thinking of not bringing my camera/tripod to save luggage space, plus I was thinking of renting a newer camera and using the opportunity to try it out, hopefully an Olympus OMD or a Sony RX1.

    Renting? Go to camerarental.biz. Rent it here then bring it over. Over in Bkk, you can check out MBK, you take the BTS can alight at National Stadium. You wont miss MBK.
    There is a whole floor for camera stuff. If im not wrong, its the 5th or 6th floor.


    Hope my answers help. Enjoy your trip.

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    If OMD and RX1, then they are so small that size is not an issue and you can buy it first and bring.

    Rental, even if possible is a hassle. You have to:
    • pay deposit.
    • argue that you did not scratch or spoil the camera upon return
    • travel all the way back to the rental shop location before you fly back or move on elsewhere.
    • provided they are open on the day you chose to return the camera
    • waste valuable holiday time, effort and money just trying to locate the rental shop and then have to haggle the rates

    Not all Bangkok water is potable.
    In one hotel where I stayed, they had two taps. One clearly marked potable water. The other one is not for potable water.
    Even if others had no previous stomach ache drinking boiled Bangkok tap water, don't take unnecessary risks.
    When the price for not taking the risk is low - i.e. large bottles of mineral water are cheap from the 7-11 or Family Mart convenience stores.

    Have been user of Happy-DTAC.

    Tip the hotel bellboy who brings your luggage to the room, shows you all the features and who can be a useful source of local info for your few days' stay at the hotel.
    Don't tip everyone who serves you. Only those who deserve it.
    Some may blatantly ask for a tip/ang pow, like some tourist guides around CNY time.
    Last edited by ricohflex; 2nd January 2013 at 09:56 PM.

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    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Thanks for all the replies guys, looks like my plan will be the following:
    1) DTAC sim for 7 days
    2) Tipping will be optional and max 50 baht, except for the Bellboy (thanks Ricohflex)
    3) I'll stick to bottled water, not worth it to save a few dollars but risk ruining my trip
    4) I'll carry camera with my laptop bag as carry-on luggage but check-in tripod
    5) Get a 30-day BTS pass for 25 unlimited trips approx 600 baht (should be able to buy from the airport right?)

    Lastly, any advice on getting day tours, where to shop and where to eat? My initial plan was to ask the hotel desk when I arrive for day trips to avoid getting scammed. Traffic in Bangkok is unpredictable, my friend who lived in Bangkok for 3 months said the only way to avoid the jams were to walk, take a train, or flag a motorcycle bike and skip the buses and taxis unless there's no option. As for shopping, everyone says MBK but that place is huge and since I'm only there for 5 days, I don't want to spend an entire day as all I need are some business shirts and polo-shirts, hmm, and maybe some Egyptian cotton towels if I can find some?
    Last edited by harnamsc; 3rd January 2013 at 08:53 AM.
    Currently based in Melbourne / No longer living in Singapore

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    om the airport right?)
    .......
    Lastly, any advice on getting day tours, where to shop and where to eat? ..... I need are some business shirts and polo-shirts, hmm, and maybe some Egyptian cotton towels if I can find some?
    Which hotel you staying at? Usually food can be found near hotel.

    Don't go BKK and eat only at American style fast food restaurants like McDonald's.
    Don't go to BKK and eat only inside the hotel restaurants throughout your tour stay.

    Go out to explore and eat the Thai food. Street food is safe if hot cooked.
    Observe near lunch time where the local Thai office workers go to eat their lunch. This is a good guide. They will lead you to cheap and delicious Thai food.

    Clothing shopping usually done in Pratunam.
    The other is Bobae Tower.
    Sukhumvit area at night would have lots of T-Shirt stalls on roadside.

    If want high end business shirts - Siam Paragon, Emporium or Central Chitlom would have. All 3 near BTS stations.

    If want very high end clothing - go to Gaysorn. Too ex and not value for money.
    Last edited by ricohflex; 3rd January 2013 at 10:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    I love to go Yaowarat

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Haven't decided on a hotel yet, but it will be near BTS Asoke or BTS Phrom Pong. Food-wise I've actually drafted a list of must-try Thai street food:
    Gaeng Hanglay (Thai Hanglay Curry)
    Cha Om Kai (Thai Acacia Omelet)
    Gai Tod (Fried Chicken)
    Pad Phet Pla Duk Tod (Spicy Fried Catfish)
    Pla Duk Yang (Grilled Catfish)
    Goong Ob Woon Sen (Glass Noodles cooked with Shrimp and Soy Sauce)
    Khao Soi (Northern Curry Noodles)
    Kuay Teow Reua (Thai Boat Noodles)
    Deep Fried Mushrooms (het tod)

    Got all that from Mark Wiens articles on Bangkok street food, the nearest street food 'haven' for me would be Sukhumvit 38. I'm also planning to visit Chinatown while there, so that's another food haven covered. Since this trip is supposed to be relaxed and free-n-easy I'm only planning to visit the following places, rest of the time will be spent shopping/eating/taking photos/walking about.
    Wat Arun
    Weekend Market
    Grand Palace
    ChinaTown

    And thanks for the advice on Siam Paragon and Emporium, I'll be sure to check them out.
    Currently based in Melbourne / No longer living in Singapore

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    DTAC is good, I use that too. My data usage is so much so that they offered me free data plan on my Blackberry since the last 2 times I was in Thailand.

    Just sharing information you can call overseas with DTAC by using their IDD 004 (Country Code)(Phone Number). If not mistaken it will cost only 5 baht per min. For local call they charge only 1 baht per min.

    Cheers
    Last edited by jsprtan; 4th January 2013 at 11:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Please share your photos and videos of the Sukhumvit Soi 38 night market food stalls upon return.

    Food
    Good food is all over the place in BKK. But just like any other touristy city, it has tourist traps that grossly overcharge for ordinary food at ridiculous prices. Avoid those. Singapore's previous Happy Valley restaurant comes to mind where a lunch can cost few $K back in early 80's; and recently the $1,200 steamed fish at a RWS restaurant.

    This one in BKK is very expensive.

    Comment by PortManToe in TripAdvisor:
    “Terrible value, cafeteria-like ambience, fresh seafood.”
    Reviewed November 19, 2012 via mobile
    This restaurant has virtually nothing going for it except a lot of fresh seafood, which is incredibly expensive, and a prime location on Sukhumvit 24. Plain and simple it is a tourist trap of the highest order. Hundreds of better options are available, so do your research and choose this place as a last resort.

    Comment by kwaychap in TripAdvisor:
    “Food was expensive and not great plus I got sick”
    Reviewed December 25, 2012
    1 person found this review helpful
    I should have trusted the negative reviews here but I am a big seafood lover so I had to check it out. They have some very nice young ladies to help you with the shopping in the market area. I got a live grouper, cockles, oysters, and choi sum and mushrooms. The grouper I had steamed Chinese style. The oysters I ate raw. I tried to keep it on the cheap side but with the cooking fee it came out to be more than I was expecting. I had a much better meal for a lot cheaper at Somboon Seafood which I would highly recommend over this place. Also I thought Laguna Seafood was better too. Now for the horrible part... I got sick about twenty minutes after eating and had severe diarrhea that lasted 24 hours. It was definitely diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. I was bedridden for 24 hours except when I was on the toilet (a lot) and everything I tried to eat turned to liquid. I was afraid I'd miss my flight home. I got better although I was very dehydrated from it and it made the long flight home difficult. I suspect it was the oysters. Before this I had eaten oysters, cockles, and clams without a problem. I blame myself for taking the risk more than I do the restaurant. I would say never eat oysters in Thailand. Had I not gotten sick I might have given it a 3/5.

    Hotel
    Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit-Terminal 21
    This is a new hotel.
    Saw it being built when touring BKK previously.

    Another traveler said this hotel provides direct access to both BTS (above ground mass transit) Asoke station and Metro (their underground mass transit) which makes it very convenient to go to any place. It seems you need different tickets for either one.
    Not sure if they have created a tourist multi-day ticket that can be used for both BTS and Metro.
    Last edited by ricohflex; 5th January 2013 at 12:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Thanks for the advice, my intention is to eat mostly street food and avoid the restaurants. I'll probably avoid seafood, I'm based in Melbourne now and getting cheap quality oysters, clams, etc is super-easy here. Recently caught over 10kg of clams from Venus Bay during the Xmas period and right now I never want to see or eat another clam (ate 3 dozen on Xmas day itself) for a longggg time. Plus oysters are only A$1-2 each here (they're as big as my hand and you can buy them live) and I've already eaten so many I'm now totally sick and tired of oysters.

    As for the hotel, I agree the Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit would be ideal but sadly its outta my budget since I'm going solo and not sharing. I'll be staying at a hotel around BTS Asoke/BTS Nana. It's the largest room within my budget and 400metres walk to the main road. Checked and found there is no multi-day ticket for BTS and Metro, BTS has trip passes (15/25/35/45 rides) whereas MRT has 1-day and 3-day passes. I'll need the BTS ticket for sure, not so sure about the MRT yet.


    Cheers
    Currently based in Melbourne / No longer living in Singapore

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    You can try bally's studio suite. The rooms are relatively okay and since you are travelling alone, im think its okay. but they have both at silom and sukhumvit.

    I stayed at the sukhumvit branch during xmas. Its @ sukhumvit soi 20. Its relatively quiet there.

    You have to walk a fair bit but they do provide tuk tuk shuttle to Asok BTS.

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    A few more questions: Are tripods allowed in Wat Arun and Grand Palace? I'm aware of the dress code and being discreet with photography, but I can't find any info about tripods. Also which floating market to visit? I was thinking of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, but not sure how to get there. Since I'm going solo, not sure if I can find a day tour to join.
    Last edited by harnamsc; 8th January 2013 at 09:16 AM.
    Currently based in Melbourne / No longer living in Singapore

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Quote Originally Posted by harnamsc View Post
    A few more questions: Are tripods allowed in Wat Arun and Grand Palace? I'm aware of the dress code and being discreet with photography, but I can't find any info about tripods. Also which floating market to visit? I was thinking of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, but not sure how to get there. Since I'm going solo, not sure if I can find a day tour to join.
    In Grand Palace always pack with people, I saw people using tripods but since the place always very crowded all the time I do advise try to avoid tripods that someone might knock it down.

    Some information on Tour package on Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Tripods within Grand Palace complex exteranl grounds generally allowed.

    Except Emerald Buddha temple. No cameras allowed. Needless to say, no tripods.
    Not allowed to take photo once you are inside.

    Sure you can find a tour to go floating market. Can just ask your friendly hotel concierge. He will arrange. Some hotels have a convenient counter manned by a tour agency to arrange tours for hotel guests.

    Presumably floating markets have become commercialised tour magnets over the years and may disappoint.
    Last edited by ricohflex; 8th January 2013 at 10:06 PM.

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    For shopping,you can visit Platinum Mall if you don't mind non-authentic stuffs. Their offerings are similar to Chatuchak but in air-condition comfort. If you are willing to brave the heat, Chatuchak is a good place to find local handicrafts. The floating market may be worth a visit as well.

    For business shirts,you can try the tailor at Asia Hotel 2nd floor. Can collect in 2 days and reasonably priced.

    I use the DTAC prepaid card whenever I am in Bangkok. Not too expensive but coverage ain't as good as Optus in Sydney.

    For transport,day trip tickets on BTS are good if you are going to be running around a bit. If taking cab/taxi,try to ask for meter charge. Avoid motorbike taxi if possible. Had an accident the last time I got on one 3 years back. The rider just right his bike and speed off,leaving me at the roadside. Of course it may be just my bad luck.

    Most important, have a good trip!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Welcome to NanataiMansion
    I stay here all the time when I am not keeping an apartment in town... Great service and budgett is right...Also very good breakfast...Located at end of Soi Nana (next to gate going into Tobacco industries park) very quiet..... Snakephoto: Nana Tai Mansion
    Do not confuse Nana hotel, with NanaTaiMansion...
    Last edited by george671; 9th January 2013 at 02:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    And most good hotels will have bottled water stocked in the room refrigerator anyway...

  20. #20
    Member harnamsc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travelling to Bangkok - what SIM to get and other questions

    Thanks for all the advice guys, I've booked a room at Ramada Encore minus breakfast as frankly I feel all BKK hotels over-charge for "American breakfast". Note to anyone who views this thread, I DID find another hotel thereafter that I would highly recommend: CityPoint Hotel - its not as posh but location-wise its right next to the Asoke/Sukhumvit junction, only 2 minutes walk literally to the BTS and MRT lines. Anyway I'm not gonna change as I've gone over a hundred hotels and frankly Ramada Encore is near enough to BTS Asoke for me.

    GhostAccord: That tailor in Asia Hotel, how much is a shirt on average?

    Lastly does anyone have any contacts for lighting equipment rental? I notice that there are two groups of rentals in Bangkok, the more prominent and expensive ones in English for tourists and the harder-to-find cheaper ones in Thai. Example: A studio rental owned by a foreigner quoted me 3000 baht for 2 hours, which is more expensive than a studio rental in Singapore!?! I know I saw a listing for 2 strobe lights + softbox and tripod for 500 baht a day, but the website was in Thai and I lost the link. I'm looking at renting either a private studio or some lighting+soft boxes for a day shoot, but so far unable to find much help via ClubSnap, Google or Flickr forums.
    Currently based in Melbourne / No longer living in Singapore

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