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Bangkok Expat Guide – Part Two – Banking

Ever since I set foot in Bangkok back in the 1980s, dealing with Thai banks has always been a source of frustration.  Thai banks do subscribe to the various international conventions generated by the BIS, ICC and IMF, and even Thai banking laws very much mirror those of Western countries.  However, Thai banks do still seem to do things a bit differently at times, and this tends to be the source of frustration.  However, if you feel frustrated with banks in Thailand today, I can confirm it was significantly worse 30Read More


Bangkok’s Hidden Classic Cinema – Scala

Whatever happened to the good old days of movie cinemas, where you would enter a grand entrance with fluted columns, large winding staircases and gabled ceilings.  Attendants wore uniforms complete with hats and gloves, and there was only one large screen, not eight, sixteen or twenty-four small screens.  The large cinema would often even have balcony seating. Notwithstanding numerous proposals to knock it down, Bangkok has so far managed to retain one of its icons of classic cinema, namely the Scala Cinema.  This beautiful icon to the movie world is aRead More


Bangkok Expat Guide – Part One – Food

Welcome to the first post in my new series aimed at helping expats to enjoy their time in the fun, exciting, yet confusing mega-city of Bangkok.  Over the next few months, I intend to cover a wide variety of topics, providing good, useful information about matters such as: how to find accommodation (including good but cheaper accommodation options); how banking works in Thailand and the best ways to get money into the country; work options for foreigners in Bangkok (including information on work permits and visas); where to get furnitureRead More


The Truth About Taxis in Bangkok

Taxis are everywhere in Bangkok and can be a cheap and comfortable way to get around town.  However, everyone struggles to find a taxi willing to do the right thing and get them from point A to point B, using the meter.  Tourists often think this is a practice that is targeted solely at them, but actually, everyone in Bangkok has difficulties when trying to catch a taxi. Some Information About Taxis There are approximately 140,000 official licensed taxis in Bangkok.  These licensed taxis tend to be brightly coloured sedansRead More


Bangkok’s Victory Monument

In the midst of Bangkok’s steamy traffic stands a tall needle-pointed concrete obelisk of European design that raises more questions than get answered.  Thailand’s Victory Monument, or Anu Saowari Chai Samoraphum (or just Anu Saowari for short) is situated in one of the busiest and most important traffic circles in Bangkok.  However, very few people actually know what victory the monument is actually dedicated to. History The Victory Monument was designed by Italian sculptor Corrado Feroci and erected under his direction in 1941.  Corrado has a very interesting and long history with Thailand, andRead More


Tips That You Didn’t Know for Getting the Most Out of Bangkok – Part Five

There’s been a little gap between my tips recently as I focused more on the usual travel guide type material.  In this issue of my Bangkok Tips I look at where to find cheap Western food. As most of you who spend any time in Bangkok know, the Western luxuries in Bangkok can cost more than they would back in the West.  This is because of a combination of high import taxes and also the “luxury image” factor.  For Thai people, showing off that they lead a regular Western “luxury”Read More


Suan Pakkard (Cabbage Patch) Palace – A Hidden Slice of Paradise

Most of the palaces and major temples of Bangkok are located within Ratanakosin Island or nearby Dusit district in the old part of town.  However, there is a real gem of a palace hidden away in the urban sprawl of Bangkok that is not far off the beaten track but still off the radar for most tourists. Suan Pakkard Palace (Suan Pakkard means a cabbage field or cabbage patch), sometimes also spelled Suan Pakkad (without the R), is a royal residence on Sri Ayuthaya Road in the heart of Bangkok.Read More


Lumphini Park – The Lungs of Bangkok

Covered in chalky concrete, oil-polluted streets and glistening steel and glass towers, Thailand’s capital is not renowned for having many green spaces within its CBD.  However, as with many other great cities around the world, Bangkok does have its own central park and, as with some of those other cities, Bangkok’s park offers a very welcome escape from the everyday toil of big city life. Lumphini Park (sometimes also spelled “Lumpini”) is 58 hectares of green space located in what has today become the very centre of Bangkok.  It effectively sitsRead More


Pantip Plaza… Thailand’s Home of Movie and Software Piracy

Bangkok is renowned for its luxury shopping malls, with grand marble interiors, high end brands, sparkling diamonds, slick Lamborghinis, big screen tvs, awesome restaurants and enough activities to compete with an amusement park.  However, luxury shopping mall is not an accurate description of Pantip Plaza.  Instead, this five storey shopping centre is quite run-down and reminds customers of what shopping was like in Bangkok in the 1980s. Notwithstanding its dire need for a refurb, Pantip has been forgiven for its run-down state because of one big reason.  It has becomeRead More


The World’s Largest Golden Teak Structure – Vimanmek Teak Palace

Like something out of colonial times, although Thailand was never colonized, Vimanmek reminds me of an over-sized governor’s mansion, sitting resplendent in a tropical oasis.  However, Vimanmek was not designed for any governor.  Instead, it was originally built on the not-very-well known island of Ko Sichang, as a retreat for King Chulalongkorn (aka King Rama V).  It was subsequently dismantled and rebuilt in the Dusit Royal Gardens in Bangkok in 1901. As I suggested in the opening sentence, the design is very European, and it highlights the influence that KingRead More