Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Erawan national park
15.8: Colombo -> Bangkok
17.8: Bangkok -> Kanchanaburi -> Erawan
18.8: Erawan national park
19.8: Erawan national park -> Bangkok
20.8: Bangkok -> Jakarta
Planning and overall impression
This was a
brief five days trip to Thailand with the family, essentially covering
Bangkok, the Erawan national park and some places in between.
We've been to Thailand countless times over the years, so we are quite
used to travel across Thailand. Nevertheless Bangkok is an interesting
city, always worth a trip and we saw some new places (Kanchanaburi, the
Erawan NP) we hadn't visited before. As usual Thailand is very
tourist-freindly and has an excellent tourist infrastructure.
Despite getting lots of tourists prices in Thailand continue to be
moderate, i.e. hotels and restaurants are relatively inexpensive.
Thai food is very good and as a tourist it is easy to find suitable food.
There are countless hotels all over Thailand, easily bookable via the international booking portals.
Money / Exchange rate (August 2019)
1 Euro = 34.3 THB
Mobile phones and prepaid cards
This time I bought a SIM card from DTAC
for 170 Baht (unliimited Internet for 5
days, but max 1 MBit/s speed; 15 Baht of calls included (1 Baht/minute)).
Tropical weather (hot, humid). The skies were often overcast or cloudy,
but it didn't rain much. On the last day in Bangkok there was some
Health / Vaccinations
For this short trip I
didn't bother to refresh my immunisations, but obviously when
travelling to southeast Asia it's a good idea to consult a doctor and
if necessary get/refresh some vaccinations.
VISA / Entry requirements
No visa needed for EU nationals and nationals of several other
No problems in Thailand. It's a safe and stable country.
In Bangkok we relied on taxis.
Often, especially in tourist areas, these refused to use the meter. For
the trip to the Erawan national park we rented a car. Driving across
Thailand was easier than expected and even driving across the (heavy)
Bangkok traffic was doable.
15.8: Colombo -> Bangkok
Paragon One Residence hotel, Bangkok. 800 Baht for
a room with adjustable A/C, table+chair, cupboard for clothes, phone,
free WLAN, fridge and a bench. Two star place in walking distance from
Weather: milky blue sky, lightly overcast in the
morning in Colombo. Very hot in Bangkok, no rain.
- Bangkok: big, interesting city, always worth a trip
- The giant tree near Kanchanaburi
I wake up early and at 8am wait for the shuttle to the airport. This
finally arrives at 8:15am (a small Citroen car). By 8:30am I'm at the
Initial security check with an X-ray scanner when getting into the
airport building, followed by a second X-ray scan before being allowed
to get into the check-in area. Check-in is relatively fast (short
queue), same for the passport control. Final security check before
getting to the gate (very thorough, I have to take out belt and shoes).
The airport is a bit oldish and in the gates area there is no cafe or
restaurant where to have some breakfast (I eat the cookies I have left
over from the Udawalawe NP).
By 9:15am I'm at the gate. Some waiting time, then we board the
plane. It's an old B737-800, very cramped. My knees hit the seat in
mine, because the seat is narrow. Probably it's a plane set up for
The flight takes off 5 minutes early at 10:25am. Seems to be a budget
airline, because on board they sell meals (Thai cash only).
The plane lands early in the Don
Muang airport of Bankok at 3:25pm.
Then there is a bus transfer to the terminal and it's about 4pm when I
finally queue up at the passport check counter.
Huge queue and very long waiting time. It takes one hour to go through
passport control. There are not enough counters and people work slowly.
Then I get a SIM card from DTAC
for 170 Baht (unliimited Internet for 5
days, but max 1 MBit/s speed; 15 Baht of calls included (1 Baht/minute).
Finally I queue up for a taxi at the exit 8 at 5:25pm. The taxi trip
costs 500 Baht for the taxi + 120 Baht for the tolls. Shirley only paid
300 + 120 Baht for the same trip. Perhaps my taxi tuned the meter.
In the evening we go to Khaosan road for dinner. Then I book a car for
the trip to the Erawan national park (using Europcar; an SUV for about
140 Euro for three days).
Paragon One Residence hotel, Bangkok.
Weather: sunny, blue sky, very hot. Later in the
afternoon the sky gets overcast and around 5pm it cools down and rains
a little bit for about 20 minutes.
Day spent in Bangkok not doing much. Because we have already seen most
temples (at least the more relevant ones) we just take a taxi to the
MBK mall, where we shop a bit, then have lunch. The MBK mall has shops
selling clothes at the first floors. On the 3rd or 4th floor there is a
centre for smartphones and computers. On the sixth floor there are
restaurants and a food court
Then we walk to the nearby Siam
Discovery mall. This is a more upmarket
and elegant mall, mainly focusing on international brands (clothes,
shoes, articles for travelling etc.).
After lunch we take a taxi to Chinatown. Quite an effort to find a taxi
because most refuse to use the meter and ask for 250 or 300 Baht, when
in reality the fare by meter is 60 Baht.
Finally we walk back to the MBK mall and there queue up at the taxi
counter. Suddenly taxi drivers are willing to use the meter.
We take a taxi to Chinatown (Yaowarat road). This is a long street
where there are many shops selling traditional Chinese goods and also
modern cheap goods. We are back in the hotel around 6pm.
In the evening we have a dinner in a restaurant in the Khaosan road
area. The food is so-so and the prices are a bit high, but this place
has a band playing music.
Later in the hotel I book flights to Ternate for August 20th
(Bangkok-Jakarta and Jakarta-Ternate). Quite complicated and in the end
I book on nusatrip.com because kiwi.com gives too high prices and Lion
Air Indonesia doesn't accept credit card payments.
17.8: Bangkok ->
Kanchanaburi -> Erawan
Juntra resort, Ban Mong Lai. 1200 Baht for a room
with a very hard bed, TV, small sofa, no other furniture. Attached
bathroom with shower. Adjustable A/C. Good location not far from the
entrance to the national park.
Weather: sunny, very hot (top temperatures of
37°C). A mix of blue sky and overcast. Some light rain in the late
afternoon and evening in the mountains area near the national park.
Leaving the hotel shortly after 10am we take taxis to the Sofitel hotel
where Europcar have their office. The taxi costs 105 Baht + 50 Baht for
the highway toll.
We arrive in the Sofitel hotel around 10:45am. Then things proceed
quite fast. In a matter of 10-20 minutes all paperwork is done and I
have the car. At 11:15am we leave Bangkok.
Initially we are stuck in the Bangkok traffic jam,
but quickly we reach
the highway (50 and 10 Baht tolls) and the more we get out of Bangkok,
the less traffic there is. Top speeds of 90-100 km/h on the highways
out of Bangkok.
At 1:15pm we stop for lunch at a motorway stop in Nakhon Pathom
province. We reach the bridge on river Kwai at 3:10pm.
The bridge is there and is still being used by trains, even if people
walk all the time on it. Around the bridge there is a nonsense
wonderland of replicas of World War II planes, military vehicle etc.
Nearby there is a Buddhist temple and on the site there are food stalls
and other stalls selling tourist stuff.
At 3:35pm we continue driving towards the Erawan national park and
arrive there at 4:45pm (that is, we pass by the hotel at this time). We
continue driving a bit and stop in the village, where we buy some food.
There is an ATM, but also this one charges a steep fee of 220 Baht per
withdrawal, which is simply ridicolous. On the other hand, I don't see
money changers, so we might have a cash problem.
We continue driving to the Sinakharin dam viewpoint, where we stop for
some pictures. Nice views of the dam, the lake and the power station.
At 5:45pm we drive to the hotel and check in. After 7pm we head out for
dinner. Long waiting time of over one hour in a hotel restaurant. In
the end we cancel the order, take the car and go back to the 7/11 shop
where we buy some food for dinner paying with the credit card.
18.8: Erawan national park
Juntra resort, Ban Mong Lai.
slightly overcast, every now and then
sunny. Some light rain around 6pm.
Day spent not doing much, except for visiting the Erawan national park.
This is actually a relatively unimpressive national park.
Steep entry fee (300 Baht oer adult, children pay 200 Baht; Thais pay
1/3 of this amount). In total we spend 1330 Baht (three adults, two
kids and 30 Baht for the car). Corresponds to 38.50 Euro.
The main and only attraction of this park is the series of pools and
waterfalls where people can have a bath. Lots of fish in these pools
and these are not afraid of humans. The smaller ones will bite your
feet (probably to eat the skin).
In total, from the parking of the park up to the highest
waterfall you can walk 2 km.
Countless people swimming in the polls on this Sunday. When walking to
the first pool we run into a family of wild pigs (who also are not
afraid of people).
Lots of restaurants next to the parking area. There are electric cars
which bring visitors who don't want to walk to the first pool. There
there are showers, toilets and it's possible to rent safety vests.
After the park we briefly stop in town, then head back to the hotel. At
7:40pm we get back into town for dinner.
19.8: Erawan national park
Sleep Withinn hotel, Bangkok. Around 900 Baht for a
smal, but functional room in the central Khaosan area. LCD TV, fridge
with minibar, small table but no chair, a bed, mirrors, a clothes
hanger but no cupboard, toilet with shower (hot water), adjustable A/C,
phone. The room looks a bit old.
Weather: mainly sunny with a mix of blue skies
and overcast skies, a little rain in the early afternoon. Quite hot
with temperatures topping at 34°C.
In the morning I abandon the idea to visit the Phra Tat cave in the
after I read that
you must climb the mountain for 600m
and a new park entry ticket is needed.
At 11:15am we leave the hotel and initially drive to the 7/11
convenience store where we buy some food. We also refill the fuel
tank. Then we start driving towards Bangkok.
Initially I key in the address of the Giant Tree, some kind of big tree
near Kanchanaburi. Once we are close to that we notice street signs for
a "crystal cave and temple", and we decide to have a look.
We arrive there at 1pm. It's a not so impressive temple on top of a
hill. From it a short path leads a bit higher into the mountains. Very
hot under the strong noon sun.
The cave itself is small, but on its
walls there are indeed some crystals. Quartz and perhaps something else
Then we continue driving and at 1:50pm we reach this giant tree. A big
tree indeed, with a diameter of perhaps 30m. Quite impressive.
Shortly after 2pm we leave. Because exactly in this spot there is no
mobile coverage, we drive a bit out, then stop and key in Bangkok as a
On the way to Bangkok we spot an interesting temple complex (Wat Tham
Suea) on a
small hill in the rice fields and stop there to have a look. This seems
to be a (local Thai) tourist hotspot because there are cafes and
restaurants here and many local people are taking pictures and having
something. And indeed this place is quite photogenic.
We continue driving and reach the Or Tor Kor market in Bangkok shortly
before 6pm. This is supposed to be a sophisticated fresh food market.
In reality it looks like just any other food market. For instance,
there is not even A/C. Prices are a bit high however. Especially fruits
It's around 6:30pm when we leave
this place and drive to the Sofitel
hotel where we will return the car to Europcar. Google Maps calculates
10km, doable in 22 minutes. In practice we get stuck into some massive
traffic jam near Sukhumvit road. The situation is so bad, that it will
take us over an hour to reach the Sofitel hotel.
Because the traffic is so bad, we give up on the idea to look for a
petrol station where to refill the car (the fuel tank is a bit over
half full). Service fee of 300 Baht to refill the car.
We reach the Sofitel hotel at 7:40pm, return the car, then change some
Euro into Baht (we are short of cash), take taxis and get to the hotel
in the Khaosan area. We arrive there at 9:15pm.
20.8: Bangkok -> Jakarta
Night flight to Ternate
Weather: a mix of sunny and overcast skies, some
rain at 1pm and very heavy rain around 3pm. Hot tropical weather.
In the morning at 9:15am Shirley and the kids take their taxi to the
airport. They are flying back to Malaysia. I stay in the room until
about 11am, having breakfast and pondering what to do today in Bangkok.
In the end I decide to have a
look at the Iconsiam mall, a modern and
flashy mall which should be interesting, and then walk back to the
So at 11am I get out of the hotel and take a taxi to this mall. At
11:33am I'm there.
It's a beautiful, very elegant and high end mall. Food court/market at
the lower level, international luxury brands section adjacent to it at
an upper level. Nice stylish glass facade. It's right on the river, and
from there there are piers where to catch boats to various locations in
After some time at the mall I
catch one of the free shuttle boats which
bring you to the other side of the river. From there I slowly walk back
to the hotel, arriving there at 2:10pm. I buy some food in a 7/11 store
and get back to the room, where I take a shower and pack my stuff.
At 3:10pm I walk out, and at
3:20pm I'm in a taxi to the airport (this
time 257 Baht + 50+70 Baht of motorway tolls). I reach the airport
shortly after 4pm.
There I check in, proceed through passport control, security and arrive
at the gate. Then I wait.
At 6:30pm I check the status. The flight is delayed from 7:15pm to
8:25pm, meaning that I will arrive in Jakarta at midnight instead of
10:50pm. Will be quite a rush to catch the connecting flight to Ternate
at 2am, because I have to retrieve the luggage, check in again and make
it to the gate.
At 8:34pm I'm in the plane on my seat. The plane takes off at 9:07pm,
with almost two hours of delay.
Copyright 2020 Alfred Molon