Bangkok gets a bad rap. Whenever I speak with other travelers they warn: Avoid Bangkok. It’s dirty, chaotic, and full of scammers and scum. But on my three-day visit to the city, I had a rather peaceful time. In part, in was because of my stay at the five-star, boutique hotel, Maduzi. But also because I didn’t run into any of the hassles that I have encountered in many other cities like Hanoi, San Jose, Athens, to name a few.
Firstly, getting around Bangkok is a cinch. There is no need to cross the major avenues as the rail systems have skywalks that elevate pedestrians above the traffic. Not to mention, if you’re going far, the train brings you quickly to most destinations across the city. It’s fast, clean, cheap, efficient, and green. How many city transport systems recycle plastic fare cards? Not many. But in Bangkok, the machine eats the card when the balance zeroes out and reissues the plastic card to another customer.
Not Sightseeing in Bangkok
I didn’t actually do much site-seeing in Bangkok. “You didn’t see the giant Buddha laying down?” everyone who hates Bangkok always asks as if to make me feel chagrined.
I’m from America and I spend summers on the beach. I always see giant Buddhas laying down, I wanted to explain. But I was also just watted out, meaning I saw way too many wats (temples). I wasn’t too interested in dropping by the royal palace either since the last few palaces I had visited in other countries offered little to see. I also avoided the hard core sex shows, where women do terrible things with sporting equipment. (I’m guessing it’s in these touristy and sex areas that most people decide they hate Bangkok.)
Instead, I just lived in the city for three days the way a local would. I needed a pair of shorts so I visited the 8,000 stall Chatuchak Market. There, I had a field day eating delicious repasts like the slippery noodle dish pad see ew or the delectable coconut ice cream, which was served in half of the nut and topped with candied pumpkin and peanuts. I also ventured out to the floating markets at 5 am, which was ninety minutes outside of the city, and ate noodle dish after noodle dish before the tourist traffic arrived. And I relaxed at Maduzi, my downtown hotel, which felt more like a chic studio apartment than a rented room.
Maduzi in Bangkok
When I first entered my room and saw only one slick espresso machine above the free mini-bar, I felt like I had transformed into a stylish minimalist for the weekend. (That room, in fact, made my wife and I want to abandon all of our possessions in my wife’s parents’ basement and design our future home with Maduzi’s stylistic philosophies.)
Other highlights of our stay included a California king that dominated most of the bedroom and a jacuzzi that defied Archimedes. It was meant to overflow–Note: my wife and I had once ruined a suite in Mexico because we forgot this simple law of displacement–spilling water fell into a basin, which activated the jets.
Even though I loved the room, I couldn’t keep away from the lobby, which was unlike a typical hotel lobby. Reception was hidden and in its place was a circular gray bar in a black and gray room that extended into a restaurant where bottles of wine and good books sat on the shelves. At the bar, I drank unlimited, free cappuccinos, until my heart beat oddly, and ate fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. At the daily happy hour, the first drink was always free, as were the delicious breakfasts. (In fact, it was the first time in all of Asia that any chef got bacon right. Crisp.)
Since the hotel was not in the business of nickeling and diming its guests (or bahting, one should say), I felt at ease. I’ve been to five star hotels that charge for ridiculous things that cost them pennies, like wifi or water.
All of the rooms at Maduzi are designed exactly the same and the step up in price is based only on room size. Another nice feature is the living room area that juts off from the un-lobby-like lobby. The room is decorated with teapots, Buddhas, and purple Thai orchids, which elegantly flower the entire hotel. The room can be converted to host any large group interested in having a private dinner or business meeting.
Since Bangkok will usually be a part of any Southeast itinerary, your best strategy for enjoying the stopover should be to relax and possibly disregard all of the things that make Bangkok Bangkok. That’s the best way to enjoy the city.
If you’re looking for a room or flight to Bangkok, consider one of my sponsors, Thomson, where you can book late for a better price.
Disclaimer: Maduzi hosted my stay, but the review is honest.