Posted April 7th, 2011, 06:11 AM
Laem Chabang is the port for Bangkok, but it's located at least a 90 minute drive away. The actual milage between the two places is not that great. However, the traffic in Bangkok is awful and your commute will slow down the closer you get to town. (If you are in town on the day of a Red Shirt demonstration, the problem only intensifies. We got caught in such a traffic jam on our way to visiting the Jim Thompson House. Yikes! Still, there was one positive side to the delay. We got a fascinating glimpse of the patience and graciousness of the Thai people. No one honked throughout the entire slow down.)
If there is any way you can leave the ship and stay overnight in Bangkok at a hotel, I think you'll find the experience much pleasanter.
If you stay overnight, consider going to the Oriental Hotel's dinner and traditional dance show at the Sala Rim Naam restaurant. The meal is a set menu. Happily, the choices are geared to tourists in that the food is mild for Thai food; only one or two of the dishes rise to the level of medium heat by Western standards. The dancing is fascinating, especially the dances when the dancers climb up one another as easily as you or I would climb the stairs. The costumes are amazing, if a little worn in some places. The performers come into the audience at the end of the show and graciously pose with guests for pictures.
You'll be given a choice of sitting at a Western style table or a Thai table. A traditional Thai would sit with his legs tucked under him on the floor. These table are tweaked for tourists; there is a leg well so you are, in fact, sitting Western style. You've just had to lower yourself to your seat.
This is not a cheap evening. The price was 2250 Bhat per person ($75) but it was a very special evening.
If you're staying at the Oriental, you would take the hotel's proprietary shuttle across the river, a fun experience in of itself. I don't know whether guests coming just for the meal would arrive at the hotel and shuttle across, too or whether there's a different way to arrive at the restaurant.
As for guides, any of the guides folks have recommended for Bangkok would work. I highly recommend Tan. ([email protected]
If you don't want to get involved in the drive to Bangkok, consider going to Pattaya. I have no first-hand recommendations.