Sawasdee ka! My name is Pat. I am 58 and started selling The Big Issue in Perth, Western Australia when I was struggling to get a job. I soon realised that this is indeed the right job for me! It’s great work that helps me pay my rent, and I love the people in Perth; they’re very generous. In March I visited Bangkok, in my home country of Thailand, after my mum passed away last year. If you’re thinking of going to Bangkok yourself, here are my tips for a great trip. Pat sells The Big Issue Australia at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth.
The Skytrain and the subway are quick, cheap ways to get around the Bangkok central business district. Fares start from 16 baht (42 pence) and increase by two or three baht per stop. It’s also easy to get to the international airport by train, and compared to Australia, taxi fares are very cheap! Or to get around, try tuk-tuks, which are around the same price as taxis.
Pantip Plaza is Bangkok’s number one tech mall. Across five levels it has a wide range of computers, cameras, any electronics you want. There are very competitive prices, and you can try your hand at bargaining in many of the shops. Many of the stalls there can even issue you documents that you can use to claim tax refunds for tourists at the international airport on your way home.
Catch some culture
The Thailand Cultural Centre provides educational activities through performing arts, various activities and a cultural library. Or, you can head to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, a treasured, world-class national centre that stores some of Thailand’s precious stories. It’s open all year round and can comfortably accommodate up to 6,000 people.
Head to the market
Chatuchak Market is the world’s largest weekend market. It has more than 15,000 stalls spread across 14 hectares and has everything from food to fashion, art to antiques and more. It’s full of crazy cheap prices and new ideas. You can shop till you drop — definitely! You can taste a lot of Thai food here at Chatuchak, also known as JJ Market.
Out of town
Fruit farms in the south-east, around three hours’ drive from Bangkok, are worth a visit. You can escape for a break among a variety of fruits, like mangosteen and durian. The price includes accommodation, breakfast and a tour of the farms. You can pick your own fruit fresh off the trees! Delicious.
When to visit
Any time of year is a great time to be in Bangkok. Keep a sharp eye out for cheap flights – it’s a really bang-for-your-buck holiday.