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Destination Dispatches: Bargaining in Bangkok, Hansar as Homebase

- Sean Horlor, is co-host and co-creator of Don’t Quit Your Gay Job, a comedy reality TV series broadcast in Canada, US and Europe. He also co-owns Steamy Window Productions with director/producer Steve Adams—his travel co-conspirator.

If Thailand is the land of a thousand smiles, Bangkok is the city of a thousand bargains.

The moment you step out of your hotel, you’ll be bombarded by touts, hawkers, street vendors, and tuk tuk drivers. Each of them will try to sell you the experience of a lifetime—whether it’s a guided trip to royal palaces or an exclusive visit to a salon run by their sister’s second-cousin, the offers you’ll get are as colorful as the streets of Bangkok, and so are the prices.

To bargain or not to bargain? It’s a tricky business, especially since it comes down to the question of a few dollars. On principle, you should never have to pay fixed prices for a cab, unless it’s to the airport. If you are quoted a fixed price, make sure to request the meter. If the cab driver refuses, don’t worry: another one will stop in a matter of seconds.

Not everything in Bangkok is negotiable. World-class shopping centers like Siam Paragon and Central World are mercifully haggle-free. They are great place to shop for global luxury brands as well as pieces by Thai designers.
That said, I’m my grandmother’s grandson, which is why I can’t resist places like Jatuchak Market. This sprawling 35-acre outdoor market is a shopaholic’s daydream made real.

Whether you visit for an hour or eight hours, you’ll soon understand why 200,000 people shop here every day. The crush of the weekend crowds and dizzying heat is intoxicating. Clothing, books, paintings, pets, plants, lamps, housewares, souvenirs, luggage, food—if you can’t find what you’re looking for at Jatuchak, you aren’t searching hard enough or maybe it never existed in the first place.

After an overwhelming day filled with people and heat, there’s no better reward than returning to the Hansar Bangkok. During my trip, I make a point to stay exclusively at Thai-owned boutique properties. Many have sprung up throughout the city over the past five years and Hansar is certainly one of the best.

Their two-story Loft Suites are packed with floor-to-ceiling gorgeousness. Separate access between the first and second floor make these suites ideal for entertaining. The hotel’s proximity to the Ratchadramri Skytrain Station transforms sightseeing during Bangkok rush hour into a surprisingly easy adventure.

Don’t miss the casual bites downstairs at Café Boca either. Breakfast on the terrace of the Hansar’s signature restaurant, Eve, is the ideal start to the many surprises that wait for you in Bangkok.

Flood advisory: I visited Bangkok during the height of the flood crisis. It was dry and safe, and did I mention dry?

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