Novotel Bangkok Ploenchit Sukhumvit Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

Filed Under (hotels, travel) by rinnah on 06-06-2013

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For my previous work trips to Bangkok, I stayed in the serviced residences booked by my Thai counterparts in the Sathorn area. While it was truly convenient for work (almost next door to the office building!), I wanted a hotel that was more centrally located for my first ever Thailand vacation.

I ended up selecting the Novotel Bangkok Ploenchit Sukhumvit based on reviews I read on Agoda and Trip Advisor – the hotel was located near a BTS station (Phloen Chit) and was comfortably within my budget.

Novotel Ploen Chit Hotel 01
View of Novotel Ploenchit from the Phloen Chit BTS station

I booked a stay of 4 nights in total for my week long vacation through Agoda. Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised that they allowed me both an early check-in (before 11am) and extended my check out (1pm) at my request to accommodate my flight.

The location of the hotel was just right for my recent visit. The Phloen Chit BTS station was just a short 2 minute walk from the doorstep of the hotel (turn left from the hotel entrance to access the BTS station via the upriding escalator). If you’re the more outdoorsy type, you can even walk up the road all the way past Central and Siam to MBK.

Novotel Ploen Chit Hotel 02
View of the deluxe room from the door

Novotel Ploen Chit Hotel 03
Touches of blue and green decor

The Novotel Ploenchit’s rooms are relatively well appointed with touches of blue and green decor on the neutral colour palette. I very much liked the thoughtful ideas like having additional power points next to the beds and built-in USB port that allowed me to charge my multiple electronic devices with ease. The room came with complimentary wifi, but I preferred to rely on my mobile data connection as the wifi signal was a bit weak and tended to drop out occasionally.

Novotel Ploen Chit Hotel 04
Desk and flatscreen television

I booked a deluxe room with twin beds for my stay. Beds are sufficiently comfortable, with a relatively firm level of support and two pillows. I would have preferred a different (softer) type or choice of pillow but it was alright in the end. The deluxe room also came with a daybed that was nice for napping and drinking coffee.

Novotel Ploen Chit Hotel 05
See-through bathroom

The deluxe room does not come with a bath tub but that wasn’t a priority for me. Novotel Phloenchit follows the recent trend of having a see through bathroom window (nice for couples), with privacy screen (if you’re travelling with friends). Modern yes, and super convenient if you’re alone and want to watch television while you shower. The room I was in had a slight problem with slow sink drainage but this was rectified by housekeeping before my stay was up.

Novotel Ploen Chit Hotel 06
Sink and vanity area

Novotel subscribes to the recent trend of hotel chains that try to cut down on wastage by not providing toothbrushes up front but on demand. I also felt that the complimentary refreshments (tea, coffee sachets) could be more speedily replenished as it wad only replenished every other day despite the fact that we had used up the refreshments. The minibar was well stocked but tiny and didn’t allow for storing much items (we were enjoying local fruits in the room everyday).

I would peg the Novotel Phloenchit as more of a business hotel relatively close to the shopping district of Siam and would not mind a return visit if I were to return to Bangkok. Perhaps either the Novotel located at Siam Square or next to Platinum Mall would be equally or more convenient if shopping was an integral part of your trip.

My First Haul from Boots Pharmacy Thailand

Filed Under (moisturiser, retail shopping, serum, skincare, tips and tricks, travel) by rinnah on 23-10-2012

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So I made my maiden trip to Bangkok, Thailand on a work-related visit last week. Even though my trip was for work, I still managed to squeeze in some time to check out the pharmacy wonderland that is Boots Pharmacy, or Boots Retail Shop as they are known.

Boots Retail Shop

Boots is very much like your local drugstore Guardian or Watsons with a slight difference. The majority of products at Boots are mostly housebrands, under a variety of lines and brand names. Having never had access to Boots before, it was like stepping into a whole new world for me. I tweeted that I wanted to buy the entire store but lack of time and luggage space was a very big factor that stopped me from doing so. Anyway, I had to buy something from Boots just to say I’d been there. :P

Boots Thailand mini haul

I think I was a good girl and valiantly restricted myself to just the 3 items of skincare you see above. I’m still on my hydrating craze, so I picked up three different moisturizers from three different ranges.

  • Boots Simply Sensitive Anti-Redness Serum
  • Boots Fragrance Free Moisturising Cream
  • Boots Sakura Blossom & Lemon Whitening Day Moisturiser (I was suckered into buying this because it smelled so good)

It’s been a week since I came back from my trip and I’ve already started on the Simply Sensitive Anti-Redness Serum and I’m loving it! Time to stock up on another tube (or two?) when I have to head back to Thailand next month. :D

Quickie shopping tip : If you’re going to be buying Boots stuff in Thailand, unless absolutely necessary, buy from the stores in the city outside the airport. Strangely enough, the Boots Retail Shop in the duty-free area at the airport sells their products for between 10 – 50 baht more compared to the city area.

Reviews will hopefully follow shortly!

Singapore Flyer

Filed Under (travel) by rinnah on 03-08-2012

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The first touristy thing I wanted to do in Singapore was visit the Singapore Flyer. There’s just something about the kid in me that can’t resist Ferris Wheels – who can? (Unless one has height phobia, that is.) And the Flyer is one biiiiiiiiiig Ferris Wheel. See?

Singapore Flyer

My first visit to the Flyer was in April 2011; and when my folks came to visit me in November 2011, it was one of the first places I dragged them to visit. (Yes, I am well aware that I am a tardy blogger.) That was 9 months ago and I think it’s time for another go at the Flyer soon! :P

marina bay sands
(You can see Marina Bay Sands from the Flyer building)

There are more photos so keep on reading after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Buying a prepaid sim card in Hong Kong

Filed Under (mobile phones, services, technology, telecommunications, tips and tricks, travel) by rinnah on 05-04-2012

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During my recent trip to Hong Kong, I needed to have access to data on my smartphone while roaming but I didn’t want to pay expensive roaming charges. (This is what living in a connected world does to you. You feel bereft of something important, like checking Twitter, Facebook, email and blogs. Or having to reply your Draw Something games.) :P

So I did some research on the Internet (doncha just love Google?) and found that it was very easy to get a prepaid sim card in Hong Kong with reasonable data charges. The network provider that I eventually went with was 3 (I think they are located in Australia as well) and it proved to be a good enough choice for the 4 days I was in Hong Kong.

3

Where to buy
You can buy your prepaid sim card from convenience stores (7 Eleven et al) or from mobile shops. I chose to go to the 3 mobile shop located at the airport terminal itself upon arrival. You just have to go up one floor to where the check-in counters are located – both 3 and rival operator CSL have shops there.

3 mobile store
Unit No. 7T038, Level 7, Departure Hall Row G, Hong Kong International Airport

3 shop at HKIA

Which type of sim card to buy
I initially wanted the HSDPA Broadband Access Rechargable starter pack recommended on various travel forums (which is only available at mobile shops), but was rather short on time to explain to the salesperson which starter pack I was looking for – the salespeople will automatically recommend you to take the basic mobile prepaid pack.

The basic mobile prepaid pack costs HKD 98.00 and it’s as easy as pie to pop in the sim card and be instantly connected. Since you’re using a mobile prepaid, naturally you will be able to make local and international calls as well as use data. (Side note : If you are using a tablet device, you may have to point your settings to the correct APN before the device detects the connection.)

Fees and charges
I didn’t really do much research into the call rates so I’m not able to list them on the blog but at the time of my trip (March 2012), the data charges for 3’s network were as follows :

1MB = HKD 2.00
Maximum daily charge = HKD 28.00
Monthly charge = HKD 388.00

Basically, as a tourist you would only need to pay up to HKD 28.00 per day for unlimited usage of data. The usual fair usage throttling only starts after 5GB so you’re basically running around with a free hand on how you use your data. :P

Although I did read some reports online about poor connectivity or coverage by 3’s network, I didn’t experience any problems throughout my trip. In fact, I was highly impressed that even underground in the MTR tunnels, the Hong Kong network gave me far more stability in coverage and faster network speeds compared to Malaysia and Singapore networks.

Top-ups
I did miscalculate the amount of data I had used (dang the fast download speeds that seduce you into using more than you originally planned!) so towards the end of my trip, so I learnt the hard way that 3 will cut off your data once you’re down to HKD 10.00 worth of credit in your prepaid account. You’ll have to top-up to continue enjoying their services.

Nevertheless, top-up is fast and easy – I did mine at a 7 Eleven convenience store. Do take note that the minimum amount to reload is HKD 100.00 so if you foresee that you won’t be using up this amount, you may wish to monitor your data usage accordingly to maximise your credit.

Your prepaid sim card and its corresponding number will be valid for 180 days from the date of your last top-up and if you don’t top-up additional credit within that time frame, whatever balance you have in your account and the number will expire.

All in, I consider buying a prepaid sim card to be a cost effective way of enjoying unrestricted data coverage while you are in Hong Kong (finding free wifi spots are not easy at all!) and would recommend 3’s network to leisure travellers (do note that online forums do not recommend 3 if you are travelling to China or the outskirts of Hong Kong).

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