My First Day in Bangkok (and where to get travel shots)

What I packed: 3 Months in Southeast Asia
April 6, 2011
Getting Soaked at Songkran: the Thai New Year
April 18, 2011

My First Day in Bangkok (and where to get travel shots)

Saving money on travel shots

I just spend the first morning in Bangkok getting my necessary travel immunizations. Getting  these shots here in Bangkok was a strategic move to save money—something I wish I could say I thought of myself. But I didn’t. A friend suggested “why don’t you just get them while you’re in Bangkok?” when he saw I was stressing out about getting the shots before I left. Then I remembered Johnny Vagabond’s (aka Wes Nations) post How I just saved hundreds on Travel Shots. The place to go to get them is: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama 4 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 (662) 252-0161-4 Thanks Johnny!

A market street in Bangkok’s Chinatown


I got a tetanus diphtheria booster, and a typhoid and Japanese encephalitis B immunization. The total bill, complete with doctor consultation was 1,225 baht or $40 US—many times cheaper than they would have cost at home.


Interesting to note, the doctor suggested that I not go on anti-malarial medication when I’m in malarial zones because he said most of them don’t work against a lot of the strains in Malaysia, Laos, and Vietnam. He said better to seek medical treatment immediately after seeing symptoms of malaria. The topic of malarial medication is something I plan to get a few more opinions on before making a decision on which if any anti-malarials to take.


Bangkok’s Chinatown is maze of market filled backstreets. Yaowarat and Charoen Krung are the two main avenues that run through Chinatown and the alleyways and streets in between and around are filled with vendors selling almost anything. There are also plenty of vendors that lay out their wares on the sidewalk, the more interesting among them selling Buddhist amulets. It’s impossible for the untrained eye to tell the difference between an amulet worth 50 baht and one costing 50,000. You’ll see prospective buyers with magnifying eye pieces inspecting them carefully before buying.

A gold shop in Bangkok’s Chinatown


I walked around Chinatown for a couple hours getting lost in the auto and machine part section of town and eventually sitting down to rest for a drink from a street cart vender in a cool, shaded ally. I pulled up a plastic seat next to a few old Chinese men and sucked down my ice coffee with sweetened condensed milk through a straw. On my way out I stopped for bowl of pork dumpling soup at a sidewalk stall.


Check out my Flickr gallery to see more photos of Chinatown.

Madame Guesthouse


My Guidebook describes Madame Guesthouse like this: “about as cheap as you’re going to find in central Bangkok, and if you don’t mind roughing it a little is guaranteed to be a memorable experience.”

My bowl of pork dumpling soup in chinatown


Well, my night at Madame Guesthouse was a memorable experience. I blew a fuse when I unplugged the fan from my room’s only socket and plugged in my netbook computer. The whole house went dark. Staying at this guesthouse is really like staying in their house.


After a few minutes the owners were able to get the lights on in the rest of the house, except my room stayed dark. They even called the electric company. They’re having an electrician come in the morning. So for tonight I’ll have to rely on the light that seeps in from the hallway through the open space at the top of the wall in my closet-sized room.


But really I can’t complain, this is the best $4 room I’ve ever had. Most importantly, it’s clean. I’m even sleeping on the sheets. The room is smaller than a closet, but there is a lock on the door, a shared bath, and a lot of character; not to mention all the other characters that are staying here.


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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. ASA says:

    after reading this, I will stay at Madam’s place next time.
    do you know how many rooms they have?

  2. Stephen Bugno says:

    @ASA, Madam’s Guesthouse has at least 5 rooms.

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