There is sooooo little information in English about the gem which is Bangsean on the internet! I have lived here almost two years and I have nothing but good things to say about Bangsean and am amazed about the lack of information about Bangsean in English. Some expats have suggested that perhaps this lack of information is for the best since this keeps the expat riff raff out and perhaps they are right. Regardless, I plan to write at least three posts about Bangsean to enlighten the world about this incredible place! The audience of this post is new foreign students or new foreign faculty at Burapha University but other foreigners in Bangsean may find the information useful. You have just arrived in Bangsean and need to work or study at Burapha University! Now what?
First, you can get just about anything you need shopping wise in Bangsean or nearby Bangsean! Some hard earned, cash wise anyway, shopping advice is also included! Second, Bangsean may be the single best location in Thailand period!
There is a lot of stuff about Bangsean Beach on the internet so I will skip this subject. If this is your first visit to Thailand then you will need to shop for basics. The Central Plaza Mall in Chonburi is the largest mall right next to Bangsean and is north of Bangsean on Sukhumvit road (Highway 3 on the map above). Below is a picture of the Central Plaza Mall in Chonburi:
Central Plaza Mall Chonburi
You take a red songthaew to get there. Below is a picture of a songthaew:
The songthaew traveling north will go past the mall and then a Tesco Lotus, a hypermart, to the left and then into Chonburi city, not to be mixed up with Chonburi province. Before arriving to the Central Plaza Mall you will pass not one but two Big C’s! Big C is the largest hypermart in Thailand. Big C recently bought out Carrefour and now there are Big Cs everywhere! Your best bet if you have just arrived in Bangsaen is to skip those Big C’s and go to the Big C, previously Carrefour, attached to the Central Plaza Mall since they basically all have the same stuff. If you go to the Big C in the mall then you get a mall and a Big C versus just a Big C. You will also pass a Makro hypermarket but unless you want to buy twelve rolls of toilet paper instead of four then this hypermart should not be your first stop. However, Makro often has really good prices for stuff like TVs and fridges etc and you might want to compare Makro and the other hypermarts before buying those types of big ticket items. The four big places to buy electronics and white goods in the Bangsaen area are Tesco Lotus, Power Buy, Big C and Makro. Big C and Makro have better in-store warranties than Power Buy. Makro has the widest selection and best prices for white goods. Power Buy has more specialized computer and electronics equipment. There is a Power Buy in the Central Plaza Mall, Sriracha Robinson and Lamthong Mall. Interestingly, while different Power Buy stores carry similar inventory, the price of electronic items will vary from store to store. This is not the case with Tesco Lotus, Big C or Makro. More and more taxis are starting to do business in Bangsean, a welcome trend, and you can use them to transport stuff like “32” inch TVs from the store to your apartment. Also, if you buy “X” baht worth of stuff then you get free delivery from the store! How much you need to buy varies from store to store. Delivery is generally not very expensive anyway.
Below are pictures of the Big C, Makro and Power Buy logos:
Big C Logo
This songthaew route is used by many to commute back and forth from Chonburi to Bangsaen. The songthaew is around 20 baht. The songthaew may be a baht or two more or less depending on the distance you have traveled and the time of day. Late night songthaews cost the full 20 baht. An easy way to figure out the fare is to give a 20 baht bill and wait for change if you get change the fare was less if you do not get change then the fare was 20 baht! I am sorry to say there is very little of interest in Chonburi for most tourists but a first timer that has just arrived in Thailand might find the city interesting.
If you travel on Sukhumvit road further to the North then you can go to Bangkok. The easiest way to go to Bangkok is to take a van from Lamthong Mall in Bangsean. Below is a picture of the bus station.
The bus and/or van will drop you off at Ekkamai BTS Station . Actually you are dropped off in the parking lot of the Eastern Bus Station but you can see the Ekkamai BTS Station and its a five minute walk. The cost is 90 baht! Can’t beat the price. The van then goes on to the Bang Na BTS Station. Bang Na is kind of a suburb of Bangkok and not a lot out there for a tourist but some Burapha students live in this part of Bangkok. You probably want to get of at Ekkamai.
If you have arrived in Bangsaen and do not know where Lamthong Mall is then that is your first step in exploring Bangsaen. Lamthong Mall is within walking distance of Burapha University. Lamthong Mall has a Tops Supermarket which does carry most of the foods and expat would need to survive. There is also a KFC, a Pizza Hut and the Pizza Company. You may argue that you are in Thailand and will only eat Thai food but after a couple of weeks this will get old.
As mentioned, there is a Power Buy in Lamthong Mall that will serve most of your electronic needs but I have had trouble returning stuff after a week unlike Big C and Makro. There is a third floor filled with small mom and pop electronic/computer shops but they employ the “Asian small store warranty system” better known as “Caveat Emptor”. You buy and the item is yours. If the item you bought breaks down even an hour later from the time of purchase then that is your problem not theirs. However, most of the major electronic brands do have a store in Central Plaza and they honor the company warranty without even blinking! So maybe the store warranty is not that important in Thailand. Lamthong Mall is probably the social center of Bangsean. Lamthong Mall is better than nothing but sooner rather than later you will want to check out Central Plaza or one of the hypermarts mentioned. Scooter for hire drivers in Bangsean will understand “Lamthong Mall”. In Bangsean, the scooter for hire drivers wear blue cargo vests with a number on the back. Stand to the side of the road and wave to get their attention. I would not take the Sukhumvit road bus to Bangkok which is 40 baht and only marginally cheaper.
There is an excellent e-guide to Bangkok that can be downloaded for free as a pdf file at: http://www.traveleguides.com/travel-guides/bangkok-guide.pdf
In order to visit places south of Bangsean you will need to take the Sukhumvit road bus. The Bangsean bus stop is not marked with a sign but is on Sukhumvit road across from Nong Mon Market. If you say Nong Mon Market then a scooter for hire driver will probably understand you. Some scooter for hire driver’s may or may not understand “bus stop”. The same red songthaew that takes you to Central Plaza Mall will take you by Nong Mon Market before going to the Central Plaza mall. You can flag down the songthaew anywhere on the main road of Bangsean but the best place is probably in front of Lamthong and the songthaews generally stop there for a few minutes to pick up passengers. Below is a picture of Nong Mon Market:
Nong Mom Market
From Nong Mong Market you take an overhead pedestrian bridge and cross the street. Generally, you will see several people milling around a convenience store waiting for the bus. There is a snooker parlor down the street from the convenience store that is visible from the bus stop.
Most buses go all the way to Rayong but some make their final stop at Pattaya. A good tactic is to sit at the front of the bus near the bus driver and occasionally say where you want to go in a questioning tone. For example, if you want to stop at Pattaya then say “Pattaya?” now and then. If they forget about you then you may end up taking a trip all the way to the end of the line which is generally Rayong. The first stop south from Bangsean is Sriracha and the bus ride is around 20 minutes from the Bangsean bus stop and costs 30(?) baht. Sriracha offers the Robinson Mall in Sriracha. The Robinson Mall is slightly larger than the Central Plaza Mall in Chonburi. You will have to cross the street to get to the mall. Below is a picture of the Robinson Mall in Sriracha:
Robinson Department Store Sriracha
Behind the mall is a small “Little Tokyo” where Japanese executives from the surrounding Japanese auto factories hang out. There are various Japanese style restaurants, some Japanese stores and Izakayas (Japanese style pubs). The mall and Japanese section provide a nice afternoon of entertainment for a tourist with one day to explore areas around Bangsean. There are also several giant electronic stores within walking distance of the mall, south of the mall, on Sukhumvit road that have good prices and a large selection of electronic goods compared to the Bangsean area.
If you take the Sukhumvit road bus further south from Sriracha then you will arrive in Pattaya. The ride will be about an hour, or more due to constant pickups of passengers along the way from, Bangsean and costs 40 baht. From the bus stop on Sukhumvit road, you will need to take a scooter to Pattaya city. The scooter drivers in Pattaya generally have good English and know the names of most major hotels and venues in Pattaya and can take you to where you want to go directly.
There are any number of students and faculty of Burapha University that live in Pattaya and commute by car back and forth. The trip from Bangsean to Pattaya by car from Burapha can be as short as 30 minutes! You might want to make friends with one of those commuters!
There is an excellent e-guide to Pattaya that can be downloaded for free as a pdf file at: http://www.citingardenresort.com/images/pattaya_guide.pdf
The location of Bangsean means that you can spend a weekend in Bangkok or Pattaya any time you want! This is one of the great advantages of Bangsean. Bangsean is not bad. Bangsean has an ok beach, Lamthong Mall, Central Plaza Mall nearby and more bars and restaurants than you can check out in a year. Plus, Bangsean has a pretty educated populace due to Bangsean basically being a college town. Pattaya has farang pressures I will not go into except to say that the touts do get really old really fast! Bangkok has the pollution and grid lock of any big city. Pattaya and Bangkok are great places to visit but maybe not great places to live in. Bangsean may not be a tourist mecca but Bangsean is not a bad place to live in even if Bangsean can get a little boring. I would mention that Bangsean is cheaper than Bangkok or Pattaya by a pretty wider margin. I would say the cost of living in Bangsean is 25% less than the cost of living in Bangkok. The cost of living in Bangsean is about 20% less than in Pattaya. So maybe Bangsean is a little boring but a lot cheaper! However, if you get bored in Bangsean then you can go north or south and have some fun! There is a plan to build a high speed rail along Sukhumvit road from Bangkok to Rayong and this will make Bangsean and even better deal. Bangsean will then be a commuter haven for those trying to escape the costs and pressures of both Bangkok and Pattaya!
If you continue on the same Sukhumvit road bus further south then you will arrive in Rayong bus station in the city center of Rayong. The Rayong city center does not offer much to tourists. On the other hand, Rayong has a beach with some bars and pubs and a bit of an expat scene that might be worth an overnight stay but the expat scene on Rayong beach cannot compare with Pattaya. You will need to take a taxi or songthaew from the Rayong bus station to the Rayong beach. A better bet is to go from Rayong to Koh Samet. From the Rayong bus station you will need to take a taxi or songthaew to Ban Phe. From Ban Phe you can take a ferry to Koh Samet. In Ban Phe there will be various touts trying to sell you a speedboat ticket to the island but the public ferry is much cheaper. Do not buy a round trip speedboat ticket! The round trip ticket will invariably be more expensive than if you take the ferry or buy two one-way speedboat tickets separately. A determined tourist could do Koh Samet on a weekend. Leave Friday afternoon, spend Saturday on the island, and return Sunday night. However, a three day weekend would be a better choice. This gives you at least two nights in Koh Samet and you can really relax rather than hurrying to and fro from Bangsean to Koh Samet and back. Information about Koh Samet at:
Further south of Rayong on Sukhumvit road there is Koh Chang. Most Sukhumvit road buses go from Bangkok to Rayong and you will probably have to transfer in the Rayong bus station to go to Koh Chang. This is a four day trip, at least, and therefore Koh Chang goes beyond the goal of this post to provide a guide to places “near” Bangsean.
Taxi service in Bangsaen to other cities:
Airport Taxi – 086-785-3719
Bangkok Taxi – 086-048-6218
Pattaya Taxi – 081-002-7091
Minivan from Bangsaen to Suvarnabhumi Airport
The minivan straight to the international airport in Bangkok from Bangsean is across the street from Lamthong Mall. Walk towards the beach and the bus station is next to the Islamic Bank of Thailand which is the only one in Bangsaen.
This minivan service more or less runs hourly from 8 am to 8 pm but I would recommend checking what the next day’s schedule will be the day before since the schedule seems to vary a bit from time to time.
I want to recommend Haji Solehin Jewang as a guide and driver in Bangsean especially if you are Muslim. Haji is a Muslim and knows where all the halal eateries are. Haji knows English, Thai and Malay. His telephone is 02-9887704. His mobile is 081-3756393.
I did two more posts in a series about Bangsean:
Bangsean: Burapha University Tour
Bangsaen: United Place Apartments
WereVerse Universe Baby!