New listings on Amazon

Amazon has changed its way of identifying books. This is how to find these four Experience Guides.

Experience Thailand e‑book;

Experience Norway e‑book;

Experience Norway paperback;

Experience Northern Italy e‑book;

Experience Northern Italy paperback;

Experience Myanmar (Burma) e‑book;

Experience Myanmar (Burma) paperback;

Collage 2016-02-19 14_27_55

Experience Thailand 2016

It is that time of the year again when new editions of the various Experience Guides start appearing. Experience Thailand 2016 is the first cab off the rank in Kindle format for computers, tablets and smartphones. It is larger and contains more photographs and maps than the last edition and has been brought right up to date with all the latest happenings in south-east Asia’s most popular country.

If you are planning a trip involving any part of Thailand this is a valuable resourse both before and during your trip. Check it out at

Thailand 2016

Bangkok Bargain Shopping app interest


The web continues to display articles about this app. If you know of someone heading to Bangkok, recommend that they spend $2, buy this app, and potentially save hundreds.

Here are some recent references:–99-Bangkok-Bargain-Shopping-v0-73b201304230809708-By-map2app at Chatuchak Market

Bangkok Bargain Shopping

Accor promotes Bangkok through Bangkok Bargain Shopping App

Accor and veteran travel writer Len Rutledge introduce the new “what” and “where” of Bangkok with a new mobile travel application

Bangkok is consistently named one of the best places to shop in the world and visitors travel from all over to enjoy its delights. The selection is excellent, the prices good, and travellers can choose between modern, air-conditioned malls, exciting markets or sophisticated boutiques. To help visitors sort out where to go and what to buy, Accor has joined hands with experienced travel writer and author Len Rutledge to introduce a new version of the popular Bangkok Bargain Shopping app for Android and Apple iOS devices to help visitors navigate this City of Angels.

Len Rutledge has produced an app that gives a wealth of shopping advice, including costs and prices, bargaining, VAT refunds and information on getting around. The Bangkok Bargain Shopping app offers suggestions on what to buy and gives descriptions of the city’s major shopping areas. Information is provided for 16 shopping malls, the best markets and some specialty shops and other unique shopping experiences. The latest release of the app includes a new feature that can suggest Accor hotels near these shopping attractions to help fashionistas and bargain-hunters maximise their Bangkok shopping experience. The app can help travellers locate a comfortable bed within striking distance of their favourite shopping mecca, or a place to break for snacks to help them recharge their batteries between retail therapy sessions. With 14 featured Accor hotels, ranging from luxury to economy, the app offers something for everyone.

Addresses, telephone numbers, and websites are given and each location is shown on a map. This mobile application is a perfect companion for those planning a shopping trip in Bangkok, whether it’s their first time or their tenth.

To download the app, visit

Accor, the world’s leading hotel operator and market leader in Europe, is present in 92 countries with more than 3,500 hotels and 450,000 rooms. Accor’s broad portfolio of hotel brands — Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Mercure, Adagio, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget and hotelF1 — provide an extensive offer from luxury to budget. With more than 160,000 employees in Accor brand hotels worldwide, the Group offers its clients and partners 45 years of know-how and expertise. |

Media Contact

Vasu Thirasak

Regional Director of Communications

Accor Southeast and Northeast Asia

T: + 66 2 659 4500


Experience Thailand

The morning is a tumultuous blur of traffic, shops and people. Bangkok is overwhelming and confusing. I don’t have a map of the city and have no idea which road we are on. All I know is that we are on bicycles going in the opposite direction to all the other traffic. It is scary.

When I had told friends at home that I was planning on doing a bicycle tour in Bangkok, they thought I was crazy. Now faced with some of the world’s worst traffic, I am starting to agree. Why would anyone do this?

I have joined about seven others at the Intrepid tour office in Bangkok. We are given helmets, a bottle of cold water and bicycles and briefly told that for the next five or so hours we will be on an adventure. I sheepishly look around. Which end of this helmet points forward? Will I make a fool of myself when I try to ride? The twenty years since I have been on a bicycle seems an awfully long time.

There are many people around so I wheel the bike down the road a little and find a kerb about the right height to enable me to mount in relative dignity. I push off and am pleased that after ten metres I haven’t fallen off. I feel the need for a short practice before we head off and this quiet lane is perfect.

I was taught to ride by my father when I was seven or eight. We had an old bicycle that belonged to my grandfather and one day my father brought it out and said I could try to ride. In reality it was too big for me but he lowered the seat and I could sit and just reach the pedals.

He told me to pedal and he would hold the back of the seat to make sure I didn’t fall. We went up and down the driveway several times with him supporting me and then suddenly I was on my own. While I kept moving I was OK but when I wanted to stop I sort of crumbled in a heap. I feel pretty much the same now.

I am back with the group and everyone seems more or less organised. We have a guide and are about to head off. The adventure is about to begin. We start off down a quiet street but then quickly hit a main road. Miraculously, I manage to miss pedestrians, tuk-tuks, delivery trolleys, cars and trucks and make a half dignified exit at the next corner.

This brings only temporary relief because I suddenly realise that we are going down a one-way street – the wrong way. Interestingly no one is blowing their horns at us and pedestrians even get out of our way. Thailand is living up to its reputation as a tolerant country.


This is a short extract from Experience Thailand.

Bangkok Bargain Shopping App.

BBS2 Bangkok was recently rated as the second best place to shop in the world and visitors travel from all over to enjoy its delights. The choice is excellent, the prices good, and there are options of modern, air-conditioned malls, exciting markets or sophisticated specialty stores. The problem has been how to sort out where to go and what to buy. A new version of the popular Bangkok Bargain Shopping app, available for Android and Apple devices, has solved this problem.

Experienced travel writer and author, Len Rutledge, has produced an app which gives shopping advice about costs and prices, bargaining, VAT refunds and getting around. It then details the things to buy and gives descriptions of the major shopping areas of the city. There are then details of 16 shopping malls, the best markets and some specialty shops and shopping experiences. Newly added is a section on suggested hotels which can make your shopping experience smooth and efficient.

BBS3Addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites are given and each location is shown on a map. This truly is your perfect Bangkok shopping companion. It can save you a great amount of time and hundreds of dollars by showing you where to go and what to do. There are words, photographs, video and maps. As one regular Bangkok visitor said, “I only wish I had this advice when I first went BBS6to Bangkok!”BBS4


Royal Bangkok

Some of the major visitor attractions in Bangkok are luxury hotels at great prices, glittering Buddhist temples, spectacular palaces, canal scenes, legendary nightlife and some of the best shopping available anywhere. If you forget the heat, the humidity, the traffic and the pollution, this is a truly great city. At the very least, it is a wonderful place to have a good time and sample some of the attractions of an amazing country. In my opinion, the best place to start is the “Royal area”.

The Grand Palace.

The Grand Palace and the adjacent Temple of the Emerald Buddha must be on every visitor’s itinerary. This complex rivals the very best European palaces and cathedrals in interest and architectural attraction. From certain angles, this represents all that is best about Thailand and Thai culture. It is a sight guaranteed to impress the most blasé traveler.

The huge white walled complex is in the center of ‘historic Bangkok’. The palace was originally built in 1782 by the first king who ruled from Bangkok. Since then almost every other king has added to it so that today the complex is an amazing mixture of architectural styles that somehow work together to create a very impressive feature. The Grand Palace is no longer used as a royal residence but it is used for state functions, the presentation of ambassador credentials and some other ceremonies.

The best part of the original palace building is known as the Dusit Group and the Phra Maha Montien Group. The main building is a splendid example of classic Thai architecture with its four-tiered roof and nine-tiered spire. Near the main building is a beautiful pavilion where the king alighted before entering the main audience hall. Please take a close look – it really is exquisite. You can see the reception rooms of what was once a royal residence.

The Chakri Group of halls was built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama 5) in 1882 in a style incorporating both Thai and Western architectural elements. The central throne room with its four canvases is a highlight. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha serves as the royal temple.

Admission to both the temple and Grand Palace is 250 Baht. Opening hours are 8.30 – 3.30. There is a strict dress code which my wife, in calf-length pants, did not meet. It appeared that about 25% of foreign female visitors (and a few males) were also pulled up. You need a shirt with sleeves, fully-covered legs and covered feet. T‑shirts, see-through clothing, bare shoulders etc. are not permitted.

My wife had to borrow a sarong from the booth near the entrance gate and had to leave a credit card as security. The sarong was pretty and clean but was extremely hot over other clothing as we walked the complex. There appeared to be no water for sale anywhere inside. To avoid this problem, dress conservatively and try to visit early in the morning when crowds are less.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

This magical place is a temple purpose-built to house a Buddha image carved from a large solid piece of green jadite. Chaophraya Chakri, who went on to become King Rama I, brought the image from Vientiane when he captured the city in 1778. It is believed the image was previous in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand and was captured from Chiang Mai by the Laos. King Rama I built the temple and enshrined the Emerald Buddha there as a symbol of Siam’s regained nationhood. The temple does not house any monks. Rather, it is more like the personal chapel of the royal family.

The Emerald Buddha is housed in the main building of the temple – the Ubosot. It is difficult for non-Thais to understand fully the significance of this rather small statue, kept in a glass case ten metres above the kneeling worshipers, but you can sense the power and the role that this has played through centuries of Thai history by watching the locals. Three times a year, at the beginning of the cool, hot and rainy seasons, the king changes the Emerald Buddha’s robes in a simple ceremony of great significance to the Thais. You must remove your shoes before entering this building and silence and a strict no-photograph policy applies.

When you enter the temple compound on the west side, climb up to the upper terrace before proceeding around to the entrance to the ubosot. North of the ubosot is an elevated platform with three large buildings in a line. Originally, the temple’s main library, the Ho Phra Monthien Tham, was on this spot, but it burned down in a fire caused by fireworks later in the reign of King Rama I. He decided to have the Phra Mondop built on this spot. King Rama IV added two other structures to the upper terrace. He also commissioned the model of Angkor Wat. This is a truly spectacular area so allow time to see it properly.

Don’t rush your visit here. You are in the most holy place in Thailand and you need time to appreciate it. Apart from that, it is just a wonderful place assaulting the senses from all sides. The entire temple is enclosed by a covered arcade, the outer wall of which is painted with elaborate scenes from the Ramakien epic. Each entrance is guarded by a pair of huge demon statues.

Wat Po

Wat Po is located just south of the Grand Palace. It is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok and is often called Thailand’s first university. The temple complex is so large, yet so crammed with buildings and other structures that it is initially somewhat overpowering. To help you overcome this problem there is a guide service available at the main gate. This can help you get the most from a visit.

The main attraction for most visitors is the gigantic 46-metre long reclining Buddha, entirely covered in gold leaf. The huge feet are marvelously inlaid with mother-of-pearl with the 108 signs of the Buddha. Rama III is responsible for the construction of the reclining Buddha. The building housing the reclining Buddha is just barely big enough to hold the statue, which is why it is almost impossible to take any wide photographs of the whole thing.

Next to the Reclining Buddha wiharn is an enclosure holding the four largest of the temple’s 95 chedis. All of the chedi at Wat Po are square, rather than the round bell shape generally preferred at the time. They are decorated with ceramic tiles and three-dimensional ceramic pieces which form intricate floral patterns. The center of the three chedi in a line is the oldest, having been built by Rama I to hold a Buddha image bought from Ayuthaya. Later, Rama III built the chedi north of this to hold the ashes of Rama II, and the one to the south to hold his own remains. The fourth chedi was built by Rama IV for unknown purposes.

To get to the ubosot, the main building of the temple, you need to walk round to the south side of the cloister and enter through one of the doors on either side of the pavilion on that side. The cloister is a double-ringed affair housing nearly 400 Buddha images, with the ubosot in the middle.

Among the many other features, it is fascinating to see the traditional medical practitioners who still dispense treatment daily at the wat. Also the massage school is open to the public so you experience the pleasure of this art form. Remember that the early kings regarded the temple as the primary source of public education so objects were placed in the compound to instruct people. Many of these can still be seen today.

Thais can enter the complex without a fee but foreigners are charged 100 baht at booths just inside the north or south entrances. You can reach Wat Po by boat, bus or taxi. I like to take a river boat to the Tha Thien pier then walk through the market and up the short street.


For more information on Bangkok see Experience Thailand an ebook available at then search Len Rutledge.

New Bangkok Shopping App

Visitors travel from all over the world to shop in Bangkok. In recent years Bangkok has become the best place in Asia to shop. The choice is excellent, the prices good, and whether you want modern, air-conditioned malls, the hustle of its famous markets or the sophistication of its specialty shops, Bangkok has it all. The problem has been how to sort out where to go and what to buy. I hope that my new app, Bangkok Bargain Shopping, available for Android and iphone/ipad devices, has solved this problem.

During the writing process I investigated the highs and lows of Bangkok’s shopping options. The result is an app which gives shopping advice about costs and prices, bargaining, VAT refunds and getting around. It then details the things to buy and gives descriptions of the major shopping areas of the city. There are then details of 16 shopping malls, the best markets and some specialty shops which can complete your shopping experience.

Addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites are given and each location is shown on a series of maps. I believe that this truly is your perfect Bangkok shopping companion. It can save you a great amount of time and hundreds of dollars by showing you where to go and what to do. There are words, photographs, video and maps. As one regular Bangkok visitor put it, “We only wish we had this advice when we first went to Bangkok!”

If you are heading for Bangkok in the future you need this app. If you know someone who is going to Bangkok, make yourself a real friend by recommending this app to them, or better still, make a gift of it to them. The app is available from the app store (Apple) or Google Play (Android) or you can click on the logo on this page to get your copy immediately. It has been considerable work to put this together so I hope that everyone takes the time to explore all the many ins and outs of this app.


Point to Ponder:

Success is just a matter of luck. Ask any failure.



Two Bangkok sightseeing attractions

Bangkok is certainly not one of the world’s most beautiful cities but it must qualify as one of the world’s most exciting. A city that is flat, low-lying, polluted and crowded is unlikely to win any beauty contests. But if you add some of the world’s most enterprising and attractive people, a flamboyant architectural style, a diverse economy and a natural love of life, you will end up with variety, excitement and, believe it or not, style. That is Bangkok today.

Bangkok, known to the Thais as “Krungthep” (City of Angles), was established in 1782 by King Rama 1 as the capital of Siam. Since then, it has developed into a city of some 10 million with an intriguing mixture of East and West, the traditional and the modern. The city has a number of traditional tourist attractions that every visitor must see but you also need to wander down some back streets to see life as many Thais know it. Traditional pastimes and attitudes are very much part of many people’s lives. Here are two contrasting suggestions for all visitors to the city.

Jim Thompson’s House

I have been here at least six times and I never tire of the place. It really is something quite special. This was the home of Jim Thompson, an American architect who settled in Thailand after World War 11 and turned his energy to reinvigorating the Thai silk industry. His efforts were highly successful and in the process he made considerable profit. But he disappeared in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia under quite strange circumstances in 1967 and has never been seen since.

For his contribution to the development of the Thai Silk industry, Jim Thompson was awarded the Order of the White Elephant, a decoration bestowed upon foreigners for having rendered exceptional service to Thailand. Thompson’s success story in Thailand has become one of the most popular postwar legends of Asia.

Since his disappearance in 1967, little has changed in the home that was the ‘talk of the town’ and the ‘city’s most celebrated social center’. Even today, the charming Thai style house continues to be a key stop for visitors to Bangkok.

The house consists of a complex of six traditional Thai-style houses, teak structures that were purchased from several owners and brought to the present location from various parts of Thailand. Construction of the Thai house was completed in 1959.

The house is at the end of a narrow soi off Rama 1 Road (there is a sign post at this corner), in a small tranquil garden which is a world apart from Bangkok’s normal traffic and noise. The house is a great example of real tropical luxury. I would love to create such an atmosphere for myself. The house contains a splendid Asian art collection together with personal belongings from Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and China. The garden and its several buildings are also worth some of your time.

Inspection of the house is only by guided tour and this lasts about 30 minutes. The guide tells you about the objects in the house and shows how Thompson was able to improve the traditional Thai architecture in several ways. Afterwards you can wander the garden by yourself and visit the shop and restaurant. Opening hours are 09:00 to 17:00 everyday with the last guided tour at 17.00. Admission is 100 Bt for adults and 50Bt for students. The address is 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

This has been a Bangkok ‘must-see’ for years and it is still thriving. A few years ago a new air-conditioned high-rise building called JJ Plaza opened close by and although some stalls relocated there the old market is still operating and the adjacent Chatuchak Plaza still exists.

The scale of it is unbelievable. It covers 35 acres, contains more than 15 000 shops and stalls, and has over 200,000 visitors each weekend day. The range of products on sale is extensive, and includes household accessories, handicrafts, religious artifacts, art, antiques, live animals (which unfortunately are frequently caged in cruel conditions), books, music, clothes, food, plants and flowers etc.

Chatuchak has in theory been segregated into areas depending on the types of goods sold, and there are maps available for the market which detail the various sections. You’re as well to just forget them and just wander wherever takes your fancy, as it is an extremely disorientating place of many narrow alleys and trying to follow a map around can prove very frustrating.

Chatuchak always gets very hot and humid during the day, and it’s far from the most comfortable shopping experience but for most people the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Going early in the day when it is a bit cooler is recommended. When it becomes too much, head for the airconditioned JJ Plaza (but expect prices to be higher).

Bargaining is expected, if not mandatory, at Chatuchak and the prices are generally substantially cheaper than the shopping centers and street stalls on Silom and Sukhumvit. Chatuchak is a particularly good place to buy all sorts of Thai handicrafts, as there’s a huge range, and competition keeps the prices low. Be careful when buying antiques though, as a large majority of these are fake and telling the difference between the genuine and the copies can be extremely difficult. Genuine antiques require a permit to be taken out of the country.

The published opening hours for the market are from 9.00am to 6.00pm on Saturday and Sunday, though many of the stalls actually open sometime between 9 and 10 and close around sunset. Parts of Chatuchak open on Friday while JJ Plaza and Chatuchak Plaza are pretty much open every day.

The best way to get here is on the Skytrain to Mo Chit station which is only about five minutes walk away from the market or by underground to Kamphaeng Phet station which has an exit directly to the market. Take plenty of cash (but ATM’s are there), comfortable shoes, bag(s), a good sense of humour, and don’t forget to drink water.


Thought to Ponder

When reviewing her early years in Brooklyn, singing superstar Barbra Streisand said, “We were awfully poor, but we had a lot of things that money can’t buy — like unpaid bills.”


For more information on Thailand see Experience Thailand an ebook available at then search Len Rutledge.