(side note: Malaysia Airlines is amazing. Best airline food I've had, best service, best outfits, and very comfortable. They routed us through Kuala Lumpur actually, and since we booked 6 months in advance, there was (of course) a schedule change, so they ended up paying for one night's stay for us in KL. Fun!)
After KL, we flew into Phuket airport and hopped right onto the local, cheap but good Nok Airways to Bangkok for a 3-day stay.
We arrived at our super friendly, cute, and highly-recommended hostel, Niras Bankoc... after getting scammed by the taxicab driver (FYI: always pay the tolls yourself when the cab arrives at the toll booth, because you pay them in the end anyway, and if you wait to the end of the trip then the taxi driver might lie and try to confuse you about the total cab fare and cause a scene).
Anyway, Niras Bankoc hostel: Highly recommended, once again. Only a 20 minute walk from the "lively" Khao San Road (read: full of foreigners, street vendors trying to distract you with green laser beams and sell you something and random noisy chaos), and 20 minutes walk in another direction from all the main Wats (Buddhist temples), it was perfect. At one point, no less than 9 Americans teaching English in Japan were in the hostel lobby, which is hilarious considering the hotel only has 7 rooms (some of which are dorms).
DAY 1: Shopping Day
The first full day we spent shopping, since Bangkok is the place to do it. On advice from our hotel and our guide book, we went to MBK, a 7-floor mall with approximately a bazillion independent shops selling everything from electronics to clothes to food to decor (many of them selling the exact same thing at different prices). And all prices are highly negotiable.
A light dinner that night was at the infamous Chote Chitr. While not as hard to find as everyone says, the prices appear to have tripled since it acquired fame from a New Yorker article. It was empty when we arrived at 8pm, but that may have been due to our late night eating habits (or other foreigners' later night drinking habits. We had the banana flower salad (amazing) and some stir fried veggies. We decided that more filling things could be eaten at other, cheaper places.
We spent that evening wandering Khao San Road, eating in the street stalls, people-watching the other foreigners, and doing some more shopping. In the process, we discovered that you could buy many of the same things that were available at MBK but the starting and final (after negotiation) prices would be significantly lower on Khao San Road. We also got a 1 hour, full-body (naked!) oil massage for only 200 baht a person, which is a little less than $6. Needless to say, we took full advantage of this and got massages all three nights in Bangkok, twice at the fabulous Joe's House, located on a smaller street parallel to Khao San Rd. Truly, truly... Heaven.
DAY 2: Sightseeing Day (plus Christmas Eve)
The second full day was crazy hectic, but fun. We managed to visit the major Wats in Bangkok: Wat Sraket, Golden Mount, Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Kaew- home of the 'Emerald' Buddha, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Phra Chetuphon - home of the 46m Reclining Buddha.
Incredible Christmas Eve dinner view at Deck restaurant.
We ended our stay in Bangkok by going to a lady-boy cabaret show at Calypso Cabaret.