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Travel Guide Asia Thailand Bangkok

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Introduction

Bangkok Skyline

Bangkok Skyline

© All Rights Reserved Al Jam

In Thai, Bangkok is known as the "City of Angels", a name which may be a little misguided. Bangkok is the capital and largest city of Thailand, a magnetic and impressive city with many attractions for travellers. Bangkok offers a snap-shot of the cultural makeup of Thailand, since it is inhabited by people from throughout the country. It is possible to find food and goods from all over Thailand in Bangkok. Bangkok may not be the kind of city you'd fall in love with (it's very commercial), but it is an amazing city nonetheless.

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Neighbourhoods

Pat Pong

The most famous, or infamous, area in Bangkok is the Pat Pong area, which is heavily populated by lady boys. Lady boys are trans-gendered males who dress and act like girls. But other than that the small roadside stalls in Pat Pong are one of the best places to get a bargain on shirts, shoes and the like - just remember that most of the stuff is fake. This is also a dangerous area, with heavy mafia connection, so it's best to maintain a low profile and not to get into arguments with the stall owners.

Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit is both the business and the primary expat district of Bangkok. Filled with international restaurants, hotels, and markets, it is a great, though rather large, neighborhood to wander around. It also has some great, and some seedy, nighttime entertainment. It is more posh than other areas of the city, and can therefore be heavier on the wallet.

Khao San

Khao San is the backpacker's neighbourhood located near to the river, and the palace complexes in the centre. Filled with dingy backpackers accommodation and moderately-priced guesthouses, this is the place where most people begin and end their trip to Thailand. Loads of cheap street food and typical tourist market gear. Loads of travel companies, loads of tailor shops, loads of bars and restaurants. Loads of massage parlors. A fun time, but this is not the real Bangkok.

Other Neighbourhoods

  • Siam Square - The area around Siam Square, including Ratchaprasong and Phloen Chit Road, is Bangkok's modern commercial core, full of glitzy malls and hotels. The Skytrain intersection at Siam Square is the closest thing Bangkok has to a centre.
  • Rattanakosin - Between the river and Sukhumvit lies the densely packed "Old Bangkok", home to Bangkok's best-known sights, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

Yaowarat and Phahurat - Along Yaowarat Road you will find Bangkok's Chinatown, while Phahurat Road is the home of the city's sizeable Indian community. This multicultural district is filled with temples, shrines, seafood restaurants and street markets.

  • Dusit - This leafy, European-style area is the political centre of Thailand, home to numerous political institutions and the monarchy. Its breezy palaces, lush gardens and broad avenues give this district its distinct character.
  • Thonburi - The quieter west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Most visitors explore this district with a canal tour, at least taking in Wat Arun, the Royal Barges National Museum and one of the floating markets.
  • Pratunam - Pratunam is a large garment market with hundreds of fashion stores selling both retail and wholesale. It also includes Baiyoke Tower II and Victory Monument.
  • Phahonyothin - The area around Phahonyothin Road and Viphavadi Rangsit Road is a large suburb in northern Bangkok. In weekends, it is the best place to go hunting for bargains. The Chatuchak Weekend Market has more than 8,000 stalls selling anything and everything under the sun.
  • Ratchadaphisek - Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek Road has developed into an entertainment mecca for the locals. The sois, (side streets off busy main roads of "Ratchada" are popular clubbing spots, as is Royal City Avenue (RCA).
  • Ramkhamhaeng - Along Ramkhamhaeng Road lies a vast residential area with big shopping malls and amusement parks (like Safari World). Each neighbourhood has its own distinct character, but Hua Mak and Bang Kapi stand out as lively areas with many students from the universities.

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Sights and Activities

Temples

Bangkok Grand Palace

Bangkok Grand Palace

© All Rights Reserved ashrash

The temples in the centre of town are worth visiting to admire the intricate way in which they were built. Remember to comply with the dresscode, that comes with visiting temples. In the bigger temples, clothes can be rented.

Wat Phrakaew and Grand Palace

In the middle of the centre of Bangkok you will find the complex of temples of Wat Phrakaew. It includes the temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most important Buddha statue in Thailand. You will also find many other temples, spires and pieces of art. The Grand Palace that is also located within the complex is nowadays only used for ceremonial purposes.

Reclining Buddha and the temple complex of Wat Pho

The Reclining Buddha is the most famous and largest statue that can be found in Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn temple complex, which is more familiar under the much shorter name of Wat Pho. The complex houses over a thousand images of Buddha and is considered to be the birthplace of the traditional Thai Massage. The statue of the reclining Buddha is painted with gold plating. The soles of the feet are decorated with 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha made out of mother of pearl in Thai and Chinese styles.

Wat Arun

The temple complex of Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. The most eye catching feature of the temple is the central prang in the Khmer style. You can climb the steep stairs of the prang to get a great view of Central Bangkok and the river. Most people arrive by boat, crossing the river after seeing the other main temples. Make sure to take a little bit more time to also see the rest of the complex before heading back to the east bank. The prangs are being renovated at the moment.

Jim Thompson's House

Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur who mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia in 1967. His teak home has been converted into an interesting museum and is open daily. Admission is 100 Baht.

Klong tour

Hire a longtail boat for a fascinating tour along the Klongs (canals) and see how many Bangkok people still live.

Safari World

Safari World is the open zoo and it has two parts. The first part comprises looking at the animals in the wild from special buses but one can only stay in the bus and look at the wild animals from giraffes to lions to hippos to a lot of other species. The other part is about special performances by the animals which have been domesticated. The shows include the dolphin show, the parrot show, elephant and the snake show. Besides there are also some performances like the Wild West Show and a show inspired from the James Bond movie. The performers do a good job with the audience truly involved. You have to devote an entire day or at least half a day for the Safari World.

Crocodile farm

The crocodile farm is also a treat where one can see live crocodiles playing with their handlers from close range.

Cycle tours

A number of company's are running cycle tours. These are a great way to meet people, and see the city in a way not many others would, and places not many other tourists would venture. A nice cycle tour company is Follow Me Bike Tours that offers cycling tours through China Town and the Green Lung.

Parks

If the concrete jungle get too much for you, and you want to escape, there are a couple of options:

  • Lumphini Park (Silom or Lumphini MRT station), is a nice wooded area, with a couple of ponds. It has several options for jogging and cycling, or just relaxing away from the traffic. If you are Lucky you can spot one of the dragons that live in the ponds.
  • The Dusit Palace Gardens and the closeby Bangkok Zoo are located north of the city centre.
  • Wachira Park close to the Chatuchak weekend Market is a good place to relax when your shopping is done at the market.

Shopping

Bangkok has lots of shopping malls:

  • The most famous is the MBK found at the crossing of Rama I and Phaya Thai street. It host many of the larger brands, but also a lot of of little shops. You can also go here to eat as there is a great food court in the mall.
  • Adjacent to it is Tokyu -Both can be reached via the sky train so not a problem in terms of transportation. MBK is the place where most of the stuff is copied or just own designer labels so it’s a bit cheap but the quality of the goods is a lot better than those bought from the street but Tokyu is the branded one. It’s a bit more expensive than MBK.
  • The Chatuchak Market - also called the weekend market, which is supposed to be the biggest of its kind, is a place worth paying a visit to, especially on the weekend. You can get there directly via the sky train. It's a shopper’s paradise, especially for those people looking for some authentic Thai stuff to decorate their houses. There are wooden goods of a far greater quality than what is generally available in the rest of the city and the things are cheap as well. Mind your wallet though as pickpockets and scammers know this is a tourist favourite.
  • The Suan Laum night bazaar is a place for the night. Here you can see a fight of Muay Thai and enjoy the night as well as do some shopping and indulge in local Thai food. The atmosphere here is one of resigned friendliness. A lot of tourists come here through booked tours, but it's pretty easy to come on your own account and save some money.
Fruit Vendors at Damnoen Sadouak

Fruit Vendors at Damnoen Sadouak

© All Rights Reserved BramRamaut

  • The Floating Market is a market on the river. The growers come to sell their stuff in long boats which are powered by small engines. They have tasty coconut juice here, as well as some souvenir shops, but you have to bargain a lot if you want it at the right price because the place is too touristy.

Here are some of the other great places to shop in Bangkok:

  • The Gaysorn Shopping Center - located on the legendary Ratchaprasong shopping district.
  • Platinum Mall
  • Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery - close to the MBK Center.
  • Emporium
  • Pantip Plaza - Known for computer hardware and software-copies. The authorities have tried to get rid of the copying-industry but without big success. You should however keep a low profile if you are looking for copies since the ships do still run a risk by selling it.

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Events and Festivals

Songkran

Probably one of the best festivals worldwide, Songkran is the ultimate water fight. For three days every April, residents young and old crowd the streets to throw water at one another. Some do it from the back of pickup trucks plying the roads, but most wander the districts of Silom or Khao San shooting water guns at one another. Sometimes you get a bit of clay smudged along your clothing and face. A lot of alcohol is drunk by most, loud music blasts from invisible speakers, and going outside without getting wet is impossible.

Loi Krathong

Loi Krathong is a beautiful, more quiet festival in November. Celebrating the water spirits, in the evening of this festival, people light candles on floating containers made out of bread or styrofoam and decorated with flowers, and send the floating decorations out into rivers. It's beautiful to see thousands of tiny fires floating out to sea, and the locals will often let foreigners light their containers and send them off.

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Weather

Although Thailand has 3 seasons (hot, rainy and warm/dry), Bangkok tends to have only two. These two seasons are the hot and then the rainy season because it is normally only pleasantly warm in Bangkok for about a few weeks or so per year during December/January. The heat builds up after January and around May it is possible to experience a temperature above 40 °C and a humidity close to 100%. The rainy season normally starts in June. The rainy season does not mean that the rain is pouring down all day long but is normally restricted to a heavy shower once a day. Sometimes the rain persists for hours and the enormous amount of rainwater is not able to escape in the sours so floods are not uncommon in Bangkok during the rainy season. The rain cools down the air somewhat, but the humidity is still very high. The warm/dry season ought to start around October but as mentioned above, Bangkokians do not perceive this season as anything different from the hot and dry season. Even during the dry season it is not uncommon that Bangkok receives a shower once in a while but it rarely leads to floods.

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Getting There

Buddha

Buddha

© All Rights Reserved Degolasse

By Plane

Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is the main airport in Bangkok. Located about 25 kilometres east of downton Bangkok, it opened in september 2006 for most domestic and all international flights. It is one of the busiest airports in Asia and has connections to many intercontinental destinations, as well as hundreds of flights in Asia. Although it has only 1 terminal, it's the 4th largest in the world, after Dubai, Beijing and Hong Kong. Several budget airlines, such as Air Asia, operate from here making for cheap flights. There are even IATA agents in the airport that can easily arrange tickets to cities in Thailand or neighboring countries day of if necessary. There are several public buses that go to and from the airport all over the city. If you take a taxi the cost should be between 300-400 bhat plus a 50 bhat surcharge. Some of the main destinations from Bangkok include London, Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney, Tokyo, Berlin, Beijing, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Vienna, Hanoi, Rome, Hong Kong, Dubai, Jakarta, Bahrain, Tel Aviv, Delhi, Singapore, Melbourne, Frankfurt, Kathmandu, Phnom Penh, Zürich, Auckland and Istanbul.

Major carriers that fly to Bangkok include:

Don Muang Airport (DMK) is the old airport in Bangkok. Currently only Thai Airway non-connection domestic flights, Nok Air domestic flights and One-Two-Go domestic are using this airport. Right now metered taxi is the only way to get to and from the airport.

From the Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok:

  • The 28.6-kilometre-long Suvarnabhumi Airport Link will open in August 2010. The airport express, informally known as the Pink Line and operated jointly with SRT's planned Red Line commuter service, will connect with the BTS Sukhumvit Line (Green Line, Route 1) and MRT Blue Line at Phaya Thai and Phetchaburi stations respectively, offering airport-bound passengers a fast 15-minute limited stop journey from the city.
  • Meanwhile, SRT provides a suburban commuter train service between Hua Takhe (the nearest station to Suvarnabhumi on the East line) and the northern suburban city of Rangsit via downtown Bangkok and the old Don Mueang Airport. The train also connects with BTS and MRT at Phaya Thai and Phetchaburi stations respectively. Passengers pay a flat fare of 30 Baht. The service will be stopped when the Airport Express Link is completed.
  • At the airport, go downstairs and outside. Buy a ticket for the tourist bus (operated by Airport Express), to the Khao San Road. Ticket cost: 150 Bahts. Children free.
  • The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority operates regular bus routes from the airport to Bangkok. To catch the regular bus, you need to take a free shuttle at the 2nd floor of the airport to the domestic airport. Ticket cost: 34 Baht. Children free.
  • Long distance bus services include regular buses to both Pattaya and Nong Khai.
  • Taxi from airport - Don't hire the taxis inside the airport. They are more expensive than the ones outside. Go down stairs and outside. Ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter, or else it will cost more. The taxi cost to the Khao San Road is less than 500 Bahts. There is also a limousine service.

By Train

The girl on the boat

The girl on the boat

© All Rights Reserved Makini

Bangkok - Malaysia - Singapore
Although technically only the famous (and expensive!) Orient Express travels directly between Bangkok and Singapore once a week, travelling by train between these two destinations is a blessing and much more comfortable than taking the bus again. You have to break up your journey at least once in Butterworth from where there are ferries to the island of Penang.
From Singapore there is one daily train to Butterworth, where you have to spend the night, before travelling to the southern Thai city of Hat Yai, where you have to change trains again for Bangkok. Between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur there are 3 trains a day, one of which is a sleeper train. It takes 6.5 hours during the day and 9 hours for the sleeper.
In the other direction, strangely enough, the train from Bangkok travels directly to Butterworth in Malaysia. From here there are 2 daily trains and 1 night train to Kuala Lumpur, with onward connection to Singapore again 3 times a day, of which one is a sleeper.

By Car

Getting into Bangkok by car is not a good idea, as you can easily waste half a day waiting in traffic just to get to the other side of the city. Three major highways lead to Bangkok from every direction in Thailand. The best way to get to Bangkok from Northern Thailand is via Phahonyothin Road (Rte 1), which comes from Mae Sai near the Myanmar border. Sukhumvit Road (Rte 3) comes from cities in Eastern Thailand, such as Trat, Pattaya, and Chonburi. Phetkasem Road (Rte 4), one of the longest roads in the world, extends all the way to the Malaysian border, serving Southern Thailand.

To ease congestion on these highways, a new system of motorways has emerged which will be extended in the future. The New Bangkok-Chonburi Motorway (Motorway 7) connects Chonburi and Pattaya. The Kanchanaphisek National Highway (Motorway 9 or "Outer Ring Road") makes a giant loop around Bangkok serving most satellite towns around it such as Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan.

By Bus

Buses connect Bangkok with almost any major Thai city, including regular connections to Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Ayyutaya, Phitsanoluk, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and cities in the northeast of the country. There are also minibuses, they arrive and leave from Victory Monument. They depart when full, usually each 10–30 minutes. Fare is usually similar to long-distance buses with the same destination (if there are any). Other way, it could be estimated as 1 baht/km.

Some useful destinations: Ayutthaya (around 70 baht), Lopburi, Nava Nakorn (50 baht, for Don Mueang Airport or to get out along hwy 1 for hitching to the north/northeast), Min Buri (around 30 baht, for Siam Park), Suvarnabhumi Airport (40 baht), Pattaya (130 baht), Rayong, Ban Phe (for Ko Samet), Chanthaburi, Kanchanaburi, Phra Ram 2 (to the highway, for hitching to southern Thailand), Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Phetchaburi, Hua Hin. Destinations are written on the front and the side of the minibuses in Thai, so you should ask drivers or ticket sellers about your destination. Minivans are usually the fastest way of transportation because they take elevated expressways right from Victory Monument, thus avoiding traffic jams. Another advantage is that they start from the city centre of Bangkok and usually arrive at the city centre of their destination. Normal long distance buses sometimes stop further away from the city centre. Minibus drivers used to drive at very high speed, though 2012 there was a government campaign to enforce speed limits for them, after a few major accidents. A disadvantage of minibuses is that leg room is limited, and might be not comfortable for tall people.

By Boat

Not many people come to Bangkok by boat, but there are some cruise ships that berth at the city. Large ships must dock at Laem Chabang Port, about 90 minutes southeast of Bangkok and about 30 minutes north of Pattaya. A taxi service desk is available on the wharf, but charges extortionate prices for a trip to Bangkok, a whopping 2,600 baht to charter a taxi (4 passengers), or about 5,000 baht to charter a minibus (usually 11 passenger seats). Slightly lower prices can be found by walking out to the main road, about 4,000 baht for a minibus, but even these rates are still almost double the typical rate in the opposite direction.

Smaller ships may dock further upriver at Khlong Toei Port, close to Bangkok's city centre. A modest terminal provides processing for passengers (who may receive Thai customs and immigration processing on-board), as well as offering "managers" who arrange tours and taxis. Reaching major hotels and other points of interest is much cheaper than from Laem Chabang, but can vary according to the passenger's negotiating skills. The facility is not close to the MRT stop of Khlong Toei, so the best way to get there is by metered taxi.

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Getting Around

If you need to cover short distances, you can hire the three wheeled tuk tuk. Be aware that people have been mugged by tuk tuk drivers before, so make sure your driver is taking you to the right place.

By Car

Bangkok is notorious for its massive traffic jams, and rightly so. In addition, traffic is chaotic and motorcyclists seemingly suicidal. Therefore, most tourists consider driving in Bangkok a nightmare, and it is recommended that you stick to public transport. However, the proliferation of massive shopping malls means that there are now places where to park if you must drive into town. Smartphones with GPS and navigation apps with voice directions make it easier to find your way.

Metered taxis are a quick and comfortable way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way, but be warned that Bangkok taxi drivers are notorious for finding ways to run up the fare; insist that the meter is used, and if the driver claims that your destination is closed, that he doesn't know where it is, or if he tries to take you elsewhere, just get out of the taxi. All taxis are now metered and air-conditioned: the hailing fee is 35 baht and most trips within the city cost less than 100 baht. There are no surcharges (except from the airport), even at night; don't believe drivers who try to tell you otherwise. A red sign on the front window, if lit, means that the taxi is available.

By Public Transport

You can use public bus service operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority. Also check this Interactive Bus Map to get around the city. The Bangkok Metro System and the BTS Skytrain provide fast and frequent services.

The Skytrain covers most of downtown and is especially convenient for visiting Siam Square. There are two lines: the light green Sukhumvit Line travels along Sukhumvit Road, Siam Square and then follows Phahonyothin Road up north, where it terminates at Mo Chit (N8), near the Chatuchak Weekend Market. The dark green Silom Line starts in Petchkasem Road (Bang Wa Station, S12), passes the Express Boat pier at Saphan Taksin (S6), goes through the Silom area and ends at National Stadium (W1), right next to MBK Center. Both lines come together at Siam (CEN), where you can interchange between them. Unfortunately, there is no station near Khao San Road, but you can take the Express Boat from Phra Arthit Pier to Sathorn Pier, where you can switch onto the Skytrain.

You must have 5 or 10 baht coins to purchase Skytrain tickets from vending machines, so hold on to them. At some stations there is a single touchscreen machine that will accept 20, 50 and 100 baht notes, but there is often a queue to use it. Fares range from 15 to 55 baht depending upon how many zones you are travelling. Consult the map (in English) near each ticket machine. If you do not have coins, queue for change from the staff at the booth. If you are in town for several days (or will make several visits during the next 30 days), weigh your options and consider a rechargeable stored-value card (from 100 baht, with a 30 baht refundable deposit and a 30 baht non-refundable card cost), a "ride all you like" tourist pass (from 120 baht per day) or a multiple ride pass of 20 trips or more to any zone (15 trips cost 345 baht, 25 trips cost 550 baht; plus a 30 baht refundable deposit for a rechargeable card that is valid for 5 years). They will certainly save you time, scrambling for coins, and maybe even money. Check for information with the English speaking staff.

The MRT finally opened in July 2004. For now there is only one line, the Blue Line that connects the central Hualamphong Train Station (1) to the northern Bang Sue Train Station (18), running through Silom, Sukhumvit, Ratchadaphisek and areas around Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin. There are interchanges to the Skytrain at Si Lom (3), Sukhumvit (7) and Chatuchak Park (16) stations.

Tourists do not use the metro as much as the Skytrain, but there are some useful stops. The terminus at Hua Lamphong (1) provides a good access to Yaowarat. If you're going to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, don't get out at Chatuchak Park, but go one stop further to Kamphaeng Phet (17) as it drops you right inside the market.

Metro tickets are not interchangeable with Skytrain tickets. Fares range from 16 to 40 baht and are based on distance; pre-paid cards of up to 1,000 baht are also available. For single ride fares, a round plastic token is used. It is electronic: simply wave it by the scanner to enter; deposit it in a slot by the exit gate leave.

By Boat

A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist's agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, basically an aquatic bus cruising up and down the river. The basic service goes from Wat Rajsingkorn (S4) all the way north to Nonthaburi (N30), with stops at most of Rattanakosin's major attractions including the Grand Palace (at Tha Chang) and Wat Pho (at Tha Tien). The closest pier to Khao San Road is Phra Arthit. Enter the express boat at the numerous piers and pay the conductor for the trip. She will approach you bearing a long metal ticket dispenser. At some bigger piers you can buy the ticket before boarding. When the metal cylinder lady approaches you, just show her the ticket you bought on the pier.

The Saen Saep Express Boat serves the long Saen Saep Canal, one of the remaining canals (khlong) that used to flow through Bangkok. Mostly used by locals to commute to work, the service is cheap and you get to see the "backside" of the neighbourhoods, so to speak. Also, It is immune to Bangkok's notorious traffic jams. The total distance is 18 kilometres, and the service operates from 05:30am to 8:30pm.

Finally, for trips outside set routes, you can hire a long-tail river taxi at any major pier. These are fairly expensive and will attempt to charge as much as 500 baht/hr, but with some haggling they may be suitable for small groups. To circumvent the mafia-like touts who attempt to get a large cut for every ride, agree for the price of the shortest possible ride (30 minutes), then negotiate directly with the captain when on board.

By Foot

Many of Bangkok's main attractions are within 5 kilometres from Siam Square. Walking long distances in hot weather along busy streets can be exhausting, but is a good way to get to see the city up close. Just drink plenty of water and watch out for uneven surfaces and motorcyclists. Food leftovers and the occasional surprises left by stray animals are other reasons to look where you're going. Be careful when crossing the road, even if you have a green light. Drivers turning left on red often do so without indicators and without yielding to pedestrians. Drivers will not stop or slow down at crosswalks without traffic lights. When waiting to cross at major intersections with rounded corners, stand well away from the road, as turning motorcyclists may lean over the curb in order to squeeze past other vehicles. Always use pedestrian overpasses when available. Expect to be accosted by taxi and tuk-tuk drivers and hustlers demanding to know where you're going, insisting that there is nothing to see ahead, and attempting to usher you to various businesses. Most will quickly move on to their next mark if ignored or firmly dismissed.

By Bike

Although not recommended, there are some options and several companies offer tours.

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Eat

Damnensaduak Floating Market

Damnensaduak Floating Market

© All Rights Reserved weg1980

All kinds of foods are available in Bangkok and Thais loves to eat. Local food from all over Thailand can be obtained here and it is also possible to find Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese and Western food. Food can be very cheap with a bowl of noodles for just 25 baht (approximately US$1 US) from a street stall. Many restaurants offer main courses for around 100 baht per dish and it is normally possible to find at least one waiter or waitress who is able to speak English. But it is also possible to find more expensive restaurants which are more exclusively decorated and have fine service. Almost every shopping centre in Bangkok also has a food centre. Here it is quite common to buy coupons upon entry, and then choose between the food in small stalls along the walls. The food and drink are paid for with the coupons and if any coupons remains you can exchange them for money upon exit. The more expensive shopping centres tend to have more sophisticated (and more expensive) food too. Thai people like to eat spicy food (spicy=phet) and add chilli to almost anything. However, they are aware that most Westerners prefer non-spicy food and you will often not get any bad surprises except if you order spicy food, which actually means really spicy!

Besides ordinary food, it is possible to buy all kinds of snacks and fruits in the streets and shopping centres of Bangkok. Grilled chicken, beef, pork and banana are very common snacks and if you choose some of the meat you should also order a bag of sticky rice. One stick of pork or beef normally costs 5-10 baht, while chicken is more expensive simply because it is bigger. Strange snacks can also be found in some parts of Bangkok, including Khao San Road. This can be as strange as fried insects of all kinds: grasshoppers, worms, bills and so on. But don't get scared by the looks of it; most of it just tastes like french fries so it is worth trying.

Best Thai Food to try:

  • Bamee haeng - dry, fried noodles
  • Tom yung koong - spicy and sour soup with shrimp
  • Yum blah dook foo - deep fried breaded fish salad

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Drink

Water is a very essential drink in Bangkok, as well as in the rest of Thailand simply because of the heat. Drinking water can be bought from 5 baht and up per litre. In addition to this you can buy soft drinks like Coke and Fanta at many places for just 10 baht. Normally the bottle will be emptied in a small plastic bag and ice will be added. This way you can walk around with your soft drink without worrying what to do with the empty bottle after finishing your drink. Beer is also very common and the most common are Singha and Chang, which are normally served with ice in restaurants. It is also possible to buy beer in supermarkets and smaller shops and they cost around 25-30 baht for a small bottle and 40-45 baht for at big bottle. In addition to this it is possible to buy iced tea and coffee from street stalls and supermarkets as well as energizer drinks. Fruit juices of various kinds are also quite common and sometimes it is possible to find fresh sugarcane juice as well.

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Sleep

Khao San Road by day 1

Khao San Road by day 1

© All Rights Reserved Wardsan

View our map of accommodation in Bangkok or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com
  • The Silom area is famous for the fact that most of the South East Asians live and work there. It is the business district.
  • Khao San Road on the other hand is a totally different spot. It’s the hub of backpackers visiting Bangkok. This is the place where all the cheap accommodation is available. The place is also littered with a lot of bars and other hangout places, but the activity doesn't start till night falls.
  • The Soi Rambuttri area is a slightly more sedate alternative to Khao San Road. There are many budget options along Soi Rambuttri itself, as well as cafes and restaurants.
  • Sukhumvit road is another area that offers backpackers another option in a more central location of Bangkok with more options for public transport (like the Sky-Train, subway and canals).

Budget

  • Khaosan Rainbow Hostel & Guesthouse - 43 Thanon Chakrabongse, Bangkok, กรุงเทพมหานคร 10200, Thailand, (+66) (0)2-280 6648 mailto: reservations@khaosanhostel.net. Budget hostel in Khaosan Road area of Bangkok. Only 20 meters from Airport Express AE2 bus stop. Aircon Dorm beds 150THB per night, private rooms cost more. Has Indian restaurant, free Wifi throughout the building, and each guest gets their own steel security locker that they can use their own padlock on. Private rooms in the front of the building are near to Gazebo Bar, so they can be loud, but the dorm rooms are generally ok.
  • Soi 1 Guesthouse - 220/7 Sukhumvit Soi 1, (+66) 2-655-0604 mailto:soi1guesthouse@hotmail.com. Budget hostel with a social atmosphere and guest-friendly management. Bar, pool table, internet (1 baht/min) and free wi-fi. All rooms have air-con and cost 350 per person per bed.
  • Sawasdee Smile Inn - 35 Soi Rongmai, Chao Fa Road, Phranakorn, Bangkok, +66 (0) 2 256-0890-2 mailto: info@sawasdee-hotels.com. Sawasdee Smile Inn is located on Soi Rongmai which is just a walking distance from the famous Khao San Road.
  • Sawasdee Welcome Inn, 5-7 Soi Rongmai, Chao Fa Road, Phranakorn, Bangkok 10200, +66 (0) 2 629-2321, +66 (0) 2 282-3747 mailto: info@sawasdee-hotels.com. Sawasdee Welcome Inn offers you a suitable accommodation that goes easy on your budget from dormitory bed, private rooms with shared or private bathrooms, satellite cable TV, hot water and even air-conditioned room. It is located very near to its sister hotel Sawasdee Smile Inn.
  • Sawasdee Krungthep Inn - 30 Rambuttri Road, Phranakorn, Bangkok 10200, +66 (0) 2 629-0079, +66 (0) 2 282-1881 mailto: info@sawasdee-hotels.com. This small modern and conveniently located hotel offers you a clean and comfortable room featuring Air-conditioner, Cable TV, Hot water etc.
  • Sawasdee Bangkok Inn - 126/2 Khaosan Road, Banglamphu, Phranakorn, Bangkok 10200, +66 (0) 2 280-1251, + 66 (0) 2 282-1880 mailto: info@sawasdee-hotels.com. Most of the guests enjoy the unique colonial architecture and the charm of the old Siam. The rooms had been decorated with the antique teakwood and inviting colours, reflect a bygone era in Thailand.
  • Sawasdee Banglumpoo Inn - 162 Khaosan Road, Banglamphu, Phranakorn, Bangkok, +66 (0) 2 282-3748, +66 (0) 2 629-2526 mailto: info@sawasdee-hotels.com. Sawasdee Banglumpoo Inn offers a quiet and friendly atmosphere with a modern Thai-Style accommodation.

Mid-Range

  • Furama Xclusive Asoke-Sukhumvit - 133/2 Sukhumvit Soi 21, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand, (66) 2 677 8484, mailto: fxasoke@furama.com. The hotel is located within a walking distance to the Asoke BTS and Sukhumvit MRT Stations. Rooms are complete with air-conditioning, coffee & tea making facilities, daily newspaper, IDD phones, iron & ironing board, minibar with refrigerator, safe deposit, sofa, working desk, a 29-inch LCD television with satellite channels and a DVD Player.
  • I-Residence Bangkok - Narathiwat Rachanakarin Road, Soi 3, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, +66(0)2 2679700-3 mailto: rsvn-ires@ihotelresort.com. I-Residence is located right in the busy commercial area in front of the Chong Nongsi BTS Station and just a few minutes from major shopping center. Free Boardband Internet Access in all Guest Rooms.

Upscale

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Work

Many Bangkok expats are working as English teachers. Though some have actual teaching degrees and can thus work in the better-paying International Schools, even people with unrelated university education can easily get a job teaching English. Your remuneration package will generally be better if you sign a contract while still abroad, but more options present themselves if actually in the country for interviews. In the past, even people without a college education could teach in Bangkok, but the government is making this more and more difficult.

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Learn

Thai cuisine is a favourite of many, and plenty of cooking schools provide half-day classes that provide a nice break from the day-to-day sightseeing monotony. Silom and Khao San Road particularly have some of the better-known Thai cooking schools.

Meditation, the essence of 'pure' Buddhism, can be practised at any temple in Thailand. In addition, there are centres in Bangkok that cater specifically to foreigners wishing to learn and practise. The International Buddhist Meditation Centre inside Wat Mahathat in Rattanakosin provides free meditation classes three times a day. If you can understand Thai well enough, you may wish to go on your own retreat at a quiet temple on the outskirts of Bangkok. To pay for your stay, it is appreciated that you assist the resident monks on their morning alms rounds.

The Wat Pho temple in Rattanakosin offers well-regarded Thai massage courses. They are used to conducting classes in English.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are countless internet bars across the country in big and small towns. Internet cafés are widespread and most are inexpensive. Prices as low as 15 baht/hour are commonplace, and speed of connection is generally reasonable, but many cafes close at midnight. Higher prices prevail in major package-tourist destinations (60 baht/hour is typical, 120 baht/hour is not unusual). Keyloggers are all too often installed on the computers in cheap cafes, so be on your guard if using online banking, stock broking or even PayPal. Remember that in the smaller towns and more traditional areas the owners and staff of internet bars prefer if customers take off their shoes at the entrance and leave them outside. This might seem strange although this gesture goes a far way to make friends and give a positive image of foreigners to Thai people.

Outside the most competitive tourist areas, free Wi-Fi is not as common as in neighbouring countries in many budget hotels and guesthouses and they may charge small fee for Internet by LAN or Wi-Fi even if you bring your own laptop. Wi-Fi is commonly available in cafes and restaurants serving Westerners.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international code for Thailand is 66. 999 connects to all emergency services. Standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. 911 for Tourist Police Department, English available.

For mobile phone users, Thailand has three GSM mobile service providers - AIS, DTAC and Truemove - which may be useful if you have a mobile phone that will work on either one or both of the GSM 900 or 1800 frequency bands (consult your phone's technical specifications). If you have one, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for any of the Thai carriers in any convenience store for as little as 50-200 baht and charge it up as you go. Using your own mobile phone while on holiday with a Thai pre-paid SIM card can save a lot of money and lets you give your number to family back home, so they can have an emergency contact number.

Post

Thailand Post is the Thai postal service that deals with all local and international mail in Thailand. The business is operated from local post offices. Post offices are easy to recognise with their red white and blue motifs and the words 'Thailand Post' in English and Thai above the entrance. They are open from Monday to Saturday, usually 8:30am to 4:30pm (main ones until around 8:00pm), though keeping shorter hours on Saturdays (usually until 1:00pm). They are generally closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Each post office offers a comprehensive service which includes an Express Mail Service (EMS) and parcel post. They also have a price calculator for letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. They also have a track and trace system and money transfer services. If you want to send packages, it might be a good idea to check with private courier companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, as they are fast, reliable and generally quite competitively priced.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 13.757327
  • Longitude: 100.502008

Accommodation in Bangkok

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Bangkok searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Bangkok and areas nearby.

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Bangkok Travel Helpers

  • RenaeLindsay

    I've live in Bangkok, Thailand where I have an apartment. This is an amazing city that everyone in the world should visit. The people are the most impressive and the food is amazing.

    Ask RenaeLindsay a question about Bangkok

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