Bangkok Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 26, 2019

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and the country’s most populated city. Located next to the Chao Phraya River in central Thailand, Bangkok is also one of the biggest cities in south-east Asia. 20.2 million tourists visited Bangkok in 2017, making it the world’s most popular city for international tourists according to Mastercard's annual list of most-traveled to cities, which looks at visitor volume and spending. London came 2nd, followed by Paris, Dubai, Singapore, and New York City in the top 10 list.

Bangkok has a rich history. Its roots can be traced back to the days of the 15th century when it was just a small trading post in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. But the city grew quickly, and eventually played a key role in the modernization of Siam, renamed Thailand later in the 19th century. Bangkok now stands at the center of Thailand’s economy, politics, media, education, and modern society.

There is a lot to see and do in Bangkok. You can see famous shrines and temples, ride the tuk-tuk, try the famous street food of Bangkok, get a traditional Thai massage, do a canal cruise, visit the huge Sea Life aquarium and Madame Tussauds, and shop at the many street markets and night markets.

Sukhumvit, Siam, Pratunam, Silom, Chinatown, and Khao San Road are some of the most popular neighborhoods in Bangkok for tourists.

Bangkok’s full name is “Krung thep mahanakhon amorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok popnoparat ratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit”. The Guinness Book of Records ranks this as the world's longest location name. In English this stands for – “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayutthaya of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn”.

Top 10 Quick Facts About Bangkok City

  1. Capital of the Kingdom of Thailand, and the country’s most populated city
  2. Bangkok is world’s most popular city for international tourists
  3. Travel + Leisure magazine rates Bangkok as the “World’s Best City”
  4. Population - 8,280,925 (2010 census)
  5. Time Zone - ICT (UTC+07:00)
  6. Official Language – Thai. It is also the most spoken language
  7. Baht – The currency of Thailand and Bangkok
  8. Airports - Suvarnabhumi and the Don Mueang International Airport
  9. Extensive railway network – SRT, BTS, MRT, and the Airport Link
  10. Water Transport – Chao Phraya boat service, water taxis

Top Reasons To Visit Bangkok

  • Old and the young together – See ancient temples, palaces and pagodas side by side some of South Asia’s tallest skyscrapers, huge shopping malls.
  • The Riverfront – Picturesque riverfront of the Chao Phraya, dinner cruises, tourist boats, rice barge trip, romantic and authentic canal rides. Asiatique, the upscale mall.
  • Vibrant Nightlife – Top nightlife destination. Night clubs, Go-Go bars, shows. Muay Thai (Thai boxing), rooftop dining, Calypso Cabaret, Lady Boy shows, clubbing, Ruen Thep Thai theatre, and jazz nights. Patpong, Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza.
  • Thai Food – Some of the best in the world. Pad Thai, Som Tam, Khao Pad, Pla Pao, Pad krapao Moo, and more. Visit Chinatown, Silom Road, the Victory Monument area.
  • Shopping – From modern high-end malls to traditional Thai experiences… Siam Discovery, MBK, Pak Klong Talat Flower Market, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Rot Fai Market, Asiatique, and more.
  • Relaxing – Get a traditional Thai massage at the many parlors, or a little more adult experience.
  • Modern infrastructure – Multi-lane wide roads, BTS, MRT, river taxi service, motorbike taxi, and the old-fashioned vintage Tuk Tuk.
  • Getaway – North Thailand, the South, West or East. Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Pattaya, Ko Samet, Phuket, Krabi.

First Time in Bangkok

The first time in Bangkok can come as a surprise. It is hot, crowded, chaotic, but always full of energy and thrills. There are plenty to see and do, so you will always be busy. Every day can give you a new experience.

Most international tourists arrive at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is large, swanky, and very impressive. You will find shops, money exchange, tourism desks, and ATMs inside. There are moving walkways. Just follow the blue ‘immigration’ signs. Luggage carts are free.

There is a second airport, the Don Mueang International Airport, which is smaller in size. Don Mueang is mostly a hub for non-frills, cheaper, and domestic airlines.

There is a lot of sightseeing in Bangkok, places to eat, and shopping areas. In fact, there is so much to see and do in the city that one visit is never enough. There are dizzying contradictions too – upscale places to eat and restaurants in Bangkok and street-side vendors, red-light areas and temples, busy streets and languid canals, traditional Thai homes and chic hotels – you will find them side by side here. The city is a blend of new and old. Bangkok never fails to impress tourists.

Airports in Bangkok

There are 2 airports in the city –

  1. Suvarnabhumi Airport
  2. Don Mueang Airport

Suvarnabhumi Airport

This is the main airport in Bangkok, and also one of the busiest in Southeast Asia. There is just a single terminal building for both domestic and international airlines. The processing time can be lengthy so you need to get in early. The Airport Rail Link is at the basement level connecting the downtown. Take the train to avoid the famous Bangkok traffic. Trains travel every 10 minutes from 6 in the morning to midnight.

Bus – There are free shuttle buses from suburban areas like Bang Kapi and Rangsit, and the S1 express bus from Khao San Road to the terminal.

Taxi – You will get metered taxis at the first floor, which is a floor below the arrival section. There are ‘public taxi’ signs to help you. There are ATM-style ticket booths that give away numbered slips. The number will tell you the bay where your taxi is parked. Remember, there is a 50 baht surcharge for each taxi (not per passenger). A trip to the city will cost between 250 and 400 baht depending on where you are going.

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Don Mueang Airport

This was the main airport of Bangkok till 2006, but now serves mostly budget carriers like Scoot, Thai Lion Air, Orient Thai, Air Asia, and Nok Air.

Bus – You can take the bus and BTS (skytrain) combination. Take the train to Mo Chit and then the A1 airport bus from there. This service runs between 7 in the morning and midnight for 30 baht. But these buses can be crowded. There is also the A3 express bus that runs on the Don Mueang-Dindaeng- Pratunam-Ratchaprasong-Ratchadamri-Lumphini Park route. The A4 buses runs on the Don Mueang- Yommarach-Lam Luang-Phan Fa-Democracy Monument-Khao San-Sanam Luang route. Fares are 50 baht.

Train – Take the covered overpass to reach the Don Muang Train Station. A ticket to Hualamphong Train Station in central Bangkok will be 5 baht.

LimoBus – It serves 2 routes. One route goes to Khao San Road, and the other to Pratunam and Silom. They are more expensive than city buses but cheaper than taxi service.

Taxi – There is a taxi stand just outside the arrival area. It follows the same booth and slip system like Suvarnabhumi Airport. Limousine taxis are available too if you want to avoid the queue. It will cost 500-600 baht.

Top 8 Tips For A First Time Visitor To Bangkok

1. Official taxi queue at airport You can take a taxi from outside the airport. But private taxis will sometimes charge three times more than the official meter price. It’s best to go to the Official Taxi Queue, which moves fast. Tell the lady your destination, which she will write down and explain to the taxi driver. You will have to pay a 50 baht surcharge, but it is worth it.
2. Use public transport Traffic moves slowly during the rush hour. Motorbikes, tuk tuks, buses, and cars slow it down. Take the sky train, particularly between 7:00 to 09:00 and then again between 17:00 and 19:00. This is the most efficient way to travel within the city.
3. Dress respectfully More so when you are visiting a temple. Wear long pants or skirts. Cover your shoulders.
4. Respect the King Local Thais respect their King. You should also show the same respect, no matter what your personal opinion.
5. Carry small change Bangkok is one of the cheapest cities. You can buy more with small changes. Many food vendors and taxi drivers cannot give you change for a 1,000 baht note. Carry a few 20 and 100 baht notes and coins.
6. Try the street food Bangkok’s street food is world famous. Yes, there are plenty of good choices, but the Pad Thai is a must try. This is like a staple in the Thai diet. There are also the Thai boat noodles, bird’s nest soup, the suckling pig, Kobe beef noodles, dancing shrimp, and the roast duck. Find out more about the famous street food of Bangkok.
7. 7-Seven Bangkok's most popular supermarket. You will find them everywhere. These stores are open 24 hours, as the name suggests.
8. Visit the Thai markets There are some awesome Thai markets that are a must-visit. The Chatuchak Weekend with 15,000 booths is the mother of them all. You will find everything here – fashion items, hill-tribe outfits, ceramic wares, silk, wooden furniture, decorated flowers, Buddhist amulets, shoes, ceramic wares, and more. There is also the Pak Klong Talat flower market, Klongsan market, the Klong Toey fresh market, the farmers market, and the Pratunam market. Find out the top markets in Bangkok here.

 

Top 10 Places To Visit In Bangkok

1. Grand Palace – Large palace complex.

2. Wat Arun – The Temple Of Dawn beside the Chao Phraya River.

3. Wat Pho – The big Reclining Buddha statue.

4. Chatuchak Weekend Market – Iconic market with 15,000 stalls.

5. Chao Phraya River – Beautiful river with landmarks on both sides.

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6. Asiatique, The Riverfront – Upscale shopping, dining, street market.

7. Khao San Road – Fun, laid-back, backpacker’s delight.

8. Chinatown – The best street-food in Bangkok, shrines.

9. Sea Life – Huge aquarium below Siam Paragon, marine shows.

10. Safari World & Marine Park – Open-air zoo and amusement park.

Getting Around

Bangkok is famous for its traffic jams. Luckily, there are many public transport options – 

  • BTS – The skytrain covers most of the city’s main areas. There are 2 lines – Sukhumvit Line, which is light green, and the Silom Line, which is dark green. Both lines meet at Siam where you can change. The BTS service runs between 5.15 AM and midnight. This is more popular with the tourists.
  • MRT – This is the metro. This too has 2 lines – the Blue line, and Purple line. A part of it runs on elevated tracks. Metro tickets cannot be interchanged with BTS tickets. Pre-paid cards are available. Seniors and children get half price. These trains run between 6 AM and midnight.
  • Airport Rail Link – Connects the Suvarnabhumi Airport.
  • Boat Service – The Chao Phraya Express Boat aquatic bus service runs on the river. There are different boat lines marked by colors. The Saen Saep Express Boat runs along the Saen Saep Canal.
  • Long-Tail River Taxi – More expensive, and not very popular with tourists.
  • Metered Taxi – Air-conditioned and comfortable, but you have to deal with the city’s traffic. There is also the ride-sharing app service Grab.
  • Tuk-Tuk – Extremely popular and available everywhere. Sometimes, you can get a free ride if you agree to visit a touristy jewelry or clothing store.
  • Motorbike Taxi – Faster than tuk-tuki and metered taxis as they can navigate more efficiently through traffic.

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Grand Palace Bangkok

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Bangkok Weather

There are three main seasons in Bangkok – hot, monsoon, and the cool season.

  • Hot season – March to June
  • Rainy season – July to October
  • Cool season – November to February

Month High/Low Rain
January 32° / 22° 1 day
February 33° / 24° 1 day
March 34° / 26° 2 days
April 35° / 27° 5 days
May 35° / 26° 14 days
June 34° / 26° 14 days
July 33° / 26° 14 days
August 33° / 25° 15 days
September 33° / 25° 18 days
October 33° / 25° 15 days
November 32° / 24° 5 days
December 32° / 22° 0 days

 

Best Time To Visit Bangkok

November to February is the best time to visit Bangkok. The precipitation and temperature will be lower. But this is also the peak time as the weather is more pleasant.

There is no official winter season in Bangkok – only a ‘cool’ season between November and February, when most tourists visit the city. The temperature is still warm, but it is much more comfortable, thanks to the northwest monsoon, which brings dry and cool air. There are occasional showers, especially in November.

Bangkok is often called the ‘City of Angels’ and the ‘Venice of the East’, because of the many khlongs or canals.

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Money Saving Tips

Food – Eat at the street stalls, which are some of the best in the world. It is very cheap too. A bowl of pad thai, noodle soup or fried rice will be just 30 THB. Metered taxis – Only take metered taxis. Many will not want a fixed price, though all taxis are required to use meters. Take another taxi.
Tuk-tuk – There are no meters here. So fix the price before you get up. You need to negotiate hard. Use public transport – The bus network is extensive. There is also the BTS rail, which is cheap. You can also avoid traffic.
Khao San Road – Do not drink here if you want to save money. When drinking, remember, wine and cocktails will cost more as there are high taxes. Boats – Use the canal system to get to some areas of the city quicker, particularly Khao San Road and the Siam Square. They are cheaper than taxis.
Hotels/Hostels – There are many hostels and hotels priced very affordably to meet the growing needs of the backpackers. Bargain – You can bargain almost anywhere in the city. Negotiate hard. The more you buy, the better the price.

Best Neighborhoods For Tourists

If you’re planning a trip to Bangkok, choosing which area to stay can be a very difficult decision to make. Each area has its own perks and drawbacks, so it really depends on your priorities and interests.

Sukhumvit

A district full of the latest shopping malls, great food, and exciting nightlife. In the evenings, you can lounge at sexy rooftop bars and party at Soi Cowboy or go clubbing at the Levels Club & Lounge.

Transport: The BTS Sukhumvit line runs over Sukhumvit road from east to west. It is convenient to stay at Nana or Asok.

Cons: There is a lot of walking between venues. The traffic is terrible.

Siam

Many popular shopping malls like the Siam Center, MBK, and Siam Paragon. There are family-friendly attractions too like the Siam Ocean World and Kidzania. Other attractions such as Erawan Shrine, Madame Tussauds and the Playhouse Theatre.

Transport: Siam is the central BTS Skytrain station and provides easy access to the rest of the town. Many stay in Siam just for its great location alone!

Cons: As with Sukhumvit, Siam is far from Thailand’s cultural side. If you’re into partying, Siam’s party scene is more muted as compared to Sukhumvit.

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Pratunam

The huge Pratunam Market and many wholesale malls like the Platinum Fashion Mall or Indra Square. Get a view of the city from the 340m tall Baiyoke Tower. Also visit the Baiyoke Floating Market on the 75th floor. Many shopping and entertainment options. Pantip Plaza offers cheap electronics.

Transport: The Chidlom and Ratchathewi BTS stations are 15 minutes walk away. You can take a boat ride and stop between Ratchadamri and Phetburi Roads. Traffic is congested.

Cons: The area is not as snazzy as Siam and is relatively older.

Silom

The Central Business District. It transforms into a food haven at night. Home of Patpong with its night market and red light district. Affordable, compared to the modern malls. The Dome Sky Bar For offers a classier experience.

Transport: Accessible by Si Lom MRT station and Sala Daeng BTS stations.

Cons: Huge traffic in rush hour. It also gets crowded after dark.

Chinatown

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Budget area popular with backpackers. Bustling with stalls and shrines. Visit the world’s largest gold Buddha at Wat Traimit or Chinese-style structures like Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, the China Gate. Chinatown is most famous for its street food.

Transport: The Hua Lamphong MRT station is a 15 minute walk away.

Cons: It is very busy and crowded.

Old City or Khaosan

Stunning temples and historical structures like the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. The Democracy Monument, Wat Ratchanadda, Loha Prasat and the Golden Mount are close. Khao San Road is a backpacker’s paradise with many bars, clubs, market stalls and travel agents.

Transport: Take a boat from the Phanfa Leelard pier. The closest BTS stations are Siam, National Stadium and Ratchathewi. Take a tuk tuk or taxi from these stations.

Cons: Not easily accessible by public transport. Can be loud if you’re not into the party scene.

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Riverside

Take Bangkok’s famous water-taxis (Khlongs) for a romantic and relaxing full-day experience. There are many resort-style and luxury hotels. Visit the new upscale Asiatique night market. The Riverside is also close to all the historical attractions in the Old City.

Transport: Chao Praya River Express Service connects the Saphan Taksin BTS station.

Cons: Far from BTS. The nightlife is quieter. The hotels are costlier.