Getting There and Away
Bangkok’s main airport and hub to the world is Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). It is located in the Eastern part of the city with easy access to central Bangkok.
The easiest way to get from the airport to the center of Bangkok is to take the newly opened Airport Train Link that connects with the BTS and MRT lines. The train operates from 6 am to 12 pm, takes about 30 minutes, and costs just 45 THB ($1.50) per ride.
If your hotel is far from the train line, you can also take a taxi or bus anywhere in the city. Taxis run on official meter and should normally cost 300 – 500 THB ($10 – $16) into central Bangkok. If you are more adventurous and don’t have a lot of luggage to worry about, you may want to take a bus. Check to see where you intend to go and look on this public bus schedule.
Internet Access: The airport is fully wired, but you can only use 15 minutes for free. After 15 minutes, there is a fee.
Mo Chit bus station provides transportation to Northern cities in Thailand. The mega station itself is located in the Northern part of Bangkok, not too far from Mo Chit BTS Station, but it’s best to take a taxi from there. Traffic around this area can be horrendous in the evening and morning. If you are catching a bus, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to fight traffic.
Sai Tai Mai bus station is the station that caters to Southern Thailand. The station is quite far from central Bangkok and might take up to an hour to get there by taxi or bus.
Ekamai bus station in comparison to the other 2 huge bus stations is small and very manageable. It provides buses to small towns that are within a few hours from Bangkok. If you need to get to places like Pattaya or Hua Hin, this is the easiest place to go from. The station is located right off Ekamai BTS station.
Khao San Road, which is backpacker central, has anything a tourist could ever need, including direct buses around the country and even to other Southeast Asian destinations. You will pay a little more due to various people making cuts, but it just might be convenient if you are staying in the area.
Hua Lamphong Station is the main railroad station for catching trains to the North or South of the country from Bangkok. Hua Lamphong is located on the outskirts of Chinatown.
Getting Around Bangkok
Bangkok is a giant city and almost all forms of transportation imaginable are used to get from place to place. Here are the main methods you’ll need to get around.
Taxis are widely available and painted bright colors. Metered fare begins at 35 THB ($1.15) and goes up from there according to distance. For a big city, taxis are extremely affordable, being able to get most places in central Bangkok for 100 – 200 THB ($3.50 – $6.50).
The BTS is an elevated train with 2 lines that run through central Bangkok. The Sukhumvhit line runs from Mo Chit station in the North to On Nut in the East. The Silom line runs from National Stadium (MBK shopping center) to Wang Wian Yai, across the river. The 2 lines cross at Siam station, Bangkok biggest shopping hub. Fare is anywhere from 20 – 40 THB ($0.65 – $1.30) for a single ride.
The MRT is an underground train with a single line that runs from Bang Sue in the North to Hua Lamphong near Bangkok’s Chinatown. The MRT crosses the BTS at Sukhumvit and Silom stations. Fare is anywhere from 20 – 40 THB ($0.65 – $1.30) per ride.
The Airport Link connects the city to the international airport and also offers stops to the Eastern districts of Bangkok. Fare is anywhere from 15 – 45 THB ($0.50 – $1.50) per ride.
Take a look at the official website for information and routes.
Buses are ever present in Bangkok and with a bus map, it’s easy to figure out a few of the routes. Buses normally run from about 5 am to midnight, though there are a few that go 24 hours.
The small orange buses charge a flat 6.50 THB ($0.20) and other buses range in price according to route, distance, and air condition or windows. Average fare is 8 – 12 THB ($0.25 – $0.50) within the city.
By River Boat
Public river boats can be one of the most convenient ways to get around Bangkok, especially when traffic becomes heavy. Boats run up and down the Chao Phraya river at a cost of around 14 THB ($0.45) per ride. The boat runs form 6 am to 7 pm.
Tuk Tuks are one of the more popular tourist forms of transportation. Rides usually cost 50 THB ($1.65) and up for a short trip.
Where to Stay
There are hostels, guest houses, and cheap hotels throughout Bangkok, although the well known backpackers hub is on Khao San Road.
If you head to Khao San Road, you will be surrounded by a smorgasbord of backpacker hostels to choose from. Other areas to find accommodation are in Silom, Bangrak, Siam, or along Sukhumvit Road.
- Sukhumvit On Nut Guesthouse – 125/2 Sukhumvit, 89 Sukhumvit Rd., Bangchak, Prakhanong Bangkok, Thailand 10260. Comfortable private owned guest house in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok. Dorms are around 300 THB ($9.85) per night and private rooms are 300 – 500 THB ($9.85 – $16.40).
- Lub d – 4 Decho Road, Suriyawong, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 Thailand. Lub d offers upper class hostel accommodation with modern conveniences. There are 2 locations, 1 in Silom and 1 in Siam. Dorms start at around 300 THB ($9.86) and privates rooms cost from 500 – 800 THB ($16.45 – $26.30).
- The Overstay – Charan Sanit Wong, Number 80-82 next to the Soi 40 in Pinklao, Bangkok. For some of the cheapest accommodation in Bangkok check out The Overstay. Dorm beds are 50 THB ($1.65) per night and rooms start at 150 THB ($4.95).
Short Term Accomodation
Bangkok offers plenty of serviced apartment short term rentals and foreigners are permitted to rent apartments throughout the city. Normal apartments ask for 3 – 6 month contracts, but serviced apartments can be rented for shorter times with no contract. A good starting point is to search on Mr. Room Finder, or search on Thailand-specific forums.
Couchsurfing is not only a great way to find a place to stay, but a great starting point for meeting locals and interacting with others. There is a large community of couchsurfers throughout Bangkok. Be sure to make contacts and arrange accommodation with plenty of time to spare as there are lots of requests and many people.
Things to Do and See
- Temples and Palaces – Some of the most iconic symbols of Bangkok have to do with Thai Buddhist temples and Royal Palaces. The most famous is the Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Entrance is 350 THB to enter both together, located on the same compound.
- Museums – There are so many Bangkok museums that it can be hard to visit all of them. Some of the most interesting include Bangkok’s Forensic Museum, Jim Thompson House, the Vimanmek Mansion, and the National Gallery.
- Markets and Shopping – Shopping is one of Bangkok’s biggest draws. The area of Siam is home to giant modern shopping malls and countless stores. Don’t miss the Chatuchak weekend market where nearly 15,000 vendors set up shop.
- Chinatown (Yaowarat) – Chinatown is one of the most exciting areas of Bangkok, always something happening. Form morning till night, Yaowarat is filled with markets and food. Chinese new years in Bangkok is exciting, chaotic, and beyond busy.
- Parks and Outdoors – The biggest central park in Bangkok is Lumpini park, a giant green area near Silom. It’s a great place to do some exercise, take a walk, or just hang out.
- Street Food – Eating Bangkok street food is one of the most rewarding things to do. Food is everywhere and sampling Thai food is both fun and delicious!
Outside the City
- Ayuthaya – About 1 -2 hours away by road is the ancient Siamese capital. The town is home to numerous ruins and historical UNESCO heritages sites.
- Floating Markets – There are many floating markets near and around Bangkok that offer shopping and food sold straight from a floating boat. The most famous markets include Damnoen Saduak, Amphawa market, and one of my favorites, Khlong Lat Mayom floating market.
- Zip Line – Flight of the Gibbon comes at a hefty price, but flying through the tops of trees on a zip line is an incredible experience.
- Bung Sam Lan Lake – If you like sport fishing, Bung Sam Lan Lake is a lake on the outskirts of Bangkok that is stocked with some of the world’s largest species of fish, like the Mekong giant catfish.
For many more suggestions take a look at 101 Things to Do in Bangkok.
Food & Drink
Isaan Food – The Isaan area of Thailand makes up the Northeastern part of the country. Popular Thai dishes from this area include sticky rice (khao neow), green papaya salad (som tam), grilled chicken (gai yang), and grilled fish (pla pao).
General Thai Food – Anything stir fried, noodles, or plain white rice, fits under the general Thai food category. Eat stir fried dishes like pad ga pao moo (pork with basil), pad Thai (stir fried noodles), kuay teow bpet (duck and noodles), or various forms of curry.
- Som Tam Boo Maa – 25/48 Thanon Charan Sanitwong Bang Khun Non, Bangkok 10700. One of my favorite restaurants for Thai Isaan food.
- Kuang Seafood Restaurant – 107/13 Soi Rangnam, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400. Popular and delicious Thai seafood restaurant.
- Lan Loong Lui – Ta Prachan Pier (adjacent to Thammasat University Ta Prachan campus). A great restaurant for general Thai stir fried dishes.
Nightlife in Bangkok thrives almost every night of the week and there’s never a dull moment. There are a few main areas of nightlife including Khao San Road, Silom, Ratchada, and Sukhumvit.
Bars and Clubs
- Bed Supperclub – 26 Soi Sukhumvit 11, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey-nua, Wattana, Bangkok 10110 Thailand. One of most prestigious clubs in Bangkok.
- Narcissus Club Bangkok – 112 Sukhumvit soi 23 Wattana Bangkok, 10110 Thailand. A popular dance and late night hours club in Bangkok.
- Q Bar Bangkok – #34 Sukhumvit Soi 11 Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110 Thailand. Nice bar and club right near the Nana BTS station.
- Saxophone Pub – Near Victory Monument. Great live music venue.
- RCA at Ratchada – Rama 9 Road, Phetchaburi, Bangkok. A strip of popular nightclubs.