If you are planning a trip to Thailand it is most likely that your first stop is Bangkok, the capital of the country. Bangkok is ideal to start the trip and learn a lot about the culture of Thailand. It is a city with social contrasts, stunning temples, cool street markets and amazing gastronomy.
This article is not intended to be a travel guide but a summary of information based on my personal experience and opinion.
Traveling to Thailand for the first time? Read this post if you want to learn about the visa,vaccines, and other destinations in the country.
Recommended minimum stay: 3 days.
I am aware that Bangkok is a place that you either love or hate. Many people hate the chaos and cultural shock but I was fascinated by this city! I visited Bangkok for 3 nights and I can’t wait to visit again and stay longer.
Got some extra time? Take a day trip from Bangkok
There are two major airports in the city: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang.
Suvarnabhumi is where all major international airlines arrive. This airport is huge, modern and has a connection to the centre of Bangkok by the airport rail Link train.
These are the options to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok:
Don Mueang Airport also receives international flights, but is more used for domestic flights within Asia or Thailand. To go from Bangkok to Don Mueang Airport you can take these shuttles for 50 Baht: A3 (from Lumphini Park) or A4 (from Khaosan Road and other nearby stops).
Bangkok’s traffic is chaotic but the city has great and modern public transport. The MRT and BTS Skytrain work excellently, in my opinion. For the Skytrain there are passes that allow you to use it unlimited for a certain number of days and you can also buy individual travel cards.
For the MRT you need to buy a “token” that is equivalent to a trip. At each station there are machines where you select the destination and pay with cash for the tokens. You will need the token to open the barriers that lead to the trains and also when you arrive to your destination. There are also local buses, boats, taxis and of course the famous tuk-tuks (motorized tricycles).
All the information about Bangkok’s transportation is in the official transport website.
If you are going to ride a tuk-tuk, make sure you ask the price before you get in. Try to learn in advance (asking at the hotel for example), how much the journey should cost.
One of the most popular areas to stay is the famous Khao San Road which is full of hostels, bars and shops. But staying in this street is hell if you want to sleep peacefully.
Another option is to stay in Silom area or the area near the shopping malls, where there are is great transport connected with the main attractions in the city.
I stayed at the Avani Atrium Hotel Bangkok, you can read more about my experience here.
As always, I recommend using Booking.com to compare prices. Register with this link and get $15 USD free to use in your next booking!
The most popular street in Bangkok and where thousands of tourists head first when arriving. Chaotic, full of street stalls, hostels, bars, everything. It is a very touristy and fun street to visit and enjoy some street pad thai, or maybe scorpions!.
You can’t leave Bangkok without visiting some of its amazing temples which are undoubtedly the best attractions in the city. I will write another post with details on each temple, but this are the most popular:
-Wat Phra Kaeo and Grand Palace: a complex of buildings that was the residence of the King of Thailand and today is open to the public for visiting. Gold everywhere, extravagant details, huge statues and the immensity of the whole place is just incredible.
-Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha: This temple is famous for hosting a huge reclined Buddha statue of 46 meters long, being the largest in Thailand. In addition, all the exterior of the temple contains an infinity of stupas (the Buddhist constructions containing relics) decorated with ceramic flowers. Every detail of this place is unique!
-Wat Arun: Located next to the Chao Phraya River, this temple has a beautiful view. Its silhouette is also unmistakable at night. To get there you need to take one of the boats that cross the river.
If you are going to be in Bangkok for a weekend, don’t miss the Chatuchak market! It is one of the largest markets in the world and offers everything: clothes, accessories, decorations, food, souvenirs, etc. It’s a maze of stalls where you’ll find everything you can think of at super low prices. The market opens on Fridays from 18 to midnight, and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 to 6pm.
Even if you are not interested in shopping, you need to visit the Bangkok shopping malls because they are really crazy and unique. The malls in Bangkok are gigantic, extravagant, and each one has its own peculiarities. As in the whole city, you can also see the contrasts: some malls with the most expensive and chic brands in the world and others with trinkets and stalls. Central World, Siam Paragon, MBK and Terminal 21 are some of the malls you can visit.
For me it is always essential in any big city to have a view from above and Bangkok is full of sky bars or roof top bars to enjoy the views. The most popular is the Sky Bar located in Lebua at State Tower that you probably know from The Hangover movie. The view is fantastic. However, I prefer the 360° view from Octave Rooftop, the bar located of the 45th floor of the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit.
If you have some extra time you can also do a day trip to one of the interesting sights near the city like Damnoen Saduak Floating Market or the temples in Ayutthaya.
Of course the best things in Bangkok aren’t in any list or guide and it’s the simple fact of touring this city and letting yourself be surprised. Getting lost among the locals, in the streets, the bridges, the parks, trying the local food and more. Bangkok is electric, chaotic and beautiful.
Other posts about Thailand:
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