Street food, temples and cheap massages, there are many reasons to visit the big Mango. This Bangkok Travel Guide covers everything you need to visit.
Same same, but different. Bangkok is a crowded and chaotic city with a host of temples underneath the layers of pollution and crowd. With a mixed reputation, Bangkok is enriched in contrasts and contradictions. East meets West, Temples meet Cocktails, mega malls meet floating markets.
An array of Thai temples, palaces and museums stand side by side with markets, parks and new, sleek skyscrapers. Bangkok is an expanding city with a wealth of attractions to suit all tourists and visitors.
Budget: Dorm beds cost 250฿ – 550฿ depending on location, with private rooms at small guesthouses starting at around 450฿.
Midrange: Nice private rooms cost between 800฿ – 1800฿.
Luxury: Top 4/5 star hotels cost 2000฿ + with some reaching 4500฿ a night.
Canal taxi boats cost between 10฿ – 20฿, whilst air-conditioned buses range from 11฿ – 30฿.
The elevated BTS skytrain fares range from 15฿ – 52฿ whilst taxi meters start at 35฿ and most fares within central Bangkok cost 60฿ to 90฿.
Taxis must use the meters – so check they do!
We recommend using the Grab app instead of flagging taxis, especially in touristy areas.
Average cost of food:
Sreet stall meals cost as little as 30B whilst sit down restaurants charge between 120฿ – 400฿.
Fine dining costs 1000฿ – 3000฿.
Many restaurants offer cheap local beers starting at 80฿ and cocktails starting at 150฿.
Best time to visit Bangkok
The best time to visit Bangkok is from November to March. This is when the weather is at its coolest and humidity isn’t too high. April to June is incredibly warm whilst July to October is rainy season.
However, rain in Bangkok tends to come in bursts and generally in the afternoon, early evening.
Avoid visiting Bangkok during the Chinese New Year if you can – the temples and sights are very busy and hotel prices are higher.
If you are visiting Bangkok for shopping, the best time to visit is from Mid-June to Mid-August, when a huge ale takes place across most stores.
Where to stay in Bangkok
When choosing your hotel, check its location is near or in easy access to the sights and attractions you wish to do during your stay. Bangkok is notorious for its heavy traffic, so expect to be sitting in traffic for over an hour when traveling between 4 – 7pm if you hotel is not in close proximity to the attractions.
For those looking for a comfortable hostel in the heart of Bangkok, the NapPark Hostel at Khao San is the place to be. With dorm beds starting at 399฿, this place is just two streets from Khao San Road and within walking distance of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
The Kinnon Deluxe Hostel Coworking Cafe offer clean, comfortable dorm beds for 545฿ but with many deals at half that price.
Silom Serene is a lovely hotel set within tropical gardens. The Metro is near by and is a popular area for nice restaurants and bars, rooms start at 1800฿.
With a relaxing pool and free shuttle to Siam Square, Hotel Icon is a great hotel for those wanting to relax yet be in close proximity to a MRT station to check out Bangkok; with rooms starting at 1380฿.
For a more local experience, especially for those who have already visited Bangkok, check out the X2 Vibe Bangkok hotel. This is’t far from the On Nut BTS and specious modern rooms start at 2000฿.
Bangkok offers many beautiful, luxurious hotels at the same price as a standard room would be in the West.
Lebua is known from its appearance in the Hangover but is a beautiful hotel with amazing sky bar and rooms start at 4000฿.
Full post on where to stay in Bangkok
Save money in Bangkok
Thailand is a cheap place to visit but here are some ways to save even more money in Bangkok.
- Eat local – One of the biggest expenses in Bangkok could be the food, if you stick to western dishes. Street Food in Bangkok is super cheap and tasty so don’t be afraid to try it. If you aren’t sure about eating food from a street vendor, head to one of the local restaurants. We have a guide to Vegetarian Food in Thailand too.
- Food courts – If you are worried about street food, go to the food courts. These can be found in shopping malls all over the city.
- Book in advance – Backpackers can still find cheap hostels on arrival but for the best value, book your accommodation in advance. Compare prices on Agoda and if you are splurging on a nice hotel, check the hotel website directly; often they will have special offers which include breakfast.
- Shoulder Season – April to June and September to October offers smaller crowds and warm weather but hotel prices are also cheaper.
- Ride the BTS – The BTS Skytrain runs from 6am to midnight, with fares costing between 15-52B. A day pass is 130B. This is the best way to travel as it is easier and quicker than the bus but much cheaper than taxis.
- Use Super Rich – There is a SuperRich International Exchange chain in Bangkok which tend to offer the lowest rates, ideal if you are looking to exchange currency.
- Eatigo app – If you are looking for a nice, sit down meal, download the eatigo app. You can use this app to browse and reserve a table at hundreds of restaurants in Bangkok but you also choose a time slot for your reservation, getting up to 50% off your final bill.
- GoWabi – Similar to Eatigo, the GoWabi app offers discounted prices for spa treatments in Bangkok. Massages in Thailand are affordable and easy to come by, but if you are looking for a specific treatment, compare and reserve using this app.
- Barter – A rule in Bangkok markets; if the price is listed, it is a set price. If it is not, you have plenty of scope to barter. Start at 10% of whatever price is offered and don’t pay more than 50%.
- Use Grab – If you do want to take a taxi, you can flag one and ask for the meter but, when in a touristy area, drivers can be quite resistant. Instead, order a Grab to help with communication and avoid being overcharged.
- Affordable sky bars – Bangkok is full of amazing sky bars but they can be expensive. Head to the more affordable rooftop bars such as Wallflowers Upstairs, Cielo, NEST Rooftop and Wanderlust Rooftop Bar.
Best things to do in Bangkok
Art in Paradise
Bangkok National Museum
Jim Thomspon House
Rod Fai Night Market Srinakarin
Khao San Road
Patpong Night Market
Bang Krachao – the green lung
Baiyoke Observation Deck
How to get to Bangkok
Fly – The majority of flights to Bangkok come through Suvarnabhumi International airport, whilst Don Muang International airport is known as the budget airport for those catching cheap flights around Thailand and South East Asia. Public taxis leave from outside the arrival hall from both airports with a 50B surcharge from airport. The Don Muang train station offers trains to Hualamphong train station every hour or so between 4am to 11.20am, then later 2pm to 9.30pm. From Suvarnabhumi International airport, a free airport shuttle connects visitors to the public transport centre, where you can then catch Bus lines 551 and 552 to Bangkok BTS stops. Metered taxis are available kerbside at floor 1 and cost between 200฿ – 250฿ to TH Sukhumvit and 250฿ – 400฿ to TH Khao San. The Airport Rail link also connects Suvarnabhumi to Central Bangkok.
Bus – For long distance buses, it is advised you use buses from the government bus stations. Eastern Bus terminal serves the eastern gulf coast with destinations including Ko Samet, Pattaya, Rayong and Chanthaburi. Northern and Northeastern Bus terminal serves northern Thailand destinations whilst the Souther Bus station serves souther islands such as Phuket, Krabi, Hat Yai and Kanchanaburi.
Train – The State Railway of Thailand offer trains from Hualamphong, the cities main station. Again, ignore touts and travel agencies at the station.
How to get around Bangkok
Taxis are the quickest and convenient way to get around Bangkok – in the morning and late evening. Traffic can be unpredictable so leave with plenty of time if you need to get somewhere by a set time.
Check your taxi driver uses the meter as many may avoid doing so if they see your a tourist and during our stay, some even stopped at a tailoring store; insisting we check out the store to avoid a pricey fare.
Similar to Tuk-Tuk drivers, make sure you make your destination very clear to the driver and set a price before your journey. Bangkok Tuk-Tuk drivers are notorious for taking detours to commission-paying gem and silk stores, avoid Tuk-Tuk drivers offering 10฿ trips but don’t be afraid to haggle with those charging 100฿.
The BTS skytrain and MRT is helpful for those staying and getting around the Silom, Sukhumvit and Siam area.
During rush hour, try using a canal taxi boat which run along Khlonh Saen Saep between 5.30am – 8.30pm.
This guide to getting around the major attractions and Khao San Road is a very helpful tool when your visiting Bangkok for the first time.