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.
Hostel/Budget rates – Dorm beds cost 250฿ – 550฿ depending on location, with private rooms at small guesthouses starting at around 450฿.
Midrange Hotel rates – Nice private rooms cost between 800฿ – 1800฿.
Luxury Hotel rates – Top 4/5 star hotels cost 2000฿ + with some reaching 4500฿ a night.
Transport – 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!
Average cost of food – Street stall meals cost as little as 50฿ – 80฿ 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 120฿.
Where to stay
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.
Hostel/Budget – 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. For a quieter spot, check out Phong Apartment; a highly rated hotel with private rooms starting at 480฿ for two.
Midrange – 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, The Icing 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฿.
Top End – Bangkok offers some great value high end hotels for reasonable prices. During our stay we spent a week at the splendid Furama Silom Hotel cost us 2240฿ a night, which was just a short walk from a BRT station and surrounded with some great restaurants and bars, plus a gorgeous and luxurious room. For those looking for a hotel in the centre of Bangkok, check out the Inn a day hotel, with modern and industrial styled rooms offering fabulous views of Wat Arun, this is a place I shall be staying at on my next trip. Rooms start at 3800฿.
How to get there
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.
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.