- Capital and highest populated city in Thailand (8.5 million people)
- Known worldwide for its floating markets, hot climate and friendly people
- Nicknames: Sin City of Asia, Venice of the East, City of Angels
- Currency: Baht (THB)
- Spoken languages: Thai (English is also widely spoken).
- Best time to visit: from November to April (warm and humid year round).
- Arriving via airport: public transport (airport train) is 45 THB, taxi is 300 THB.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation is readily available all over Bangkok. The Banglamphu area is aimed towards backpackers and budget travellers, while Silom is the place to go for the metropolitan experience (modern hotels, night clubs and malls).
- The business district has a well developed subway and skytrain network with fares starting at 15 THB (it does not cover the old city or Banglamphu, however). The train network is complemented by shuttle boats (servicing the Chao Phraya river and most of the small canals).
- Bangkok’s bus network is extensive – a fare of 2 THB gets you anywhere within city limits.
- For metered taxi services, look for pink cars. The infamous tuk-tuks are also available everywhere. Ensure that the meter is running (or negotiate the price in advance).
- Renting a car and driving on your own is not recommended – traffic in Bangkok is chaotic.
- Drinking age is 20 (rarely enforced), last call is never (the party goes on past sunrise).
- Hip/local scene: Sukhumvit is the place to go for hip night clubs and rooftop bars.
- Out of town/random crowd: Khao San Road is the backpacker hot spot, and turns into one giant party at night.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- There are ~500 Buddhist temples in Bangkok, many of which are stunning. Wat Arun is one of the most beautiful ones, and is a must see (especially at dawn).
- The Grand Palace is the old royal quarters of Bangkok, and contains the famous Emerald Buddha (carved from a single block of emerald).
- The Chao Phraya riverside is a sight to behold. Take a chartered boat for a cruise – make sure to ask the driver to take you to the floating markets, too.
- You could spend a whole day walking through the Chatuchak weekend market. With over 8,000 stalls, the goods for sale range from cheap clothes/toys to live animals.
- Note: walking is not always the best means of transport in Bangkok, as the city’s scorching heat can be unforgiving.
- Chinatown makes for a great lunchtime walk, as its alleys are protected from the sun (and stuffed to the brim with with amazing food).
- Little India is another great walk, though somewhat out of the way. The easiest way to get there is by shuttle boat on the Chao Phraya river.
- Bangkok is a true mecca for Asian cuisines, and has some of the best Chinese, Indian, Cambodian and Laotian food options in the area. And of course, the city features some of the best Thai food in the world – from street food to high end dining.
- The city goes wild during Thai holidays and festivals. During Songkran (Thai New Year), Bangkok turns into a three-day water fest – buckets of water are thrown from cars and supersoakers blast pedestrians. Leave your electronics at home!
- The people of Bangkok are known for their friendliness. The city is itself very diverse, and as such is welcoming to visitors. You’ll soon realize why foreigners refer to Thailand as the LOS (Land of Smiles)!
- Where to find good cheap eats: everywhere! Cheap, delicious food is available almost on every corner.
- Dangerous areas: Bangkok is generally very safe. Use common sense when alone at night. Keep in mind that most tailors and jewellers are scams.
RECOMMENDED BANGKOK GUIDE BOOKS
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days