Bangkok Thailand – The Ultimate Travel Guide

Bangkok Skyline by Swami Stream

In a nutshell

A furious assault on all five senses and a tumultuous collision of old and new, Bangkok welcomes in its awestruck visitors with the famous toothy-smile of its locals and the promise of hidden gems behind the scorching concrete and looming skyscrapers.

Why go to Bangkok

The cacophonous of neon-lit lively streets with brazen erotic innuendos on every corner, paralyzing traffic jams, soaring multistory buildings and the humid, relentless heat disproves the old adage, ‘First impressions last’.

The capital city seduces its visitors with its stark multifaceted, contrasts and charm; and entices foreigners to see beyond the pollution and chaotic electricity wires. Snuggled shoulder to shoulder with the supersized skyscrapers and megamalls lies beautifully ornate temples with gleaming, golden Buddha statues, longtail boats cutting through canals along the colorful floating markets, bustling food stalls and immaculate palaces.

The streets are also filled with welcoming locals and saffron-robed monks giving guests first-hand experience with the genuineness of the world-famous Thai smile. Bangkok offers something special to every kind of traveler.

If the multi-layered city with its comprehensive culture, architecture and traditions isn’t reason enough to visit, then the food surely will be. The food on offer in Bangkok is as diverse as the city itself with local food, Asian food and international food all readily available on offer at all hours of the day and night. Whether you prefer dining with crystal glasses and linen napkins at one of the many rooftop restaurants, or whether you’re more inclined to slurp up Pad Thai from a polystyrene container while strolling through the city – Bangkok’s food scene has you covered.

When to go to Bangkok

The ideal time to pay homage to this pulsating city is during the cooler months from November until February. However, with its equatorial climate, Bangkok is a year-round destination with every season offering unique delights of its own. Peak season or tourist-invasion is from November through until March, with March to May being the hottest months of the year.

Where tp stay in Bangkok

While Bangkok offers a vast and endless assortment of accommodation options, the vibrant city can oftentimes be confusing for first-time visitors and knowing what area to stay in during your visit can be overwhelming.

The most popular districts for visitors are Sukhumvit, best known for its party scene and flamboyant nightlife; Siam, for shopaholics, families and travelers wanting easy access to other areas; Silom, best for travelers here on business; Pratunam, ideally suited for those who want cheap shopping, cheap accommodation and cheap restaurants; Riverside, popular with honeymooners and the wealthy. Lastly, Chinatown and Old City are very popular areas that are best suited to backpackers, sightseers and those on a budget. Old City also boasts the world-renowned Khao San Road, quoted as being “the center of the backpacking universe” and famous for its jam-packed clubs, bars and nightlife.

With Bangkok offering up some of the most exquisite hotels in the world as well as its ridiculously cheap backpacker options – the capital provides in abundance for every bank account and type of traveler.

Where to eat in Bangkok

The food in this city is unbelievably difficult to summarize with 24 letters and a keyboard and this is largely due to its staggering volume, its copious variety and its full-flavored dishes. The food on offer in Bangkok is sheer delight for foodies the world over. The food ranges from fine-dining opulence to finger-licking street food out of a plastic bag and it’s argued that there is no better dining destination in the world than Thailand’s sultry capital. Local, Asian and international fare can be found anywhere and everywhere across the city and best of all, the food in Bangkok is as cheap as it comes. From local snacks, sweet icy drinks, desserts and traditional Thai dishes of noodles, rice, salad and curries; almost all Thai food is a scrumptious fusion of the entire flavor spectrum. Sweet, spicy, sour and salty characterize the traditional dishes on offer and distinguish the local cuisine from the equally prevalent western options.

How to get around Bangkok

While Bangkok is notorious for its slow-crawling congested traffic, getting around the city via public transport is fortunately rather easy to manage. Traveling within Bangkok can be achieved by renting a car, the BTS Skytrain, the MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit), metered taxi or motorbike taxi, songthaew (a converted 4-wheel pickup truck where passengers sit on two benches), tuk-tuks for short distances and buses. Tourists can also be transported down the Chao Phraya River, with the most popular and best value for money being the Chao Phraya Express Boat, which is essentially a river-bus travelling leisurely up and down the river.

The BTS Skytrain has two lines (light green and dark green), is best used for traveling downtown and is particularly handy when heading to Siam Square. The light green line moves down Sukhumvit Road, Siam Square and then connects to Phahonyothin Road, where it finishes at Mo Chit close to the popular Chatuchak Weekend Market. The dark green line on the other hand goes through Silom and both lines connect with each other at Siam where interchanging between the two is possible.

While the Skytrain is used more frequently by tourists than the MRT, the MRT runs through Silom, Sukumvit, Ratchadaphisek and around the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin. Passengers can interchange to the Skytrain at Si Lom, Sukumvit and Chatuchak Park stations.

Transport within Bangkok is cheap and mostly convenient with the metered taxis being a much better option than the ever-present tuk-tuks. Although these unique three-wheeled vehicles are an Asian novelty and offer tourists a quirky means of travelling short distances around the city, they are not really cost effective and air-conned taxis are usually better bang for your buck.

There is a wide network of buses plying the streets of Bangkok all day long. There are several types of public buses – from the cheapers old fan-only vehicles to modern air-con ones. It is sometimes difficult to figure out which bus you need, but if you do, you will be able to reach every hook and cranny within the capital. Another downside of using the publuc buses is that Bangkok is often traffic-jammed. And alas, you may have to spend hours stuck in the middle of slowly crawlling cars.

How to get to and from Bangkok

The best ways of getting into Bangkok is via plane, train or bus; and being the busy hub that it is, fortunately means that getting to and from the capital is a relatively straightforward and easy endeavor no matter what mode of transport you commit to.

By air

If arriving or departing via air, the first thing you’ll need to understand is that Bangkok has two airports.

Suvarnabhumi, more commonly known as BKK, is the airport that is used for long-haul international flights as well as for domestic flights with THAI and Bangkok Airways. Visitors flying in or to Europe, South Africa or North America will arrive and depart from here.

Further north, is the older Don Mueang Airport (DMK) and is used by low-cost carriers such as Air Asia or Nok Air. Both BKK and DMK offer free shuttle buses between the two airports.

By train

For travels arriving or leaving Bangkok via train will most likely arrive or depart from Hua Lamphong Station in downtown Bangkok. However, for those want to journey out of North Bangkok or are heading to Kanchanaburi, you’ll most likely use one Bangkok’s smaller railway stations. Serving over 130 trains each day as well as around 60, 0000 passengers, Hualamphong station is massive and unbelievably busy with more than 20 platforms and 26 ticket booths.

Arriving in Bangkok or departing the capital from anywhere in the country is an easy and stress-free task.

If you want to travel from Bangkok internationally to Malaysia or Singapore via train, you will need to travel from Bangkok to Padang Besar first. Fortunately traveling this almost 1000 km route via train can be done in a comfortable overnight sleeper train which arrives tp Padang Besar in the early hours of the next morning. Tickets can be purchased online and will cost between TBH 850 to around TBH 2000 per ticket depending on the class of the seat bought. The travel time is roughly 18 hours with passengers departing from Hua Lamphong Station. Trains 171, 35, 37, 169 and 41 ply this route at various times daily; namely, 1pm, 2:45pm, 3:10pm, 3:35 and 10:50pm.

By bus & minibus

Arriving in and leaving Bangkok for another province within Thailand is also possible via a bus or minibus.

Buses departing from Bangkok will use one of the three public bus terminals. The busiest of the three terminals is the Northern Bus Terminal, commonly known as Morchit 2 situated at 2 Kamphaeng Phet Road. This station plies routes between the Isaan region in northeast Thailand, Northen Thailand as well as Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat.

The second station is the Eastern Bus Terminal or Ekkamai which lies next door to Ekkamai BTS station in Sukhumvit and is the smallest and arguably best located of the three stations. This station offers departures to Eastern Thailand and even trips to Laos and Cambodia.

Lastly, there’s the Southern Bus Terminal or Sai Tai Mai, which serves all destinations to Southern Thailand (Hat Yai, Krabi, Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani) and Western Thailand (Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi).

Is Bangkok a safe place to visit?

Staying safe in the big, busy capital is paramount and while relatively safe for travellers, being cautious in Bangkok is essential.

Be wary of dangerous and reckless driving by motorbike taxis or the scams of unmetered taxis.

Tuk-tuk scams are also unfortunately a common occurrence where prices will be as little as TBH 10 but drivers will take you to endless ‘gem’ and souvenir shops and become rather pushy in wanting you to buy their goodies.

Lastly be wary of getting ripped off or robbed in one of the many notorious go-go bars and don’t drink any offered drinks.

The level of healthcare in Bangkok is high, so if in need of any medical assistance be sure you are in good hands. There are many hospitals throughout Bangkok meeting international standards though prices can be steep – make sure you have a valid travel insurance.

Bangkok station guide

Hua Lamphong - train

To get to this station the easiest way is to take the MRT subway to Hua Lamphong. It's the last station down the line (opposite to Bang Sue).

Once you arrive just follow the signs to the railway station. It is about 5 minutes walk underground and you will get back to the surface right in front of the station.

  • From Khao San Road or the Southern Bus Terminal you need to take a taxi.
  • From Mo Chit Bus Terminal you should take a taxi to the MRT station Khamphaeng Phet
  • From Ekkamai Bus Terminal you can take BTS Skytrain to Sukhumvit, then change to MRT. 40 min.
  • From Don Mueang Airport the easiest way is to take a taxi. Mind the tolls.
  • From Suvarnabhum Airport you can take the Airport Link to Petchaburi station, then walk a few minutes to MRT. Takes 1-1.5 hr.

You can search Bangkok MRT, BTS and Airport Link connections in 12Go system, with fares and times.

Hua Lamphong Station is also a walk away to Bangkok's Chinatown. Around Yaowarat Road you will see many shops that sell almost everything.

Hua Lamphong station or more familiar as Bangkok Railway Station to foreigners, is the main railway station in Thailand. It was first opened on June 25, 1916 after six years of construction and was built in an Italian Neo-Renaissance inspired architecture.

The Station is mother to Thailand's four railway lines: Northern, Northeastern, Southern, Eastern. The establishment has 14 platforms, 26 ticket booths and serves over 130 trains each day.

Mind the "helpers" without uniform trying to "help" you find a hotel. However station staff is very helpful. There are no lounges inside but the air is usually fresh enough and food is abundant so just grab a coffee while you waiting. Backside from the station there are a few massage salons and internet cafes, well, just like anywhere else.

Please keep in mind that trains in Thailand are subjects to delays. Really. If you plan a connecting train+bus or ferry - allow some time for the train being late.

You can choose from

  • 1st class VIP (that will normally be a compartment)
  • 2nd class aircon (very cold! but they give blankets and fresh linen)
  • 2nd non-aircon (same, but fans instead of aircons - 12go choice!)
  • 3rd class aircon (don't. seriously, don't. you will turn into a icicle)
  • 3rd class nonaircon (take the bus instead. only plus is that you can walk).

Best resource on train in Thailand is Mark Smith, the guy at the seat 61.

12Go suggestion: take the train if you can book in advance. You will be able to sleep and have great experience of good old 70's. But please do keep in mind that we book train berths manually for you, unlike buses, so allow us and yourself some space for changes. Like, if you must catch the flight from the destination - take the bus.

PS Do not forget to share your experience with fellow travelers. You'll get your link by email.

Morchit - Bus

Morchit Bus Terminal Bangkok is the gateway to Northern Thailand and its largest city, Chiang Mai. The complex also serves several northeastern and northwestern destinations and a few routes to southern resort destinations including Phuket and Koh Samui. Located north of downtown close by Chatuchak Market, the recently-built complex is Bangkok’s largest hub for bus transportation, offering comprehensive city bus routes in addition to long distance trips.

From Morchit Bus Terminal, air-conditioned buses run to Chiang Mai around the clock, taking an average of nine hours at a cost of between 469 baht and 907 baht for the VIP service. Pre-booking online is recommended due to high demand, especially in the high season between November and February and on public holidays. The service continues on to Chiang Rai in the far north, adding up to four hours’ travel time and costing around 100 baht more.

Other northern long-distance routes from Morchit Terminal 1 include Bangkok to Uttaradit, Khon Kaen, Phitsanulok, Lampang and Lamphun, Phrae, Chiang Saen and the Golden Triangle and Nan. Buses run to the northeastern cities of Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Roi Et, Nong Kai, Si Saket and Buriram. Morchit’s Terminal 2 serves southerly beach destinations such as Pattaya, Koh Samui, Phuket and Hat Yai, with all except Pattaya some 12 hours by VIP bus from Bangkok.

The new, air-conditioned complex offers comfortable seating, food courts and stalls selling snacks and drinks. Ground floor ticket offices serve the northern region, with the two upper floors taking care of the rest of the long-distance routes. The complex is easily accessible via the Skytrain to Morchit station followed by a 10-minute taxi ride.

For arrivals, there’s a wide choice of public buses heading to all districts including the downtown areas home to the majority of Bangkok hotels and guesthouses. Alternatives include motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks as well as metered taxis for those with considerable amounts of luggage.

Morchit - Bus

Morchit Bus Terminal Bangkok is the gateway to Northern Thailand and its largest city, Chiang Mai. The complex also serves several northeastern and northwestern destinations and a few routes to southern resort destinations including Phuket and Koh Samui. Located north of downtown close by Chatuchak Market, the recently-built complex is Bangkok’s largest hub for bus transportation, offering comprehensive city bus routes in addition to long distance trips.

From Morchit Bus Terminal, air-conditioned buses run to Chiang Mai around the clock, taking an average of nine hours at a cost of between 469 baht and 907 baht for the VIP service. Pre-booking online is recommended due to high demand, especially in the high season between November and February and on public holidays. The service continues on to Chiang Rai in the far north, adding up to four hours’ travel time and costing around 100 baht more.

Other northern long-distance routes from Morchit Terminal 1 include Bangkok to Uttaradit, Khon Kaen, Phitsanulok, Lampang and Lamphun, Phrae, Chiang Saen and the Golden Triangle and Nan. Buses run to the northeastern cities of Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Roi Et, Nong Kai, Si Saket and Buriram. Morchit’s Terminal 2 serves southerly beach destinations such as Pattaya, Koh Samui, Phuket and Hat Yai, with all except Pattaya some 12 hours by VIP bus from Bangkok.

The new, air-conditioned complex offers comfortable seating, food courts and stalls selling snacks and drinks. Ground floor ticket offices serve the northern region, with the two upper floors taking care of the rest of the long-distance routes. The complex is easily accessible via the Skytrain to Morchit station followed by a 10-minute taxi ride.

For arrivals, there’s a wide choice of public buses heading to all districts including the downtown areas home to the majority of Bangkok hotels and guesthouses. Alternatives include motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks as well as metered taxis for those with considerable amounts of luggage.

Southern Terminal - Bus

The Southern Bus Terminal Bangkok is found on Phutthamonthon Sai Road in the city’s Thonburi district on the western banks of the Chao Phraya River. Although it’s between 30 minutes and an hour’s taxi trip from downtown dependent on traffic, all taxis and songthaews know its location.

Buses leave from the complex to all western and southern provincial towns and resorts, including Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani and Kanchanaburi. The complex is air-conditioned, comfortable and has English language destination boards and timetables, a KFC and several bank outlets.

Public VIP buses run long-distance from the terminal to all favourite tourist destinations in the far south and west of the city, giving reliable, regulated and safe travel. Although bus companies located in Bangkok’s Khao San Road may quote lower prices, they’re not recommended, as thefts have occurred during the journey and the buses are less well maintained.

Booking online in advance is the best way forward, especially in the high season if you’re heading to southerly destinations such as Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Hat Yai, Trang, Phuket, Krabi or remote offshore islands. Travel time to Phuket, for example, is 12 hours, with buses leaving in the evening or early morning.

For arrivals, getting from the Southern Bus Terminal to Bangkok’s Old City district is easiest by metered taxi, although the local air-conditioned bus 511 runs to Khao San Road and on to Rachatewi BTS station and Pratunam district. Bus 515 runs to Victory Monument in the downtown district, and average bus fares are 17 baht. Local white minibuses leave for downtown when full, every 30 minutes or so, and charge around 30 baht.

The Southern Bus Terminal, converted from a shopping mall in 2007, offers modern facilities as well as a good number of shops, stalls, restaurants and fast-food outlets. The ticket counters are located on the first floor to the right of the main retail and refreshment area.

Rom Klao - Bus

Rom Klao is situated in Bangkok’s Lat Krabang district in the east end of the city. It is just north of Suvarnabhumi Airport and less the two kilometres from the Lad Krabang airport link into the city centre. Many buses that depart the airport for the city make a stop at Rom Klao’s bus station.

The bus station in Rom Klao sits off of ICD Alley just north of Motorway 7 and there is an ATM close by as well as two 7-Eleven stores on Lat Krabang Road. Places of interest in the area include The Royal Golf and Country Club, Prasat Museum and Pattaya Pak Pet Fishing Park. Due to its proximity to Bangkok’s main air hub there are a number of places to stay, such as Queen’s Garden, Convenient Resort and Mariya Boutique Residence.

Chatuchak Bus Park - Bus

Chatuchak Bus Park sits in the Chatuchak area of Bangkok, north of the city centre and less than one kilometre from Bangkok’s Mochit bus station. A plethora of buses depart from Bangkok Mochit to destinations north of the city, while buses in and around Bangkok leave from the Chatuchak Bus Park.

Don Mueang International Airport is connected by public transport or a taxi to Chatuchak Bus Park, which is only a 10-minute drive away. The Bangkok Metro’s Chatuchak Park MRT station makes arriving in the area by metro simple, with tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis and regular taxis available to take you to the bus park.

Chatuchak Bus Park is situated on Kham Phaeng Phet 6 right under the Sirat Expressway at the eastern end of Chatuchak district. It is an open air bus station with a snack vendor who also acts as a ticket agent.

There are a number of places of interest close to Chatuchak Bus Park, such as the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, Chatuchak Park, Queen Sirikit Park and Elephant Tower. There is also a good selection of accommodations, including the Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok, Elizabeth Hotel, G9 Bangkok and Lat Phrao Hotel.

Thon Buri - train

Thonburi Rail is the main departure point for trains bound to Kanchanaburi Province, all other trains going beyond on the southern route should leave from the Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok.

Southern Thais used to occupy nearby lands along the train station's vicinity and then settle down permanently as trains coming from the South used to arrive here constantly.

The Wang Lang Market, a destination for cheap local food, is the most popular landmark to get to Thonburi Station.

Bang Khae BMT 6 - Bus

Bang Khae BMT 6 is a bus station in Bangkok’s Bang Khae district, west of the Chao Phraya River and just a stone’s throw away from the Bang Waek Canal. Over 10 local bus lines connect Bang Khae BMT 6 with the rest of the city.

Bus 79 connects Bang Khae BMT 6 with the Bangkok Sai Tai Taling Chan Southern bus terminal, with departures every 10 minutes. The nearby Bang Wa BTS station makes it easy to arrive in the area by Skytrain, and there are three bus lines that run from the station to Bang Khae BMT 6 every 5 to 10 minutes.

Bang Khae BMT 6 is on Thanon Bang Pnai, which runs between Motorway 9 and Thanon Phuttha Monthon Sai 2. There is a 7-Eleven within short walking distance or a motorbike taxi ride away, while Big C Supercentre and Future Park Bang Khae are great options in the area for shopping and dining.

Wat Bunya Pra Dit is within walking distance of Bang Khae BMT 6, while other places of interest close by include Wat Pai Liang, Samphran Crocodile Farm and Wat Wisit Bun Ya Wat. There are a few good places to stay, such as Chakrabongse Villas, Sandra Inn and Diamond Sweet Home.

Sun Bus Vibhavadi Soi 17 - Bus

Vibhavadi Soi 17, also known as 17 Vibhavadi Rangsit, is situated north of central Bangkok in the lively district of Chatuchak, best known for its namesake park and weekend market, which is the biggest weekend market in both Bangkok and the entire country. The Mochit BTS station, conveniently located next to Chatuchak Park, is among Thailand's biggest and busiest bus stations and is also the Bangkok Skytrain's northern terminus.

Bus connections to all northern Thai provinces begin at the Northern Bus Terminal.
Chatuchak also contains four Bangkok Subway (MRT) stations and a variety of hotels ranging from the five-star Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok to the unique boutique penthouse of Sasha House. Pannapat Place is a more modest three-star option on Ratchadapisek Road.

Khlong Rangsit - train

Rangsit is a suburb in the north of Bangkok along Phahonyothin Road. The distance to Don Muang Airport is about 20 km. Near the train station you will find several boat noodle shops in stationary boats floating in the canal along the road.And there is the Future Park Shopping Mall, one of the biggest shopping centers in Asia. You won't find any tourists here, but maybe some expats who live nearby. There is also Talad Thai, one оf Asia's largest fresh produce markets. This market іs quite different to other markets and it sells about 15,000 tons of produce frоm farmers frоm аll оver the country. The market іs а place to buy all kind оf food (vegetables, fruits, beef, pork, duck, chicken, fish, seafood), flowers and OTOP handcrafted products.

Bang Sue - train

Bang sue Junction is located at Thoet Damri Road, Chatuchak District.The junction has 2 station buildings with 3 railway lines: North line, Northeast line and South line. About 1.5 kilometers away from the junction is Phahonyothin Cargo Yard, the largest rail yard in Thailand.

Northern line is bound to Chiang Mai while the Northeastern is toward Ubon Ratchathani or Thanaleng. Southern line is off to Su-ngai Kolok Railway Station.

Bang sue Junction transport links also include Bangkok MRT and BMTA transit. Bang sue MRT station is the subway terminal station opposite Hua Lamphong.

Bus routes from Bang sue Junction:

50 Rama VII - Lumphini Park
52 Pak Kret - Bang sue
65 Wat Pak Naom - Sanam Luang
70 Prachaniwet 3 - Sanam Luang
97Ministry of Public Health - Buddhist Monks' Hospital

Lak Si - train

Lak Si Railway Station is located at the northern part of Bangkok City and is near the Immigration Office at Chaeng Wattana. From Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok, there are over 30 trains that would do stops in Lak Si.

Bang Khae BMT - Bus

Bang Khae BMT is a Bangkok Mass Transit stop that, when completed in 2016, will be along Bangkok’s Blue Line. The area sits on the west side of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok and is accessible by local bus from numerous points throughout the city. Buses also depart from Bangkok’s Taling Chan railway station for Bang Khae BMT every 10 minutes.

The Southern bus terminal is around nine kilometres away, making it easy to arrive at Bang Khae BMT from a destination in southern Thailand. From the bus terminal local buses and taxis make the trip to the area, as do local tuk-tuks. Both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports are just a taxi ride away, making flying another option.

The Bang Khae BMT stop will be on Thanon Phetkasem Road between Future Park Mall Bang Khae and Big C Supercentre. There are a number of ATMs and restaurants in the area as well as in the nearby shopping malls where passengers can grab a snack or a meal.

Places of interest in and around Bang Khae BMT include the Thai Boat Museum Taling Chan, Wat Bang Bon, Samphran Crocodile Farm and Wat Nimmanaradi. There are a few places to stay in the area, including Sandra Inn, Diamond Sweet Home and Venezia Resort & Hotel.

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