Why go to Bangkok
Is there another Asian capital where the latest progress and traditional lifestyle blend in such a harmony as in Bangkok? Bold skyscrapers pierce the skies, golden temples adorn the city; chic shopping malls host top world brands while the vibrant street markets tempt with delicious flavours of the yummiest and spiciest local dishes. State-of-the-art skytrain cuts through the city, flying high above the street bustle, clumsy ferries ply the muddy waters of the Chao Phraya River and it seems that real magic helps speeding cheerful pink, yellow and green taxis find their way through the labyrinths of incredible Bangkok spaghetti junctions.
As centuries ago, the stately prangs of Wat Arun catch the first rays of sun dawning over the capital and the dazzling chedis of Wat Phra Kaew shine bright. Austere giant Yaks guard the capital while the Bangkokians and the guests of the Land of Smile alike dine and wine in the vertigo rooftop restaurants, work, party and picnic. Steel and concrete have not yet taken control over leafy parks and squares, and quaint khlongs embraced by wide modern thoroughfares are reminiscent of the times when the Bangkok of today was only a newborn.
From Phnom Penh to Bangkok
Though the road distance from Phnom Penh to Bangkok is less than 700 km, a bus trip will take you about 13 hours due to border formalities. Flying saves a great deal of time but is at least twice as expensive as going by bus. There is an impressive choice of flights during the day while if you are looking for a direct overland service, currently there is only one departure a day.
From Phnom Penh to Bangkok by bus
The direct bus service between Phnom Penh and Bangkok was first launched in February, 2013. Since then the schedule of the service has been changed several times and alas, currently there is no night departure any more. Now Phnom Penh–Bangkok bus departs daily at 6am from Preah Ang Non (102 Street) – look for a big blue sign ‘Rith Mony Transport Co’. The bus reaches Bangkok by 7pm the same day; tickets cost ~USD35 (THB1150).
The bus itself is a usual big bus with reclining soft seats, four per row, with rather limited leg space, freezing air-conditioning and toilets on board. It makes several pit stops en route so you can stretch your legs, use normal toilets or stock up on munchies in small convenience stores. Some snacks, a bottle of water and lunch (rice and curry) are provided during the trip to ensure you will not die of hunger.
Exiting Cambodia and entering Thailand is normally easy. The only inconvenience you can face is long queues which are common at Poipet–Aranyaprathet border crossing. The majority of nationalities get their 15 or 30-day stamp on arrival in Thailand, check your case in advance.
The direct bus from Phnom Penh to Bangkok brings you from Cambodia to Thailand overland faster than if you combine several separate trips but you may still prefer to split your journey into several parts to make it less tiring. There are a lot of bus departures from Phnom Penh to Poipet throughout the day. All the buses take from 7 to 8 hours to get to the Thai border and cost between USD11 and USD16. Your best bet is to leave Phnom Penh not later than 11am otherwise you risk reaching the border crossing too late and have to stay in Poipet for the night.
On the Thai side, instead of going directly to the bus station in the centre of town, check the bus stand at Rong Kluea market, located just behind the Thai immigration offices. There are direct buses from there to Ekkamai bus terminal in Bangkok (THB240; four hours), though it may be difficult to get a seat for the next bus. You can also take a tuk-tuk to get to the train station to get to Bangkok by train.
Flights from Phnom Penh to Bangkok
Flying is undoubtedly the fastest and most convenient way to get from Phnom Penh to Bangkok. Flights last 1 hour 20 minutes only and arrive to the both Bangkok airports. The only drawback of flying is its price.
The only low-cost airline, currently serving the route, is AirAisa. Out of promotion periods it sells tickets for USD60 (THB2000) and up; add your check-in luggage if you have one, meals and seats at your choice and you find yourself paying a hundred bucks. AirAsia flies to the second Bangkok’s airport, Don Mueang. To get to the city from the airport, use A1 and A2 shuttle buses which bring you to Morchit BTS and Victory Monument respectively. The latter calls en route to Saphan Kwai BTS, Ari BTS and Sanam Pao BTS (THB30). A1 is especially useful if you are going to continue your journey from Bangkok to some northern or northeastern destinations by bus.
If you prefer to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport, you can choose between Thai Airways and Bangkok Air. Neither is cheap and one-way ticket will set you back about USD200 (THB7000), though luggage and meals are included into the ticket price in this case.
Note that many bus companies offer direct transfer from Suvarnabhumi to the most popular tourist destinations, including Pattaya, Huahin or Koh Chang.
How to get around in Bangkok
Bangkok is arguably one of the friendliest cities in South East Asia as far as getting around is concerned. The city is notorious for its traffic jams, true, but out of rush hour taxis are a great way to move around the city. Brightly coloured and ubiquitous, they are wonderfully affordable with rated printed either on the window or on a table inside the car. Taxi drivers tend to use metres by default and even if they can be a bit reluctant to give you a lift to a neighbouring street, with longer hops there are no problems.
There are motorbike taxis, too, and they are a good solution for shorter trips.
Not to depend of traffic, use Bangkok BTS, aka Skytrain. Besides being an efficient means of transportation, this elevated monorail system gives you an opportunity to catch beautiful glimpses of the city from above. Especially useful for Sukhumvit area. Single ride tickets cost from THB15 to THB42.
The underground metro (MRT) has just two lines in operation with four more coming between 2021 and 2025. The blue line passes through Hua Lamphong railway station; the purple one is helpful for travelling to Thonburi. Single trips are paid by special tokens available at the stations.
Public buses are cheap and cover the whole city with their network. With a map of routes published on Bangkok Transit official web site it is easy to figure your way around.
Finally, a very useful public means of transport is river boats cruising along Chao Phraya River and Bangkok khlongs. They help you beat the road traffic and bring you to the most famous attractions of Bangkok, including the Royal Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Tickets cost from THB12 depending on the line; THB5 for the cross-river ferry to Wat Arun.
Where to stay in Bangkok
It is easy to get lost in the sprawling neighbourhoods of Bangkok and become totally confused by the endless accommodation options on offer. First thing to do is to define the budget you are going to spend on accommodation and take into consideration the activities you are planning to be engaged in while in Bangkok.
A perennial backpackers’ favourite, Khao San Road and a couple of adjacent streets, including Soi Rambuttri, Soi Phra Atit and Soi Samsen, is the realm of budget accommodation in the capital with all the traveller-oriented services readily available. Chinatown, known as Yaowarat, possesses infinite charm for any city explorer and boasts very decent budget guesthouses. Silom and lower parts of Sukhumvit Road both have solid mad-range hotels normally located within a walking distance from BTS stations. For a shopaholic paradise head to the centrally located Siam but be prepared to pay no less than THB2000 for a simple room. The atmospheric Riverside is famous for its luxury hotels but for budget digs Thanon Charoen Krung is worth browsing.
Things to do in Bangkok
Time spent in Bangkok is never enough as the city offers virtually endless opportunities for exploring, sightseeing, dining and wining. While everyone will surely find an activity and a destination within Bangkok to their tasting, no visit to the Thai capital is complete without:
- Checking-in at the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew where the most revered image of Buddha in the whole country is hosted.
- A heavenly massage session at Wat Pho, the national headquarters of preservation of Thai medicine.
- A drink in one of the glamorous rooftop bars with an outstanding city view in a company of beautiful crowd.
- A river boat ride along Chao Phraya elbow to elbow with other commuters and unexpected water splashes into your face.
- Browsing the narrow twisted aisles of the crazy Chatuchak weekend market selling a wealth of souvenirs, cheap closes, local designer creations and exotic animals.
- A relaxed afternoon at Jim Thompson House, a leafy little oasis of peace and tranquillity by the side of a khlong.
- A strenuous ascend to the main prang of Wat Arun or to the top of the Golden Mountain.
- A ride on a skytrain for a bird’s eye view of the city.
Have a pleasant stay in Bangkok. Relax and enjoy – we know, you will!
Onward travel from Bangkok
The capital of the country, Bangkok is a major transportation hub of Thailand. All the railway routes originate from Hua Lamphong, Bangkok’s main railway station. Two largest bus terminals, the Northern bus terminal Morchit and the Southern bus terminal Sai Tai Mai serve northern and northeastern (the former) and southern destinations (the latter). The most popular routes from Bangkok you may be interested in include the former Lanna capital Chiang Mai, in the north, a variety of sea resorts on the Andaman coast, i.e. Phuket or Krabi and the famous trio of the islands of the Gulf, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.