Bangkok, BKK, Krungthep. Thailand’s capital city, Asia’s transport hub, and your gateway into everything the country has to offer. When it comes to planning your stay here, there are countless possibilities, from the traditional tourist routes, to the local tips and tricks we can give you. Here is our short guide to Bangkok
Arriving at the airport
Depending what time you get to BKK Suvarnabhumi airport, you will be presented with different routes. If you plan ahead enough you can try to get to grips with the underground train routes which you can take to pretty much anywhere in the city (To get to the underground just head to the bottom of the floor of the airport and follow the ‘trainy’ looking signs. Alternatively shout MRT loudly at anybody looking vaguely official). If you can’t be bothered with that after your god knows how many hours long flight, you can jump in the queue for a taxi. The taxis here have a bit of a bad rep, but I’ve never been ripped off, and they seem to run pretty standard rates. Beware that at peak times, the traffic is bad and your fare will go up.
What looks like a manic, hodge podge of traffic and chaos….normally is a manic, hodge podge of traffic and chaos. This is why I like to stick to the BTS skytrain, or motorbike taxis if I’m just going a short way. If you are here for longer than a few days then I would recommend getting a rabbit card. Instead of queuing up or searching for coins, it’s a swipe and go top up system that rarely fails. Just make sure you get on the train heading in the right direction.
Obviously tuk-tuks are part of the experience, but save it for a novelty spin around some scenic back streets, as they are often overpriced and pretty forceful in getting you to visit their friend’s suit shop or travel agents.
The temples here are truly sublime, although you don’t need to see them all. Wat Pho is spectacularly beautiful, with a never ending maze of decorative interiors, and the huge golden reclining Buddha. Wat Arun is another truly iconic landmark of Bangkoks riverside landscape. It is worth visiting this in the day and floating past it at night.
The Grand Palace is a big priority on many people’s lists. It’s big enough to spend the best part of a day here and it really is impressive. At 500 baht it’s one of the more expensive things to do but you get access to Wat Phra Kaew and a few other places too.
Chatuchak weekend market ONLY RUNS AT THE WEEKEND. My first experience there was kind of weird because it was a Wednesday. When I actually got there on a Saturday it was overwhelmingly awesome. Bigger than you can possibly imagine, with literally everything available, from trendy clothes to weird Asian collectibles.
Asiatique is a huge open air shopping mall overlooking the Chaopraya river. It’s not very ‘traditional Thai’ but it sums up everything about modern Thailand. Cool handcrafted goods, awesome food, and great people watching opportunities.
The Siam Shopping malls are about as different as you can get from the street stall markets that take up the majority of Bangkok and Thailand. Beautiful wealthy people come here to eat fancy food and buy posh clothes. The food courts offer some great classic Thai dishes and there are always some weird displays on. Honestly it’s also pretty nice to just stroll around in air conditioning for ages.
One of the coolest ways to take in Bangkok’s skyline is from a skybar, a roof top bar looking out onto the city. There is of course the one made famous by the movie ‘The Hangover’, but there are many more, less busy and just as cool. Our favourite is Hi So at So Sofitel in Lumphini.
Khao San is the backpacker meeting place of Asia. If you want to swap stories and meet new faces, head down here for travel tips, big eating, cheap beer, street atmosphere, and elephant trousers.
There are more nightclubs emerging all the time here. The most accessible is probably Levels on Sukhumvit. Free entry, but make sure you aren’t wearing shorts and flip flops. One of the best places to go is the RCA (Royal City Avenue) where they have a few clubs next to each other. Route 66 is free entry if you buy a bottle of spirits.
Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, Patpong. Places all famous for one reason. If you want a huge cultural shock, head here. Girls hang out waiting for customers to attend to their every need. Girls dance scantily clad on stage, and men ogle unashamedly. If this is your thing then it’s worth seeing, if this isn’t your thing then it’s also worth seeing.