"Generally" about Bangkok in Thailand - getting there, moving around the City for sightseeing plus hotels and restaurants.
The Thai Capital City of Bangkok is huge and sprawls for quite a few kilometres - it has a population of around 6.5 million plus
another 12 million residents live in Bangkok's outer areas. Bangkok's transportation systems cannot even remotely be described as efficient apart from perhaps the local and public ferries which do seem to work fairly well along the winding Chao Phraya River. The roads in the City are more or less grid-locked
during daylight hours and well into the evening particularly around Sukhumvit - there are several mass transport rails lines but these are not co-ordinated and
do not particularly link locations which tourists probably are interested in getting too such as The Grand Palace and Wat Arun.
Compared to for instance Vietnam and Cambodia,
Bangkok is a quite expensive City to stay in in regard to restaurants (although street-food is widespread and reasonably inexpensive), for moving around and for getting a reasonable standard of hotel.
Travelling too and from Bangkok in Thailand By Air.
There are two airports serving Bangkok - Don Mueang Airport is located fairly close to Bangkok (northern edge of the city) but mostly handles internal
flights. Bangkok's primary airport for international and some internal flights is located at Suvarnabhumi Airport (which is to the south-west and around 25kms from central
Bangkok). Well served with a multi lane trunk road it is nevertheless important to allow over an hour to get to Suvarnabhumi Airport from central Bangkok
because of generally severe congestion within the city.
One of the best ways to get into Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi (and Don Mueang) is by meter-taxi
especially after a long tiring international flight - typically these public metered taxis will cost around 450 or so Baht to get you right into Bangkok.
Once through passport etc. the first thing you find are lots of taxi and limousine desks and so on plus plenty of touts approaching you for your business. These
services are usually far more expensive - instead go out of the Arrivals gates and on the left there is a desk dealing with
- they note where you want to go too and allocate the next available taxi from a pool. You should also have around 200 Baht in cash available since there are two tolls on the
trunk road into Bangkok which you are expected to pay when reached (on top of the eventual meter cost).
Travelling out from Bangkok By Air.
As above metered taxis are by far the best way to get to the airport although you might
get a better agreed rate from one of the taxis which hover outside your hotel - remember to factor in the toll costs though. The system of getting through
Suvarnabhumi Airport is: check in baggage, fill in your departure form, go to passport control where they will take your photo, then on to security for
scanning etc. (metal belt, mobiles, watch, purse, wallet, laptop etc. all have to go into the tray for scanning) and that's it. The airport has a huge
concourse lined with what are actually very expensive and therefore quite empty of customers famous-name shops, there are also a few duty free shops selling a reasonable variety of cigarettes, tobacco and booze - also various cafes etc. It's worth noting that once you leave this area and go on down to the Departure
Gates there are no shops/cafes available. There are several small often crowded and stinky smoking room available - also wifi is available free of charge throughout the airport.
Bangkok Hotels and where in the City to stay i.e. near the river and the Palace and Wats or further out.
Look on the web and there are seemingly thousands of hotels to chose from in Bangkok - with
prices often quoted at maybe 35 to 45 USD a night. These priced rooms may well exist but you can bet that even having a window for such a price let alone any
reasonable standard in room size and basic facility is not too likely. Also low priced accommodation is likely to be in a really poor area and/or miles away
from where a tourist will want to visit (remember Bangkok's severe congestion). In central Bangkok and close to the river it is very easy to pay well over 150 USD a night
for nothing too special - move away a little to say one of the Sukhumvit area hotels then prices for a reasonable room are around 55 to 70 USD a night. Another area to consider which is quite good to stay and not too expensive is around Democracy Monument (Ratchadamnoen) - this is just a few km away from the River, Wat Arun and the Palace. Remember that there can be various taxes added onto the room rates (possibly up to 17%) so check out if these plus perhaps breakfast are included in the quote.
Paying for hotel accommodation. Bangkok can have a somewhat weird system as far as payments are concerned - the hotels (particularly apartment-hotels) may
well take the full amount (plus may add a few 100 Baht a day on to the agreed room rate for breakage etc.) - the amount concerned is not actually removed from
your account but is frozen until checkout. This can be quite annoying if you do not realise this has occurred since you can easily think you have a better
available balance on your card than actually exists. The hotels can also take at least 4 days to credit back any difference once you have checked out (for instance if
you were leaving Thailand and had a few 1000 Baht left which could be used as partial payment in cash).
Getting Around and About in Bangkok - taxis, tuk-tuks, ferries etc.
There are a variety of taxis
operating around the city - the best value are the metered variety - even though the journey may take some time the meters do not tick up hardly at all unless
the taxi is actually moving. If you use an agreed price for a taxi journey you really need to specify number of passengers, any luggage and who pays any tolls if applicable - before you get in the taxi.
Short journeys can be good fun and quite fast by using the tuk-tuks
but again you need to be absolutely certain that you have agreed the price and number of passengers. Tuk-tuk drivers are inclined to decide on their on volition to make stops at certain shops or
outlets rather than take you directly to your destination - you need to be quite clear and firm about whether you wish this or not. They may despite everything just pull in on the way and try and talk you into some trip or other - just threaten and if necessary get out the tuk-tuk and find another unless they agree to simply complete the agreed trip. If wandering around the streets perhaps also beware of "helpful" people who stop you and ask where you are going - then give some sort of advice on sites to visit. They are probably trying to
get you to go to an expensive clothes/ jewellry outlet or similar and conveniently you find there is a tuk-tuk waiting with whom your helpful person does a low cost deal to get you there. That said, generally locals will try and help you find your way to somewhere if you approach them yourselves.
BTS Sky train in Bangkok.
This system can be used to get across or around parts of Bangkok - there are two lines with one running from On Nut via Nana and Sukhumvit (Sukhumvit area) - Siam (Metro interchange) and on to Mo Chi. The other Sky train line runs between National Stadium - Siam (interchange) and
Wongwian Yai. Metro interchange is near to Mo Chit, Asok and Siam. The trains themselves are totally covered in adverts on the outside but you can see out of them whilst travelling inside. If you wish to go to the Grand Palace one way which is interesting is to take the Sky train to Saphin Taksin (which is right by
the river), then take an orange flag public ferry up to Tha Chang Pier 9 (costs about 15 Baht) and then it's just a short walk on up to the Grand Palace.
The 21 kilometre long underground system in Bangkok is known as the Blue line and connects 18 stations between Bang Sue and Hua Lamphong with interchange near to the Sky train stations as mentioned above - ticket prices are on average 35 Baht.
Bangkok Ferries along the Chao Phraya River and some canals.
The orange flag public ferries run up and down the river around 2 to 3 times an hour and are a cheap way of seeing the various buildings alongside the river as well as the many other boats plying up and down. The ferries do get heavily crowded at times - you buy your ticket on the boat - most of the Tha's
have an orange flag pier. There are other boats available with perhaps the most frequent of which are the blue flag boats which are designed for tourist use. There are a variety of tickets available from one stop only trips to multi stops - any blue flag pier will have a ticket desk where you can get information/help
and work out what you want and where you want to visit (tickets are pre-paid for at the desks). In addition at most Piers you will find local ferries which simply criss-cross the river - these are pretty simple boats and cost just a few Baht per trip which you pay for when you get off.
Other boats for hire to use for a small group trip around the canals and river in Bangkok.
At several of the main "tourist" stops you can hire a long tail or similar boat just for yourselves and have a trip for an hour or two - with options of stopping off at canal side Wats and Temples on the way or perhaps just taking a non-stop cruise. Depending on what and where you want to go and stop at the prices are very negotiable - with
perhaps the best prices available during the tourist quiet times around early afternoon. Expect to pay around 1500 to 2000 Baht for around an hour and a half trip along parts of the Chao Phraya and via several canals.
Bangkok Restaurants - eating etc.
. There are lots of stalls and carts selling varieties of Thai food all round the city and also there
are carts selling melon, pineapple, apples and so on. Often the large slices of fruit are kept on ice which makes eating them really refreshing on a hot humid day - just pick which you want and it is sliced up and bagged in seconds - just 20 or so Baht a bag.
There are plenty of restaurants around Nana in the Sukhumvit area - lots of Indian
and Thai restaurants with prices varying considerably on location - as are the amounts of food served up. Typically expect to pay around 170 to 250 Baht for a typical Thai dish. Tiger beer is available pretty much everywhere - either draft or bottled - a pint of draught Tiger cost around 130 Baht.
Shopping in Bangkok.
There are market stalls selling everything from fake designer clothes to watches to leather goods to jewellery to you name it everywhere in the City. There are also some huge department stores dotted around especially near Silom but in reality price-wise they
are not anything special and often are not can be quite empty of actual shoppers. People seem to rave about the shopping possibilities in Bangkok but generally much of the stuff for sale, at least along the roadsides, is either fake and perhaps "iffy" or very expensive compared to prices you can anyway acheive in for instance in England.
Ideas on Places for Touring and Sightseeing in Bangkok.
Two not to be missed tourist attractions are the The Grand Palace and Wat Arun Temple - please see our link below for photos and information about visiting these two locations.
A boat ride along the Chao Phraya River and some of Bangkok's canals is also a great way to spend a few hours. You can either negotiate your boat price directly or perhaps join a tour -
several lesser known but very beautiful temples especially along the canals are very easy to visit by using these small boats. See our other topic about wandering around Bangkok for information and pictures.
Bangkok is extremely busy and all this sightseeing gets quite wearing after a few hours - also of course the weather is usually hot and very humid. A perfect
solution (in addition to perhaps having a cooling boat ride on the river) is to wander off or get a tuk-tuk to visit the really lovely Lumphini Park Gardens - see below for a topic about this.
Our other Topics related to visiting, sightseeing and looking around in Bangkok.