Bangkok Travel Guide
Bangkok is a city that thrives on contrasts and embraces the weird, the wonderful, and the whacky. Its happy essence and vibrant nature is owed to the everyday hustle and daily grind of the people. A place like no other, enriched with culture and many delights that go way beyond a plate of Pad Thai. This city is a must see and an experience to remember any time you visit. From the casual tuk-tuk, market stalls, trendy skyscrapers and delicious food, the city harnesses a plethora of appeal.
With many popular neighborhoods to explore and plenty of traditional, world class foods to try. Whatever you're here for, this is a destination that delivers romance, adventure, and family time.
In an unreservedly soulful city, you can expect nothing less.
It is without a doubt an oriental heavyweight, beloved for its pulsating Soi's, nightlife, food, and spa's. And, contrary to common belief, this 'big smoke' has plenty of greenery at its fingertips for those wanting a break from the noise. And just for good measure, the views in Bangkok are not to be missed, offering unrivalled seclusion from the concrete jungle. Climb the Sky Bars at night and be rewarded with a sparkling metropolis twinkling in its glory.
Sashaying with the sweet, the sour, and everything in between, there is no denying that the Land of Smiles will capture your senses and your heart.
Indochina Time (ICT)
Best Time to Go
Thai Buddhist New Year (otherwise known as 'Songkran') is a celebration the locals (of all ages) eagerly await all year round. On April 13, this metropolitan city shuts down for a three-day holiday. The locals then proceed to the streets, to have what can only be described as the biggest water festival in the world!
If the thought of this screams adventure to you, then don't forget to pack your brightest floral shirt and your best water gun! Check out Bangkok's Silom, a neighborhood where the atmosphere is pumping, the roads are closed off and the water barrels are lining the streets.
The easiest way to get there is by hopping on the BTS Skytrain (Silom or dark green line) and following the herds of brightly patterned shirts. Upon exiting the station, you will be greeted with some friendly, splashin' fun. If having water thrown on you randomly in the street isn't really your thing, then avoiding most parts of this country, at this time of year, is probably a good idea!
FYI: This time of year is HOT, HOT, HOT. In fact, April is known for being the hottest month of the year, so if you are averse to strong heat and humidity do check out the cooler months of the year.
Throughout the months of January and February, Bangkok proudly presents the very chilled Concert in the Park. Starting at 5:30 p.m. every Sunday, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra plays a two-hour set, consisting of stunning compositions from both Thai and Western music. You can expect to hear plenty of popular classics from the big movies, musicals, and pop band heroes. Do as the locals do by taking a blanket or folding chairs, plus your favourite picnic essentials. You'll be ready to settle in and soak up the atmosphere.
November to February are generally the cooler months in most parts of Thailand, including Bangkok. However, if you're planning a trip to the islands from the capital do check the weather carefully. Whilst some areas of northern Thailand are determined by the three distinct climates, there are southern regions governed by just two. These areas are known for getting more rainfall.
Things to Know
Bangkok is a huge bustling city with a population of over 10 million and its bold colours and cool vibrations span over 50 districts making it impossible to absorb it all in a single trip. With so much to see and do, this is a city that loves an itinerary. It's also a city that loves wandering feet — being ready to trail off the beaten path and throw away the schedule could pay off in dividends.
Bangkok Soi's (streets/alleys) are well known for their hidden gems. Some have more pop-ups than a pogo stick, so being prepared to go with the flow could full-well deliver the magic you never expected.
Get used to the idea of using the BTS Skytrain and the MRT rail lines, otherwise getting anywhere fast will likely be a stickler for your trip. Traffic can be a deadlock, especially at peak times of the day. Planning your mode of transport ahead of time could be the key to unlocking extra time in a mind-blowing city.
The city is a food haven for anyone who loves exotic, hearty, and flavorsome cooking. With so many dishes to try, do your palate a favour and start off with the following favourites: Khao Soi, Pad Thai, Som Tam, Massaman Curry, Laab, Pak Boong, and Penang Curry. And there's plenty more where they came from. With a mix of unique textures, flavors, and cultural influences, don't be surprised if you fall in love with authentic Thai cuisine.
The Thai people generally pride themselves on being respectful and polite, with this you can expect to be greeted with the Wai (palms together at your chest accompanied with a subtle bow of the head) — reciprocate to share the warm sentiment. It is illegal to defame or insult the King or any members of the royal family. To avoid any misunderstanding, steer clear of any mention of his royal highness.
Find flights: AirAsia: https://www.airasia.com/en/gb
Currency: Baht (BHT) 1.00 US Dollar = 31.145097 Thai Baht
To express gratitude and warm regards, always add khap (only if you're male), or ka (only if you're female) at the end of everything you say, this will score you brownie points with the locals. Khap or Ka is considered a polite way to show respect.
Hello & Goodbye: Sawasdee (sa- whah- dee) (add: Ka/Khap)
Thank you: Kohp koon (add: Ka/Khap)
Yes: Chı̀ No: Mi (add: Ka/Khap)
I don't speak Thai: C̄hạn mị̀ phūd p̣hās̄ʹā thịy
I'm lost: C̄hạn h̄lng thāng
I would like: C̄hạn t̂xngkār
Learn more Thai phrases with IHG: Translator APP.
Calling Code: +66
Capital City: Bangkok
How to Get Around
Bangkok is brimming with transport options and choosing the right mode that is fit for your journey is vital.
Trains: The BTS Skytrain is most likely the most convenient way to reach your destination in the shortest time possible. There are sixty-one stations along three main lines, and it's extending every day. This mode of transport is cheaper than taxis and covers all the major Bangkok neighborhoods. Sukhumvit and Silom being the most popular lines for locals and tourists alike. With waiting times averaging less than five minutes, you can hop on this friendly service and know that you'll experience the convenience of time, as well as air conditioned and clean carriages. Be prepared to be 'packed in' during peak times. Have cash available to buy instant tickets from the machines or take your passport to purchase a Rabbit Card for regular Skytrain use. Your journey will start from around $0.45 for one stop. If you know you'll be making good use of the service, take your passport and buy a rabbit card. Sticking $10 on it should have you covered for a while, and you can top up anytime. The best part is claiming back the cost of the card (and what you didn't spend) at the end of your trip is easy. Just return it to any Skytrain kiosk.
The MRT is Bangkok's rapid underground rail system. Like the Skytrain, the MRT has a quick turnaround and covers vast areas of Bangkok, including the old quarters. Take cash to exchange for tokens or cards.
Both BTS and the MRT are interconnected at popular stations for seamless overlaps in city travel.
Taxis: Bangkok taxis are everywhere and come in an array of funky colours, adding a wash of blue, orange, pink, green, and yellow to an already vivacious bustling scene. Even though flagging a cab down is relatively easy, depending on the time of day, a 10-minute journey may end up taking an hour or so. Traffic is relentlessly jammed pretty much everywhere you go, especially during peak times.
It's also worth noting that some drivers may not have the meter on when you get in, this happens a lot in tourist areas. Be sure to check and ask for "Meter kah/khap?" before you hop in.
Generally, it's very normal for a driver to communicate with you via the passenger window before unlocking the doors and letting you in. Having maps open and your address pinned for easy view can speed up the process.
Paying: Carrying loose coins and small notes is a good way to avoid being (unintentionally) short changed. Some drivers may claim they don't have small coins/notes to give back to you. When you come to pay, round up your fare to the nearest five or 10 baht, this can also make the transaction easier for both parties.
Motorbike Taxis: A popular (and fun) way to travel for short distances, particularly from train stations. The bikes can get into the nooks and crannies of the Soi's and easily duck and dive their way through the hot traffic. Having some basic Thai is recommended, as is being able to communicate your destination. Carrying your own helmet is highly advised, but most will provide one, if you ask.
Basic language to learn:
Go Left: Pị thāng ŝāy
Go Right: Pị thāng k̄hwā
Straight on: Trng pị
Stop here: H̄yud trng nī̂
Tuk-Tuk: A cultural emblem and still a somewhat reliable mode of transport in the heart of Bangkok. Flagging one down shouldn't be too difficult, especially around the tourist area of Siam. Prices will vary wildly and a 10-minute spin could set you back around 300baht. Sharpening up the bartering skills may be essential. Some hotels will have their own free Tuk-Tuk ready and waiting to drop guests at the nearest BTS/MRT station.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Sukhumvit: Sukhumvit is Thailand's longest road, lined with trendy neighborhoods, malls, hotels, bars and restaurants. This action-packed area is not only a fantastic transport hub but is also the main commercial and entertainment district. Home to expats and locals residing in the many high-rise Condominium and side street Soi's.
Siam: Siam is the centerpiece of Bangkok (the old capital), a commercial district with plenty of shopping options and a hub for transport and entertainment. Siam Square is what gives Bangkok its nickname: City of Angels. A place of contrasts, vibrant art, and trendy hangout spots.
Sathorn/Silom: A lively area with plenty of hustle and things to see and do. Whilst Silom covers the southside of Lumpini park and Chao Phraya River, Sathorn is perched on the edge of Silom and is mainly known for being the financial district.Chinatown - The oldest district in Bangkok and famous for its infusion of both Thai and Chinese culture. Known for its bright colors, historical temples, delicious street food, and walks that make you feel like you're really exploring the quintessence of Bangkok.
Regardless of the time of year, Bangkok is always very hot and humid. A tropical 'year-round' climate means you will very rarely need a jacket, but you might need a Poncho.
November through to March is regarded to be the cooler, less humid months. Saying that. temperatures can still soar as high as 90 degrees, especially as the days edge closer towards the hottest month of year, April. Bangkok is prone to sporadic showers of the year and guaranteed during the rainy season, where impressive thunderous storms will have you running for shelter. Throughout the whole year you can expect up to nine to 10 hours of daylight, with the sun setting between 6 - 7 p.m.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month:
January: 70°F to 90°F (Cool Season)
February: 73°F to 91°F (Cool Season)
March: 77°F to 93°F (Hot Season)
April: 79°F to 95°F (Hot Season)
May: 79°F to 93°F (Hot Season)
June: 79°F to 91°F (Hot Season)
July: 79°F to 91°F (Monsoon Season)
August: 79°F to 91°F (Monsoon Season)
September: 77°F to 90°F (Monsoon Season)
October: 77°F to 90°F (Monsoon Season)
November: 75°F to 88°F (Cool Season)
December: 70°F to 88°F (Cool Season)