Bangkok has always been a city that divides, there are those who love it and those who hate it, because it is too messy, chaotic, polluted. I love her deeply, it's a city I keep coming back to over the years because I like it a lot and it always stimulates me. It is certainly true that it is a chaotic metropolis, but it is also a city that always manages to surprise you: as soon as you leave the tourist routes you can find streets and neighborhoods of rare beauty, which live the life of a small village. Then there are its temples, its markets, its sunsets and its rooftops that take my breath away every time. If I can afford to give you some advice, if you are going to Thailand for the first time, dedicate the last days of the trip to exploring Bangkok, not the former. By knowing more about Thai culture and customs, you will be able to appreciate the city much more, as well as move better. In this regard, find all the places not to be missed in the article What to see in Bangkok: 10 places not to be missed. Here you will find all the practical information to better organize your trip to the Thai capital.
Bangkok: how to get to the center from Suvarnabhumi airport
If you are coming from Spain, you will land at Suvarnabhumi International Airport which is located approximately 25 kilometers east of central Bangkok. To reach the latter there are several possibilities. I show you from the cheapest to the most expensive.
- Airport Rail Link (SARL): the high-speed railway that connects the airport to Phaya Thai. It is the fastest, most comfortable and cheapest way (costs 35B / 1 euro and takes 30 '). It works from 6 to 24 and trains leave approximately every 15 '. From Phaya Thai you can then change and take the Skytrain to reach, for example, Silom or Sukhumvit. If you need to reach the Khao San Road area, you can take a taxi from Phaya Thai for about 90B (3 euros).
- Express Bus S1: this express bus costs 60B and takes about 1h without traffic (but this is a very rare condition in Bangkok). It leaves every 30 'and makes 3 stops: Khao San Rd., Wah Chanasongkram, Sanam Luang.
- Taxi: the cost to reach Khao San Road is around 450B (13 euros, bargain not to pay more and make sure that the agreed price includes the price of the toll booths). In the absence of traffic (so if you arrive at night or in the very early hours of the day) it will take about 30 ', otherwise it can become double.
How to get around Bangkok
Given the premises, namely that Bangkok is an extremely busy and chaotic city, the best means of transport, at least for me, are the boats along the Chao Phraya River and the Khlong Saen Saeb canal, the Skytrain and the subway. Unfortunately the metro and the Skytrain are not so widespread (far from it!) And the boats have a reduced range of action, so to reach various more or less touristic places you will still have to rely on other means of transport. But let's see them in detail:
- Skytrain / Subway: The Skytrain (o BTS) it only has 2 lines that cross at Siam Square, but it is a very efficient system. Trains depart every few minutes and run from 6 to 24; the cost is 15-60B depending on the distance and tickets can be bought at the automatic ticket machines or at the counter. The ticket consists of a token that you will have to insert in the turnstiles when you exit. There metropolitan (MRT) it consists of a single line, very long, which crosses the Skytrain in several points. Times and costs are like those of the Skytrain.
- Boats: i vaporetti along the Chao Phraya River and the Khlong Saen Saeb Canal they are among the most comfortable and most romantic means of getting around Bangkok. The ticket for the boat costs 15B (they make many stops); alternatively there are more "express" tourist boats that cost 60B each way and allow, if desired, also the hop off for 200B per day (you can get on and off several times with the same ticket). The vaporetti that sail on the Chao Phraya River they touch many tourist places such as the Royal Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Chinatown. The boats along the Khlong Saen Saeb canal instead they will be useful for reaching, for example, the Golden Hill and the Jim Thomson House. The Skytrain crosses the boats at the Chao Phraya stop.
- Taxi / mototaxi: some places are not easily reachable either by metro or by boats. In this case, alas, you just have to take a taxi, a mototaxi or a tuk tuk. Mototaxis obviously suffer less from traffic, but you will have to have a good hair on your stomach (driving Thais is not exactly safe!). I recommend the tuk tuks only for short itineraries, otherwise you will get intoxicated by smog. Whatever means you take of the 3: always bargain to death!
- Uber/Grab: to spend a little less than the taxi (and above all to pay directly by credit card) you should download Uber and the app Grave (which is the Uber of Southeast Asia, and it works in much the same way).
Where to sleep in Bangkok: which area to choose
Bangkok is large and deciding which area to stay in is definitely crucial, and it must be functional to your travel itinerary.
Stay on Khao San Road or Chinatown
If you are moving from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, Sukhotai or the islands of the gulf such as Koh Chang or Koh Kood, the most comfortable areas to stay are Khao San Road or Chinatown. Khao San Road because the transfers to Ayutthaya (and other places in the north) and to the islands of the gulf depart from here; Chinatown because the Hualalamphong railway station is nearby (and the train is the most convenient way to reach Ayutthaya and Sukothai, but also Chang Mai and Chang Rai by night trains). The big difference between sleeping in Khao San / Chinatown or in the "modern areas" of the city is that in Khao San / Chinatown you can move much more on foot and it will be pleasant to do so because most of the tourist places are not far away and the buildings they are low. The cons, especially of Khao San Road, is that the area is not very quiet (far from it, there are many clubs that go on with the ball music until late at night); here you will find mainly low / mid-range hostels and hotels (and this is definitely good for those traveling on a tight budget).
- Riva Surya Bangkok (Khao San Road): a nice 4-star hotel located 5 'walk from Khao San Road and a little further from the Royal Palace and many other attractions.
- Inspire Bangkok (Khao San Road): a b & b in an old colonial house, very nice, clean and comfortable.
- Hostel Urby (Chinatown): design hostel in the heart of Chinatown.
- Shanghai Mansion Bangkok (Chinatown): Beautiful boutique hotel in a renovated building dating back to 1892 that recreates the elegance of 1930s Shanghai.
Stay in Siam Square or Downtown Bangkok
If instead, as I advised you, you will stop in Bangkok at the end of the trip and then you will have to return to Suvarnabhumi airport it is best to stay in an area close to the Airport Rail Link stops, such as Phaya Thai or even Siam Square (you just have to change the line). For example, the last time I stayed a few meters from the Phaya Thai stop and it is an area that I also recommend for getting around the city, as there is an interchange with the subway and the Skytrain. These areas are mainly made up of skyscrapers and there are here all the medium and high category hotels (as well as the most beautiful clubs, rooftops, and restaurants).
- Sukosol Bangkok (Phaya Thai): magnificent 5-star hotel, with all the comforts imaginable: swimming pool, Spa, Lounge Bar, etc ... all within walking distance of the Phaya Thai stop (from which you will reach the airport in 30 ' ).
- Triple And Hotel (Siam): ultramodern hotel, extremely clean, very close to the MBK.
Where to eat in Bangkok
Being a metropolis of millions of inhabitants, answering this question can leave the time it finds. I would like to point out only a few restaurants that I liked and that are located in areas of interest for tourists. In general, as with the rest of Thailand, street food it's super good in Bangkok and you have to try it for sure! The best can be found at night market in Khao San Road, long Thanon Yaowarat a Chinatown, And the flower market (Pad Khlong Talaat).
- Din Tai Fung (various areas): one of my favorite restaurants in the world ever! It is a Taiwanese ravioli chain. Ravioli are a drug, but so are all other dishes. In Bangkok there are several, mostly in the shopping centers in the Silom / Siam Square area.
- Raan Jay Dai (Collina Dorata): this restaurant, more than good, without a sign, has become famous thanks to some television broadcasts, thanks to which the cook has obtained no less than 1 Michelin star !! The "chef" cooks almost on the street. To eat here you have to come in the morning and mark your name on the list you find. You will then have to return at the indicated time and queue. Who has succeeded in the enterprise of eating his famous Giant crab omelette he says he deserves it!
- Padthai Thip Samai (Golden Hill): you will recognize it from the row outside. The most famous pad thai in Bangkok since 1966, always cooked by the same family.
- Dinner on a boat along the Chao Phraya River: if you are looking for something special you can book a dinner on a boat along the river and you will see the most beautiful monuments of the city with night lighting. Many of the dinner cruises depart from here. From these sites you can book either one "normal" dinner that a "Luxury dinner" with musical entertainment.
Where to go in the evening in Bangkok
Ditto, as for restaurants, I recommend some areas and some clubs, but there are millions of them. My favorites, as you can imagine if you've been following me for a while, are definitely the rooftop bar with a view! In Bangkok there are so many truly magnificent and they are perfect for both a aperitif at sunset, that for have a drink after dinner. Compared to the areas where you can find movement and "nightlife" certainly there are Khao San Road (from 18 onwards all the bars start pumping music and offering happy hours of all kinds) e Patpong 1 and 2 (the "sex zones", where there are the famous ping-pong shows, etc .. I don't recommend them, but I'm sure you will be intrigued to see them).
The most beautiful rooftop bars and clubs in Bangkok
- Sky Bar @ Lebua: undoubtedly the most famous, especially since it was immortalized in the film "The Hangover".
- Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar @ Banyan Tree Hotel: probably my favorite. Structured on several terraces, it resembles a ship's hull: the view and the atmosphere are amazing.
- Red Sky @ Centara Grand: a little tamarro, with this big bow that changes color, but a little bit of tamarragine never hurts.
- Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar @ Marriot Hotel: the second I prefer, after the Vertigo. Elegant atmosphere and superb view.
- Above Eleven: nice bar and excellent sushi restaurant in front of a breathtaking view.
- Distil Rooftop Bar: the highest bar in Bangkok. Located in a building in front of the Sky Bar, it is a small and refined place that offers excellent cocktails (at prices even higher than the norm).
- Iron Balls Parlour & Saloon: actually there are 3 places in one, a gin distillery, a clube and a beautiful lounge bar, small and cozy, with leather armchairs and a club atmosphere. It goes without saying that you drink very well!
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