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Bangkok, Thailand

(*cruise tour)

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and by far its largest city. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat, and naughty nightlife may not immediately give you the best impression. But don't let that mislead you. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife that has something for everyone.
For years, it was only a small trading post at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, until King Rama I, the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, turned it into the capital of Siam in 1782, after the burning of Ayutthaya by Burmese invaders but they did not take over Ayutthaya. Since then, Bangkok has turned into a national treasure house and functions as Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic center.

Just under 14 degrees... Read more

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and by far its largest city. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat, and naughty nightlife may not immediately give you the best impression. But don't let that mislead you. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife that has something for everyone.
For years, it was only a small trading post at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, until King Rama I, the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, turned it into the capital of Siam in 1782, after the burning of Ayutthaya by Burmese invaders but they did not take over Ayutthaya. Since then, Bangkok has turned into a national treasure house and functions as Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic center.

Just under 14 degrees north of the Equator, Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveler-friendly cities in Asia. A furious assault on the senses, visitors are immediately confronted by the heat, the pollution, and the irrepressible smile that accompanies many Thais. Despite the sensationalized international news reports and first impressions, the city is surprisingly safe (except some petty crimes) and more organized than it initially appears, and full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The high relative humidity and warm temperature favor the growth of tropical plants — you'll find orchids and delicious fruit everywhere. Bougainvillea and frangipani bloom practically all over the city. Thai cuisine is justifiably famous, varied, and affordable. Bangkok for many represents the quintessential Asian capital. Saffron-robed monks, garish neon signs, graceful Thai architecture, spicy dishes, colorful markets, traffic jams, and the tropical climate come together in a happy coincidence. It is difficult to leave with lukewarm impressions of the city.


"Bangkok" originally was a small village on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. After the fall of Ayutthaya in the late 18th century, King Taksin the Great turned that village into Siam's new capital and renamed it Thonburi. In 1782, King Rama I moved the capital to the eastern bank of the river at Rattanakosin; originally the site of a Chinese community, who were moved outside of the new city walls to Yaowarat. King Rama I named the city Krung Thep, as it is now known to Thais and which in English is translates as the "City of Angels."
The full name "Krung thep mahanakhon amorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok popnoparat ratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit" (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์) is listed as the world's longest location name by the Guinness Book of Records; an English rendering goes like this: "The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayutthaya of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn". The original village of Bangkok has long since ceased to exist, but foreigners never caught on to the change.
Life was taking place on the water; ordinary people lived on bamboo-rafts along the river while floating vendors roamed the water to sell fruit and vegetables. The only stone structures built on land were temples and palaces. In the 19th-century, Western powers incorporated much of Southeast Asia into their colonial empires. King Rama IV and V felt that the only way to keep Siam independent was to modernize the country along European lines. Traditional canals were filled up and turned into roads. King Rama V moved the residence of the King to Dusit and laid out that district's grand boulevards along European lines.
Bangkok really started to develop after World War II. The economic center shifted from the orderly planned city of Rattanakosin in an eastward direction, leaving Bangkok without an obvious center. Bangkok established itself as the driving power behind Thailand's new role as a newly industrializing country from the 1980s onwards. Rapid economic growth has attracted migration from the countryside, with millions of Thais moving here from Isaan to make a living.
This rapid expansion turned Bangkok into one of the most cosmopolitan and happening cities in Asia but also ensured numerous problems. A wide gap has emerged between those who profit from economic activity and those who came to the city from the countryside in search of work. Bangkok's seemingly never-ending traffic jams continue as the new Skytrain and metro systems are not connected with other means of public transportation.

Addresses and navigation

Addresses in Bangkok use the Thai addressing system, which may be a little confusing to the uninitiated. Large roads such as Silom or Sukhumvit are thanon (ถนน), often abbreviated Th or glossed "Road", while the side streets branching off from them are called soi (ซอย). Sois are numbered, with even numbers on one side and odd numbers on the other side. Thus, an address like "25 Sukhumvit Soi 3" means house/building number 25 on the 3rd soi of Sukhumvit Road. While the soi numbers on each side will always advance upward, the numbers often do not advance evenly between sides — for example, Soi 55 could be across from Soi 36. Many well-known sois have an additional name, which can be used instead of the number. Sukhumvit Soi 3 is also known as "Soi Nana Nuea", so the address above might thus also be expressed as "25 Soi Nana Nuea". The extension /x is used for new streets created between existing streets, as seen in Sukhumvit's soi pattern 7, 7/1, 7/2, 9, 11. Note that some short alleys are called trok (ตรอก) instead of soi.
To make things a little more complex, some large sois like Soi Ekkamai (Sukhumvit Soi 63) and Soi Ari (Phahonyothin Soi 7) have their own sois. In these cases, an address like "Ari Soi 3" means "the 3rd soi off Soi Ari", and you may even spot addresses like "68/2 Ekkamai Soi 4, Sukhumvit Road", meaning "2nd house beside house 68, in the 4th soi of Ekkamai, which is the 63rd soi of Sukhumvit". In many sois, the house numbers are not simply increasing but may spread around.
To further bewilder the tourist who doesn't read Thai, the renderings of Thai street names in the Latin alphabet are not consistent. The road running towards Don Mueang Airport from Victory Monument may be spelled Phahonyothin or Phahon Yothin or Pahon Yothin or Phaholyothin depending on which street sign or map you consult. It's all the same in Thai, of course, only the romanization varies.
And if that's not confusing enough, most of the larger streets tend to change names altogether every few kilometers. Sukhumvit is called Sukhumvit on one side of the tollway (roughly east), but it becomes Phloen Chit just before you cross Witthayu Road (aka Wireless Road) going towards the river. Keep going just a few more streets, and it becomes Rama I Road (or Phra Ram Neung Road) after you pass Ratchadamri Road. But if you were to turn right onto Ratchadamri, in just a few blocks you'll find yourself on Ratchaprarop Road (past Phetchaburi, aka New Phetburi, which is called Phitsanulok closer to the river). Got it?
Fortunately, there's logic to these name changes: most of them are neighborhoods. It wouldn't make sense to call the road Sukhumvit if it's no longer running through the Sukhumvit area, would it? Thus, Sukhumvit becomes Phloen Chit where it runs through the Phloen Chit area. It's when you're able to grasp the city in terms of its neighborhoods that it both becomes more navigable and more charming. Likewise, Pratunam and Chatuchak are much more than just markets; they're neighborhoods, each with their own distinct character.
Related to this last point, compass directions are not widely used by Thais to navigate in Bangkok. That's probably because they aren't very useful; the city's Byzantine layout, the changing street names, the winding river, and the lack of obvious landmarks all conspire to confuse your internal compass. Thus, asking for directions in terms of "Is that west from here?" will probably earn you little more than a confused look from a local. You're better off to familiarise yourself with the neighborhoods and navigate to and from them. "How do I get to Thong Lo?" will get you there faster than asking for directions to Sukhumvit Soi 55.
One exception: the Chao Phraya River is the landmark in Bangkok, and many directional references can be made as "toward the river" or "away from the river." If you aren't too close, that is: since the river winds around the most popular tourist areas, river references tend to be most helpful when you're wandering farther afield than Khao San Road,

Sanam Luang

or Rattanakosin. And wander you should.


According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is one of the hottest cities in the world. Located just 14 degrees north of the Equator, Bangkok is warm at any time of the year with temperatures over 30°C (86°F).
The most pleasant time to visit is the cool season that lasts from November till February. It is both the coolest and driest period — the Emerald Buddha statue in

Wat Phra Kaew

even wears a scarf during this period! Don't think that's necessary though — daytime temperatures still hover around 30°C (86°F), but it does cool down into the lower 20's as it gets dark (lower 70's °F). March and April represent the hot season, and hot it is — 35°C (95°F) on average, but don't be surprised to see temperatures rising towards 40 degrees Celsius (around 100°F+). This is the worst season to visit Bangkok, so plan a lot of air-conditioned shopping mall visits and get a hotel with a swimming pool. Then there's the wet season that runs from May till October. Expect massive downpours resulting in floods all over the city, and spells of thunder at times. It's not all bad though — the afternoon showers are actually a pleasant way to cool down from the heat, and while they may last all day, usually they're over within an hour. Extreme rainfall happens in September and October, so these months are best avoided.
Whatever season you're visiting, don't take the weather lightly — temple-tramping in the scorching afternoon sun can be a challenge, so come well-prepared. Dress lightly for the weather, but keep in mind that some palaces and all temples (notably the Grand Palace) have a strict dress code. Also, be sure, and this cannot be said enough, drink enough fluids! You don't have a reason not to, as 7-Elevens and other convenience stores are abundant in Bangkok.

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Bangkok, Thailand: Port Information

Large ships must dock at Laem Chabang Port, about 90 minutes southeast of Bangkok and about 30 min north of Pattaya.

Frequent first and second class bus services directly connect Laem Chabang with Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai); less frequent direct services run to the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit). A first-class air-conditioned bus (blue and white) to either will take 90min or less. A quick way to get into downtown is to board an Ekkamai-bound bus and then disembark early at On Nut, where you can hop onto the Skytrain. The bus will always stop here if a passenger requests it.

Southbound buses en route to Pattaya can be boarded at the traffic lights on Sukhumvit Road in Laem Chabang. These are extremely frequent (at least 10 per hour).

Modest-sized ships may dock further upriver at Khlong Toei Port, close to Bangkok's city center. A modest terminal provides processing for passengers (who may receive Thai customs and immigration processing on-board), as well as offering "managers" who arrange tours and taxis. Reaching points of interest is much cheaper than from Laem Chabang but can vary according to the passenger's negotiating skills. The facility is not close to the MRT stop of Khlong Toei, the best way to get there is by metered taxi.

Get around Bangkok, Thailand

The first phase of Bangkok's ambitious public transport system is now complete, the city's public transport system is fairly efficient and convenient, but there is still a fair amount of room for improvement to the system's integration.
The city, like many developing cities, suffers from paralytic traffic jams periodically throughout the day. In rush hours, it may be worthwhile combining public transport by different means. For example: soar over traffic jams by Skytrain to the station closest to your destination and thereafter take a taxi for the final leg.
Bangkok is one of the most interesting cities in the world and is known to be number one for scenery. Perhaps you would like to know how to move around the city. There are many different ways to move around Bangkok. For example, using buses or Taxis, or maybe even on the water with a Ferry or the public transit systems of BTS and MRT.

By public transit

The BTS Skytrain (รถไฟฟ้าบีทีเอส rot fai fa BTS, pronounced bee-tee-et) deserves a visit simply for the Disneyland space-ageness of it. Built in a desperate effort to ease Bangkok's insane traffic and pollution, the Skytrain covers most of downtown and is especially convenient for visiting Siam Square. There are two lines: the light green Sukhumvit Line travels along Sukhumvit Road, Siam Square and then follows Phahonyothin Road up north, where it terminates at Mo Chit (N8), near the Chatuchak Weekend Market. The dark green Silom Line starts in Thonburi, passes the Express Boat pier at Saphan Taksin (S6), goes through the Silom area and ends at National Stadium (W1), right next to MBK Center. Both lines come together at Siam (CEN), where you can interchange between them. Unfortunately, there is no station near Khao San Road, but you can take the Express Boat from Phra Arthit Pier to Sathorn Pier, where you can switch onto the Skytrain.

In 2013, the Silom Line was extended westward from Talat Phul (S10) to Bang Wa (S12).

The MRT (รถไฟฟ้ามหานคร rot fai tai din, pronounced em-ar-tee) finally opened in July 2004. There are two lines, the Blue Line and the new Purple Line. The Blue Line connects the central Hualamphong Train Station (1) to the northern Bang Sue Train Station (18), running through Silom, Sukhumvit, Ratchadaphisek, and area around Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin. There are interchanges to the Skytrain at Si Lom (3), Sukhumvit (7) and Chatuchak Park (16) stations. The section from Bang Sue to Tao Poon where it connects with the new Purple Line, which runs northwestward, serving the suburban area and Nonthaburi Province nearby.

Tourists do not use the metro as much as the Skytrain, but there are some useful stops. The terminus at Hua Lamphong (1) provides a good access to Yaowarat. If you're going to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, don't get out at Chatuchak Park, but go one stop further to Kamphaeng Phet (17) as it drops you right inside the market.

Metro tickets are not interchangeable with Skytrain tickets.

Bag-checks take place at the entrance to each station. It's usually nothing more than a quick peek inside unless you are looking particularly suspicious.

Airport Rail Link
Finally opened in August 2010 is the Airport Rail Link (รถไฟฟ้าเชื่อมท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ). Many Thais in Eastern Bangkok use the link to commute to the city center. It starts at Suvarnabhumi Airport and terminates at Phaya Thai, with some interesting stops in between (such as Ramkhamhaeng and Ratchaprarop for Pratunam). Trains run every 15min 06:00-23:59.

From Makkasan, you can continue your way by metro at Phetchaburi MRT station. The transfer can be made via the pedestrian bridge which was opened in June 2013. From Phaya Thai, you can transfer onto the Skytrain, but be aware that there are not enough lifts yet, and those available are too small for large pieces of luggage. New lifts will be installed in Ramkhamhaeng, Ratchaprarop and Phaya Thai stations in the following months.

BRT Sathon-Ratchaphruek Line
The 16km (9.9 mi) route has twelve stations in the center of the road that give level access to the right-hand side of the buses. The first route from Sathon to Ratchaphruek via Narathiwat Ratchanakharin and Rama III roads opened to the public in 2010 and both terminuses connect to the Silom Line of the BTS Skytrain; at Chong Nonsi (S3) and at Talat Phlu (S10).

SRT Light Red Line
The Light Red Line (รถไฟฟ้าชานเมืองสายสีแดงอ่อน) is part of the planned Red Line suburban railway system to serve the Bangkok Metropolitan Region. Only 6 services a day currently operate on this line. This train system currently does not connect with any of the other train lines in Bangkok. The final section to Bang Sue station of this first phase will not open until the new Bang Sue Terminal is constructed.

By boat

Chao Phraya Express Boat
A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist's agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, basically, an aquatic bus plying up and down the river. The basic service plies from Wat Rajsingkorn (S4) all the way north to Nonthaburi (N30), with stops at most of Rattanakosin's major attractions including the Grand Palace (at Tha Chang) and Wat Pho (at Tha Tien). The closest pier to Khao San Road is Phra Arthit. Enter the express boat at the numerous piers and pay for the trip at the ticket collector, who will approach you bearing a long metal cylinder. At some bigger piers you can buy the ticket before boarding. When the metal cylinder lady approaches you, just show her the ticket you bought on the pier.

The different boat lines are indicated by the colors of the flags at the top of the boat. These flags can be confusing; don't think the yellow King's flag corresponds to the yellow line flag! There is a basic "no flag" line that goes along all the piers, but it only runs during rush hours (M-F 06:20-8:05 and 15:00-17:30) and is fairly slow. It's better to take the faster yellow and orange flag lines, but you have to be sure where you're going as they don't stop everywhere. There is now also a golden line that goes from Sathorn (Taksin) to Wang Lang (Prannok) stopping at IconSiam, Ratchawong, Wat Arun and Tha Chang. The yellow line is the fastest but is best avoided as it skips many popular attractions (including Khao San Road, the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho). The orange or golden line is your best bet, as it covers the major tourist areas and is fairly quick too. In any case, Express Boat staff at the stops usually speak basic English, they will ask you where you are going and direct you to the appropriately colored boat.

In addition to the workaday express boat, there is also a blue flagged Tourist Boat which stops at a different subset of piers, offers commentary in English. The boats are slightly more comfortable and may be worth considering if you want to cruise up and down the most important tourist sights. They only operate once per 30 minutes and stop running by 15:00. Be careful as they may tell you the (cheaper) orange flag regular boat is not coming for quite a while (as they are aggressively touting for business), but sometimes this is not the truth. If you want the tourist experience with a guide and (very) loud speaker commentary, often unintelligible, then this is the one for you. However, be aware that you are fully entitled to enter the public piers (the ones with the blue lettering on white background with pier numbers on them) and get the orange flag boat as these are public places and you don't need a ticket before boarding the comfortable and speedy orange-flag boat.

The signposting of the piers is quite clear, with numbered piers and English route maps. Sathorn (Taksin) pier has been dubbed "Central" station, as it offers a quick interchange to Saphan Taksin BTS station. The boats run every 5-20 minutes from sunrise to sunset (roughly 06:00-19:00), so ignore any river taxi touts who try to convince you otherwise.

Many piers are also served by cross-river ferries. These are particularly useful for reaching Wat Arun (from Tha Tien pier) or the many piers at the Thonburi side of the river. Cross-river ferries run around every 10 minutes.

Saen Saep Express Boat
The Saen Saep Express Boat serves the long Saen Saep Canal, one of the remaining canals (khlong) that used to flow through Bangkok. Mostly used by locals to commute to work, the service is cheap and you get to see the 'backside' of the neighborhoods, so to speak. Also, It is immune to Bangkok's notorious traffic jams. The total distance is 18 km, and the service operates from 05:30-20:30.

They are comparatively safe — just watch your step when boarding and disembarking as they don't stop at the pier for long and do not let the dirty water get into your eyes. To prevent splashes, the boats are equipped with little curtains that you can raise by pulling on a string, but they have to be lowered at every stop so people can clamber on board. It's better to sit closer to the front of the boat further away from the engine which can be quite loud. Pay the fare to the fearless helmet-wearing ticket collectors who clamber around on the outside of the boat, ducking at bridges, as it barrels down the canal. Press the green 'bell' button if you want to get off at the next pier, else the boat might just skip it. The piers now even have (tiny) signs in English.

The canal runs parallel to Phetchaburi Road and provides the easiest access from the Golden Mount in Rattanakosin (and nearby Khao San Road) to Siam Square and Pratunam. This line is aptly called the Golden Mount Line and runs from Panfa Leelard pier to Pratunam pier in downtown. If you want to continue your journey beyond Pratunam, passengers have to change boats there. The NIDA Line starts at Pratunam and heads east to Sukhumvit and Ramkhamhaeng. Hold on to your ticket.

River taxi
Finally, for trips outside set routes, you can hire a long-tail river taxi at any major pier. These are fairly expensive but with some haggling, they may be suitable for small groups. To circumvent the Mafia-like touts who attempt to get a large cut for every ride, agree for the price of the shortest possible ride (30min), then negotiate directly with the captain when on board.

By taxi

Metered taxi
Metered taxis are a quick and comfortable way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way, but be warned that Bangkok taxi drivers are notorious for finding ways to run up the fare for foreigners; insist that the meter is used, and if the driver claims that your destination is closed, that he doesn't know where it is, or if he tries to take you elsewhere, just get out of the taxi. There are no surcharges (except from the airport), even at night; don't believe drivers who try to tell you otherwise. A red sign on the front window, if lit, means that the taxi is available.

When the meter is switched on you will see a red '35' somewhere on the dashboard or between the driver and you. Be sure to check for this at the start of the ride, as many drivers will "forget" to start the meter in order to overcharge you at the end of your trip. Most will start the meter when asked politely to do so (meter na khrap if you're male and meter na kha if you're female); if the driver refuses to use the meter after a couple of attempts, simply exit the taxi.

In some cases, late at night and especially near major tourist districts like Khao San or Patpong, you will need to walk a block away to catch a honest driver. The effort can save you as much as 150 baht. This is often also the case for taxis that park all day in front of your hotel. There are only two reasons that they are there: to take you places where they can get their commissions (jewelry stores, tailors, massage parlors, etc.) and to overcharge you by not using the meter.

Your best bet is to walk to the road and catch an unoccupied metered taxi in motion (easier than it sounds, as Bangkok traffic tends to crawl the majority of the time, and one car out of four is a taxi). Avoid parked taxis altogether, and if a taxi driver refuses to turn the meter on, simply close the door and find one who will. Keep in mind that it is illegal for them to have un-metered fares. Be smart and give your money to honest drivers, not touts. The only reason that they get away with this so frequently is that foreign tourists let them.

Be sure to either know the correct pronunciation of your destination, or have it written in Thai, as taxi drivers in Bangkok are notoriously bad at reading maps, and most drivers speak limited English. Most hotels and guest houses will happily write out addresses in Thai for you. While most drivers will recognize the names of tourist hot spots, even if grossly mispronounced, but it is often difficult to properly pronounce addresses in Thai. If your mobile phone works in Thailand, it is sometimes useful to call your hotel and ask the staff to speak to your driver in Thai. In addition, try to get your hotel's business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost.

If you are pinching pennies or fussy about your means of transportation, you may wish to avoid getting into one of the (very common) yellow-green taxis. They are owner-operated and of highly variable quality and occasionally have rigged meters. All other colors belong to large taxi companies, which usually enforce their standards better.

On some routes, the driver will ask if he should use the tollway — this will usually save a lot of time. You have to pay the cost at the toll booth (not in advance and not at the end of the journey). Watch how much the driver really pays, as many try to keep the change.

When getting out, try to have small bills or expect problems with change. Tips are not necessary, but are certainly welcome if you're happy about the service; most local passengers will round up or leave any coin change as tip.

Grab, and other apps
These modern apps make "taxi" rides more straightforward, less prone to scams, and often a bit cheaper than ordinary taxis. There's no need to attempt to pronounce the destination in Thai because you simply type it in the app. Drivers expect a cash payment, so you don't need to enter your credit card in the app.

When you have a confirmed driver on Grab or Uber, check the car model and plate number in the app. Then wait for the car to get near you (shown on the map) and wave your hand when you see the car.

Standard cars are usually relatively new Toyota Vios, Honda City, or similar very small 4-door sedans. They are comfortable for 3 passengers and one suitcase in the trunk, but it's better to opt for a minivan if any more room is needed.

Uber doesn't service this area any longer, so your only online cab service will be Grab.

Finally, what would Bangkok be without the much-loathed, much-loved tuk-tuks? You'll know them when you hear them, and you'll hate them when you smell them — these three-wheeled contraptions blaze around Bangkok leaving a black cloud of smog in their wake. For anything more than a 5-10 min jaunt or just the experience, they really are not worth the price but it can still be enjoyable for people that come to Thailand — and, if you let them get away with it, the price will usually be 4 or 5 times what it should be anyway (which, for Thais, is around 30% less than the equivalent metered taxi fare).

On the other hand, you can sometimes ride for free if you agree to visit touristy clothing or jewelry shops (which give the tuk-tuk driver fuel coupons and commissions for bringing customers). The shops' salesmen are pushy and try to scam you with bad quality suits or "gems" that in fact are worthless pieces of cut glass. But usually, you are free to leave after 5-10min of browsing. Visitors should beware though, sometimes one stop can turn in to three, and your tuk-tuk driver may not be interested in taking you where you need to go once he has his fuel coupons. Also, with Bangkok's densely congested traffic it is sure to waste hours of your time, if not the whole day.

If you still want to try the tuk-tuk, always hail a moving tuk-tuk from the main road. At tourist spots, these tuk-tuk drivers lie in waiting to disrupt your travel plans. Always agree on a price before entering the tuk-tuk. Also, be crystal clear about your intended destination. If they claim that your intended destination is closed for the day, and offer to take you to other nearby tourist spots, insist on your destination or get out. If you're an all-male party, tuk-tuk drivers sometimes will just ignore your destination completely and start driving you to some brothel ("beautiful girls"). Insist continually and forcefully on going only to your destination; or take a metered taxi instead. Or alternatively, there is a hop on hop off tuk-tuk service that allows you to hop around Bangkok attractions.

A songthaew is a converted pick-up truck that usually serves the back sois in residential neighborhoods. They usually have four wheels instead of three, two benches instead of one, run on petrol instead of LPG and resemble a tiny truck. The maids and locals tend to use them to return home from the market with loads of groceries, or for quick trips if they're available. No English is spoken and there's no need to speak to the driver anyway.

Motorbike taxi
When traffic slows to a crawl and there are no mass-transit alternatives for your destination, by far the fastest mode of transport is a motorbike taxi (มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง motosai lapjang). The people in the colored tabards are motosai cabbies. They typically wear colorful fluorescent yellow-orange or red vests and wait for passengers at busy places. Prices are negotiable before you ride but is the best way when the traffic is not flowing as well as usual in Bangkok (!).

For the adrenaline junkie, a wild motosai ride can provide a fantastic rush. Imagine weaving through rows of stopped vehicles at 50 km/h (30 mph) with mere centimeters to spare on each side, dodging pedestrians, other motorbikes, tuk-tuks, stray dogs and the occasional elephant while the driver blithely ignores all traffic laws and even some laws of physics. Now do the same while facing backward on the bike and balancing a large television on your lap, and then you can qualify as a local — though you might die in the process. Imagine your loved ones arranging to ship your dead body home from Bangkok because you took a dangerous risk you were warned not to. Motorcycle accidents are brutally common, and transportation of this sort is inherently hazardous. Be aware of the risk before using motorcycle taxis. Many tourists and Thai alike recommend avoiding them except as a last resort. Under no circumstances ride without a helmet.

The overwhelming majority of motorcycle taxis do not travel long distances. These are marginally less dangerous, especially if you happen to travel with the flow on a one-way street.

The law requires that both driver and passenger must wear a helmet. It is the driver's responsibility to provide you with one, so if you are stopped by police, any fine is also the driver's responsibility. This is worth bearing in mind when you hire a motorbike or moped. Make sure that if there are two of you, the hirer provides two helmets instead of one. When riding, keep a firm grasp on the seat handle and watch out for your knees.

By bus

Local buses, operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (องค์การขนส่งมวลชนกรุงเทพ) or just BMTA (ขสมก), are the cheapest but also the most challenging way of getting around. There is a bewildering plethora of routes, usually marked only in Thai. Even Thais have a hard time with these, but at least they can call the 1384 Bus Route Hotline, which is in Thai only. However, you can also use Google's transit planner function on Google Maps to plan your bus journeys. Please note, however, that the bus arrival times on Google Maps may not actually correlate to the actual bus arrival time. Bus stops list only the bus numbers that stop there and nothing more. They are also subject to Bangkok's notorious traffic, often terribly crowded, and many are not air-conditioned. If you want to get somewhere quickly and are not prepared to get lost, the buses should be avoided (remember that taxis are cheaper than most local buses in the West). However, they make for a good adventure if you're not in a rush and you don't mind being the center of attention by loving Thais. In Victory Monument where many buses go to there are some uniformed people that seem to know the whole bus system in Bangkok. Try to find them, they are very helpful and work perfectly.

But for the intrepid, and those staying in Khao San Road where buses are the only practical means of public transport, the official resource for decrypting bus routes is the BMTA website. It has up-to-date if slightly incomplete listings of bus routes in English, but no maps. Another site in English that also features a route planner is Transit Bangkok. You can also ask your guest house about which buses to take if you're going to a particular destination.

The hierarchy of Bangkok's buses from cheapest to best can be ranked as follows:
  • Small orange bus. Cramped, no air-con, no fan, famously suicidal drivers, usually not advisable for more than short hops. Run by private operators, they can be significantly faster than the BMTA-run buses.
  • Red bus. More spacious and fan-cooled (in theory). Unlike other buses, some of these operate through the night. These buses are BMTA-run.
  • White/blue bus. These buses are owned by private entities operated in conjunction with BMTA.
  • Blue/yellow and cream/blue air-con. These buses are quite comfy. The blue/yellow striped buses are privately owned while the blue/cream buses are BMTA-owned.
  • Orange air-con (Euro II). These are all BMTA-run, newer, and more comfortable.
  • Pink/white micro-buses. Not quite common away from the city center, these are air-conditioned, modern and only allow seated passengers (making them harder to use at rush hour as many won't stop for you).
Some useful bus lines to any well-known places inaccessible by either BTS or MRT are as follows (click on the numbers for the maps):
  • 15: This route provides the connection between Khao San Road and the BTS stations around Siam Square & Silom.
  • 47: This route is similar to Line 15 and acts as a supplementary service.
  • 53: This circular route travels through the older areas of Bangkok, including Ko Rattanakosin and Chinatown. One may continue by MRT Hualamphong for Bangkok Train Station & shopping centers.
  • 59: This route is useful for those who want to get into the city center from Don Mueang Airport to the BTS or Khao San Road.
  • 79: This route is very important to travelers due to it passing many touristy places. Destinations include:
          - BTS Siam
          - Shopping areas (Siam Square, Ratchaprasong, Pratunam)
          - Khao San Road, Sanam Luang & Grand Palace (walking)
          - Taling Chan Floating Market
          - Southern Bus Terminal
  • 509: Tourists can use this bus line to travel from Khao San Road to the Northern Bus Terminal, as well as the Dusit area.
  • 515: 515 provides quick access to the Southern Bus Terminal from the city centre. Also, it passes near the Dusit area.
  • 554: DMK <-> BKK airport link
Buses stop only when needed, so wave them down (arm out, palm down) when you see one barrelling your way. Pay the roaming collector after you board and keep the ticket, as there can be occasional spot-checks. Press the signal buzzer (usually near the door) when you want to get off.

Two further pitfalls are that buses of the same number may run slightly different routes depending on the color, and there are also express services (mostly indicated by yellow signs) that skip some stops and may take the expressway.

Airport buses allow luggage (backpacks and suitcases), but regular buses do not. Enforcement of this rule varies.

By car

Bangkok has good quality roads, but driving in the city can be a nightmare with massive traffic jams, a convoluted web of expressways and oft-confusing road signs. If driving, be especially aware of sudden lane changes by cars and reckless motorcyclists who tend to weave in and out of traffic. On busy roads you will often find vehicles moving slowly into the traffic from car parks and side streets, those already on the road are expected to give way.

Do not park on the road in busy districts such as Siam because other cars might lock you in by parking next to you in the 2nd or 3rd lane. Use covered car parks or park a bit off the beaten path, and then walk back. If using a car park and there are no marked bays available, you can park in front of other cars, but make sure you leave the car in neutral with the parking brake off so you can be rolled out of the way if required. Similarly, if you've parked in a marked bay and are blocked by another car, simply push it out of the way - carefully.

Renting a car is an option for traveling in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. Always get the optional insurance - the basic rental charge usually doesn't have any insurance at all, and your travel insurance is only likely to cover an excess or deductible where there is some basic level of insurance. Check the policy carefully for exclusions, at least some policies exclude speeding and advise that this is monitored by GPS.

What to see in Bangkok, Thailand

Most of Bangkok's sights are concentrated on the island of Rattanakosin, often referred to as the "Old City." Out of Bangkok's hundreds of temples, the

Grand Palace

, Wat Pho and Wat Arun usually make up the top 3. The Grand Palace has an immense size, so expect to spend at least a full morning or afternoon there. Within the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple of Thailand. Unlike other temples, it is not one building, nor are there living spaces for monks. Instead, it is a collection of highly decorated holy buildings and monuments. One of its buildings houses the Emerald Buddha, and while you might not expect it from its size, it is the most sacred Buddha image of Thailand.
Nearby is Wat Pho, home to the world's largest reclining Buddha image and a famed massage school. Take the ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Thonburi for the outstanding Wat Arun. The main structure is about 60-88 m high, and it is surrounded by four smaller prangs. It is one of Thailand's most picturesque temples and is engraved on the inner part of all ten-baht coins. It is so recognizable that it even became the logo of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT). If you look closely, you will see that it is beautifully decorated with colorful broken Chinese porcelain pieces. It is currently being renovated, and the majority is covered in scaffolding. Climbing up is also prohibited due to the renovations. Heading back to Rattanakosin, there are many other major temples you could visit, including the Golden Mount, Wat Suthat, and Wat Ratchanaddaram.
Don't throw away the entry ticket of the Grand Palace, as it gives free entry to the Dusit Palace in Dusit. It is situated in a leafy, European-style area built by King Rama V to escape the heat of the Grand Palace. Its main structure is the Vimanmek Mansion, touted as the largest golden teakwood house in the world, but you could spend your whole day in the museums if you wish. There are many museums in Bangkok showing traditional Thai-style residences. Most visitors take a tour through Jim Thompson House, the CIA-operative's mansion assembled by combining six traditional Thai-style houses, conveniently located near Siam Square. Baan Kamthieng in Sukhumvit, M.R. Kukrit's Heritage Home in Silom and the Suan Pakkad Palace in Phahonyothin are not quite as impressive but still make for a nice experience. Rattanakosin's museums are mostly dedicated to history and culture, including the National Museum (about Thai history and archaeological remains), the Museum of Siam and the King Prajadhipok Museum. Bangkok has a small, but vocal art community, and you might want to visit the National Gallery or The Queen's Gallery, or one of its numerous smaller galleries spread over the city. Siam Square features the recently opened Bangkok Art and Culture Centre which has temporary art exhibitions throughout the year.
Lumphini Park in Silom is the largest park in central Bangkok, and a good way to escape the fumes. Backpackers around Khao San Road can head for Santichaiprakarn Park, a small but fun park along the Chao Phraya River with a breezy atmosphere, usually with locals juggling or practicing tricks. It is built around the 18th-century Phra Sumen Fort with a nice view on the modern Rama VIII cable-stayed bridge. Zoos and animal farms are some of the more popular tourist attractions in Bangkok, but before visiting, please be aware that animal welfare in Thailand is not strictly regulated. Poor living conditions of the animals and inadequate veterinary care are examples of the sad mistreatment of the animal population. You can't go wrong at the Queen Saovabha Institute Snake Farm in Silom, as the staff takes good care of their snakes and they have a job of informing the public about the risks associated with them. Another nice family attraction is Siam Ocean World in Siam Square. It has a steep price tag, but at least you get to see the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia.
PAK NAM temple is located at Petch Kasem road. This place is quite peaceful because fewer people go there. Beside the temple, there is a big canal located for you to feed the fishes. And the Architecture here is also very nice and so amazing that the wall of this temple is neatly carved to describe the history of Buddhism and most of the parts of this temple are made up of teak woods.


  • One day in Bangkok — if you have just one day to spare and want to catch a feel for the city
  • One weekend in Bangkok — for attractions that only open on weekends
  • Rattanakosin Tour — a quick tour along Bangkok's famed historic district
  • Yaowarat and Phahurat Tour — a full-day walking tour through this multicultural district
  • 9 Temples tour — a day trip to 9 most sacred temples in Bangkok

What to do in Bangkok, Thailand

Tuk Tuk tours

The Tuk Tuk is one of the symbols of Bangkok, so there is no better way to explore Bangkok than by whizzing around the streets in one of these iconic three-wheeled vehicles. You can pick up a tuk-tuk on any street corner (and the price you will be charged could vary hugely), but there are also many tour operators who also run tours which use a tuk-tuk as the main form of transport.

Bicycle tours

Cycling in Bangkok may sound crazy, as cycling is deadly dangerous on the main roads, but it certainly is not if you know where to go. Away from the main roads, there is a vast system of small streets and alleys. Cyclists are treated as pedestrians, so you can use your bicycle to explore parks, temple complexes, markets and the quieter residential areas of eastern Bangkok. In more crowded places you can cycle on the pavement. Exploring the town by bicycle has all the advantages of going by foot, combined with a much greater action radius and a cooling breeze.
If you want to experience Bangkok hideaways and countryside, leisurely cycling through green paddy fields, colorful orchid farms, peaceful lotus fields and touched by the charm of the Thai way of country life at a personal level, a bicycle is a great way to do it. There are a handful of specialist operators that offer daily or regular departures to the so-called "Bangkok jungle" (Bang Kachao), a semi-island across the river from Bangkok with few cars or buildings, or through the backstreets of Chinatown. It sounds strange, but a cycle tour in Bangkok is the best way to discover the city up close.

Project Bangkok Smile Bike subsidized by the city allows free bike rental even without a deposit just with a photo of your passport.

  • Co van Kessel, ☎ +66 2 639-7351. Co van Kessel offers many cycling tours through Bangkok, taking in Chinatown, the canals of Thonburi, the "Bangkok Jungle" and many other places in between. 
  • Follow Me Bicycle Tours, 126 Sathorn Tai Rd, ☎ +66 2 286-5891. Follow Me offers half-day bicycle tours through Bangkok's residential streets. Included in the asking price are a fish spa and a barbecue meal after the tour. 
  • 'Go' Bangkok Bicycle Tours, 51 Charoen Krung Soi 44, ☎ +66 2 630-7563 (, fax: 66 2 630-7563). 9 am-10 pm. Go Bangkok Tours offers half & full day bicycle tours (Guided-Self Guided through Bangkok's residential streets. Included in the asking price are helmets and insurance.
  • Grasshopper Adventures, 57 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd (near the Democracy Monument, right around the corner from Khao San Rd), ☎ +66 2 280-0832 ( Grasshopper Adventures operates tours through the historic Rattanakosin district of Bangkok, to the outskirts of Bangkok and one that takes place at night. Tours regularly book out so make a reservation in advance. Recreational Bangkok Biking (RBB), Baan Sri Kung 350/127, Soi 71, Rama III Road, Yannawa, ☎ +66 2-285 3955. Recreational Bangkok Biking, operates daily bicycle tours in small groups only (a maximum of 8 participants). Colors of Bangkok starts every day, 08:00 & 13:00. Book in advance as availability is limited.  
  • SpiceRoads, ☎ +66 2 712-5303. They offer many one-day and multi-day cycling trips in and around Bangkok. There are trips to the Bangkok Jungle, Ko Kret, Yaowarat, and Thonburi. 
  • Thailand Green Ride, ☎ +66 2 888-9637. These are "green rides," half-day and one-day cycling trips through the green countryside of Bangkok.  

Bangkok On The Run

Cycling is a popular option among tour companies, but there is a variety of running clubs in Bangkok that welcome visitors multiple times per week for running, socializing, eating and drinking throughout Bangkok and the surrounding areas. These clubs are either free or charge a small, non-profit fee to pay for food and drink served at the event.
Running is a great way to see parts of the city and countryside that you'd never otherwise experience. If you go with a social running club, it's also a great chance to meet interesting people, eat food you've never tried and to make new friends. If you're interested in seeing the countryside, out-of-the-way districts, plantations, jungle and other places you can only go on foot, you might be interested in these clubs:

  • The Bangkok Hash, ( is the original hash in Bangkok, started in 1977 and running every Saturday (check the web site for directions and times). It's a traditional men-only hash that welcomes male visitors of all ages of the running and walking variety who want to run in interesting areas, drink a little beer and socialize over Thai food afterward. 
  • The Bangkok Monday Hash, founded in 1982, runs every Monday later afternoon around 17:00 depending on the time of year (check the web site for directions and times). It's a co-ed hash that welcomes all visitors, both runners, and walkers, of all ages for a good run, some cold beer, and an optional meal afterward. 
  • Siam Sunday Hash House Harriers, ( were founded in 1997 as a co-ed, laid back hash that welcomes all visitors (runners and walkers). The hash runs on the first and third Sunday of every month around 16:30 depending on the time of year (check the web site for directions and times) and visitors can reliably meet at the Rama VI statue in front of Lumpini Park to catch a ride. Like all other traditional Bangkok hashes, you're welcome for a good run or walk, some cold beer and an optional meal afterward. 
  • The Bangkok Harriettes, devised as a female hash, was founded in 1982 welcomes visitors both male and female. The hash runs every Wednesday at 17:00 depending on the time of year (check the web site for directions and times). Beer is included in the run fee, and you're welcome to move on to an adjacent restaurant afterward. 
  • Run My City is an upstart event for visitors (or locals) who just want to come out and run parts of the city that are otherwise unseen. There's no fee and no real rules as the host of each Run My City event set their agenda for the group. Run My City: Bangkok runs at least once a month, more based on attendance, with events posted on their Facebook Page. Anyone who can run at least 5-10 km in an hour is welcome to this low-pressure, non-racing running event. 

Nature tours

  • Flight of the Gibbon, ☎ +66 53 010660 ( Zipline through the lush rainforest, just outside of Bangkok. 3 km of ziplines connect to 24 platform stations, lookout platforms, lowering stations, and sky bridges, making the experience a full zipline canopy tour. The tour also includes a free tram tour around Khao Kheow Open Safari Park.

Canal tours

Another great way to see the Chao Phraya River and the original canals of the city is by canal tour. Most of these special boat trips start at the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya and head through the backwaters of Thonburi, taking in Wat Arun, the Royal Barges National Museum, and a floating market. More information about these canal tours can be found in the Thonburi article. They are quite expensive though; a cheaper and also fun activity is to take the public express boat along the Chao Phraya River. You can get off anywhere between Thewet and Sathon (Taksin) piers as there are many things to see in all those neighborhoods. You can even go all the way north to Nonthaburi in the morning, enjoy the afternoon in this laid-back traditional urban town and take the boat back around rush hour.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, informally known as Thai Boxing, is both a sport and a means of self-defense. Contestants are allowed to use almost any part of the body: feet, elbows, legs, knees, and shoulders. There are two venues in Bangkok to see this type of sport in action, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Silom and Ratchadamnoen Stadium in Rattanakosin. Sessions can take the whole evening, and the more interesting fights tend to happen in the end, so it's not that bad if you come slightly too late. The playing of traditional music during the bouts is enjoyable as well.
​Muay Thai venue outside MBK Center every Wednesday (starts at 18:00, lasts until around 21:00).
There is also a local TV station (Channel 7), which has their little fighting arena near Mo Chit BTR station. It is located at soi Ruamsirimitr street. But just ask people for boxing and Channel (Chang) 7. They will be able to show you the way. Fighting is every Sunday. Entry is free, and this particular boxing will be shown and watched on TV all around Bangkok. Also with little knowledge of Thai boxing, you will be fascinated by the locals betting and cheering for their favorite.

Cultural performances

There are many cultural performances in Bangkok that shows traditional Thai culture and dance. Siam Niramit in Ratchadaphisek is a truly spectacular performance where more than 150 performers depict the history of each region of Thailand.
Of a completely different order are Bangkok's famous drag shows. These cabarets take about two hours, and besides singing, dancing, glamour, and costumes, usually, it also has some comedy thrown in. The most famous show is Calypso Cabaret in Ratchathewi that has two sessions every evening at the Asia Hotel. Always book these shows a couple of days in advance.


Bangkok, a city of astonishing contrasts, is an amazing city by any standard. The ancient blends with the modern and somehow the combination works in surprising and interesting ways. Likewise, with your lifestyle, you can choose to get a massage – or learn Thai Massage – at a beautiful Buddhist temple, or you may prefer the modern alternative: an urban health oasis where you are pampered and treated with your choice of therapies or techniques.
The respected Travel & Leisure Magazine Survey ranked Bangkok the world’s #1 city in 2008 and 2010, and after spending some time there, you’ll begin to understand why. The city has so much to offer, the prices are very reasonable, the attractions plentiful and diverse, the shopping superb, and the healthcare simply outstanding. It’s not difficult to find the perfect place to take good care of you, be it a first-rate hospital, a modern dental clinic, or a beautiful spa or wellness center. 

  1. S Medical Spa - Winner of the AsiaSpa Awards 2007 Medi-Spa of the Year and one of Asia’s leading medical spas; frequently ranked as one of the world’s top ten spas.
  2. TRIA Integrative Wellness Center, Piyavate Hospital - Winner of such awards as the SpaAsia Crystal Awards and AsiaSpa Awards 2008 – another of Thailand’s best and highly-rated spas.
  3. The Oriental Spa, Mandarin Oriental Hotel – like the hotel itself, in an exceptional class all its own.

Bangkok has scores of wonderful, popular, professional spas; some of the leading ones are Leyana Spa, Divana Spa, Mandara Spa, Spa de Bangkok, Devarana Spa – Dusit Thani Hotel, The Oasis Spa Bangkok, Banyan Tree Spa Bangkok, and the Spa Cenvaree - Centara Grand at Central World.
Spas, traditionally, were towns where public baths, hospitals or hotels were built on top of mineral springs so that people could come and make use of the healing properties found in the water and its mud for medical purposes. These days, a spa doesn’t have to be a town built on natural thermal springs. It can be a place anywhere that anyone can go to, to relax in tranquil surroundings with a variety of treatment administered to re-contour and rejuvenate the body and mind.
All self-respecting luxury hotels in Bangkok have a spa that at least offers a traditional Thai massage. Prices are exorbitant, but they offer some of the best treatments in Bangkok. Particularly well-regarded spas at exceptionally high rates are given at the splurge hotels in Silom. Independent spas offer much the same experience but offer much more competitive rates. However, it is worth researching before booking as prices can vary widely between establishments, and various promotions are often available. The best-regarded hotel spas are at Mandarin Oriental, Plaza Athenee, and The Eugenia. The best regarded independent spas are Oasis Spa, So Thai Spa and Divana Massage & Spa.
The ubiquitous little massage shops found on every street corner in town offer the best value for money, but the smallest range of services, with offerings usually limited to massage only. Particularly Khao San Road and Sukhumvit have plenty of these popular places. It is fairly easy to distinguish legitimate massage shops from more dubious places (where massaging is only a front for prostitution).


Bangkok is a great place to go to the movies. Most cinemas have world-class standards and show the latest Hollywood and Thai releases. Watching Thai movies is a fun night out, as pretty much all of them have English subtitles. They are up to par with the latest technological innovations in the film industry, so expect to wear 3D glasses for some of the latest Hollywood releases, or visit the IMAX Theatre in Siam Paragon.
For non-mainstream cinema, House RCA (in Royal City Avenue) and APEX (in Siam Square) offer art films with English subtitles.
For other means of entertainment, Ratchadaphisek is a newly created entertainment paradise. Its bowling centers are of a superb standard with some of them resembling the inside of a nightclub. Dance while you play in style. Private karaoke lounges are usually connected to these bowling centers and are available at major hotels. There are even an ice skating rink and a top-class go-go kart track. As Ratchadaphisek is mostly aimed at the locals, you might want to go to similar venues in Siam Square or Sukhumvit. Musical, cabaret and theater entertainment by Thai performers can be found every night at the Playhouse Theater in the Asia Hotel which is connected to the Ratchathewi BTS station.
Horse Races are held on Sundays at two alternate turf clubs, the Royal Turf Club of Thailand in Dusit and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club on Henri Dunant Road (near Siam Square).
For something unique and fun travelers may wish to try Bangkok Bobble Football where you are wrapped in a plastic bubble and enjoy a game of soccer/football in a five a side format.

What to eat and drink in Bangkok, Thailand


Bangkok boasts a stunning 50,000 places to eat; not only thousands of Thai restaurants but a wide selection of world-class international cuisine too. Prices are high by Thai standards, but cheap by international standards.
Sukhumvit by far has the best restaurants in Bangkok, though prices tend to be high. Practically every cuisine in the world is represented here, be it French, Lebanese, Mexican, Vietnamese, or fusion combining many of these in a quirky, but delicious mix. Bangkok's Italian town is Soi Ton Son near Siam Square. There are especially plenty of budget restaurants in Khao San Road.
There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants in the more tourist-friendly parts of town (especially in hippie district Khao San Road). Vegetarian dishes are also readily available on the menus of regular restaurants. On request, even typical street restaurants will easily cook a vegetarian equivalent of a popular Thai dish for you. Ask for "jay" food to leave the meat out of the dish. For example, "khao pad" is fried rice and "khao pad jay" is vegetarian fried rice. For vegans, the most common animal product used would be oyster sauce. To avoid it, say "mai ao naam man hoi." Be aware that all street noodle vendors use animal broth for noodle soup.
Don't miss out on cold ice cream in hot Bangkok. Western chain stores Dairy Queen and Swensen's have booths in many malls and shopping centers. Or better yet, try the exotic fruit-flavored ice cream at an Iberry shop. Their ice creams are tasty, cheap and safe to eat.
For Muslims, looking for Halal food, fortunately, there is no problem. Most of KFCs sell Halal chicken. A lot of vendors on street food understand the term 'Halal', so it is always better to ask. A frown on their face on answering this question would indicate an absence of Halal Food. Tourists looking for Halal street food must disembark BTS at Ratchthewi station in the direction of Phaya Thai and turn left on Petchaburi Road where lines of local Halal food outlets and cart food are located.


Thai desserts are worth appreciating not only for their beauty but also for their unique way of reflecting traditional culture. Most Thai desserts are quite sweet. Therefore, they are favored both by Thai people and foreigners. Real traditional desserts contain only three main ingredients; flour, sugar, and coconuts. These ingredients are mixed by various methods such as boiling, steaming, frying, and grilling.

  • Tong Yip (ทองหยิบ), literally “Flower Egg Yolk Tart,” is formed its shape as a flower. Its ingredient consists of egg yolk, sugar, and flower water boiled in sugar syrup. The word of “Thong” (ทอง) means gold represents reputation and prosperity. Thai people believe that gold will bring a good thing happens to their life. Thong Yip means Picking Gold. A nice Thong Yip will not smell of yolks, and it has a sweet taste. You should buy it from markets and Thai dessert stores. One of the popular Thai dessert stores is Khanom Thai Baan Khanom Suay at Patthanakarn Road Soi 65.
  • Khanom Chan (ขนมชั้น), calls “Thai Jello,” forms like a jelly that is baked in 9 layers and set on a cookie pan. Its ingredient compounds of sugar, coconut milk, and flour are mixed. The word of “Khanom” (ขนม) means dessert or sweets, “Chan” (ชั้น) means layer or level that indicates to improve or increase in the state. Number nine in its layer is significant in affluence in Thai. Khanom Chan is popular because it has a sweet scent, a slightly oily thoroughly from increasing coconut milk and a smooth texture. You can get it from markets and Thai dessert stores. The popular store is Khanom Whan Mae Kwa (ขนมหวานแม่กวา) at Nangloeng Market.

Street food

While not particularly high class, street food is among the most delicious food and can be found all over Bangkok — wherever you're staying, you rarely have to walk more than 100m for a cart of street restaurant.
One of Thailand's national dishes you can try is pad thai (ผัดไทย) and somtham, somtham is some of the most delicious food in Thailand if you ever go to Thailand that is the first thing you should try out when you are there, stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, and red chili pepper. It can be prepared for you on one of the ubiquitous carts or in a street restaurant. You can order it with chicken (gai) or shrimps (kung). Another one of Thailand's national dishes you should try is tom yam kung (ต้มยำกุ้ง), a sour soup with prawns, lemongrass and galangal — beware, as it is very spicy! Khao man kai (ข้าวมันไก่) is another popular street food. You can identify it at stalls displaying boiled chicken. Served with a bowl of fragrant chicken soup is a mound of rice topped with sliced chicken pieces and cucumber. Side sauces are spicy and go well with the bland chicken and rice. You can sometimes add optional liver and gizzard if that is your taste. If you like sweets, try to find a kanom roti (โรตี) street vendor. The crepe-like dessert is filled with sweetened condensed milk, lots of sugar, and can also have bananas inside. Also, fun to watch them being made.
​Khao San Road is known for its carts selling bugs — yes, insects. They are deeply fried, nutritious and quite tasty with the soy sauce that is sprayed on them. Types available: scorpions, water beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, bamboo larvae, mealworms, and some more seasonal specialties. Break off the legs from grasshoppers and crickets, or they will get stuck in your throat.
Be aware that the Pad Thai sold on the street on Khao San Road is changed to appeal to tourists, and is not an authentic Pad Thai. Much better Pad Thai is available in almost any restaurant on Khao San. A very authentic and cheap Halal Pad Thai is sold by on a cart at footsteps of a pedestrian bridge on Petchaburi Road near BTS station Ratchathewi.

Ethnic cuisine

Thai dishes can roughly be categorized into central, northern, northeastern and southern cuisine. What's so great about Bangkok is that all these cuisines are present. Isaan food (from the northeast of Thailand) is a backpacker favorite; street restaurants serve on plenty of small plates that can be shared. Som tam (ส้มตำ) is a salad made from shredded and pounded raw papaya — again, it is spicy, but oh so delicious. If you want to dine the Isaan way, also order some khao niew (sticky rice), kai yang (grilled chicken) and moo yang (grilled pork). Isaan food is very spicy; say mai pet or pet nit noy to tone it down. Southern Thai cuisine is also worth it; many of them have congregated around Wang Lang in Thonburi. At least try the massaman curry (แกงมัสมั่น), it's delicious.
The place to go to for Chinese food is Yaowarat. It has a range of street stalls and cheap restaurants selling expensive delicacies at affordable prices. Soi Phadung Dao is the best street for huge seafood restaurants. Phahurat, Bangkok's Little India, has some decent Indian restaurants.

Dinner cruises

Dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya River are a touristy (but fun) way of spotting floodlit temples while chowing down on seafood and watching Thai cultural performances. Most operate buffet-style, and the quality of the food is so-so, but there's lots of it, and it's not too spicy. While the river can give a romantic experience, it can also be dirty and smelly with lots of plants floating around.
Drinks and tips are usually not included in the listed prices below. Always make a reservation before heading out to the pier. There are many competing operators, most of them depart from the River City pier next to the Si Phraya Express Boat pier.


Bangkok's nightlife is infamously wild, but it's not quite what it used to be: due to recent social order campaigns. Most restaurants, bars, and clubs are now supposed to close at 02:00 AM, although quite a few stay open till much later. Informal roadside bars do stay open all night, particularly in Sukhumvit and Khao San Road. You must carry your passport for ID checks, and police occasionally raid bars and clubs, subjecting all customers to drug tests and searches, though these mostly occur at places that cater to high society Thais rather than foreigners.
One of Bangkok's main party districts is Silom, home not only to perhaps the world's most famous go-go bar strip Patpong, but plenty of more legitimate establishments catering to all tastes. For a drink with a view, the open-air rooftop bars of Vertigo and Sirocco are particularly impressive. A large number of superhip and more expensive bars and nightclubs can be found in the higher sois of Sukhumvit, including, Q Bar, and Narz, as well as the hip area of Thong Lo (Soi 55).
Hippie hangout Khao San Road is also slowly gentrifying, and a score of young artsy Thai teenagers have also made their mark there. Going out in Khao San Road is mostly casual, sitting at a roadside bar watching people pass by, but the Gazebo Club is a nightclub that stays open till the sun gets up. Most of the younger Thais prefer to congregate around Ratchadaphisek, home to the Royal City Avenue strip of nightclubs.
Smoking is forbidden in all restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, whether air-conditioned or non-air-conditioned. Remarkably for Thailand, this rule is not strictly enforced.

Shopping in Bangkok, Thailand

If you are planning to exchange great sums of money, few offices of the SuperRich company consistently offer the top exchange rates. To save time, consider the green K Excellence booth by the entry to the City Rail Train station at the Suvarnabhumi airport.

Siam Square is the place to shop in Bangkok; the small sois of Siam Square have dozens of small designer boutiques. MBK Center is the most popular shopping malls for foreigners, as they sell fashion well below Western rates. Siam Paragon and the shopping plazas at Ratchaprasong are more popular with Thais. Ladies will also feel well at home in the Emporium in Sukhumvit.

Just take a few steps out of your hotel, and Bangkok feels like a huge street market. Sukhumvit has the usual souvenirs, t-shirts and other tacky tourist junk. Browsing Khao San Road's roadside stalls are particularly good for clothing and accessories, many of them for a bargain. While many of these stalls still cater to the traditional hippie crowd, they have been slowly gentrifying to appeal a broader audience. The nearby Banglamphu Market sells cheap knock-offs of everything, just like the night markets in Silom and Rattanakosin.

On the weekends, the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin is a must as its 8,000 stalls together form the largest market in Southeast Asia. Shoppers can buy just about everything from clothing to potted plants and everything in between — it is a paradise for browsers and bargain-hunters alike. A weekday alternative is Pratunam, one of the city's renowned garment markets. Clothes shopping here goes on wholesale, and you're even cheaper off if you buy in bulk. At Pantip Plaza, you can buy computer-related stuff from branded laptops to pirated DVDs. Just be aware that many of the "brand name" items are fakes/copies.

​Yaowarat and Phahurat give a more authentic experience, although many stores sell the cheap teen accessories found elsewhere as well. Just sitting in a plastic chair and watching daily commerce evolve is a fun activity in itself. Phahurat is the best destination for fabrics, available in all colors and sizes. Pak Khlong Talat is a surprisingly fun wholesale market for all kinds of cut flowers and vegetables. If you're a morning person, visit it around 03:00, when new flowers from upcountry arrive and the marketplace is beautifully illuminated.

​Thonburi, being one of the least developed areas of Bangkok, is the best place to experience what the city used to be like. A must is the weekends-only Taling Chan Floating Market, which feels at least somewhat authentic as it blends a rural market with the canal side way of life. Wang Lang Market is an undiscovered gem with strictly local prices. The other side of the river, Rattanakosin, has everything a good Buddhist would need, be it amulets, monk bowls or human-sized Buddha statues.

For antiques, Silom is the place to go, as most potential buyers stay there in expensive hotels. River City in Yaowarat is the largest antique mall in the city and priced to match. Gold and gems are popular buys, but be extremely wary as many tourists buy worthless pieces of cut glass believing it to be valuable gems. Never let a tuk-tuk driver convince you into a gem store, as more often than not, you're being ripped off. The same rule goes for tailoring shops; you can get a custom-made suit for amazingly low prices, but you have to know where to go, as many tailors provide bad quality — see the box for advice on finding a good tailor.

If you want to shop and see the beautiful scene of Chaophraya River at night, Asiatique the riverfront is the largest waterfront themed and new lifestyle night shopping area. It is a combination of Thai history elements and modern lifestyle. It opens daily from 5 pm to midnight. The easiest way to get there is via free shuttle boat near Saphan Taksin BTS station. It takes only ten minutes. Taxis are not recommended due to terrible traffic jams around here. Once you step off the boat, you will see an over 300 m long boardwalk along the river that looks like a romantic scene. There are a lot of shops here; you can find everything you would like both to eat and to buy. There are also entertainment shows; Calypso ladyboy cabaret and a classic Thai puppets performance. With retro props and buildings, it is also a good idea to take some photos here.

Browsing second-hand English-language books can best be done on Khao San Road. For new releases, there are plenty of chain stores in shopping plazas, including Asia Books, B2S, Bookazine, and Kinokuniya. There's a particularly wide array of books on Asian culture and history; some have a good selection of foreign newspapers and magazines as well.

Getting money in Bangkok is relatively easy; credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are spread all over the city, especially in downtown areas. Be warned that Aeon ATMs will eat and destroy cards if anything goes wrong, such as entering in a wrong PIN one time (according to their helpline). Three of the most conveniently located Aeon ATMs can be found on Chakrapong street 170 m walk north from western end of Khao San Road on ground floor of Tang Hua Seng supermarket (logo with T in circle visible from distance) and in the central part of the second floor of MBK Center in Siam Square and at the first floor of Central Department Store at Silom Complex in Silom. HSBC Thailand's branch is located at 968 Rama IV Road, in front of Lumphini Park and it's the only location of HSBC ATM in Thailand.

Best to keep away from buying fake degrees from the Khao San Road as they are either not from a real university or cannot be verified."The Mall" in Bangkapi has a water park on the top floor. But, this huge mall does not have a map or directory located anywhere in the mall. All needs for directions must be asked at the information desk.
  • Amphawa Floating Market. On Samutsongkram near Wat Amphawanjetiyaram. Amphawa Floating Market is one of the famous tourist attractions. Use bus number 76 and 967.
  • Kwan-Reim floating market, ☎ +66 87 701-2878. Study the history of Bam Pen Nuer Temple and Bam Pen Tai Temple. The new generation can see the past of people to illustrate offering some food to the monks, offering robes to Buddhist priests at the monastery and listening to the sermon. Number 27 and 503 buses on Sukhapiban 2 Rd. Second take number 113, 58, 113, 514 buses on Sukhapiban 3 Rd. These floating markets open Sa-Su 08:00-21:00 and holidays.

Safety in Bangkok, Thailand

Given its size, Bangkok is surprisingly safe, with violent crimes like mugging and robbery unusual but you should be careful, of course. One of the biggest dangers is motorbikes who ride on pavements at speed, go through red lights, undertake buses as they stop to let passengers off and drive far too fast especially through stationary traffic. If you are going to hire a bike, make sure you have insurance in case you are injured. You may be the world's best driver, but you'll meet many of the world's worst drivers in Thailand.
Bangkok does have more than its fair share of scams, and many individuals in the tourist business do not hesitate to overcharge unwary visitors. As a rule of thumb, it's wise to decline all offers made by someone who appears to be a friendly local giving a hapless tourist some local advice. Never get in a tuk-tuk if someone else is trying to get you into one. Most Bangkok locals do not approach foreigners without an ulterior motive.
It is illegal to talk badly about the king. Tourists, just like locals, will get arrested and serve extended jail terms if caught doing so. Be extremely careful if you choose to talk politics, and it's better not to do so at all.


You should always be on the look-out for scammers, especially in major tourist areas. There are dozens of scams in Bangkok, but by far the most widely practiced is the gem scam. Always beware of tuk-tuk drivers offering all-day tours for prices as low as 10 baht. You may indeed be taken on a full-day tour, but you will end up only visiting one gem and souvenir shop after another. Don't buy any products offered by pushy salesmen — the "gems" are pretty much always worthless pieces of cut glass, and the suits are of deplorable quality. The tuk-tuk driver gets a commission if you buy something — and fuel coupons even if you don't. Unless the idea of traveling by tuk-tuk appeals to you, it's almost always cheaper, more comfortable and less hassle to take a metered taxi.
In general, never ask a taxi driver for a recommendation for something. They will very likely take you to a place where they get a commission and be of dubious quality. In particular, do not ask a taxi driver for a restaurant recommendation. An infamous place taxi drivers take unsuspecting tourists Somboon D which is a terrible seafood restaurant in a seedy area under the train tracks on Makkasan Rd. Instead of asking a taxi driver, search the web, ask a local on the street, or just walk around -- you will surprise yourself with what is around a corner in Bangkok.
Be highly skeptical when an English-speaking Thai at a popular tourist attraction approaches you out of the blue, telling that your intended destination is currently closed or offering discount admissions. Temples are almost always free (the main exceptions are Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho) and open just about every day of the year. Anyone telling you otherwise, even if they have an official-looking identification card, is most likely out to scam you, especially if they suggest a tuk-tuk ride to some alternate sights to see until the sight re-opens. At paid admission sites, verify the operating hours at the ticket window.
If you entered one of these tuk-tuks, touts often would drop you off at a certain place, such as a genuine Buddhist temple. Here you will find a man that claims to be an official, and he guides you in a certain direction. There you will find another "official" who also claims that a certain attraction is closed. This way, a tourist hears the same statement by multiple people and is more eager to believe that his or her intended destination indeed is closed. Never get involved with these scammers or believe any of their statements.
When getting a taxi, it is a good idea to hail a moving taxi from the main road or to walk a short distance out of a major tourist area before looking for one. This is no guarantee of honesty, but greatly increases your chances of finding an honest driver, of which there are plenty in Bangkok, even if it sometimes seems that every driver is on the make. Most of the untrustworthy drivers are the ones standing still in tourist areas. Another important rule of thumb is to insist on the meter for taxis and agree on a price in advance for tuk-tuks. If they refuse or quote silly prices, just walk out and get a different one as they're rarely in short supply. The Thai phrase to ask a driver to use the meter is mee-TOE, khap if you're male and mee-TOE, kha if you're female.
Beware of tuk-tuk or taxi drivers who approach you speaking good English or with an "I ♥ farang" sign, especially those who mention or take you to a tailor shop (or any business). They are paid by inferior tailor shops to bring tourists there to be subjected to high-pressure sales techniques. If at any point your transportation brings you somewhere you didn't intend or plan to go, walk away immediately, ignore any entreaties to the contrary, and find another taxi or tuk-tuk.
Beware of a very overweight Western woman who approaches you with a story about how her luggage has just been stolen and needs money to get home. For several years now, she has usually lurked around the tourist attractions in Bangkok looking for prey. The scam industry in Bangkok is large enough to employ farangs!
Also beware of a woman who goes by the name of Koiy who runs a travel tour company named Tourist Information Tour Co., Ltd which operates under the Licence Number 12/01451. Her offices are located at 7101 Ka-om Rd., Wat Som Subdist, Pomprab Dist., Bangkok. For several years she has had locals, who are fluent in English, approach tourists to give "advice" on a government-run tour agency that is used by locals because the prices are so low. They will claim that it is the only government agency and may claim that you will receive a (student, business, tourist...) discount of up to 20%. At first, you will only be significantly overcharged, but if multiple trips are booked at one time the later portions of your trip may not be booked at all, and you will be left stranded.
Also, beware of private bus companies offering direct trips from Bangkok to other cities with "VIP" buses. There are a lot of scams performed by these private bus companies. The so-called direct VIP trips may end up changing three or four uncomfortable minibuses to the destination, and the 10-11 hour trip may well turn into 17-18 hours. Instead, try to book public BKS buses from the main bus terminals. It's worth the extra shoe-leather, as there have been reports of robberies on private buses as well.
There is a scam involving the local police and marijuana. If you attempt to purchase marijuana from one of the taxi or tuk-tuk drivers on Kao San Rd., there is the potential that you will get ripped off by the police. The scam goes like this: you ask for the weed, and the driver will tell you he knows a friend who he will call. The friend will show up and take you in the tuk-tuk to do the marijuana/money exchange. You'll get some terrible quality stuff and then get dropped off. Immediately after being dropped off, local police will run up on you and search you, finding the marijuana. Then, you'll be forced to go to the station with them and bribe. The going rate is USD1,000, but you could bargain down to USD600. They will walk you to the ATM and watch you withdraw the money, which you then hand over as your "fee" to go free. It's an awful scam. Don't try to buy marijuana in Bangkok unless you know what you're doing.

Go-go bars

Bangkok is known for its go-go bars and the prostitution that comes along with it. Technically, some aspects of prostitution are illegal (e.g. soliciting, pimping), but enforcement is rare, and brothels are common. It's not illegal to pay for sex or to pay a "bar fine" (a fee the bar collects if you want to take an employee away).
The age of consent in Thailand is 15, but a higher minimum age of 18 applies in the case of prostitutes. Penalties for sex with minors are harsh. All adult Thais must carry an identity card, which will state that they were born in 2534 or earlier if they were over the age of 18 on 1 January 2010 (in the Thai calendar, 2010 is the year 2553). Many hotels retain the ID cards of prostitutes for the duration of their visit. While most prostitutes are employed by bars or similar businesses, some are "freelancers." Petty theft and other problems are more common with these freelancers. HIV and AIDS awareness is better than it used to be, but infection statistics among entertainment industry workers remain high; freelancers are the highest risk group. Almost all girls insist on using condoms.
While walking in go-go bar areas is safe, you have to be cautious of touts who try to drag you into the Patpong upstairs bars with offers of ping-pong shows and 100-baht beer. The beer may well be 100 baht, but the "show" you'll be treated to will be 1,000 baht or more. A good idea is to let your friend check the place with you waiting outside (and if he doesn't come out in a few minutes you should call the police) and don't interact with workers during show, don't drink anything offered, don't let some friendly Thai sit next to you and talk to you, because you will end up paying for everything mentioned. If you follow this advice, you can see ping pong show for 200 baht without paying anything else, just the ticket to the bar.


Do not get into fights with locals. Thais are peace-loving people, but when a Thai fights a foreigner, it is never a fair fight. You'll wind up having to fight 10-20 others who were not initially involved, or the police will be called and not do anything to assist you (especially the metropolitan police, as they normally have very limited English skills; always contact the Tourist Police (telephone 1155) when in trouble). Thais are also notorious for fighting with weaponry (guns, knives, broken bottles, metal rods) or employing Muay Thai techniques. These are usually produced from their concealed locations, with foreigners getting seriously injured or worse. Just avoid all confrontations. If you do get involved in a situation, it is better to apologize and get the heck out of there. In Thailand, discretion is the better part of valor.

Animal abuse

Elephants are a large part of Thailand's tourist business, and the smuggling and mistreatment of elephants for tourist attractions is a widespread practice. Be aware that elephants are often separated from their mothers at a young age to be cruelly trained under captivity for the rest of their lives. It is advised to take an elephant ride only at animal-friendly organizations.
A once depressingly common sight on the congested streets of Bangkok is elephant begging, which has significantly decreased in recent years due to police enforcement. During night hours, mahouts (trainers) with lumbering elephants approach tourists to feed the creatures bananas or take a photo with them for a fee. The elephants are brought to the city to beg in this way because they are out of work and are mistreated and visibly distressed under the conditions of the city. Please avoid supporting this cruelty by rejecting the mahouts as they offer you bananas to feed the elephants.
Due to its location, lax laws, and resources, many illegal animal products come through Bangkok. Rare and endangered species are often sold at markets for pets (especially at Chatuchak), and many other animal products are sold as luxury items. Avoid buying rare pets, leather, ivory, talons, dried sea creatures (such as starfish), fur, feathers, teeth, wool, and other products since they are most likely the result of illegal poaching, and buying them contributes greatly to animal endangerment and abuse.

Political unrest

In 2008, political unrest hit the headlines, with the yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) closing down both of Bangkok's airports for a week with several people killed in political violence. After the new prime minister was elected, things were more or less back to normal for a while, but the situation remained unstable. In 2010, new political unrest surfaced with red-shirted protesters from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) occupying much of downtown Bangkok. These protests turned violent when government troops tried to take back parts of central Bangkok that had been seized by protesters. Always follow the independent press for the newest political developments, stay away from demonstrations.

Food and water

As elsewhere in Thailand, be careful with what you eat. Outside of major tourist hotels and resorts, stay away from raw leafy vegetables, egg-based dressings like mayonnaise, unpackaged ice cream and minced meat as hot weather tends to make food go bad faster. In short, stick to boiled, baked, fried or peeled food.
Tap water in Bangkok is said to be safe when it comes out the plant, but unfortunately, the plumbing along the way often is not, so it's wise to avoid drinking the stuff, even in hotels. Any water served to you in good restaurants will at least be boiled, but it's better to order sealed bottles instead, which are available everywhere at low prices.
In some areas, like the smaller sois surrounding Khao San Road, there are coin-operated filtration machines, allowing you to refill your drink bottles with safe water. These vending machines are often seen being used by locals, so they should be relatively safe.
Take care with ice, which may be made with tap water of questionable potability as above. Some residents claim that ice with round holes is made by commercial ice makers who purify their water; others state that it is wise not to rely on that claim.

Language spoken in Bangkok, Thailand

Thai is the official language. English is understood in tourist places.


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