04 July 2012


Order of sections
- Highlights
- Why might you want to visit Bangkok?
- Bangkok does, however, not fare well in...
- Fast Facts
- Overview
- How to Get There
- City Mapping
- Sights
- Accommodation
- Eating
- Shopping
- Transport
- Day trips
- Safety
- Itineraries
- Picture Gallery of the Wat Phra Kew and the Grand Palace
- Picture Gallery of Bangkok's Skyline

- Wat Phra Kew and the Grand Palace (Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace)
- Wat Po with the reclining Buddha: the biggest of its kind in Thailand
- Chatuchak Weekend Market

Why might you want to visit Bangkok?
Bangkok is the capital of a rapidly developing Asian country and you can view the city's position at the crossroads of a modern, Westernised city as well as a city rooted in history and culture. Hence you can enjoy great temples and skyscrapers and a vareity of different shopping options, from markets to malls.

Bangkok does, however, not fare well in...
Traffic (see more in the Transport section)
The city can be very hot and humid in Jun, for instance. December offers some respite.
Scams- see more in the Safety section.

Fast Facts
Currency- Thai Baht
Language- Thai is the main language but English is understood in tourist areas with many English signs
Famous buys: Buddha models, t-shirts

Capital of Thailand, home to skyscrapers, slums and traffic jams, Bangkok is a city of two faces. On one side is the old area with gleaming palaces and on other is a city of skyscrapers rivaling the other giants of this part of the world.

December is one of the better times to visit when the heat and humidity is bearable, but in June expect temperatures in the mid 30s and high humidity.

How to get there
Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport is a major airport and a hub of THAI. Most (if not all) international flights and most domestic flights use that airport, but the old Don Muang Airport is still operational.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is about 30 km east of the city centre.

City Mapping 
The old area of the city with the famed palaces and temples is towards the west, on the banks of the Chao Phraya. Slightly east is Chinatown with the city's main railway station and further east is the business district with the skyscrapers of Silom. Slightly east is the Sukhumvit area. The new Suvarnabhumi Airport is around 30 km from the centre. It can take anywhere between 45 and 90 minutes to reach it from the centre, depending on time of day.

Bangkok is famous for its temples and rightly so. The most famous sight is the Wat Phra Kew and the Grand Palace. Wat Phra Kew is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, although the Buddha there isn't made up of emerald. At least 40 min is recommended to see this amazing complex. Do take note that, while you can freely take photos in the complex, you can't take any in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. See the photo gallery of the complex at the end of this post.
Wat Po complex

Nearby is the Wat Po (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). The temple interior is home to the stunning Reclining Buddha. While noticing that, do also take note of the walls and the ceiling. There are also some small statues including that of the Laughing Buddha.

The reclining Buddha

            Chinatown is home to the Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha). It houses a Buddha statue, entirely of gold. There's another temple opposite this one which is also worth a look.

Wat Traimit

Temple opposite Wat Traimit

The Golden Buddha in Wat Traimit

Interior of temple opposite Wat Traimit
               Closer to the centre is
               the Wat Benchamabophit (Marble
               Temple). You can identify it on the
               back of the 5B (5 Baht- the Thai
               currency) coin. The courtyard behind
              the temple is worth a look.

Wat Benchamabophit

Interior of Wat Benchamabophit
 In Siam Square is Erawan Shrine. Occupying a small spot at a busy junction in Siam Square, the small shrine has a big history. It was built in 1956 hoping to end the disasters that occurred in the construction of the Erawan Hotel (injured workers, sinking of a ship carrying marble for the hotel). Guess what, for whatever reason, there were no more disasters. Later, in 2006, the gilded plaster of the image of Brahma was destroyed and the vandal was almost immediately attacked and killed in the vicinity. (The history is taken from the Lonely Planet Thailand travel book, 13th edition.)

View of the Skytrain from Erawan Shrine

Erawan Shrine

We stayed at the Anantara Sathorn- expect good rooms and service, typical of a 5-star chain. Our room had a good view. The hotel runs frequent free shuttles to Chong Nonsi Skytrain (BTS) station, which is also walkable (roughly 15 min).

Anantara Sathorn (the twin towers)

Hotel review: Anantara Sathorn
Rooms- 10/10
We had a 2-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette. Views were good. There was also a balcony. Overall, the apartment was extremely comfortable.
Staff- 9/10
Pretty friendly staff- the concierge was helpful and the bellboy got a map and started explaining about the local area to us when he got the bags up.
Location- 8/10
While nothing is really walkable, taxis are readily available and the hotel provides a free shuttle to nearby Chong Nonsi skytrain station (you must walk back- around 15-20 min).
Overall: Recommended.

During our first visit, we stayed at the Windsor Suites at Sukhumvit. Our room had a lovely view of Bangkok's skyline.

If you want to be spoiled for choice, Bangkok's myriad food courts wouldn't disappoint. Nearly every mall has one, such as the one at the MBK Centre and the one at Centralworld. Besides, these also have individual restaurants.
India Place (296/5 Soi Silom 28, Bangrak, 10500) is a recommendable Indian restaurant in Silom.

Bangkok is famous for its markets and malls. Want a "sick" (or just souvenir) t-shirt? Look no further than the city's night markets such as Patpong. It's near Silom. Other markets include the one at Sukhumvit and the rightly famous Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Bangkok boasts several malls too.
MBK Centre- Come here before hitting the night markets! Besides having the shops a typical mall has, you can also find zillions of t-shirts at prices you may not be able to bargain to at the tourist markets- the cheapest ones here at for 99B. Home to a good food court.

Other malls in the vicinity include Centralworld, Siam Paragon etc. The BTS Skytrain and the Skywalk are the best ways to reach them. On the banks of the Chao Phraya is River City Mall. Not as crowded as others, it's good for antiques. In the midst of the market on Sukhumvit Rd is Terminal 21 which also has a food court. Each floor of the mall is based on a different city.

Even if distances may not be large, road travel will take a lot of time in Bangkok, famous for its traffic jams. Traffic lights aren't structured too well, which makes it all the more frustrating. Travelling by taxi, although cheap, can be frustrating too, as taxi drivers will probably make a stop at say, a gem store so they can get a commission.

Taxis can be hailed on the road or called. A taxi may also be hired for a whole day, if the driver agrees. Again, the frustrating part are the "stops" even if the driver has agreed that he won't make these stops. At the time of last visit, flag fall was 35B.

The BTS Skytrain 
River City Mall

Tuk-tuks outside Wat Po

To avoid these problems and the never-ending traffic congestion, take the Skytrain and Metro whenever possible. The skytrain offers good views of the city and it's cnnected to the skywalk, which makes it easy to get into a mall or surrounding sights (eg Erawan Shrine). A day pass costs 130B on the Skytrain. Point-point tickets depend on the length of the journey.

Congestion in Bangkok

On the river, the Chao Phraya Express is a good option, which also offers good views. The River City Mall is best reached by it.

Bangkok by river

BMTA (Bangkok Mass Transit Authority)
BTS Skytrain

Day trips
A popular day trip is to Ayuthaya and Bang Pa In.

Your biggest concern will be touts and scams in tourist areas rather than violent crime- although do be watchful for petty crime.
Common scams
A good guidebook/other Internet resources will also have detailed information on scams. Also watch out for the gem shop visits you might have to do if travelling by taxi. Taxi drivers will not force you to buy anything but will tell you to look around for just a few minutes as they then are entitled to some rewards for bringing in tourists. Considering how cheap taxi fares are, you might want to agree with him if you're not short on time, otherwise be firm and persistent in taking you directly to your destination.
Some sections of streets in business areas (such as Silom and Sathorn) may have sparse traffic at night. Exercise caution but it should be safe- walk down a bit and you might as well see people eating at the roadside and congregated traffic at junctions.

One Day
With one day, you can visit the Wat Phra Kew and the Grand Palace and the Wat Po in the morning, followed by Wat Traimit. Then go to modern Bangkok. Visit a mall and eat in the food court. In the evening, go to either Sukhumvit or Patpong market.

Two days
Spend the first day by going to the Wat Phra Kew, Grand Palace and Wat Po. Take a ride on the Chao Phraya Express and visit the River City Mall. Connect to the skytrain and spend the afternoon in a mall and go to the Sukhumvit market in the evening. On the second day, visit the Wat Traimit and Wat Benchamabophit and spend the afternoon in a mall. Visit Erawan Shrine. Spend the evening in Patpong.

Three Days
With another day, you can take a day trip. Try Ayuthaya and Bang Pa In.

There are also many other temples you can see, such as Wat Arun, Wat Suthat, Wat Saket and so on.

If you're on a Saturday or a Sunday, a visit to the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must. I'd go so far to say that make sure you have a Saturday or a Sunday in the city!

Picture Gallery of the Wat Phra Kew and the Grand Palace

Picture Gallery of Bangkok's Skyline

No of visits- 2
Last visit: Jun 2012
First Visit: Dec 2004

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