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Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, as well as its largest city. This international and metropolitan city has a little bit of everything to offer its millions of citizens, expats, and tourists alike.
Fun fact: Bangkok holds the Guinness Book of World Records record for the longest name. Its full name, loosely translated from Thai is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. The name “Bangkok” is mostly used for Foreigners, or “farang”.
The name “Bangkok” comes from Bang Makok. “Bang” means “town” or “village” and “Makok” means olive. Another derivation of Bangkok comes from “Bang Koh” which means “surrounded by rivers and canals” which is an accurate description of Bangkok.
Currency: Thai Baht
Bangkok is one of the most accessible cities in Southeast Asia. There are two airports in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Mueang (DMK). BKK is for long haul international flights and DMK is for smaller, regional and international flights. Most of the low cost carriers such as AirAsia and TigerAir fly out of DMK.
Accessible straight from BKK is the Airport Rail Link. It connects to Phaya Thai BTS station on the Sukhumvit Line. Travel time takes about 40 minutes to the BTS Station. Once you arrive at Phaya Thai BTS, it’s easy to get a taxi to your final destination. This is a good choice if you’re arriving on between 7 to 10 AM or 4 to 7 PM on weekdays, or anytime on a Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, there is a specific taxi stand at BKK with a surcharge fee as an airport fee. You’ll be asked to provide your destination location to the agent prior to getting into the taxi. Taxis only access THB cash, so be prepared.
From DMK, there’s a public bus that takes you from DMK to Mo Chit BTS. Fare is 30 baht, follow the signs for the bus from the airport. Depending on traffic, the trip should take between 30 to 45 minutes. You don’t need to buy a ticket beforehand, someone will come and collect the fare from you once the bus gets going.
Bangkok can be daunting to get around, especially during peak hours. However, there are various transportation available. You can take the BTS and MRT. These are ideal for peak hour travel, as well as traveling far distances to avoid traffic. However, the skytrain and underground train do not share a payment system, so factor this into your travel time.
You can also take motorbikes - it can be a bit scary at first, but just remember to hold on (either to the driver or to the back of the bike) and you’ll be fine. Ideal only for short rides, as there is a danger element. However, motorbike travel is a staple of Thailand and often the most efficient way to get around if you’re in a hurry.
Taxis are a great way to get around in Bangkok if it’s not during traffic time. However, it might take time as not all taxis will use a meter and will negotiate the fare.
Bangkok is a vibrant city with the amenities to charm a wide variety of travellers. Business travellers will love its wide array of restaurants, cafes and nightlife. Backpackers have a haven in Khao San Road with all the amenities one could ever desire at a fraction of the price of Western locations. Families will love the proximity to beaches, mountains, and family friendly activities. Shoppers are in heaven with an extensive network of malls and markets. History buffs will find numerous temples and historical monuments to ponder over. Bangkok is truly a city that has something for everyone.
Luckily, all of Bangkok’s main temples are all nearby to each other. Make a day of it, and visit the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Make sure to wear “temple clothes” which consists of covering your shoulders and knees. Temples will have things you can borrow to enter, but it’s much nicer to have your own and just bring a backpack to carry all of the extra clothing in.
You can also explore Jim Thompson’s House. Renovated into a museum about the silk industry, it houses Southeast Asian art pieces and its silk weaving industry office. Tip: Take the Klong boat to Jim Thompson’s house for the ultimate Thai experience.
For bargain shoppers, Chatuchak Weekend Market (JJ Market) is the place to be. One of the largest markets in the world, it has over 8,000 outlets featuring thousands of goods. You can find absolutely everything here, from clothing to food to electronics to home goods. Make sure you barter for the best deal, and save your appetite because there’s plenty of delicious market food here.
Bangkok has hotels and accommodations for every kind of traveler. Whether you’re looking for the most luxurious experience for a fraction of the price of a Western establishment, or looking for something that’ll simply function as a place to sleep and shower, Bangkok has you covered.
Siam is one of the most popular areas of Bangkok. Located close to Siam Center, MBK Center and Jim Thompson House are the places to hang out and enjoy the mall culture of Bangkok. If malls aren’t your thing, there are also local markets and plenty of space to walk around in this area.
Meanwhile, the Asoke area is one of the most convenient locations in Bangkok. This neighborhood is on both the BTS and MRT line, and has easy access to both Sukhumvit, Sathorn and Ari areas. Nana, on the other hand, is a highly populated expat area. Located here is Benjasiri Park, one of the most beautiful parks in Bangkok. There’s an exercise equipment, a lake, and a track for runners here.
There are many things to do in Bangkok after the sun has set. Bangkok’s nightlife caters to all types - whether you love the noisy crowd, in the mood for a more chill vibe, or go all out partying.
Check out the bars and street stalls in Khao San Road where you can listen to live music and enjoy affordable food. You can also check out rooftop bars, where the views and ambiance can’t be beat in this city of lights. Moon Bar, Octave at the Marriott on Sukhumvit 57, and Centara in Siam are some of the most popular hang outs.