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Bangkok Travel Guide

Beyond the Typical “Wow” Factors, a City’s Daily Life Invites Years of Exploration

Tourists and pilgrims come to the capital of Thailand to see the Royal Palace and iconic Buddhist sites. However, the most interesting aspect of Bangkok is not this, but its vibrant street life and diverse neighborhoods.

Often, Bangkok serves merely as a place where tourists land and stay for a day to see the main attractions—the Royal Palace, the golden statue of the reclining Buddha, visit a floating market, and dine in one of the skyscrapers overlooking the city. And for many, Bangkok is remembered for its huge traffic jams, noise, hustle and bustle, and these attractions that do not make a strong impression. And it’s true—there are no “wow” factor places here.

Bangkok is interesting not for this, but for its colorful urban life, diversity of colors, sounds, and smells. Monks in saffron robes on buzzing tuk-tuks, a monorail winding between skyscrapers, an abundance of golden spires rising above wooden houses, musical boats with neon lighting cruising the dark Chao Phraya River, the smell of jasmine and sewage. Walking through streets crowded with transport, you can pass serene Buddhist temples in one block and gigantic megamalls in another, past rows of street vendors cooking fresh squid, soups, and curries in bubbling pots or slicing open young coconuts with machetes.

For many, Bangkok is not a place you dream of moving to live. But traveling around the capital of Thailand is incredibly interesting. And you can discover and uncover new places for years—the city is very large, and interesting places are found in absolutely different neighborhoods. We will try to tell you about Bangkok in a way that makes you want to come here not for one day, but for at least a week and immerse and learn about Bangkok’s chaos without rush.

The most important

Monarchy

Thailand is a monarchy. In any city, images of the king on posters and billboards are encountered. In 2016, the revered King Rama IX of all Thailand passed away, whose portrait still hangs in every home in the country. He ruled the country for 70 years and was called “father of the nation,” “great king,” and “heaven’s envoy.” During his reign, he transformed an agricultural country into one of the main tourist destinations in the world with a very successful economy. He was sincerely loved and revered, and all these manifestations were hard to call ostentatious.

In 2016, Thailand's revered King Rama IX passed away, whose portrait still hangs in every home in the country
In 2016, Thailand’s revered King Rama IX passed away, whose portrait still hangs in every home in the country

The country is now ruled by his son, Rama X, and there is a sense that the people do not hold the new king in the same esteem. Perhaps time is needed to accept him. It’s a complex situation that Thais prefer not to discuss openly. Extravagant stories about the king can be found here, which may clarify why some believe that the monarchy in Thailand has shown cracks.

For insulting or criticizing the king and his family members, as well as the institution of monarchy itself, one can face three to fifteen years in prison. It is forbidden to tear or step on banknotes bearing the king’s image, as well as photos and paintings. Despite the severe punishment, protests took place in Bangkok in 2020–2021, one of their demands being the reform of the monarchy.

The Royal Palace

The palace hosts official events and celebrations, but the royal couple has moved to another residence. Otherwise, the palace is open to tourists. The palace is particularly notable for its golden roof and is adorned with a bright mosaic of emeralds. Besides the palace, the grounds also house a museum, the throne hall, and the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where all Thai Buddhist monks are ordained. The Emerald Buddha, the country’s main sacred object, is a small statue located somewhere near the ceiling and, contrary to its name, is made of jade. Visitors can also explore the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, which displays her outfits adorned with traditional embroidery.

Official events and celebrations are held at the Royal Palace, but the royal family has already moved to another residence. Otherwise, the palace is open for tourists to visit. Photo by Radek Kucharski / Wikimedia.org
Official events and celebrations are held at the Royal Palace, but the royal family has already moved to another residence. Otherwise, the palace is open for tourists to visit. Photo by Radek Kucharski / Wikimedia.org

The complex is open from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Admission is 500 baht (12.63 euros). Entry to the palace grounds is not allowed with uncovered knees and shoulders.

There are several gates leading into the complex, but only one is always open. At the closed gates, taxi drivers often meet tourists, telling them that the palace is closed for the day and offering to take them to other interesting places—at the end, they take them to some free temple at an inflated price. Don’t fall for this scam.

Within the palace grounds, besides the palace itself, there are a museum, the throne hall, and the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where all Thai Buddhist monks undergo their ordination. Photo by Kriengsak Jirasirirojanakorn / Wikimedia.org
Within the palace grounds, besides the palace itself, there are a museum, the throne hall, and the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where all Thai Buddhist monks undergo their ordination. Photo by Kriengsak Jirasirirojanakorn / Wikimedia.org

The National Museum houses the country’s most extensive collection of Thai art. The museum consists of numerous buildings, each showcasing different types of art. Three galleries of the permanent exhibition feature collections on the history of Thailand, archaeology, and decorative objects.

Located near the National Museum is the world-famous backpacker street, Khao San Road. For decades, it has attracted budget travelers with its inexpensive hostels, affordable food, and lively parties. However, if you do not plan on drinking in local bars until morning, Khao San may not be the best place to stay.

Khao San Road is the most famous backpacker street in the world. For decades, it has attracted budget travelers with its inexpensive hostels, straightforward cheap food, and noisy parties. Photo by Lee Nelson / Flickr.com
Khao San Road is the most famous backpacker street in the world. For decades, it has attracted budget travelers with its inexpensive hostels, straightforward cheap food, and noisy parties. Photo by Lee Nelson / Flickr.com

Buddhism

Buddhism is an incredibly important part of Thai culture, and this is evident not only in the rural provinces but also in the capital. In the morning, many Thais line up at buildings with offerings for the monks, and small altars with treats for the spirits are set up at every corner. Temples are encountered if not in every quarter, then very frequently—there are more than 400 Buddhist temples in Bangkok alone. Despite the friendliness and hospitality of the Thais, disrespectful behavior towards religion is something that can truly offend and anger them. Therefore, it’s necessary to observe visitation rules at all religious institutions. Firstly, the dress code: clothing should cover shoulders and knees. If you happen to attend a Buddhist ceremony, you should not be positioned higher than a monk, so visitors usually sit on the floor. Most importantly, do not attract the monk’s attention or attempt to take a selfie—it is the height of disrespect.

Wat Pho is a sacred temple for Buddhists, as it houses the 16-meter golden statue of the Reclining Buddha and stupas containing the ashes of former kings of Thailand. In the afternoon, the stupas beautifully glisten in the rays of the post-noon sun. A large center for learning Thai massage operates at the temple, and you can sign up for a session there. The cost is from 260 baht (6.57 euros) for 30 minutes.

Wat Pho is a sacred temple for Buddhists because it houses a 16-meter golden statue of the Reclining Buddha and stupas containing the ashes of former kings of Thailand
Wat Pho is a sacred temple for Buddhists because it houses a 16-meter golden statue of the Reclining Buddha and stupas containing the ashes of former kings of Thailand

Wat Arun, with its towering spire glistening into the sky, is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The Prang, an 80-meter-tall tower in Khmer style, is visible from many points in the city center. At sunset, the temple complex is illuminated in radiance, reflecting the sun’s rays off its golden surfaces. An “obligatory donation” of 100 baht (2.53 euros) is required for entry, but it includes a bottle of water.

Wat Arun, with its towering spire glistening into the sky, is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The Prang, an 80-meter-tall tower in Khmer style, is visible from many points in the city center
Wat Arun, with its towering spire glistening into the sky, is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The Prang, an 80-meter-tall tower in Khmer style, is visible from many points in the city center

Wat Saket (Golden Mountain). The temple offers a panoramic view of Bangkok, which is the main reason to visit. It should be noted that there will be many others looking to enjoy the view, and there is an entrance fee of 100 baht (2.53 euros). Wat Saket closes relatively early—at 4:30 PM.

Walking from the Royal Palace to the Golden Mountain, on Bamrung Mueang Road, you will see dozens of shops selling Buddhist items and thousands of golden Buddha statues. Along the way, you’ll also encounter a huge arch that once served as swings for a ritual—monks swung, attempting to grab a bag of coins hanging from one of the poles. The ceremony was discontinued in 1932 following a series of fatal accidents.

The huge arch was once swings used for a ritual—monks would swing, trying to grab a bag of coins hanging from one of the poles. The ceremony was discontinued in 1932 following a series of fatal incidents
The huge arch was once swings used for a ritual—monks would swing, trying to grab a bag of coins hanging from one of the poles. The ceremony was discontinued in 1932 following a series of fatal incidents
Walking on foot from the Royal Palace to Golden Mountain, on Bamrung Mueang Road, you'll see dozens of shops with Buddhist goods and thousands of golden Buddha statues
Walking on foot from the Royal Palace to Golden Mountain, on Bamrung Mueang Road, you’ll see dozens of shops with Buddhist goods and thousands of golden Buddha statues

Wat Paknam. This vast temple, founded in 1610, is located in the Thonburi district on an island amidst numerous canals. In 2021, the construction of the statue of the largest Buddha in Bangkok was completed here, standing at 69 meters tall. There is also an 80-meter stupa, inside which is a Buddhist museum, and on the top floor—an incredible dome with a colorful psychedelic ceiling. The best photo spots for the Big Buddha are not inside the temple but opposite it, for example, at the Uruea café—entry costs 20 baht (0.51 euros), but the ticket can be exchanged for a comparable discount at the café.

In 2021, the construction of the statue of the largest Buddha in Bangkok was completed at Wat Paknam, standing at 69 meters tall
In 2021, the construction of the statue of the largest Buddha in Bangkok was completed at Wat Paknam, standing at 69 meters tall

Wat Prayoon is located in the Thonburi district, where crowds of tourists rarely venture, offering many secluded spots within the temple grounds. Observe the turtles and lizards in the Khao Mo garden, examine the Buddhist images on the walls (thangkas), or sit by the river.

Within the grounds of a century-old hospital is the Kuan Im shrine, dedicated to the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. It’s probably not worth a special trip, but if you’re passing by, it’s worth a five-minute visit.

Within the grounds of a century-old hospital lies the Guanyin Shrine, dedicated to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Within the grounds of a century-old hospital lies the Guanyin Shrine, dedicated to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

Not Just Buddhism

Besides Buddhist attractions, Bangkok has quite a few Christian churches visited by ethnic Chinese, a couple of Sikh temples where free food is offered to all comers. Hindu temples are also present, but Buddhism visually and culturally has the strongest influence on Bangkok. Visit the Sikh temple Siri Guru Singh Sabha in the Indian quarter of Wang Burapha, the cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church, or a Catholic church.

Near the Hindu Erawan Shrine, located amidst the urban chaos of the Siam district, believers perform traditional dances for the god Brahma. Worshippers bring offerings here: floral garlands, fruits, and prayer elephants for wishes. To be sure to see the performances, come on weekdays early in the morning. However, there is no exact schedule or time.

Visit the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh temple in the Indian quarter of Wang Burapha — until 10:30 AM, you can try vegan Indian food for free here. Photo by Melanochromis / Wikimedia.org
Visit the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh temple in the Indian quarter of Wang Burapha — until 10:30 AM, you can try vegan Indian food for free here. Photo by Melanochromis / Wikimedia.org

Chinatown

Chinatown is a large and significant district for Bangkok, larger than the Chinatowns of New York and San Francisco. Many ethnic Chinese no longer speak Chinese but still retain some aspects of Chinese culture. There is also a concentration of business and, consequently, money. Chinatown and its community are so significant that members of the royal family and the princess come annually to wish the Chinese Happy New Year.

Chinatown and its community are so significant that members of the royal family and a princess come annually to wish the Chinese a happy New Year
Chinatown and its community are so significant that members of the royal family and a princess come annually to wish the Chinese a happy New Year

Many tourists visit Chinatown for its street food market. There are even stalls that have made it into the Michelin Guide. But Chinatown is much more than just street food. It features narrow alleys with ancient temples, such as Wat Sam Pluem, old Chinese shops along Yaowarat Road, and the most popular boutique hotels and clubs in Bangkok, like the Opium and TAX cocktail bars.

Here you can also find one of the most authentic bars in Bangkok, Tep Bar. It plays national music, cocktails are made based on Thai infusions, and they are named after ancient characters from Siamese literature, and the building has not been renovated since World War II. The average check is 1000 baht (25.27 euros).

Many ethnic Chinese no longer speak Chinese but still retain some aspects of Chinese culture. Chinatown is also a hub of business and, consequently, money
Many ethnic Chinese no longer speak Chinese but still retain some aspects of Chinese culture. Chinatown is also a hub of business and, consequently, money

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (Temple of the Lotus and Dragon), the largest Chinese temple in the city, is located in Chinatown. It is a complex of buildings in the typical Chinese architectural style of 1872, with roofs and entrances adorned with traditional stone dragons, and the main pagoda is decorated with numerous golden Buddha statues. Nearby are Confucian and Taoist shrines. The temple remains a center of Chinese culture in Thailand: national holidays, carnivals, and the annual vegetarian festival are held here.

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (Temple of the Lotus and Dragon) is a complex of buildings in a typical Chinese architectural style from 1872, with a roof and entrance decorated with traditional stone dragons. Photo: Globetrotteur17 / Flickr.com
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (Temple of the Lotus and Dragon) is a complex of buildings in a typical Chinese architectural style from 1872, with a roof and entrance decorated with traditional stone dragons. Photo: Globetrotteur17 / Flickr.com

Coffee shops, artist galleries, and small guesthouses along the river in the Talat Noi area have breathed new life into Chinatown and its once-abandoned Chinese shops. Start your stroll on Soi Wanit 2, pass by Wat Pathumkongka, and briefly stop at Hong Sieng Kong—a quiet coffee shop with antique furniture and stairs, statues, and trees. There’s a large garden where you can enjoy a cup of cappuccino with a view of the river. The Mustang Blu hotel hosts a cool bar, while the cafes Pompano and Wallflowers offer excellent desserts and coffee, and the elegant restaurant Contento is a great place for dinner.

Hong Sieng Kong is a serene café with antique furniture and staircases, statues, and trees. It features a large garden where you can enjoy a cup of cappuccino with a view of the river
Hong Sieng Kong is a serene café with antique furniture and staircases, statues, and trees. It features a large garden where you can enjoy a cup of cappuccino with a view of the river

If you’re not a coffee lover, next to the café is a tiny public park by the Bhanurangsi pier — there are benches for resting and a pier where well-fed catfish live. Plus, there’s a great view of the Chinese pagoda on the other side. Continue to the 200-year-old So Heng Tai mansion with its carved details and vintage tiles. The house belonged to one of the first Chinese merchant families in the area — now it houses a café. Nearby is another nice café — Mother Roaster.

Cafés, artist galleries, and small guesthouses along the river in the Talat Noi area have breathed new life into Chinatown and its once-abandoned Chinese shops
Cafés, artist galleries, and small guesthouses along the river in the Talat Noi area have breathed new life into Chinatown and its once-abandoned Chinese shops

Skyscrapers and Sky Bars

Bangkok transformed from a small port city into the capital of the kingdom only in the late 18th century, after the Burmese destroyed the previous capital, Ayutthaya. Therefore, ancient architecture cannot be found in the city: the oldest are the temple-wats and a few remaining mansions in Chinatown. In the 20th century, the city transformed from a port, where the main transport artery was the Chao Phraya River, into a typical metropolis—with the emergence of major roadways, public parks, and universities. And by the beginning of the 2000s, as in most other metropolises, the city began a boom in high-rise construction.

Skyscrapers are one of Bangkok’s important visual features. The 320-meter King Power Mahanakhon is the tallest building in Thailand’s capital. The entire roof is an observation deck, offering a fantastic view of the city. The most popular attraction is the glass floor: just a layer of glass underfoot, with the ground hundreds of meters below. There’s also a small bar on the roof, in case you want to enjoy a cocktail with a view of Bangkok. A ticket to the observation deck costs 880 baht (22.23 euros), and a drink at the bar is about 500 (12.63 euros).

The 320-meter King Power Mahanakhon is the tallest building in Thailand's capital. The entire roof serves as an observation deck, offering a fantastic view of the city
The 320-meter King Power Mahanakhon is the tallest building in Thailand’s capital. The entire roof serves as an observation deck, offering a fantastic view of the city

The panoramic balcony of the Baiyoke Sky skyscraper is a great option for dinner. The Lebua State Tower houses the panoramic Sky Bar, and the Banyan Tree hotel’s rooftop features the Moon Bar. Among other popular Bangkok sky bars are Speakeasy, the budget-friendly Yard with good international cuisine, Octave, and Blue Ray.

A guide to Bangkok’s architecture — an English article on ArchDaily featuring the best examples of modern Bangkok architecture.

Immersing in Bangkok

Riding a tuk-tuk

The iconic three-wheeled transport, tuk-tuk, is common in many Asian countries but is particularly prevalent in Bangkok and has become a sort of symbol for the city. It’s important to remember that tuk-tuks also get stuck in traffic, so it’s best to avoid peak hour trips even in them. Getting stuck in traffic behind a truck or bus and inhaling exhaust fumes is not very pleasant, so it’s advisable to check the traffic map before setting off. The busiest road times are from 7 to 12 o’clock and from 16 to 20. Although sometimes traffic jams can start at seven in the morning and end at nine in the evening. However, tuk-tuks can be used not only as transport but also as an inexpensive excursion attraction, allowing you to ride through the city with a breeze. There is no fixed price — it depends on the time of day, road congestion, and your bargaining skills. Bargaining starts from 100 baht (2.53 euros).

The iconic three-wheeled tuk-tuk transport is found in many Asian countries, but they are especially prevalent in Bangkok and have become a kind of symbol of the city.Attend a Thai Boxing Match
The iconic three-wheeled tuk-tuk transport is found in many Asian countries, but they are especially prevalent in Bangkok and have become a kind of symbol of the city

Attend a Thai Boxing Match

Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, is the national sport of which Thais are very proud. It is considered one of the most effective martial arts styles in the world. Venues for Thai boxing are found in every settlement, but the best fighters train and perform in Bangkok. The largest and most prestigious matches are held at two stadiums—Rajadamnern and Lumpinee. Tickets are sold on the website and at tourist kiosks in the city.

Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, is the national sport that Thais are very proud of. It is considered one of the most effective martial arts styles in the world. Photo: Rajadamnern Stadium เวทีราชดำเนิน
Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, is the national sport that Thais are very proud of. It is considered one of the most effective martial arts styles in the world. Photo: Rajadamnern Stadium เวทีราชดำเนิน

Floating Market

Many tourists buy tours to the floating markets located along the canals in the Thonburi area. However, all authenticity has been lost there, and there are more foreigners than locals. But Taling Chan Market, which is a bit away from the center, is not often reached by tourists. The only downside is that it operates only on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Locals shop here, eat, and go for massages. On the canal, there are several tethered wooden boats that serve as kitchens, and a few floating docks act as dining spots. The market atmosphere is enhanced by the bustling catfish between the docks and traditional live music. You can get to and from central Bangkok by taking the metro to Bang Khun Non station and then switching to a taxi.

Locals at the floating market go about their usual business—shopping, eating, and getting massages
Locals at the floating market go about their usual business—shopping, eating, and getting massages

24-Hour Flower Market

Pak Khlong Talat is a bustling 24-hour flower market along Chak Phet Street. Under the market’s tin roof, vendors sell bundles of orchids, carnations, roses, stacks of prickly pineapples, and ready-made temple offerings. Sellers gather bags of marigolds, create complex floral arrangements for funerals and weddings. Even if there are no plans to buy anything, it’s great to walk around and admire the beautiful flowers.

Pak Khlong Talat is a bustling 24-hour flower market along Chak Phet Street. Under the market's tin roof, vendors sell bundles of orchids, carnations, roses, stacks of prickly pineapples, and ready-made temple offerings. Photo by Ninara / Flickr.com
Pak Khlong Talat is a bustling 24-hour flower market along Chak Phet Street. Under the market’s tin roof, vendors sell bundles of orchids, carnations, roses, stacks of prickly pineapples, and ready-made temple offerings. Photo by Ninara / Flickr.com

Cooking School

At the Blue Elephant cooking school, classes are conducted for both beginners and professionals. In the morning session, small groups gather in an elegant colonial-style house, shop for ingredients at the Bang Rak market, and then cook. A group session costs from 3000 baht (75.80 euros).

Other culinary courses we can recommend include House of Taste, Silom Thai, and Sompong Thai.

Thai Massage

Thai massage was created under the influence of Chinese and Indian healing arts. It combines various stretching and acupuncture techniques, where the masseur follows the energy lines. Massage parlors are located on every corner of the city, and prices start from 250 baht (6.32 euros) for an hour-long session.

In the city, massage parlors are located on every corner, and prices start from 250 baht. Photo: Roberto Faccenda / Wikimedia.org
In the city, massage parlors are located on every corner, and prices start from 250 baht. Photo: Roberto Faccenda / Wikimedia.org

Infinity Spa is a three-story complex in the Silom area, whose interior was designed by the London architectural studio Space Popular. Here, they offer various types of massages – from classic sports or aromatherapy to unusual ones, such as massages for pregnant women. There is also comprehensive care available – detox, recovery after jet lag. An hour-long foot massage costs 800 baht (20.21 euros), while a classic or Thai massage costs 1300 (32.84 euros).

Live Music

Of course, the music scene in the megacity of Bangkok cannot compare in volume and variety with major cities in the USA or Europe. However, local bars and clubs still offer everything from the dreamy vocals of shoegaze bands to Thai psy-country. Experimental indie bands perform at Speakerbox, while grunge and hard rock can be heard at the small Brownstone complex. The electronic music scene is significantly better and more diverse. Cool DJs can be heard both in small bars and at large-scale festivals, such as Kolour and Wonderfruit.

The various districts of Bangkok – a brief overview of the most interesting ones

For those who don’t like to visit attractions selectively but prefer to wander through the city aimlessly, trying to understand and get to know it, Bangkok is the perfect place. It’s convenient to explore by districts—choose a specific one, arrive there by tuk-tuk, and roam all day. Below we talk about the most interesting areas where temple complexes, shopping centers, art clusters, and restaurants are gathered.

Siam Square

Siam Square is Bangkok’s main shopping district with trendy cosmetic shops, clothing stores, and stylish cafes, reminiscent of Seoul. Nonetheless, much of old Siam (as Thailand was called until 1932) has been preserved here: canals, alleys, and a restored teak house from the 20th century.

The Inter restaurant serves simple Thai cuisine, the Siam Paragon shopping center is the best option for shopping, and you can relax with a book in Siam Square. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) hosts workshops, exhibitions, lectures, and showcases Thai art.

Workshops, exhibitions, lectures, and displays of Thai art are conducted at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)
Workshops, exhibitions, lectures, and displays of Thai art are conducted at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is located somewhat away from all tourist routes. However, it’s definitely worth a visit for lovers of contemporary art. The building looks as though it has been carved out of a single piece of granite. Cascading jasmine patterns on both sides let natural light flood the atrium floor inside. There are several floors of permanent exhibitions with about 800 objects and seasonal exhibitions.
The Museum of Contemporary Art features several floors of permanent exhibitions with about 800 objects and seasonal exhibitions
The Museum of Contemporary Art features several floors of permanent exhibitions with about 800 objects and seasonal exhibitions

The Jim Thompson House Museum—home to the American who became wealthy in the mid-20th century from selling Thai silk—houses a collection of antiques, artworks, and religious artifacts collected by the businessman. The space consists of a garden with six traditional teak houses, and the mansion is also known as a legendary spot for holding social parties. The entrance fee is 200 baht (5.05 euros).

In the Jim Thompson House Museum—the home of the American who became wealthy in the mid-20th century from selling Thai silk—a collection of antiques, artworks, and religious artifacts collected by the businessman is on display
In the Jim Thompson House Museum—the home of the American who became wealthy in the mid-20th century from selling Thai silk—a collection of antiques, artworks, and religious artifacts collected by the businessman is on display

East of Siam Square lies one of Bangkok’s most iconic intersections—Ratchaprasong, akin to New York’s Times Square. It serves as a vivid example of the clash between the city’s old and new identities. Gleaming golden shrines are situated side by side with the massive shopping center Central World. In the adjacent Gaysorn Village mall, there is a Japanese-style onsen and a spa salon from the local brand Panburi, offering a beautiful view of Bangkok’s panorama.

East of Siam Square is one of Bangkok's most iconic intersections—Ratchaprasong, akin to New York's Times Square. Photo by OppaPoo / Flickr.com
East of Siam Square is one of Bangkok’s most iconic intersections—Ratchaprasong, akin to New York’s Times Square. Photo by OppaPoo / Flickr.com

Sukhumvit

Further east lies the Sukhumvit district with its eponymous metro station. This area is home to upscale restaurants, five-star hotels with rooftop bars, luxurious shopping centers, and the small contemporary Thai art gallery SAC Gallery. Along the seemingly endless Sukhumvit Street, there’s vibrant nightlife.

In Sukhumvit, there are upscale restaurants, five-star hotels with rooftop bars, luxurious shopping centers, and the SAC Gallery for contemporary Thai art. Photo: SAC Gallery
In Sukhumvit, there are upscale restaurants, five-star hotels with rooftop bars, luxurious shopping centers, and the SAC Gallery for contemporary Thai art. Photo: SAC Gallery

You can have breakfast at Holey bakery or Bartels, and expats like to gather at Toby’s. Vistro serves excellent vegan lunch, Korean Bornga offers great meat, seafood at Ministry of Crab, gyros at the Greek restaurant Aesop’s, and the Michelin-starred Haoma specializes in haute Indian cuisine. The day can be rounded off at one of the rooftop bars, such as Axis & Spin.

Several parks are also located here, perfect for an afternoon stroll or a break from the noise and city traffic. Lumpini is a large green park with a beautiful lake in the center. Varans wander around the park, locals ride bicycles or come for a picnic. The park is most crowded in the afternoon: people run, do aerobics, or use the free exercise equipment.

Lumpini is a large green park with a beautiful lake at its center. Varans walk around the park, locals ride bicycles or come for a picnic
Lumpini is a large green park with a beautiful lake at its center. Varans walk around the park, locals ride bicycles or come for a picnic

From Lumpini, you can walk to the neighboring Benjakitti Park with its elevated walkways and cool views of the skyscrapers. There are many trees and even on the hottest summer day, it is cool. Benjasiri is a compact and cozy park located between the Bangkok Marriott Hotel and the popular Emporium shopping center.

From Lumpini, you can walk to the neighboring Benjakitti Park with its elevated pedestrian walkways and a cool view of the skyscrapers
From Lumpini, you can walk to the neighboring Benjakitti Park with its elevated pedestrian walkways and a cool view of the skyscrapers

Thong Lo

Just a bit further north is the Thong Lo district, sometimes called “Bangkok’s Soho.” Here, comfortable condos and apartments are available for rent, and there are specialty coffee shops, restaurants, and co-working spaces. In the communal space The Commons, you can eat affordably, grab a coffee, or work on your laptop, while the café Patom serves dishes made exclusively from organic local ingredients.

In the community space The Commons, you can eat affordably, have a coffee, or work on your laptop. Photo: The Commons Thonglor
In the community space The Commons, you can eat affordably, have a coffee, or work on your laptop. Photo: The Commons Thonglor

Silom

The Silom district is perfect for living if you’re staying in Bangkok for a month or more. It has several parks, great cafes, and affordable condo rental prices. There’s another The Commons here, which can become your regular spot for work. At the Flâneur Tea cafe, groups of friends gather in the evenings, and at the Japanese spa complex Yunomori, you can relax at the end of the workweek.

The Silom district is perfectly suited for living if you're staying in Bangkok for a month or more. It has several parks, great cafes, and affordable condo rental prices. Photo: Ian Fuller / Flickr.com
The Silom district is perfectly suited for living if you’re staying in Bangkok for a month or more. It has several parks, great cafes, and affordable condo rental prices. Photo: Ian Fuller / Flickr.com

And what to do if you’re a tourist? Visit the observation deck on the roof of the 78-story King Power Mahanakhon skyscraper, the Woof Pack Building gallery, the Chong Nonsi Skywalk overhead pedestrian bridge observation deck, and the independent Doc Club & Pub cinema. Drop by the house-museum of Mr. Kukrit—professor, writer, and former Prime Minister of Thailand—to see what traditional mansions of wealthy Thai families looked like, learn about Thai culture and lifestyle, admire the scenic lotus pond and five teak houses. Try ice cream at Guss Damn Good, a burger at the American Bitterman, and steak at The Meatchop Butcher & Spirits.

Visit the observation decks on the roof of the 78-story King Power Mahanakhon skyscraper, the observation deck on the Chong Nonsi Skywalk overhead pedestrian bridge, and the Woof Pack Building gallery
Visit the observation decks on the roof of the 78-story King Power Mahanakhon skyscraper, the observation deck on the Chong Nonsi Skywalk overhead pedestrian bridge, and the Woof Pack Building gallery

Bang Rak

The old central post office building occupies the creative space Thailand Creative & Design Centre with a library, co-working space, and offices. The public space Warehouse 30 is situated in an old warehouse building, featuring a gallery and shops of small brands. From there, through the back alley past the beautiful gates of the Portuguese embassy, you can reach the unique shopping center River City Bangkok. Exhibitions are held here, but the main purpose is the sale of art objects and antiques.

The public space Warehouse 30 is located in an old warehouse building, featuring a gallery and shops of small brands
The public space Warehouse 30 is located in an old warehouse building, featuring a gallery and shops of small brands

Charoen Nakhon

In The Jam Factory space, there are dozens of cafes with various cuisines where you can try Japanese ramen and Russian dumplings alike. On weekends, markets are held here: selling books, coffee, and artworks. In the huge shopping center Iconsiam, there are several floors with clothing and electronics stores, a cinema, food courts with many restaurants, including Blue by Alain Ducasse with one Michelin star. And if you find yourself here in the evening, there is an excellent terrace on the sixth floor with a view of the city and several bars above.

In The Jam Factory space, there are dozens of cafes offering various cuisines, where you can try both Japanese ramen and Russian dumplings. On weekends, markets are organized here: selling books, coffee, and artworks. Photo: The Jam Factory
In The Jam Factory space, there are dozens of cafes offering various cuisines, where you can try both Japanese ramen and Russian dumplings. On weekends, markets are organized here: selling books, coffee, and artworks. Photo: The Jam Factory

Thonburi

A ride on a long-tail boat through the Thonburi district with its canals takes you back in time. Until 1971, the area was an independent city, and, having avoided modern development, many people live here just as they have for many generations.

A ride on a long-tail boat through the Thonburi district with its canals takes you back in time
A ride on a long-tail boat through the Thonburi district with its canals takes you back in time

Viewing old Bangkok from the canals (klongs) is a great spot for a long-tail boat ride—at Wat Paknam with the Big Buddha. Here, there are beautiful views of the temple and wooden houses standing on stilts right above the water. Near the temple, there is a boat dock where you can buy a half-hour boat ride for 200 baht (5.05 euros) per person. Renting a boat for the entire day will cost from 1500 baht (37.90 euros). Previously, public boats used to run through the canal, but the service was stopped during COVID, and it was never resumed.

Viewing old Bangkok can be done from the canals (klongs)—a great spot for a long-tail boat ride is at Wat Paknam with the Big Buddha. Here, there are beautiful views of the temple and wooden houses standing on stilts right above the water
Viewing old Bangkok can be done from the canals (klongs)—a great spot for a long-tail boat ride is at Wat Paknam with the Big Buddha. Here, there are beautiful views of the temple and wooden houses standing on stilts right above the water

Charoen Krung

Due to its proximity to the Chao Phraya River, the Charoen Krung district served as a center of international trade, hence a mix of traditions and customs from different cultures—from Chinese merchants to British diplomats and Persian traders. In recent years, art galleries, progressive restaurants, and bars have emerged along the main street. You can enjoy specialty coffee with dessert at Tangible, while the Asiatique shopping center hosts dozens of restaurants and an amusement park.

Ari

Ari has a relaxing atmosphere, plenty of greenery, and cafes with diverse cuisines. At Landhaus bakery, you can grab freshly baked bread, and at café Qraft, try a caramel croissant or a Viennese waffle. Traditional Thai dishes are served at Baan Pueng Chom, and northern Thai dishes at Ong Tong. In the evening, you can hang out at Aqua—a complex with bars offering live music. Josh Hotel is a charming boutique, styled in the retro vibes of the 1970s.

Surrounding Area

Ancient Siam Theme Park

40 kilometers from Bangkok

The man-made theme park “Ancient Siam,” although a highly popular tourist destination, truly impresses with its museum territory. It’s so vast that there’s a tram running through it (free of charge). It’s also convenient to explore the area on a bicycle or golf cart, which can be rented on site. The park’s layout roughly corresponds to the shape of the kingdom, with objects placed according to their real-life locations. There are 116 replicas of Thailand’s most popular sites. If you buy a ticket on the official website, it costs 570 baht (14.40 euros), but on various aggregators, it can be purchased for even 220 baht (5.56 euros).

In "Ancient Siam" park, there are 116 replicas of Thailand's most popular sites. Photo: Tan Kaninthanond / Unsplash.com
In “Ancient Siam” park, there are 116 replicas of Thailand’s most popular sites. Photo: Tan Kaninthanond / Unsplash.com

Wat Samphran — “Dragon Temple”

40 kilometers from Bangkok

This unique Buddhist temple’s standout feature is a circular pink 50-meter tower with 17 floors, spirally wrapped by a huge dragon sculpture. The temple itself is not very popular and has a bad reputation, as its abbot was convicted in the 2000s for the molestation of minors, so usually, there aren’t many tourists or pilgrims here. However, the dragon tower looks very epic and Instagram-worthy. Entrance to the temple is free, but donations are welcomed.

How to get there. A taxi ride from the center of Bangkok one way will cost about 400 baht (10.11 euros). There’s no public transport to the temple, but you can get to the nearest stop to the temple by bus 84 (AC) and from there take a motorcycle taxi for 50–100 baht (1.26 – 2.53 euros) for the four kilometers journey.

Wat Samphran is a unique Buddhist temple, its standout feature being a circular pink 50-meter tower with 17 floors, spirally wrapped by a huge dragon sculpture. Photo: Tan Kaninthanond / Unsplash.com
Wat Samphran is a unique Buddhist temple, its standout feature being a circular pink 50-meter tower with 17 floors, spirally wrapped by a huge dragon sculpture. Photo: Tan Kaninthanond / Unsplash.com

Ayutthaya

80 kilometers from Bangkok

Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam from 1350 to 1767. During its glory years, the city was one of Asia’s largest trading ports and housed over 400 temples. In 1767, the Burmese army captured it, looted its treasures, and enslaved its inhabitants. From that period, ancient structures remain, which tourists come to see. This heritage is included in the UNESCO list. The most convenient way to explore the ancient wats, palaces, and temples is by bicycle, which can be rented from one of the rental points (from 50–100 baht (1.26 – 2.53 euros) per day) or by taking a guided tour from one of the local travel agencies.

Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam from 1350 to 1767. During its years of glory, the city was one of the largest trading ports in Asia
Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam from 1350 to 1767. During its years of glory, the city was one of the largest trading ports in Asia

On the ruins of the 15th-century Wat Phra Si Sanphet stand three impressive stupas—Buddhist architectural structures that house relics or the possessions of saints. In Wat Phra Mahathat, there is a sandstone Buddha head entwined by the roots of a Bodhi tree. Buddhists consider the tree sacred, and it is not cut down even from valuable temple structures. If you stay in Ayutthaya overnight, you can visit the colorful Ban Yan night market and dine there.

How to get there. You can reach Ayutthaya by minivan from Mo Chit bus terminal for 100 baht (2.53 euros) or by train. Trains depart from the new Krung Thep Aphiwat railway station, with prices starting at 45 baht (1.14 euros), or from the old Hua Lamphong station for 15 baht (0.38 euros).

In Wat Phra Mahathat, there is a sandstone Buddha head entwined by the roots of a Bodhi tree. Buddhists consider the tree sacred, and it is not cut down even from valuable temple structures
In Wat Phra Mahathat, there is a sandstone Buddha head entwined by the roots of a Bodhi tree. Buddhists consider the tree sacred, and it is not cut down even from valuable temple structures

Khao Yai National Park

150 kilometers from Bangkok

Khao Yai National Park is one of Thailand’s oldest and most visited. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It hosts one of the few and largest remaining monsoon forests in Southeast Asia. The park’s main attraction is the dense evergreen jungles that descend from high mountains into incredible valleys with waterfalls and caves. The park is home to hundreds of species of wild animals—elephants, macaques, gibbons, even bears and otters, about 300 local and migratory birds, and numerous reptiles. If you’re not an avid hiker, it’s best to go to Khao Yai with a guide. The park is vast, and some trails are quite long. There’s even a three-day route that requires overnight stays in the jungle.

Khao Yai National Park is one of Thailand's oldest and most visited. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Khao Yai National Park is one of Thailand’s oldest and most visited. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

On the way to Khao Yai, you can have lunch at Midwinter Green—a restaurant that looks like a chalet in the Swiss Alps. Here, they prepare excellent meat dishes—smoked pork chops, German pork knuckle, or Australian Wagyu ribeye. The shop at the restaurant sells baked goods and local products. Also, on the way, you will find PB Valley winery, located in the scenic area of gentle hills, blooming flower fields, and green plantations.

On the way to Khao Yai, you can have lunch at Midwinter Green—a restaurant that looks like a chalet in the Swiss Alps. Photo: Midwinter
On the way to Khao Yai, you can have lunch at Midwinter Green—a restaurant that looks like a chalet in the Swiss Alps. Photo: Midwinter

Lopburi

180 kilometers from Bangkok

The city’s main attraction is the monkeys that roam the streets, climb power lines, and urban ruins. They are considered disciples of the Hindu god Hanuman. The sacred status of the animals ensures their safety. In the Phra Prang Sam Yot complex, impressive Khmer-style temple towers (prangs) and thousands of monkeys climbing on them are preserved.

In the Phra Prang Sam Yot complex, impressive Khmer-style temple towers (prangs) and thousands of monkeys climbing on them are preserved. Photo: Yakuzakorat / Wikimedia.org
In the Phra Prang Sam Yot complex, impressive Khmer-style temple towers (prangs) and thousands of monkeys climbing on them are preserved. Photo: Yakuzakorat / Wikimedia.org

Kanchanaburi

240 kilometers from Bangkok

Kanchanaburi is known for the “Death Railway”—the railway between Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar) built here during World War II by prisoners of war, many of whom died during its construction. In Kanchanaburi, there is a cemetery where about seven thousand prisoners of war are buried. The city also has a museum that tells the story of this tragedy. Admission to the museum costs 130 baht (3.28 euros). Only a section of the railway in Thailand remains, and you can take a ride on it—from Nong Pla Duk station to Nam Tok station. From Bangkok, you can even make a day trip if you take the earliest train—here are the details.

Kanchanaburi is known for the "Death Railway"—the railway between Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar) built here during World War II by prisoners of war, many of whom died during its construction. Photo: Supanut Arunoprayote / Wikimedia.org
Kanchanaburi is known for the “Death Railway”—the railway between Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar) built here during World War II by prisoners of war, many of whom died during its construction. Photo: Supanut Arunoprayote / Wikimedia.org

The area also includes Erawan National Park, named after the three-headed elephant deity from Hindu mythology. The main landscapes are limestone hills and caves within them, crystal-clear streams, and green valleys. But the main attraction is the emerald Erawan Waterfalls. The area is home to tigers, gibbons, elephants, and king cobras. If you have time to linger, stay in one of the park’s bungalows or rent a tent and set up camp.

The main attraction of Erawan National Park is the emerald waterfalls. Photo: BerryJ / Wikimedia.org
The main attraction of Erawan National Park is the emerald waterfalls. Photo: BerryJ / Wikimedia.org

Food

Thailand’s popularity as a tourist destination has led to its cuisine being considered global. And many tourists visiting Thailand for the first time are familiar with Thai cuisine. However, here it can differ significantly from what you’re used to eating in Russian cities. The dishes will be much spicier, so most restaurants’ menus have a spiciness rating. To avoid disappointment during meals, it’s important to know three key words: spicy, medium, not spicy. Thais have long adapted to the taste preferences of tourists and even in the most remote provinces will understand what is wanted from them.

Here are a few dishes that embody Thai cuisine.

Tom Yum. A soup based on coconut milk with the addition of mushrooms, seafood, herbs, and spices. It is usually served with a bowl of rice to mitigate the dish’s spiciness.

Pad Thai. Stir-fried rice noodles with tofu, eggs, and optional additions: shrimp, pork, or chicken. Vegetables, herbs, and nuts are added.

Pad Thai - Stir-fried rice noodles with tofu, eggs, and a choice of additions: shrimp, pork, or chicken
Pad Thai – Stir-fried rice noodles with tofu, eggs, and a choice of additions: shrimp, pork, or chicken

Steamed Seabass. The fish is served in a soup bowl with lemongrass broth, herbs, and chili.

Fried Rice. Fried rice is a dish typical of Southeast Asian countries. Cooked rice is stir-fried in a pan with vegetables and chicken, pork, or seafood.

Fried Rice - A dish typical for Southeast Asian countries
Fried Rice – A dish typical for Southeast Asian countries

Mango Sticky Rice (mango sticky rice). A special variety of sticky rice is steamed and then mixed with thick coconut milk or cream. Served with mango slices, and for those with a sweet tooth, it can be topped with condensed milk.

Roti. Originally a flatbread from India, it has become popular in many Southeast Asian countries. In Thailand, roti are more like pancakes—thin and crispy. Roti is served with fruits and various toppings. The classic version is with banana and Nutella. However, there are roti with hearty fillings: vegetables, eggs, shrimp, and even minced meat. Pancakes are usually sold in markets or in “makashnitsas” (slang by Russian-speaking residents of Thailand)—mobile fast-food stalls.

Due to the heat in Thailand, cold drinks with ice are very popular. The most famous is the bright orange “Thai cold tea”: a mixture of black tea with spices (anise powder, crushed red mandarin flowers, ground cinnamon, vanilla, crushed cloves), sweet milk, and ice. The original drink is made from ChaTraMue tea in the brand’s signature establishments. Taiwanese milk tea and cold coffee are also popular—both can be tried in chain establishments like Owl and Hop. The price for a drink starts from 19 baht (0.48 euros).

In Bangkok, there are over two hundred Michelin-recommended restaurants, starting with affordable family establishments like Here Hai or KHAO (Ekkamai). Photo: KHAO (Ekkamai)
In Bangkok, there are over two hundred Michelin-recommended restaurants, starting with affordable family establishments like Here Hai or KHAO (Ekkamai). Photo: KHAO (Ekkamai)

Restaurants. The Thai restaurant Issaya Siamese Club occupies a century-old house with wooden shutters and tiled roof. Here, dishes of meat and fish are prepared, as well as a large selection of appetizers.

The restaurant Supanniga Eating Room features a glass veranda overlooking the river and has some industrial, Brooklyn chic. There are many different seating options available—settees, iron and wooden chairs, and a long bar counter. The restaurant’s cuisine is famous for its bold flavor combinations—from smoked fish to stewed bitter melon—and large portions of traditional dishes.

The restaurant Supanniga Eating Room features a glass veranda that overlooks the river and possesses a certain industrial, Brooklyn chic. Photo: Supanniga Eating Room
The restaurant Supanniga Eating Room features a glass veranda that overlooks the river and possesses a certain industrial, Brooklyn chic. Photo: Supanniga Eating Room

The owners of the restaurant Eat Me are Australians, so here Asian flavors complement lamb and other meats unusual for Thailand. Try the chicken curry with lemongrass, spicy pepper risotto, or lobster soup here.

Spice & Barley is a gastro lounge by renowned chef Sam Leong, offering Southeast Asian dishes, views of the Chao Phraya River, and a modern interior made of rattan, designed by the Thai architectural firm Enter Projects.

Spice & Barley is a gastro lounge by the renowned chef Sam Leong, offering Southeast Asian dishes. Photo: Spice & Barley Riverside Bangkok
Spice & Barley is a gastro lounge by the renowned chef Sam Leong, offering Southeast Asian dishes. Photo: Spice & Barley Riverside Bangkok

Time Kaan is a restaurant by Thai chef Pornprom Laomanutsak, aimed at reviving old Thai recipes. Here you can try unusual combinations of berries, flowers, and meat, or dessert made from black sesame and rice.

For breakfast or lunch, head to Sarnies. The menu includes bowls, brioches, avocado toasts, delicious coffee, and desserts. Nearby is the unique Chinese-style café Hēi Jīi: coffee tonic, almond pie, and matcha.

With over two hundred Michelin-recommended restaurants, you can start with affordable family establishments like Here Hai or KHAO (Ekkamai).

Food Courts. A great option to try various cuisines affordably if you find yourself in one of the shopping centers. The Eathai food court in the Central Embassy shopping center serves excellent som tam and seafood (e.g., at Somboon). In Emporium, you can try Thai fusion at Café Flamenco or Japanese cuisine at Mugendai. The Food Republic food court operates in a canteen format, offering huge portions. The similar network Food Legends has gathered under one roof the most famous Bangkok street food restaurants, serving classic dishes: tom yum, pad Thai, and others. On the first floor of the Siam Paragon shopping center, the Gourmet Eats food court presents a vast array of dishes from all over the world. It’s noisy and bustling, but really tasty.

Food Courts - A great option to try various cuisines affordably if you find yourself in one of the shopping centers. Photo: Food Legends by MBK
Food Courts – A great option to try various cuisines affordably if you find yourself in one of the shopping centers. Photo: Food Legends by MBK

Coffee. On any bustling street in Bangkok, in the Silom, Ratchathewi, or Siam districts, there are plenty of cool specialty coffee shops: check out The Palette, Casa Lapin, GLIG, or Pacamara. Roots is a chain of coffee shops that sources beans from all over the world, but its pride is local coffee from Northern Thailand.

Accommodation

Choosing accommodation in Bangkok plays a significant role in trip preparation, as the hotel will likely determine which areas you spend the most time in. Here, there are excellent boutique hotels, vintage and stylish, prestigious chains, hostels for backpackers, and modern apartments with rooftop pools and gyms.

If you want to live in a skyscraper in a modern apartment, then you should look for accommodation in the Lumpini Park area and Sukhumvit Street. The historical part of the city on Rattanakosin Island is a great option if it’s your first time in the city and you’re likely interested in visiting all the main attractions. If you plan to move around the city actively, it’s best to look for accommodation within walking distance of the metro.

Coworking spaces and cafes suitable for work are available in almost every district of the city, and each has its own audience and specifics. Some are clearly for the creative youth: designers, artists, while others are ordinary spaces where people come to work for an hour or two or make calls. Coworking costs around 500 baht (12.63 euros) per day: The Hive, Paperwork, Just Co, and Common Ground.

If you want to live in a skyscraper in a modern apartment, you should look for accommodation in the Lumpini Park area and Sukhumvit Street
If you want to live in a skyscraper in a modern apartment, you should look for accommodation in the Lumpini Park area and Sukhumvit Street

Shopping

Shopping Malls

Bangkok has more shopping malls than anywhere else, and it has almost surpassed Singapore as the premier shopping destination in Asia. During the hottest times of the year, Thais spend a lot of time in shopping malls—casually shopping, dining at restaurants, watching movies, or visiting the aquarium.

Top 10 shopping malls:

In the vast shopping center of Iconsiam, there are several floors with clothing and electronics stores, a movie theater, food courts with many restaurants, including Blue by Alain Ducasse with one Michelin star
In the vast shopping center of Iconsiam, there are several floors with clothing and electronics stores, a movie theater, food courts with many restaurants, including Blue by Alain Ducasse with one Michelin star

Markets

Few things are as quintessentially Thai as markets. Nang Loeng is a well-known culinary oasis in the heart of Bangkok. It’s a community comprising a multitude of Asian cultures, tastes, smells, and sounds that have attracted both locals and foreigners for over 200 years. Here, restaurants and vendors prepare dishes according to recipes passed down from generation to generation. Don’t miss the opportunity to try curry, noodles, or the dessert kanom. Sampeng is Bangkok’s oldest market, Khlong Toei is the largest food market, and Pratunam is the biggest and busiest in the city center.

After dark, night markets start in the areas of Chinatown, Silom, Soi Rangnam, Sam Yan, On Nut, and Talat Phlu. My favorite is the Jodd Fair food market, open daily from 4:00 PM to midnight. Recently, this fair opened a new branch, whose main attraction is a scenic castle and a lawn by its walls, where you can picnic with food purchased there. The Srinakarin Train Market is a bustling open-air night market with antiques and vintage items, as well as bars and snack bars, operating from 5:00 PM from Thursday to Sunday.

Jodd Fair is a great street market operating daily from 4:00 PM to midnight. Recently, this fair opened a new branch, whose main attraction is a scenic castle and a lawn by its walls, where you can picnic with food purchased there
Jodd Fair is a great street market operating daily from 4:00 PM to midnight. Recently, this fair opened a new branch, whose main attraction is a scenic castle and a lawn by its walls, where you can picnic with food purchased there

Chatuchak is the main and largest market in Bangkok, with about 15,000 stalls. Here you can find Thai-made clothing (including traditional attire), replicas of famous brands, furniture and souvenirs, religious items, antiques and paintings, crockery and silk, wood and glass products, ceramics, and much more. Prices here are much lower than other Bangkok markets. Additionally, Chatuchak has a huge animal section, which can be visited like a zoo—there you can find familiar cute cats and dogs as well as exotic snakes, lizards, and even caracals.

Chatuchak has a huge animal section, where you can go as if to a zoo—there are familiar cute cats and dogs, as well as exotic snakes, lizards, and even caracals
Chatuchak has a huge animal section, where you can go as if to a zoo—there are familiar cute cats and dogs, as well as exotic snakes, lizards, and even caracals

It’s easy to get lost here: on weekends, the market is regularly visited by more than 200,000 people. At the entrance to the trading rows, take a free map. The market is open every Saturday and Sunday from seven in the morning until six in the evening, but it’s better to come in the morning, before it gets too hot.

Across the road from Chatuchak is the six-story Bang Sue Junction shopping center. On the first and second floors, there is a small flea market and antique shops—here you can find not only clothing but also furniture, dishes, film cameras, and much more. The upper floors house designer and vintage clothing shops, and on the top floor, there’s a small food court. The shopping center is open from Tuesday to Sunday from ten in the morning until ten at night.

Across the road from Chatuchak is the six-story Bang Sue Junction shopping center. On the first and second floors, there's a small flea market and antique shops
Across the road from Chatuchak is the six-story Bang Sue Junction shopping center. On the first and second floors, there’s a small flea market and antique shops

Transport

Some modes of transport in Bangkok can be not just a way to move from point A to point B, but an attraction in itself. Bangkok is a very large city, and moving around it can take a lot of time. This is one of the reasons why it’s better to think in advance about where to live.

Water Transport

The wide Chao Phraya River, flowing through the city, has been a crucial transport and trade route for centuries. Boats and ferries operate along dozens of different routes. Sometimes it’s just a five-minute crossing from one bank to another. And sometimes – ten-kilometer routes. Traveling by water is often not only the fastest way to get around but also a great option to see the city from the water.

Chao Phraya River Express boats run from Wat Ratchasingkhon pier to the Nonthaburi district, which means you can see the main temples, the Royal Palace, and bridges. These boats operate under different flags, indicating a specific route. Yellow flags are express boats, operating Monday to Friday from 06:00 to 08:00 and from 15:00 to 19:00, with a ticket costing 21 baht (0.53 euros). Boats with an orange flag stop at every pier, naturally increasing travel time. They operate daily from 06:00 to 18:30 and cost 16 baht (0.40 euros).

The wide Chao Phraya River, flowing through the city, has been a crucial transport and trade route for centuries. Boats and ferries operate along dozens of different routes
The wide Chao Phraya River, flowing through the city, has been a crucial transport and trade route for centuries. Boats and ferries operate along dozens of different routes

Another company, Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, specializes in transporting tourists specifically. Their route starts from the Central Pier (Saphan Taksin BTS station) and ends at the Banglamphu Pier. Between these piers, the boat makes ten stops, where you can hop on or off. A guide on the boat provides information about Bangkok’s attractions.

The boats run daily from 09:00 to 15:00 every 30 minutes. Tickets cost from 15 baht (0.38 euros), and a day pass is 150 baht (3.79 euros).

Cross-River Ferry ferries specialize in crossings from one bank to the other. The standard fare starts from five baht (0.13 euros).

The Chao Phraya River Express boats run from Wat Ratchasingkhon pier to the Nonthaburi district, allowing you to see the main temples, the Royal Palace, and bridges
The Chao Phraya River Express boats run from Wat Ratchasingkhon pier to the Nonthaburi district, allowing you to see the main temples, the Royal Palace, and bridges

Long-tail boats also navigate Bangkok’s narrow canals, serving as public transport. A ticket costs 16 baht (0.40 euros). The most interesting route starts from Panfa Leelard Pier, goes through a narrow canal through the city center, past the Jim Thompson Museum in the Siam district. Tickets are sold at ticket counters on the piers, or if not available, directly on the boat.

Long-tail boats navigate Bangkok's narrow canals, serving as public transport as well
Long-tail boats navigate Bangkok’s narrow canals, serving as public transport as well

Metro

The fastest way to get around Bangkok is through the BTS and MRT systems. It used to be thought that BTS was only above ground and MRT only underground, but now some stations are laid both above and below ground, and MRT also operates two above-ground monorail lines, with a third one under construction.

The fastest way to get around Bangkok is through the BTS and MRT systems. It used to be thought that BTS was only above ground and MRT only underground, but now some stations are laid both above and below ground, and MRT also operates two above-ground monorail lines, with a third one under construction
The fastest way to get around Bangkok is through the BTS and MRT systems. It used to be thought that BTS was only above ground and MRT only underground, but now some stations are laid both above and below ground, and MRT also operates two above-ground monorail lines, with a third one under construction

During peak hours, the carriages can be overcrowded, but otherwise, it’s the most comfortable transport in the city. Travel cards are sold at station ticket offices or at machines near the entrance. Fares depend on the distance and range from 16 to 47 baht (0.40 – 1.19 euros). Payment for single trips is in cash only, while travel cards can be topped up electronically, but the minimum top-up amount is 300 baht (7.58 euros).

The metro operates from 6 a.m. to midnight (but the last trains from starting stations might leave, for example, at 11:15 p.m.). When switching systems, for example, transferring from MRT to BTS, a new ticket must be purchased. The stations themselves are usually connected by convenient walkways.

The Bangkok Metro operates from six in the morning until midnight
The Bangkok Metro operates from six in the morning until midnight

In addition to the metro, there are two SRT city train lines that function like the metro – the red line connects the main railway station with Don Mueang Airport, with a fixed fare of 20 baht (0.51 euros). A separate line, ARL, connects the city with Suvarnabhumi Airport. The fare from the starting to the final station is 45 baht (1.14 euros).

Buses

Buses are the cheapest form of city transport, but there are too many routes, all of which are confusing and usually only marked in Thai. However, in many places, buses have a dedicated lane.

To plan a route, you can use Google Maps, and double-check on the official BMTA website or the ViaBus app, as routes often change.

There are several types of buses distinguished by color, and the price depends on the distance of your route (except for red buses, which have a fixed price):

Without air conditioning:

  • Red, eight baht (0.20 euros) – old buses with wooden floors and wide-open windows. Plus two baht if the bus is an “express”.
  • Night red – operates from 11 pm to 5 am, costing 9.5 baht (0.24 euros).

With air conditioning:

  • Cream-blue, from 12 baht to 20 baht
  • (0.30 euros – 0.51 euros) – the oldest buses in the air-conditioned class.
  • Yellow-orange, from 13 to 25 baht (0.33 euros – 0.63 euros).
  • White, from 13 baht to 25 (0.33 euros – 0.63 euros) – with air conditioning and relatively new.
  • Blue, from 15 baht to 25 baht (0.38 euros – 0.63 euros) – the most comfortable.

And an additional two baht to the prices mentioned above if the bus travels on toll roads.

Tickets can be bought from the conductor, and if you plan to use buses frequently, ask for a weekly or monthly pass.

Red buses are old and without air conditioning, with wooden floors and wide-open windows, but they only cost eight baht
Red buses are old and without air conditioning, with wooden floors and wide-open windows, but they only cost eight baht

Uniquely in Bangkok, there’s a Metrobus line—an express bus running on a dedicated lane. Its effectiveness and necessity have long been debated. Currently, due to the reconstruction of the line, rides are entirely free.

Bangkok’s public transportation system grows more extensive and complex each year; here’s the latest map as of early 2024.

How to Pay

There’s no single card for paying for all types of transport. The Rabbit card can be used for skytrain (BTS) journeys and on BRT city buses. Understanding bus routes and schedules can be difficult, especially since they often get stuck in traffic. The card can be issued at any BTS counter or purchased through Klook and then topped up at BTS offices, major stores, restaurants, and gas stations. 15 trips on this card cost 465 baht (11.75 euros), and a One Day Pass at BTS offices is 140 baht (3.54 euros).

Taxis

Without the traffic jams, taxis would be the perfect way to get around Bangkok. You ride in silence and cool comfort thanks to the air conditioning. Yellow, green, and bright pink city taxis can be hailed on the street; just tell the driver your destination and ask to turn on the meter. However, it’s most convenient to book through apps like Grab, InDrive, or Bolt. A three-kilometer trip will cost about 160 baht (4.04 euros).

City taxis can be hailed on the street, you can tell the driver your destination and ask them to turn on the meter. However, it's most convenient to order through apps like Grab, InDrive, or Bolt
City taxis can be hailed on the street, you can tell the driver your destination and ask them to turn on the meter. However, it’s most convenient to order through apps like Grab, InDrive, or Bolt

Motorbike taxis

The fastest way to get around Bangkok. Motorbike taxis are public transport in Thailand, and the drivers are easy to recognize by their numbered orange vests. They usually gather at exits from the metro, ferries, shopping centers, and other popular spots where people need to get home. The prices for motorbike taxis are about the same as for regular taxis, but bargaining is common, and the price is agreed upon before starting the trip. Often, at motorbike taxi stands, there is a price list for trips to the nearest popular points, but of course, it’s in Thai. On average, a 20-minute ride costs about 100 baht (2.53 euros). Motorbike taxis can also be ordered through the Grab or Bolt apps.

Car or moped rental

In Thailand, you can pre-book a car through the Local Rent service and pay the reservation with a card, then pay on-site with Thai baht. For rental, you will need a passport, an international driving license, a foreign bank card, or cash. Many companies may take a deposit not only by credit card but also in cash.

The average cost of a small compact car starts from 1,300 baht (32.84 euros) per day, and for a sedan, from 1,900 baht (48.00 euros). The price depends on the season, car model, and rental duration, for instance, a monthly rental would cost between 19,000 and 25,000 baht (480.04 – 631.63 euros).

Getting There

By Plane

Bangkok has two international airports.

Suvarnabhumi is one of the main transportation hubs of Asia, accessible from virtually any part of the world. In 2024, travelers from major European cities can find various options to reach this bustling metropolis. Direct flights are available from cities like London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and Rome, with airlines such as Thai Airways, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, and Iberia offering regular services. Flight durations vary, ranging from approximately 11 hours from Western Europe to around 6-7 hours from cities in the Middle East.

For those looking for budget options, several low-cost carriers, including AirAsia and Scoot, operate flights with one or more stops, potentially at their hubs in cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Istanbul. This might extend travel time but can significantly reduce costs.

From the airport to the city. Suvarnabhumi is connected to the city center by express trains, buses, and taxis. The train station is located on the lowest floor of the airport terminal. Trains run every 15 minutes from six in the morning until midnight. The cost of the trip depends on the selected station, up to the final one — 45 baht (1.14 euros).

The bus will catch all the traffic and will trudge for two and a half hours. A taxi will be more comfortable but won’t reach the city much faster, and the trip will cost from 600 baht (15.16 euros).

Don Mueang primarily handles low-cost carriers from Thailand and flights from neighboring countries: Air Asia, Nok Air, and Tiger Air.

From the airport, you can walk to the SRT Don Mueang Red Line train station and transfer at the terminal stop, Bang Sue, to the MRT metro (blue line). There are also direct buses to some areas of Bangkok. A1 goes to the bus station and Mo Chit BTS station, A2 to the Victory Monument, A3 to Lumpini Park, and A4 to Khao San Road. The bus ticket costs 30–50 baht (0.76 – 1.26 euros). There are also Limo Bus shuttles that will take you to Bangkok for 150 baht (3.79 euros).

Taxis depart from the first level (Public Transportation). Under the Public Taxi (Gate 4) sign, you need to go outside and take a ticket at the terminal for the required type of car. In the parking lot, find your number (above all cars, numbers light up in green), give the ticket to the driver, and state the address. The average taxi fare from the airport to the city center is 500–600 baht (12.63 – 15.16 euros).

Don Mueang Airport primarily serves low-cost carriers from Thailand and flights from neighboring countries: Air Asia, Nok Air, and Tiger Air. Photo: trungydang / Wikimedia.org
Don Mueang Airport primarily serves low-cost carriers from Thailand and flights from neighboring countries: Air Asia, Nok Air, and Tiger Air. Photo: trungydang / Wikimedia.org

From Neighboring Countries

Besides excellent air connections with all countries in the region, Bangkok can also be reached through land borders from almost all neighboring countries.

Cambodia. The border can be crossed through six checkpoints, operating from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

Laos. There are eight border crossings between Laos and Thailand.

Malaysia. Trains run from Bangkok and Hat Yai to Padang Besar. Buses connect Kuala Lumpur and many Thai cities.

Myanmar. Prior to COVID-19, three land checkpoints were open, but after their closure in 2020, a military coup occurred in Myanmar, and the borders have not been reopened. However, flights between Myanmar and Thailand are operational.

Domestic Transportation

Buses to Chiang Mai depart from the Mo Chit northern bus terminal, with the journey taking about ten hours. The train journey takes 12 hours. Buses to Phuket also depart from the northern bus terminal and the southern terminal. The express takes 12 hours, and the regular takes 20 hours. Buses to Pattaya leave from Ekkamai bus station, Mo Chit, and Suvarnabhumi Airport. The journey takes two and a half hours. Tickets cost 180 baht (4.55 euros). The ticket office is located on the first floor of the airport, near exit number 8. Another option is to order a taxi through Bolt, with prices starting from 1400 baht (35.37 euros). Prices and schedules for all buses can conveniently be viewed on the 12 GO portal.

Regular flights to all major cities in Thailand depart from Bangkok, and many localities can be reached conveniently by train.

Money

You can exchange cash at a good rate at Super Rich or Value Plus exchange offices. It’s best to bring US dollars or euros in cash. You can exchange money from your card into Thai baht at numerous exchangers who make money on the exchange rate difference. Their rate is lower than the official one, but much better than at exchange offices. In Thailand, it’s possible to get baht through an ATM without a Thai card – you transfer the desired amount to the exchanger’s card, and he makes a bank transfer in baht, which you withdraw from the ATM. Unfortunately, this method is often used by scammers who simply disappear after receiving your dollars or euros.

Connectivity

You can buy a SIM card at 7/11 stores. You need to provide your passport, after filling out the paperwork you will be photographed and given a SIM card. With operators DTAC and True, unlimited internet for a month at maximum speeds and with unlimited calls costs on average 500–700 baht (12.63 – 17.69 euros), but you can save money by buying a SIM card without a tariff for 49 baht (1.24 euros) and using the operator’s app to connect the necessary traffic and minute packages. For example, unlimited internet with True will cost 321 baht (8.11 euros). At the beginning of 2023, 7/11 was selling promotional True SIM cards with unlimited data for just 150 baht (3.79 euros) – they get picked up quickly, so you might not find them in the first store you visit. There’s another operator – AIS.

Visa

For stays of up to 30 days, most European travelers can enter Thailand without a visa, under the visa exemption rule. This applies to tourists arriving by air or land, who hold passports from visa-exempt countries, which include many EU member states.

However, for those wishing to extend their stay beyond the initial 30 days, an application for a visa extension can be made at an immigration office within Thailand, typically granting an additional 30 days. For longer visits, or for purposes other than tourism such as business or study, Europeans must apply for the appropriate visa from a Thai embassy or consulate before arriving. This might include the tourist visa (60 days), which can also be extended in Thailand, or other types of visas depending on the visit’s purpose.

It’s important to note that regulations can change, so travelers are advised to check the latest visa requirements on the official website of the Thai embassy or consulate in their home country prior to their departure. Additionally, having a passport with at least six months’ validity from the date of entry into Thailand is a must, alongside proof of onward travel and sufficient funds for the duration of the stay.

For stays of up to 30 days, most European travelers can enter Thailand without a visa, under the visa exemption rule. This applies to tourists arriving by air or land, who hold passports from visa-exempt countries, which include many EU member states
For stays of up to 30 days, most European travelers can enter Thailand without a visa, under the visa exemption rule. This applies to tourists arriving by air or land, who hold passports from visa-exempt countries, which include many EU member states

Tips

  • Bangkok is generally considered a safe city with virtually no serious crimes. However, as in any other major city, it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings. In tourist areas, bag snatching and pickpocketing can occur.
  • Thailand is a very expensive country for medical care, and tourist insurance is inexpensive and better to be purchased in advance.
  • Bangkok has a tropical climate, hot and humid. Take light, loose clothing, good sandals, and comfortable shoes, as well as a jacket or raincoat.
  • When buying sunscreen in local stores, pay attention to the description. Thais are fans of fair skin, so most skincare products have a whitening effect.
  • Cash remains the most common form of payment, but mobile payment platforms are gaining popularity. ATMs are virtually everywhere in Bangkok. There is a fee of about 220 baht (5.56 euros) for withdrawing money with foreign cards.
  • Water at just one baht per liter can be refilled at street water vending machines. Regular tap water is filtered through a reverse osmosis system, resulting in clean drinking water.
  • Many hotels do not have washing machines, but public washing machines often stand on the streets with numbers starting from 30 — this is the price for one wash. The price does not depend on the volume of clothes — as long as everything fits, payment is made in ten baht coins.
  • Menus in street cafes and restaurants, bus routes are almost always written only in Thai. Google Translate is excellent for translation — the app has the ability to translate text and inscriptions seen by your camera online.
  • Be cautious at pedestrian crossings: pedestrians, as in many Asian countries, are not usually given right of way.
  • Useful apps: Grab for food delivery, Klook for tickets to attractions and other entertainment, often with discounts.

When to Go

The most comfortable time to visit Bangkok is the winter months from December to March, when it’s sunny, not too hot, and the humidity is low. December and January are the peak of the tourist season, and major attractions are usually crowded. The air temperature ranges from plus 25 to 35 degrees Celsius.

From April to June is the season of high humidity and, typically, very hot weather. From July to September is the monsoon season, and although it doesn’t rain every day or all day, there will not be many sunny days with clear skies. Towards the end of the rainy season, in September, Bangkok often experiences flooding, so try to avoid trips during this time.

October and November mark the end of the rainy season. Chances of sunny weather are much higher, and there are still few tourists. This is arguably the best time to visit Bangkok.

The most comfortable time to visit Bangkok is the winter months from December to March, when it is sunny, not too hot, and the air humidity is low
The most comfortable time to visit Bangkok is the winter months from December to March, when it is sunny, not too hot, and the air humidity is low

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Author: Elena Zheldubovskaya
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