Bangkok Travel Blog: Table of Contents
Bangkok on C&C
Best Time To Visit Bangkok
Where to stay in Bangkok
Let’s Go For a Drink
What to See and Do
Tipping in Bangkok
Common Scams & What to Avoid
C&C’s Google Map of the City
Bangkok Travel Blog: Where, How?
Bangkok, Central Thailand, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Asia
Population: 8.281 million (2010)
Currency: Thai Baht (THB)
Airport Notes: Both airports are safe and modern. You can buy SIM cards and withdraw money from an ATM from both.
Transportation to-and-from the airport: Taxis are cheap. There’s an “Airport Rail Link”, which is an express train from either airport to the city.
Bangkok Travel Blog – Intra-City Transportation
Bangkok is considered one of the most interesting cities in the world. It might be intimidating trying to navigate your way around the city. However, the public transportation system comprising of sky trains, the airport rail link and the metro system can help get you where you want to go. It is also a good way to get away from traffic jams if you take a taxi or bus. Other means of getting is by boat or motorbike taxis.
A Note on Taxis: There are 3 different “taxis” in Bangkok: brightly coloured and well-identified cars with meters; tuk tuks; and mototaxis.
In all three cases, tourists need to know a few things before using them.
Taxis: Always (always) use only metered taxis using the meter. However, you need to walk away from tourist destinations before hailing a cab. A lot of taxis are run by the local mafia and taxis that are leaving from tourist locations often have to take customers to a different destination than their desired one. There are a lot of scams and “supervisors” from the mafia scrutinize where taxi drivers take their tourist clients. Walk away from the tourist groups and tourist locations from a few blocks and hire your taxi from there, you’ll be much safer. More on that in the “scams to avoid” section.
Tuktuks: While they’re a legitimate taxi option in the majority of the country, tuk tuks in Bangkok are geared only towards tourists. They’re very, very overpriced and don’t have a meter. Avoid.
Mototaxis: Locals use mototaxis all the time, especially during rush hour. Their drivers wear a brightly coloured vest and hang out together on street corners. Simply ask to go to your destination. They’re very effective as their drivers swerve and drive through traffic and between cars. Mind your knees! Mototaxis are quite overpriced as they don’t have a meter and will not hesitate to overcharge for tourists. Negotiate your fare before hopping on and make sure you have exact change.
Just like anywhere, Uber is cheaper and safer. If you don’t already have an account, use this link and get 15 dollars off your first ride!
Bangkok Travel Blog – Neighborhoods
- Siam Square – this area is commercially dense with malls and shopping centers.
- Sukhumvit – some of the best bars, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels where to stay in Bangkok can be found here, quite upscale and classy.
- Silom -The area around Silom Road and Sathorn Road is considered to be Bangkok’s primary party district at night.
- Rattanakosin (“Old Bangkok”) – Between the river and downtown is the base to some of Bangkok’s best sights, such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Sanam Luang Square being the central place where major festivals are celebrated.
- Khao San Road – It’s the world-famous backpacker street.
- Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown) – the street food capital of the world and with a lot of things to do in Bangkok.
- Dusit – This leafy, European-style area is the political centre of Thailand, home to numerous political institutions and the monarchy. Its breezy palaces, lush gardens and broad avenues give this district its distinct character.
- Thonburi – If you are not the explosive type of traveller and you rather peace and this area is perfect for you, offers great hotels where to stay in Bangkok. Besides you can take a canal tour and explore Bangkok’s west bank, while taking in Wat Arun, the Royal Barges National Museum and one of the floating markets.
- Phahonyothin – the best place to go shopping on the weekend if you love a good deal. There are over 8,000 stalls at the Chatuchak Weekend Market selling everything imaginable under the sun!
- Ratchadaphisek – Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek Road has developed into an entertainment mecca for the locals. The sois of “Ratchada” are popular clubbing spots, as is Royal City Avenue (RCA).
- Lat Krabang
Navigation tips: Navigation in Bangkok can be confusing. I personally use three navigation points: the river which (mostly) runs north-south and is at the extreme west of the city (which means that when you know where the river is, you know where west is). Lumpini park is located in the middle of the city: east of Silom, west of Sukhumvit, and diagonally from Khao San Road. And finally, I use Krung Kasem Road as a navigation tip, since it runs right between the older part of town and the newer.
More About Bangkok on C&C
- APPIA, ITALY IN THE MIDDLE OF BANGKOK
- BAR PROFILE: SUGAR RAY YOU’VE JUST BEEN POISONED IN BANGKOK
- THE 8 MUST-TRY DISHES IN BANGKOK, THAILAND
- BANGKOK THAI CUISINE: DAVID THOMPSON AND JARRETT WRISLEY
- BANGKOK THAI CUISINE IS ON TOP OF THE WORLD
- DIGITAL NOMAD LIFE: WHERE TO LIVE WHEN YOU HAVE MOBILITY
- STREET CUISINE: MY FAVOURITE STREET FOOD DISHES, FOR THE BRAVEST!
- GET SOAKED DURING SONGKRAN THAI FESTIVAL!
- TOP 10 TRAVEL SCAMS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Best Time To Visit Bangkok
Average Monthly Minimum And Maximum Temperatures
Average Monthly Hours Of Sunshine
Average Monthly Rainfall Or Snowfall
Bangkok Travel Blog: Personal Notes
What’s this Place About?
Bangkok is the largest city and the capital of Thailand. For me, personally, Bangkok is one of the most wonderful places on earth. Not only is this place buzzing and exploding with new things to do, new things to see, new money, new people, it’s also a place that has never ending history. There’s so much to learn, see, taste, and experience. It’s very exotic, and I’m aware that there are many people who travel who do not like Bangkok, but I find that it’s one of the most fascinating place on earth.
What’s Great and Fun?
The historical side of Bangkok is wonderful. There are temples and many other historically interesting things to see and do, but I would personally say that Bangkok’s number one attraction is the street food. There are different hubs of street food where you can taste absolutely anything and everything you can imagine, including foods that come from all the different regions of Thailand. You can find super spicy to super mild foods or even stunt foods, which are foods that you can challenge your friends to eat that they might find disgusting. There’s a little bit of everything and everything is cheap. The quality of the seafood and the quality of the ingredients is stunning. Every time that I go to Bangkok, I spend at least two or three different evenings in Chinatown tasting the food at every stand.
Bangkok Travel Blog – Personal Anecdotes
Bangkok is all about the food for me, but it’s also a party city. There are a lot of X-rated things going on in the city. Most of them are in Soi Nana, Soi Cowboy, and Patpong. Some of the personal anecdotes that I would like to tell may not be suited for children. I spent a New Year’s Eve in Bangkok and I will remember that night for the rest of my days. I ended up going to what I thought was a bar, but was actually a brothel. There were half naked ladies dancing, expensive beers, and groups of tourists from all around the world (some of whom had never seen anything like this place). The whole atmosphere was as bizarre as you can imagine. I didn’t stay long and I got out of there with my friends. As soon as we got out, there were people throwing firecrackers and fireworks in the middle of the streets. I actually got hit in the leg with a firecracker and still bear the scar today.
Bangkok is a city where everything is fair game and you can feel a certain amount of freedom. It is also a city that is slowly trying to crack down on the reckless behavior that tourists tend to have, because there are a lot of things to do in Bangkok. But until they do crack down, it is going to remain a city where a lot of wild and crazy things happen, which is an attraction to a lot of people.
Bangkok Travel Blog: Where to stay in Bangkok
There are different interesting areas from which to choose where to stay in Bangkok.
First things first: don’t stay on or around Khao San Road. Search other parts where to stay in Bangkok. Avoid. Ok? Ok.
Silom will offer a lot of good options where to stay in Bangkok. It’s a business district and a lot of hostels and hotels are available there. SO Sofitel Bangkok, Le Meridien Bangkok, Tower Club at leuba, The Ritz-Carlton, and the spectacular COMO Metropolitan Bangkok are all located in this area. Hostel options include Tini Kati Hostel, Silom Space Hostel, HQ Hostel Silom… There are many, many options in Silom!
While looking where to stay in Bangkok, I’ve always prefered staying in the Sukhumvit area. HI-Sukhumvit Hostel offers a lot of positives and I tend to stay there when I’m in town, but it’s not perfect (pros: right on Sukhumvit 38, a great street food street; cons: they don’t honour the HI member discount card). Right across from it is the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit an amazing place where to stay in Bangkok.
The riverside has a lot of options where to stay in Bangkok, from here you’ll have access to Bangkok’s famous water-taxis (Khlongs) as a form of transport or for a full day tour. The atmosphere is very romantic and relaxing. You will find numerous resort-style and luxury hotels like Shangri-la Bangkok, The Peninsula Bangkok and Riva Surya Bangkok are amazing options where to stay in Bangkok.
The oldest section of Thailand’s capital city, Thonburi can be found on the far side of the Chao Phraya River, and is a comfortable place where to stay in Bangkok and for visitors to explore. Hotel options include Avani Riverside Bangkok and La Residence Bangkok.
Bangkok Travel Blog: Let’s Eat!
Famous Foods and Specialties
- Kai Med Ma Muang – this savory, spicy, scrumptious dish is a combination of sautés chicken paired with roasted cashews, sweet soy sauce, chilies, pepper, carrot and mushrooms.
- Tom Yum Goong – this spicy shrimp dish, is a bold, stimulating not to mention delicious blend of lemongrass, chili, galangal (member of the ginger family of roots), fresh prawns, straw mushrooms, and topped with fresh lime juice, lime leaves and shallot. It is sure to awaken all your senses and send your taste buds into overdrive!
- Pad Thai – shrimp, crunchy bean sprouts, onion, egg, fish sauce, sugar, chili powder and finely ground peanuts (exclude if you have a nut allergy). You can choose either small or wide noodles – this dish is sure to make you break into your “happy dance.”
Bangkok Travel Blog – The Best Drunk Food
- Tom Kha Kai – because of its creamy coconut milk base infused with hot chili peppers, this dish will wake you up from your drunken state
- Pad Krapow Moo Saap – holy basil leaves, large fresh chili, pork, green beans, soy sauce, a little sugar and fatty pork served on a pile of steamed white rice.
Our Suggestions – Dishes And Restaurants
One of my favorite things to do in Bangkok is to walk around and try different foods. There are a lot of noodle soups that are absolutely delicious, where you can add different meats, fish balls, and crispy pork. There are a lot of rice dishes, like sticky rice and jasmine rice. The food has a lot of spices, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be hot. On the other hand, there are a lot of hot dishes. The famous papaya salad is especially hot in places where they don’t expect tourists to be. The farang or tourist is treated a little bit differently, heat-wise.
Going to Chinatown is a full-on assault to the senses at all times. There are some of the most beautiful seafood and barbecue joints. There are satays and island sausages. It’s absolutely never-ending, the quality of the food. Just sit down with your dish, go grab a couple of beers from the 7-11 or family mart next door. Sit down in your stall, have your beer, have your food and just soak in the city of Bangkok. That is one of my favorite experiences on earth.
Suggested locations and restaurants:
Go to Chinatown at night and walk around. It’s a must.
Sukhumvit Soi 38 is a beautiful introduction to street food for first-timers.
Soul Food Mahanakorn is a great introduction to Thai food for Western palates. And the cocktails are great!
Nahm is considered the best Thai restaurant in the world and is run by celebrity chef David Thompson. Reservations needed and dress code in effect.
Gaggan is considered the best restaurant in Asia by Worlds50Best. It’s a fine dining Indian food experience. Good luck getting reservations!
Tired of the constant assault on your senses that Thai food represents? Need something more subtle? Appia is an elevated Roman trattoria and Peppina is a Napoli-style pizzeria. As good as anything in Italy, I swear.
Tang Jai Yoo Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant in the middle of Chinatown that offers its own version or roasted suckling pig. Head to the side alley of the restaurant to see brined piglets get roasted over flames!
Jok Samyan is a bit of an oddity. It serves “jok,” or savory porridge. Try it, it’s strange but awesome!
Polo Fried Chicken is famous. Fried chicken, Bangkok-style papaya salad and a beer. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.
There are many restaurants that bear this logo in front. This bowl of soup on a storefront means that M.R. Thanadsri Sawasdiwat, a famous restaurant reviewer in the city, has given it his seal of approval. This means that you’ll eat well!
Remember that there’s street food at every corner. The night market at Chatuchak, the whole area around Victory Monument and Ratchawat Market all offer a lot of delicious options and operate at different hours.
READ MORE: BANGKOK THAI CUISINE IS ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Bangkok Travel Blog: Let’s Go For a Drink
What Do the Locals Drink?
Local beers and a rum/whiskey cross (Hong Tong and SongSam are the two famous brands)
Bangkok Travel Blog – Drinking in Public
Drinking in public is not an issue in Bangkok. Don’t be a douche, though, and don’t get too rowdy.
The drinking age across Thailand is 20. It is advisable to take your passport with you if you want to head to nightclubs (which I never do and couldn’t tell you anything about) since the police sometimes carry raids.
Our Suggestions – Bars and Pubs
There are hundreds upon hundreds of great places to have a few drinks in Bangkok. I would just like to point out the following: having a few beers in an open-air bar on or around Khao San Road is always an experience, no matter what snob travelling might say. Remember that the three red light districts of Bangkok have a few regular bars and a few bar girl bars, as well as regular nightclubs and brothels. Pay attention when entering as they might be tricky to differentiate.
I would also like to suggest two specific addresses:
– Adhere 13 Blues Bar is one of my favourite bars in the world. Get in, order a Hong Tong with soda (the whole 13oz bottle of Hong Tong of course), sit and watch the band. It’s a can’t-miss experience. If I’m in Bangkok, you’ll find me there.
– My friends at Sugar Ray You’ve Just Been Poisoned are the coolest hipster mixologists in all of Southeast Asia. Go check them out… if you can find the entrance!
Other bars for your consideration:
- Sing Sing Theater, Sukhumvit Soi 45,
- Demo, Thong Lor Soi 10
- Sky Bar, The Dome at Lebua, Silom Road, Bangrak
- Brown Sugar, 211 469 Phrasumen Road, Near Wanchat Bridge
- Brick Bar, 265 Khao San Road
Bangkok Travel Blog: What to See and Do
Yaowarat Road (Chinatown) – one of the best time to visit this area is during to “Chinese New Year” in January. This 1-km strip is the place to go to experience food, trading gold or visiting one of the Chinese Temples. You might not want to leave!
Chatuchak Weekend Market – imagine this 35-acre space lined with all different type of merchandise imaginable. If you love to shop, you will sure be in for a “shop ‘till you drop” experience, literally!
Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) – how cool can this be to see a 46 meters long statue covered with a gold leaf, and as the name suggest, reclining! Take your time however, to take in the entire experiences offered in this complex and not just head straight for the temple. You can also indulge in a relaxing Thai massage, clear your mind and be kind to your body; after all, you are on vacation!
Will you be traveling with kids? Do not be dismayed, there is something for everyone! Flight Simulators located at Gateway Ekamai, wakeboarding at Taco Lake, Dinosaur Planet or Funarium. The kids will love these activities!
If you want something old school and retro then why not visit someplace off the “beaten track”, Scala Cinema.
Tipping in Bangkok
Just like in most of Thailand, it is not expected to tip but it is a nice gesture if you have received good service, especially since staff are not generally paid that well. You may tip 5-10% of the total cost depending on how high end the restaurant is.
Bangkok Travel Blog: Common Scams & What to Avoid
There are a lot of different scams in Bangkok. The most famous one is called the “jewelry store scam”, but it doesn’t only apply to jewelry stores, it applies to a lot of restaurants and hotels as well. This scam is pretty simple. You get in a taxi and state your destination, but it takes you somewhere else and drops you off to where he pleases, and will not negotiate. Some of these taxi drivers are paid by the jewelry store, restaurant, or hotel to drop people there, no matter what. If you do buy something, they get a cut, but if you don’t they will not get in trouble, because they would get in trouble if they did otherwise. It’s called the “jewelry store scam” because these jewelry stores are run by the local mafia and sell fake jewelry.
If you try to exit Khao San Road by the pedestrian alley, you will find taxi congregated on both sides. In order to have the right to wait for customers at that place, these taxi drivers have to pay a certain amount to the corrupt police. If they don’t pay that amount, they get chased out physically.
The best way to avoid this scam is to walk a little bit. Walk four or five street corners before hailing a taxi, instead of taking a taxi right from the touristic spot.
This is only one of the many scams that target tourists in Bangkok.
READ MORE: TOP 10 TRAVEL SCAMS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Bangkok Travel Blog – Pickpockets
There are not that many pickpockets in Bangkok, but still always be aware. Be sure to keep your bags with you at all times, do not leave your cell phone or anything valuable on a table, always have the bags at your feet and the phone in your pocket.
Snatchings from kids riding on scooters are more frequent. Always keep your bag, camera, phone strongly attached to yourself.
Most of the crime in Bangkok is related to taxi drivers and to the corrupt police. Beware of both.
Never take moto-taxis or tuk tuks in Bangkok, ever. Always take an official taxi with a meter and always make sure that the meter is on. The reason is because the moto-taxis and tuk tuks will charge you 20 times more than what it would cost you in an official taxi. Always take down the license plate and taxi number and write them down just in case.
Not as far as I know.
How to Stay Safe: Tips and Tricks
READ MORE: Travel Canada Advisory for Thailand.