With a plethora of culturally rich and naturally beautiful tourist destinations and attractions, it’s no wonder that Bangkok is one of the top ten cities to visit in Asia.
The capital is a haven of every tourists’ ideal vacation: affordable prices, deliciously addictive food, lively shopping centres, streets and markets, magnificent works of nature, destinations rich in history and meaning, an unlimited list of enjoyable activities, and heartwarming hospitality from the locals. Bangkok’s position as a tourist magnet is undeniable – one cannot experience the best of Asia without visiting one of its precious gems: Bangkok.
Bangkok is a sought after destination not because it has one strongly attractive feature, but its because you’ll never get bored in the versatility of its surprises. Starting with history and culture, the Grand Palace can compete with other western monarch castles in importance, and above all, in beauty. Religion has also left its mark in the Thai tourist industry with one breathtaking example: the glittering Reclining Buddha. Nature awareness in Bangkok is also high, with the government and the communities working together to successfully blend green environment with the urban jungle as evidenced in the success of the Lumpini Park regardless of the skyscrapers surrounding it. Modernisation in Bangkok is no joke with all the comfortable and affordable shopping centres catering to both locals and tourists. Last but surely not the least, the impact of Thai culture in Bangkok’s attractiveness can’t be denied, especially when it comes to Food: from street stalls, small kitchenettes, to restaurants captivate the taste buds of the nation and its guests.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport which is located 20 miles east of the city is the main airport receiving international flights. On the other hand, the once main airport, Don Muang, which is nearer to Bangkok at 12 miles north only, receives both domestic flights and international flights of budget airlines. To arrive at Bangkok, you must board the Suvarnabhumi Airport Express rail link at the Makkasan terminal, which opens from 6 AM to midnight and departs at the Petchaburi underground. The fare is around THB 150 (USD 5) for the round trip and THB 90 (USD 3) for the single destination, with a travel time of 15 minutes. Another alternative that connects the Phaya Thai station to multiple shopping centres and the heart of Bangkok is via the slower Suvarnabhumi Airport Cityline with a travel time of 30 minutes and a fare of THB 15 to 45 (USD 1 to 1.36) depending on distance travelled. The more convenient airport taxis can also be rented to take you to your destination for an agreed fare of THB 250 (USD 8) or use the taxi metre, also note that THB 50 (USD 1.5) is added to the taxi fare as airport surcharge. Airport limousines are also available for THB 600 (USD 18). Airport express buses also cater to arrivals and traverse designated routes around the capital for THB 100 (USD 4). For passengers of budget airlines arriving in Don Muang Airport, trains are available but are often delayed and slow, the next best option is airport taxis that charge by the metre with an additional THB 50 (USD 1.5) as airport surcharge.
Bangkok is Thailand’s industrial and business hub. As such, the demand for money in the capital is high and it’s home to a number of banks and money changers, especially in busy sections of the capital, such as in the vicinity of shopping centres and other tourist spots. Due to the tight competition, you can even negotiate for an advantageous exchange rate for you. Bank notes are designated at either 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 THB; coins, on the other hand, are divided into 1, 2, 5, 10 THB, as well as 25 and 50 satang. It is advisable to have a sufficient amount of THB 100 notes and THB 10 coins as these two are the most commonly used currency amounts for day to day transactions.
Worry not, ATM services can be found in banks and even in kiosks in shopping centres. Multiple hotels and restaurants, especially in tourist destination areas accept credit cards, preferably MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.
Thailand is considered a tropical country – that means it’s gonna be hot and humid in the dry season and raining and soaked in the wet season. September is expected to have the highest amount of rainfall, while April can be expected to have the most sunshine and scorching heat. Coldest temperatures are expected in December at 26 degrees Celsius and peaking at 30 degrees Celsius at April. The best months to visit Bangkok is from December to March where the temperature and the weather are manageable – warm and occasionally drizzling. On the other hand, if you’re going on a beach vacation in the shores of Bangkok, April is the best month to visit because of the perfect temperature of 30 degrees Celsius both in the atmosphere and in the sea.
Walking is still the best way to explore a place, but sadly, the pollution and traffic in Bangkok will make doing so a torture, it is only advisable in Chinatown. Buses would also be great, but unfortunately, they are painfully slow and would probably waste most of your time. The two best alternatives are taxis and the sky train system. Taxis are still the king of the road, but try to insist on using the metre. Taxi fares range from THB 35 (USD 1) to THB 100 to 150 (USD 3 to 5) for a ride around town – just remember to avoid rush hours. The train systems: Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) and Mass Rapid Transit System (MRT) are the fastest means of hopping from one place to another. BTS tickets cost around THB 15 to 52 (USD 1 to 2) or you can opt for a THB 625 (USD 19) Smart Pass that expires in 30 days and good for 25 journeys or a one-day pass that costs THB 130 (USD 4). MRT tickets, on the other hand, cost THB 16 to 40 (USD 0.50 to 1). Both train systems operate from 6 AM to midnight.
Bangkok is a treasure trove of exploding flavours. One must only walk its streets, explore its shopping centres or scour its alleyways and will want for nothing when it comes to the unlimited and diverse dishes catered to bewitch your taste buds. From their well-loved street foods to their long queued kitchenettes that offer their staple som tum, tom yum and many more, to their restaurants that specialize in multiple Thai dishes, like the famous Isan dishes that are known for their unique flavour and distinct ingredients. Must try dishes in Bangkok include roasted duck dishes, roasted pork or crispy friend pork recipes, papaya salads with different sauces, seafood dishes paired with the most intriguing curry pastes, and their passionate love story with noodles – from the historically significant boat noodles to the crowd favourite Pad Thai. And if you’re thinking that the restaurant ones are pricier than the others, worry not – you can have yummy food at different price points. From affordable THB 10 dishes to extravagant THB 3,300 (USD 100) ones. Without a doubt, your Bangkok memories would also be filled with food.
Bangkok is a living testament of how western culture and modernisation influences eastern culture and how both bring out the best of each other. That is the true reason for Bangkok’s continuing surge of tourists, its because here, you can experience the best of both worlds.