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Bangkok Travel Guide and Advice

Bangkok main Bangkok is not a city for those who are faint of heart. Thai’s capital is also known as the City of Angels, and Venice of the East, and it’s as obvious as slamming into a brick wall. In spite of it’s heat, the pollution and sheer chaos, it’s energy will suck you in, and you’ll have little time to rest. With its thousands of tourist attractions worth seeing, you won’t know where to start from. Whatever your preference, there’s something for everyone out here! No matter what your budget, Bangkok can support those who are backpacking through the temples, and those who feel like a bit of luxury pampering, ranging from street food carts to skyline-view bars, spa treatments and excellent restaurants.

Arriving in Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

Suvarnabhumi is one of the two international airports that serves the capital. For those of you who enjoy a few nerdy facts, (we love them!), its name refers to the Golden Kingdom, hypothesised to have been located somewhere in Southeast Asia. This airport is bustling with activities, and is the 16th busiest airport in the world! Not to mention that in 2012, it was the world’s most popular place where Instagram photos were taken. You’ll be impressed by its sheer size and numerous terminals, and you could probably spend a few hours roaming around…but head to the centre of Bangkok and get started on your adventure! It’s approximately half an hour away from the broad Bangkok area, though this depends on the time of day, not to mention the traffic (Bangkok is home to 7 million vehicles – just to give you an idea!). Now, depending on whether you’re a frequent visitor or not, (and locals will know this from your clothes and face), you will be targeted for all sorts of transportation offers accordingly, which could range from small buses to limos. Keep in mind that a metered taxi trip will always be the cheapest! With a flagfall of 35 Baht, they operate on distance, so the meter will move slower if you’re unfortunate enough to be caught in a jam. If you head down one level from the Arrivals terminal, you’ll find the public taxi stands. You could negotiate a mini bus for 4 people for around 1000 Baht, or a regular taxi for about 600 Baht, depending on your negotiation skills :) Airport Express operates four route buses for 150 Baht, on Level 1, near entrance 8. A 24 hour bus service outside Arrivals on the 2nd floor will take you to the Transport Centre for about 35 Baht, where you can choose from 11 bus routes into the city areas. Faster yet is the train. The Airport Rail Link Express Line runs every half an hour, and only takes 17 minutes to Phaya Thai terminal. It costs 150 Baht for a return ticket. The Airport Rail Link City Line leaves every 15 minutes, and takes about 25 minutes for the entire distance. Take a cab to your final destination from the station. Be aware of any scams that could make you pay more, and don’t ever be tempted to smuggle anything drug related, in or out, of the country. Sentences and penalties here are heavy, and not to be messed with.  Read more on customs advice in Thailand  Suvanabhumi Airport Bangkok You can exchange your money to local Thai currency, Baht, right here in the airport.

Accommodation in a classic tourist location: Khao San Road

Khao San Road Throngs of people head towards Khao San Road in search for hostel accommodation, and it’s known around the world as a backpackers’ mecca. It’s about an hour away from the airport, and is the first landing point of most travellers in Southeast Asia. It’s about 700 metres long, and hostels and hotels line the street from start to finish. Accommodation here is rather clean and safe, with most even having air-conditioning! The mall contain several shops, a laundry service, tourist agency and countless of other little treasure troves. There will also be quite a vast amount of people trying to sell you something ‘valuable’, such as branded clothes or jewellery, but keep in mind that when something is that cheap, it is usually too good to be true. And although you may find it strange to see people sitting outside sipping cocktails with barely any clothes on in the middle of January, with temperatures being 33 degrees Celsius, it’s understandable. Take a look at Bangkok’s weather patterns here to see when you’d like to plan your trip.

Your First Walk Down Bangkok Streets

Bangkok streets A key rule is to never hire Tuk-Tuks that wait outside hostels, hotels, and other tourist hot-spots. They’ll try to charge you up to 1o times the price because of the fact that you’re a tourist. Stop a taxi driving by (they’ll usually have a red sign lit up, which means it’s available), and where you can, always opt for one that has a meter. Insist that the driver turns it on as soon as you start, so you’ll know you’re paying a fair price for your journey. If you’re there for a while, it will probably be cheaper to learn the bus routes or tram rides. What’s amazing about Bangkok is that it can also be seen by boat. You can get a ride over the river Mae Nam Phray via state boat. There are even private tourist boats that can provide tours of the city. Wandering about through the streets of Bangkok is an experience in and of itself. It will give you an understanding of the sheer size of this city, home to over 1o million inhabitants, creating a mixture of gases an dirt and after an hour of roaming the streets, you’ll begin to feel dirty and suffocated yourself. You can get onto around 1o different lines from each bus stop, and you’ll always find hundreds of locals waiting to get onto them. They’re generally a decent form of transport, and they range from old ones without A/C, and new ones that have.

Bangkok Contrasts

Bangkok contrasts A modern city standing along Thai tradition dating back hundreds and thousands of years. For everything in Bangkok, there exists it’s opposite…like two parallel worlds. Every step you take is a contrast to the one you’ve just taken, which takes you along clean and paved sidewalks, yet just around the corner lies dirt and mud. Everywhere here is generally dusty and dirty, and mostly thanks to the over-population of the city with its millions of cars and pollution. On each block, you’ll find locals selling fruit and vegetables, street carts selling food, trinket shops and department stores…and never-ending sights and sounds. It will drive your senses insane as they work on overdrive to try and absorb as much as possible.

You can spend hours getting lost in this city, walking down less touristic streets and discovering a perfect blend of ancient Wats, run-down buildings, blackened houses and modern constructions. There is always a mix between the architecture of the past, bridging the gap into the present, opening up new beginnings stemming from ancient Thai tradition. In spite of a lot of negative opinions about this city, it is still home to some of the friendliest locals in the world. Whilst tourist scams and traps are still ripe, and still to be watched out for, if you smile at a Thai, they will smile back. And they are willing to help…which is perhaps exactly what you might need if you’re wandering around the streets of Bangkok on an adventure.

The subway and sky train aren’t too difficult to figure out, and can be cheaper than a taxi or a tuk-tuk. This is not a city one can easily get bored in…fed up of the pace and the pollution, yes. But if you’re here long enough, then you’ll discover a complex system that somehow meshes into this strange and surreal experience, one that provides you with the want to know more.

You can take a few walks to some of the temples, such as Wat Saket, which is also known as the Golden Mount, and one the most visited temples in Bangkok. Surrounded by tall walls with a beautifully decorated dome, it is home to a Buddha statue standing 5 metres tall. As the temple stands on a small hill, you’ll be able to witness a breathtaking view of the huge city lying at its foot, a sea of buildings, a concrete jungle, heading out towards the horizon.

Nearby is Wat Rachanatdaram, which was built by King Rama III.  This impressive temple is being renovated to restore its former beauty and grand appearance. An attraction worth visiting is the National Museum, formerly used as the 18th Century Wang Na Palace. It has a memorable collection of Thai artifacts, displayed to the public, thanks to King Rama V. Entrance to the Museum costs 50 baht, but it’s money well spent.

You can brave the traffic (and really, the traffic back home is nothing to complain about once you’ve experienced it here!), and discover a world of gold-plaited Stupas, with bare-headed monks shrouded in maroon and yellow robes carrying their incense to revered statues of Buddha. The Emerald Buddha located at Wat Phra Kaew is a statue like no other, and a must-see for visitors.

Another Buddha temple houses the country’s oldest massage school… and if you fancy a visit, then book in advance. You’d be surprised at how high the demand is! Book a tour to Wat Pho, home to the reclining Buddha, which at 46 metres in length and 15 metres in height, is the largest statue in Bangkok, and depicts the passing of Buddha into Nirvana.

Just for a little bit of extra information, a ‘Wat’ is a building where both men and women alike can be ordained as monks. If you’re travelling throughout Thailand, then you’ll be seeing these on almost every trail! It shouldn’t be a surprise to most…if you know that Thailand is home to over 26,000 Wats (which is the local name for ‘temple’).

One of Bangkok’s strengths is its ability to unite these contrasting elements. The waterways of this Venice of the East have long since given way to the rising structures, with many canals almost having disappeared. However, take a boat tour or find a local to take you to the unhurried Chao Phraya, the River of Kings, which till today bustles with cargo canoes, ferries and water-taxis.

Bangkok official name is “Krung Zhep Mahanakhon”, which translates into “large city of angels”. The lengthy tongue-twister has earned the city the Guinness Book’s record for the world’s longest city name.

It is not just the city’s name that has acquired a reputation for its lengthiness. Bangkok’s nightlife is pulsating and endless. The night market is a famous attraction that has to be experienced.

On the grounds of a former banana plantation, street vendors peddle Prada and Rolex imitations. Seedy bars and table-dancing venues noisily promote their programme. The atmosphere is fascinating – but please be very careful and conscientious where you put your dollars. 

Big standing Budha, or the Wat Intharawihan

Wat Intharawihan A famous Buddhist temple complex, located near the Chao Phraya river with a Buddha statue is 32 meters high, which makes it the tallest in the country and in the world. The temple was built by the King Rama IV. Every year in the March, there is a Temple Fair there. Entrance to temple is free of charge. After the Wat Intharawihan, next temple to visit is Wat Benchamabophit, built by the King Rama V in 1899.

Grand Palace

Grand Palace in Bangkok This is Bangkok’s definite must-see tourist attraction. It was built in 1782, and was the home of kings. Even these days, palace is used by the current king, Bhumidol Aduluyadey, and tourists can’t visit his quarters. To enter the palace you will pay 650 baht, but this admittance fee is well worth it. Palace is truly grand. Tourists can visit large, beautiful royal gardens. Entire palace is surrounded by the protective walls that are almost 2 km in length. There are several temples within the palace territory, such as Wat Phra Si Rata Chedi, which is golden in color. Most significant temple would be the Emerald Buddha temple. Within the Palace there is also a Royal Armory collection .

Wat Arun Temple

Wat Arun Temple You can easily and cheaply get to this temple by boat. Ride will cost you 4 baht, and admittance to temple is 50 baht. This temple is one of Thailand symbols. Its construction was started by the King Rama II, and finished by his decendant, Rama III. Central spireis over 70 meters high, amazingly decorated intricate pieces of colored glass and porcelain intricately placed to create beautiful patterns. There are four spires around the central one, decorated with sea shells and pieces of porcelain. You can use steps to go to the top of central spire, which will enable you great view over the river, Palace and rest of the city.

Vimanmek Royal Mansion

Vimanmek Royal Mansion Ananta Samakhom Throne used to be reception hall in the Dusit Palace. It can now be visited as a museum and is sometimes used for official state occasions. This makes it an interesting tourist location to visit. Entrance is 200 baht, but if you didn’t throw away ticket for Grand Palace, you can enter this location for free. Several hundred meters further, you can enter Vimanmek Royal Mansion. King Rama V used to live in this magnificent wooden building at the beginning of 20th century. You can enjoy tour through Mansion within the tour that starts every hour and will last just the same. However, in order to enjoy in this remarkable sight, you have to be dressed appropriately, which means you have to wear a suit if you are a man or a dress with long sleeves if you are a woman. Luckily, you can rent appropriate outfit at the entrance. Also, you will have to leave your mobile phone and camera in the locker at the entrance-no taking photos there!

Wat Po Temple

Wat Po Temple Wat Po Temple is one of the most famous and most beautiful places in Bangkok. It poses reclined Buddha, 46 meters long and 15 meters high. Visitors can circle around it and make a picture, although quality of photo will be doubtful because there is not much light within the temple. Budha statue is plastered with gold, which makes even more grand impression. Temple interior is imposing, and you will need at least an hour to get the full impression. Near the temple, there is beautiful park, and lot of locals walk and jog there. There are a lot of benches to sit and enjoy. Nearby is the Thai Ministry of defense. Follow me on Google+

Article Name
Bangkok Travel Guide and Advice from
Samantha ilbassa
Travel Advice and Guide to Bangkok for backpackers and travellers on a budget. From Hostel Accommodation to Sites to see

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