There’s no need to introduce Bangkok anymore. Indeed, this incredible metropolis has gained fame worldwide over the years for being one of the absolute must see capitals of Asia. Bangkok owes this reputation to its unbelievable growth over the decades and easily could rival with other super capitals of the continent such as Hong Kong or Tokyo.
With an endless wealth of things to offer, the bustling city of Bangkok can and should be thoroughly explored by any enthusiastic traveller visiting Thailand. Here are a few tips for beginners in Asia’s City of Angels, and a recollection of our very first hours in the beautiful south-east asian capital…
With its 8.2 million people, a population that could easily rival with that of New York, Bangkok is one of the largest cities of Asia and a vibrant hub for the youth coming from all over the world.
Practical Tips for first timers in Bangkok
Bangkok possesses two airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. Either way, upon arriving to this incredible city, one of the things you will obviously have to do will be to get to the place where you will reside during your stay. Multiple choices are available from the airport to the city: The Airport Rail Link, Shuttles, or Taxis. The train and shuttles fares traditionally range from 15 to 45 Bahts (the local currency); while taxi fares traditionally range from 300 to 500 Bahts.
Additionally, once you are in town, arriving in Bangkok without a hotel booking is absolutely no trouble. Indeed, the place has many lodging options to offer, and thus for every budget. For our first couple of nights, we chose the unmissable Rambutri Road, right next to the bustling tourist hub of Kao San Road. Whether you choose to spend the entire length of your stay there is entirely up to you, however, this is definitely one of the easiest spots for first timers in Bangkok. Indeed, the famed neighbourhood possesses a fairly vast range of hotels, hostels and guest houses; as well as many restaurants, bars and local street food eateries.
Pro tip: Rambutri Road is much calmer than Kao San Road.
We personally chose to reside for the first couple of days at a modest yet very welcoming guest house, the Bella Bella House. This simple establishment offers multiple choices of rooms, with private or shared bathrooms, aircon or fan. While the decor is decidedly spartan and simple, the establishment is very clean and well tended to. All for 535 Bahts a night!
Moreover, the neighbourhood is also filled with massage parlours, mini marts, and other very convenient places for tourists and first timers in the city of Bangkok, such as currency exchange places and travel agencies, should you wish to purchase bus or boat tickets to another destination in Thailand or in the city of Bangkok.
Additionally, Rambutri Road is located next to a lovely Wat, a Buddhist Temple and overlooks the mythical and mighty Chao Phraya river, the living soul of the city, which you will be able to cruise, departing from a variety of piers through the city, one of which is located in the Rambutri/Kao San neighbourhood.
Getting around the City
While exploring Bangkok, another obvious detail is getting yourself around the city. Several options are available: Tuk-Tuks, Taxis, buses, boat and subway.
Taxi fares traditionally range from 200 to 300 Bahts, and while they are equipped with a meter, they rarely use it and practise fixed fares.
As for Tuk-Tuk fares, they traditionally range from 200 to 300 Bahts. While using the services of a Tuk-Tuk however, remember to notify them with this simple request: “No shop”. Indeed, it is customary for Tuk-Tuks to take their passenger to multiple shops during their short journey, which proves to be an unnecessary hassle more than often, especially when the passenger is unwilling. Buses are used by locals and foreigners alike, with fares ranging from 8 to 19 Bahts.
The Boats of the Chao Phraya are also welcoming both locals, tourists and expats alike, and offer daily passes for tourists for 150 Bahts.
As for the subway, a range of passes are available:
Single Journey Pass from 16 to 44 THB / journey
One Day Pass: 140 THB for unlimited trips
Rabbit Card: initial issuing fee of 100 THB + Top up. This card will avoid you to queue on an Ticket Isuing Machine (TIM) or at the cashier, as far as you will still get some money credited to pay your trip. Useful particurarly when the BTS is crowdy…
Eating in Bangkok
Food wise, Bangkok definitely is a foodie’s dream come true.Indeed, the incredible city of Bangkok has a multitude of options to offer to everyone, whether locals or foreigners. Make sure to try some of the delicious street food stalls that can be found anywhere in the city.
The food options are endless and delicacies more all over the world can be found, and thus for every budget. And while street food stalls are definitely ideal for travellers on a budget such as backpackers, many other options are available, with many other High-end establishments that could surprise you, should you have the budget.
Pro-tip: While we ate at many eateries that would fit all sorts of budgets, we personally chose to try many local street food stalls. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, it is thoroughly recommended to eat local street food while travelling to a tropical country like Thailand. Indeed, a local street food stall offers the insurance to see your food prepared before your eyes. Moreover, it is also more often then not the guarantee that fresh ingredients only will be served to you and that your food will be cooked hot and not reheated, which drastically reduces the risk of bacteria in your food. While choosing a street food stall, make sure to pick one that has a large turn-over, which is always a guarantee for fresh products.
First Exploration of the City
Once you have gotten yourself from the airport to the city, found a good place to stay, chosen a mode of transportation that suits your best, managed to get yourself around, and fed yourself some delicious food, you are now ready to explore this incredible and bustling capital more thoroughly.
First and foremost, a whole lot of tours are available for booking for tourists to explore the city, whether by boat, bus or even cable car! And while this is ideal for some people, those travelling with their family for example, we personally chose to simply just wander off from our hotel and see where luck would take us.
Since your always have to start somewhere, we started our journey on the Pier of the Chao Phraya river, and wandered off to the neighbourhood of Chinatown, a genuinely unbelievable place, further down the river; continued the day at the incredible Mega Mall of Central World, and finished the day off with some delicious street food back in the Rambutri neighbourhood.
Far from being the only things to see in Bangkok, these two spots are definitive must sees in the city (also more on that later!) and a good starting point to your journey during your first couple of days in Bangkok. However there is obviously so much more that awaits! Indeed, many famous landmarks await in the city. Notably the Royal Palace, as well as many other religious monuments and places of worship for the Thai people. Our suggestion is to simply get lost and discover as many gems as you can in this energetic metropolis.
If anything Bangkok is this unbelievable combination of traditional Thai lifestyle, with the techno-modern advancement and vibrant energy of an East Asian megapolis; and many of its shops and eateries running 24/7, it certainly never sleeps.