Websites and Guidebooks
There is plenty of information on the web and in guide books about Bangkok, but I've tried to include a few notes that were useful for me while travelling in BKK. S
Getting There and Around
- When arriving at Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok, after you pass through customs and collect your luggage you will be confronted with a bunch of people offering your taxi rides and accommodation. The typical charge for a taxi to the city is 500 to 600 Baht. If you don't want to pay this price then go upstairs to the Arrival Hall and go outside where departing passengers are being dropped off by taxis. As the passengers get out, ask the driver "meter" (meaning "will you use the meter?"). If he says no, then kindly shut the door and wait for the next one (there are usually plenty around - even if you try 5 or 6, it will only take you 5-10 minutes). If he says yes, then get in (and of course check that he starts the meter when you leave). The cost to the city (e.g. The Ambassador Hotel in Sukhumvit) was about 140 Baht in 2005. You must also pay for the tolls (about 60 Baht). So total taxi ride is around 200 Baht, instead of 600 Baht.
- Following on from the taxi from the airport, unless you know the cost and are good at bartering, you should always ask for "meter" when catching a taxi around Bangkok. There are plenty of taxis and you can wave them down just about anywhere. In 2006 the cost flag fall was 35 Baht (which covered the first two kms) and about 4 Baht for every km after that. About the only problem with using taxis for getting around is traffic jams. See below for your only alternative.
- Use the BTS Skytrain or the MRT Underground when near stations (or catch a taxi to a station), as these bypass the regular traffic jams on Bangkok streets. The Skytrain is simple to use and you wait maybe 5-10 minutes at maximum for a train (I haven't used the underground system, but guess it would be just as convenient).
There are plenty of places to choose, which means booking a long way ahead is not that necessary. In fact, given they low cost of most hotels compared to most Western countries, in many cases you should have no worries to turn up to a 3-4 star hotel on the day and get a reasonably priced room ($AU50-100). You may want to book ahead during holiday periods and peak seasons in certain places. Unless you know a place, I suggest you use one of the many web sites to book online. The places I've stayed at are:
- Ambassador Hotel: This is located in Sukhumvit, on Soi 11, a popular tourist area in Bangkok. A large tourist hotel, with a nice lobby and standard (almost on the smallish side) rooms. Paid about 1500 Baht for a room in September 2005. It is within 5 minutes walk of the Nana station of the BTS Skytrain so very easy to get to the centre of Bangkok (e.g. Silom, Siam).
- Federal Hotel: A small hotel also located in Sukhumvit, about 5 minute walk from Ambassador. Stayed there because Ambassador was booked out (we had only booked 1 night in Ambassador, so when we found out is booked out for the next night we just walked down to the Federal). Paid about 1200 Baht for a room in September 2005. Rooms slightly lower quality than Ambassador (but still reasonable bed, bathroom). The only concern may be safety as the rooms are on the ground and first floor and would be relatively easy for someone to walk off the street into the hotel (although there are guards). I would stay there again.
- Asia Airport Hotel: Located in Pathumthani, about 10 minutes north of the Don Muang International Airport. Convenient if you have a stopover and want to stay near the airport, or you are heading north (e.g. Thammasat University, Bangkok University, AIT at Rangsit). Rooms and service were good. I paid about 1800 Baht including breakfast in April 2006. The hotel is located at the Zeer Rangsit shopping centre (perhaps similar to a medium to large suburban Western shopping centre), which has many IT shops (computers, phones, hardware, software etc.), plenty of good eateries, an outdoor food market (selling local Thai food) and street market most nights (selling clothes etc.). It costs about 100 Baht for a taxi to the Mo Chit BTS Skytrain station (i.e. Chatuchak Market), from which you can then easily get to Sukhumvit, Silom, Siam etc. About 5-10 minutes north of the hotel by taxi is the Future Park Shopping Centre, which is similar to a large Western metropolitan shopping centre, e.g. Westfield.
- Quality Suites Airport: Located in Chaeng Wattana, about 5 minutes south of the Don Muang International Airport. Like Asia Airport Hotel, convenient for a stopover or if you'd prefer to stay out of the main tourist areas. I paid about 1800 Baht for a standard room for several nights in April 2006 (although was upgraded to a Deluxe room which had two separate bedrooms, large lounge/dining area etc.). Although my opinion is probably partly influenced by being in a Deluxe room, the newness and quality make this a standout from the other hotels I've stayed in in Bangkok. With respect to getting into the centre of Bangkok, the same applies as for the Asia Airport Hotel. The only problem with this place (although didn't bother me) is that it is on some backstreets. There is a 7-Eleven and small local food market within about 50 metres, and then plenty of local Thai shops within the suburb, but other than that you need taxi to get around (i.e. no large shopping centre within walking distance).
Things To Do and See
There are plenty of websites, travel guides and books that can tell you the major attractions of Bangkok. Here are a few quick thoughts on some of the things I've done.
- Shopping: There are plenty of large shopping centres in the Siam area, catering to all tastes such as designer fashion, IT, clothes (e.g. MBK) etc. A BTS Skytrain to Siam, National Stadium or Chit Lom puts you in the centre of these. All Bangkok toursit maps point out the major centres.
- Wats (Temples) etc
- Safari Park: Don't exactly know where it is (caught a taxi from near the airport to the park - was about 30km). For about 200 Baht, you go around the park in a bus for about 40 minutes, seeing a lot of African and other animals (giraffes, lions, tigers, bears, ...). You can also pay about 600 Baht to go to a marine land and see whales, dolphins and a heap of other animals.
- Dream World: An amusement park in Nakhon Nayok, about 30 minute taxi ride north east of the airport. All the typical rides and amusements of a show. Probably excellent for children. The highlight is Snowtown - spend some time in the freezing cold with snow and ice to get some refreshment from the hot and humid Bangkok weather.
- Massages: Make sure you try to get a few foot or body massages. There are plenty of shops in or around most shopping centres where you walk in and get a 1 hour foot massage for 100-400 Baht (depending on where you are). Or a 1 hour dry body massage for 200 to 600 Baht. You can also get oil massages in some places. These are real massages - i.e. you may experience some pain!
Created on Sun, 30 Apr 2006, 5:27pm
Last changed on Sun, 19 Sep 2010, 9:01pm