My Bangkok Travel Guide for Beginners
Yo guys! First of all, I’ve ONLY lived in Bangkok for a total of about 4+ months now so, I’m definitely not the #1 expert on Bangkok… But people ask me ALL THE TIME for tips before visiting here. So here’s all my tips compiled into one blog post.
Bangkok is like it’s own universe. It’s huge. It’s nicknamed The Big Mango for a reason – it’s like the New York City of Southeast Asia. So asking ‘what should I do?’ in Bangkok is like asking what should I do in New York City. There’s no way anyone can cover it all.
What is the best way to get around?
From the airport: taxi stand – follow the signs, show hotel address, done.
I rent a motorbike, and I couldn’t do Bangkok any other way. I just love cruising around a motorbike, personally. It’s around 300 baht a day ($10 bucks) or 3000 baht a month ($90 bucks)… so if you like cruising motorbikes around Chiang Mai or elsewhere, don’t be afraid to explore BKK by motorbike… many tourists do it even for a short stay.
Most people use BTS along Sukhumvit road. Especially during rush hour it will be faster than car. Walk or take a taxi to the nearest station. Motobike taxi, Grab bike, regular Taxi, Grab car, or Uber, depending on if you’re alone and close to main roads where street taxis are around. In traffic, bikes are faster than cars because they can cut thru traffic jams.
I always check Google Maps tho to check the options… it will tell you ETA by BTS and by car. But make sure you compare the ETA from the nearest BTS station to your destination. A lot of the time if you taxi to the nearest station, then BTS-walk or BTS-cab to destination, it will be around the same ETA time as just a cab all the way there, but BTS-cab combo will be cheaper. BTS is only around 30 baht ($1) to the other side of town… while a cab to the other side of town could be around 200 baht ($6).
But at the end of the day, it’s personal preference! There’s no right way to get around Bangkok!
Oh yeah and I forgot Tuktuks! That’s also a great way. Not the cheapest, but the funnest. If you’re going not far, they’re a good option. Make sure you bargain. take their offer price and counter with 50-75% of that… To go only one or two BTS stations away, around 1-2 kilos, it should be in the realm of 50 baht per person. But 100 baht per person if a little farther isn’t uncommon… just bargain quickly and go… don’t fret too much over a few bucks:)
What’s the best time of the year to come to Bangkok? Or is anytime fine?
Anytime is perfect! Why not? Come next week! Come next month! It doesn’t matter! Your experience will be the same. ‘High season’ is in December – January, but that’s just because most people get off their J.O.B.s then… 🙂
The Big Picture: there is accommodation for literally any budget pretty much in any area. From $10/night hostels to super nice hotels for $300 a night. it’s not a make-or-break where you stay. Just pick your general area then look online for a hotel of hostel that fits your budget, and book it. That’s it. Don’t overthink it. It won’t make-or-break your trip depending on where you stay. It’s pretty easy to get around town.
But in general, the “center” of the action, if there is one, tends to go along Sukhumvit road, aka ‘The BTS Street’… where the BTS skytrain goes overhead. So the closer you are to this main line, the most expensive the hotel, because it’s closer to the BTS stations.
Khaosan area is on the western side, and W Market on the far eastern side. Here’s a few words about these main areas, from west to east.
Khaosan Road area – many backbackers will stay around Khao San road for obvious reasons – it’s one of the biggest backpacker streets and most visited streets in the world. Many hostels and cheaper hotel options around this neck of the woods. If you have a short stay and plan on partying on Khaosan road, then it’s a good option to stay around here.
ProTip: ‘Soi’ means lane/alley/sidestreet… Every main street has it’s soi’s jetting off from it. You can either say ‘Sukhumvit 11’, ‘Sukhumhit soi 11’, or just ‘soi 11’ to refer to that street you are in that area. Basically meaning ‘Sukhimvit street 11’.
Silom Area – a nice area, closest to Khaosan area.
Nana Area – Area around Nana BTS stop to Asok BTS stop. Aka from Sukhumvit 11 to Sukhumvit 21. Many tourists stay around here. Lots of action around here. If you stay between here you will not be let down. Lots of nightlife. Most notably Soi Cowboy on Sukhumvit 23, and on Sukhumvit soi 11 many clubs including Sugar Hip Hop club, Insanity and more.
Thonglor Area – Area around Thonglor BTS stop. Actual ‘Thonglor Street” is Sukhumvit Soi 55, but this whole area is really nice, and many expats stay around here in nice apartments/condos. Lots of Japanese restaurants around for some reason. And a more upscale and slightly more local nightlife scene. Including Beam club, The Iron Fairies Bar, and Sing Sing club nearby at soi 43.
W District Area – Area around Pra Khanong BTS stop, at Soi 71. Right at PK stop is the W Market, an awesome food truck / beer garden that is very popular amongst expats, tourists and locals alike. Great option for pre-funk dinner and beers. This area is also where The Base Park is, a nice apartment complex where many expats stay (including us), the one at Habito mall, a mini mall with a 24/7 Tom n Toms coffee (where I’m writing this from), Hubba co-working space, a muaythai gym and lots of restaurants… So if you are staying for a week or more, an AirBnb at The Base Park or surrounding area is a great live-work option.
Hidden gems – for an authentic ‘street food’ experience, right across soi 71 from W Market is what I call, literally, THE ‘StreetFood Street’… There’s a hostel on this street called Backpack Station on this street, so you can Google Map that to find this street. If you have seen my Snapchat or Instagram at all, you know I eat here a lot. One of the most impressive local streetfood streets I’ve seen in this area… always packed with locals. Plenty of ‘eat inside’ ‘street food restaurant’ options as well, in addition to the endless food carts. Aka some food carts have an inside seating arrangement associated.
What are the top activities or attractions?
#1 – Khaosan Road
#2 – Skybars – Googlemap the closest one to you. There are tons. But Octave around Thong Lo, and Vertigo around Silom I have been to and are nice.
#3 – River longtail boat cruise. A classic Bangkok experience. Cruising by small boat thru the canals. BKK is knows at the ‘Venice of The East’… U can hop on near Grand Palace
#4 – The Grand Palace – if you are tired of temples, don’t bother, but it is the most impressive one I’ve ever seen. Classical home of The King.
#5 – Soi Cowboy – the infamous Red Light district / street. Go-go bars and ping pong shows. The most Pink neon lights you’ve ever seen. Photo opportunity (but not inside)… A popular tourist destination for non-sex-tourists and sex-tourists alike… it’s part of the Bangkok experience.
#6 – Bangkok is famous for the abundant street food… where? Literally everywhere 🙂
And more.. check TripAdvisor I suppose:)
Thanks for the BKK Questions from Chris the Freelancer!