Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand. Covering a total area of 1,569 square kilometer, Bangkok is similar in size to London, England (1,572 square kilometers). Bangkok has the greatest population, approximately 8.2 million people. The population density is around 5,200 people square kilometers. A great number of foreign tourists – around 20 million visitors each year – from all around the globe come to visit Bangkok as there are wide-ranging sorts of tourism, namely MICE destination, shopping center, historical site, entertainment place, and so on. Bangkok has been annually ranked as one of the top-ten most visited countries in the world according to several tourism rankings. Recently, MasterCard 2014 and 2015 Global Destination Cities Index ranked Bangkok at number two of the world’s 20 most visited cities.
How to travel around Bangkok
As one of the most crowded capital cities, Bangkok has traffic congestion. Therefore, to avoid the traffic jam, the most highly recommended transportation method is taking metro system. There are 3 major railway operators in Bangkok which are BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System), MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and SRT (State Railway of Thailand). There are plenty of places accessible by BTS and MRT simplifying your trip to Bangkok. Currently, there are 5 lines in service and 6 new lines under construction.
- BTS Sukhumvit Line (Light Green)
- BTS Silom Line (Dark Green)
- MRT Blue Line
- MRT Purple Line
- SRT Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link
- People Mover Gold Line
- SRT Dark Red Line
- SRT Light Red Line
- MRT Yellow Line (2022)
- MRT Pink Line (2022)
- MRT Orange Line (2023-2025)
Furthermore, Bangkok has several public air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses with different rates of fare, running through and around the city. Despite extremely low-priced fares, approximately 8-25 Baht, you may possibly face some inevitable problems such as bus conductors with poor English-speaking skills, bad traffic, hot weather and air pollution. We suggest traveler should download mobile application "Via Bus" which you can find buses location around Bangkok. However, not all buses (especially from private companies) are available on this application. Even though the bus are the same number but it may operate in different route. So, you should check the direction with the bus conductor before getting in. Anyway, it is a good chance to explore the real Bangkok!
Next, you can travel through Bangkok by taking taxi. Most importantly, to avoid being ripped off, make sure the drivers use the meter. We suggest you to book a taxi via All Thai Taxi or use Grab taxi application, which provides reliable taxi services. Please note that you’d better not take a taxi during rush hours on 06:30–08:30 a.m. in the morning and on 05:00–07:00 p.m. in the evening.
Another means of transportation is taking an open-air three-wheeled taxi which well known as "Tuk-tuk". Surprisingly, the Tuk-tuk fare is more expensive than metered taxi but you can always negotiate the price with drivers. Lastly, to get to some tourist destinations inaccessible by metro system is quite difficult for foreign tourists.
Moreover, taking a boat ride is thing you should do while visiting Bangkok. The most popular waterway system is Chao Phraya Express boat which service along Chao Phraya river. Passing many riverside landmarks such as Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Rama VIII bridge and The Grand Palace. The travel fares is around 9-32 Baht depending on type of boat which indicated by flag. For more detail of routes and timetable, please visit the Chao Phraya Express boat website.
For a solo traveler, there is another type of transportation which is "Motorcycle taxi". It is the best way to travel in short distant to pass through the traffic jam in Bangkok. You can find them by looking for the motorcycle with yellow plate and driver wearing an orange plastic vest. Normally, they will stay at the motorcycle taxi's stand which located at many major streets and public places. The price is depend on the distance which must be shown in the chart on every registered motorcycle taxi's stand. However, there are some safety issue that you might be aware of such as riding without helmet, riding on the footpath and riding very close to other vehicles.
Thus, we suggest one of our subsidiary tour operator, Connect2Thailand, that provides car rental with private driver service that will certainly make your trips even easier.
Recommendation for Bangkok Attractions
Bangkok offers diversified tourist attractions for both business and leisure trips.
For business trips, the city serves as a business affair destination. Bangkok has been famous for one of the ideal destinations for MICE travelers around the world. The city is home to nearly 300 hotels in Bangkok downtown and also some world-standard convention and exhibition centers, including Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) and IMPACT. Both of them usually host trade shows, exhibitions and concerts.Other smaller sites for lifestyle events such as the Royal Paragon Hall.
For leisure trips, there are family-friendly places, museums, historical and cultural sites, shopping centers, entertainment places, and street food tasting venues.
There are many recommended family-friendly attractions suiting any genders of all ages, especially kids. Dream World and Siam Amazing Park are famous amusement parks in Bangkok. For those who love animals and amazing shows, come visit to Safari World and Sea Life Ocean World. Other family-friendly and kids destinations in Bangkok are KidZania where kids between 1-14 year-old could enjoy the interactive city combines fun, learning through realistic role play.
Bangkok’s museums consist of Art in Paradise – three-dimensional art museum, Madame Tussauds – wax museum, and The Erawan Museum – colossal three-headed elephant art display. Near Bangkok city is Muangboran (the Ancient City), the largest outdoor museum in Thailand. It encompasses Thailand's significant historical sites, such as the replicas of temples, palaces and monuments that will take you back to the dawn of Siamese. Other interesting museums in Bangkok are Museum of Siam, Bangkok National Museum, and Vimanmek Mansion Museum.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Bangkok National Museum
In an aspect of history, Bangkok also has some historical and cultural sites. Bangkok has been Thailand’s capital city for approximately 200 years. As a Buddhist city, it has numerous beautiful temples to visit, such as Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Wat Saket Rajavaravihara and so on. All of the temples have unique architecture that has foreign visitors in awe. Another must-see historical landmark in Bangkok is the Grand Palace, glorious complex of buildings situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Constructed in 1782 during the reign of King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I), the Palace covers an area of 218,400 square meter and has been the Thai Royal Family’s residence. Despite its age of over 200 years, the Palace is well-maintained and still looks mesmerizing. Currently, you can book the online ticket 24 hours in advance via the official website of the Grand Palace and temple of Emerald Buddha. For visiting the Grand Palace and temple of Emerald Buddha, please make sure you enter the attraction before 15:30 hrs. and do not trust the strangers in well-dressed and fluent in English, standing in front of the palace and say to you that the attraction is closed for today. For more official opening and closing time of the Grand Palace, you can check on the official website.
Not only does Bangkok comprise historical places, but it also serves as shopaholics’ paradise. Inside Bangkok downtown situate a number of shopping malls, ranging from megamalls to normal ones, fitting any types of lifestyles and budgets. You are enabled to enjoy shopping the collection of luxury brand stores at Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, ICONSIAM, EmQuartier, Central Embassy, Siam Discovery, Siam Center, and Terminal 21. They all can be reached easily due to their locations near BTS or MRT. For those with limited budget, you can enjoy your shopping at Platinum Fashion Mall and MBK or go for a chilly walk at some markets. Moreover, King Power is famous for duty free who own several shops in the airport and also King Power Rangnam and King Power Mahanakhon, the tallest building in Thailand which you can visit a famous rooftop skywalk for 360 degree view of Bangkok city. A worth visiting weekend market is definitely Chatuchak Market – Thailand’s largest weekend market offering innumerable goods with low prices. For night market lovers, Train Market or Rot Fai Market, JJ Green, and Asiatique should be in your list of shopping places.
Bangkok also features entertainment venues for nightlife lovers. There are countless fantastic shows waiting Thailand visitors to witness. The must-watch cultural show is Siam Niramit – world standard historical show introducing Thailand’s history and culture through several kinds of Thai dance and martial arts, such as Thai boxing matches, Nora dance and Fingernail dance. The show is performed in a state-of-the-art stage with capacity of 2,000 seats. Additionally, there is Thai Show & Muay Thai Live, Muay Thai show depicting fighting skills. If you are a nightlife traveler, here are some of the best places to visit: Khaosan Road, Patpong Road, and Silom area.
Since Bangkok is claimed to be one of the best places to eat tasty foods, almost all streets are filled with a myriad of street food shops. Once foreign tourists visit Bangkok or Thailand, Thai food is one of those things impressing them because of its diversity, cheap price and good taste. Some of must-try street foods are Fried Noodle with Pawn (Pad Thai Kung), Spicy Pawn Soup (Tom Yum Kung), Grilled Fish (Pla Phao), Payaya Spicy Salad (Som Tum), Mango with Sticky Rice (Khaoneaw Mamuang) and Thai Crepe (Kanom Bueng). The most popular spot where you can find those luscious dishes is Chinatown or Yaowarat. The evening is the best time to go there. However, on Mondays, street vendors are not permitted to operate food shops, but there are also some permanent shops open. Other places providing yummy street foods are Ratchaprasong Road, Rama 1 Road, Wanglang Market, etc.
In addition to the above-mentioned destinations, other tourist destinations and interesting activities in Bangkok are composed of Dinner Cruise – which allows you to have an international buffet dinner in a chilly atmosphere and passing through illuminated historical buildings located along the river. Regarding to the Dinner Cruise activity in Bangkok, there are many cruise operators, namely Grand Pearl, Wonderful Pearl, Chao Phraya Princess dinner cruise, and a lot more. Wonderful Pearl is one of the best dinner cruises in Bangkok, with a new cruise and qualified food. However you may do not want to yay such a high price, we highly suggest dinner cruise with Grand Pearl operator because it is not so crowed and standardized. If you are Indian food lover, we highly suggest using Chao Phraya Princess Dinner Cruise because it is only dinner cruise operator that serve Indian Buffet. It does not matter which dinner cruise operator you use, they all take you to the same route. The differences among dinner cruise operators is the vessel quality, food, and service. Other dinner in Bangkok to enable you to have a special meal and be surrounded by illuminated skyscrapers of the city is Baiyoke Buffet, at Baiyoke sky hotel.
All of these is what makes Bangkok one of the world's top tourist destination cities.
Updated: 19th Feb 2020