Tips, Travel Guide

A Quick Guide to Bangkok, Thailand

Unlike most people visiting Southeast Asia, Bangkok wasn’t really on my must-see list. I felt like it might be too similar to Manila. Densely populated, chaotic and has traffic that seems to go on 24/7. While I’m not fully opposed to exploring big cities such as Bangkok and Manila, I feel more at peace when I’m surrounded by nature. Which is why when I think of Thailand, my mind goes straight to Phuket or Chiang Mai. Beautiful beaches, rivers running through valleys, rolling hills – the complete opposite of what Bangkok offers. I’ve been told more than once that we shouldn’t go out of our way to see the city. But because I like to form my own opinion about places that I visit, I decided to add Bangkok to our itinerary anyway and I’m glad I did.

Get There

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

Although there are two international airports in Bangkok, the main airport used for international flights is the Suvarnabhumi Airport located approximately 20 miles from the central part of Bangkok. The other airport, Don Mueang, is much closer to the city center and is mainly used by budget airlines such as Air Asia and Lion Air. If you’re coming from the US, you’ll find cheaper flights flying into Suvarnabhumi than Don Mueang.

Getting Around

Public transportation can be daunting especially when it’s your first time visiting a country. The easiest and most convenient way to get around Bangkok is by taxi. You can find one at almost every corner. The fare usually starts at 35 baht and stays there for the first 2 kilometers. After that, it gradually goes up 2 baht at a time per km.

Insider tip: Most taxis are metered so you don’t need to negotiate the fare. But if you do encounter one without a meter or if the driver refuses to use it, it’s best to find another taxi so you don’t get scammed.

Another popular mode of transportation is the BTS or Skytrain. It’s fast, cheap and has A/C = winner! We had a hard time understanding the system at first but after putting our heads together plus a little bit of prayer, we figured it out eventually. The BTS skytrain single journey ticket can be anywhere from 15 to 42 baht. If you’ll be using the skytrain multiple times during the day, you can purchase a one-day pass for 140 THB/$4. The ticket machine only accepts coins. If you don’t have any, bring your bills to the ticket booth and they can exchange it for you.

And let’s not forget about the tuk tuk! The three wheeled, old-fashioned rickshaw is a favorite among tourists. It’s ideal for short trips around the city. This won’t be my first choice for transportation because there’s a.) no A/C and b.) you’ll end up inhaling fumes all around you. Riding the tuk tuk is more for the experience than for comfortability.

See

We only had one full day to explore so of course we had to see the temples. Visiting The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are among the top things to do in Bangkok. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do everything on our list because apart from only having one day to see the city, it also rained that day which made it harder for us to get around. Here are some of the things we missed: a day trip to Ayutthaya, shopping at MBK and Chatuchak Weekend Market, strolling around Thonburi, the floating markets and drinks at one of the popular rooftop bars in the city.

 The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace is undoubtedly Thailand’s most famous landmark. Located in the heart of Bangkok, this massive complex consisting of several buildings, halls and pavilions, also served as the residence of the royal family until 1925. It’s now being used for state functions and royal ceremonies. The best time to visit is early morning to avoid the throng of tourists that arrive shortly before noon. We made the mistake of coming here around that time and I can’t even begin to tell you guys how crazy busy it was. Think Disneyland minus the fun rides, churros and turkey legs and replace that with selfie sticks and umbrellas. I seriously felt like a ninja trying to dodge those darn contraptions.

As much as we’d like to visit temples without all the ruckus, there’s just no getting around it. Instead, focus your attention on the beautiful structures embellished with colored porcelain mosaics and everything else will become white noise.

Things to know:

  • How to get there – Using the BTS, get off at Saphan Taksin Station, from there you can take the orange boat line (15 THB/$.44) towards Tha Chang Pier. After a 2-min walk through a local market, you’ll see the complex in front of you.
  • Entrance fee – 500 THB/$15
  • Hours – 8:30 am till 3:30 pm
  • Dress code – They have a strict dress code for visitors. Avoid wearing shorts, mini skirts, tights, see through shirts, sleeveless shirt, sweatshirts and sweatpants. This applies to both men and women.

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

Wat Phra Kaew/Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Located within the grounds of The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is considered as the most sacred temple in Thailand. It is also one of the main reasons why  people (especially devout Buddhists) around the world visit The Grand Palace every year. It enshrines the emerald buddha that was carved from a single block of jade. Aside from the Thai King, no one else is allowed to touch the statue.

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

Wat Pho/The Temple of the Reclining Buddha

After escaping the hordes of tourists at The Grand Palace, we made our way to the nearby Wat Pho, home to the reclining buddha. Wat Pho was named after a monastery in India where Buddha was believed to have lived. It is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It’s 15 meters high, 43 meters long and covered in  gold leaf. I enjoyed this temple the most because not everyone takes the time to wander around the complex which makes it quieter and hence, more tolerable than The Grand Palace.

Things to know:

  • How to get there – Wat Pho is located behind The Grand Palace. The entrance is located around the block.
  • Entrance fee – 100 THB/$3
  • Hours – 8:00 am till 6:30 pm
  • Dress code – They have a strict dress code for visitors. Avoid wearing shorts, mini skirts, tights, see through shirts, sleeveless shirt, sweatshirts and sweatpants. This applies to both men and women.

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

Wat Arun/Temple of Dawn

Some will argue that this temple is the most iconic in Bangkok, more so than Wat Pho. It was built during the 17th century on the bank of the Chao Phraya river.  Its distinctive spire is the main feature of the temple and can be seen from miles away. Although it’s called the Temple of Dawn, the temple is at its finest during sunset most especially when its lit up at night making it a postcard worthy of a view. Like with the other temples, the best time to visit is early morning to beat the crowds.

Things to know:

  • How to get there – Wat Arun is located opposite Wat Pho. Take the Sapphan Taksin boat and stop at pier 8. From here, you can take a small shuttle boat that takes you across the river.
  • Entrance fee – 100 THB/$3
  • Hours – 8:30 am till 5:30 pm
  • Dress code – They have a strict dress code for visitors. Avoid wearing shorts, mini skirts, tights, see through shirts, sleeveless shirt, sweatshirts and sweatpants. This applies to both men and women.

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

Eat

Thai food is one of my ultimate favorite cuisines. I seriously can’t get enough of it! Some of my favorite Thai dishes are: pad thai, pad see ew, tom yum soup, red curry, chicken in coconut soup, green chicken curry…ahh I could go on and on.

  • Fine dining: Nimitr (located at 137 Pillars Bangkok), Uno Mas and Blue Elephant Restaurant.
  • Casual dining: Bangkok Trading Post (located at 137 Pillars Bangkok), Ama, Sit and Wonder, Home Cafe Tha Tien, Nalin Kitchen and The Sixth.

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

Where to Stay

We stayed at the luxurious 137 Pillars Suites and Residences that just opened in April of this year. As much as I loved exploring Bangkok, it can get pretty tiring. So it’s nice to stay at a hotel where you can relax and rejuvenate. It doesn’t hurt that this newly opened property boasts amenities that would make you not want to leave like this gorgeous infinity pool overlooking Bangkok. I mean c’mon look at it? I will never tire of this view! Read my FULL REVIEW here: 137 Pillars Bangkok.

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand

 

Bangkok Travel Video

What’s your favorite thing to do in Bangkok?

Let me know in the comment section below so I could try them on my next visit!


 

Bangkok Related Post:

Where to Stay in Bangkok: 137 Pillars Suites and Residences

 


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A Quick Guide to Bangkok, Thailand

a quick guide to bangkok, thailand


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65 Comments

  1. Arnav Mathur

    July 15, 2017 at 10:44 am

    My only regret is not getting hold of this before I visited Bangkok. This guide is bang on to the point, making a trip to Bangkok very convineant for anyone who has gone through this guide.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:14 am

      Aw thank you Arnav! I’m very pleased that you found the guide helpful.

  2. Gaetane Ferland

    July 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Thank you very much, Janna! I have been in Thailand in 1987 only for few days but I enjoyed it.
    It is very Information, colourful and easy to follow!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:16 am

      Thank you for liking the guide. I think you’re due for another visit to Thailand Gaetane!

  3. Tamara Elliott

    July 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I know what you mean about typically not wanting to visit the big, chaotic cities and instead retreating to the tranquil islands. I’ll have to refer to your guide if I ever to head to Bangkok, as it looks like you found a way to enjoy it despite how busy it is!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:18 am

      I think for me it’s because I lived in busy cities my whole life (Manila, Los Angeles, Las Vegas) that I tend to gravitate to less crowded and tranquil place. Which is why I love hiking and being surrounded by mountains and also having a chill day at the islands. Thanks for stopping by Tamara!

  4. Elaine J Masters

    July 15, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    I was in Bangkok before the Skytrain and love that option especially with AC! So many echoes from my time there. I loved Tuk Tuk travel too – as long as they took us where we wanted to go and not just to their ‘friend’s best food place.’

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:20 am

      haha oh I know what you mean about those tuk tuk drivers taking you to their “friends place”. I met a few people who were almost scammed by some drivers in Thailand. The Skytrain was actually manageable and was the fastest way to get around the city.

  5. Tami

    July 15, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    My husband traveled to Bangkok several times for business, and we had finally decided I would accompany him on his next trip. Guess what? His company stopped sending anyone to Bangkok. I felt so cheated! I do hope that someday I get to go. I’ve heard it’s like the New York City of Thailand.

  6. Danik

    July 16, 2017 at 1:14 am

    I haven’t been to Bangkok yet but this will help me a lot. Can’t wait to get out there one day. Great write up.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:20 am

      Thanks Danik! Hope you make it out there one day.

  7. Chloe

    July 16, 2017 at 4:26 am

    I went to Chiang Mai recently and seriously love the country. Bangkok looks like an amazing place to be too! I’ll explore the capital soon!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:21 am

      OMG Chiang Mai is one of my fave cities! I loved it more than Bangkok! 🙂

  8. Jen Joslin

    July 16, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Janna, I loved this post! We have been to Bangkok at least a dozen times over the years, but I never tire of the city. There is always something new to explore! You gave some great advice on dressing appropriately for the temples. The hotel you stayed in looks awesome. Will definitely have to check it out for next time we go. A couple of recommendations for your next trip to Bangkok are Long Table’s rooftop bar for sunset happy hour drinks and The Local, a great mid-range restaurant located in a traditional home. They have some very unique and authentic Thai dishes!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Hey Jen! Thank you so much. You’re quite the Bangkok expert then haha. That’s amazing! I want to go back to Thailand. So many places I missed! I’ll be posting a review of my stay at 137 Pillars this week so watch out for that. I’m sure you guys will love it there. And thank you for your recommendations. I’ll def keep that in mind when I visit!

  9. Edith & Juan

    July 16, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    I’ll be visiting Thailand this December so it’s great to read this guide. Still trying to decide how many days to stay in Bangkok before heading to Chaing Mai. Also, loved your video!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:24 am

      I think 2 days should be enough for Bangkok in my opinion. Now Chiang Mai is a different story. I’d stay there for a week if I could. I loved it there! And thank you for liking the video. My husband loves making them. 🙂

  10. Claudia

    July 16, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    I have to agree with you about not having Bangkok on our list. When we visited Thailand we decided to go straight to Phuket instead of spending the night in the city but you have listed some great options

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:25 am

      I think 1-2 days should be good to explore Bangkok. I wouldn’t rule it out if you haven’t been. There’s so much to see there. 🙂

  11. Darlene | PS+W

    July 17, 2017 at 2:46 am

    I loved Bangkok. It’s similarity to Manila (but with a better train system) is what makes it homey for me. Although I love Chiang Mai more than Bangkok. Hehe. I love Terminal 21 mall there as well as hunting for pad thai. The best one (for me at least) is Thip Samai’s Pad Thai. Wrote about it on my blog too. 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:26 am

      I agree about the train system. It was so easy to use! And we’re the same. I loveeee Chiang Mai! Everything about Chiang Mai actually. Thanks so much for the tip! I’ll check that out for next time.

  12. Holly

    July 17, 2017 at 8:22 am

    I have to save this because I really would like to visit. I would definitely take a taxi and of course a tuk tuk. Good to know that the taxis are metered and no negotiating is needed.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:27 am

      You will love Thailand Holly! You should definitely visit. Taxis are pretty good overall. I didnt encounter any sketchy drivers.

  13. April | April Everyday

    July 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I’m always surprised at how much there is to actually see in Bangkok! I’ve seen it popping up on a few vlogs/blog posts lately and it actually looks pretty amazing! Also, that infinity pool is stunning! Those views!
    xo April

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:28 am

      I was pleasantly surprised too April! Who knew right? I loved the temples in Bangkok! And yes, that infinity pool is one of the best pools I’ve seen! The view up there was glorious!

  14. Mel | The Wandering Darlings

    July 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Bangkok has never really interested me previously but this post has started to change my mind. I really like how you’ve included tips and insider knowledge. Pictures are awesom too!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:29 am

      Thanks Mel! I’m glad I was able to change your mind about Bangkok. You won’t regret visiting this vibrant city!

  15. Paige W

    July 17, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    What a gorgeous guide to Bangkok! My last trip there was rushed, so I missed a couple of these things. However, when we go back in September I can’t wait to check a couple of these off the list! That infinity pool is BEAUTIFUL!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:29 am

      Aw you’re too kind. Thank you Paige! Our trip to Bangkok was kinda rushed too. We spent more days in Chiang Mai. Hope you guys have a wonderful time in September!

  16. Archana Singh

    July 17, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    This is such a good guide and helpful for anyone planning to visit Bangkok. 137 Pillars Suites and Residences looks quite plush and comfortable. I would like to check it out on my next trip.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:30 am

      Omg 137 Pillars is one of the best hotels we’ve ever stayed at! We can’t rave about it enough. I’ll post a review this week so be on the lookout for that Archana!

  17. Marija

    July 18, 2017 at 1:01 am

    It’s really helpful and informative! Love this article and will definitely refer to it when planning a trip! Thank you!💕

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 2:31 am

      No problem Marija! Glad you liked the guide and found it helpful and informative. Happy travels!!

  18. Mel Butler

    July 18, 2017 at 9:42 am

    I haven’t been to Thailand in over 20year but I have always wanted to go back to explore more and see how it has changed. Your post has definitely made me want to pack my bags and now even more now. That view from 137 Pillars Suites and Residences is just amazing and I love the fact that left that note on the bed for you. Great guide you have put together there 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Oh wow 20 years! Maybe its time for another trip back to Thailand, Mel? Aw yes they are so sweet. We traveled to Asia for me and my husband’s 3rd yr wedding anniv and they surprised us with such lovely gestures. Thank you for appreciating the guide. Happy travels!

  19. Candy

    July 18, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Wow! Your hotel looks amazing! I have only been to Bangkok once, but sadly it was for work and I didn’t get any time off to explore 🙁 I would love to visit the temples and the food look so yummy. I am a huge fan of Thai food and want to have authentic pad see ew and tom yum soup.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      Its super amazing! One of the best places Ive stayed at in awhile. Hope you make it out to Bangkok again and this time to explore the temples in the city.

  20. Nathan

    July 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

    That hotel is gorgeous! I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in Bangkok. I wish I had a guide like this before I had gone the first time. It’s a big and confusing city but I love it!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      It is! I seriously didn’t want to leave! You have to check out 137 Pillars nxt time you visit Bangkok.

  21. mark wyld

    July 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Great read and valuable information for anyone heading to the Thai capital anytime soon.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Thank you Mark! Glad you like it!

  22. Vibeke

    July 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    I can’t really say I gave been to Bangkok even tho I was there for a 12 hours stopover evening and night. Just checked out the market. This is a great guide. I have to go back and do all of these. Definitely want to check out The Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      July 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Oh you definitely have to go back and check out the temples. The reclining buddha is pretty spectacular up close. You have to see it for yourself!

  23. Claire

    July 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I can’t wait to visit Thailand! Big cities can be daunting but for a couple of days it is worth the effort to visit them – and then retire to nature!!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 17, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      So true Claire! It can be quite daunting for your first day or two but after awhile it gets better. 🙂

  24. Ruben Arribas

    August 19, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    I like Bangkok so much, first time I visited so many temples but everytime that Im coming back I focus in street food. Which one is your favorite Thai dish?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      I have a few favorites but Pad Thai and Red Curry are two of my all time faves! 🙂

  25. Toni Broome

    August 20, 2017 at 12:21 am

    You might not have got through everything you wanted but that would be pretty tough in a day. I love what you did see and it’s a great start to exploring such a huge and busy city. You got to do 3 of the main things that would be on my list for a first time visit to Bangkok, the Grand Palace, the Reclining Buddha and eat plenty of that amazingly delicious Thai food!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Yeah it was pretty tough especially with the rain. But overall, I think we got the most out of our time there. I’m just glad we were able to see the temples and eat delicious Thai food! 🙂

  26. Jennifer

    August 20, 2017 at 2:34 am

    Bangkok wasn’t our favorite place, but I definitely wouldn’t compare it to Manila. Our favorite thing we did in Bangkok was go to the Talingchan floating market. It’s a bit out of the city, but isn’t very touristy like some of the other floating markets. We had some of the best street food we had in Thailand at that market.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      It kinda reminds me of Manila actually. I was just in Manila last year so it was kinda the same experience for me. Wish we had time to do the floating markets.

  27. RaW | Ramble and Wander

    August 20, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I’m a bit indifferent when it comes to Bangkok. I don’t love it neither do I hate it but it definitely won’t come up top of my list of destinations. Having said that, I love the convenience of BTS/SkyTrain and walking around Asiatique and shopping in Chatuchak market!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Same here! But since we had a day or two to spare before our trip to Chiang Mai, we decided to check it out anyway. It wasn’t too bad! In fact, we had a wonderful experience. And yes, the BTS was so convenient and easy to use

  28. Kalyan Panja

    August 20, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    That’s an extensive guide. Looks like you have had a fantastic experience there. The photos urge me to pack my suitcase immediately and take the flight to Bangkok.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Oh thanks Kalyan! I’m glad I was able to pack a lot of information in a quick guide. We did have a wonderful experience. Hopefully you get the same experience when you visit Thailand. Happy travels!

  29. Barb

    August 21, 2017 at 6:02 am

    I was in Bangkok about 10 years ago and I loved it. It seems like it looks even better today. It is so nice of the hotel that they decorated your bedroom so nicely. What a lovely gesture!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 21, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      Maybe its time to visit again Barb? You must be missing Bangkok! Yes, they were so nice throughout our stay. They made sure we had everything we needed.

  30. Heather Hudak

    August 22, 2017 at 9:15 am

    I typically only have a day or two to spend in most cities, so this guide is perfect for me. It sounds like the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are definitely the top must-see sites. And it’s good to know most of the taxis are metered so you don’t have to worry about getting around!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Our recent trip to Asia was just that. It was kinda fast paced. We just spent several days in each country so I’m glad this was useful to you. 🙂 That’s what I liked about the taxis too. No need to worry about haggling. But occasionally you’ll find a few taxis without one so just be mindful of that.

  31. Jessica M

    August 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in the world! Haven’t been there in years but I still remember the temples, especially the reclining Buddha. Love the pictures and video, brought great memories!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      September 5, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks Jessica for liking the pics and video! Such a fun city to visit, no? 🙂

  32. Megan Jerrard

    August 22, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    So glad to hear that you take the approach of finding out about a city for yourself – because travel is so subjective and what one person hates another may love. We also prefer nature to big cities, but I’m a big culture buff too, and Bangkok seems to have culture in spades. Obviously temple hopping is in order, and the Grand Palace is on the top of that list. I read your review of 137 Pillars Suites and Residences and it sounds like an incredible place to stay, so we’ll definitely be booking for our upcoming trip 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      September 5, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      So true! Not everyone will have the same experience that’s why I think its important that we form our own opinions about places we visit. I actually liked Bangkok! I didn’t fell in love with it like I did in Chiang Mai but we really enjoyed our stay and partly because of 137 Pillars Suites and Residences. You guys won’t regret booking there! 🙂

  33. Jenna

    August 22, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    I can’t believe that we haven’t been to Bangkok yet–we really need to get there soon! We usually prefer nature as well, but it’s always great to get a feel for the culture in a city too. Sounds like you had a great experience. I love your photos of The Grand Palace and the temples! So pretty! And that infinity pool looks amazing, as well!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      September 5, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks so much Jenna! We really did enjoy our stay in Bangkok. You just gotta get past the traffic and busyness but other than that, the city is brimming with culture.

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