Step one: arrival
We arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. As you head through the arrivals terminal, you’ll see a bunch of SIM card sellers, selling tourist SIM cards for calls, texts and internet data. If you think you’ll need a SIM card for your mobile while you’re in Thailand, it’s best’ to do it here. It’s more efficient, the staff speak English well and will set up your phone for you so you don’t have to worry about not being connected because the data settings need changed. You can top up at 7/11 stores across the city/country.
You can get a taxi into town. We’ve been told that you can pick up one from the departures terminal and save the airport fee. It can take anywhere from an hour to two hours to get into the city, depending on traffic. We have also heard stories of people waiting in a queue for 40 minutes. If you arrive at peak hour, might be best to get public transport. A taxi is approximately 500 baht.
Depending on your destination, it can take about two or three hours on public transport, depending on if you need to change from the Airport Skylink to the Metro to the BTS to a river ferry. Prices will vary according to your destination. If you’re travelling in a group of three, it might be more cost effective to get a taxi. We grabbed a free map of Bangkok from the Skylink Station too which proved invaluable.
Step two: sleeping
The Lighthouse Condominium, Charoen Nakhon, Bangkok, Bangkok 1060 – a great little Airbnb option, if it was within budget, we would have stayed here for our entire stay in Bangkok. The owner prepared an excellent guide to Bangkok, there were lots of transport options, great wifi, a swimming pool, sauna and gym. £21 per night, plus £10 cleaning fee, plus £10 Airbnb fee.
Mile Map Hostel, Silom Rd, Bang Rak, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 – European style hostel near a Hindu Temple, with kitchen, free tea and coffee and two minute noodles, computers, large dining and lounge area and mezzanine reading space. Double room with ensuite, 990 baht. Twin bunk with no windows, 690 baht. Thin walls but very clean, helpful staff. More expensive than other areas of Bangkok but nicer and cleaner.
Rainbow Khaosan Hostel and Guesthouse, Chakrabongse Rd, Talat Yot, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200 – not sure how this place gets reviews above 50% on hostelworld.com. Double with ensuite and air conditioning, 400 baht but rooms are windowless, very small, ensuite but not particularly clean, hard, lumpy beds and a musty smell. Okay wifi. Staff are nice and the Indian restaurant downstairs was fine but I wouldn’t sleep here.
Lucky House, Chakrabongse Rd, Talat Yot, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200 – the budget arm of a group of hotels catering to the mid and high range markets of Khaosan Road. Double with ensuite and air conditioning, 440 baht. Also a windowless room but much larger, cleaner and a comfortable bed. Staff are friendly.
Check out the offerings at Hostelworld here:
Step three: eat stuff
Eat everything. Meals in restaurants or cafes with three or four walls range from 100-200 baht per dish. Sidewalk cafes are around 40-50 per dish. On the rare occasion you might find noodles for 15 baht (cafe ID, on the ‘wrong’ side of the river, opposite the Sheraton Hotel). Beer ranges from 60 baht to 220 baht.
Step four: do stuff
Visit Chatachuk Market claims to be the world’s biggest outdoor market. Lots to see, buy and eat.
Dine at Asiatique is a bit like toy town Asia but the boat ride to get there is fun and there is a lovely restaurant serving organic Thai food.
Visit Wat Pho, the temple of the Reclining Buddha. Dress modestly, entrance fee is 100 baht. There are robes to borrow if the staff believe you are improperly dressed. It’s also 20 baht for a dish of coins to drop into the line of bowls after visiting the Reclining Buddha. The Thai School of Traditional Massage is located here too if you need a foot rub after all the sightseeing.
Visit Wat Phrakaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace. Entrance fee is 500 bhat. Dress modestly. There is some conflicting information online and in guidebooks but I saw girls wearing skirts or trousers below the knees. No sleeveless tops (t-shirts seemed fine) are allowed. Boys were in long trousers and shirts or t-shirts. Sandals and flip flops seemed to be acceptable. There is clothing you can borrow (deposit required) if you are deemed to be inappropriately dressed.
Get a massage – you’ll see loads of places offering to relieve your tired muscles. On Khaosan Road, a foot and leg massage for half an hour is 120 baht, one is 220. There is a better place on Silom Road, opposite the Novotel Hotel. A foot and leg massage for half an hour is 200 baht or one hour is 250 bhat.
Ride in a tuk tuk – a fun way to travel if you’re going short distances. Prices vary, depending on your negotiation skills. From the Reclining Buddha to Silom Road was 100 bhat.
Step five: move on
If you’re in Bangkok, you have so many options. There are two airports to fly from to many destinations, domestic and international. The main train station is at the end of the metro line and has helpful staff to assist you in booking your onward journey. Numerous buses will get you around the country too, check with your hostel or, if on Khaosan Road, one of the hundreds of tour agencies.
You can buy sleeper/ferry combined tickets to Koh Samui at the train station. A second class sleeper to Surithani is 1139 baht for an upper berth and 1339 for a lower berth plus 350 baht per person for the ferry portion (including bus from the station to ferry port).
These tips are based on my own experiences in October 2013. If you have updates, comments or different experiences, please let me know in the comments box below. I’d love to hear from you.