Bangkok

"The City of Angels" and capital of Thailand

Thailand holidaymakers are usually completely overwhelmed by Bangkok: The world metropolis is intimidating - a hot, humid, rampant Moloch, but also a modern, lively city. The traffic is pretty chaotic, the noise is deafening and the crowds seem scary. Most visitors will soon travel to the beaches in southern Thailand or the jungles and mountains in northern Thailand. That's a shame because Bangkok is a fascinating city.

Bangkok Downtown Panorama
Bangkok Downtown Panorama

Bangkok - the hub of Southeast Asia

As one of the most interesting metropolises in Asia, Bangkok is right at the top of the popularity list for adventure-hungry travelers. The royal city with its truly special flair appeals to a whole range of possible visitors. Almost every vacation in Thailand begins and ends here, plan some time for Bangkok, it is very worthwhile!

 

Coming from the north, the mighty Chao Phraya River winds through the entire city of Bangkok and, along with some canals (called Khlong here), is an excellent way to get a first impression of this mega-metropolis. The boat traffic is not limited to the passenger ferries, which are an inexpensive alternative to long-tail charter boats during the bright hours of the day.

At regular intervals, but typically Asian without a real timetable, fast-paced passenger ferries serve the pier facilities along important khlongs and of course the jetties distributed on both sides along the Chao Phrayas. River cruises and dinner cruises complete the offer, but only a small fraction of the total traffic takes place on the water.

Skytrain - BTS - in Bangkok
Skytrain - BTS - in Bangkok

In terms of population, Bangkok is currently home to around 15 million people, if the competent estimates are to be believed. This includes an expected doubling since the millennium.

 

Chaotic conditions on the most important streets are part of everyday life in the rush hour phases. An underground line (MRT) and two elevated railway lines (BTS) did not provide any noticeable remedy. A well-functioning city bus network transports millions of residents almost everywhere, but these are only suitable for tourists if Thai writing can be read on the destination boards or you can get information at the few bus stations with an information stand (e.g. at the Victory Monument). The buses have legible line numbers, there are very cheap ones without air conditioning and somewhat more expensive ones with on many highly frequented routes.

Discover Bangkok: highlights and insider tips

Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion in all of Thailand and around 400 temples and their facilities can be visited in the city of Bangkok alone. The most famous of these enjoy the predicate of belonging to the most photographed architectural structures of human civilizations. Above all, of course, the fabulous Wat Phra Kaeo and the Wat Pho right next to it.

 

Countless national treasures and shrines are exhibited and shown here, travelers should plan at least a few hours for an extensive visit. Hobby photographers and filmmakers often spend an entire day within these two facilities.

 

Tours offered by hotels or limousines often lack the needs of individual travelers. Many interesting destinations are within the usual radius of the regular Bangkok taxis, for example the artist island Koh Kret in Chao Phaya (near Pak Kret) or the interesting fresh market "Thalaad Thai" north of the city near Rangsit (east of Thammassat Uni, Rangsit Campus) .

If you have the time and leisure, then the clothing centers at Bobae (around the Bobae Palace Hotel) and the superlative weekend flea market in Chatuchak are good sources for shopping in Bangkok or souvenirs. A variety of museums in the city area of Bangkok delights culture lovers. New shopping centers advertise with an increasingly international mix of shops for branded goods, Terminal 21 on Asoke is now enriching the mall offer with the top dogs Emporium (Sukhumvit), MBK (Siam) and Siam Paragon (Siam) to attract the customers.

 

The areas between Nana and Asoke, which are close to Sukhumvit, are peppered with clubs, discos and bars on the eastern side, while the notorious "Soi Cowboy" and Asoke inspire single travelers and tolerant couples with a lot of nightlife and have long overtaken the formerly disreputable Patpong .

 

Soi Thonglor offers dignified restaurants and the Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok celebrates in Siam Square with evening live music and the typical program of food and drinks until late at night. If the view is important to you, you can go up to the viewing platform in Bayoke Tower 2 (the tallest building in Bangkok) - or enjoy the mountain air with top-class dining on the State Tower (also called Lebua) on the river or the Banyan Tree Noble Hotel on Sathorn Road.

Means of transport within Bangkok

Almost all of the major tourist hotels are located along the BTS routes or near a station. There are taxis in abundance (little trunk space, because gas system) and these are really dirt cheap in international comparison. Insist on driving according to the taximeter (meter na cap!) And give your destination to the driver in writing if possible (business card of the hotel, shop, etc. is sufficient). Your hotel reception will be able to help with more difficult target information.

 

Not every taxi driver is a crook, but please change cabs if problems arise. The rate of rogue tuk-tuk drivers is considerably higher. The tricycles are notorious for their scams. Only take a tuk-tuk in Bangkok if the thrill is important to you and you know the route or have an experienced guide. There are moped taxis at many road junctions, but are really only something for adrenaline junkies willing to take risks - not only because of the driving skills of the drivers but primarily because of the road traffic in Thailand - or short trips within a Sois (that's what the side streets are called here).

Weather in Bangkok

As a subtropical country over the equator, it doesn't get really cold in Thailand. The most pleasant travel months are the winter months with little rainfall. In springtime in Europe it can get quite hot. The ideal travel time within the country varies greatly depending on the region, with the most frequent rainfall in September and October. Year-round bathing temperatures in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea are guaranteed.

 

The Thais roughly split the year in half. The Songkran Festival (water festival) heralds the rainy season in April and the Loy Krathong Festival (festival of lights) in November the dry season. The UV intensity and the daily sunshine duration are well above Central European values, even in the rainy season, so cover your skin or equip yourself with sufficient sun protection cream.

Arrival and onward travel

Bangkok is famous for its countless colorfull Taxis
Bangkok is famous for its countless colorfull Taxis

There are two airports in Bangkok, the new and international one is called Suvarnabhumi, it only opened a few years ago and is already one of the most important hubs in Asia with 36.5 million passengers (in 2011). Bangkok International Airport (IATA: BKK) is located east of the city in the former Cobra swamp and is very well connected to the trunk road network. There is an express train connection to the city, but it is poorly networked with other local transport systems.

 

 

The other airport is called Don Mueang (old spelling: Don Muang) and is located north of the city center on the main arterial road to the northern part of the country. Although it celebrates its 100th birthday in 2014 and served as the country's main airport until 2006, it is now almost only used for domestic flights and as an Air Force location. The IATA abbreviation is now DMK, please compare your flight tickets and drive to the correct departure airport for all flights. A transfer from one airport to another involves longer travel times and distances. There are no good direct connections, apart from small minibuses (Commutervan line 555).

  • By train: In the age of tourists in a hurry, sightseeing trains are a bit out of fashion. The rail network of the Thai Railways (SRT) links Bangkok's main train station Hua Lamphong quite well with cities in the country. The trip can also be conveniently booked overnight in a sleeping car, especially if the holiday destinations are in southern Thailand (Hat Yai, Surat Thani, etc.), or in the north and northeast (Chiang Mai, Nong Khai, Udon Thani, etc.) are located. Relaxed travel on the train is guaranteed, the SRT operates 3 booking classes and a highly recommended information stand in Hua Lamphong (main train station).
  • By bus: Long-distance buses with a certain basic luxury (air conditioning, adjustable seat backs) operate from three different terminals in Bangkok. Mor Chit serves the north and northeast, Sai Tai Taling Chan is responsible for the south and west and Ekkamai serves the east. Bus tickets can be booked at the terminals for the following days; in high-frequency travel phases or during festival times, pre-booking is highly recommended. Low-budget travelers can find alternatives to domestic flights at the more distant holiday destinations by bus or train.
  • By plane: Koh Samui is also often reached via a cheaper domestic airport (Surat Thani, then bus to the ferry in Donsak) and on Thailand's largest gulf island, the natural Koh Chang National Park, the associated airport is still several kilometers away from the ferry pier on the mainland and makes a ferry trip necessary anyway. Only Phuket is sensibly to fly to directly, because there is no train connection and the bus takes around 10 hours.
  • Chiang Mai is also served several times a day by lines and low-cost airlines from Bangkok. The destination is of course reached much faster than with one of the many long-distance buses and passenger trains.
  • Thailand Travel - Round Trips: Do you actually know what the country between Bangkok and the popular holiday destinations in Thailand looks like? How much do you miss if you drive through / fly in one go?

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