If Southeast Asia Backpacking is a college degree, your 101 course is in Bangkok.
Bangkok, situated in the heart of Thailand, is widely recognized as the epicenter of Southeast Asia’s backpacking community. First of all, one of the cheapest travel hubs in the world is cheap. You can easily reach several other destinations in ASEAN from Bangkok: Vientiane is just a bus-ride away. It is possible to reach Siem Reap within a day. Hence, the region’s tired backpacking trail always starts and ends here. Bangkok is Level 1 if you think this backpacking thing is a game. From here, it just gets harder, but you wouldn’t even notice it because Bangkok would subtly brace you for it.
And it’s still tourist-friendly on top of it all. Locals are used to visitors, and despite scams, it is relatively safe. Truly, for first-time travellers, Bangkok is an perfect destination.
And my Goodness, don’t let the food get us started. In 2012, as part of a longer backpacking trip, we first visited Bangkok. Since then, we have returned four times, and it’s mainly thanks to its cuisine!
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is the country’s commercial, economic and political hub. It is a wild, highly developed metropolis of the third world, but it is still very much in contact with its history. The history of Bangkok as the Thai capital began in 1782, when, after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, King Rama I had the people move south. Bangkok lies at the mouth of the River Chao Phraya, seen back then as a very strategic military position. It was also King Rama I who ordered the construction of the complex of the Grand Palace and many other temples which, until today, remain standing.
Thailand Travel Guide for Bangkok with Itinerary
You need to know a few more facts here:
Language spoken: Thai. For non-native speakers, their language can be very overwhelming , especially its long words and tongue-twisting pronunciations, but as with any other language, it only intimidates at the beginning. English is not commonly spoken, but with their polite attitude toward visitors, they compensate for what the locals lack in English fluency.
Monetary currency: Thai Baht (THB, ⁇). Approximately USD3, EUR 2.6, SGD 4.2, PHP 164 (as of August 2018) make up TTHB100.
Payment Modes: Money. While credit cards are accepted by some restaurants and hotels, smaller establishments prefer cash.
Electricity Info: 220V. Types A and C are a sort of mixture of the most common sockets. They have two holes in which both flat and round pins can be accepted. This type of socket may have type A, C, and F connectors.
BEST TIME to visit Bangkok
From November to February, when the temperature and rainfall rates are mild and low. But it is also the peak season because of the good weather. The high season starts in November and finishes around the Songkran Festival in April (Thai New Year, 13-15 April). If you’re visiting, prepare to share the city with millions of other tourists during this time.
Rainy Months for Bangkok
Chart taken from the World Bank
If it were not for the bursts of rain and flood issues, Bangkok might have been a year-round destination, which is why it is best to avoid the wettest months.
The rainy season stretches from May to October, but September to October are the wettest months. In January, July, September, and October, we tried traveling to Bangkok, and we can tell you that the amount of precipitation can certainly impact your overall travel experience. Owing to torrential rains and floods, we’ve been stuck in several places and ended up losing most of our time.
How to Get to Bangkok
One of the world’s busiest and most connected cities is Bangkok. If you live in a major city, chances are, there is a direct flight to Bangkok from where you are.
Two airports serve the city: Don Mueang Airport (DMK), which was the main airport until 2006, and the new Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), now the main gateway, which is used by all Thai airlines except AirAsia, Nok Air and Orient Thai. You’re most likely to use Suvarnabhumi Airport if you come from Manila.
TO BANGKOK MANILA
The most cost-efficient nonstop choices are Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines if you’re flying from Manila. There are lower base fares for Cebu Pacific, but remember that Philippine Airlines already has a 30 kg baggage allowance for check-in and other add-ons included in their published rates. Standard rates for Cebu Pacific include a 20 kg baggage allowance.
AIRPORT BANGKOK TO CITY CENTER
Just in case you missed it, there are two airports in Bangkok: Don Mueang Airport (DMK), located 25 km north of downtown, and the new Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), located 30 km west of downtown.
AIRPORT TO CITY CENTER BANGKOK BY TAXI
You may want to suggest taking a cab if you’re in a party or carrying heavy luggage. Don’t be too afraid of taxis. By international standards, they’re still cheap, but you must still insist on using the meter.
Follow the signs at the airport that read Public Taxi. They’re abundant. Find the taxi line and tell the workers your destination when you enter the desk. A ticket with two copies will be given to you: one for the driver, one for yourself.
Taxi fares from Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city center are almost the same. A ⁇ 50 airport surcharge will also be borne by both, which is collected per flight, not per person.
- If the traffic isn’t that bad, then:
- Duration of travel: about 30-40 minutes
- Tariff: x250 + x50 surcharge
- If traffic (which is bad, lol) is normal:
- Duration of travel: about 45 minutes to an hour
- Fare: over 400 + over 50 surcharge
- If you’re coming from Suvarnabhumi Airport, on top of the fare, you’ll also have to pay the ~75 expressway toll charges.
AIRPORT SUVARNABHUMI TO CITY CENTER
The AIRPORT RAIL LINK is the fastest way to get to the right place, so you can avoid the notorious traffic jams of Bangkok. In the basement of the airport’s passenger terminal, you will find the station. From 6 am to 12 midnight, there’s a train every 15 minutes. At two stations, it is connected to the city’s BTS Skytrain: Makkasan (⁇ 35) and Phayathai (⁇ 45), the last stop. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes.
You can link to either station if you’re staying in the Silom field.
The Makkasan link can take longer, but since only one transfer is involved, it is simpler. Simply transfer to the MRT Blue Line (bound for Hua Lumpong) at Petchaburi Station at Makkasan Station and get off at Silom Station (about 24).
To get to Silom, the Phayathai link needs two transfers. Switch to the BTS Sukhumvit Line (bound for Bearing) at Phayathai and get off at Siam Station. Turn to the BTS Silom Line at Saladaeng Station (bound for Bang Wa).
You can get off at either station if you’re staying in Khao San and just take a taxi. Tariffs do not reach 60.
- Siam ‘s Love Series Scala Cinema
- A scene filmed at Siam Square’s Scala Cineme
- Phallus Temple in Bangkok
Siam Square, made more popular with foreigners as the shooting location for the hit movie The Love of Siam, does not disguise itself as being culturally significant. It is what it is — a neighborhood of shopping and entertainment. Yet it somehow reflects a generation, a younger, more industrialized, more trendy Bangkok, if you think about it. Siam Square has a wide variety of shops in many blocks, mainly for college students and young adults, over a hundred fashion stalls, boutiques, bookshops, record stores, pubs, cafes, even cinemas. How to get here: Get off at Siam Station by taking the BTS Skytrain System.
Shrine of Chao Mae Tuptim. Shrine of Aka Pen*s. Dedicated to the goddess Tuptim, who is believed to be residing in Nai Lert Park ‘s big oak. Dozens of phalluses of all colors and sizes are around the venue, with one as long as 10 ft. How to get here: Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine is located in Pathumwan, Bangkok, at 2 Wireless Lane. Take the train to Chitlom Station to get here. Until you see Swissotel, walk down Wireless Lane. You’ll see a short path to the car park in the basement. You will see the Shrine tucked in a corner of the park by walking across the parking area.
Chinatown in Bangkok. Popular, especially near Charoenkrung Road, for its shops. But the temples around the district also exist. To be honest, if you’ve been to other Chinatowns in other parts of Southeast Asia, you might be disappointed by this one, unless you’re visiting when the district really comes to life during the Chinese New Year. How to get there: Take the Skytrain to the BTS Silom Line at S6 Saphan Taksin Station, take Exit 2, and walk to the boat terminal. Buy a ticket and board an express boat from Chao Phraya. Turn off at Ratchawong Pier (N5) and make your way to Sampeng Lane and Yaowarat Road from Ratchawong Road on foot.
Road of Khao San. The key thing that Khao San Road is best known for is backpacking. At night, as they flood into the bars and restaurants that line the road, the backpackers keep the street alive. If at this point, you’re ready for dinner, you’ll have a gazillion options here. Restaurants sell western and local cuisines, while crowds gather outside around stalls selling the normal (barbeque) and the exotic (crickets).