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Bangkok
กรุงเทพมหานคร
Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Bangkok

Flag

Seal
Nickname(s): Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
Bangkok is located in Thailand
Bangkok
Location
Coordinates: 13°45′8″N 100°29′38″E / 13.75222°N 100.49389°E / 13.75222; 100.49389
Country Thailand
Settled Ayutthaya Period
Founded as capital 21 April 1782
Government
 - Type Special administrative area
 - Governor M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra
Area
 - City 1,568.737 km2 (605.7 sq mi)
 - Metro 7,761.50 km2 (2,996.7 sq mi)
Population (January 2010)
 - City 9,100,000
 Density 4,051/km2 (10,492/sq mi)
 Metro 11,971,000
 - Metro Density 1,542.36/km2 (3,994.7/sq mi)
 - Demonym Bangkokian
Time zone Thailand (UTC+7)
Area code(s) +66-2
ISO 3166-2 TH-10
Website http://city.bangkok.go.th

Bangkok is the capital, largest urban area and primary city of Thailand. Known in Thai as Krung Thep Mahanakhon (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร, pronounced [krūŋtʰêːp máhǎːnákʰɔːn] ( listen)), or กรุงเทพฯ Krung Thep (About this sound (listen) , meaning "City of the Deity") for short, it was a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It came to the forefront of Siam when it was given the status as the capital city in 1768 after the burning of Ayutthaya. However, the current Rattanakosin Kingdom did not begin until 1782 when the capital was moved across the river by Rama I after the death of King Taksin. The Rattanakosin capital is now more formally called "Phra Nakhon" (Thai: พระนคร), pertaining to the ancient boundaries in the metropolis' core and the name Bangkok now incorporates the urban build-up since the 18th century which has its own public administration and governor.

Since its inception as the capital of Siam, it was at the center of European Colonial plans, but due to its strategic location in Indochina, it acted as a buffer-zone and brokered power between the European forces. Through this, it gained notoriety in the world as an independent, dynamic, and influential city. And in the span of over two hundred years, Bangkok has grown to become the political, social and economic center of Thailand, Indochina and one of Southeast Asia.

As a direct result of the 1980s and 1990s Asian investment boom, numerous multinational corporations base their regional headquarters in Bangkok and the city has become a regional force in finance and business. Its increasing influence on global politics, culture, fashion, and entertainment underlines its status as a global city. In 2009, it was the second most expensive city in South-East Asia behind Singapore.[1]

The city's wealth of cultural landmarks and attractions in addition to its notorious entertainment venues has made it synonymous with exoticism. Its historic wealth coincides with its rapid modernization, reflected in the cityscape and the urban society. The Grand Palace, Vimanmek Palace Complex, its thousands of temples, and the city's notorious red-light districts combine draw in 11 million international visitors each year, trailing just Paris and London.[2]

Bangkok has a population of approximately 6,355,144 residents while the greater Bangkok area has a population of 11,971,000 (January 2008).[3] The capital is part of the heavily urbanized triangle of central and eastern Thailand which stretches from Nakhon Ratchasima along Bangkok to the heavily Industrialized Eastern Seaboard. Bangkok borders six other provinces: Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom, and all five provinces are joined in the conurbation of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. It is served by two international airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport, four rapid transit lines operated by the BTS, MRT, and the SRT, with plans to add eight more by 2020.

Contents

History

Siege of Bangkok in 1688. Fortress held by the French (A), with Siamese troops and batteries (C). The enclosure of the village of Bangkok represented in the lower left corner (M) is today's Thonburi.[4]

The town of Bang Kok (Thai: บางกอก About this sound (listen) ) began as a small trading center and port community[citation needed] on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River before the establishment of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, the precursor of modern Thailand which existed from 1350 to 1767. The etymology of the town's name is unclear. Bang is the Central Thai name for a town situated on the bank of a river. It is believed that "Bangkok" derived from either Bang Kok, kok (กอก) being the Thai name for the Java plum (ma-kok, มะกอก), one of several trees bearing olive-like fruits); or Bang Koh, koh meaning "island," a reference to the area's landscape which was carved by rivers and canals.

After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese Kingdom in 1767, the newly declared King Taksin established a new capital in the area of then-Bangkok, which became known as Thonburi. When Taksin's reign ended in 1782, King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke reconstructed the capital on the east bank of the river and gave the city a ceremonial name (see below) which became shortened to its current official name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. The new city, however, also inherited the name Bangkok, which continued to be used by foreigners to refer to the entire city and became its official English name, while in Thai the name still refers only to the old district on the west bank of the river. The city has since vastly modernized and undergone numerous changes, including the introduction of transportation and utility infrastructure in the reigns of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn, and quickly developed into the economic center of Thailand.

Full name

The full ceremonial name of the city given by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, and later edited by King Mongkut, is:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุทธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์ About this sound (listen) ).

This ceremonial name is composed in combination of two ancient Indian languages, Pāli and Sanskrit. According to the romanisation of these languages, it can actually be written as Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrayudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīramya utamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhiAbout this sound (listen) . It translates to "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarm".

Local school children are taught the full name, although few can explain its meaning because many of the words are archaic, and unknown to all but a few. Most Thais who do recall the full name do so as a result of its use in a popular song, Krung Thep Mahanakhon (1989) by Asanee-Wasan Chotikul and will often recount it by recalling the song at the same time, much in the same way that English speakers might sing the alphabet song while reciting the English alphabet.

The full name of the city is listed by Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest place name.[5]

Administration

Districts of Bangkok

Bangkok is one of two special administrative areas in Thailand, the other being Pattaya, in which citizens vote to choose their governor, unlike in Thailand's 75 provinces (changwat). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra was elected governor.

The urban sprawl of the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Area extends beyond the borders of Bangkok province, spilling into the neighbouring provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon. The province as it is today was created in 1971 when the previous Bangkok province, changwat Phra Nakhon, merged with Thonburi province.

Bangkok is subdivided into 50 districts (khet, also sometimes called amphoe in the other provinces), which are further subdivided into 169 kwaeng (แขวง, equivalent to tambon in other provinces). Each district is managed by a district chief appointed by the governor. District councils, elected to four-year terms, serve as advisory bodies to their respective district chiefs.

There is also an elected Bangkok Metropolitan Council, which has power over municipal ordinances and the city's budget. The last elections for local councils in Bangkok were held on 23 July 2006. The government of Bangkok is called the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or the BMA.

The seal of the city shows the god Indra riding in the clouds on Erawan, a mythological elephant-shaped creature. In his hand Indra holds a lightning bolt, which is his weapon to drive away drought. The seal is based on a painting done by Prince Naris. The tree symbol of Bangkok is Ficus benjamina.

Geography

Topography and climate

Bangkok
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
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65
 
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220
 
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344
 
32
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242
 
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48
 
32
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10
 
31
21
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: World Meteorological Organisation [6]

The Bangkok special administrative area covers 1,568.7 km2 (606 sq mi), making it the 68th largest province in Thailand. Much of the area is considered the city of Bangkok, therefore making it one of the largest cities in the world.[7] The Chao Phraya River, which stretches 372 km (231 mi), is Bangkok's main geographical feature. The Chao Phraya River basin, the area surrounding Bangkok, and the nearby provinces comprise a series of plains and river deltas that lead into the Bay of Bangkok about 30 km (19 mi) south of the city center. This gave rise to Bangkok's appellation as the "Venice of the East" due to the number of canals and passages that divide the area into separate patches of land. The city once used these canals, which were plentiful within Bangkok itself, as divisions for city districts. However, as the city grew in the second half of the 20th century, the plan was abandoned and a different system of division was adopted.

Bangkok lies about two meters (6.5 ft) above sea level, which causes problems for the protection of the city against floods during the monsoon season. Often after a downpour, water in canals and the river overflows the banks, resulting in massive floods. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has recently installed higher banks alongside some canals to keep water levels from reaching street level. There are however some downsides for Bangkok's extensive canal routes, as the city is rumored to be sinking an average of two inches a year as it lies entirely on a swamp.[8]

Bangkok has a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification system. Average temperatures in the city are about 2 °C (3.6 °F) higher than the ones shown for the Don Mueang Airport during the 1960-1990 period. The highest recorded maximum temperature is 40.8 °C (105.4 °F) in May 1983 and the lowest recorded minimum temperature is 9.9 °C (49.8 °F) in January 1955. The coldest temperatures were recorded in January 1924, January 1955, January 1974 and December 1999. The hottest year on record was 1997 (average yearly at Don Muang 30.0C) and the coldest was 1975 (average yearly at Don Muang 26.3C). The coldest daytime maximum temperature was 19.9 °C (68 °F), recorded in December 1992.

Districts

Bangkok's Democracy Monument in Rattanakosin Island, the historical zone in Bangkok
Yaowarat Road near the banks of the Chao Phraya River is Bangkok's Chinatown. The city is home to nearly 250,000 Chinese immigrants and over half of Bangkokians have Chinese ancestry.

Bangkok has 50 districts or khet, which mark the administrative subdivisions under the authority of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. These are further subdivided into 169 khwaeng (แขวง), roughly equivalent to sub-districts tambon in the other provinces.

  1. Phra Nakhon
  2. Dusit
  3. Nong Chok
  4. Bang Rak
  5. Bang Khen
  6. Bang Kapi
  7. Pathum Wan
  8. Pom Prap Sattru Phai
  9. Phra Khanong
  10. Min Buri
  11. Lat Krabang
  12. Yan Nawa
  13. Samphanthawong
  14. Phaya Thai
  15. Thon Buri
  16. Bangkok Yai
  17. Huai Khwang
  18. Khlong San
  19. Taling Chan
  20. Bangkok Noi
  21. Bang Khun Thian
  22. Phasi Charoen
  23. Nong Khaem
  24. Rat Burana
  25. Bang Phlat
  1. Din Daeng
  2. Bueng Kum
  3. Sathon
  4. Bang Sue
  5. Chatuchak
  6. Bang Kho Laem
  7. Prawet
  8. Khlong Toei
  9. Suan Luang
  10. Chom Thong
  11. Don Mueang
  12. Ratchathewi
  13. Lat Phrao
  14. Watthana
  15. Bang Khae
  16. Lak Si
  17. Sai Mai
  18. Khan Na Yao
  19. Saphan Sung
  20. Wang Thonglang
  21. Khlong Sam Wa
  22. Bang Na
  23. Thawi Watthana
  24. Thung Khru
  25. Bang Bon

However, these district areas might not accurately represent functional divisions of Bangkok's neighborhoods. Throughout the years, Bangkok has grown from a city scattered along the river to a metro area that spans as many as six provinces. The city's main business districts and residential areas are continuously expanding. The influx of foreigners from Western countries as well as immigrants from neighboring Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and many other Asian countries along with the growth of the Thai population has stemmed hundreds of housing projects around the metro area, developing communities along the outskirts. Within years, these communities are engulfed by the greater Bangkok and become another part of this urban jungle.

The most important business districts of Bangkok include Silom, Bangrak, Pinklao, Sathon, Phra Ram 2, Phetchaburi, Phra Nakhon, Pathumwan, Chatuchak (new central business district), and Phra Ram 3 (new financial center).

As the city expanded on the outskirts, the inner city has nowhere to grow but up. The city has a registered 1,000 skyscrapers and ranks 17th as the world's tallest city.[9] This does not include hundreds of new buildings predicted as part of the construction boom in 2007 and the coming years. Areas such as Silom-Sathon and Asok have for decades been Thailand's business center. From 1985 to 1996, Thailand experienced the world's highest growth rates and underwent an economic transformation, Bangkok went through dramatic changes.[citation needed] The Ratchadaphisek area was turned into a business district which continued through the Asok area up north for five kilometers (3 mi). The Sukhumvit area, stretching 15–20 km (9–12 mi), gradually turned into a mixed commercial and residential area. Wireless Road and Chitlom are where some of Bangkok's most expensive land plots exist. Part of the British Embassy on the corner of Wireless and Rama I Roads, nine rai or approximately 14,400 m2 (155,000 sq ft) in area, was sold for USD 92 million or THB 3.24 billion.

Bangkok's Chao Phraya River cuts the city between Thon Buri and Krung Thep core, and is at times referred to as the River of Angels.

Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district alongside Dusit is where most governmental agencies and ministries have their offices. Most of the well-known tourist attractions are also in this particular area due its cultural & historical heritage. This part of Bangkok is perhaps the most popular for tourists as most notable attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the Democracy Monument, the Giant Swing, Sanam Luang and other venues are located here. Thon Buri also has its fair share of historic monuments mainly located near the river, such as Wat Arun. The Victory Monument in Bangkok is one of the city's biggest bus destinations. Although not officially a bus depot, its location in the center of city transits as many as 20 bus lines as well as a BTS Skytrain station. Starting from Victory Monument, Phahonyothin road early sois are occupied by ministries, government agencies, commercial buildings as well as upper-middle class residential areas. Further to the north, after the Lat Phrao/Phahonyothin intersection, the Northern Corridor is an expanding business district, where the famous Elephant Building can be found.

Bangkok's north and eastern areas are primarily residential areas for middle class residents of Bangkok. Whereas the inner city often has small apartments and low rises for poor immigrants, Lat Phrao and Si Nakharin offer residential compounds and townhouses. The two areas cover as much as 100 km2 (40 sq mi) to 150 km2 (60 sq mi) each, and have turned into what is now part of Bangkok as more suburban housing developments sprawl further out to the east and north. The west of Bangkok in Thon Buri is another growing area, approaching the degree of development experienced by the north and east. Suvarnabhumi Airport in the east is seen as a jump start for the eastern expansion of Bangkok as Don Mueang was for the north.

Ratchaprasong is at the forefront of Bangkok's shopping scene. The newly renovated Central World Plaza intends to serve as a square to Bangkokians. Just up the street is Siam Square, similar to Shinjuku in Tokyo and Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus in London. The Sukhumvit area also serves as a shopping district for foreigners. The popular Chatuchak Weekend Market in the north of the city is where many people head for cheap, used and high quality products.

Bangkok's poorest districts are spread throughout the city. However, the most concentrated area is just north of the Port of Bangkok at the turn of the Chao Phraya River. For an area of 10 square kilometres (4 sq mi), the Khlong Toei district houses one of the poorest areas in the country with half-built houses and midrises for immigrants and workers from the northeast Isan provinces.

Green zones and major parks

Bangkok has large sections of greenery either preserved by the Department of National Forestry or designated as green zones. The city however, continues to lack a green belt development as economic activity continues to pour into the capital, resulting in massive housing projects along the suburbs.

Bangkok is known for its large green sections within the city centre, including the large forest park between Yannawa and Samut Prakan. This part of the city covers an area of over 50 km2 (19 sq mi). and is intended to buffer the CBD from the large industries of the west and south of Metropolitan Bangkok. Other areas include Bung Makkasan, an urban city buffer for residences, sections of many major roads which have unbuilt swamps and green fields. Some of these areas are intentionally undeveloped for protecting against urbanization, while others are land lost during the Asian Financial Crisis.

Lumphini Park is regionally famous. Renowned as Bangkok's Central Park, it was built in the early 1920s by Rama VI with this intent. It has since been used to hold grand pageants, ceremonies of the Thai constitution, and was a camp for Japanese soldiers during World War II. On Sundays, the western gates are open for runners to run on to Silom Road. The park is normally closed at night due to the incidences of vandalism, robberies and murders reported. Chatuchak Park and Rama IX Park are two of Bangkok's largest parks. The two, built in the past 50 years cater to Bangkok's suburban population are enormous and include botanic gardens, sports clubs and complexes, English/French/Japanese gardens and parks as well as large ponds and lakes. Other famous parks include Queen Sirikit Park near Lat Yao, Benchasiri Park on Sukhumvit, Saranrom Park across the Grand Palace, Sanam Luang, Suan Romaneenat, and Dusit Park.

The Rajprasong, Chidlom and Sukhumvit skylines of Bangkok at night with Lumphini Park in the center viewed from the Sathorn-Silom CBD.

Economy

The Stock Exchange of Thailand in Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok
Sathorn's Robot Building completed in 1986, currently houses Singaporean-based United Overseas Bank's Bangkok headquarters and is a symbol of Bangkok's rapid growth in the mid 1980s

Bangkok is the economic center of Thailand, dominating the country's economy and dwarfing any other urban centers. Development continues to pour in to Bangkok mostly neglecting the rest of the nation. It is ranked as the 55th richest urban agglomeration, slightly behind Singapore, Jakarta, and Metro Manila[10]. Its combined economic output is roughly 89 billion dollars in purchasing power parity terms, which accounts for roughly 16 percent of Thailand's GDP also in PPP terms. However, there is a quite a large discrepancy and statisticians and economists would claim that Bangkok accounts for nearly 75 percent of Thailand's service sector which accounts for 45.2 percent of Thailand's 548 billion dollar economy. With the given GDP of the city, the estimates for per capita income is roughly 14,000 dollars, fairly low for a megacity. More realistic but unclaimed estimates put the city's output as high as 210 billion dollars, accounting for 38 percent of national income and per capita income at 33,000 dollars.[citation needed]

The Stock Exchange of Thailand, or the SET is located on Ratchadaphisek Road in inner-Bangkok with over 523 listed companies and combined market capitalization of about THB 6 trillion (USD 197 billion) as of 31 January 2007. Due to the large amount of foreign representation, Thailand has for several years been a mainstay of the Southeast Asian economy and a key center in Asian business. The indices of the stock exchange are SET Index, SET50 Index and SET100 Index. As of Fall 2009, the index is one of Asia's top performing indices, up 58 percent since January.[11]

Bangkok is home to the headquarters of all of Thailand's major commercial banks and financial institutions; 27 financial institutions hold at least 1 billion dollars in total assets. Their bank deposits totaled approximately THB 9.6 trillion, the equivalent of USD 314 billion at the end of the third quarter in 2007. A large number of multinational corporations base their regional headquarters in Bangkok due to the lower cost of the workforce and firm operations relative to other major Asian business centers. Thirteen Bangkok-based companies make the Forbes 2000 list annually. The list includes the largest Thai bank, Bangkok Bank, the country's largest listing as well as the state-owned energy firmPTT, and the renowned Charoen-Phokphand agri-foods conglomerate.[citation needed]

In perhaps every industry, Bangkok is the sole innovator and contributor to Indochina.[citation needed] The market for flights to enter Laos and Cambodia is heavily dominated by airlines based in Bangkok such as THAI Airways International, Bangkok Airways, and the multitude of low cost airlines in Thailand. Telecommunications, retail, real estate, airlines, and media conglomerates mainly cater to the country's growing population, however, few Thai corporations venture overseas and gain notoriety.[citation needed]

Tourism is a significant contributor to Thailand's economy, providing about 5 percent of GDP. Bangkok is Thailand's principal international gateway and a destination in its own right. This giant market has made Bangkok a prime location for hotel operations as well as the launching pad for small and medium accommodation enterprises. Moreover, Bangkok-based hospitality companies such as Dusit Thani Group, Erawan Group, and Siam Hotels and Resorts, have all expanded operations and can officially be classified as a multinational corporation in its own right.[citation needed]

Income inequality is a growing issue in Bangkok, especially between relatively unskilled lower-income immigrants from rural provinces in Thailand and neighboring countries and middle-class professionals (45% of registered residents), business elites, and retired and working foreign expats. About 7 percent of Bangkok's population (excluding illegal immigrants who constitute about 5-8 percent of population) live below the poverty line compared to the national average of 9 percent.[citation needed]

Demographics

The 2005 statistics report by the BMA Data Center notes a registered population of 5,658,953.[12] However, this figure does not take into account the many unregistered residents. Most of the city’s population are ethnic Thais. The Chinese are by far the largest minority.[13] Recently, Bangkok has experienced a large influx of foreign immigrants, long-term residents, and expatriates. Long-term foreign residents include 250,000 mainland Chinese, 85,000 Indians (most of whom are Sikh), of whom more than 80% have dual Thai citizenship,[14] 44,114 Japanese (the largest Japanese population in Asia outside Japan)[15], 25,000 Americans[citation needed], 45,000 Europeans, 15,000 Taiwanese, 20,000 South Koreans, 6,000 Nigerians, 7,500 Australians, 12,000 people of Arabic speaking countries, 20,000 Malaysians, 4,000 Singaporeans, 5,000 Filipinos, and 800 New Zealanders. It is estimated that 5-10% of Bangkok's population is of Burmese (a large number of them are considered by thai authority as illegal immigrants).[citation needed] A vast majority of the population, 92%, is Buddhist. The rest are Muslim (6%), Christian (1%), Hindu/Sikh (0.6%), Jewish (41 residents), and others.[citation needed] There are some 400 Buddhist temples, 55 mosques, 10 churches, 2 Hindu Temples, 2 synagogues and 1 Sikh gurudwara in Bangkok.[citation needed]

Date Population
1880 255,000
1910 365,000
1 April 1919 437,294
15 July 1929 713,384
23 May 1937 890,453
25 April 1947 1,178,881
Date Population
25 April 1960 2,136,435
1 April 1970 3,077,361
1 April 1980 4,697,071
1 April 1990 5,882,411
1 April 2000 6,320,174
1 January 2005 6,642,566
1 July 2007 8,160,522

Transportation

Central district of Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link Makkasan to the airport Opened 5 December 2009

River and canals network

An elaborate network of canals known as khlongs gave Bangkok the nickname "Venice of the East" at a time when most transportation was by boat. Today, nearly all of the canals have been filled in and converted into streets. While many khlongs still exist with people living along them and markets often being operated along the banks, most are severely polluted.[16] A notable khlong market is the floating market in Taling Chan district. Through downtown Bangkok runs the Khlong Saen Saeb, which has a canal boat service. The wide river Chao Phraya, flowing through the city, has several cross-river ferries and the Chao Phraya Express Boat with as many as thirty stops along the both banks extending as far as the northern suburb of Nonthaburi.

Roads

Several elevated highways, newly rebuilt intersections, and many partially finished road and rail projects dot the landscape around greater Bangkok, but have done little to overcome the notorious traffic jams on Bangkok's surface roads as private vehicle usage continues to outstrip infrastructure development.

Due to a large number of traffic jams in Bangkok, the elevated highway (Thai: ทางด่วน, RTGS: thang duan, "express way"), linking most road networks in Bangkok together, is another choice for the rush. However, tax is to be paid for utilizing the highway depending on size of the vehicle. This highway also leads to some outskirts of Bangkok including Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Inner-City Buses

A regular bus service is provided by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and it operates throughout Bangkok as well as to adjoining provinces around the clock on certain routes. Public buses are plentiful and cheap, with a minimum fare of 7 baht to most destinations within metropolitan Bangkok. Air-conditioned buses have minimum and maximum fares of 11 and 24 baht, respectively. Air-conditioned micro-buses charge a flat fare of 25 baht all routes. A bus route map is available at bookshops.

Rail systems

Bangkok Rapid Transit System
  BTS Sukhumvit Line
  BTS Silom Line
  MRT Blue Line
Airport Link
  MRT Purple Line (under construction)
  MRT Orange Line (planned)
  MRT Yellow Line (planned)
  MRT Brown Line (cancelled)
  MRT Pink Line (planned)
  SRT Dark Red Line (planned)
  SRT Light Red Line (under construction)
BTS, Skytrain over Sala Daeng Intersection

On the birthday of HM King Rama IX, 5 December 1999, an elevated two-line Skytrain (officially called BTS) metro system was opened. The remains of the failed BERTS (Hopewell) project can still be seen all the way from the main railroad station out towards Don Mueang Airport. Due to the Asian financial crisis of 1997 construction was halted and the concrete pillars were left unused.

The MRT subway system opened for use in July 2004. The MRT connects the northern train station of Bang Sue to the Hua Lamphong central railway station near the city centre, while also going through the eastern part of Bangkok. It connects to the BTS system at BTS stations Mo Chit, Asok, and Sala Daeng.

Currently, transit and development projects initiated by ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin are gaining in popularity with the currently elected government, and have a possibility of being resumed and extended.

A new high speed elevated railroad called the Suvarnabhumi Airport Link, currently under construction, will link the city with the new Suvarnabhumi Airport. The announced opening date has been pushed to back to December 2009, then later to March 2010. The Airport Express railway is to be operated by the State Railway of Thailand. It will provide a 28.5 km (17.7 mi) link between the new airport and the City Air Terminal (CAT) at Makkasan with connections to the BTS at Phaya Thai and MRT at Petchburi. There are plans to extend the line to Don Mueang and Rangsit (SRT Dark Red Line), but again, this is very dependent on the political situation.

Plans have been approved for a further extension of the BTS Silom line from Wong Wian Yai to Bangwah (4.5 km/2.8 mi), Sumrong to Samut Prakarn (8 km/5.0 mi), Mo Chit to Saphan Mai (11.9 km/7.4 mi) and the National Stadium to Phran Nok (7.7 km/4.8 mi). This includes five underground stations in the Rattanakosin area. The State Railway of Thailand has also been given approval to complete the Dark Red and Light Green lines. Alongside, MRT has also begun construction on two new lines, the Purple line from Bang Yai to Bang Sue, and the Blue line from Hua Lampong to Bang Khae and Ta Pra.

For intercity travel by train, most passengers begin their trips at Hua Lamphong at the southern end of the MRT. Here, trains connect Bangkok to Malaysia in the south, Chiang Mai to the north, and Nong Khai to the northeast and beyond to Laos.

When viewing the map, not all MRT and BTS lines stop at every station. Currently, the blue MRT line goes from Hua Lampong to Asok. The two BTS lines extend from Mo Chit to On Nut, and from National Stadium to Wongwian Yai. This line's final stop used to be Taksin Bridge station but has subsequently been extended across the Chao Phraya River to Wongwian Yai. Stations with BTS/MRT interchange are Mo Chit, Sala Daeng, and Asok.

Bangkok rail transit system map (showing State Railway, BTS, MRT and SARL lines)
Legend
(Arrow Blue Up 001.svg State Railway Northern & Northeastern Lines )  
Abbreviated in this map
 
(Arrow Blue Left 001.svg State Railway Southern Line )  
Transverse abbreviated in this map Junction from right
 
Bang Sue Junction 
Station on track + Hub
Unknown route-map component "utBHFr" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "utHSTq" Urban tunnel turning from right
 Kamphaeng Phet
Pradiphat 
Stop on track
Unknown route-map component "uINTa" + Hub
+ Hub
Unknown route-map component "utINT" + Hub
 Mo Chit/Chatuchak Park
Samsen 
Station on track Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel stop on track
 Saphan Khwai / Phahon Yothin
Chitralada Palace (not in service) 
Unknown route-map component "eHST" Unknown route-map component "ueHST" Urban tunnel stop on track
 Sena Ruam (planned) / Lat Phrao
Yommarat 
Stop on track Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel stop on track
 Ari / Ratchadaphisek
 
Unknown route-map component "ÜWc2" Unknown route-map component "ÜWor" Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel stop on track
 Sanam Pao / Sutthisan
 
Unknown route-map component "ÜWo+l" Unknown route-map component "ÜWc4" Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel stop on track
 Victory Monument / Huai Khwang
(Arrow Blue Right 001.svg State Railway Eastern Line )  
Junction from left Transverse abbreviated in this map
Urban station on track + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uexKBFa" + Hub
Urban tunnel station on track
 Phaya Thai / Thailand Cultural Centre
Bangkok (Hua Lamphong) / National Stadium 
Interchange end + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uKBFa" Unknown route-map component "uHST" Unknown route-map component "uexHST" Urban tunnel straight track
 Ratchathewi / Ratchaprarop
Hua Lamphong / Siam 
Unknown route-map component "utINTa" + Hub
Right side of urban cross-platform interchange + Hub
Left side of urban cross-platform interchange + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uexBHF" + Hub
Urban tunnel station on track + Hub
 Makkasan/Phetchaburi
Sam Yan / Ratchadamri 
Urban tunnel stop on track Unknown route-map component "uHST" Unknown route-map component "uÜWol"
Unused waterway turning left + Unknown route-map component "uÜWclu"
Unknown route-map component "utKRZ" Unused waterway turning from right
 
 
Unknown route-map component "utSTRlf" Unknown route-map component "uKRZo"
Urban tunnel turning from right + Unknown route-map component "uÜWcro"
Unknown route-map component "uÜWo+r" Urban tunnel straight track Unknown route-map component "uexHST"
 Ramkhamhaeng
Sala Daeng/Si Lom 
Unknown route-map component "uINT" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "utINT" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel stop on track Unknown route-map component "uexHST"
 Chit Lom / Phra Ram 9 / Hua Mark
Chong Nonsi / Lumphini 
Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel stop on track Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel straight track Unknown route-map component "uexHST"
 Phloen Chit / Ban Thapchang
Sueksa Witthaya (planned) / Khlong Toei 
Unknown route-map component "ueHST" Urban tunnel stop on track Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel straight track Unknown route-map component "uexHST"
 Nana / Lad Krabang
Surasak / QSNCC 
Unknown route-map component "uHST" Urban tunnel stop on track
Unknown route-map component "uINT" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "utINT" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uexKBFe" Airport
 Asok/Sukhumvit / Suvarnabhumi Airport
Sathon Pier Saphan Taksin 
Pier Urban station on track Unknown route-map component "utSTRlf" Unknown route-map component "uKRZo" Unknown route-map component "utSTRrf"
 
Taksin Bridge  
Urban bridge over water Unknown route-map component "uHST"
 Phrom Phong
Krung Thonburi 
Unknown route-map component "uHST" Unknown route-map component "uHST"
 Thong Lo
Wongwian Yai 
Unknown route-map component "uKBFe" Unknown route-map component "uHST"
 Ekkamai
 
Unknown route-map component "uHST"
 Phra Khanong
 
Unknown route-map component "uKBFe"
 On Nut

Bus service

Virtually all cities and provinces are easily reached by bus from Bangkok. For destinations in the southwest and the west, buses leave from the Southern Bus Terminal, west of the city in the Thonburi area. For destinations in the southeast, such as Pattaya, Ko Samet and Ko Chang, buses leave from the Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai. For all destinations north and northeast, the Northern Bus Terminal is at Mo Chit. Bangkok's less accessible southern terminal was recently moved even farther out. Though Bangkok is well connected to other cities, getting to the bus terminals often are a challenge in themselves[citation needed].

Bus (Bangkok Mass Transit Authority)

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority service area covers Bangkok Metropolis and its suburban areas in the adjacent provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, and Samut Sakhon. It serves approximately 3 million passengers per day. The service hours are 05.00-23.00 hrs, except 24-hr night-owl service on some routes. In September 2005, BMTA owns a fleet of 3,579 buses—comprising 1,674 ordinary buses and 1,905 air-conditioned buses. In addition to BMTA-owned buses, there are 3,485 private-own contract buses, 1,113 contract minibuses, 2,161 side-street songthaews, and 5,519 vans. In total, there are 15,857 buses and vans over 427 routes across 8 zones.

  • Zone 1: North (Hubs: Rangsit, Bangkhen)
  • Zone 2: Upper East (Hubs: Bangkapi, Minburi)
  • Zone 3: Lower East (Hubs: Samrong, Samut Prakan)
  • Zone 4: South Central (Hubs: Khlong Toey)
  • Zone 5: Southwest (Hubs: Dao Khanong, Phra Pra Daeng)
  • Zone 6: West (Hubs: Bangkhae, Thonburi)
  • Zone 7: Northwest (Hubs: Nonthaburi, Pak Kret)
  • Zone 8: Central (Hubs: Huay Khwang)

Airports

Departures Hall Suvarnabhumi Airport

Bangkok is one of Asia's most important air transport hubs. In 2005, more than ninety airlines served Don Mueang International Airport (IATA: DMK; ICAO: VTBD). It was the 18th busiest airport in the world, second busiest in Asia by passenger volume, 15th busiest in the world and fourth busiest in Asia in international passenger volume. Don Mueang consistently ranked 19th in the world in cargo traffic, and seventh in the Asia-Pacific region. Don Mueang is considered to be one of the world's oldest international airports, its opening in March 1914 making it almost twenty years older than London Heathrow. It has three terminals and is located about 30 km (19 mi) north from the heart of Bangkok.

On 28 September 2006, Suvarnabhumi Airport (IATA: BKK; ICAO: VTBS), became Bangkok's official international airport, replacing Don Mueang. Pronounced Suwannaphum (RTGS), or loosely Su-wan-na-poom, the airport is located southeast of the city center in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan Province. The progress of Suvarnabhumi Airport dates back to the early 1970s when a large plot of land 8,000 acres (3,237 ha) (32 km²) was bought. A student uprising in October of the same year prevented further progress with the development when the military government of Thanom Kittikachorn was subsequently overthrown. After several military coups and the Asian financial crisis of 1997, construction finally began in 2002, after five years of clearing the site. The first flights landed in September 2006, shortly after another military coup. Its two parallel runways are connected by the five concourses of the main terminal building. The airport features a 132.2-metre (434 ft)-tall control tower, the tallest in Asia and one meter (3.2 ft) taller than Kuala Lumpur International Airport control tower. It is the tallest stand alone purpose built control tower in the world.[17] Airports of Thailand Plc. (AoT) have announced another terminal to accommodate a further fifteen million passengers. This will be part of Phase 2 of the airport, which is expected to begin construction in three to five years. The main airline of Suvarnabhumi is Thai Airways International.

Travelers are being scanned at Suvarnabhumi Airport to prevent the spreading of swine flu

Much of the construction of Suvarnabhumi Airport took place during the premiership of Thaksin Shinawatra, who took personal responsibility for its timely completion. Despite a "ceremonial" opening on the planned date, construction was over a year late. Continuing controversy surrounds the quality of planning and construction; accusations include cracks in the runway, overheated buildings, a severe shortage of toilet facilities and lengthy passenger walks to departure gates. The fact that the airport is already overcrowded and near its maximum capacity less than a year after opening is another concern.

Don Mueang remains in use as a base of the Royal Thai Air Force. Most of the low-cost airlines now use the airport for domestic flights, in an effort to ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi, until the next terminal is opened.[18]

Transport network

Taxis

A typical Corolla taxi operated among the Bangkok taxi services.

Three-wheeled ‘open-air’ motorized taxis called tuk-tuks (auto rickshaws in other countries) are popular for short journeys. Motorcycle Taxis (Taxi Motocy, "วินมอเตอร์ไซค์") also operate in the city and usually accommodate one, or seldom two, passengers. The fare for tuk-tuks and motocys is negotiable between passenger and driver, while car taxis are metered, with minimum fare of 35 baht and charged by distance and waiting time.

Education

Main Auditorium of Chulalongkorn University
Dome Building of Thammasat University
Bangkok-Noi Campus of Mahidol University

The majority of the country's universities, both public and private, are located in and/or around the capital. Chulalongkorn University, Mahidol University, and Thammasat University are at the forefront of tertiary education. The three are public universities and have been a foundation for young thinkers for nearly a century. Over the past few decades however, the general trend of pursuing a university degree has prompted new universities to crop up and meet the needs of the Thai people. Bangkok became not only a place where immigrants and provincial Thais flock to for job opportunities, but a chance to receive a university degree. Ramkhamhaeng University emerged in 1971 as the only open university then, it has the highest enrolment of students compared with any other Thai university. Ramkhamhaeng was one of the Thai government's ways to deal with the rise in a demand for tertiary education. The growth of universities has stemmed tens and hundreds of other universities and colleges in the metropolitan area. Vocational/technical colleges have recently seen their fair share of success. One of such is SAE Institute Bangkok (started in 2002). In recent years, a large number of private institutions primarily with western ties and exchange programs have made their way to the capital. The rise in the number of schools offering English teaching have raised the bar for many state-owned institutions to meet up with private standards.

Despite such competition, Chulalongkorn University, Mahidol University, and Thammasat University remain the nation's leading institutions. Kasetsart University, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Assumption University among others were ranked in the top 500 of THES - QS World University Rankings for 2007. Bangkok also plays host to the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), built as an international co-operative institute between Asia-Pacific nations. There are also many Buddhist universities branching into the realm of religious studies in which Bangkok has taken a leading role.

Amidst all this however, the tertiary education scene in Bangkok is still over swamped with non-Bangkokians. Officials currently stress the need for a revamping of the Thai educational system. Education has long been a prime factor in the centralization of Bangkok and will play a vital role in the government's efforts to decentralize the country.

Health care and medical centers

Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University the oldest hospital in Thailand

Bangkok has a large number of hospitals and medical centers, which include eight of the country's fifteen medical schools. Many hospitals in Bangkok act as tertiary care centers, receiving referrals from distant parts of the country. Lately, especially in the private sector, there has been much growth in medical tourism, with many hospitals providing services specifically catering to foreigners.

The Bumrungrad Hospital is the main international class hospital on Sukumvit Road, and is popular with expats, wealthy Thais and medical tourists. Its closest competitors are Samithivej Hospitaland and Bangkok Hospital Medical Center. All 3 of which have achieved accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI).

Tourism

Bangkok is considered to be one of the world's tourist hotspots. Bangkok is Thailand's major tourist gateway, which means that the majority of foreign tourists arrive in Bangkok. The city boasts some of the country's most visited historical venues such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. There are numerous projects to maintain Bangkok's historic sites in the Rattanakosin area and river districts.

Culture

Nuvola Thai flag.svg
Life in Thailand
Cuisine
Culture
Dance
Instruments
Demographics
Economy
Education
Film
Holidays
Languages
Literature
Media
Monarchy
Music
Politics
Religion
Society
Sport
Tourism
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Festivals and events

Bangkok Songkran Festival 13–15 April The traditional Thai New Year is an occasion for merriment all over the city, but most notably at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, where the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees. In the Wisutkasat area, a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merit-making and entertainment. Khao San Road, Bang Lamphu area is also one of the high-spots in the city where locals and tourists play water by the water-throwing activities.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony May

An ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, in which farmers believe, is able to forecast the abundance of the next rice crop. The event is a result of a series of ceremonies that are conducted by Phraya Raek Na, portrayed by a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives who wears colourful traditional costumes. This ceremony was re-introduced in 1960 by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej and is considered the official commencement of the rice-growing season.

H.M. The Queen’s Birthday Celebration 12 August

To display their loyalty and to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on the occasion of her royal birthday, the Thai people decorate their houses and public buildings. Around Bangkok, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the area around the Grand Palace and other well-known locations are bedecked with coloured lights and magnificent adornments.

Trooping of the Colours December

Their majesties the King and Queen preside over this impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn. Dressed in colourful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the king and march past members of the royal family.

H.M. The King’s Birthday Celebrations 5 December

H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch is well beloved and deeply respected by all Thais old and young. The occasion of his royal birthday provides his loyal subjects the opportunity to express their reverence for him. All over the country, buildings and homes are elaborated and the area around the Grand Palace is spectacularly illuminated.

Media

Siam Square is Central Bangkok's shopping district, combining several large malls and side shops with both local and international brands.

There is an average of four million readers for more than 25 Bangkok based newspapers, one of which, Thai Rath, sells over a million copies a day.[19][20] Bangkok also has two major English-language dailies, the Bangkok Post and The Nation and the new free-sheet, The Daily Xpress. The Asian Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune are printed in Bangkok and have high distribution numbers. There are also a number of weekly publications normally published on Fridays that deal with political issues. Other publications, such as lifestyle and entertainment magazines are also plentiful.

Many gossip and fashion magazines are also published in Bangkok, especially after the launch of the Bangkok Fashion City project in 2004. Since then, United Broadcasting Corporation (UBC, or now True Visions), the Thai cable operator, has launched a new channel devoted to Thai fashion as well as a Thai edition of E! Entertainment television.

There is a large amount of television media in Bangkok. Six television stations operated and controlled by the government and many major cables TV operators such as True Visions (formally UBC) , MTV, TTV, PTV, ASTV are based in Bangkok. They broadcast a total of 100 channels to viewers with including many Thai television stations such as TITV, Nation Channel, ETV, DLTV, Royal TV, Money Channel, SMe TV, six sports channels, and Channel V, among others. There are more than 50 FM radio stations within the Bangkok metro vicinity and 50 AM channels including international brands such as Virgin Radio. Radio stations mainly broadcast in Thai, although some broadcast solely in English due to the growing expat population and the growing number of locals who enjoy learning English.

Chalerm Krung Theater and the National Theater have been in operation since the early 20th century whereas the newer Thailand Cultural Center hosts a variety of plays and events.

Bangkok has dozens of cinema multiplexes, and the city hosts two major film festivals annually, the Bangkok International Film Festival and the World Film Festival of Bangkok.

Art

The National Gallery located near Sanam Luang is a popular venue for art in Thailand.[21]

The arts in Bangkok have well developed almost exclusively and anonymously in the services of Theravada Buddhism since the golden age in Ayutthaya period and continuing to the present day by incorporating Western elements which is called the Rattanakosin or Bangkok style. Nowadays, the modern art scene is centred around Bangkok as the capital of contemporary art in the region, while traditional art can be found in many commercial areas in the old city as well as temples and palaces throughout the city. There are also a number of artists who prefer to live and work outside the metropolis. The number of artists is constantly on the rise, so an increasing variety of works are available on the art market. Many art galleries in Bangkok tend to sell work restricted to traditional rural motifs. The artists creating this type of art are often influenced by traditional Buddhist beliefs and motifs, and are popular among the general Thai public. Nevertheless, some Thai artists are breaking away from these norms by addressing more controversial issues in their work, for example the loss of traditional values and the obsession with money in today's society.

Bangkok is home to the National Gallery of Thailand, Bangkok Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art and Thailand Creative & Design Center as well as many other museums, concert halls, theatres, and art galleries. It is home to the Thailand Cultural Centre and the National Theatre.

Sport

Modern sports have been introduced to the people of Bangkok dating back a century by King Chulalongkorn. Horse racing followed by golf began in Bangkok 100 years ago when the king bestowed land for the first race course. The objective of His Majesty was to introduce and promote the quality of horse racing and breeding in Thailand, while providing sporting facilities of international standards for Thailand. Today, horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the capital and one of the most famous sport events in the region. Bangkok has hosted the Asian Games four times, in 1966, 1970, 1978 and 1998. Bangkok was also the host of the first SEA Games in 1959 and Summer Universiade in 2007.

Bangkok's popular modern sports are football, golf, bowling and horse racing. The city has many famous league football clubs with a number of international class football stadiums as well as many golf courses and bowling alleys throughout the city. The popular traditional sports are Muay Thai, which is held in two major boxing stadiums in the city: Rajadamnern Stadium along with Lumpini Stadium, Takraw, which is played in open spaces throughout the city, and kite fighting, which is easy to see in the centre of the old city. Sanam Luang, on the north side of Wat Phra Kaew, is transformed each year around February from a sedate little patch of greenery in the midst of a concrete jungle into an ongoing kite festival as locals come to the park to practice the art of flying kites.

Rajamangala Stadium is Bangkok's new national stadium. It can seat more than 65,000.

Bangkok features a number of sports clubs including the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Royal Turf Club of Bangkok, Rajapruk Sport Club (North Park, Royal Thai Police Sports Club, Piyarom Sports Club, Southerners Sports Club and the British Club, which was established in Bangkok in 1903.[22]

Urban lifestyle

An increasing trend in Bangkok's skyscrapers are sky bars which take advantage of Bangkok's year round warm climate and high amount of sunshine.

Although it is one of Asia's most important cities economically, the urban pace of Bangkok is somewhat relaxed, as the city offers enormous amounts of getaway locations. Most residents tend to stress over the amount of traffic in the city. Peak hours are between 6:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30pm to 8:00 at night on weekdays, with a general state of traffic on Monday morning and Friday night.

Many Bangkokians leave town on weekends to visit seaside resorts such as Hua Hin and Pattaya. Others return home to visit elderly relatives in Isan and the northern provinces. Saturday is somewhat considered a work day to many Bangkokians.

Religion does not play a very influential role in the capital as it would compared to other cities. However, a good proportion of the population remains devout and offers daily alms to the monks who walk their neighbourhoods. Muslims are often either assimilated entirely by the Thai or live in remote parts of the city such as the Nong Chok district where traditional Thai Muslims still live.

Current issues

Bangkok has long been notorious for its massive traffic jams, which are still a serious problem. The recent construction of the elevated second-level, third-level and fourth-level expressways, many tunnels and flyovers, BTS and MRT systems, four new SRT lines and BRT Bangkok has eased some of the congestion along specific corridors, but has done little to alleviate overall congestion. The major reason is the continued popularity of private automobiles, and extensive consumer credit for automobile purchases.

Environmental issues such as air pollution, a large part of which is caused by the traffic and dirt left on streets from construction projects, was a major problem. Industrial pollution has also contributed to poor air and water quality. Though sulfur dioxide and ozone levels have fallen substantially, PM (particulate matter) still exceeds health standards in some areas. However, the large volume of trash in the canals must be cleaned out by other means. Mold growth is ubiquitous in Bangkok, as the wet tropical climate makes it grow, and many residents simply ignore it.

As in many other Asian cities, the sale of illegally copied copyright-protected material, mostly software and DVD movies, is widespread in Bangkok, but technically illegal.

Another issue which has given the city a reputation is the sex industry. Prostitution in Thailand is technically illegal, but can be found all over Bangkok in vast numbers of massage parlors, saunas, parks, and hourly hotels, serving foreign tourists as well as locals. Organized sex work in Bangkok alone involves a minimum of 200,000 workers, and possibly up to half a million[citation needed].

Crime

Foreign residents and tourists alike complain of widespread scams and blatant price gouging. Elaborate gem store scams, involving earning the trust of a shopper by a westerner who is in cooperation with local merchants, have robbed tourists of thousands of dollars,[23] although overcharging is more of a common occurrence. Commission-based profiteering is common for restaurants, hotels, and other kinds of businesses. The Tourist Police lack police powers and are largely responsible for writing out reports for insurance companies for victims of theft. In more serious cases, they will translate reports to be passed on to the regular police in Bangkok. Also, despite stringent drug laws, the illegal drug trade continues to thrive.

Armed robbery and violence against tourists is rare, but murders involving tourists and long-term foreign residents do occur. A dramatic increase in the number of illegal immigrant workers in Thailand has resulted in many of the crimes being committed by these illegal immigrants.[24] However, Bangkok is generally considered safe from the standpoint of violent crime. The rates for violent crimes such as murders and muggings are fairly low when compared to other large Asian and international cities.[25]

Twin towns — Sister cities

Bangkok has a number of sister cities. They are:

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/expensive-cities-asia.html
  2. ^ http://www.euromonitor.com/Trend_Watch_Euromonitor_Internationals_Top_City_Destinations_Ranking
  3. ^ http://www.citypopulation.de/Thailand.html
  4. ^ Vollant des Verquains, in Smithies 2002, p.95-96
  5. ^ Bangkok Post, "Maori claims world's longest place name", 1 September 2006
  6. ^ "World Weather Information Service". http://worldweather.wmo.int/089/c00233.htm. 
  7. ^ "The largest cities in the world by land area, population and density". City Mayors. 2007-01-06. http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/largest-cities-area-125.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  8. ^ "Rising seas, sinking land threaten Thai capital - CNN.com:". CNN International. http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/10/22/thailand.water.rising.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  9. ^ "Calculated Average Height of the Ten Tallest (CAHTT), UltrapolisProject.com. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  10. ^ http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/richest-cities-2005.html
  11. ^ http://asia.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20091016/tbs-thailand-economy-stocks-5b757e1.html
  12. ^ "Area, population, density and houses in Bangkok Metropolis by districts: 2005". 2005 Statistics, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Data Center. http://203.155.220.230/stat_search/stat_06/stat06_01.html. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  13. ^ Bangkok (Thailand). Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
  14. ^ "Area, Indian in Thailand: 2005". 2005 Statistics, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Data Center. http://www.nri-worldwide.com/cgi-local/ts.pl?action=fetch&area=indiaglobalcommunity. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  15. ^ http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/thailand/index.html
  16. ^ Accessed 17 June 2007.
  17. ^ "The largest tower in the world". Airport Technology. 2007-01-06. http://www.airport-technology.com/projects/bangkok/. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  18. ^ "In With the Old", Aviation Week & Space Technology, 1 January 2007.
  19. ^ About Thai Rath
  20. ^ The Nation
  21. ^ "Thai art in Bangkok". 1stop Bangkok. http://www.1stopbangkok.com/culture/art/. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  22. ^ "An International Club for Friends & Families". The British Club Bangkok. http://www.britishclubbangkok.org/inside-page.asp?section=1&page=3. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  23. ^ 2bangkok.com. "2Bangkok.com - The Gem Scam". Angkor.com. http://www.angkor.com/2bangkok/2bangkok/Scams/Sapphire.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  24. ^ [1] The Effective Administration of Criminal Justice to Tackle Trafficking in Human Beings and Smuggling of Migrants in Thailand, Pongson Kongtreekaew
  25. ^ "OSAC - Bangkok, Thailand: 2006 Crime and Safety Report". Osac.gov. http://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=54401. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  26. ^ "Protocol and International Affairs". DC Office of the Secretary. http://os.dc.gov/os/cwp/view,a,1206,q,522336.asp. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  27. ^ "Existing Sister Cities". City of Manila. http://www.manila.gov.ph/localgovt.htm#sistercities. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  28. ^ St. Petersburg in figures > International and Interregional Ties
  29. ^ "Agreement of Sister City Relations"
  30. ^ "Bangkok er ny vennskapsby". Adresseavisen. Retrieved on 29 May 2009.
  31. ^ >Istanbul and Bangkok Become Sister Cities
  32. ^ "Sister Cities of Guangzhou". Guangzhou Foreign Affairs Office. http://www.gzwaishi.gov.cn/Item/3970.aspx. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  33. ^ "Bangkok besöker Ragunda". Ragunda kommun. Retrieved on 14 november 2009. (Swedish)
  34. ^ "Ragunda kommun får besök från sin vänort Bangkok". Ragunda kommun. Retrieved on 14 november 2009. (Swedish)

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Bangkok article)

From Wikitravel

Bangkok is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
Grand Palace, Bangkok
Grand Palace, Bangkok

Bangkok (Thai: กรุงเทพฯ Krung Thep) [1] is the capital of Thailand and by far its largest city with an estimated population of over 11 million.

Bangkok is one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities. Created as the Thai capital in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, Bangkok is a national treasure house and Thailand’s spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic centre.

Districts

Bangkok is a huge and modern city humming with nightlife and fervour. Administratively, it is split up into 50 khet (districts), which are further split into 154 khwaeng (แขวง), but these are more often used in official business and for addresses. Visitors will find the conceptual division below of the main areas more useful for getting around.

Districts of Bangkok
Districts of Bangkok
Sukhumvit
The long Sukhumvit Road, which changes its name to Ploenchit Road and Rama I Road going west, is Bangkok's modern commercial core, full of glitzy malls and hotels. The Skytrain intersection at Siam Square is the closest thing Bangkok has to a centre.
Silom
To the south of Sukhumvit, the area around Silom Road and Sathorn Road is Thailand's sober financial center by day, but Bangkok's primary party district by night when quarters like the infamous Patpong come alive.
Rattanakosin
Between the river and Sukhumvit lies the densely packed "Old Bangkok", home to Bangkok's best-known sights, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
Khao San Road
On the northern part of Rattanakosin, Bangkok's backpacker mecca Khao San Road and the surrounding district of Banglamphu have everything the budget traveler is looking for.
Yaowarat and Pahurat
Along Yaowarat Road you will find Bangkok's Chinatown, while Pahurat Road is the home of the sizable Indian community. This multicultural district is filled with markets selling food, gold, fabrics and Bollywood VCDs.
Thonburi
The quieter west bank of the Chao Phraya River, with Wat Arun and many small canals to explore.
Phahonyothin
The area around Phahonyothin Road and Viphavadi Rangsit Road is best known for the Chatuchak Weekend Market and Baiyoke Tower 2.
Ratchadaphisek
The district north of Sukhumvit centered around Ratchadaphisek Road (part of which is called Asoke). This area is a popular with the locals for its nightlife, such as around Royal City Avenue (RCA).

Around Bangkok are the provinces of Pathum Thani to the north, Nonthaburi to the northwest, Chachoengsao to the east, Samut Sakhon to the southwest, and Samut Prakan to the southeast.

The concrete jungle of central Bangkok
The concrete jungle of central Bangkok

Just under 14 degrees north of the Equator, Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveller-friendly cities in Asia. A furious assault on the senses, visitors are immediately confronted by the heat, the pollution and the irrepressible smile that accompanies many Thais. Despite the sensationalized international news reports and first impressions, the city is surprisingly safe (except from some petty crimes) and more organized than it initially appears, and full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The high relative humidity and warm temperature favour the growth of tropical plants — you'll find exotic orchids and delicious fruit everywhere. Bougainvillea and frangipani bloom practically everywhere. Thai cuisine is justifiably famous, varied, and affordable. Bangkok for many, represents the quintessential Asian capital. Saffron-robed monks, garish neon signs, graceful Thai architecture, spicy dishes, colourful markets, traffic jams, and the tropical climate come together in a happy coincidence. It is difficult to leave with lukewarm impressions of the city.

History

Bangkok originally was a small village on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, until a new capital was founded on the west bank (present-day Thonburi) after the fall of Ayutthaya. In 1782, King Rama I built a palace on the east bank (now Rattanakosin) and renamed the city as Krung Thep, as it is now known to Thais and which in English is translated to the 'City of Angels'. The full name "Krung thep mahanakhon amorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok popnoparat ratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit" (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์) is listed as the world's longest location name by the Guinness Book of Records; an English rendering goes like this: "The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayutthaya of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn". The original village has long since ceased to exist, but for some reason foreigners never caught on to the change.

Modern-day Bangkok is predominantly Thai-Chinese and they make up the majority of the population, but the city is also a second home to millions of upcountry "Thai-Thai" folk who come to make a living. The city is also home to a remarkable array of expats from all over the world, with districts inhabited by Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Koreans, Arabs and many more.

Addresses and navigation

Addresses in Bangkok use the Thai addressing system, which may be a little confusing to the uninitiated. Large roads such as Silom or Sukhumvit are thanon (ถนน), often abbreviated Th or glossed "Road/Avenue", while the side streets branching off from them are called soi (ซอย). Sois are numbered, with even numbers on one side and odd ones on the other. Thus, an address like "25 Soi Sukhumvit 3" means house/building number 25 on the 3rd soi of Sukhumvit Road. While the soi numbers on each side will always advance upward, the numbers often do not advance evenly between sides - for example, Soi 55 could be across from soi 36. Many well-known sois have an additional name, which can be used instead of the number. Soi 3 is also known as "Soi Nana", so the address above might thus also be expressed as "25 Soi Nana". The extension /x is used for new streets created between existing streets, as seen in Sukhumvit's soi pattern 7, 7/1, 7/2, 9, 11. Note that some short alleys are called trok (ตรอก) instead of soi.

Bangkok
Bangkok

To make things a little more complex, some large sois like Soi Ekamai (Sukhumvit Soi 63) and Soi Ari (Phahonyothin Soi 7) have their own sois. In these cases an address like "Soi Ari 3" means "the 3rd soi off Soi Ari", and you may even spot addresses like "68/2 Soi Ekamai 4, Sukhumvit 63 Road", meaning "2nd house beside house 68, 4th soi off Ekamai, the 63rd soi of Sukhumvit". In many sois the house numbers are not simply increasing, but may spread around.

To further bewilder the tourist who doesn't read Thai, the renderings of Thai street names in the Latin alphabet are not consistent. The road running towards the (former) airport from the Victory Monument may be spelled Phahon Yothin or Pahon Yothin or Phahonyothin or Phaholyothin depending on which street sign or map you consult. It's all the same in Thai, of course, only the romanisation varies.

And if that's not confusing enough, most of the larger streets tend to change names altogether every few kilometers. Sukhumvit is called Sukhumvit on one side of the tollway (roughly east), but it becomes Ploenchit just before you cross Thanon Witthayu (aka Wireless) going towards the river. Keep going just a few more streets and it becomes Thanon Phra Ram Neung (or Rama I) after you pass Thanon Ratchadamri. But if you were to turn right onto Ratchadamri, in just a few blocks you'll find yourself on Thanon Ratchaprarop (past Petchaburi, aka New Phetburi, which is called Phitsanulok closer to the river). Got it?

Fortunately, there's logic to these name changes: most of them are neighborhoods. It wouldn't make sense to call the road Sukhumvit if it's no longer running through the Sukhumvit area, would it? Thus, Sukhumvit becomes Ploenchit where it runs though the Ploenchit area. It's when you're able to grasp the city in terms of its neighborhoods that it both becomes more navigable and more charming. Likewise, Pratunam and Chatuchak are much more than just markets; they're boroughs, each with its own distinct character.

Related to this last point, compass directions are not widely used by Thais to navigate in Bangkok. That's probably because they aren't very useful; the city's Darwinistic layout, the changing street names, the winding river, and the lack of obvious landmarks all conspire to confuse your internal compass. Thus, asking for directions in terms of "Is that west from here?" will probably earn you little more than a confused look from a local. You're better off to familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods and navigate to and from them. "How do I get to Thonglor?" will get you there faster than asking for directions to Sukhumvit Soi 55.

One exception: the Chao Phraya River is the landmark in Bangkok, and many directional references can be made as "toward the river" or "away from the river". If you aren't too close, that is: since the river winds around the most popular tourist areas, river references tend to be most helpful when you're wandering farther afield than Banglamphu or Sanam Luang or Rattana. And wander you should.

Overall Map of Bangkok
Overall Map of Bangkok

Most major roads, trains and planes in Thailand lead to Bangkok.

By plane

Bangkok has two airports operating. Allow at least three hours to connect between them.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Suvarnabhumi Airport: where Thai culture meets tax-free shopping
Suvarnabhumi Airport: where Thai culture meets tax-free shopping
A spartan gate lounge
A spartan gate lounge

Located 30km (19 miles) to the east of Bangkok, space-age Suvarnabhumi Airport (สุวรรณภูมิ), pronounced "soo-wanna-poom", (IATA: BKK) (ICAO: VTBS) [2] started operations in September 2006 and is now Bangkok's main airport as well as the busiest airport in Southeast Asia. It's used by all airlines in Thailand except domestic Nok Air and One-Two-Go, which still use the old Don Muang (see below). There is only one terminal building, which covers both domestic and international flights, but it's huge (by some measures the world's largest) so allow time for getting around.

Suvarnabhumi offers all facilities expected of a major international airport (transit hotel, ATMs, money exchange). The cheapest place to eat is the Magic food court on Level 1, near Gate 8, while perhaps the most comfortable and relaxing of the airport's restaurants and cafes is the Sky Lounge on the 6th floor. Here you can have your latte while sitting in plush leather sofas and enjoying a panoramic view over the runways - prices are also tolerable with coffee around 70 baht a cup. The observation lounge on 7th is not much to see since the steel structure of the roof blocks most of the airport view. There are a few stores in the check-in area including a convenience store and a post office; however, the real shopping experience awaits travellers on the other side of immigration in the departure lounge area, where the number of shops and duty free outlets leaves you wondering if you are in a mall or an airport. Beware though, that past security in the gate waiting area, there are no services except toilets and seating.

Transportation

Limousine taxis (which charge by distance, e.g. around 800 baht to central Sukhumvit) can be reserved at the limousine hire counter on the 2nd floor (just outside Arrivals), and aggressive touts will try to entice you on board. If you allow yourself to be waylaid by one of the taxi touts they might quote you more than double the fare that an ordinary metered taxi would charge (900 baht instead of 400, for example). You'd be silly even acknowledging their existence - walk straight past them.

A better option are the ordinary metered taxis available on the 1st floor. Follow the "public taxi" signs that lead to the outside of the airport premises, queue up and state your destination at the desk (English is understood), and you'll get a two-part slip with your destination written in Thai on it. The small part is for your driver, the large part is for you. This ticket is for complaints and is how the system is enforced: hold on to it to help avoid arguments later. There is a 50-baht surcharge on top of the meter (not per passenger), meaning that trips to the city will cost 250-400 baht (plus possible expressway tolls of 45 and 25 baht) and take 40-60 minutes depending on traffic/location. No other surcharges apply, not even for going back to the airport. If there is a huge taxi queue, consider taking a limousine, or the free shuttle bus to the Public Transport Centre, which has more taxis. Go straight to the official "Taxi Stand" and wait there.

Top-level egress to queueless taxis
Top-level egress to queueless taxis

If you don't want to pay the extra 50 baht or wait in line for the taxis, there's one more option. Take the escalators/lift/stairs to the top level until you can't go up any more levels (departure level). Walk outside. You will see a scene like that pictured on the right. Walk across the first road and you will likely see people being dropped off by taxis. You may also see touts trying to get you into their taxi. More often than not, these touts are "ghost taxis" who want to charge you a fixed rate (always a rip-off) without using a meter. Ask them if they have a meter (in Thai, มีมีเต้อร์ไหม or "mee mee-TER mai?"). If they persistently ask you where you're going rather than answering whether or not they have a meter, they are surely a ghost taxi. Don't use them. Ignore them & simply hail the next taxi with the red light inside the windshield indicating they're available. The touts will be waiting for you, but the metered taxis will be dropping people off very regularly; you're just catching them before they head to the 50-baht queue downstairs. (Technically, they're not supposed to pick you up, but enforcement is very lax.)

There is also a stop outside the 1st floor exit for Airport Express buses, which charge a flat 150 baht and operate hourly from 7 AM until midnight, covering four routes, each taking about 60 to 90 minutes:

To take a public bus or minivan, you must first take a free shuttle bus ride (from the outside 2nd floor) to the separate terminal (Public Transport Center). The BMTA public bus lines are:

  • 549: Suvarnabhumi-Bangkapi
  • 550: Suvarnabhumi-Happy Land
  • 551: Suvarnabhumi-Victory Monument (BTS)
  • 552: Suvarnabhumi-On Nut (BTS)-Klong Toei
  • 552A: Suvarnabhumi-Sam Rong
  • 553: Suvarnabhumi-Samut Phrakan
  • 554: Suvarnabhumi-Don Muang Airport
  • 555: Suvarnabhumi-Rangsit (Expressway)
  • 556: Suvarnabhumi-Southern Bus Terminal (Expressway)
  • 559: Suvarnabhumi-Rangsit (Outer Ring Road)

To give an example, the fare between Suvarnabhumi and On Nut BTS station on the 552 is 32 baht, and the journey (On Nut to the airport) takes about 40 minutes in mid-afternoon traffic. There are also privately-owned BMTA minivans to many parts of Bangkok, such as Don Muang Airport, Bang Kapi, Rangsit, Samut Prakarn, etc. They charge in flat rate 50 baht and go directly to the destination, so they are faster than the public buses, which stop frequently along the way.

These services take about 1 hour to 2 hours depending on Bangkok traffic and frequency is usually every 20 mins during daytime and night time ranges from 20 mins to 1 hour depending on route. Long-distance 1st class bus services connect Suvarnabhumi directly with Chachoengsao, Nong Khai, Pattaya, Rayong, and Trat.

Train Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link offers a high-speed and non-stop train to the central area of Bangkok at Makkasan Station (connecting to MRT Phetchaburi) and onward to Phaya Thai (connecting to BTS Phaya Thai). The project is almost finished and is under the test-run period. It will be available in mid 2010.

Accommodation

At present, there are only a few hotels located near Suvarnabhumi Airport, though with huge construction projects planned for the area this will change over the next few years. Day room facilities for transit passengers are now available at the 'Miracle Grand Louis Tavern' on floor 4, Concourse G (Tel+66 6 317-2211, 2000 baht per 4-hour block, no reservations accepted). Cheapskate travellers looking for a free quiet place to doze undisturbed at night can either try their luck in the prayer rooms (although, technically, sleeping is not permitted there, according to signage), or one of the benches on the bottom floor of the terminal (which seems to be a popular choice with tourists and locals).

The Tourist Authority of Thailand and other hotel and tourist agencies have counters on the second floor of the main terminal. These agencies offer hotel reservation service. Check for special promotions and also whether the hotel offers airport pick up and drop off service - especially useful for late night arrivals and early morning departures.

  • Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, Suvarnabhumi Airport, +66 2 131-1111 (), [3]. The only hotel in the airport itself, connected to the main airport terminal by a pedestrian bridge, the Novotel is very nice and, by Thai standards, very pricey. 3,500+ baht.  edit
  • JL Bangkok, 5 Ramkhamhaeng Soi 23 Ramkhamhaeng Road, +66 (0)2 369-2407-9 (), [4]. boutique and budget accommodation in a cosy and friendly atmosphere. 1 min walk to night market and malls. 15-20 min from airport. includes daily breakfast and free wireless Internet access from 900 Baht.  edit
  • MetroPoint Bangkok Hotel, 666 Ramkhamhaeng 81 Road (15-20 min from airport), tel:+66 2 377-0999. Fax:+66 2 377-3848, [5]. 172 rooms with private terraces, wifi, all non-smoking. Rooms from 1,210+ Baht. Contact e-mail booking@metropointbangkok.com
  • Great Residence Hotel, Lat Krabang Rd, Suvarnabhumi, Lat Krabang e-mail bookings@greatresidencehotel.com [6]. Only 5 minutes from Suvarnabhumi Airport on the cusp of the airport grounds. Rooms Fr. 900Bt+ (inclusive of American Breakfast & Transfer FROM Airport).
  • Queen's Garden Resort, 44 Soi 7, Suvarnabhumi, Lat Krabang Fax: +66 2 172 6114, e-mail info@queensgardenresort.net[7]. The hotel is just 5-10 minutes from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Located on the banks of a sleepy river, the resort has views towards Lat Krabang Temple. Features wireless high speed internet, big screen TV, pool table, restaurant and beer garden. Rooms 900+ baht.
  • Thong Ta Resort, On Nut, Suvarnabhumi, Lat Krabang e-mail info@siamairportmotel.com [8]. The resort is only 10 minutes from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Situated near a vibrant restaurant/bar parade. Rooms 800Bt+ (inclusive of American Breakfast). Free wifi in lobby and rooms.
  • Grand Inn Come Hotel, 99 Moo 6, Kingkaew Road, Rachataeva, Bangplee, Samutprakan, +66 2 738-8191-3. About a 15-20 minute drive from the airport. Bus 553 stops here. 1,200 - 2,000 baht.  edit
  • Sananwan Palace, 18/11 moo 11. Sukapibarn Road 5 , Bangpli Yai tel: +66 2 752-1658 (Mobile) +66 818644615. Family-owned budget accommodation with swimming pool, TV and high speed internet about 20 minutes drive from the airport. Rooms with A/C: 600 baht.
  • Nasa Vegas Hotel[9]. 44 Ramkhamhaeng Road. Tel :+66 2 719-9888 Fax:+66 2 719-9899 - About 15 mins drive from the new airport. Rooms from 590 + baht.
  • Ratchana Place[10]. 199 Moo 4, Soi Wat Sirisaothong, Bangna Trad Highway KM 26, Bangbo, Samutprakan 10540 Tel: +66 2 313-4480~9 booking@ratchanaplace.com - About 15-20 mins drive from the airport. Rooms between 350 - 700 baht.
  • Nawarat Resort & Serviced Apartment[11]. 19/49 Moo 7 Bangna-Trad Road, Km.9, Bangkaew, Bangplee, Samutprakan 10540 Tel: +66 2 750-3040~2 - About 15 mins drive from the airport. Rooms 900+ baht.
  • Plai Garden Boutique Guest House[12].Soi King Keaw 43, King Keaw Rd., Rachathewa, Bangplee, Samutprakan Thailand. 10540 Tel: +662 327 7226-8 [13] - About 15 mins drive from the airport. Rooms between 900 - 1,000 baht.
  • Regent Suvarnabhumi[14].30/1, 32/1 Soi Lat Krabang 22, Lat Krabang Rd., Lat Krabang, Bangkok Thailand. 10520 Tel: +662 326 7138-40 [15] - About 10 mins drive from the airport. Rooms between 1,000 - 2,000 baht.

Don Muang Airport

Don Muang Airport (IATA: DMK) (ICAO: VTBD)(or Don Mueang), 20 km north of downtown, was Bangkok's main airport until 2006. The airport currently handles Nok Air[16] and One-Two-GO [17] domestic flights, but the former international terminal is now limited to charters and general aviation.

The public taxi stand is on the sidewalk outside the arrivals area (don't be fooled by all the taxi service booths in the main hall), and is probably your best bet for getting into town — it's also your only option after 11 PM. The same booth plus slip system as at Suvarnabhumi is used here. If the line at the taxi stand is long or you need a more spacious car, you may want to book a (so-called) limousine from the desks in the terminal. This will get you a slightly nicer car at about twice the price (500-600 baht). Ignore any touts outside and do not get into any car with white license plates, as these are not licensed to carry passengers.

Across a covered overpass from the airport is the train station. Tickets to Hualamphong station cost 5 baht at the ticket booth. While taking the train is the cheapest way to get from the airport to Bangkok, it is not for the faint-of-heart: schedules are erratic, the run-down passenger cars often have beggars roaming through them, and are relatively empty late at night.

There are also a number of public transport buses going by the airport, just follow the signs out toward the train station. (Buses towards Bangkok are the airport's side of the road, so don't cross the highway!) For example the air-con bus 504 will take you to CentralWorld (a large department store formerly known as the World Trade Center), from where you'll have access to the Skytrain as well as many other buses, or Lumpini Park, from where you get access to the metro, for 22 baht. Note that large baggage is not allowed.

If you're flying Thai Airways, you can do a city check-in at Lad Phrao MRT station, from where free shuttle buses leave 1:50 before each Thai flight. The same buses also run in the reverse direction from the airport.

By bus

Bangkok's three official long haul bus terminals are:

Eastern Bus Terminal

The Eastern Bus Terminal, also known as Ekamai, this relatively compact terminal is located right next to Ekamai BTS station on Sukhumvit (E7). Ekamai serves Eastern Thailand destinations, including Pattaya, Rayong, Ban Phe, Chanthaburi and Trat.

Northern Bus Terminal

The Northern & Northeastern Bus Terminal, also known as Moh Chit (or Mor Chit or Morchit), this is the largest, busiest, and most modern terminal. The upper floor serves the North-East (Isaan); the ground floor serves the North, as well as sharing some destinations with Ekamai (including Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat). It's a 30-baht moto hop (or a lengthy hike across Chatuchak Park) from BTS Moh Chit/Metro Chatuchak stations (N8/18), or take the 77 bus and pay the 7-baht flat fare on board.

Many visitors also arrive (or leave) via the massive Moh Chit Northern Bus Terminal (sathanii Mo Chit), also known as Mo Chit Mai ("new Mo Chit") or simply Mo Chit as the old version has ceased to exist. This is the largest terminal in Bangkok and buses to all points throughout central, northern and northeastern Thailand, including Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, all of Isaan and Aranyaprathet (for Cambodia) leave from here.

Buying tickets here is reasonably easy; find a window with your destination written on it (in friendly Roman letters), pay the fare in big numbers on the same window, and you'll get a ticket on the next available departure. Note that blue writing means 1st class, red means 2nd class (avoid on longer trips), and tickets for northeastern destinations are sold from the 3rd floor. Ask the information desk on the 1st floor if you need help, or any of the BKS staff, easily identifiable thanks to their natty white shirts with gold buttons. Now just find the departure stall and you're on your way. If you have time to kill, there are two fairly decent air-con food courts at both ends of the main terminal building, plus KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and lots of 7-Eleven outlets.

The bus terminal is fair hike from the Skytrain or subway stations across Chatuchak Park. Motorbike taxis do the trip for a fixed 30 baht fare (bargaining is pointless), while tuk-tuks charge what they feel like - just remember that a real taxi with air-con and all will cost you 35 baht (albeit not including sitting around in traffic jams). If you have a considerable amount of luggage the easiest, if not necessarily fastest, option is to take a taxi directly to/from the bus terminal.

Southern Bus Terminal

The Southern Bus Terminal, also known as Sai Tai Taling Chan, this terminal serves all points west and south from its somewhat inconvenient location on the "wrong" side of the river. Note that in December 2007, the terminal moved to a new, even more remote location, at Phutthamonthon Soi 1 in the Taling Chan district.

The Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Taling Chan สายใต้ตลิ่งชัน, tel. +66-2894 6122) is now located on Phutthamonthon Soi 1 in Bang Ramat, Taling Chan, northern Thonburi. Long-distance buses leave from here to destinations throughout western Thailand (including Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi) and southern Thailand (including Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Hat Yai, and many others). The new terminal is a fairly pleasant airport-like structure with air-conditioning, electronic departure monitors (in English), a few bank offices and a KFC. Unlike Khao San Road's ripoff operators, all buses from here are public, well-regulated, cheap and reasonably safe, just buy your tickets at the numbered desk with your destination posted in it (almost always in English).

Getting to the terminal is a bit of headache, as public transport is limited. The easiest option is to take a taxi, but be sure the taxi knows where to go, or you may end up at the old "new" Southern Terminal (Sai Tai Mai), which only stopped operating in late 2008. The new one is located in the same direction, but 4.5 km further from the center (10 km from Khao San road area, about 15 km from Siam square or Silom, more if from Sukhumvit). If you're going there in the evening, especially during workdays, be prepared to a serious traffic jam - more than half or even full hour is not impossible. As always in Bangkok, use taxi meter only, which, from Khao San area, should end up around 120 baht in favorable traffic conditions and up. Ignore touts - the waiting time in taxi-meter is only 1 baht/minute, and there are really no "faster" way once all the roads out of the city are congested.

The terminal is reachable on buses 515 and 549 and from Suvarnabhumi Airport with bus 556. From Victory Monument (Victory Monument BTS station), take the pale orange air-con bus 515 (16 baht). When approached by an onboard bus attendant ticketer, just tell them "Sai Tai Taling Chan". The bus does not turn left or right all the way, the large bus terminal will be on the left side (you won't miss it and probably will be told as well) about 9 km after crossing the river. This way actually does not take much more time than taxi (it's almost same in the likely case of a traffic jam), but you'll end up much cheaper, especially if alone. There are also white "Metro" minibuses (30 baht) from various points around Bangkok, eg. Ramkhamhaeng road in Bang Kapi, Huamark, near the Rajamangala National Stadium. There are inexpensive shuttle buses and slightly more expensive (but quicker loading and a bit faster) minibuses from/to Mo Chit northern bus terminal also.

When arriving in Bangkok...

  • Late at night, the easiest way from Northern or Southern terminal to your final destination will be by metered-taxi.
  • By tourist bus you may find yourself delivered to their favorite hotel or guest-house, otherwise you'll probably be dropped off in the vicinity of one of the long haul terminals, or if it's a service catering primarily for backpackers, somewhere near Khao San Road.

When buying tickets for buses out of Bangkok, it's best to skip travel agents and their private buses, and get the tickets for public buses directly at the public terminals. These buses are cheaper, safer, faster and more comfortable and won't scam you onto a clapped-out minibus halfway along the way or to a bedbug-infested hotel at the end.

By train

The three main stations in Bangkok are:

Hualamphong Train Station

View of the ticket counters at Hualampong train station.
View of the ticket counters at Hualampong train station.

The main station and the terminus of the Bangkok Metro line. Located right in the middle of downtown Bangkok, it is a huge and surprisingly nice station, built during the reign of King Rama VI and spared bombing in World War II at the request of the Free Thai underground. The station has a good tourist office. Only listen to the people at the Info desk - anyone walking around offering to help you "find" a hotel or taxi is just a tout, even if they are wearing very official looking badges. Likewise, the second floor shops offering "Tourist Information" are just agents in disguise.

Tickets for trains leaving the same or next day can be bought on the counters under the red/orange/green screens (see photo). The Advance Booking Office is located to the right of the platforms as you walk towards them and is quite well organized. You can select your seat/berth from a plan of the train, and payments by credit card are accepted. Also, finally you can book an e-ticket [18] (tip: do not use special characters in the registration form if it does not work); the price is the same, however, the quota reserved for e-booking is limited, and there are only 1st and 2nd aircon sleeper class tickets available.

The taxi pick up and drop off point is to the left of the platforms as you walk towards them, and is generally chaotic at busy periods with scant regard for any queue. The left luggage facility is at the opposite end of the concourse, on the far right as you walk away from the platforms.

Travel agencies may try to sell you a private "VIP bus" ticket if there is no place in first and second class trains, claiming to offer a direct trip to the destination with a VIP bus faster than the train. Although the trip starts with a VIP bus, it ends up with a "surprise" transfer to a minibus and extremely long journeys. Just refuse the offered private bus ticket and buy public bus tickets from the main bus terminals if you cannot find a ticket for the train.

For those considering taking a train to Phuket take note; There are NO direct trains to Phuket. If taking the train is a must do, you will need to book a ticket to Surat Thani, then secure bus transit. One other important note; the last bus to Phuket from Surat Thani is in the mid-afternoon. In order to make the last bus for Phuket you will need to take a night train.

Bang Sue Train Station

If coming from the north or north-east, connecting to the Metro here can shave the last half-hour off your train trip. This is not a very good place to board trains though, as there is practically no information or signage in English. However, this situation will doubtless improve as more and more long-distance departures are switched to here from Hualamphong.

See Phahonyothin District for more details.

Thonburi Train Station

Also known as Bangkok Noi Station, this station is on the west side of the river in Thonburi. It is the terminus for twice-daily trains to Kanchanaburi (via Nakhon Pathom), River Kwai Bridge and Nam Tok. Just to keep things confusing, the previous Thonburi Station right next to the river (accessible by the Chao Phraya Express Boat pier Railway Station) is now mothballed, but it's only 800 meters away from the new Thonburi station.

There are two daily 3rd class trains: [19]

  • Depart Thonburi 07:45, arrive Nam Tok 12:20, return 13:00, terminate Thonburi at 17:36
  • Depart Nam Tok 05:25, arrive Thonburi 10:05, return 13:50, terminate Nam Tok at 18:20

Note that the weekend-only 2nd class air-con Kanchanaburi/Nam Tok "tourist" trains depart from Hualamphong. [20]

Wong Wien Yai Train Station

Wong Wien Yai station serves only the rustic Mahachai/Maeklong commuter line [21], an experience for rail fans but of little interest to most visitors. Trains run roughly hourly. The railway station is about 800m from the Skytrain station of the same name; to transfer, take a metered taxi for 35-50 baht, or walk (using a map).

By ship

Cruise ships visiting Bangkok arrive can dock at either of two ports.

Large ships must use Laem Chabang, about 90 minutes south-east of Bangkok and about 30 minutes north of Pattaya.

- A taxi service desk is available on the wharf, but charges extortionate prices - a whopping 2600 baht to charter a taxi (4 passengers), or about 5000 baht to charter a minibus (usually 11 passenger seats), for a trip into Bangkok. Slightly lower prices can be found by walking out to the main road (about 4000 baht for a minibus), however even these rates are almost double the typical rate in the opposite direction. Better deals may be possible for round trips (even if returning the following day).

- Frequent first and second class bus services directly connect Laem Chabang with Ekamai (Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal, on Sukhumvit); less frequent direct services run to Moh Chit (Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal). A first class air-con bus (blue and white) to either will usually take 90 minutes or less; the fare is around 100 baht. A good way to make the most of a quick visit is to board an Ekamai bus and then disembark early at the On Nut Skytrain Station on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok (the bus will always pause here provided a passenger requests it); in the opposite direction, use the Ekamai Skytrain Station and board the bus at the terminus. To get to or return from the Chatuchak Weekend Market, use the Moh Chit bus instead.

- Buses en route to Pattaya (southbound) can be boarded at the traffic lights on Sukhumvit Road in Laem Chabang, are extremely frequent (at least 10 per hour), and charge less than 50 baht.

Modest sized ships may dock farther up-river at Khlong Thoey, much closer to the city center. A modest terminal provides processing for passengers (who may receive Thai customs and immigration processing on-board), as well as offering "managers" who arrange tours and taxis. Costs to reach major hotels and points of interest are much lower than for Laem Chabang, but can vary according to passenger negotiating skills. The facility is fairly close to but beyond practical walking distance to MRT and SkyTrain stations (see "Get around" below).

Bangkok Transportation Map
Bangkok Transportation Map

Bangkok is infamous for its congestion, but these days there are ways around it: hop on the Skytrain (BTS) and metro in the city center, or use boats to navigate rivers and canals.

By skytrain

The Bangkok Skytrain [22] (BTS, pronounced bee-tee-et in Thai but also rót fai fáa or just skytrain) deserves a visit simply for the Disneyland space-ageness of it. Built in a desperate effort to ease Bangkok's insane traffic and pollution, the Skytrain covers most of downtown and is especially convenient for visiting the Siam Square area. There are two lines: the light green Sukhumvit line which travels along Sukhumvit road and then goes up Phayonyothin to northern Bangkok, where it terminates near the Chatuchak Weekend Market (N8), and the red Silom line, which travels from the Silom area, interchanges with the Sukhumvit line at Siam Square (C) and ends at National Stadium, right next to MBK. There isn't, unfortunately, a station near Banglampu District (aka the Khao San Road area), but the river ferry connects between Tha Banglampu and Tha Sathorn, served by Saphan Taksin (S6) on the Silom line from the morning till around 6-7PM.

You must have 5 or 10 baht coins to purchase Skytrain tickets from the vending machines near the entrance, so hold on to them. Fares range from 15 to 40 baht depending upon how many zones you are traveling. Consult the map (in English) near each ticket machine. If you do not have coins, queue for change from the staff at the booth. If you are in town for several days (and/or going to make several visits during next 30 days), weigh your options and consider a rechargeable stored-value card (from 100 baht, with a 30-baht refundable deposit and a 30 baht non-refundable card cost), a "ride all you like" tourist pass (from 120 baht/day) or a multiple ride pass of 20 trips or more to any zone (20 trips cost 440 baht, plus 30 baht refundable deposit for a rechargeable card valid for 5 years). They will certainly save you time, scrambling for coins, and maybe even money. Check for information with the English speaking staff.

Four stations are fully accessible to wheelchair users, plus one station, On Nut, is accessible only on the arrival side. The other fully accessible stations are Asok/Sukhumvit, Siam, Chong Nonsi and Mo Chit. To proceed to concourse level in these stations, you can use the lift - press the call button and an attendant will come and get you. At On Nut stations on the departures side, the attendant will help you also to get to platform level through the escalator since the elevator can be used only to get to intercourse level. Siam Station is also accessible independently through the linked Siam Paragon department store.

For more information, contact the Bangkok Mass Transit System at Tel: 0 2617 7340, 0 2617 6000 or visit [23]

By metro

Bangkok Metro [24] (MRT, pronunced em-ar-tee in Thai but also rót fai tai din) finally opened in July 2004. The Blue Line connects the central Hualamphong railway station (1) to the northern Bang Sue station (18), with interchanges to the Skytrain at Silom/Sala Daeng (3/S2), Sukhumvit/Asok (7/E4) and Chatuchak/Mo Chit (15/N8). You can also transfer to north/northeast-bound SRT trains at the northern terminus Bang Sue. The metro is much less used by tourists than the Sky Train but can be very useful. The terminus at Hualamphong station provides good access to Chinatown and many of the main tourist sites. Silom station is right next to the "Patpong" market and nightlife area.

Metro tickets are not interchangeable with Skytrain tickets. Rides start from 15 baht and are based on distance; pre-paid cards of up to 1000 baht are also available. For single ride fares, a round plastic token is used.

The metro stop for the Chatuchak Weekend Market is not Chatuchak Park but one stop farther at Kamphaeng Phet (16). The latter drops you right inside the market.

All metro stations are fully accessible to wheelchair users. If the elevator has been put out of service, just ask the security staff present at every station and an attendant will come and get you to help you to deal with all the process of buying tickets and get to the train platform level.

For more information call 0 2624 5200 or visit [25] for further information.

Note that at present bag-checks take place at the entrance to each station, although it is usually nothing more than a quick peek inside unless you are looking particularly suspicious.

Chao Phraya Express Boat Map
Chao Phraya Express Boat Map
Chao Phraya Express Boat Lines
Chao Phraya Express Boat Lines

A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist's agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat [26], basically an aquatic bus plying up and down the river. The basic service (13 baht) plies from Wat Rajsingkorn (S4) all the way to Nonthaburi (N30), with stops at most of Rattanakosin's major attractions including the Grand Palace, the Temple of Dawn, etc. Board at piers with a sign showing the route and pay the ticket collector who will approach you bearing a long metal cylinder.

In addition to the basic service, there are express services flagged with yellow or orange flags, which stop only at major piers and should be avoided unless you're sure where you're going because, otherwise, you could end up a long way farther along the river than you planned.

The signposting of the piers is quite clear, with numbered piers and English route maps, and the Central station offers easy interchange to the BTS Saphan Taksin station. The boats run every 5 to 20 minutes from sunrise (6 AM) to sunset (7 PM) every day, so ignore any river taxi touts who try to tell you otherwise.

Most piers are also served by cross-river ferries which are particularly useful for reaching Wat Arun or Thonburi. They run every few minutes and cost 2-3 baht - pay at the kiosk on the pier and then walk through the turnstile.

In addition to the workaday express boat, there is also a Tourist Boat which stops at a different subset of piers, offers commentary in English and charges a flat 150 baht for a day pass. The boats are slightly more comfortable and may be worth considering if you want only to cruise up and down, but they operate only every 30 minutes and stop running by 3 PM.

A canal boat running at high speed with a helmeted satchel-wielding ticket collector navigating along the slippery outer ledge.
A canal boat running at high speed with a helmeted satchel-wielding ticket collector navigating along the slippery outer ledge.

Canal boats also serve Khlong Saen Saeb, one of Bangkok's many canals (khlong). They're cheap and immune to Bangkok's notorious traffic jams, but mostly used by locals who use these water taxis to commute to work and school and shopping, so you get to see the 'backside' of the neighborhoods, so to speak. They're also comparatively safe--just watch your step when boarding and disembarking (they don't stop at the pier for long) and do not let the water get into your eyes.

To prevent splashes, the boats are equipped with little curtains that you can raise by pulling on a string, but they have to be lowered at every stop so people can clamber on board. Pay the fare (14-22 baht) to the fearless helmet-wearing ticket collectors who clamber around on the outside of the boat, ducking at bridges, as it barrels down the canal. The canal runs parallel to Petchaburi Road, and provides the easiest access from the city center to the Golden Mount. There's a boarding pier across from the Central World Plaza under the bridge where Ratchadamri crosses the khlong near Petchburi, and piers now even have (tiny) signs in English. Be aware that for journeys going beyond Pratunam, passengers have to change boats at Pratunam. Hold on to your ticket.

The only station missing a sign in English is the stop at The Mall in Bangkapi, and it's not obvious that it's a mall from the canal boat!

Typical "long tail" river taxi
Typical "long tail" river taxi

Finally, for trips outside the set routes, you can hire a long-tail river taxi at any major pier. These are fairly expensive and will attempt to charge as much as 500 baht/h, but with haggling, they may be suitable for small groups. To circumvent the mafia-like touts who attempt to get a large cut for every ride, agree for the price of the shortest possible ride (30 min), then negotiate directly with the captain when on board.

By bus

Local buses, mostly operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), are the cheapest but also the most challenging way of getting around, as there is a bewildering plethora of routes, usually marked only in Thai. If you can speak Thai you can call 184 Bus Route Hotline. Bus stops usually list only the bus numbers that stop there and nothing more. They are also subject to Bangkok's notorious traffic, often terribly crowded, and many are not air-conditioned. If you want to get somewhere quickly and are not prepared to get lost, the buses should be avoided (remember that taxis are cheaper than most local buses in the west). However, they make for a good adventure if you're not in a rush and you don't mind being the centre of attention.

But for the intrepid, and those staying in Khao San Road where buses are the only practical means of public transport, the best online resource for decrypting bus routes is the official BMTA homepage [27], which has up-to-date if slightly incomplete listings of bus routes in English but no maps. You can also ask your guesthouse about buses to where you are going. If you're going between Khao San Road and downtown, bus number 2 (red and cream) is probably your best option. As a printed reference, the Bus Routes & Map guide (50 baht) by Bangkok Guides is another option.

The hierarchy of Bangkok's buses from cheapest to best can be ranked as follows:

  • Small green bus, 6.50 baht flat fare. Cramped, no air-con, no fan, famously suicidal drivers, usually not advisable for more than short hops. Run by private operators, they can be significantly faster than the BMTA-run buses.
  • Red bus, 7 baht flat fare. More spacious and fan-cooled (in theory). Unlike other buses, some of these run through the night (1.50 baht surcharge). These buses are BMTA run.
  • White/blue bus, 8 baht flat fare. Exactly the same as the red buses, but cost one baht more. These buses are owned by private entities operated in conjunction with BMTA.
  • Blue/Yellow and Cream/Blue air-con, 11 baht for the first 8 kilometers, up to 18 baht max. These buses are quite comfy. The blue/yellow striped buses are privately owned while the Blue/Cream buses are BMTA owned.
  • Orange air-con (Euro II), 13 baht for the first few kilometers, up to 22 baht max. These are all BMTA-run, newer, and more comfortable.
  • Pink/white micro-buses - not quite so common away from the city centre - these are air-conditioned, modern and only allow seated passengers (making them harder to use at rush hour as many won't stop for you). Flat fare is 25 baht which is paid into a fare-collection machine located next to the driver - exact fare only.

Buses stop only when needed, so wave them down (arm out, palm down) when you see one barreling your way. Pay the roaming collector after you board and keep the ticket as there are occasional spot-checks. Press the signal buzzer (usually near the door) when you want to get off.

Two further pitfalls are that buses of the same number may run slightly different routes depending on the color, and there are also express services (mostly indicated by yellow signs) that skip some stops and may take the expressway (2 baht extra).

Airport buses allow luggage (backpacks and suitcases), but regular buses do not. Enforcement of this rule varies.

By taxi

Taxis are a quick and comfortable way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way. All taxis are now metered and air-conditioned: the hailing fee is 35 baht and most trips within Bangkok cost less than 100 baht. There are no surcharges (except from the airport, even at night; don't believe drivers who try to tell you otherwise. A red sign, if lit, on the front window means that the taxi is available.

When the meter is switched on you will see a red '35' somewhere on the dashboard or between the driver and you. Be sure to check for this at the start of the ride, as many drivers will "forget" to start the meter in order to overcharge you at the end of your trip. Most will start the meter when asked politely to do so (meter na khrap/kha (male/female)); if the driver refuses to use the meter after a couple of attempts, simply exit the taxi.

In some cases, late at night and especially near major tourist districts like Khao San or Patpong, you will need to walk a block away to catch a meter cab. The effort can save you as much as 150 baht. This is often also the case for taxis that park all day in front of your hotel. There are only two reasons that they are there: to take you places where they can get their commissions (Jewelry stores, massage parlors, etc,) and to overcharge you by not using the meter.

Your best bet is to walk to the road and catch an unoccupied metered taxi in motion (easier than it sounds, as Bangkok traffic tends to crawl the majority of the time, and one car out of four is a taxi). Avoid parked taxis altogether, and if a taxi driver refuses to turn the meter on, simply close the door and find one who will. Keep in mind that it is illegal for them to have unmetered fares. Be smart and give your money to honest drivers, not touts. The only reason tht they get away with this so frequently is that foreign tourists let them.

Be sure to either know the correct pronunciation of your destination, or have it written in Thai, as taxi drivers in Bangkok are notoriously bad at reading maps. Most hotels and guesthouses will happily write out addresses in Thai for you. While most drivers will recognize the names of tourist hot spots, even if grossly mispronounced, it is often difficult to properly pronounce addresses in Thai, a tonal language. If your mobile phone works in Thailand, it is sometimes useful to phone your hotel and ask the staff to speak to your driver in Thai.

If you are pinching pennies or fussy about your means of transportation, you may wish to avoid getting into one of the (very common) yellow-green taxis. They are owner-operated and of highly variable quality and occasionally have rigged meters. All other colors belong to large taxi companies, which usually enforce their standards better.

On some routes, the driver will ask if he should use the Tollway--this will usually save a lot of time. You have to pay the cost at the toll booth (not in advance and not at the end of the journey). Watch how much the driver really pays asmay try to keep the change.

When getting out, try to have small bills (100 baht or less) or expect problems with change. Tips are not necessary, but are certainly welcome; most local passengers will round up or leave any coin change as tip.

By motorbike

When traffic slows to a crawl and there are no mass-transit alternatives for your destination, by far the fastest mode of transport is a motorbike taxi (or in Thai, motosai lapjang). No, those guys in the pink smocks aren't biker gangs; they're motosai cabbies. They typically wear colorful fluorescent yellow-orange vests and wait for passengers at busy places. Prices are negotiable; negotiate before you ride.

Travel Warning

WARNING: Motorcycle accidents are brutally common, and many (tourists and Thai alike) consider transportation of this sort to be inherently hazardous. Motorcycle taxis in Bangkok should generally be avoided except as a last resort.

For the adrenaline junkie, a wild motosai ride can provide a fantastic rush. Imagine weaving through rows of stopped vehicles at 50km/h with mere centimetres to spare on each side, dodging pedestrians, other motorbikes, tuk-tuks, stray dogs and the occasional elephant while the driver blithely ignores all traffic laws and even some laws of physics. Now do the same while facing backwards on the bike and balancing a large television on your lap, and then you can qualify as a local - though you might die in the process. Imagine your loved ones arranging to ship your dead body home from Bangkok because you took a dangerous risk you were warned not to.

The overwhelming majority of motorcycle taxis do not travel long distances, but simply shuttle up and down long sois (side-streets) not serviced by other transport for a fixed 5-20 baht fare. These are marginally less dangerous, especially if you happen to travel with the flow on a one-way street.

The law requires that both driver and passenger must wear a helmet. It is the driver's responsibility to provide you with one, so if you are stopped by police, any fine is also the driver's responsibility. This is worth bearing in mind when you hire a motorbike or moped. Make sure that if there are two of you, the hirer provides two helmets not one. When riding, keep a firm grasp on the seat handle and watch out for your knees.

Tuk-tuks on the prowl
Tuk-tuks on the prowl

Finally, what would Bangkok be without the much-loathed, much-loved, tuk-tuks? You'll know them when you hear them, and you'll hate them when you smell them — these three-wheeled contraptions blaze around Bangkok leaving a black cloud of smog in their wake. For anything more than a 5-10 minute jaunt or just the experience, they really are not worth the price — and, if you let them get away with it, the price will usually be 4 or 5 times what it should be anyway (which, for Thais, is around 30% less than the equivalent metered taxi fare). On the other hand, you can sometimes ride for free if you agree to visit touristy clothing or jewelry shops (which give the tuk-tuk driver gas coupons and commissions for bringing customers). The shops' salesmen are pushy, but you are free to leave after five to ten minutes of browsing. Visitors should beware though, sometimes one stop can turn in to three, and your tuk-tuk driver may not be interested in taking you where you need to go once he has his gas coupons. Also, with Bangkok's densly congested traffic it is sure to spend hours of your time.

In case you actually want to get somewhere, and you're an all-male party, be careful with the tuk-tuk drivers, they will usually just ignore your destination and start driving you to some bordello ("beautiful girls"). Insist continually and forcefully on going only to your destination.

There's also a less-heralded, less-colourful and less-touristy version of the tuk-tuk that usually serves the back sois in residential neighborhoods. They usually have four wheels instead of three and resemble a tiny truck / ute / lorry, and they run on petrol instead of LP. The maids and locals tend to use them to return home from market with loads of groceries, or for quick trips if they're available. Negotiate before you get in, but don't expect to go much beyond the edge of that particular neighborhood.

Recreational Bangkok Biking
Recreational Bangkok Biking

Go cycling! It may sound crazy, but it certainly is not. Away from the main roads there is a vast system of small streets and alleys. Cyclists are treated as pedestrians, so you can use your bicycle to explore parks, temple complexes, markets and the more quiet residential areas of eastern Bangkok. In more crowded places you can cycle on the sidewalk. Exploring the town by bicycle has all the advantages of going by foot, combined with a much greater action radius and a cooling breeze when cycling.

If you want to experience Bangkok hideaways and countryside, leisurely cycling through green paddy fields, colorful orchid farms, peaceful lotus fields and touched by the charm of Thai way of country life at personal level, bicycle is a great way to do it.

  • Andre Breuer - Recreational Bangkok Biking, Soi 71, Rama III Road, Yannawa, Office: 02 - 285 3955 of : 02 - 285 3867 Mr. Andre's GSM: 0 81 - 1705906 (, fax: 02 - 2853431), [28]. 1000 Baht.  edit
  • Co van Kessel Bangkok tours, Office: 02 - 322 9481 or: 02 - 752 6818 - 9 Mr. Co's mobile: 0 87 - 824 1931 Miss Nong's mobile: 0 87 - 054 9878 (), [29]. Half-day tours from 950 baht. 950 Bath.  edit
  • SpiceRoads, Office: 02 - 712 5305 or: 089 895 5680 (, fax: 02 712 5305), [30]. 09:00-18:00. One-day and multi-day cycling trips in and around Bangkok. from 1,000 THB.  edit
  • Thailand Green Ride, Office: 02 - 888 9637 or: 081 3183561 (, fax: 02 888 9693), [31]. 09:00-17:00. Half-day, one-day and home stay overnight cycling trips in green Bangkok countryside.  edit

Peoplespotting

More than any other place in Thailand, Bangkok offers wonderful opportunities for just sitting and watching people go by. Here's a partial checklist:

  • University student — Many of Thailand's universities continue to enforce a uniform, and what a uniform: for girls, it's a formfitting translucent white blouse, black miniskirt and straight black hair. The little shiny logo button on the blouse tells the cognoscenti which particular university she is attending. Boys wear a white dress shirt and black trousers.
  • Office lady — Sharply clad in infinite variations of solid pastel shades, this human houseplant mans customer service desks and pours tea in offices across the capital.
  • Bargirl — Mostly short and dark-skinned farm girls from the provinces, a bargirl can be spotted a mile away thanks to her pink hotpants and the kilo of gold around her neck. Often found in happy financial symbiosis with the sexpat.
  • Sexpat — Fifty-plus, bald, beer belly, stained shirt, lovestruck expression and a hairy arm wrapped around a girl too young to be his daughter. He's found what he's looking for.
  • Ladyboy (kathoey) — Either tall, large-handed, wears too much makeup, possesses an Adam's apple and has large breasts... or has accomplished the art of camouflage so well that you just filed her/him as an office lady or bargirl.
  • Expat — A farang walking about purposefully in dress shirt and long trousers, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it's 35°C outside. For extra credit, try to distinguish between the scruffier English teacher type and the jet-setting expense package type. Or try classifying them by the old joke about the three types of expat — missionaries, mercenaries and misfits.
  • Yuppie — Like every other big city, Bangkok boasts a coterie of young professional types who are hip, well-educated and relatively affluent. Similar to the Expat, they usually sport business attire and are likely to be hurried -- except they probably know a shortcut, and they aren't sweating so profusely.
  • Khao San Road vagabonds — Braided hair, bead necklace, sarongs, shorts and floppy pants. Either on their way to or just back from the beaches. Dazed and bewildered when torn apart from the familiar surroundings of Khao San Road. All are oblivious to the fact that Thais have a specific name for them - farang kii nok(ฝร่ัังขี้นก) translated as "birdshit Westerner" - due to their unclean & unattractive appearance. The most imperialist and clueless of this lot think that because of their anonymity in a foreign culture, walking around shirtless in public doesn't make them look like a dunce.

Most of Bangkok's sights are concentrated in the Old City on Rattanakosin Island. Out of Bangkok's hundreds of temples, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun usually make up the top 3. The Grand Palace has an immense size and expect to spend at least a full morning or afternoon there. Within the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. Unlike other temples, it is not one building, nor are there are living spaces for monks. Instead, it is a collection of highly decorated holy buildings and monuments.

Nearby is Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), home to the world's largest reclining Buddha image and a famed massage school. Cross the Chao Phraya river for the outstanding Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). The main structure is about 70 meters high and it is surrounded by four smaller prangs. It is one of Thailand's most picturesque temples, and it is engraved on the inner part of all ten baht coins. If you climb it, and look closely, you will see that it is actually beautifully decorated with colorful Chinese porcelain pieces. Other major temples include the Golden Mount, Wat Suthat and Wat Rajnadda.

Bangkok is a good place to see traditional Thai-style residences. Most people take a tour through Jim Thompson's House, the CIA-operative's mansion assembled by combining six traditional Thai-style houses. Ban Kamthieng, M.R. Kukrit's Heritage Home and the Suan Pakkad Palace could also make for a nice experience. Another interesting museum is the Dusit Palace, situated in a leafy, European-style area built by king Chulalongkorn to escape the heat of the Grand Palace. It's main structure is the Vimanmek Mansion, the largest golden teakwood house in the world, but you could spend your whole day in the museums here. Other museums include the National Museum about Thai history and archaeology, as well as the Museum of Siam and the King Prajadhipok Museum. Bangkok has a small, but vocal, art community, and you might want to visit the National Gallery, The Queen's Gallery, or one of it's numerous smaller galleries.

Lumpini Park is the largest park in central Bangkok, and a nice way to escape the fumes. Backpackers around Khao San Road tend to head for Santichaiprakarn Park, a small, but worthy, park along the Chao Phraya river. It has a breezy atmosphere, a fort and a nice view on the modern Rama VII bridge. Zoos and animal farms are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangkok, but before visiting, please be aware that animal welfare in Thailand is not strictly regulated. The poor living conditions of the Dusit Zoo and Safari World as well as the inadequate veterinary care at these locations are examples of the sad mistreatment of the animal population. You can't go wrong at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm, as the staff takes good care of their snakes and they have a job of informing the public about their risks. Siam Ocean World also makes for a nice family attraction. It is the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia.

  • One day in Bangkok - If you have just one day to spare and want to catch a feel for the city.

Do

Taking a bicycle tour of Bangkok is highly recommended. There are a handful of specialist operators that offer daily or regular departures to the Bangkok Jungle, an area across the river from downtown Bangkok where there are few cars or buildings, or through the backstreets of China Town. It sounds strange but a cycle tour in Bangkok really is the best way to discover the city up close. Sightseeing Along the Chao Phraya River is another great way to see the city, There are special boat trips designed for foreign tourists along the Chao Phraya River to take in sites such as the Grand Palace. They are quite pointless though, as the public passenger ferry does exactly the same trip. In fact, they are even better as they go all the way up to Nonthaburi Town. For a good trip take a public passenger ferry from near the Saphan Taksin BTS skytrain station and go up to Nonthaburi Town, enjoy the afternoon in this pleasant laid back traditional urban town and take the boat back.

Thai Boxing

Thai Boxing or Muay Thai is both a sport and means of self defence. Contestants are allowed to use almost any part of their body: feet, elbows, legs, knees, and shoulders, are all weapons. The playing of traditional music during bouts makes for even greater excitement. There are two venues in Bangkok for this type of sport.

  • Ratchadamnoen Stadium (สนามมวยราชดำเนิน), Ratchadamnoen Nok Road, 0 2281 4205. M,W,Th 6.30PM-10.30PM, Su 5PM-8PM & 8.30PM-midnight.  edit
  • Lumphini Stadium (สนามมวยลุมพินี), Rama IV Road, 0 2251 4303. Tu,F 6.30PM,Sa 5PM & 8.30PM.  edit

Elephant riding

Elephants are a large part of Thailand’s tourist trade, and the smuggling and mistreatment of elephants for tourist attractions is quite a widespread practice. Be aware that elephants are often separated from their mothers at a young age to be cruelly trained under captivity for the rest of their lives. Organizations such as The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai are an ethical alternative for elephant tourism.

Cultural performances

Puppet Theatre, Theatrical perfomances, Thai Dance etc., Listings have been lifted to the Do section of districts, this section could use a write up if you a familiar enough with the subject to provide a general overview.

Wellness

Spas, traditionally, were towns where public baths, hospitals or hotels were built on top of mineral springs so that people could come and make use of the healing properties found in the water and its mud for medical purposes. These days, a spa doesn’t have to be a town built on natural thermal springs. It can be a place anywhere that anyone can go to, to relax in tranquil surroundings with a variety of treatment administered to recontour and rejuvenate the body and mind. All self-respecting hotels in Bangkok will have a spa operating on premises offering at least traditional massage services. These tend to charge a premium but also offer some the best treatments in town. Particularly well-regarded spas include Deverana [32] at the Dusit Thani and the eponymous operations at Banyan Tree [33] and the legendary Oriental [34] — the last of these being probably the most expensive in town, offering (among other things) a 6-hour Oriental Romance package for two costing a whopping US$535. Independent spas offer much the same experience but are a little more competitive due to the lack of a captive customer base. Figure on 1000 baht and up per hour for most treatments.

The ubiquitous little massage shops found on every street corner in town, offer the best value for money but the smallest range of services, with offerings usually limited to massage only. It is fairly easy to distinguish legitimate massage shops from more dubious places: the real deal will charge 250-400 baht for a typical two-hour massage and will often have a row of beefy farmers' daughters in white coats working on customers' feet in public view, while the other kind has wispy things in evening dresses and too much makeup yelling "Hello handsome" at every passing male.

Entertainment

Horse Races are held on Sunday from 12.30PM-6.00PM at two alternate turf clubs, The Royal Turf Club of Thailand (ราชตฤณมัยสมาคม), on Phitsanulok Road or the Royal Bangkok Sports Club (ราชกรีฑาสโมสร) [35], on Henri Dunant Road.

Bangkok is a great place to go to the movies. If you are coming from the West, the cost of a cinema ticket is a complete bargain, around B120. Most of the cinemas are of the highest world-class standards and show all the latest releases. Major Cineplex and SFX are some of the largest chain cinemas. They are also up to par with technological innovations in the movie industry - expect to wear 3D glasses for some of the Hollywood releases, or visit an an IMAX Theater on Rangsit Roador the IMAX theater at Siam Paragon. Just like the capital’s cinemas, bowling centers are of a superb standard with some of them resembling the inside of a discotheque. Dance while you play style. Top class private karaoke lounges can be found at some of the bowling centers and major hotels.

Events

All of Thailand's major festivals are celebrated in Bangkok, see Thailand#Holidays for the full scoop.

  • Chinese New Year Festival. The place to go is naturally Bangkok's Chinatown, Yaowarat, where the main road is closed to cars and many stores and food stands crowd the road, with grandiose and colourful Chinese lion and dragon processions.
  • Bangkok Songkran Festival. The traditional Thai New Year is an occasion for merriment all over the city, but most notably at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, where the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees. In the Wisutkasat area, a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merry-making and entertainment. Khao San Road degenerates into a war zone as farangs and locals duke it out with super soakers.
  • Royal Ploughing Ceremony, May An ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, is what farmers believe is able to forecast the abundance of the next rice crop. The event is a result of a series of ceremonies that are conducted by Phraya Raek Na, portrayed by a high-ranking official who wears colourful traditional costumes. This ceremony was re-introduced in 1960 by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej and is considered the official commencement of the rice-growing season, as well as the rainy season. Nowadays, the ceremony is conducted by the Crown Prince.
  • Trooping of the Colours, December. Their majesties the King and Queen preside over this impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn. Dressed in colourful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the King and march past members of the Royal Family.
  • HM The King’s Birthday Celebrations December 5. Ratchadamri Road and the Grand Palace are elaborately decorated and illuminated, and in the evening hundreds of thousands line the route from Sanam Luang to Chitlada Palace to get a glimpse of the King when he is slowly chauffeur-driven past.
  • The Muay Thai Institute,(โรงเรียนมวยไทย) [36] 317 Phaholyothin Road, Tambon Prachathipat, Amphoe Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani Province. Tel: 0 2992 0096-9.
  • Fairtex Muay Thai Fitness [37] 99/8 Mu 3 Soi Buntham Anuson, Tambon Bang Phli Yai, Amphoe Bang Phli, Samut Prakan Province. Tel: 0 2757 5147, 0 2386 6117-9.

Cooking

Thai cuisine is a favorite of many, and many cooking schools provide half-day classes that provide a nice break from the day-to-day sightseeing monotony.

  • BaiPai Cooking School. Tel. 02-294-9029 info@baipai.com [38]. A nice casual cooking school with a nice modern design in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Their van will pick you up from your hotel or Bangkok location, because it's not easy to find. Instructors are fun and informative, and you get a souvenir printed photo and one is even emailed to you. Class run from 9:30AM to about 1:30PM, closed Mondays.
  • Blue Elephant. Tel. 02-673-9353 cooking.school@blueelephant.com [39]. Take classes from one of the most famous chains of Thai restaurants in the world. While the price is substantially higher than others in Bangkok, class takes place in the historic Blue Elephant restaurant, and while dining on your creations, wine, extra dishes and dessert are served. And they give you a Blue Elephant apron as well.
  • Mai Kaidee. Tel. 08-91-373-173 veginfo@maykaidee.com [40]. A vegetarian and vegan cooking school near Khao San with a location in Chiang Mai as well. You'll shop at the local market to pick fresh ingredients and learn meat-free traditional Thai recipes (as well as unique food such as the delicious pumpkin hummous). The owner has been an experienced vegan cook for many years and has a recipe book available for purchase. The school also has an attached restaurant with many various dishes.

Other schools include:

  • Thai House: (บ้านไทย) [41] Tel: 0 2903 9611, 0 2997 5161 Fax: 0 2903 9354
  • International Baking School (โรงเรียนขนมอบนานาชาติ) (Opposite Chatuchak Weekend Market) Lad Yao, Tel: 0 2272 5692-3, 0 2272 5663, 0 2272 5654.
  • Thai & International Food Academy (โรงเรียนธุรกิจการอาหารไทยและนานาชาติ) [42] 1004 Rama III Rd., Bang Phong Phang, Yannawa, Bkk. Tel: 0 2682 7644, Fax: 0 2682 8845.
  • Suan Dusit International Culinary School (โรงเรียนการอาหารนานาชาติสวนดุสิต) [43] Tel: 0 2244 5391-3.
  • The Modern Woman Institute (แม่บ้านทันสมัย) [44] Tel: 0 2 279 2831, 279 2834 .
  • UFM Baking & Cooking School (โรงเรียนสอนการผลิตอาหารและขนมมาตรฐาน) [45] Tel: 0 2259 0620-30, 0 2260 5280-300 Fax: 0 2259 0632.
  • Wandee Culinary School (โรงเรียนครัววันดี) [46] Tel: 0 2279 9844-5, 0 2279 2204, 08 1916 7083.

A Thai cooking class is also arranged by some of the top hotels. They are:

  • Bangkok Mariott Resort and Spa (โรงแรมแมริออท รีสอร์ท แอนด์ สปา) [47] (Near Krung Thep Bridge), Thon Buri Tel: 0 2476 0021-2.
  • Shangri-la Hotel (โรงแรมแชงกรีล่า) [48] Tel: 0 2236 7777 Fax: 0 2237 3688.
  • Tai Pan (โรงแรมไทปัน) [49] Tel: 0 2260 9888, 0 2260 9898 ext. 2007.
  • Thai Cooking School at the Oriental [50] Charoen Nakhon Rd., Tel: 0 2659 9000 ext. Thai cooking school.
  • The Landmark Hotel (โรงแรมแลนมาร์ค) [51] Tel: 0 2254 0404 Fax: 0 2253 4259.

Buddhism

Meditation, the essence of 'pure' Buddhism, can be practiced at any temple in Thailand. In Bangkok however, there are also two well-known centers that cater specifically to foreigners wishing to learn or/and practice.

  • The International Buddhist Meditation Centre. Wat Mahathat, 3 Maharat Road, Phraborommaharatchawang, tel. 2623-6325 [52]. Meditation classes in English are held at 7-10AM, 1-4PM and 6-8PM everyday in section 5 of the temple. Attendance is free of charge, but donations are welcome. Getting there: Take the river taxi to Chang Pier (between Silpakorn University and the Thammasat University). From there the center is a short walk.
  • The World Fellowship of Buddhists. 2nd Floor, No.616 Benjasiri Park, Soi Medhinivet (off Soi Sukhumvit 24), tel:2661-1284(-90) [53]. Offers meditation classes in English from 2 to 5:30PM on the first Sunday of every month. The office also provides information on places to learn and practice meditation in Thailand. Classes and information are free.

If you can speak and understand Thai language well, you may wish to go on your own retreat at a quiet temple on the outskirts of Bangkok. To pay for your stay it is appreciated that you assist the resident monks on their morning alms rounds.

  • The Wat Po temple in Rattanakosin offers well-regarded massage courses. While aimed squarely at tourists, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as they're used to conducting classes in English.
  • Union of Thai Traditional Medicine Society offers a more than reasonable alternative to the courses in Wat Po, as they pay more attention to the individual student and practices, conveniently located close to the China Town Pier (No. 5). Contact: Mr. Praphai Kingmala (66) - 087-929-8574, 272 - 274 Rachawong Rd, Sampantawong.
Racks of clothing at Siam Square
Racks of clothing at Siam Square

Bangkok is full of shopping malls and street markets of all types, especially in the Sukhumvit area; see the section for details. Prices can be cheap by Western standards, especially for locally produced items such as clothes, although bargaining is expected and required. Dump a teenager in Siam Center, Siam Square, Siam Paragon, MBK or The Emporium with a few thousand baht and they'll stay occupied for the rest of the week! Most malls tend to have excellent food courts.

Animal Souvenirs: Due to its location, lax laws, and resources, many illegal animal products come through Bangkok. Rare and endangered species are often sold at markets for pets (especially at Chatuchak), and many other animal products are sold as luxury items. Avoid buying rare pets, leather, ivory, talons, dried sea creatures (starfish, etc.), fur, feathers, teeth, wool, and other products, as they are most likely the result of illegal poaching, and contributes greatly to animal endangerment and abuse.

Weekend Market: A major attraction on weekends is the gigantic Chatuchak Weekend Market (a.k.a. JJ Market), in northern Bangkok but easily accessible by Skytrain and Metro. Take the metro and get off Kamphaeng Phet station which opens right into the market. Takes around an hour on the bus from Khao San Road area. If you're staying in Pratunam, metered fare should not go beyond 100 baht. Has 20,000 stalls selling everything from counterfeit goods, animals, art, furniture and probably anything else you can think of. Definitely worth a visit for the sheer size of it. There are food stalls everywhere. Forego the cutesy cafes for the humbler stalls. Flavored iced and fried wontons will provide fuel for the whole day. Closes at around 6PM. Keep a close eye on your valuables.

Night Market: Hugely popular with tourists & locals alike is the open air Suan Lum Night Bazaar. This is a large and colourful market offering bargains on everything from clothes, bags, crockery to organic foods. A smaller, cooler and cleaner version of Chatuchak - same wares sold for 20% more. There is a large food court with a live band every night. Beer seems to be the official beverage of this place - lots of beer gardens here. Covered in more detail in the Silom section.

Patpong Night Market: Between the strip clubs and bars along Patpong Road is the Patpong night market. This market is designed for tourists and is not frequented by locals. These markets are home to a variety of counterfeit merchandise including watches, clothes, bags, and cosmetics as well as Thai tourist products such as model tuk-tuks and kick-boxing shorts. The prices at this market are exorbitant and anyone brave enough to buy anything here should bargain extensively. Most items available at Patpong Night Market are available for less than half the price at other locations in Bangkok.

  • Books: B2S on the the 3rd floor of the Central World Plaza is Bangkok's largest bookstore, holding around 30,000 titles (many in English) and a large selection of magazines. Japanese chain Kinokuniya [54] also has a large outlet in Siam Paragon (Level 3 South) and one in Emporium, both with a very large selection of books in English (the Paragon branch also has a limited selection of books in German and French). The Asia Books [55] chain has several outlets all over Bangkok (see their web site); they have a good selection of books on Asia as well as books on architecture, interior design and decoration. Lastly if you want to trade books, or else buy second hand books, there is a shop between Sukhumvit soi 33 and 35 that does this for quite a reasonable price and is quite popular with the local expats.
  • Clothing: off-the-shelf: Thailand is a major clothing manufacturer and locally produced unbranded clothing is very cheap. Siam Center, Siam Square, MBK, Platinum mall and Chatuchak weekend market are a few places to visit for this. Branded clothing made in Thailand (eg. Levi's jeans) can also be good buys. For women, the lingerie salons in the department stores are must-sees. Wacoal is locally produced and are half the price in Bangkok.
  • Clothing: tailored: Bangkok is well-known for its plethora of tailors and high-quality fabric available locally. The vast majority of tailor shops are actually just sales fronts for a few large operations that do the actual work, so don't fret too much about which one to pick; however, do avoid any tailor recommended by taxis/tuktuks or that has to resort to touts, as you'll have to pay their commission. Avoid super-cheap packages or anything done in 24 hours, as the quality will suffer accordingly. It will help considerably if you know fabrics and what style you want (bring along a sample or at least a picture), and can spare the time for at least three sessions for a suit (measurement, fitting and final adjustment). Tailors can be found all over town, but Sukhumvit Road has the heaviest concentration.
  • Electronics: Pantip Plaza (off Sukhumvit) and Fortune Center (Ratchadaphisek) are the places to go for branded laptops to cheap VOIP phones and pirated DVDs. A must for any computer & electronics buff. See also: Electronics and entertainment shopping in Thailand. Be warned though, electronics are NOT necessarily cheaper in Thailand then they are back home. Also always get international warranty as you would want your electronics to be able to be fixed back home as well!
  • Medicine: Bangkok's pharmacies (drugstores) tend to offer a very wide range of (wholly legal and legitimate) medicines and herbal remedies at a fraction of Western prices, including many drugs that would require a doctor's prescription in other countries. Thai pharmacists tend to be exceptionally helpful, and most speak excellent English. There are small, independent pharmacists on almost every corner, and you'll find bigger (and more expensive) chains on the major streets and in shopping centers. Boots is probably the most ubiquitous chain; they're also a reliable source for traveler's toiletries.

Where to buy

Shopping Areas and Markets

Shopping in Bangkok is not limited to one or two major streets. There are many areas throughout Bangkok affording ample choices and easy access. The following is just a selection of some of the principal shopping areas.

  • Ploenchit-Ratchaprasong (เพลินจิต-ราชประสงค์)

Top department stores and luxury shopping malls are concentrated in the area, namely Central, Gaysorn Plaza, Isetan, Zen, Erawan Bangkok, Peninsula Plaza, all of which together make the largest shopping promenade in Bangkok. Furthermore, Central World Plaza and Narayana Phand Pavilion, host the official handicraft centre selling items from all parts of the country. Ratchaprasong intersection is the gateway to several shopping areas such as Phloenchit-Sukhumvit, Siam Square-Mahboonkrong, Silom and Pratunam-Phetchaburi.

  • Silom-Surawong-Patpong (สีลม-สุรวงศ์-พัฒพงษ์)

Silom Road is the main artery of Bangkok’s commercial heart and is paralleled by Surawong Road, while Patpong Road runs crosswise between the two. In addition to housing dozens of specialist shops and boutiques representing all the major buys, this area also boasts many branches of well-known retailers , Tailors and several shopping plazas.Montien Plaza being the most famous and Excelsior tailors. Street stalls also abound, most notably at Patpong’s famous night market.

  • Silom-Mahesak-Charoenkrung Road (สีลม-มเหศักดิ์-เจริญกรุง)

Silom leads into Charoen Krung Road which parallels the Chao Phraya River, and notable shopping opportunities include gems and jewellery stores (Mahesak Road is a gem trading centre), Oriental Plaza and River City shopping complex.

  • Sukhumvit (สุขุมวิท)

Like Silom, Sukhumvit is one of Bangkok’s main thoroughfares, and the long road is lined with shops, boutiques and modern shopping plazas ranging from Soi 3 (Nana Nua) up to Soi 63 (Ekkamai). Most shops and restaurants are concentrated between Soi 3 and Soi 21 (Asok) and along shortcuts between Asok and Ekkamai. Sombat Permpoon Gallery at Sukhumvit Soi 1 sells both paintings and sculptures by established artists and those of the new generation.

  • Pratunam-Phetchaburi (ประตูน้ำ-เพชรบุรี)

A highlight in the district is Pratunam market, one of Bangkok’s biggest centres for ready-to-wear clothing.

Baiyoke Tower (ตึกใบหยก) Located next to Bangkok’s tallest hotel building, Baiyoke tower is one of the city’s renowned garment centres.

  • Nai Lert Plaza (ศูนย์การค้านายเลิศ)

Situated close to Pratunam Market, Nai Lert Market is one of many shopping areas in Bangkok where you can buy just about everything from clothing to handicrafts.

  • Bang Lamphu (บางลำพู)

Situated close to the Grand Palace, Bang Lamphu has a lively market where clothing is a popular buy.

  • Chinatown (ย่านเยาวราช)

In the center of Yaowarat Road and Sampheng Lane, Bangkok’s Chinatown offers a profusion of gold shops as well as several nearby traditional shopping places such as Ban Mo Jewellery Street, Phahurat Cloth Market and the Old Siam Plaza.

  • Bo-be Market (ตลาดโบ๊เบ๊)

Situated close to Bangkok Railway Station, Bo-be is one of the city’s most renowned ready-to-wear clothing centres, both wholesale and retail.

  • Jatujak or Chatuchak Weekend Market (ตลาดนัดจตุจักร)

Located adjacent to Chatuchak Park, the weekend market, open on Saturday and Sunday, is a Bangkok landmark where shoppers can buy just about everything from clothing to potted plants and everything in between - - a paradise for browsers and bargain-hunters alike. The market also offers items of furniture and home decor. It is also where professional and amateur art-lovers and artists meet.

  • Pak Khlong Talat (ปากคลองตลาด)

This is a wholesale market for all kinds of cut flowers and vegetables. It is on Maharat Road near the Memorial Bridge. The market is crowded in the early morning and in the evening.

  • Saphan Phut (สะพานพุทธ)

A night market beneath Phra Phuttayotfa Bridge, known locally as Saphan Phut, selling second-hand items such as clothes, shoes and many other items.

  • Lang Krasuang (หลังกระทรวงกลาโหม)

The name literally means “behind the Ministry” and refers to an area behind the Ministry of Defence on Atsadang Road, which runs along Khlong Lot. On sale are military items such as uniforms, territorial defence student uniforms, shoes as well as travelling accessories like tents, sleeping bags and camping pots. There are shops selling musical instruments nearby.

  • Khlong San Pier (ท่าเรือคลองสาน)

Located in a soi off Charoen Nakhon Road, the area offers items like ready-to-wear clothes for teenagers and shoes at relatively low prices.

  • Woeng Nakhon Kasem (เวิ้งนาครเกษม)

A quarter of Thai and Chinese antiquities and art objects such as blue-and-white porcelain, brass ware and furniture decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay. It is located near Charoen Krung and Yaowarat Roads.

  • Thewet (เทเวศร์)

This is a pot plants market along the bank of Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem off Samsen Road.

Handicrafted products are available at the Chitralada Shop, which offers items from the SUPPORT Foundation, or at Narayana Phand Pavilion on Ratchadamri Road, open daily during 10PM – 8PM Tel. 0 2252 4670-9 and 0 2255 4328-9.

  • Taling Chan Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำตลิ่งชัน)

The floating market is in front of Taling Chan District Office and renders a blend of a rural market and canal side way of life. On weekends during 7PM-5PM, vendors who are in fact local farmers take their produce including plants, vegetables, fruits, fish and various kinds of food to this market for sale. The produce varies seasonally. There are also floating food shops and a private-run canal tour service for visitors to enjoy the district’s canal side way of life as well as farming. Open: Sat-Sun Admission: free Tel: For more details, please contact Khun Noppadol, Head of the Floating Markets Community at Tel. 08 1374 7616 or Taling Chan District Office, Tel. 0 2424 1742 and 0 2424 5448.

  • Wat Sai Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำวัดไทร)

Situated in Chom Thong district on the Thonburi side of Bangkok, this floating market used to be a popular touristic site for visitors to admire a canal side way of life. Construction of new roads within the area left the floating market abandoned before it was recently revived to resume its charm. A canal tour along this historic waterway to enjoy the floating market crowded with boats of farm produce for sale as well as life along the banks of Khlong Sanam Chai, especially on weekends, is available. Stop to visit Tamnak Thong and the old Ho Klong - a drum tower - of Ayutthayan architecture at Wat Sai, a Chinese style royal residence of King Rama III and Chinese sculpture at Wat Ratcha-orot, pay respect to the bejewelled Buddha image and appreciate mural paintings depicting the Chinese tale of Sam Kok or ‘The Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ at Wat Nang Nong, pay respect to Luangpu Thao at Wat Nang and view a snake-catching show at a snake farm on the bank of Khlong Dan.

To get there, drive along Ekachai Road that runs by Wat Sai or take bus No. 43 or 120 from Wongwian Yai. A boat for rent is also available from Tha Chang or Chang Pier along the Chao Phraya River and into canals to Wat Sai. Open: Daily Admission: Free

  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำดำเนินสะดวก)

This popular attraction is some 80km west of Bangkok, accessible by regular bus from the Southern Bus Terminal. Everyday, hundreds of vendor boats crowd the market area in the early morning till noon.

Eat

Bangkok not only has plenty of Thai restaurants, but a wide-selection of world-class international cuisine too. Prices are generally high by Thai standards, but cheap by international standards; a good meal is unlikely to cost more than 300 baht, although there are a few restaurants (primarily in hotels) where you can easily spend 10 times this. Of course, for those on a budget street stalls abound with noodle & meals at around 30 baht. Try:

  • Phad Thai and curry at shops everywhere.
  • Tom Yum Goong, you must try one of Thailand's most famous soupS.
  • Street vendors selling satay with hot sauce (for 5-10 baht a piece).
  • Finding a kanom roti street vendor is a must if you like sweets. The crepe-like dessert is filled with sweetened condensed milk, lots of sugar, and can also have bananas inside. Also fascinating to watch them being made.
  • Bugs - yes, insects. They are deep fried, nutritious and quite tasty with the soy sauce that is sprayed on them. Types available: scorpions, water beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, bamboo larvae, mealworms, and some more seasonal specialties. Note: break off the legs from grasshoppers and crickets or they will get stuck in your throat.
  • Chinatown has a range of street stalls and cheap restaurants selling food (try 1kg of huge barbecued prawns or tom yam with prawns for 300 baht) to the discerning local population.
  • All the Thai restaurant chains covered in the main Thailand article.
  • Restaurants featuring cuisine from all over the world on Sukhumvit Road and Khao San Road.

Vegetarian/Vegan In the more tourist-friendly parts of town (MBK, Khao San Road, Siam Paragon, Siam Square etc.), there are a few vegetarian restaurants or food court stalls, and vegetarian options are readily available on menus and in shops. Typical street restaurants will also easily cook a vegetarian equivalent of popular Thai dishes for you. Ask for "jay" food to leave the meat out of the dish. For example, "khao pad" is fried rice and "khao pad jay" is vegetarian fried rice. For vegans, the most common animal product used would be oyster sauce, and to avoid it, say "Mai Ou Naam Mon Hoi". Be aware that all street noodle vendors use animal broth for the noodle soup.

Dinner cruises

Dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya River are a touristy but fun way of spotting floodlit temples while chowing down on seafood and watching Thai cultural performances. Most operate buffet style and the quality of the food is so-so, but there's lots of it and it's not too spicy. Note that drinks and tips are usually not included in the listed prices below. There are many competing operators, but most cruises depart from the River City Pier, next to pier N3 Si Phaya of the River Express. Major ones include:

  • Chao Pharya Princess, +66-28603700 [56]. Large operator with four modern air-conditioned boats seating up to 250 people. From 1300 baht, departure from River City.
  • Loy Nava, +66-24374932, [57]. 70-seater rice barges. From 1400 baht, departure from Si Phaya Pier (near Sheraton), free pickup from most hotels.
  • Maeyanang, +66-26599000, [58]. Catered and operated by the Oriental Hotel, the Maeyanang is a custom-built ornately carved teakwood boat seating only 32 people, small enough to venture off the river down the subsidiary klongs. From 2000 baht, departure from Oriental pier.
  • Manohra, +66-24760021, [59]. Restored Thai rice barges seating 40 people. From 1350 baht. Departure from Marriott Resort, pick-up from BTS Saphan Taksin available.
  • Wan Fah, +66-2222-8679, [60]. 2-hour dinner cruises including a set meal of farang-friendly Thai food and seafood, live music and Thai classical dancing. Departs at 7 PM from River City, from 1000 baht.
  • Yok Yor Marina, +66-28630565, [61]. Operated by the famous seafood restaurant, this is a much more local (and cheaper) option than the tourist cruises: pay a 160 baht "boat fee" and then order off the menu at normal restaurant prices. Departure at 8 PM from Yok Yor Marina on the Thonburi side of the river, free shuttle service from BTS Saphan Taksin.
The Dome (Sirocco), Silom
The Dome (Sirocco), Silom

Bangkok's nightlife is infamously wild, but it's not quite what it used to be: due to recent social order campaigns, there have been quite a lot of crack-downs on opening hours, nudity, drug use etc. Nearly all restaurants, bars and clubs are now forced to close before 1 AM, although a few are allowed to stay open till 2 AM. (Informal sidewalk bars do stay open all night, particularly in lower Sukhumvit.) You must carry your passport for ID checks and police occasionally raid bars and discos, subjecting all customers to drug tests, though these mostly occur at places that cater for hi-society Thais.

One of Bangkok's main party districts is Silom, home not only to perhaps the world's most famous go-go bar strip Patpong, but plenty of more legitimate establishments catering to all tastes. For a drink with a view, the open-air rooftop bar/restaurants of Vertigo and Sirocco are particularly impressive. Similar bars to the ones at Patpong can be found in the lower Sukhumvit area, at Nana Entertainment Plaza (soi 4) and Soi Cowboy (soi 23), while a large number of more trendy and more expensive bars and nightclubs can be found in the higher sois as well, eg. Thong Lor (soi 55), Bed Supperclub, Q Bar, or Met bar. Hippie hangout Khao San Road is also slowly gentrifying and a score of young trendy Thai teenagers have also made their mark there. Most of the younger Thais though, still prefer to congregate around Ratchadaphisek.

Smoking is forbidden in all restaurants, bars and nightclubs, whether air-conditioned or non-air-conditioned.

Elephant Begging: A depressingly common sight on the congested streets of Bangkok during night hours is the lumbering elephant and its mahout (trainer), touting to tourists out drinking to feed the creatures bananas or take a photo with them for a fee. The elephants are brought to the city to beg in this way because they are out of work, and are mistreated and visibly distressed under the conditions of the city. Please avoid supporting this cruelty by rejecting the mahouts as they offer you bananas to feed the elephants. This is especially common in Silom and Sukhumvit.

Behaving while misbehavin'

Some simple rules of etiquette to follow in a go-go bar:

  • A drink in your hand is required at all times. Most places charge around 100-150 baht for most drinks.
  • Lady drinks cost a little more and earn you the privilege of chatting with the lady/gent of your choice for a while.
  • Taking a dancer out of his/her place of employment before closing time will cost you a bar fine of around 600 baht. This is the bar's share, the rest is up to you two.
  • No photos inside. If you're lucky, you'll merely have your camera confiscated, but you also stand a fair chance of getting beaten up for your trouble.
  • Look, but don't touch (unless invited to). Getting too frisky will get you kicked out.
  • Bring along your passport. Police raids are not uncommon and you're off to the police staton for the night if you can't produce one on demand.

The go-go bar is an institution of Bangkok's "naughty nightlife". In a typical go-go, several dozen dancers in bikinis (or less) crowd the stage, shuffling back and forth to loud music and trying to catch the eye of punters in the audience. Some (but not all) also put on shows where girls perform on stage, but these are generally tamer than you'd expect — nudity, for example, is technically forbidden. In a beer bar, there are no stages and the girls are wearing street clothes.

If this sounds like a thinly veiled veneer for prostitution, it is. Though some point to the large number of American GIs during the Vietnam War as the point of origin of the Thai sex trade, others have claimed that current Thai attitudes towards sexuality have deeper roots in Thai history. Both go-go and beer bars are squarely aimed at the foreign tourists and it's fairly safe to assume that most if not all Thais in them are on the take. That said, it's perfectly OK to check out these shows without actually partaking, and there are more and more curious couples and even the occasional tour group attending. The main areas are around Patpong, Nana Entertainment Plaza and Soi Cowboy.

See also the Stay safe|Prostitution section.

Gay nightlife

Thais are generally accepting of homosexuality and Bangkok has a very active gay nightlife scene, concentrated in Silom Sois 2 & 4 and a short strip of gay go-gos bars off nearby Th Surawong. Most of these bars, however, are aimed at gay men and the lesbian scene is much more low-key. The most popular gay bars are Balcony and Telephone bar at Silom soi 4, and for the disco crowd DJ Station and its late-night neighbour G.O.D., which are located at Silom soi 2 (packed every night beginning around 11PM). Bangkok's two two full-time lesbian bars are Zeta and Shela, with Lesla also open on Saturday nights only. Bring along your passport for entrance age checking (they do not allow people under 20 years old). Closing time is 2-3PM

In a league of their own are Bangkok's numerous transsexuals (kathoey), both pre- and post-operative, popularly known as ladyboys. Some work in the famed transvestite cabarets and there are some dedicated kathoey bars as well, but most do their best to blend in and many have the art of deception down pat. Telltale signs to look out for include tall height, large hands and an Adam's apple.

Note that some Thai regulars in the gay nightlife scene skirt the fine line between partying and prostitution, and the Western visitor, being considered richer, is expected to pay any food and drink expenses and perhaps provide some "taxi money" in the morning. It's usually wise to ask a boy you pick up in a bar or club if he is after money, as it's not uncommon for them to start demanding money after sex.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 1000 baht
Mid-range 1000 baht to 2500 baht
Splurge Over 2500 baht
Individual listings can be found in Bangkok's district articles
Boutique options such as the Old Bangkok Inn are now ubiquitous in Thailand's main cities
Boutique options such as the Old Bangkok Inn are now ubiquitous in Thailand's main cities

Bangkok has a vast range of accommodation, including some of the best hotels in the world — and some of the worst dives too. Broadly speaking, Khao San Road is backpacker city; the riverside by Silom and Thonburi is home to The Oriental and The Peninsula respectively, often ranked among the best in the world (and priced to match); and Sukhumvit Road has hotels (and hostels) for all budgets. When choosing your digs, pay careful attention to Skytrain and Metro access; a well-placed station will make your stay in Bangkok much more comfortable.

Boutique hotels have mushroomed in Bangkok during the past few years, they usually provide less number of rooms (usually 10 or less) and a more personalized service. With most types of accommodations, a majority of boutique hotels can be found in the Silom and Sukhumvit areas.

One Bangkok hotel phenomenon of note is the guest fee of around 500 baht added to your bill if you bring along a newly found friend for the night, (some hotels will even refuse guests). This is obviously aimed at controlling local sex workers, which is why hotel security will usually also hold onto your guest ID card for the duration of the visit, but some hotels will also apply it to Western visitors — or, more embarrassingly, try to apply it to your Thai partner.

Contact

Internet cafes abound in Bangkok, see the district pages for listings. You'll generally be looking at rates of around 0,5-1 baht/minute (30-60 baht/hour) in the tourist-laden districts like Khao San road, 20-30 baht/hour in the city center (the top floors of MBK, for example), and 10-15 baht/hour if you would venture into residential areas (the speed is generally still high). An increasing number of cafes and pubs, including the ubiquitous Coffee World [62] chain, offer free Wifi to their customers. TrueMove offers both free (registration required, both session and overall time is limited) and paid Wi-fi access, their network [63] is accessible in many malls, etc., and occasionally can be available even in you room from a nearby hot-spot - just look for 'truewifi' network, you can register right there. Some guesthouses now also provide complimentary Wi-fi access in the rooms - just ask, you'll encourage those who do not have to provide it also.

For the best options of calling abroad, as well as accessing Internet via GPRS/EDGE, see general Thailand article.

Useful number

  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT): 1672, 0 2250 5500
  • Tourist Police: 1155
  • Bangkok Tourist Bureau: +66-2225 7612-4
  • Thai Airways: 1566 (flight schedules), +66-2280 0060, +66-2628 2000 (reservation)
  • Suvarnabhumi Airport: +66-2723 0000
  • Bangkok Railway Station: 1690, +66-2220 4334
  • Eastern Bus Terminal: +66-2391 2504, +66-2391 6846
  • Southern Bus Terminal: +66-2894 6122
  • Northern/ Northeastern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2): +66-2936 2852 -66
  • BMTA Public Bus: 184
  • Telephone Number Inquiry: 113

Given its size and poverty level Bangkok is surprisingly safe, with violent crimes like mugging and robbery unusual. However, Bangkok does have more than its fair share of touting and scams, and quite a few individuals in the tourist business think nothing of overcharging visitors.

As a rule of thumb, it is wise to decline all offers made by someone who appears to be a friendly local giving a hapless tourist some local advice. Most Bangkok locals do not approach foreigners without an ulterior motive.

In 2008, political unrest hit the headlines, with the yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) closing down both of Bangkok's airports for a week and several people killed in political violence. After the new prime minister has been elected, things are more or less back to normal, but the situation remains unstable.

What to do if you fall for the gem scam

As long as you're still in Thailand, it's not too late. Contact the Tourist Authority of Thailand (02-6941222) or the Tourist Police (1155) immediately, file a police report, and return to the store to claim a refund — they must, by law, return 80%. If your gems have been mailed, contact the Bangkok Mail Center at 02-2150966 ext. 195 immediately and ask them to track your package: they'll find it if you act fast, and know the name, address and date it was mailed.

Beware of tuk-tuk drivers offering all-day tours for prices as low as 10 baht. You may indeed be taken on a full-day tour, but you will end up only visiting one gem and souvenir shop after another. The driver gets a commission if you buy something--and gas coupons even if you don't.

  • Insist on the meter for taxis, and agree on a price in advance for tuk-tuks. If they refuse, or quote silly prices, just walk out and get a different one as they're rarely in short supply.
  • Be highly skeptical of anyone telling you that your intended destination is currently closed (including skytrain and metro stations) or offering discount admissions. Temples are almost always free (the main exceptions are Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho) and open just about every day of the year. Anyone telling you otherwise, even if they have an official-looking identification card, is most likely out to scam you, especially if they suggest some alternate sights to see until the sight re-opens. At paid admission sites, verify the operating hours at the ticket window.
  • Also be wary of taxi drivers informing you that the destination is closed or there is a huge traffic jam, as more often then not, they are not telling the truth. Another scam by taxi drivers is similar to the situation above, except they drop you off at a certain place where a man, who claims to be an official, states that tickets are a certain direction and, in fact, there is another "official" who claims that the attraction is closed. If that happens, just follow the above pointer.
  • There is no such thing as Lucky Buddha or Lucky Buddha Day! Touts are out to trick you into getting a tuk-tuk to visit several souvenir shops or a gem scam shop.
  • At popular tourist sites, if an English-speaking Thai approaches you out of the blue and strikes up a conversation, be wary as they are almost certainly selling something. If they ask you if it's your first time in Thailand, it's probably best to answer 'no' and immediately walk away.
  • In the go-go bar zones, beware of touts who try to drag you into the upstairs bars with offers of ping-pong shows and 100-baht beer. The beer may well be 100 baht, but the "show" you'll be treated to will be 1000 baht or more. The rule of thumb is that if you can't see inside from street level, the establishment is best avoided.
  • Beware of private bus companies offering direct trips from Bangkok to other cities with VIP buses. There are a lot of scams performed by some private bus companies. The so-called direct VIP trips may end up changing three or four uncomfortable minibuses to the destination, the 10-11 hour trip may well be 17-18 hours. Try to book public BKS buses from the main bus terminals.
  • Beware of tuk-tuk or taxi drivers who approach you speaking good English or with an "I <3 farang" sign, especially those who mention or take you to a tailor shop (or any kind of business). They are paid by inferior tailor shops to bring tourists there to be subjected to high pressure sales techniques. If at any point your transportation brings you somewhere you didn't intend or plan to go, walk away immediately, ignore any entreaties to the contrary, and find another taxi or tuk-tuk.

Fights

DO NOT GET INTO FIGHTS WITH THE LOCALS. Thais are peace loving people but when it's a Thai versus a foreigner, it is never a fair fight. You'll wind up having to fight 10 to 20 others who were not initially involved, or the police will be called and will not do anything to assist you (especially the Metropolitan Police, as opposed to the Tourist Police, as they normally have very limited English skills). Thais are also notorious for fighting with weaponry (knives, broken bottles, metal rods), or employing Muay Thai techniques. These are usually produced from their concealed locations, with foreigners getting seriously injured or worse. Avoid all confrontations.

Prostitution

The age of consent is 15 but a higher minimum age of 18 applies in the case of prostitutes. Penalties for sex with minors are harsh.

All adult Thais must carry an identity card, which will state that they were born in 2533 or earlier if they were over the age of 18 on January 1st 2009 (in the Thai calendar, CE 2009 is the year 2552). Many hotels retain the ID cards of prostitutes for the duration of their visit.

Whilst most prostitutes are employed by bars or similar businesses, some are "freelancers". Petty theft and other problems are more common with "freelancers".

HIV/AIDS awareness is better than it used to be but infection statistics among entertainment industry workers remain high; "freelancers" are the highest risk group. Almost all girls insist on using condoms.

Technically, some aspects of prostitution are illegal (eg. soliciting, pimping), however enforcement is liberal and brothels are commonplace. It's not illegal to pay for sex or to pay a "barfine" (a fee the bar collects if you want to take an employee away).

The novel The Butterfly Trap (ISBN 1904502377) gives a realistic first-person account of Bangkok's nightlife industry.

Water

Tap water in Bangkok is said to be safe when it comes out the plant, but unfortunately the plumbing along the way often is not, so it's wise to avoid drinking the stuff, even in hotels. Any water served to you in good restaurants etc will at least be boiled, but it's better to order sealed bottles instead, which are available everywhere at low prices.

Take care with ice, which may be made with tap water of questionable potability. Some residents claim that ice with round holes is made by commercial ice makers who purify their water; others state that it is wise not to rely on that claim.

Food

As elsewhere in Thailand, be careful with what you eat. Outside of major tourist hotels and resorts, stay away from raw leafy vegetables, egg-based dressings like mayonnaise, unpackaged ice cream and minced meat. In short, stick to boiled, baked, fried, or peeled goods.

Cope

Hospitals

Bangkok's hospitals offer generally high quality services at a fraction of the cost of a Western hospital. Probably the best-regarded (and most expensive) is Bumrungrad [64], which (for example) charges 60,000 baht for an all-inclusive breast implant package. Bangkok is also well known as a center for sexual reassignment surgery for people wishing to change their physical sex, although this falls out of the scope of a casual vacation.

  • Bangkok Hospital, 2 Soi Soonvijai 7 New Petchburi Road (Central Bangkok) [65] tel. +66-23103000.
  • Bumrungrad Hospital, 33 Sukhumvit 3 (Soi Nana Nua) Wattana (Central Bangkok) [66] tel. +66-26671000.
  • Flying Air Ambulance, Sukhumvit 3 (Soi Nana 8) (Central Bangkok) tel. +91 9821150889.
  • Phyathai 2 Hospital, 943 Phaholyothin ROad, Samsennai, Phyathai, Bangkok 10400 Thailand. (www.phyathai.com)
  • Thonburi Hospital.

Dentists

A listing of the main dental clinics in Bangkok that have English-speaking dentists and staff:

  • Smile Studio Bangkok (dental cosmetic and dental implant center) in Silom location, 3 min walking from skytrain and subway station. [www.1tosmile.com] TEL: +66 2235 7707 - 9. Mail: dentist@1tosmile.com Get 5-10 % with your online reservation, by December 30, 2009
  • Bangkok International Dental Center (BIDC), ISO 9001:2000 certified 157 Ratchadapesik Rd (Central Bangkok) [67] tel. +66-26924433 [68].
  • Bangkok Dental Group, Siam Square Street 2 entrance (Central Bangkok) [69] tel. +66-658 4774 [70].
  • Australian Embassy, Bangkok [71], 37 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-344-6300.
  • Cambodian Embassy, Bangkok [72], No. 185 Rajddamri Rd, Lumpini, Patumwan, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-254-6630. E-mail: RECBKK@hotmail.com
  • Canadian Embassy, Bangkok [73], 15th Floor, Abdulrahim Place, 990 Rama 4 Rd Bangrak, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-636-0540. E-mail: bngkk@international.gc.ca
  • China PR Embassy, Bangkok, 57 Ratchadapisek Rd, Dindang, Bangkok. Tel: +66-2-245-7030-45, or (+66) 2-247-2122-3. Fax: (+66) 2-246-8247, or (+66) 2-247-2214, or (+66) 2-248-8085.
  • Ireland Consulate, Bangkok, 11th Flr, United Flour Mill Bldg, 205 Rajawong Rd. Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-223-0876, or (+66) 2-226-0680. Fax: (+66) 2-224-5551.
  • Israel Embassy, Bangkok, 25th Flr, Ocean Tower, 11 Sukhumvit Soi 19, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-260-4854-9.
  • Kuwait Embassy, Bangkok [74], 92/48 Sathorn Thani Building ll, 17th Floor, North Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10500 Tel: 2354222-3, 2342948 Fax: 2376779.
  • Laos PDR Embassy, Bangkok [75], 502/502/1-3 Soi Sahakarnpramoon, Pracha Uthit Road, Wangthonglang, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-539-6667. Fax: (+66) 2-539-6668. E-mail: sabaidee@bkklaoembassy.com
  • Malaysia Embassy, Bangkok, 35 South Sathorn Rd, Yannawa, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-286-1390, or (+66) 2-287-3979-80. Fax: (+66) 2-213-2126.
  • Myanmar Embassy, Bangkok, 132 North Sathorn Rd, Bangrak, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-236-6899, or (+66) 2-234-4789, or (+66) 2-233-2237. Fax: (+66) 2-236-6898.
    • Office of the Military, Naval and Air Attache (Myanmar) , 116 North Sothorn Rd, Bangrak, Bangkok.
  • The Netherlands, Bangkok, 15 Soi Tonson, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok. Tel: +66 (0)2 3095200. Fax: (+66 (0)2 3095205. EMERGENCY TEL.: +66 (0)81 9201329.
  • New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok, 93 Wireless Rd, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-254-3856, or (+66) 2-253-5363, or (+66) 2-253-0429. Fax: (+66) 2-254-9488, (+66) 2-253-9045.
  • Romanian Embassy, Bangkok, 20/1 Soi Rajakhru, Phaholyothin Soi 5, Phaholyothin Rd, Bangkok, Tel. (+66) 2-617-1551, Fax: (+66) 2-617-1113.
  • Russian Embassy, Bangkok [76] 78 Sap Road, Surawongse, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500. Tel: (+66) 2-234-9824, 2-268-1169. Fax: (+66) 2-237-8488 E-Mail: rusembbangkok@rambler.ru
  • Singapore Embassy, Bangkok, 129 South Sathorn Rd, Yannawa, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-286-2111, or (+66) 2-213-1261, or (+66) 2-287-5115. Fax: (+66) 2-287-2578.
  • U.K. Embassy, Bangkok [77], 1031 Wireless Rd, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-305-8333. E-mail: Info.Bangkok@fco.gov.uk
  • U.S. Embassy, Bangkok [78], 95 Wireless Rd, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-205-4049. E-mail: acsbkk@state.gov
  • Vietnamese Embassy, Bangkok [79], 83/1 Wireless Rd, Pathumwan, Bangkok. Tel: (+66) 2-251-7202, or (+66) 2-251-5835. Fax: (+66) 2-251-7201, or (+66) 2-251-7203. E-mail: vnembassy@bkk.a-net.net.th
  • India Embassy, Bangkok [80] 46 Prasarnmitr, Sukhumvit Soi 23, Bangkok – 10110. Tel-(662) 2580300-5. Fax-(662) 2584627, 2621740 E-Mail- indiaemb@mozart.inet.co.th

Get out

If you want to get out of the city for a while, there are plenty of day trip options from Bangkok.

  • Ayutthaya - Ancient capital showcasing its many ruins, 1.5 hours away by bus or train.
  • Hua Hin - Beach resort town popular with Thais and Scandinavians, 3 hours by taxi or 45 minutes by airplane
  • Bang Pa-In - Magnificent Royal Palace makes for a pleasant day trip.
  • Ko Samet - The closest Thai beach island; direct bus (from Ekamai) + ferry (from Ban Phe) takes about 4 hours.
  • Ko Chang - Relatively unspoiled tropical island; direct bus (from Ekamai or Mor Chit) + ferry (from Laem Ngop) takes about 5 hours.
  • Pattaya - Seaside resort and naughty nightlife 2-2.5 hours away by bus, an hour or so more by train.
  • Khao Yai National Park - Stunning mountainous scenery and some of Thailand's fledgling vineyards. 3.5 hours away by bus.
Routes through Bangkok
END  W noframe E  Si RachaAranyaprathet
Nakhon RatchasimaAyutthaya  N noframe S  END
Chiang MaiAyutthaya  N noframe S  END
END  N noframe S  Nakhon PathomHat Yai
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BANGKOK, the capital of Siam, on the river Me Nam, about 20 m. from its mouth, in zoo° 30' E., 13° 45' N. Until modern times the city was built largely on floating pontoons or on piles at the edges of the innumerable canals and water-courses which formed the thoroughfares, but to meet the requirements of modern life, well-planned roads and streets have been constructed in all directions, crossing the old canals at many points and lined with well-built houses, for the most part of brick, in which the greater part of the erstwhile riparian population now resides. The centre of the city is the royal palace (see Siam), situated in a bend of the river and enclosed by walls. At a radius of nearly a mile is another wall within which lies the closely-packed city proper, and beyond which the town stretches away to the royal parks on the north and to the business quarter, the warehouses, rice-mills, harbour and docks on the south. The whole town covers an area of over io sq. m. Two companies provide Bangkok with a complete system of electric tramways, and the streets are lined with shade-trees and lit by electricity. All over the town are scattered beautiful Buddhist temples, which with their coloured tile roofs and gilded spires give it a peculiar and notable appearance. Many fine buildings are to be seen - the various public offices, the arsenal, the mint, the palaces of various princes and, in addition to these, schools, hospitals, markets and Christian churches of many denominations, chiefly Roman Catholic. There are four railway stations in Bangkok,the termini of the lines which connect the provinces with the capital.

The climate of Bangkok has without doubt recently changed. It has become hotter and less humid. Though a minimum temperature below 60° F. is still recorded in January and December, a maximum of over Ioo is reached during the hot weather months and at the beginning of the rains, whereas up to the year 1900 a maximum of 93° was considered unusually high. The cause of this change is not known, but it is attributed to extensive drainage and removal of vegetation in the immediate neighbourhood of the town. The annual rainfall amounts to rather over so in.

A four-mile reach of the Me Nam, immediately below the city proper, forms the port of Bangkok. From 250 to 400 yds. broad and of good depth right up to the banks, the river offers every convenience for the berthing and loading of ships, though a bar at its mouth, which prevents the passage of vessels drawing more than 12 ft., necessitates in the case of large ships a partial loading and unloading from lighters outside. The banks of the port are closely lined with the offices, warehouses and wharves of commercial houses, with timber yards and innumerable ricemills, while the custom house, the harbour master's office and many of the foreign legations and consulates are also situated here. Of the 750 steamships which cleared the port in 1904, three out of every seven were German, two were Norwegian and one was British, but in 1905 two new companies, one British and the other Japanese, arranged for regular services to Bangkok, thereby altering these proportions. It is notable that the heavy trade with Singapore shows a tendency to decrease in favour of direct trade with Europe. A fleet of small steamers, schooners and junks, carries on trade with the towns and districts on the east and west coasts of the Gulf of Siam. The trade of Bangkok is almost entirely in the hands of Europeans and Chinese. The principal exports are rice and teak, and the principal imports, cotton and silk goods and gold-leaf. The value of trade, which more than doubled between the years 1900 and 1907, amounted in the latter year to £5,600,000 imports and 7,Ioo,000 exports. Of the total trade, 75% is with the British empire. Many of the best known mercantile firms and banks of the Far East have branches in Bangkok. The unit of currency is the tical (see Siam) .

The government of Bangkok is entrusted to the minister of the capital, a member of the cabinet. Under this minister are the police, sanitary, harbour master's and revenue offices. The police force is an efficient and well-organized body of 3000 men headed by a European commissioner of police. The sanitary department consists of a board of health, a bacteriological laboratory and an engineer's office, all managed with expert European assistance. Under the act of 1905, the want of which was long felt, the port and the city water-ways are controlled by the harbour master. Local revenues are collected by the revenue office. The ordinary law courts are under the control of the ministry of justice, but in accordance with the extra-territorial rights enjoyed by foreign powers in Siam, each consulate has attached to it a court, having jurisdiction in all cases in which a subject of the power represented by such consulate is defendant.

The population, which is estimated at 450,000, is mixed. Mingling with Siamese and Chinese, who form the major part, may be seen persons of almost every race to be found between Bombay and Japan, while Europeans of different nationalities number over 1000. The death-rate is high, especially among children, owing to the prevalence of cholera, smallpox and fevers during the dry weather. Sanitation, however, is improving and much good has resulted from the boring of numerous artesian wells which yield good water.

Before 1769 Bangkok was nothing but an agricultural village with a fort on the river bank. In that year, however, it was seized by the warrior, Paya Tak, as a convenient point from which to attack the Burmese army then in occupation of Siam, and upon his becoming king it was chosen as the capital of the country.

(See SIAM.) (W. A. G.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Bangkok

Plural
-

Bangkok

  1. The capital of Thailand. Also known as “Krungthep” (กรุงเทพ).

Synonyms

Derived terms

Translations

External links


Bosnian

Proper noun

Bangkok m.

  1. Bangkok.

German

Wikipedia-logo.png
German Wikipedia has an article on:
Bangkok

Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Bangkok n.

  1. Bangkok (capital of Thailand)

Polish

Wikipedia-logo.png
Polish Wikipedia has an article on:
Bangkok

Wikipedia pl

Proper noun

Bangkok m.

  1. Bangkok (capital of Thailand)

Declension

Singular only
Nominative Bangkok
Genitive Bangkoku
Dative Bangkokowi
Accusative Bangkok
Instrumental Bangkokiem
Locative Bangkoku
Vocative Bangkoku

Serbian

Proper noun

Bangkok m.

  1. Bangkok.

See also


Simple English

Bangkok
กรุงเทพมหานคร
Bangkok at night
Location of Bangkok in Thailand
Coordinates: 13°50′N 100°29′E / 13.833°N 100.483°E / 13.833; 100.483
Country Thailand
Government
 - Governor Sukhumband Paribatra
Population (2000)
 - Total 6,355,144
Time zone ICT (UTC+7)

Bangkok (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร) is the capital city of the Asian country of Thailand. In 2005, the city has registered population of 6,642,566 people. In Thailand it is known as Krung Thep or, its full name; Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

Sister cities

References

Other websites

koi:Бангкокrue:Банкок








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