There is something special about Bangkok. I don’t know if it’s the chaotic atmosphere that swallowed the historical city. But there is one thing I’m sure of: I wouldn’t stay there more than a week.
- Airports: BKK (Suvarnabhumi) and DMK (Don Mueang)
- Main Districts: Siam Square, Sukhumvit, Silom, Rattanakosin, Khao San, Yaowarat, Dusit, Thonburi, Pratunam
- Bangkok is the capital and the largest city of Thailand
- Rattanakosin: The old town, where you can see Wat Pho and Grand Palace.
- Yaowarat: Bangkok’s Chinatown.
- Skytrain: Bangkok’s second floor. The railway line that blocks the sun.
- Chao Phraya: The river that flows through Bangkok. A major waterway.
- Siam: The central district of the modern city. Home to countless shopping malls.
- Silom: Bangkok’s financial district.
Bangkok has two international airports: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. From Suvarnabhumi (BKK), you will have three options for transfer to downtown: Airport Link train, transfer bus or taxi. Don Mueang (DMK) doesn’t have transfer train, but the airport shuttles will take you to BTS Skytrain’s Mo Chit station on the green line.
In the modern districts of Bangkok, you can get to anywhere you want by skytrain and metro. However, navigating the city can become a problem if you’re going to visit the old town. There aren’t any public transportation options except the local buses in Rattanakosin and Yaowarat.
If you’re not using the skytrain or the metro, always;
- Ask the taxi driver to open the taximeter before getting on, and think twice if it’s rush hour because the traffic can be a nightmare,
- Remember you can get around Bangkok by ferry as well. Consider using the ones on Chao Phraya River. You can also get to Sathorn Pier by ferry and transfer to Saphan Taksin station on BTS Skytrain line,
- Agree upon the price before getting on a tuk tuk, and don’t believe the tuk tuk driver who says that the temple/attraction you want to visit is closed, and he can take you to a distant one. It’s a scam. Tourist attractions in Bangkok don’t have lunch break.
Thailand’s currency is Thai baht. You can convert euros, pounds, any kind of dollars, and Asian currency to Thai bahts at the airport, and in Bangkok. The reliable exchange offices at the city center close at 6 pm.
Rattanakosin: The Old City
Rattanakosin, or the old town, is where you can find Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions, like Wat Pho and Grand Palace.
Wat Pho & the Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho is the oldest temple in Bangkok, and it’s considered as Thailand’s first university, It is a first-class royal temple complex. The easiest way to get to Wat Pho is to take a ferry and get off at Tha Tien Pier. From there, it’s a 5-minute walk to the temple.
The famous reclining Buddha is 46 meters in length. It’s a symbolic representation of Buddha in his last moments before entering Nirvana.
There are a total of 872 Buddha statues at Wat Pho.
You are going to have to take off your shoes while entering the temples at the complex, so it might be a good idea to put on the ones that you’re comfortable with. Additionally, women must cover their shoulders and knees inside.
Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn, or the group of four tall pagodas inside Wat Pho, is one of the most beautiful structures of the complex. The details on the towers are really impressive. Each pagoda represents the reign of a king.
Probably the most beautiful and certainly the most crowded attraction in Bangkok.
The construction of Grand Palace began in 1782, when Thailand’s capital was moved from Thonburi (the district to the west of Chao Phraya River) to Rattanakosin (today’s Old City). The complex had been built during the reign of King Rama I, and it had been the royal residence of Thailand until the end of the 19th century.
The complex of Grand Palace is also home to Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is considered, by locals, as the most sacred place of Thailand.
The closest pier to Grand Palace on Chao Phraya River is Tha Chang Pier.
Khao San Road
To be honest, I didn’t find anything special about Khao San Road. However this street is the place where you can find the cheapest accomodation in Bangkok, therefore it’s regarded as “backpackers’ heaven”.
Thonburi is the district that lies across Chao Phraya River from the old town. It had been Thailand’s capital before Rattanakosin.
Among the most famous structures in Thonburi is Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn. It’s an 18th-century temple with a Khmer-style central tower, which is covered in colorful Chinese porcelain. Unfortunately, we could not climb the tower, since it was under renovation when we visited. But visitors say it has a great view of the river.
Bangkok’s vibrant Chinatown is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world. It was established in the 18th century, when Chinese traders were asked to leave the Grand Palace region, the community’s original location, by King Rama I.
Wat Traimit, the Buddhist temple at the entrance of Yaowarat, houses the world’s largest solid Buddha statue. The Buddha had been covered in plaster for years, and it was accidentally rediscovered when it was dropped while being moved and the gold was revealed.
At the center of Odeon Circle you will see the huge Chinese Gate. It marks the entrance of Yaowarat.
Sampaeng Lane, the former main street of the district, is where a large collection of shops and wholesalers are gathered.
Besides all these, my favourite thing to do in Chinatown is to eat. You can find countless food stalls selling hundreds of different dishes on the main street, Yaowarat Road.
The closest metro station to Chinatown is Hua Lamphong.
Silom Road & Sathorn
Silom is Bangkok’s financial district, which is also home to many great restaurants and rooftop bars.
We stayed at Holiday Inn Bangkok Sathorn. It was pretty central and convenient in terms of transportation. You’ll be impressed by the number of 7-Eleven stores in the area.
Siam, the center of modern Bangkok, is occupied by shopping malls. Some of them have direct access to the central skytrain station. In Siam, you can find a mall for every taste and budget. Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery mainly host high-end designer brands, while MBK has more than 2,000 shops that sell practically everything from furniture to cell phone accessories.
The face you’ll see in the mural below belongs to Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand’s late king. He had reigned for 70 years and he passed away in October 2016. Since then, Thai people have been in a year-long period of mourning. If you go to Thailand in 2017, you’ll see his photographs, murals, and pictures on every corner.
The late king is still extremely popular in Thailand, because, the locals say, he devoted his whole life to working on projects that improved the living conditions of the poor, and he was a photographer, a sailor, and a jazz musician at the same time.
I still think that it’s a must-see, however Damnoen Saduak is the only place that won’t be on my list, if I go to Bangkok again.
If you want to take photographs on the river, that’s OK. But, in my opinion, its touristy atmosphere destroyed everything original and exotic about the floating market. Or, maybe I couldn’t appreciate the authenticity of it enough, since I compared it with the Kampong Phluk floating village in Siem Reap, which seemed much more unharmed.
You can arrange a tour to Damnoen Saduak at your hotel’s front desk, or at some other agency in the city. The (one way) bus trip takes about an hour and a half from Bangkok.