The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Bangkok, Thailand (2019)

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Bangkok, Thailand (2019)

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Bangkok is one of those cities that you never get tired of visiting. No matter how many times you’ve been, you’ll always find something new and exciting to see, do, and eat. It’s got a perfect blend of food, culture, nightlife, shopping, affordability, and grittiness that’s unmatched anywhere in Asia.

We visited Bangkok in 2017 and again in 2018 and who knows? We might just find ourselves there again this year. Such is the allure of the world’s most visited city for the last three years and running. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’re into. Bangkok will always have something for you.

If you’re visiting Bangkok for the first time ever, then I hope this comprehensive guide can help you plan your trip.

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Erawan Museum, Bangkok, Thailand

GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Bangkok at a Glance
  2. Best Time to Visit
  3. Traveling to Bangkok
  4. Where to Exchange Currency
  5. Best Area to Stay
  6. Things to Do
  7. Day Tours from Bangkok
  1. Where to Eat
  2. Points of Interest (Map)
  3. How to Get Around
  4. How Many Days to Stay / Sample Itinerary
  5. Budget / Summary of Expenses
  6. Travel Tips

BANGKOK AT A GLANCE

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and its biggest city by far. It’s a top tourist destination which is consistently ranked among the world’s most visited cities. In fact, so popular and beloved is Bangkok that it was voted the “World’s Best City” by Travel + Leisure magazine readers for four consecutive years. Spend a few days there and you’ll understand its appeal.

Bangkok’s myriad attractions make it appealing to a diverse demographic of tourists. Are you into shopping? There are plenty of markets and shopping malls like Chatuchak Market and Siam Square to keep you busy. Do you like cultural attractions? Then spend the day exploring the Old City and its must-see sights like the Grand Royal Palace and Wat Pho. If good food is your thing, then you’ll be pleased to know that CNN declared Bangkok as the world’s best street food city. And don’t let budget concerns scare you away either. You can thrive on Khaosan Road, the backpacking capital of the universe, for as little as USD 10-15 a day.

In short, Bangkok has something for everyone. It’s an exciting, affordable city that’s much more than your gateway into Thailand. For many travelers, it’s the destination.

BEST TIME TO VISIT BANGKOK

Like Manila, Bangkok enjoys a tropical climate so it’s warm year round with just two seasons – rainy and dry. The dry season is from November-April while the rainy season is from May-October. March-May are typically the hottest months while August and September experience the most rainy days. Because of the dry and cooler climate, November-February is considered the ideal time to visit Bangkok. However, it’s also peak season so expect higher prices during that time.

NOV-FEB: Climate-wise, this is the ideal time to visit Bangkok. It’s cooler, it rains less, and it isn’t as humid. It’s also the height of tourist season so expect bigger crowds and slightly higher prices overall.

MAR-MAY: These are the hottest months in Bangkok. The temperature often exceeds 40°C (104°F) so it isn’t the most comfortable time to visit. However, Songkran or the Thai New Year happens every April. This three-day festival turns the city into a big water fight, making it a fun time to be in the city.

JUN-OCT: The rainy season in Bangkok typically begins in June and lasts till the beginning of November. This is considered the low season in Bangkok.

Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Bangkok

To help you better understand the weather in Bangkok, I’ve included average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Suggested months to visit are indicated in orange.

Average Temperature
Average Temperature in Bangkok, Thailand

Annual Rainfall
Annual Rainfall in Bangkok, Thailand

TRAVELING TO BANGKOK

Bangkok is serviced by two international airports – Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK). The former is the primary airport which services more international flights, so the majority of tourists traveling to Thailand will probably enter the country through Suvarnabhumi. Here’s how you can get to downtown Bangkok from either airport.

From Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)

BY TRAIN: This is the best way to get to downtown Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi. You can take the Airport Rail from Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai Station (THB 45). From there, you can can transfer to the BTS line and take it to the station nearest your hotel.

BY BUS: You can catch the S1 bus from Suvarnabhumi to Khaosan Road. Departing from Gate 7 on the first floor of the passenger terminal, the fare is THB 60 and it runs every 30 minutes from 6AM-8PM.

BY TAXI OR GRAB: A taxi from Suvarnabhumi to downtown Bangkok should cost you around THB 400 (with airport surcharge and toll). Be sure that the driver uses the meter since taxi scams are quite rampant in Bangkok.

BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: This is the easiest and most comfortable option, but it’s also the most expensive. Kkday offers private transfers from Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) to downtown Bangkok. Follow this link to book a private transfer through KKday or Klook.

From Don Mueang International Airport (DMK)

BY TRAIN: There’s no BTS or MRT station at Don Mueang, so you’ll need to take a bus or taxi from the airport to the nearest train station, which is Mo Chit. If you’re going by bus, then you can catch the A1 bus just outside the terminal. The bus fare to Mo Chit BTS Station is THB 30 and it runs every 15 minutes or so from 7:30AM-11:30PM*. If you’re going by taxi, then the fare to Mo Chit should cost you no more than THB 200 (including a THB 50 airport surcharge). The expressway toll costs THB 70 but you can specify to your driver not to take the expressway. Again, be sure your driver uses the meter to avoid getting scammed. Once you’re at Mo Chit Station, then you can take the BTS to the station nearest your hotel.

BY BUS: You can catch the A2, A3, or A4 bus from Don Mueang to Victory Monument (A2), Pratunam and Lumpini Park (A3), or Khao San Road and Sanam Luang (A4). The fare is THB 30-50 and it runs every 30 minutes or so from 7:30AM-11:30PM*. We’ve never taken a bus in Bangkok but a common concern seems to be that buses tend to get full. For that reason, you may be better off taking it to Mo Chit and doing the rest of the journey by train.

BY TAXI OR GRAB: A taxi from Don Mueang to downtown Bangkok should cost you around THB 350 (with airport surcharge and toll). As advised, be sure the driver uses the meter.

BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: This is the easiest and most comfortable option, but it’s also the most expensive. Kkday offers private transfers from Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) to downtown Bangkok. Follow this link to book a private transfer through KKday or Klook.

*Different websites have conflicting information on bus timetables so these are estimates based on what I’ve read.

From Other Ports of Entry

We flew to Bangkok but there are other ways to get there depending on where you are. I suggest checking 12Go Asia to find route options available to you. You can click on the link or use the widget below.


WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY

The unit of currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). I read that SuperRich offers some of the best exchange rates in Bangkok and it seems to be true. I exchanged a small amount of currency at Suvarnabhumi Airport and got a rate of 31.28 on 25 October. Later that same day, I got a rate of 33.05 at a SuperRich branch. I suggest changing a small amount at the airport, no more than USD 100, just to get you into the city. You can then change the rest at SuperRich. Follow this link for a list of SuperRich branches.

If you’re worried about bringing too much foreign currency with you, then an alternative would be to withdraw THB from an ATM. The rates are comparable. Just be sure to let your bank that you plan on using your ATM card abroad so they don’t block it or anything. In my experience, my ATM card works in some machines but not in others.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN BANGKOK

Figuring out where to stay in Bangkok can be challenging. It’s a big city and the subway system, while convenient, doesn’t service as many areas yet. I think it’s best to stay in a commercial area which is as near as possible to a BTS or MRT station. That way you have easy access to the subway and not have to be so dependent on taxis or Grab to get around.

There are eight popular tourist lodging areas in downtown Bangkok: Sukhumvit, Siam, Silom, Pratunam, Riverside, Chinatown, the Old City (Rattanakosin), and Chatuchak. Because of Bangkok’s notorious rush hour traffic, international tourists coming in and out of the city at odd hours often stay near Suvarnabhumi Airport, so you count that as the ninth. Of those nine areas, we’ve stayed in five over the years: Pratunam, Riverside, the Old City, Chatuchak, and the Suvarnabhumi Airport area.

I’ll describe the hotels and neighborhoods we’ve stayed at below, but here’s a quick summary of each area based on this excellent in-depth post on where to stay in Bangkok. You can click on the names to browse through hotel listings in each area.

SUKHUMVIT: Good nightlife, lots of dining options, easy access to BTS, area is spaced out so walking is often required.
SIAM: Best shopping area in Bangkok, plenty of food options, easy access to BTS, limited nightlife.
SILOM: Great restaurants, Patpong Night Market, easy access to BTS and MRT.
PRATUNAM: Pratunam Market, plenty of cheap restaurants and accommodations, BTS is a 15 minute walk away.
RIVERSIDE: Beautiful views, relaxed, more expensive, a little far from downtown Bangkok.
CHINATOWN: Excellent street food, chaotic.
THE OLD CITY: Backpacker area, close to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
CHATUCHAK: Close to Chatuchak Weekend Market, Don Mueang Airport.
SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT: Close to the airport, too far from downtown Bangkok.

I’ve created the color-coded map below to help you visualize where all these recommended areas are: (Please note that marked areas are approximations only)

RED – Sukhumvit
PURPLE – Siam
GREEN – Silom
PINK – Pratunam
BLUE – Riverside
YELLOW – Chinatown
GREY – The Old City
ORANGE – Chatuchak
BROWN – Suvarnabhumi Airport

PRATUNAM: Baiyoke Sky Hotel

Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Pratunam, Bangkok, Thailand

Ren and I stayed here years ago on our first trip to Bangkok together. At 88 storeys tall, Baiyoke Sky Hotel is the tallest hotel in Southeast Asia. The room we stayed in was huge and we had an awesome view of the city. What I liked about this hotel is that it’s close to many air-conditioned shopping malls in the Siam area like MBK, Siam Center, and Siam Paragon. I remember walking to MBK nearly everyday and spending most of our time there, either to shop or just to get away from the heat.

You can book a room at Baiyoke Sky Hotel through Booking.com or Agoda. Be sure to check both sites to find the best deal. If you like Pratunam but don’t think this is the right hotel for you, then you can check these sites for alternate listings in Pratunam: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to USD 43 free travel credit by signing up via this link.

Approximate Room Rate: USD 82 per night (as of Jan 2019)
PHOTO: “Fine Dining with a view” by Yogendra Joshi, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom, removed watermark

RIVERSIDE: Ideo Mobi Sathorn

Ideo Mobi Sathorn, Riverside, Bangkok, Thailand

Ideo Mobi Sathorn isn’t a hotel, but a residential condominium located right next to the Krung Thonburi BTS station. We rented a room here through AirBnB. What I loved about staying here is that it’s in a residential neighborhood far removed from the chaos of downtown Bangkok. Krung Thonburi Station is just a minute away from the building’s main entrance so getting around isn’t an issue.

The studio apartment is clean with a complete kitchen, and the building has a swimming pool and gym which you’re free to use. The owners were a pleasure to deal with as well. At the time of this writing, this listing has a perfect 5-star rating based on 190 reviews.

You can book this same apartment through AirBnB. As described, you can get up to USD 43 free travel credit by signing up via this link. If you like the Riverside area but would rather stay in an actual hotel, then you can check out Booking.com for alternate listings.

Approximate Room Rate: USD 39 per night (as of Jan 2019)

THE OLD CITY: Khaosan Road

Khaosan Road, Bangkok, Thailand

I haven’t seen it, but in the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo diCaprio, they described Khaosan Road as “the center of the backpacking universe”. That may be a slight exaggeration but it certainly feels that way when you’re there. This is where I used to stay when I’d travel to Bangkok twenty years ago. It’s one of the most famous areas in Bangkok and teeming with bars, cheap restaurants, and guesthouses, which is why it’s such a popular choice among young backpackers on a budget.

If you’re young and like to party, then you’ll probably want to stay somewhere along Khaosan Road. It’s cheap and near some of the city’s most popular attractions like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Personally, we wouldn’t stay here anymore. Too busy and crazy for oldies like us.

You can search for accommodations in the Khaosan Road area on Booking.com, Agoda, or AirBnB. As mentioned above, you can get up to USD 43 free travel credit on AirBnB when you sign up via this link.

Approximate Hostel Room Rate: As low as USD 4 per night (as of Jan 2019)
PHOTO: “Khao San Road” by Nick Gray, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Cropped, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

CHATUCHAK: Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao

Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao, Bangkok, Thailand

Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao is a 5-star hotel not too far from the Chatuchak Weekend Market. We were put up here on a press trip to Thailand in 2018. The hotel is connected to the Centra Plaza Ladprao Shopping Complex and is close to Don Mueang Airport. The hotel isn’t the most modern but it’s luxurious and very comfortable, with plenty of great restaurants to choose from including the fantastic Suan Bua Thai Restaurant.

Chatuchak is a little farther away from the city’s top attractions so I suggest staying in this area only if your main goal is to shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market or you need to be close to Don Mueang Airport. You can book a room at Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao on Booking.com or Agoda.

If you like the Chatuchak area but would rather stay at a different hotel, then you can check these links for alternate listings: Booking.com | Agoda | AirBnB. As described, you can get up to USD 43 free travel credit on AirBnB when you sign up via this link.

Approximate Hotel Room Rate: USD 151 per night (as of Feb 2019)

SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT: The Cottage

The Cottage, Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

The only reason for you to stay near Suvarnabhumi Airport is if you arrive late at night or have an early flight to catch the next day. It’s about an hour to downtown Bangkok so it’s too far to make it your base. We stayed at The Cottage for one night on our last trip to Thailand. We flew in from Chiang Mai and needed a place to stay near the airport to catch an international flight early the next morning.

The Cottage is a quick 5-minute drive from Suvarnabhumi Airport. It’s walking distance to the Paseo Community Mall where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops. They provide free shuttle transfers to the airport as well.

We booked a room here through AirBnB but you can make reservations through Booking.com or Agoda as well. Again, if you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to USD 43 free travel credit when you sign up via this link. You can check AirBnB and Agoda for alternate listings around Suvarnabhumi Airport as well.

Approximate Room Rate: USD 31 per night (as of Jan 2019)



Booking.com

THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK

1. Go Temple Hopping in the Old City (Rattanakosin)

Every first-time visit to Bangkok should start in Rattanakosin, aka the Old City. It’s the historic center of Bangkok and where you’ll find most of its must-see attractions.

If you’re staying in the Khaosan Road area, then you can start by walking south to the Grand Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). You can then continue south to Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, before taking a ferry to the other side of the Chao Phraya River to visit Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). From Wat Pho, walk to Tha Tien Pier (Pier 8) and pay the THB 3 ferry ticket to cross the river to the Thonburi side. Wat Arun won’t be far from there.

You can visit all of these places on your own in about half a day, but if you’d rather go on a guided tour, then you can choose from several Bangkok city tours on Klook.
Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand

Estimated Time to Spend: At least half a day / Admission: Varies, check this post for a list of attraction entry fees in Bangkok

Wat Arun Statue” by Mark Fischer, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

2. Explore Bangkok’s Many Markets

Bangkok has many, many markets. From food markets, to weekend markets, to floating markets, to night markets, there’s a market for everyone in this city. So when Your Thai Guide reached out and offered to give us a private tour of Bangkok, we knew exactly what we wanted – a market tour.

We started bright and early at a great floating market on the outskirts of Central Bangkok called Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. We then made our way to the maze-like Chatuchak Weekend Market before ending at one of the world’s best fresh markets, Or Tor Kor Market. Check out my post on exploring Bangkok’s markets with Your Thai Guide for more pictures and information. If you’re interested in having a private tour guide show you around Bangkok, then we’re happy to recommend Your Thai Guide. Natt and her team are great.
Your Thai Guide, Bangkok, Thailand

Estimated Time to Spend: At least half a day / Admission: FREE

3. Go on a Bangkok Street Food Tour

Bangkok is synonymous with street food. CNN called it the very best street food city in the world, and it isn’t hard to see why. No matter where you look, no matter what time of day, there seems to be something delicious waiting for you at every corner.

One of the best neighborhoods to go street food hunting is the area around Yaowarat Road in Chinatown. We went on a street food tour led by an actual chef from A Chef’s Tour. It’s an awesome tour that had us eating our way through the back alleys of Bangkok’s Chinatown for over four hours. If you enjoy street food, then I highly recommend you do this tour. Check out my post on the Bangkok Backstreet Food Tasting Tour with A Chef’s Tour for more pictures and information.

You can book this tour on A Chef’s Tour or Get Your Guide. Be sure to check both sites to find the best deal.
Bangkok Backstreet Food Tasting Tour with A Chef's Tour

Length of Tour: 4.5 hrs / Cost: USD 59 per person (inclusive of food and drink)

4. Take a Thai Cooking Class

We haven’t taken a cooking class in Bangkok but we’ve taken one in Chiang Mai and Phuket. It’s something we try to do on every trip because its a fun way of getting to know the local cuisine. Ren’s a great cook so she thrives in these cooking classes, but it was surprisingly fun even for a noob like me.

Cookly is a booking platform that offers cooking classes in many cities around the world. They’re basically an online tour provider that specializes in cooking classes. If you’re interested in learning how to make Thai food, then check out this list of Bangkok cooking classes on Cookly.
Cookly Cooking Classes, Bangkok, Thailand

Length of Class: 2-6 hrs / Cost: Varies
Picture borrowed from cookly.me

5. Watch a Muay Thai Kickboxing Match LIVE!

I’m a fan of combat sports so I really wanted to watch a live Muay Thai kickboxing match. Natt of Your Thai Guide told us that she’s taken a few visitors to watch Muay Thai before and the atmosphere is pretty intense. Unfortunately, we were in Bangkok the week of the Royal Cremation so no matches were scheduled that week. If you’d like to experience live Muay Thai in Bangkok, then you can do so at Lumpinee or Rajadamnern Stadiums. They’re Bangkok’s two major Muay Thai stadiums.

TIP: You can buy tickets directly from either stadium’s website. You can also get Rajadamnern Stadium tickets through Klook. I’ve read many people say that second class seats give you the best vantage point to watch the fights. Ringside tickets are more expensive and put you too close to the fighters. You’ll find yourself watching the action from ankle level.
Muay Thai, Bangkok, Thailand

Admission: Tickets start at THB 1,000

Muay Thai” by Josh Evnin, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

6. Take Selfies at the Bangkok Art & Culture Center

I didn’t learn about this place until after our trip, which was a massive bummer because it looks like a lot of fun. The Bangkok Art and Culture Center is a museum showcasing contemporary art exhibits spread out over ten floors. It’s opposite the MBK Shopping Center and accessible via the National Stadium BTS station. If you like contemporary art, then you may want to visit this place. We’re going back to Bangkok this August so we’ll definitely check it out.
Bangkok Art & Culture Center, Thailand

Estimated Time to Spend: 1-2 hrs / Admission: FREE

P1000665” by pittaya, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

7. Experience and Give Back with Backstreet Academy

Ren and I are Backstreet Ambassadors and are proud to recommend Backstreet Academy. Backstreet Academy is a tour provider that focuses on impact travel, a movement that aims to provide tourists with authentic experiences while leaving an enduring social impact on local communities. What this means is that tourists can learn how to fish from real fishermen or create bracelets under the watchful eye of a silversmith, with up to 80% of tour revenues going back into the communities.

For more information, watch this video then check out this list of experiences and activities you can have in Bangkok with Backstreet Academy.
Backstreet Academy, Bangkok, Thailand

Length of Tour and Cost: Varies
Picture borrowed from backstreetacademy.com

DAY TOURS FROM BANGKOK

1. Spend the Day at a Floating Market

As described, Bangkok has many, many markets. There are several floating markets alone due to the city’s vast network of canals and waterways. If you want an authentic local floating market experience, then I highly recommend Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market which is just outside Central Bangkok.

But if what you’re looking for is a huge floating market with hundreds of colorful boats on the water, then you’ll need to go outside of Bangkok for that. None are more famous than Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets. I’ve read that these floating markets get crowded and have become quite touristy, but it should still make for a fun day trip. You can book any number of floating market tours on KKday or Klook.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Length of Tour: Whole day / Cost: THB 999 per person

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market” by Walter Lim, used under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

2. Explore the Historic City of Ayutthaya

Established in 1350, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the capital of Siam. It flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries and became one of the world’s largest urban areas and a center for global diplomacy and commerce, before being destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767. It was never rebuilt. Today, it’s ruins are among the most popular day trip destinations from Bangkok, with the Buddha head embedded in a banyan tree being one of its most recognizable attractions. You can book Ayutthaya day tours from Bangkok through KKday or Klook.
Ayutthaya, Thailand

Length of Tour: Whole day / Cost: THB 1,251 per person

Buddha head in tree roots, Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand” by Justin Vidamo, used under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom, removed watermark

3. Visit the Seaside Resort Town of Hua Hin

To be honest, I had never heard of Hua Hin before until I learned about it from Chef Nutth of A Chef’s Tour. That’s where he’s from and where his restaurant is, so I became curious about the place. As it turns out, Hua Hin is a gorgeous resort town less than three hours south of Bangkok. Chef Nutth said that the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej used to spend a lot of time at his palace there.

I checked on Kkday and they have a day tour from Bangkok that takes you to many interesting sites in Hua Hin. It looks like a great place to spend a few days but if you want to just get a taste of it, then you can do so on this day tour. Klook offers a few day tours to Hua Hin as well.
Hua Hin, Thailand

Length of Tour: Whole day / Cost: THB 1,450 per person

Tide and Dusk Approaching” by Michael Coghlan, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Cropped, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

4. Cross the Bridge on the River Kwai

You’ve probably heard of the 1957 film called “The Bridge on the River Kwai”? It won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is set during the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–1943. Also known as the “Death Railway”, this is that very bridge referenced in the movie.

Built by the Empire of Japan to support its forces in the Burma campaign of World War II, the Death Railway gets its name because its construction led to the deaths of an estimated 100,000+ civilian laborers and Allied prisoners. If you’re a war history buff, then you may want to take a ride on the Thai-Burma Railway in Kanchanaburi via a day tour from Bangkok, which you can book through KKday or Klook.
Bridge over River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Length of Tour: Whole day / Cost: THB 2,068 per person

The Bridge over the River Kwai” by David Jones, used under CC BY 2.0 / Resized, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

WHERE TO EAT IN BANGKOK

1. Raan Jay Fai

You’re probably heard of Jay Fai, Bangkok’s queen of street food and holder of one Michelin star. Martha Stewart once called this 74-year-old, aviator-goggle-wearing badass “the best cook in Thailand”. Taste her crab omelette and you’ll understand why. The thing is, you might have to wait up to 5 hours for it. Her shop has exploded in popularity ever since she was awarded a star, so it’s highly recommended to make reservations. Check out our Bangkok food guide for more information.
Raan Jay Fai, Bangkok, Thailand

Expect to Spend: THB 1,000 per crab omelette

2. Pe Aor Tom Yum Goong

Pad Thai and tom yum goong are arguably the two most important dishes in Thai cuisine, and Pe Aor’s tom yum goong is considered by many to be the very best in Bangkok. Featured on Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia, one of the things that makes their tom yum so special is the broth. It’s enhanced with fat from shrimp heads. That’s some serious yum in this tom yum. Check out this post for instructions on how to get to Pe Aor Tom Yum Goong.
Pe Aor Tom Yum Goong, Bangkok, Thailand

Expect to Spend: THB 100 per bowl of kuay teow tom yum goong nam khon

3. Khao Gaeng Jake Puey

Bangkok is all about street food, and Khao Gaeng Jake Puey in Chinatown is one of the city’s most legendary street food stalls. They’re known for serving some of the best khao gaeng or Thai curry rice in the city. This place is popular so expect long lines from the moment they open at 4PM. Be sure to know what you want as well because they have a reputation for being the “Soup Nazi” of Thai curry. Can’t decide what to order? Back of the line for you! 😆 Check out this post for instructions on how to get to Khao Gaeng Jake Puey.
Khao Gaeng Jake Puey, Bangkok, Thailand

Expect to Spend: About THB 60 per plate of khao gaeng

4. Wattana Panich

This gigantic cauldron of stewed beef has to be one of the most beautiful sights in Bangkok. Have you ever seen anything like it? When I told Chef Nutth of A Chef’s Tour that we had lunch here, his eyes lit up. “That’s my favorite restaurant in Bangok!” Not hard to understand why. They’re famous for the slow-braised beef stewed in this cauldron which you can get in a bowl with noodles, or served on its own with a side of rice. As George Takei would say, “Oh my!” Check out this post for instructions on how to get to Wattana Panich.
Wattana Panich, Bangkok, Thailand

Expect to Spend: THB 100 per bowl of kuay teow neau buai (Thai beef noodles)

5. Gaggan

If you’re looking to have an extra special meal in Bangkok, then Gaggan is one to consider. Helmed by Chef Gaggan Anand who’s known for his molecular gastronomy techniques, Gaggan is an Indian restaurant that’s currently number 5 on this list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Considered the very best restaurant in Asia, it recently received two Michelin stars in the first ever Bangkok Michelin Guide. Check out my post on Gaggan for more pictures and information.
Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand

Expect to Spend: THB 5,000++ for a 25-course tasting menu

If these five aren’t enough for you, then check out our post on 12 must-eat restaurants in Bangkok for more restaurant recommendations. We didn’t go to any but some of our friends love going to Bangkok’s many rooftop bars. Check out this detailed guide for a list of the best rooftop bars in Bangkok.
12 Must-Eat Restaurants in Bangkok, Thailand

POINTS OF INTEREST IN BANGKOK

To make it easier for you, I created the map below so you get a better sense of where everything is. All the places recommended in this guide, that are within Bangkok’s city limits, are pinned on this map.

HOW TO GET AROUND

I love cities with a great metro system like Seoul and Taipei. The subway takes you everywhere so you don’t need any other form of transportation. While Bangkok’s BTS and MRT systems are modern and efficient, they don’t service as many areas of the city yet. We often found ourselves taking the train to the nearest subway stop then either walking for several minutes or taking an Grab to our desired destination. I think that’s what you’ll wind up doing as well.

If you can, I suggest staying near a subway station so you aren’t so dependent on taxis or Grab. On one trip, our AirBnB was right outside the Krung Thonburi BTS station making it so much easier to get around. As advised, you’ll need another form of transportation to supplement the subway system. Even though it seems to be more expensive, I strongly suggest Grab. Taxi and tuk-tuk scams are rampant in Bangkok. I’ve been scammed on previous trips before and those experiences have completely turned me off to them. People online say that it’s safe to hail taxis that are in transit, but I’ve been so put off by them that I’m afraid to even try that. More on transportation scams in the travel tips section of this guide.

Check out this excellent post to familiarize yourself with Bangkok’s public transportation system. It covers the BTS, MRT, Airport Rail, and Express Boat systems. It includes all the information you need including available transportation passes.

HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY / SAMPLE ITINERARY

Unless you’re in town to go shopping, then I think 3-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in Bangkok. You’ll see all the major attractions and have enough time for a day trip or two outside of the city. It may be a good idea to stay over the weekend as well since some markets are closed during the week. Here’s a sample 4D/3N Bangkok itinerary I put together to help you plan your trip.

DAY ONE

• Wat Arun
• Wat Pho
• Grand Royal Palace / Wat Phra Kaew
• Giant Swing (Wat Suthat)
• Wat Saket
• Khaosan Road / Banglamphu
DAY TWO

• Ayutthaya Day Tour
DAY THREE

• Floating Market Day Tour
DAY FOUR

• Chatuchak Market (weekends only)
• Or Tor Kor Market
• MBK Center
• Siam Square
• Yaowarat Road / Chinatown

BUDGET / SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

Bangkok isn’t an expensive city. Hostel accommodations are as low as USD 5 a night and meals can be had for less than USD 2 a plate. It’s budget-friendly reputation is part of what makes it such a popular tourist destination.

Assuming you’ll be staying in Bangkok for 4 full days and sharing mid-level accommodations with one other person, then a daily budget of around THB 1,300-1,500 per person should be plenty. This takes into account your accommodations, transportation, entrance fees, meals, drinks, and pocket wifi rental. Here’s a quick breakdown of expenses:

ACCOMMODATIONS

This depends on many factors like hotel preference and number of travel companions. On a recent trip, we stayed at a lovely AirBnB close to the Chao Phraya River for less than THB 1,300 a night. Expect to pay much less if you’re staying at a hostel.
MEALS

Again, this is subjective, but based on our experience, I’d say around THB 250 a day per person. Many filling meals can be had for THB 100 or less.
ENTRANCE FEES

Entrance fees for the Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun add up to a total of THB 650.
POCKET WIFI RENTAL

If you’re sharing the cost with one other person, then you’ll each be paying THB 60 per day.
TRANSPORTATION

The most you’ll spend on a single journey on the BTS is THB 40. But as advised, you’ll probably be taking a taxi or Grab a few times as well. I think THB 140 a day per person is enough for transportation.
TOTAL

This comes out to just under THB 1,300 a day per person. Keep in mind that this baseline estimate doesn’t include tour costs or shopping. Be sure to add the cost of any tours you want to do to this amount. Ren and I are middle of the road travelers who enjoy good food and drink, so the recommended budget is a good baseline for travelers like us. Adjust accordingly based on your own travel habits.

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel (formerly Tripomatic)

I first used this free trip planning app on our first trip to Kyoto in 2014 and I haven’t stopped using it since. I use it to create all our itineraries. It’s easy enough to find out where to go and where to eat, but the hard part is putting it all together in an itinerary that makes sense. Sygic Travel makes it easy. Check out my post on the Sygic Travel app for more information.

DOWNLOAD: iOS / Android

Sygic Travel is what I used to create the location map above. You can view it as a day-to-day itinerary as well. Follow this link to check out our 4-day Bangkok itinerary on Sygic Travel. You can also download it in editable Word format from our EAT-ineraries page.

2. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device

Having a strong and steady wifi connection is a must these days, especially when you’re in a foreign country. It’ll allow you to navigate, convert currencies, and do last minute research. It just makes any trip less stressful and more fun. We never go anywhere now without renting a pocket wifi device first.

You can stay connected in Thailand by renting a pocket wifi device or buying a sim card. We always rent pocket wifi devices with unlimited data because we find it simpler to use, but sim cards are fine too. They’re actually cheaper. You can rent a pocket wifi device or buy a sim card through KKday or Klook.

3. Beware of Scams

Scams can and do take place anywhere in the world, and Bangkok is no exception. Listed below are some of the scams we’ve encountered through the years.

AIRPORT TAXI SCAM: Taxi drivers will try to charge you an exorbitant rate to take you into downtown Bangkok. Ignore anyone who approaches you. Instead, fall in line at the proper taxi queue at either Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang Airport, and get a legitimate metered taxi. Any taxi driver who refuses to use the meter is a scammer.

“IT’S CLOSED” SCAM: This is the scam that’s completely turned me off to taxis and tuk-tuks. You hop into a waiting taxi wanting to go somewhere, and the driver will tell you that the place is either closed or not open yet. This is an outright lie. He’ll then try to convince you to go to a gem shop or a tailor instead, where he gets paid for every sucker he brings in. When a driver tells you this, just get out of the car. I’ve read that hailing empty taxis in transit is safe. You can also use Grab which is what we did on our last trip to Bangkok.

FRIENDLY LOCAL SCAM: Natt of Your Thai Guide pointed this out to us when we were riding the BTS. A friendly local will approach tourists who look lost and pretend to help them. Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll try to take you to a gem shop or tailor.

SEX SHOW SCAM: This happened to me and a friend over two decades ago and the memory of it still stings. We were taken to one of those Thai ping pong sex shows by a local who had befriended us. I don’t remember what the lure was, but it may have had something to do with cheap drinks. Once you try to leave, which is what we did after one drink (I swear!), you’ll see a sign saying that the club has an entrance fee, something exorbitant like THB 10,000 or something. The sign is hidden on purpose so you don’t see it walking in. I remember the guy shaking his fist at me and threatening violence if we didn’t pay. We couldn’t pay the full amount because we didn’t have enough, but we wound up losing a lot of money that night. Lesson learned.

4. Check for Discount Passes

There are many websites that offer travel vouchers to tours and services, but in Asia, my clear favorites are KKday and Klook. They offer the widest selection at the best prices. No one else comes close.

If you’re looking for deals on tours, shows, transfers, etc in Bangkok, then you may want to search through KKday or Klook. Even if I don’t wind up buying anything, it’s always fun to look just to see what’s available.

Here’s a list of some of KKday’s most popular deals in Bangkok: (pictures borrowed from kkday.com)

5. Get Travel Insurance

We’ve been buying travel insurance more often lately but it isn’t something we get before every trip. It depends on where we’re going and what we’ll be doing. If we’re just visiting Bangkok for a couple of days to eat street food and shop at a few night markets, then we probably won’t get it. But if we plan on doing more outdoorsy things like hiking or rescuing elephants from evil keepers, then we’ll definitely pick up a policy. On this same trip, we continued on to Northern Thailand after Bangkok so we did get travel insurance.

We buy insurance from World Nomads or SafetyWing. They’re both trusted travel medical insurance providers often used by digital nomads. Check out my article on why we buy travel insurance for a closer look at the two. You can follow the links to get a free quote from World Nomads or SafetyWing.

6. Bring the Right Power Adapter

Electrical outlets in Thailand typically feature two-pronged round or flat sockets, either Type A, Type B, Type C, or Type F. Be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 220V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.

7. Eat for Cheap at the Basement of Suvarnabhumi Airport

I always eat at airports, even when I’m not hungry. It’s my thing. The problem is, the food at airports is often subpar and overpriced, a shame in a country like Thailand where there’s so much good cheap food to be had. If you’re flying out of Subarnabhumi and looking for one last decent Thai meal, then head down to the 24-hr food court located in the airport’s basement. There you’ll find plenty of stalls selling good inexpensive Thai food. Just take the walkalator down to the bottom floor then head all the way to the left.
Suvarnabhumi Airport Food Court, Bangkok, Thailand

Have fun!

I’ve been to Bangkok many times over the years but I still don’t consider myself an expert. With that said, I do hope that you find this post useful because I’m only sharing the things I’ve learned from our trips. If you have any questions or suggestions, then please let us know in the comment section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well.

Thanks for stopping by and have a delicious time in Bangkok!

OUR GEAR

These are some of the things we brought with us to Bangkok. If you’d like to see what other gear we use, then you can check out our “What’s in Our Backpack?” post. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Disclosure

We’re a Kkday affiliate and worked with them on this trip. They gave us vouchers to the Bangkok tuk-tuk night tour and an Erawan Museum pass. On a separate trip, we were guests of Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao and given a free 2-night stay. Everything else in this guide was at our own expense. As always, all words and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.

This article contains affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a booking at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!

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There are 18 comments for this article
  1. Glorias at 3:23 pm

    Wow! Amazing insights 🙂 I am a big addict of Thai foods and I cook too. Whenever I think about Thailand the first thing comes to my mind is food. I love Thai foods to such an extent. I use to visit Bangkok in the mid of Jan but this time I couldn’t go 🙁 So, I planned to visit by July. I would like to see the beauty of Thailand in a Rainy season.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post guys!

  2. theelitechi at 11:46 pm

    so far this is the most detailed blog – – – from the airport to the food stuff…i love it so much! this is very helpful to future first time travelers ??

  3. Andrew Comte at 9:32 am

    Sawatdee krup! I can really tell a lot of work has been put into this. Thailand is now my home away home after marrying a Thai woman. Lots of knowledge on your page and it provides an excellent resource to readers both experienced in Thailand travel and those who have yet not been. Bravo!

  4. Kieth Walter at 9:03 pm

    Dear JB & Renee,

    Just want to highly commend this very informative, fun and helpful blog! I had been to Bangkok on 2016 and be back again on March 2019 and this blog really helped us a lot on deciding where to go, stay and all that fun!

    My partner saw this blog and our excitement in going to BKK never stops since then. This is really a helpful, detailed and very accessible information for all who wish to visit BKK.

    I commend you on this. Keep it up!

  5. JB & Renée Macatulad at 10:43 pm

    Thanks so much for the kind words Kieth! We really appreciate it and we’re happy you found it useful. Hope you had a wonderful time in Bangkok! It’s such a delicious and exciting city to visit. Definitely one of our favorites. All the best and happy travels! 🙂

  6. Jessica at 2:39 pm

    Thank you for this well-elaborated blog post! It has been a really long while since I last visited Bangkok and I am aware that some things have definitely changed since my last visit thus, I was on a hunt on blog reviews on what to check out there and here, I came across this article.

    I can’t wait to share this link to my boyfriend and looking forward to my visit to Thailand in May! Can’t wait to check out things that I’ve missed out from my previous visit as well.

    God bless! x

  7. JB & Renée Macatulad at 8:20 am

    Happy to hear that Jessica! There are so many things to do in Bangkok that every trip can feel like it’s the first. Have a wonderful time there! 🙂

  8. Stefan Arestis at 12:18 am

    Really thorough article guys! We absolutely love Bangkok and have been many times, itching to return soon. We also got scammed in the same way with the “hidden” entrance fee…!

  9. JB & Renée Macatulad at 2:59 am

    Thanks guys! Bangkok is great, so many things to do and good restaurants to visit. But yeah, the scams can get annoying. All the best! 🙂

  10. Irish at 4:46 am

    I really appreciate how this is so detailed!!! You write so well! Thank you! This is a huge help cos we’re flying to Bangkok this July

  11. Linda Lee Hui Ying at 2:30 pm

    This info really help me a lot, I am planning to go Bangkok this coming july! Thankyou so much.

  12. Maria Pangaliman at 7:03 pm

    Hi. Hindi ba kami mahihirapan mag change ng php to thb sa super rich moneychanger? Thank you.

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