For many people, Bangkok is the gateway to the Southeast Asian world and is often scheduled as a stopover for a few days. To get to know Bangkok, however, these 2 or 3 days aren’t long enough. You could easily spend a week or two without looking at the same thing twice. Here are some travel tips for the first time visiting Bangkok, Thailand.
1. Arriving in Bangkok
Bangkok is a gateway city to Southeast Asia. If you are flying into Thailand or one of the countries on mainland Southeast Asia, most likely you’ll be arriving in Bangkok.
There are two main airports in Bangkok.
Bangkok International Airport (BKK), also known as Suvarnabhumi Airport, is Bangkok’s largest airport. It sits 30 km east of Bangkok. To get into the city, you can take the Airport Link train (30 minutes, 45 baht), the public bus (60+ minutes and 60 baht), or a taxi (45 to 60 minutes and 250 to 400 baht).
Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) is the older, smaller airport in Bangkok. It is located 23 km north of the city. To get into the city, you can take a taxi (30 minutes to 1 hour, roughly 200 baht) or bus #29 (30 minutes to one hour, 18 baht).
2. Getting Around Bangkok
Bangkok has a wide range of public transportation options.
The BTS Skytrain is fast and easy to use, sort of like a metro line that runs over the city streets. Bangkok also has a metro, called the MRT, which is cheap and easy to use.
To get to the Grand Palace, take one of the express ferries on the Chao Phraya River.
You can also use tuk tuks and taxis to get around, but you risk getting caught in the traffic jams that are so common in Bangkok.
Finally, you can also get around by motorcycle taxi.
3. How Much Time Do You Need?
To visit the main sites in Bangkok you only need two to three days. If you are arriving from the other side of the globe, it can be a little rough adjusting to the time change, so give yourself an extra day to get over any jet lag you may have.
4. When is the Best Time to Visit Bangkok?
The best time to visit Bangkok is November through early March, when temperatures are coolest. The days around Christmas and New Years are one of the busiest times to be in the city, as this is when many people flock to Thailand for their winter vacations. From May through October, expect hot, wet weather.
We visited Bangkok in December, during the week before Christmas. Daily temperatures were in the low 90’s and the temples and Chinatown were very crowded.
5. Where Should You Stay?
If you are a budget traveler and want to stay in a great place in the heart of Bangkok, take a look at the Urban House. This small homestay-style place offers basic rooms and very affordable prices. There is nothing fancy about the rooms, but they are clean, quiet, and the wifi works very well. They also offer a cheap laundry service and our clothes came back clean (that doesn’t happen everywhere, unfortunately). The Urban House is located in the Silom district of Bangkok, within walking distance of Lumphini Park, the Sky Train, and the metro.
6. Do You Need a Visa?
Citizens of 57 countries (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, countries in the EU, Japan, Israel, etc.) who plan to stay in Thailand for 30 days or less do not need a visa.