Updated 2019: Bangkok is one of the most fun cities in Asia and a great place to start exploring continental South East Asia. The Thai are as friendly as can be and many speak English, the city is inexpensive and public transport is great! Read my mini-guide to Bangkok to find out why you should go, where to stay in Bangkok, the top things to do and where to eat, as well as tips on how to get around the bustling city! All you need to know on one page and in less than 5 minutes!
Why you should go: After more than 15 years of traveling to Bangkok, the City of Angels, I still look forward to being welcomed by some of the friendliest and warmest people I’ve found! That makes it very easy to visit and travel around, because the locals want you to have a good time and many will go out of their way to help you and make sure you do! Thais are proud of their history, being the only country in the region to not have been colonized by the West, and there is a lot to see, starting with the Grand Palace and the many temples.
Bangkok has long surpassed Hong Kong as a prime shopping destination with malls as far as you can see (or walk) from funky markets to shiny high-end malls. And don’t forget the fantastic food and nightlife
Not convinced – read more about why you should visit Bangkok!
Where to stay: Bangkok is a huge, sprawling city and I recommend to stay near your main interests: For the first-time visitor, I suggest hotels near the river, giving you easy access to many of the historic sights. For return visitors, staying along Sukhumvit Road with its mall, restaurants and SkyTrain access, is a great base. And for business travelers, I’d consider the Silom/Sathorn area!
You can find my favorite hotel options in the table below:
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Hotel Category Location Chain/Rewards Great for
Shangri-La Bangkok 5* Riverside Shangri La Luxury, Sights, Pool, Views
Centre Point Silom 4* Riverside Value, Sights
Pathumwan Princess 5* Sukhumvit Thai Style, Shopping, Gym, Pool, Transport
Novotel Siam Square 4* Sukhumvit Accor Transport, Shopping
Holiday Inn Express Siam 3* Sukhumvit IHG Value, Shopping, Transport
W Bangkok 5* Silom/Sathorn Starwood Luxury, Style, Business, Transport
pullman Hotel G 5* Silom/Sathorn Accor Style, Business
Holiday Inn Express Sathorn 3* Silom/Sathorn IHG Value, Transport
Not sure where to stay yet – read my Best Area to Stay in Bangkok tips!
Where to eat & drink: Bangkok is known for its street food – with everything from fresh fruit, grilled chicken and fish balls to many more exotic choices available along the road! Just make sure it’s a busy stall and you’ll be safe! But it has evolved to offer creative restaurants as well, from the always good local food to many international options. Soulfood Mahanakorn is one of my favorite Thai restaurants (with great cocktails, too) and Pladip is a hip and trendy alternative!
Bangkok is much prettier at night from up high than during the day at street level and no trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to a rooftop bar. My (current) favorite is Octave Rooftop Lounge with marvelous views and a good happy hour. Alternatives are Red Sky and Vertigo. If you want the best cocktails in South East Asia, head to J. Boroski, a speak easy in the hip Thong Lo neighborhood.
What to do: Any first visit to Bangkok should include a ride on the Chao Phraya River, the old highway of the city, and a visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Po, the historic and spiritual center of the country! While you are on the river, check out the Asiatique Market, a modern version of the bustling street markets, offering all the things a visitor might want, including lots of food!
For more options, read my recommendations for Top Attractions in Bangkok!
How to get around: Bangkok’s traffic is infamous, but fortunately there is good public transport. The Airport Rail Link will take you into the city center in 30 minutes and connect to the BTS SkyTrain and MRT Subway to go anywhere you need to go. If you are in a hurry and adventurous, you can grab a motorcycle taxi for the last mile. Car taxis are supposed to use the meter, so insist on it and avoid shady operators. grab for ride hailing is available and reliable, but is not as common as in other cities, so plan for some extra time! The picturesque tuk tuks are still around and most useful for a holiday picture – they are slow, unsafe and expensive compared to the alternatives! Find out more details in my overview How to get around Bangkok!
Explore More: To get a “lay of the land” and see where all the hotels, restaurants and sights are, check out my map below and plan your visit to Bangkok! Click on the box in the upper right corner for a full map! Where are you going to stay? What’s your number one thing to do? Or have questions – feel free to comment below and I’ll help with your trip!