Getting There and Around
Bangkok International Airport (BKK)- 15 mi E of downtownSuvarnabhumi (pronounced Sue-wonna-poom)
Floor /Chan 2 is arrivals and Floor/Chan 4 is departures. Ordinary bus into city, exit the bldg on this same floor/2nd. Outside you find a white Express Shuttle Bus to the bus terminal. For taxi or the Airport Express, go down to level #1. Contact Airport Express Counter Level 1, near Entrance 8 Public taxis at each exit; Airport Express bus is @ same end as Gate C.
From the Airport
Taking the train– BKK AIRPORT got a new train route from the airport to the Downtown BTS Skytrain/Subway route.
Taking a taxi– There are taxi scams in Bangkok. To be safe, go to the bottom floor of the airport and outside you’ll see a roped queue with a dispatch desk with taxis lined in the front. This is the legitimate taxi service with metered taxis. (ask the Information Desk in the airport for assistance if you can’t find this)
Route 61: Train travel in Thailand (schedules/directions)
Bangkok’s Central Train Station:
The central station is Hua Lampong Train Station (+66 2 223 3762), located on Rama IV Road. Aside from buses, this is the next best and cheapest way to get to different points in Thailand, as well as to cross the borders to Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, etc.. Taking the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai is the best option slicing hotel accommodations and travel time into one.
If you’re in downtown Bangkok, take any BTS Skytrain route (map here) and transfer at the MRT train route (map here). Entrance into the MRT requires another fee, but it goes direct to Hua Lampong (the last stop on the line). When you get off, follow the arrows out and upstairs to into station.
Note: Go grocery shopping before you go to the train station. At the station, there’s not a large selection to choose from. There’s some snack stands and a convenience store with has drinks and some snacks but you won’t get a large variety.
There are four bus terminals- North, South, East, West & they are spread out.
The North/NE Bus Terminal/ Saathanii Mo Chit has buses to Chiang Mai (19 daily, 10-11hr), Mae Hong Son (2 daily, 18hr), near the Laos border and Lampang.
BTS Skytrain (map here):
Hours: Daily- 6AM – 11:57PM,
Fare: less than B40 but depends on distance. Purchase your ticket at the window or auto machine.
Runs every 3 min @ peak hrs.
Discounts: 3-day Tourist Pass for 280 baht or One Day Unlimited for 200 baht.
MTR Subway (map here):
Fare: less than B20.
Runs : 5am to 11pm.
Transfers with the BTS: The MTR links with the BTS Skytrain at three stations - Chatuchak Station (transfer at Mo Chit Skytrain station), at Sukhumvit (transfer at Asok Skytrain station) and at Si Lom (transfer at Sala Daeng Skytrain station).
Accommodations (all locations in Central Bangkok, not Khao San)
My Top Stays : 3 Bangkok boutique hostels to rest your baht.
Suk 11 $13
Suk 11 is a boutique pad with exotic digs and a great breakfast, a priceless jewel.
Pros: free continental breakfast, clean, great location near Nana stop on BTS, 20s-30s crowd
Con: internet is pay-per-minute *have many 10B coins on hand
Directions: By Airport Rail Link: ( total 35 mins to the hostel: 20 mins by airport rail, 15 mins by BTS) Take the City Line from the airport to Phaya Thai, last stop for Airport Rail Link. Then transfer to Sky train.(BTS). Take Sky train heading to On Nut. Get off at Thong Lo Station. Then take exit #4 to the hostel. (in total THB 50. thb 35 for BTS, thb 45 for Airport Rail Link )
Clean, modern, stylish, cool… if you’re a graphic designer or flashpacker, this boutique hostel will hit your design spot.
Pros: Card key access, dorms have individual lights and wall outlets per bunk, free locker storage, coin washers to do laundry. Single and shared rooms.
Cons: A bit pricey for a hostel, but the sleek design makes it an experience.
4 Decho Road Suriyawong
p. +66-2-6347999 or 026347999;
Getting There: It’s a bit out of the way of the city, but there are free shuttle pickup locations in downtown. Check website for the shuttle locations
I went for travel shots (they cost a fraction of what I pay in the U.S.) but they service a lot of conditions, including dental, so check the website.
439/4 – 5 Naratiwatrajnakarin Rd, Silom
Tel : (662) 636 – 9092 – 5
A block from 7-11, Do not pass Silom Rd.
Sightseeing in Bangkok:
Visit the Floating Markets such as Damnoen Saduak and Taling Chan (a few more here)
Khlong tour: Take a riverboat tour through the canals/khlongs to see houses on stilts
Visit Bangkok’s many famous wats, where you’ll see giant buddhas in various positions.
Wake up at 5am to watch monks taking alms
Explore Bangkok’s various types of transportation
Take a motorbike taxi
Don’t see a ping pong sex show
See the freaky medical forensic museum
Watch a movie in a posh Bangkok theater
Get a $6 / hour massage ( & do it several times)
Go shopping and haggle for tech gadgets at MBK or Patnip Plaza
Get lost on the Bangkok city bus
Go to the 99baht all-you-can-eat restaurant
Check out the hippie budget backpacker scene at Khao San Road, where you can get hair weaving, illegal documents, used travel guidebooks and clothes.
Visit Chatachuk Market for mega-shopping
See a Muay Thai Kickboxing match
Explore Bangkok’s street food and street culture. My fave walk is Silom in the morning. Side streets and alleys have food shops and markets, but after 11 or 12 noon, many have closed.
Visit Bangkok’s night markets ( Patpong, Khao San Road, Lumpini and more) Good streets to walk at night are in downtown: Siam Square Mall area, Lumpini square, Nana and Patpong (the sex districts, but they still have a lot of street hawkers)
See a ladyboy show
Take a day trip to Ayutthaya (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Good events around town site: Bangkok.com
Transportation in Thailand- timetables and routes
Modes: Airplane, Train, Elephant Ride, River rafting, Riverboat cruise, Longtail boat
Public System: Bus/Van, Tuk-tuk, Songtaew, Motorcycle taxi, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, BTS Skytrain, Metro/Subway, Rivertaxi
Thai Railways website * accurate time schedule.
CM is pretty chill area, a place to kick back in. It’s not got the craziness of Bangkok and there’s a lot less to do here, but it’s nice nonetheless. Renting a bicycle or motorbike is the best way to get around lazily.
From Bangkok, take the overnight train (read my post)
At the airport: Many guesthouses offer free airport and train station pickups. This is one place where booking a stay in advance is to your advantage.
Downtown Chiangmai: If you’re staying in the backpacker’s area of central Chiang Mai, then most things are walkable. Still, some tourists like to rent bicycles and motorbikes, which make skirting around much easier. Other ways of getting around locally is via tuk-tuk. You’ll have to haggle. Another vehicle for slightly longer distances is a songthaew or those red trucks that you see with a rail on the back.
Gongkaew Guesthome $6 (REVIEW HERE)
(Dorm/Options: Resort-like Pros: like staying at a resort or B&B, convenient location, clean, free internet- 4 terminals, helpful owners, cheap bike rental @50/60B *5-10min walking distance from Sunday walking streets) Read my review blog.
Dental Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Thailand (they offered free van pickup service to their clinic)
Take a trek
Visit Maesa Elephant Camp (or Tiger Sanctuary, Snake Farm, etc… they’re all on the same road)
Take a Golden Triangle tour (I took a good tour & trek from Travel Hub Chiangmai and they offered very good budget rates!)
Visit the Anusarn Night Market- lots of food, seafood stalls, places to shop for souvenirs and stuff
Visit the Sunday Walking Streets
Get cheap $6 hour long massages
Rent a bicycle or motorbike and sightsee around town. Traffic is easier in CM.
See a Muay Thai Kickboxing match
Explore Chiang Mai’s food
Do a Temple stay
Visit Monk Chat to ask monks about their lives (and let them practice English)
Visit Doi Suthep
Hire a driver and go to see the Umbrella and Silk Factories
Take a trek in the mountains and meet tribal life (see Travel Hub Chiangmai)
My favorite Budget tour company: Travel Hub Chiangmai
Wat Doi Suthep Meditation Retreat- Fee: Donation
• Retreats are 3+ days and follow a strict Buddhist/Wat lifestyles • Accomodations & Food provide • Reservations in advance (limited openings)
• Approx. 100B to get there from Central Chiang Mai (take the red truck/songteuw to Wat Doi Suthep)
Most get there via Chiang Mai. You can book a shared van ride from your guesthouse or from tourist agencies around town.
Getting around Pai is best if you can rent a bicycle or motorbike. The motorbike will afford you the freedom to get you around and to explore the countryside . Rentals are right outside the bus station. Journeys onward from Pai, further north or across the border can be handled at the bus station at Pai.
Beung Pai Fish Farm (REVIEW HERE)
(bungalow *catch-n-release fishing resort) Pros: clean, nicely designed, nice new furniture, free fishing without cruelty, your own private bungalow w/ outside hammock, resort style with open air bungalows for relaxation, friendly young owners, Vegetarian options & homemade yogurt granola. Cons: located a little outside of Pai (get there by scooter or taxi)
Accommodations – $10
No. 4 Guesthouse (bungalow * Lonely Planet recommended) Pros: your own private bungalow at a cheap price, 5 min walking distance from bus station & located across the field next to bus station* (do not listen to touts at the bus station- leave station and look for the guesthouse sign), mosquito net, located close to bus stop. Cons: no internet, surrounding water is marshy & looks dirty, clean but doesn’t look it.
Old Sukhothai Historical Park vs. Ayutthaya (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
1-2-3 Go SIM (SIM card for GSM phones can be bought at the airport and 7-11 stores)
Thailand is a cash-based society. Few places will accept a credit card unless its a big purchase and I’ve not seen traveler’s checks for ages. Most of the costs for street food and such are relatively small, so you’ll want small notes and change anyways.
Advice: When you get to the airport, exchange your money or find the ATM. ATM service fees in Bangkok might compete with the exchange rates at the airport so I suggest sizing up what you need for your trip and getting it in large chunks. (i.e. in Bangkok, I was charge a service fee of $5-7 per withdrawal!) Not sure if Chiang Mai’s ATM’s charge similar exhorbitant rates ; I’ve always had overspill cash from Bangkok. But this brings me to…
I’ve always felt safe in Thailand. But as a general rule of safety, always be on guard about scams and theft, as they do happen. Always utilize street smarts and look like you have your wits about you; know where your belongings are at all times. If something doesn’t feel right, best not to trust it. Don’t LOOK like a naive tourist; those ones make the best targets. Don’t have all your money open in public, try to stash your money & valuables in places which aren’t obvious. For instance, ONE of my secret stash places is my sanitary napkin bag. Of course, you can’t forget where you stash you things.
With the wealth of good food in Thailand, why only settle on restaurants? I snack on street food A LOT. In Thailand, there’s a never-ending supply of good street food and fruit carts (my favorite!). Nevertheless, here’s some recommended Lonely Planet joints here.
Renting a motorbike:
Many rental shops will request you leave your passport for the term of your rental. It may feel scary but it’s normal. They’ll have you sign insurance for any damage done to that bike. They will not rent to people who have never driven a motorbike.
Food is generally not haggled. It’s already pretty darned cheap and fairly priced. But when shopping in markets for souvenirs or when handling prices for drivers/transportation, haggling is somewhat expected. If you’re not sure what the going rate is, you can do what I do and ask a local person or your hotel/guesthouse what the standard rate for an item is or how much it would cost to and from a certain destination. Then, work from there.
GETTING TO LAOS (See LAOS ITINERARY)
Flight via Lao Airlines:
i.e. FLIGHT LAO AIRLINES 02-Feb-2011 Luang prabang (LPQ) – Chiangmai (CNX) $200
MAPS FOR THAILAND
FAVORITE THAILAND WEBSITES
55 Tips to help you when traveling to Thailand (Travel Happy *excellent page for article links on anything you’d like to know as a traveler)
Packing Tips for Thailand(THAILAND*)
Bangkok-hotels-link.com (Website with info about Thailand)