Tag Archives: Khao San

Quick Guide to Bangkok Accommodation

Bangkok Skyline

If you are visiting Bangkok for the first time, as with any city, it can be difficult to work out which part of the city to stay in. This article is designed to be a quick guide. Basically, for tourists the Bangkok city can be broken into five parts. Each has it pros and cons, which we have listed for you below.

Khao San Area

Khao San is the original backpacker area of Bangkok near the river and the tourist attractions of old Bangkok like Wat Po and the Grand Palace.

Pros of Khao San

  • Cheap accommodation and food
  • Lively with bars and clubs
  • Not far away from areas where people live in old fashion houses
  • Very accessible to tourists with English spoken widely and lots of amenities like ATMs and Internet shops

Cons of Khao San Area

  • If you are a bit older the young and exuberant backpackers might annoy you
  • The area isn’t connected to the skytrain or metro system making travel a bit more difficult
  • If it is luxury you are looking for, you won’t find it here

Hotels we recommend staying in the Khao San area (click on the links to read more about each place)

Baan Noppawong
Baan Tepa Boutique
Baiyoke Sky Hotel
Chakrabongse Villas
Navalai River Resort

Chinatown

Chinatown is a less touristy part of Bangkok with a noticeable Chinese influence. Near the river, the train station, and the major tourist attractions.

Pros of Chinatown

  • Authentic slice of Thai life
  • On the metro and skytrain system
  • Great restaurants
  • Great shopping

Cons of Chinatown

  • Bit off the beaten track with English not widely spoken
  • Not much nightlife which would appeal to the typical tourist
  • Not many amenities aimed at tourists

Hotels we recommend staying in the Chinatown area (click on the links to read more about each place)

Loy La Long Hotel
Shanghai Mansion Bangkok

Silom

Silom is the financial district of Bangkok popular with tourists near Lumphini park.

Pros of Silom

  • On the metro and skytrain system
  • Lots of great bars and restaurants
  • Near the lively Patpong night market

Cons of Silom

  • A bit touristy for some people with not much traditional Thai culture
  • A lot of the hotels and restaurants can seem a bit impersonal and ‘samey’
  • Very busy

Hotels we recommend staying in the Silom area (click on the links to read more about each place)

Baan Pra Nond
Heritage Baan Silom
Luxx
Triple Two Silom
The Metropolitan

Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit is a long road with many streets (known as ‘sois’ leading off it. This is the main area where expat residents live and it has the best amenities for tourists in the Bangkok.

Pros of Sukhumvit

  • Best hotels and restaurants in the city, the place to go if you want luxury
  • Great nightlife with lots of bars to suit all tastes
  • On the metro and skytrain systems
  • Some shopping opportunities

Cons of Sukhumvit

  • Not the place to go if you are on a budget
  • Very busy
  • Some people are put off by the blatant sex industry. There are two red light districts in this area and there are prostitutes on the street in some areas.

Hotels we recommend staying in the Sukhumvit area (click on the links to read more about each place)

Ariyasomvilla
Davis Hotel
Imm Fusion Sukhumvit
MaDuZi
Seven Hotel
The Eugenia Hotel

Siam Square/Chidlom

Siam Square and Chidlom are in the very centre of modern Bangkok.

Pros of Siam Square/Chidlom

  • By far the best shopping opportunities in the city
  • Lots of amenities like cinemas
  • Very accessible to tourists

Cons of Siam Square/Chidlom

  • In the evening this is not an area where you would go for a stroll on the street, not because it is dangerous, but because all the restaurants etc are in shopping centres.
  • The nightlife is centred around hotel bars, and most of the eateries are chain restaurants
  • Very busy at all hours

Hotels we recommend staying in the Siam Square/Chidlom area (click on the links to read more about each place)

Four Seasons
Hansar Bangkok
Hotel Muse Bangkok
Siam@Siam Design
Oriental Residence
Sukhothai Hotel
Tenface

As you can see, each of the 5 main areas has something to recommend it, and something to perhaps put you off. When I stay in Bangkok I often spend a couple of nights in one area and then move to another area.

Getting Around Bangkok

There are lots of forms of transport in Bangkok: boats, taxis, trains, metro, even motorbike taxis; but this article will focus on the fast, efficient, and modern public transport system which is fully accessible to the first time visitor.

Airport Link

Opened in 2010, this service shuttles visitors between the main Bangkok airport (Suvarnabhumi) and the centre of modern Bangkok in under 30 minutes. Unless you are travelling to stay near the river in old Bangkok, this is the fastest and cheapest way to get from the airport into town.

The first train leaves at 06.00 and the last train leaves at midnight.  The station is really easy to get to as it is located in the basement of the main airport building. Take the lift or the escalator.

Bangkok Airport Link Train

Bangkok Airport Link Train

Fares are 15 to 45 THB depending upon which station you travel to in Bangkok. For travel to Central Bangkok we recommend two stations on the Airport Link:

  • Makkasan: From here you can connect to the MRT (metr0) which will take you to Bangkok Train Station, Sukhumvit Road and the Silom Road.
  • Phaya Thai: From here you can connect to the BTS (sky train) and this is the best station for onward travel to riverside locations and the main shopping area of Siam Square as well as the Northern Bus Terminal.
  • For full timetable information visit the website airportraillink.railway.co.th.

BTS Sky Train

The sky train (BTS) is a great way to travel around the City. Not only is it quick, cheap (20 to 40 baht a trip) you also get a fantastic view of the view. The only disadvantage is that it doesn’t run to the Khao San area or to where the Grand Palace and other historic monuments are located.

The BTS system has two lines. The Silom Line runs from the National Stadium station in the centre of town to Wongwian Yai station in the east of the city. This line is useful for going to Silom (Patpong night market), Siam Square (shopping area) and Saphan Thaksin (where you can connect with the boat service). The other line is the Sukhumvit Line which runs from On Nut at the top end of the Sukhumvit Road to Mo Chit in the north of the city. This line is good for getting from Sukhumvit to the shopping centre of Siam Square.

Skytrain

BTS Skytrain in Bangkok

Tickets are available for purchase via coin operated vending machines in every station. If you haven’t got the change every station has a kiosk by the entrance gates where they can give change and sell three day tourist passes.

MRT Metro

The metro system, known locally as the MRT, has a single line running from Bang Sue train station in the north of the city to the main train station Hua Lamphong in the south. Hua Lamphong is the train station for trips north to Chiang Mai and trips south to Hua Hin and onto Surat Thani, for connections to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

The metro system is very useful for going to Chatuchak weekend market (Chatuchak Park is the stop) and to the main Train Station (Hua Lamphong stop). You can also connect to the Airport link at Petchaburi stop if you don’t mind a 10 minute walk. Petchaburi is one stop from the only MRT station on the Sukhumvit Road (Asoke station).

Chao Phraya Express Boat

This is our favourite part of the mass transit system. It is cheap and reliable, and takes you up and down the main river in Bangkok connecting the BTS system with major tourist attractions like the Grand Palace (Tha Tien Pier) and the Khao San Road (Phra Ahtit Pier).

This is a commercial commuter service rather than a tourist service and the system can be a bit bewildering. There are four different services, which you can identify by the flag on the roof of the boat. Our advice is to take only the Orange Line (orange flag) or the boats with no flag. These services stop at every pier and cost 10 to 20 baht depending on which services you take and how far you go. You can buy tickets on the boat. Another option is to buy a 150 baht one day tourist passes from the kiosk before you board. They have special tourist boats with guides giving a commentary as you travel, the staff in the kiosk will alert you when the right boat comes.

A good way to use the service is to travel by the BTS to Saphan Thaksin station. You can follow the signs to the pier from the BTS station. From there ask the helpful girls in the kiosk to let you know which boat goes to the Grand Palace. You might have a wait for up to 20 minutes. You pay 18 baht on the boat and get off at Tha Tien pier. From there it is an easy 5 minute walk to either the Grand Palace or Wat Po for the reclining Buddha. Please give it a go. It is both fun and cheap.

Next read about How to Travel From Bangkok