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Bangkok, the complete guide to the Thai capital

by Pierre To
23 minutes to read
Bangkok, the complete guide to the Thai capital

Everything you need to know before a trip to Bangkok, the city of angels, tips and tricks that will help you understand the Thai megapolis. 

Bangkok is one of the world's most visited cities and an international hub for business, tourism, arts, fashion, entertainment and health.

General information

Location of Bangkok on the map of Thailand

Location of Bangkok on the map of Thailand

The capital of the Thailand is also a province, with an area of 1,568.7 square kilometres and a population of over 8 million.

This huge agglomeration, home to 12.6 % of Thailand's population, has a significant impact on the political, economic and cultural life of the country.

The city has so many places of interest that it is impossible to get bored!

It has more than 400 magnificent Buddhist temples, palaces, canals, markets, huge shopping centres, ancient and modern districts.

When to go to Bangkok

The Thai capital has a tropical climate with two seasons: the dry season from November to April and the rainy season from May to October.

The best time to visit Bangkok is during the months of November to March, which is the cool season, which does not mean it is cool, but it is not as hot.

Temperature, precipitation and sunshine over one year

When to go to Bangkok

For more information see :

When to go to Bangkok
Weather in Thailand : 6 day forecast + Climate and Seasons

Full names

Thais never say "Bangkok" to refer to their capital, they use "Krung Thep" which is the diminutive of :

"Krung Thep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok phop noppharat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amon piman awatan sathit sakkathattiya witsanukam prast"

which means :

"City of angels, great city, residence of the Emerald Buddhathe impregnable city of the god Indra, the great capital of the world chiselled with nine precious stones, a happy city, generous in the enormous Royal Palace like the heavenly abode, the reign of the reincarnated god, a city dedicated to Indra and built by Vishnukarn".

The Guinness Book of World Records noted it as the longest place name in the world.

Bangkok seen from the Baiyoke Tower

Bangkok seen from the Baiyoke Tower


Before it became the capital, Bangkok was a village on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River (Thonburi district).

It was occupied by French troops on 16 October 1687, the King ofAyutthaya, Narai, officially ceding it to them by treaty on 1 December.

However, during Narai's agony in June 1688, his future successor Phetracha laid siege to the city and succeeded in expelling the French in November.

King Taksin, after the loss of Ayutthaya in 1767, retreated to the site and it was he who decided to found a new capital there.

Taksin later went mad and was assassinated by General Chakri, who then became king as Rama I and later founded the Chakri dynasty that still prevail today.

The new capital, named Krung Thep (diminutive) was officially founded on 6 April 1782.

The name Bangkok, whose origin is unknown (there are many theories), was mostly used by foreigners and was not used by the Thais after the foundation of the capital.

Some Thais never even heard of the name and by some great mystery the new name was never adopted by foreigners who continue 200 years later to call the city Bangkok.

Things to see and do in Bangkok

See also :
What to do in Bangkok: the top 10 must-sees!

The Grand Palace (Royal Palace)

View of the Grand Palais

View of the Grand Palais

A must-see monument where the Emerald Buddha statue is located.

See article : The Grand Palace (Royal Palace) and the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok

Wat Pho, temple of the reclining Buddha

Wat-Pho Reclining Buddha

Wat-Pho Reclining Buddha

Which is located right next to the Grand Palais, see our article :
Wat Pho, temple of the reclining Buddha in Bangkok

Wat Saket, Temple of the Golden Mountain

Wat Saket, the Golden Mountain Temple in Bangkok

Wat Saket, the temple of the golden mountain

This sacred temple is built on a 75-metre high artificial hill overlooking Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

Its golden chedi is said to contain real ashes of the Buddha.

From Wat Saket, you have an incredible panoramic view of the city.

Visits are allowed between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm, the entrance fee is 20 baht.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun after restoration in 2017

Wat Arun after restoration in 2017

Wat Arun is a magnificent temple with an 80-metre high ceramic-covered Prang, and is one of the most visited monuments in Bangkok.

It is located on the other bank of the Chao Phraya, opposite Wat Pho.

See our article :
Wat Arun: the temple of the dawn in Bangkok

Wat Traimit and its Golden Buddha

Wat Traimit is known worldwide for its 3-metre high Golden Buddha weighing 5.5 tons of solid gold.

See our article :
The incredible story of Bangkok's Golden Buddha

Dusit Zoo

It is the oldest zoo in the city, originally a botanical garden.

You will see mammals (giraffes, elephants, kangaroos...), reptiles, birds (penguins), nearly 1600 species of animals from all over the world.

The park also has a small lake with pedalos and play areas for children.

The zoo is open daily from 9am to 6pm.

Entrance fee for adults: 150 baht, children: 70 baht.

Website : dusitzoo.org

Jim Thompson's House

Jim Thomson's house in Bangkok

Jim Thomson's house in Bangkok

It is a collection of traditional Thai houses that were moved from the city of Ayutthaya to Bangkok in the 1950s.

This was the home of Jim Thomson, a man who helped Thailand restore the silk industry after World War II.

The residence now has a museum with an outstanding collection of Asian art.

See our article :
Jim Thompson's house in Bangkok, an oasis of greenery

Lumphini Stadium

For fans of Thai boxing.

It is advisable to avoid taking the cheapest seats so as not to be disturbed by punters.

Wat Pho Massage School

Wat Pho Massage School

Wat Pho massage school in Bangkok

Wat Po is Bangkok's traditional Thai medical and massage school.

It offers massages and massage courses to foreigners.

Learn more about theWat Pho massage school.

Shopping in Bangkok

Chatuchak: the weekend market

Chatuchak is a gigantic covered market where you can find everything, souvenirs, furniture, clothes, food, ancient and modern objects, medicinal plants, etc.

See our article : Chatuchak, the weekend market in Bangkok

The 2 Talat Rot Fai, vintage night markets

Talat means market and Rot Fai train, and so these are the train markets, with a vintage or retro atmosphere, where you can find everything from collectibles, antiques, music, clothes, food, gadgets...

There are also small concerts, exhibitions, hair and tattoo stands.

There was originally only one Talat Rot Fai, located on Srinakarin road in the east of Bangkok, but as it is difficult to access, they created a new, smaller one, but easily accessible by BTS.

Visit the original Talat Rot Fai

It is located at soi Srinakarin 51, you can take the BTS to On Nuts station and then reach it by taxi.

It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 5pm to 1am.

Visit the new Talat Rot Fai on Ratchada

It is located 200 meters from the MTR Thailand Cultural Center station (exit 3 and then go left).

It is open from Thursday to Sunday, from 5pm to 1am.

IconSiam, the mother of all shopping centres

IconSiam Bangkok 2

It is the largest shopping centre in the country, which has just opened (10 November 2018).

There is a whole area dedicated to luxury shops, restaurants, relaxation areas with a park, attractions and a whole area that is really worth a visit:

SookSiam, a large 16,000 square metre themed area on the ground floor, aims to promote the arts, culture and gastronomy of Thailand's 77 provinces and has its own small floating market.

See our article :
IconSiam, Thailand's largest shopping centre

Pantip Plaza, the IT bazaar

Pantip Plaza in Bangkok

Pantip Plaza is an IT shopping mall located on New Phetchaburi Road, Ratchathewi District.

The sale of counterfeit software and DVDs is one of the reasons for its success and notoriety.

Metro: with the BTS, get off at Rachathewi station.

More info on Pantip Plaza

MBK Shopping Center

MBK Center in Bangkok

The MBK Center in Bangkok

It is one of the most popular shopping centres in the city.

It is a large commercial complex with an area of over 89,000 m².

There are shops selling clothes, jewellery, toys, electronic products (computers, telephones, etc.), restaurants, cinemas, bowling alleys, karaoke bars, etc.

The MBK Shopping Center is open daily (including public holidays) from 10 am to 10 pm.

Address 444 Phayathai Street (Tanon Phayathai) near Jim Thomson's house.

You can get there with the BTS: National Stadium station

Guided tours and other paid activities in Bangkok

Accommodation and food in Bangkok

You will find the best hotel deals in Bangkok with Booking.com

There is no shortage of accommodation in the city, but if you are unfamiliar with it, the easiest place to stay is in one of the two most popular tourist areas, Khao San Road or Sukhumvit:

Khao San road, routard-land

Khao San Road, the backpacker district of Bangkok

Khao San Road, the backpacker district of Bangkok

This is the old backpacker's quarter of the city, a busy square almost 24 hours a day.

You can find cheap accommodation, international cuisine, bargains and music.

In general, the street is rather quiet before 8 pm, but after that it stays awake until dawn.

You can eat and drink at any time of the day or night.

The big drawback of this area is that it is far from the metro.

New: there is now a bus from Suvarnabhumi airport to Khao San, see below (transport).

View hotels in Khao San road on Booking.com

See also : How Khao San road in Bangkok went from a rice market to the world's most famous backpacker district

Sukhumvit for all tastes

The best place in my opinion to stay in the capital.

In this vast and lively area, you will find cheap hotels as well as palaces, many restaurants of Thai or international cuisine, bars and discotheques, shops and markets, in short you have a lot to do and discover without having to go far.

And walking around Sukhumvit is like a quick trip around the world, there's an African quarter, a Japanese quarter, a Muslim quarter, it's really a multicultural place.

And the main advantage is that you can move quickly and easily to other interesting places using the underground or aerial metro.

See hotels in Sukhumvit on Booking.com.

Transport in Bangkok

Traffic jams in Bangkok

Traffic jams in Bangkok

Council: Take one or two business cards from your hotel, put them in different pockets, with the address written in Thai.

Bangkok is a very big city and it is easy to get lost!

You can get an idea of the transport prices to other places in Thailand and Asia or book your bus, train, boat or plane tickets with our partner 12go.asia :

Powered by 12GB system

See also : Transport in Thailand, getting around in the land of smiles.


You can find cheap flights to Bangkok at Skyscanner.


This is the country's main airport, where you will certainly land.

Attention, as for Bangkok and Krung Thep (see above) this airport has two names, Suvarnabbhumi for foreigners and Suvarnakhorn for Thai.

When I asked for directions to Suvarnabhumi airport one day, I was met with Thai people who didn't understand, so I asked for "the new airport". sanambin may "And then they understood and replied "ah Suvarnakhorn".

From the airport, you can reach the city by metro (see below)

And since May 2017, a new bus service connects Suvarnabhumi to Khao San road.
See also: Suvarnabhumi - Khaosan bus at 60 baht

Don Muang

It is the old main airport, it is still in operation and many low-cost companies will allow you to reach the north and the south of the country as well as the neighbouring countries at low prices.

Buses to and from Bangkok

Bangkok has 3 main bus terminals:

Mo Chit (Northern Bus Terminal)

Station serving mainly the North West (Chiang MaiMae Hong Son, Chiang Rai...) and the north-east of the country (Isan).

But there are also buses to the main cities in the south and centre.

Sai Tai Taling Chan (Southern Bus Terminal)

Station serving Western destinations (Kanchanaburi...) and south (Phuket, KrabiSurat Thani...)

Ekamai (Eastern Bus Terminal)

A station that mainly serves the eastern part of the country (PattayaRayong, Trat...).

See also :
Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train, bus or plane

Taxis, motorbikes, tuk tuk

The taxi

It's one of the most comfortable ways to get around Bangkok and it's not very expensive, 50 baht for an average trip.

But beware of scams: when you get into the taxi, ask if it's a taxi meter and make sure it turns on the meter.

Also make sure you always have some small change to pay, taxis never have any.

Don't be surprised if the taxi takes the toll motorway and asks you for money, you have to pay the toll on top of the fare.

Free taxi
Free taxi
Busy taxi in Bangkok
Busy taxi

The illuminated word in red at the bottom right of the windscreen means "The word is not a word". wang" If it's off, it means that the taxi already has a customer

The tuk tuk

It is one of the symbols of travel in Thailand.

"Tuk tuk" is a repetition of the word "tuk" (or touk) which means "cheap", but in fact the fare is often much more expensive than a taxi.

It's all up to the customer and you have to really like the noise and polluted air of Bangkok!

Motorbike taxis

A quick but rather dangerous way to get around the capital.

If you use a motorbike taxi and have a backpack, ask the driver to take the bag between his legs, which is what everyone does, as it is dangerous to keep a weight on your back when accelerating.

Personally, I took one a few years ago that went really hard zigzagging between cars.

We came close to an accident several times, I remember a woman's scream that we narrowly avoided.

I thought I had met a madman, but soon after I took another one and it was even worse!

Public transport

The bus

It is not easy for a foreigner to get around the capital by bus, but it is very economical.

For information on buses in Bangkok:  www.transitbankok.com

The metros

Bangkok has an underground metro, the MRT, and an overhead metro, the BTS.

It is a quick way to get around.

Map of Bangkok subways
Map of Bangkok subways

Map of Bangkok subways

The boats

Going down or up the Chao Praya by boat is a simple and cheap way to get around the capital.

Maps of boat trips
Map of Bangkok boat transport 2
Map of transport by boat, Thonburi boat
Map of Bangkok boat transport
Map of transport by boat, saensaep


Useful addresses

Tourist office

For practical information, maps and advice on outings (accommodation, restaurants, transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.)

Address: 17/1 Phra Athit Road Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200

Telephone: +66 (0)2 225-7612

French Embassy in Thailand

Address: 35 Charoenkrung soi 36 (Brest Street) Bangrak 10500 Bangkok

Telephone: +66 (0)26 57 51 00

Website: ambafrance-th.org

Consulate of France in Thailand

Address: 35 Charoenkrung soi 36 (Brest Street), Bangrak, 10500 Bangkok

Telephone: +66 (0)26 57 51 00

Photos of Bangkok

Bangkok Skytrain (BTS)
Bangkok Skytrain (BTS)
Inside the metro
Inside the metro
Wat Saket, the Golden Mountain Temple in Bangkok
Wat Saket, the temple of the golden mountain
Phra Kaeo Temple at the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Phra Kaeo Temple at the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Chinatown, Bangkok
Chinatown, Bangkok
What to do in Bangkok
Lumphini Park in Bangkok
Bangkok Skytrain
Bangkok Skytrain
MBK Center in Bangkok
The MBK Center in Bangkok
Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok
Chulalongkorn University
The Khlong Saen Saep bus, transport in Bangkok
The Khlong Saen Saep bus, transport in Bangkok
Bangkok's expressway at night
Bangkok's expressway at night
Jim Thomson's house in Bangkok
Jim Thomson's house in Bangkok
Khao San Road, the backpacker district of Bangkok
Khao San Road, the backpacker district of Bangkok
Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok
Hua Lamphong Station
Traffic jams in Bangkok
Traffic jams in Bangkok
Canals (Khlongs) of Bangkok
Canals (Khlongs) of Bangkok
Bangkok, view from the Grand Palace
Bangkok, view from the Grand Palace
Bangkok seen from the Baiyoke Tower
Bangkok seen from the Baiyoke Tower
The Chao Phraya River in Bangkok
The Chao Phraya River
Bangkok by night
Bangkok by night from the Banyan Hotel


A nice video about the places to see:

See also :

All our articles on the capital : Visit Bangkok

Sources and photos : wikitravel.org ; wikipedia.org ; View of the Baiyoke Tower: Kimmam Bangkok by night from the Banyan Hotel: Benh LIEU SONG Chao Phraya River: Oliver Spalt View of the Grand Palais: Oliver Spalt; Aerial metro: Diliff Hualomphong, Bangkok station: Funad; Lumphini Park: Terence Ong; Phra Kaeo Temple at the Grand Palace: Aimaimyi; Hao San Road, Bangkok's backpacking district: Kevin Poh The expressway at night: Mark Fischer ; Traffic jam in Bangkok: Gemma Longman Wat Arun: Jonny Joka ; Khlong Saen Saep bus, transport in Bangkok : BrokenSphere Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok: uploader; Jim Thomson's house in Bangkok: Ben&Alix; Wat Saket, the Temple of the Golden Mountain: Ahoerstemeier Bangkok's Chinatown: Jabba[/su_note]

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