Saturday, August 15, 2015 Unknown 0 Comments

The Best Time to Travel to Bangkok


Thailand's capital city draws an estimated 45 million tourists yearly and several travel publications have deemed it one of the world's best cities. It's easy to see why travelers would gravitate there, with its colorful patchwork of Buddhist temples and ultra-modern hotels, gleaming taxis and three-wheeled tuk-tuks. Though Bangkok is a year-round destination, its flood-inducing monsoons, tourist droves and traditional festivals are important considerations.


Bangkok’s nicest weather spans the months between November and February. During this this time, the area experiences less frequent rain and moderate temperatures, making Bangkok more livable. Thailand’s dry period generally lasts from mid-November to May, with cool breezes across the country making for a temperate climate up until mid-February. March through May, temperatures in the city rise considerably, with average daytime highs around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The monsoon season sweeps through between May and July, usually lasting into November. The rainiest months are usually August and September when flooding in various parts of Bangkok is common.


Most tourists head to Bangkok from November to late March, though July and August is a secondary peak season. It’s virtually impossible to explore the city without rubbing shoulders with fellow travelers during this time, and Bangkok’s outdoor beer bars are saturated with them. Visitors also tend to flock to the city during Christmas and New Years, as weather conditions are ideal and the city hosts numerous holiday festivities throughout Bangkok. Those looking to avoid crowds and willing to put up with less favorable weather should visit from April to June or September and October.


Although Bangkok is a wallet-friendly destination thanks to Thailand’s favorable exchange rate and cheap living costs, peak tourist season drives up airfare and accommodation prices. Travelers planning to visit from November through March should book airline tickets and lodging well in advance, as they fill up quickly. Reserving these essentials closer to your planned departure date generally means missing out on budget accommodations and reasonably priced airfare. Less crowded months in Bangkok (April to June, September and October) offer the best opportunities to save on airfare and rooms. June makes for a good compromise as the rainy season isn’t yet in full swing and visitors can still snag bargains.


Visitors looking to participate in Bankok’s festival season should visit from November through May. One of Thailand’s most popular celebrations, the picturesque Loy Krathong festival, takes place each November during the full moon. On this night, families head to the Chao Phraya River and to public parks to place their krathongs, small lotus-shaped containers filled with offerings to ancient water spirits and outfitted with lit candles, in water. This ritual is meant to float away people’s troubles and bring good fortune, accompanied by elaborately decorated floats, fireworks and dances. In mid-April, the Thai New Year festival (Songkran) dominates the city for three days, during which people engage in friendly water battles, drenching family and friends with buckets of water to commemorate the beginning of the rainy season.


As of 2010, several governments have issued Bangkok travel advisories in response to the anti-government violence there from March to May. A series of “red shirt protests” broke out during this time, leading to grenade attacks and armed conflict between protesters and security forces, killing more than 80 people and wounding 2,100, including foreigners. Authorities declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok that was still being enforced as of August 2010. Visitors should monitor news coverage and Bangkok travel warnings before leaving home. The British Foreign Commonwealth Office, among others, advises its citizens to avoid any political demonstrations and to always carry their passports with them for Bangkok’s increased security checkpoints.

Bangkok: Weather & When to Go


The most important thing to know about the weather in Bangkok is that it is hot and steamy almost all the time.  Those in the know say there are three seasons: hot, very hot, and absolutely unbearably hot.

Actually, there are three slightly definable seasons.  The rainy season begins in late May and lasts until October or November.  It is warm and humid, and most days have a few showers, especially in the afternoon.  At times -- but not all the time -- the rain comes down in buckets, and the thunderstorms can be dramatic.  But if you are visiting during this time of year, don't bother to bring a raincoat -- it will be too hot to wear it.  Carry an umbrella with you at all times and be prepared to take your shoes off and wade, and you'll be fine.

The very best time to visit is late November to mid-January.  The Thais call it the cool season, but that really stretches the truth.  It's a tropical cool, still humid, but comfortable.  Still, you do not need to bring warm clothes.  "Cool" does not mean you need to change your tropical wardrobe; it just means you sweat a little less.

The time of year you do not want to visit is from March until the rainy season begins in May.  It is hot, hot, hot.  It doesn't seem to faze the Thais at all, but those of us who were born in more hospitable climates start to get a little cranky.  It is very hard to get out and see the sights during this time of year; the heat drains you of energy and makes it hard to keep going strong all day.

Best Times to Visit Bangkok:

Bangkok Weather:

Points of interest

14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bangkok


Bangkok is everything you'd expect from the capital of Thailand: it's noisy, crowded, colorful, exciting, infuriating, and smile inducing. There are ancient sites to be visited and modern shopping malls that have a kitschy yet high-end ambience. Bangkok can be overwhelming as its lifeforce smacks you in the face, but it's a fascinating city that represents Southeast Asia's tension between the developed and developing worlds.

Bangkok also serves as a gateway to many other parts of Thailand. From here, you can hop a short flight to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, and other popular destinations. You can also board a train or hop on a bus for little money, and visit national treasures such as Ayutthaya, Lopburi, and many other gems of the country.

1. Grand Palace

If you only visit one major historical tourist attraction in Bangkok, this should be the one. The royal compound lives up to its name, with spectacular structures that would put the most decadent modern monarchs to shame. It's also the home of Wat Phra Kaeo, which houses the Jade (or Emerald) Buddha.

Built in 1782, the grand palace was the royal residence for generations and is still used for important ceremonies and accommodating heads of state. Dress modestly when visiting the Grand Palace, which basically means covering your arms and legs and avoiding any sloppy attire.

Hours: 8:30am-3:30pm daily
Admission: 500 baht; additional 100 baht for audio guides (available in English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, and Japanese).
Location: Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bangkok -

Read More:
Exploring Bangkok's Grand Palace: A Visitor's Guide

2. Wat Pho

Located immediately south of the Grand Palace precinct, Wat Pho makes an excellent addition to your tour, provided your feet are up for more walking. Also known as or Wat Chetuphon), the temple was built by King Rama I and is the oldest and in Bangkok. It has long been considered a place of healing, and was famous centuries ago for its pharmacy and as Thailand's first "university," both established by King Rama III. You can get a Thai or foot massage at the traditional medical school on the premises, but the prices are significantly higher than what you will find at massage parlors elsewhere in the city.

Today Wat Pho is best known for the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, where you'll find a statue so big (45 m long and 15 m high), it cannot be viewed in its entirety only appreciated in sections. The soles of the feet, inlaid with a myriad of precious stones, are particularly interesting with the 108 signs of true faith. Also look for the long earlobes signifying noble birth, and the lotus-bud configuration of the hand to symbolize purity and beauty.

Hours: 8:30am-6pm daily
Admission: 100 baht
Address: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District

3. Wat Arun

Wat Arun is something of a triumphant complex, dating back to ancient battles between the former Siam and Burma. Having fallen to the Burmese, Ayutthaya was reduced to rubble and ashes. But General Taksin and the remaining survivors vowed to march "until the sun rose again" and to build a temple there. Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, was that temple. It is where the new king later built his royal palace and a private chapel.

If you climb to the top of the prang just before sunset, you are rewarded with an unforgettable view as the sun sinks over the Chao Praya River. Even if you don't plan to be doing any climbing, sunset is really the time to take in this place in all its glory.

Hours: 8:30am-5:30pm daily
Admission: 20 baht
Location: Arun Amarin R

4. Wat Traimit, Temple of the Golden Buddha

Sheer luck (or lack thereof) makes this attraction special. During the 1950s, the East Asiatic Company purchased the land around the temple. A condition of the sale was the removal of a plaster statue of Buddha, but the statue proved too heavy for the crane being used. The cable parted and the figure was dropped, being left overnight where it fell. It happened to be in the rainy season, and when next morning some monks walked past, they noticed a glint of gold shining through the plaster. The coating was removed, revealing a 3.5 m Buddha cast from 5.5 tons of solid gold.

All attempts to trace the origin of this priceless statue have so far failed, but it is assumed to date from the Sukhothai period, when marauding invaders threatened the country and its treasures, and it became common practice to conceal valuable Buddha figures beneath a coating of plaster. No one knows how it came to Bangkok, but here it stands available for the admiration of visitors from all over the world.

5. Wat Suthat

Wat Suthat, adjacent to the Great Swing, is one of the oldest and most beautiful of Bangkok's Buddhist temples. Three kings had a hand in its construction: it was begun soon after the coronation of Rama I (founder of the Chakri dynasty) in 1782, continued by Rama II, and completed ten years later by Rama III. Apart from its delightful architecture, the temple boasts some exceptionally interesting wall paintings. Wat Suthat is less popular than some of the other temple complexes in the city, so you'll enjoy a more peaceful and intimate experience here.

Hours: 8:30am-9:00pm daily
Admission: 20 baht
Location: Bamrung Muang Road, Sao Chingcha, Phra Nakhon

6. Giant Swing

In the center of the busy square in front of Wat Suthat stands one of Bangkok's most eye-catching sights, the 27 m high teak frame of the so-called Giant Swing. This used to be the focus of a religious ceremony held every year in December after the rice harvest. Teams of three took turns to balance on a dangerously narrow board and be swung 25 m or more off the ground "up to Heaven", at which point they would attempt to catch a bag of silver coins in their teeth. King Rama VII banned the contest in 1932, following a number of fatal accidents.

7. National Museum & Wang Na Palace

History buffs in particular will want to devote at least half a sightseeing day to the national museum, if not more. Until the mid-1970s, this was Thailand's only museum, which explains why its collection is so big. Fortunately, just about every exhibit is labeled in Thai and English and guided tours are also offered in English, so you won't miss out on any of the country's fascinating ancient and contemporary history.

The old Wang Na Palace built by Rama I remains essentially as it was, and stands as a testament to Thai history. Visitors can see regalia, religious and ceremonial artifacts, ceramics, games, weaponry, musical instruments and the Viceroy's throne, as well as an impressive collection of Buddha figures arranged according to period.

Location: Na Phra That Road, Bangkok

8. Chatuchak Market

Bangkok's sprawling weekend market is the largest in the world. Here shoppers find everything from jewelry and religious icons to animals and delicious street foods. There are 15,000 stalls, offering just about anything you can dream up. This is a great place to mingle with locals and immerse yourself in everyday Thai life, so arrive early and clear your schedule for the rest of the day if you want to do this place justice.

Location: Adjacent to the Kamphaengpecth Station (MRT), about 5 minute walk from Mochit Skytrain (BTS) Station and Suan Chatuchak (Chatuchak Park) Station (MRT)
Official site:

9. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

For an even more interesting market experience, you can arrange a tour to Damnoen Saduak, a famous floating market located in Ratchaburi (about 1.5 hours outside Bangkok). The popularity of floating markets once earned Bangkok the nickname "Venice of the East", bear in mind that this has now become something of a tourist trap, so don't expect an exclusive morning of shopping by boat. But you will be able to buy fresh and delicious foods and interact with locals in an authentic way.

Hours: 6am-noon daily
Official site:

10. Khao San Road

This is Bangkok's infamous backpacker district, a neighborhood jam-packed with guesthouses, food vendors, clothing stalls, and travelers from every corner of the globe. You'll need to tap into your patience when hanging out here because, while it is colorful and exciting in its own way, the crowds and scents and blaring music can test even the calmest soul. But it is a great place to pick up a few pairs of the baggy fisherman pants - the perennial staple of every backpacker's wardrobe when trekking through Thailand, browse the treasures in a used bookstore, and dig into some delicious Indian food from a neighborhood restaurant.

11. Jim Thompson House

The historic home of a "self-made American entrepreneur" who disappeared while traveling in Malaysia now stands as a relic of an older time in Bangkok. Jim Thompson settled in Thailand after spending time there as a serviceman around the end of WWII. He was a prominent figure in the Thai silk industry and was awarded the Order of the White Elephant, a significant honor given to foreigners who have made contributions to Thailand. Thompson's home has been turned into a museum offering insights into his life and business, as well as the history of the city and the Thai silk industry.

Hours: 9am-5pm daily, last of the compulsory guided tours leaves at 5pm
Admission: Adult 100 baht; Students 50 baht
Address: 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road
Official site:

12.  Lumpini Park

Lumpini Park provides visitors with a green oasis amidst the traffic and chaos of Bangkok. Hang out on one of several lawn areas, enjoy the shade of a Chinese pagoda, or take a boat out on the lake. Lumpini Park is a great place to spend an afternoon enjoying the contrast of the tranquil park with the skyscrapers rising all around it. Note that the park has been the site of anti-government protests that have occasionally turned violent in the past, so be sure to check on the current status before visiting.

Hours: 5am-9pm
Admission: Free
Location: Rama IV Road, between Ratchadamri and Witthayu (Wireless) roads, with entrance gates on all sides

13. Terminal 21
Terminal 21
The name might lead you to think this is a transport hub, but it's actually a shopping mall. And you might be wondering why you would want to visit a shopping mall for kick while traveling. Well, Terminal 21 has a special flair - even by Thailand's shopping standards. Every floor of the mall has been themed to a different international city. Enter at the level of the BTS station and you'll be in Paris; go up a floor and it's Tokyo; another floor and you're staring at the iconic red phone booths of London. The Caribbean, San Francisco, and Istanbul also figure into the design theme.

Other malls of note include the high-end Siam Paragon, and adjacent Siam Discovery, which has more moderately priced chains and fun cafes (including one decorated entirely with teddy bears and toy soldiers).

14. Street Food Stalls
Street Food Stalls
In order to experience Bangkok, you have to try to the cuisine. You'll have no trouble at all finding vendors to tempt you with treats, and you haven't really done the city without chowing down on grilled meats and fish, soups, fresh fruit, and myriad other dishes. This is a quintessential Thailand experience, tucking into a delicious (if mysterious) meal, surrounded by the chaos and heat of the city.

Tips and Tactics:

Be prepared to bargain. This applies as much to taxi rides as market shopping, if not more so. Taxi drivers in Bangkok are notorious for overcharging, so agree on a price before getting in. Or, insist that they use a meter.
Take advantage of public transportation. Even with an honest cabbie, rides can get expensive in Bangkok's traffic. Bangkok has a good public transportation system, with both above-ground and underground trains covering a good portion of the city. Buses can take awhile, prone as they are to getting stuck in said traffic, but the trains provide a quick, easy, and cheap way to get around. The system is user-friendly and takes little time to figure out, so take advantage of it while you're in town.
Watch out for scams. As mentioned above, taxi drivers often try to overcharge or insist that their meters don't work. Use your judgment and walk away from anyone who doesn't seem trustworthy. There are plenty of cabs in Bangkok; you'll get the next one. Another scam to watch out for involves a driver or supposed tour guide who agrees to take you one place and starts making stops along the way, usually at a gem store. They get a commission when they bring in tourists, but these places are often overpriced and not worth visiting. Insist that the driver take you to original destination, or tell them you're leaving. This will usually get things back on track, but again if it doesn't, you'll find another cab quickly enough.

See more:

Top 10 Things to Do in Bangkok

Top Things to Do in Bangkok

Attractions Bangkok

Places To Visit in Bangkok

10 Top Tourist Attractions in Bangkok


Hotels & Accomodations

Bangkok hotels: 20 of the city's sweetest sleeping options

From budget digs to the super swanky, we've picked out 20 of our favorite accommodation options in Bangkok

There are hundreds of great sleeping options in Bangkok, which made it extremely tough for us to name just 20 great places to sleep. Though there are a few new hotels that have recently opened and are certainly worth our attention, the following are tried, tested and fantastic. (Rates vary significantly according to season, so check the linked websites for the latest prices.)


1. Mandarin Oriental
Bangkok Hotels
The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok stands on its own in terms of prestige and history. Over 100 years old, the Oriental’s riverside grandeur has played host to a proud list of clientele, including Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger. It has also revived (and inspired) many a weary literary soul sampling the charms of Siam, including the likes of Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, Norman Mailer, Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway.

The older Author's Wing retains its magical aura of ‘the East’ of antiquity with its picturesque parlors, each named for a scribe they once hosted. The Garden Wing offers similar heights of nostalgic luxury, while the modern River Wing and Tower offer more contemporary design. And if it weren't obvious by all the plaudits that have rained down on this five-star landmark over the years, high tea in the Mandarin Oriental's library is one of Bangkok life's major dining pleasures.

48 Oriental Avenue, +66 (0)2 659 9000

2. Peninsula
Bangkok Hotels
Right across the river from the Oriental is the Peninsula, a global brand that oozes understated elegance and luxury. The restaurants are consistenly superb; local diners swear by its Mei Jang restaurant for those with a craving for authentic yet innovative Cantonese cuisine. Outiside, nothing beats sitting on the terrace for breakfast, coffee in hand, watching the morning rush on the Chao Phraya River.

Speaking of the river, all the rooms offer views of it while some come with balconies and outdoor Jacuzzis. They’re incredibly spacious too, filled with plenty of sophisticated furnishings and added touches, including built-in TVs you can watch while soaking in the bubble bath. Divine.

333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, tel. +66 (0)2 861 2888

3. Shangri-La
Bangkok Hotels
Completing the riverside ‘golden triangle’ of luxury is the Shangri-La, a sprawling complex across from the Peninsula with so many classes of rooms it boggles the mind. There are 799 luxurious guest rooms in two adjacent towers, the Shangri-La Wing and the Krungthep Wing, all with those quintessential Thai touches, including silk and teak finishings, many tourists want when they come to Thailand.

For something unique, climb onto one of their nightly riverboats for a dinner buffet cruise. A far cry from the tacky, flashy cabaret style boats that cruise up and down the Chao Phraya, diners can expect the same level of service and food offered at the hotel’s restaurants.

Shangri-La Hotel, 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, tel. +66 (0)2 236 7777

4. Banyan Tree
Bangkok Hotels
Modern, glassy and classy, this Sathorn-based hotel is a favorite with business travelers due to its central location. It’s one of highest hotels in the city, even hosting a yearly vertical marathon for charity. The rooms are certainly spectacular, with floor to ceiling windows opening up to panoramic city views and all the top amenities one would expect from a super luxurious hotel, but it’s the dining experiences that set this one apart.

Bangkok’s Banyan Tree Hotel has three separate venues that tower over the city. Vertigo's specialty is barbecued seafood, though it also grills a mean steak and has a good vegetarian menu. Pier59 is all about seafood. Lattitude is a lounge that serves Asian tapas. Not for acrophobics.

21/100 South Sathorn Road, tel +66 (0)2 679 1200

5. Sukhothai
Bangkok Hotels
This is the luxury hotel for those who want to lay their head somewhere dripping with Thai-influenced elegance that’s still contemporary in feel. Also on the prestigious Sathorn Road, the Sukhothai's grounds are sprawling and lush and unusually resort-like for a central Bangkok hotel.

And unlike many luxury hotels that stick you in a cramped box unless you splurge on a suite, even the Sukhothai’s smallest rooms are still a spacious 38 square meters. The hotel’s top suite, meanwhile, is more than 198 square meters, has a lounge area with a grand piano, private dining room, fully equipped kitchen, study, bedroom with dressing room and grand bathroom.

Sukhothai Hotel, 3/3 South Sathorn Road, tel. +66 (0)2 344 8888


6. Grand Hyatt Erawan
Bangkok Hotels
They don't get much more grand than this. Sitting on Rajdamri Road within walking distance of Bangkok’s top shopping district, the Grand Hyatt Erawan has been continuously renovating and adding to its property in recent years. This includes the massive i.sawan Residential Spa, which has its very own spa cottages separate from the regular hotel suites and rooms.

The regular Grand Hyatt rooms are super chic and spacious but best of all are their plush duvets that you can take several minutes to drag yourself out from under. Be sure to try out the hotel’s new eatery, Tables, designed by New York’s Tony Chi. It’s gaining fast fans and good reviews and is unique in that many of the European style meals are cooked table side.

494 Ratchdamri Road, tel. +66 (0)2 254 1234.

7. Four Seasons
Bangkok Hotels
Right next door to the Grand Hyatt is the spacious Four Seasons, a favorite of the city’s high society who flock to its chic eateries and bars. Beef lovers will want to check out Madison, the hotel’s renowned steakhouse, while Shintaro offers innovative Japanese cuisine.

There are 354 rooms, including 35 suites and seven enchanting garden cabanas. That’s right, cabanas, which offer a private entrance, and an outdoor dining patio set amongst landscaped gardens, overlooking the pool and a lotus pond.

155 Rajadamri Road, tel. +66 (0)2 126-8866

8. Lebua
Bangkok Hotels
Lebua hasn’t even been around that many years but it still managed to secure a spot on our list thanks to its unashamed dedication to providing guests with truly luxurious digs filled with everything from Egyptian cotton sheets to Bulgari amenities.

Late last year lebua debuted its Tower Club suites, on the top floors of the hotel, and the Seven Society, an invite-only membership offering various perks including VIP reservations and concierge services, upgrades to the Tower Club and guaranteed reservations at the State Tower’s The Dome restaurants, which are among the city’s most famous.

1055 Silom Road, +66 (0)2 624 9999

9. Dusit Thani
Bangkok Hotels
Part of the expanding Thai Dusit brand, this 40-year-old hotel on the corner of Silom and Rama IV road is a favorite among the locals, particularly high society. The location doesn’t get much better than this, while the 517 rooms and executive suites are distinctively Thai.

The dining options at the Dusit Thani are super impressive too, with a whopping 13 restaurants and bars on offer. Our favorite is French eatery D’Sens, the brainchild of the Michelin-starred Pourcel brothers from southern France.

946 Rama IV Road, +66 (0)2 200 9000

10. Pan Pacific
Bangkok Hotels
This is one of the top hotels on our list for business travelers, sitting right on the corner of Silom across from Lumpini Park and the Suan Lum Night Bazaar offering easy access to the BTS and MRT. Taking advantage of the recent downturn in tourists, last year the Pan Pacific underwent a complete overhaul and the results are impressive -- right down to the imported push button Japanese toilets.

For Bangkok residents, the best part of the renovations is the new sky-high Panorama restaurant. The dishes are innovative, the surroundings uber chic and the Finishing Post whiskey bar will lure even the only occasional drinker to settle in for a few. And then there’s Sunday brunch, one of the city’s best.

952 Rama IV Road, BTS: Sala Daeng, tel+66 (0)2 632 9000


11. Shanghai Mansion
Bangkok Hotels
This boutique hotel is definitely Yaowarat's finest. The 1930s Shanghai décor at Shanghai Mansion, smack in the middle of Chinatown, has been executed flawlessly, from the antique furnishings to the colorful wallpaper. The building has historical significance, being one of the first nine-story buildings in the early Chinatown community, making it one of the district’s early important architectural landmarks.

Suites vary in size and decor but our favorite is the bright Mu Don Peony Classic, with its beautiful four-poster Chinese wedding bed, living area, and contemporary bathroom.

479-481 Yaowarat Road, Samphanthawong, tel. +66 (0)2 678 0101

12. Arun Residence
Bangkok Hotels
Stashed at the end of a side street near Wat Po, this boutique hotel has just seven rooms, all of which offer views of the bustling waterway, where barges and long-tail boats buzz by throughout the day. And you'll also have a view of Wat Arun -- the temple of the dawn -- with its spire that pokes up into the sky.

Arun Residence's restaurant has a balcony that looks out over the Chao Phraya as well, perfect for sunset drinks.

36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, Maharat Road, tel. +66 (0) 22 21 9158

13. Eugenia
Bangkok Hotels
The Eugenia is a convincing shot-for-shot remake of a Raj-era manor. The boutique hotel's outward appearance belies an interior flush with the genuine booty of erstwhile hunting excursions throughout its halls and antique Colonial-era furniture within its 12 suites. The look, if not the cost, is classic 1920s India.

There's a reading room and -- unlike most Bangkok boutique hotels -- an elegant emerald pool, while a private dining room is also available. To complete the motif, request one of The Eugenia's vintage airport transfer coaches.

267 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 31, tel. +66 (0)2 259 9017

14. Tenface
Bangkok Hotels
One look at the Tenface lobby proves that serviced apartments are no longer reserved for software engineers or management consultants on long-term assignments. For less than the price of a decent hotel in the area you’ll get a spacious suite with plenty of room for entertaining -- not that you’ll want to hang out in your room, as its cozy bar is as chic as it gets.

Tenface offers guests some pretty useful amenities. Our favorites are the prepaid Skytrain card, mobile SIM card and iPod Nano (which must be returned upon check-out, of course). Though Tenface is just 10 minutes away from the nearest Sky Train station and close to lots of restaurants and nightlife, it’s hidden enough from the main road that it still feels like Bangkok’s best kept hotel secret.

81 Soi Ruamrudee 2, Wireless Road, Lumpini, tel. +66 (0)2 695 4242

15. Bhuthorn
Bangkok Hotels
The Bhuthorn, an intimate B&B, is a sepia-tinted homage to the early 20th century, an age when the city's well-to-do went nuts for all things European. Filled with gold-gilt mirrors, old Bangkok prints, claw-footed lamps and teak furniture, it looks like a leftover from King Rama V’s era.

Restored and run by two Thai architects, it occupies two century-old shophouses and overlooks an adorable, heritage-listed square in the old city. The three rooms each have flatscreen TVs and free wi-fi, and are sumptuously decorated. Breakfast is taken in an ickle courtyard teeming with potted ferns.

96-98 Phraeng Bhuthorn Rd., San Chao Phor Seua, Phra Nakhorn, tel. +66 (0)2 622 2270


16. Novotel Siam Square
Bangkok Hotels
Right in the middle of Bangkok's most popular teen shopping haunt, Siam Square, the four-star Novotel offers great value for money. It's decor is super chic and the restaurants on par with some of the city's five-star places. It's a popular choice for families, offering family rooms and special kids' menus.

There's a decent-sized pool, fitness center and nightclub, while the easy access to the BTS makes it one of the top choices for those looking to be right in the middle of the action. The boutiques and Thai restaurants surrounding the Novotel are definitely worth checking out as well.

392/44 Siam Square Soi 6, Rama I Road, tel. +66 (0)2 209 8888

17. Phra Nakorn Norn Len
Bangkok Hotels
Rumor has it Phra Nakorn Norn Len was a former "no-tell motel," a one-stop in-and-out dive for one night stands. Today, it’s the antithesis. Loved for its down-to-earth management, Phra Nakorn Norn Len tries to recreate the spirit of a small traditional Thai community. Smoking is forbidden. Sex tourism is a no-no and don’t ask for the remote: there are no TVs.

This Bangkok boutique hotel doesn’t so much cater to whims as it tries to build an atmosphere of shared values. It might sound forced but it works as guests gush over the healthy, communal ambiance Phra Nakorn Norn Len promotes.

46 Thewet Soi 1, Banglumphoo, tel. +66 (0)2 628 8188

18. Baioke Sky
Bangkok Hotels
A diamond back in its hey day, today the Baioke Sky is a contemporary hotel with clean, quality rooms and some decent amenities. That’s all fine, but the real reason to stay here is the view.

The Baioke Sky is Thailand’s tallest building -- for now -- and visitors can head right to the top for dinner and drinks, and at a fraction of the cost of the city’s other sky high dining options. The neighborhood immediately surrounding the hotel isn't fancy, but it's a quick walk away from the popular Rajprasong and Pratunam shopping districts. It's also one of the few hotels in Bangkok to offer a specially designated secure "ladies only floor" with amenities that cater to women.

222 Rajprarop Road, tel. +66 (0)2 656 3000.


19. Suk 11
Bangkok Hotels
This small guesthouse has managed to gain a fair bit of media coverage in the five years since its opening due to its quirky décor and family feel. Despite being on Sukhumvit 11, notorious for its nightlife, Suk 11 is all about clean living -- read no unregistered guests welcome and smoking is a no-no too.

There are basic rooms with shared toilets and showers as well as en suites, ranging in size from singles to rooms that will hold up to five people. The real draw is the quirky, rustic decor.

1/13 Soi Sukhumvit 11, tel. +66 (0)2 253 5927

20. Baan Dinsor
Bangkok Hotels
If you want to be near the Khao San Road action but not IN the action, this is the place to stay. Only a 10-minute walk from Khao San Road, Baan Dinso feels more like a civilized 1920s home than a backpacker hostel (and, therefore, is NOT the place to say if you plan on coming home wasted on Sangsom every night).

Light beige walls, original copper fittings and endearingly creaky teakwood floors fill this dainty former nobleman's house, while the nine rooms -- all with cable TV, snug beds and floral curtains -- look like every English grandma’s spotless spare room. Unlike most hostels in the vicinity of Khao San Road, the service is sweet, not sour.

113 Trok Sin, Dinso Road, tel. +66 (0)2 622 0560

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The 10 Best Bangkok Hotels on TripAdvisor

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10 of Bangkok's Best Dining Options

Bangkok has always been a foodie paradise, with knockout meals on just about every block. While the street food here is still second to none, the city has also reinvented itself in recent years with an outstanding array of fine dining options and great gourmet selections from around the world. Now featured in the San Pellegrino list of top restaurants in the world, Nahm continuously makes the list and is not to be missed, with chef David Thompson creating authentic and top notch traditional Thai. Other truly excellent Thai spots include Paste, which now has several branches, as well as green friendly Bo.lan, and Iron Chef Ian Kittichai's excellent Issaya Siamese Club, set in a gorgeous old Thai home. For authentic hard to find Thai dishes, The Local is the best place in town, and Soul Food Mahanakorn still gets accolades as one of the city's homiest spots to enjoy creative simple Thai cooking with good drinks.

It's not only Thai food that visitors are coming to Bangkok for now. Gaggan and its molecular Indian recently was selected as Asia's Best Restaurant, 22 Kitchen & Bar features a dynamic young chef doing knockout Pacific Rim cuisine ranging from Peru to Hawaii, and if it is sushi that you want, look no further than Isao, probably the only restaurant in Bangkok that has a line out the door 365 days a year. There are thousands of Italian places to choose from, but for fine dining and great ingredients, you can't top JoJo, set in the prestigious St. Regis hotel.

10 Issaya Siamese Club
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If you are looking for a special evening with gorgeous surroundings, great food, and plenty of romance, Issaya Siamese Club completely fits the bill. This is the flagship restaurant for renowned Thai chef Ian Kittichai, and has received accolades not only for its use of organic and farm fresh ingredients but also for original and delicious food that has not been toned down for the tourist crowd. Most menu items are winners, but the real standouts include the massaman lamb curry, along with the kradook moo aok glazed baby back ribs. Not only is the food good, but the atmosphere is a combination of elegance and garden party, as Issaya is housed in a century old Thai mansion, and the lawn and garden area is set with beanbag cushions for relaxing on, In the evening, the house is lit up in a golden light, making it the perfect city escape. (02-672-9040-1)

9 Bo.lan
Bo.lan makes almost every "Best" list when it comes to outstanding Thai food. Recently relocated to Sukhumvit Soi 53 near trendy Thong Lor, the restaurant prides itself on using bio diversified local products, works closely with local farmers, and is big on giving back to the community. In fact, the restaurant has set out to achieve a zero carbon footprint status in the next few years, doing heavy duty recycling as well as filtering and serving their own bottled water. The restaurant specializes in tasting menus that run upwards of 1800 baht, and feature a rotation of classic Thai favorites from Penang curry to free range duck salad and much more. There are also lunch courses served, either set or a la carte, which are of good value and a great introduction to the artistic cuisine served up here. (02 260 2961)

8 Soul Food Mahanakorn
Former Atlantic Monthly food critic Jarred Wrisley wanted a place where foodies could enjoy top notch Thai street food without having to sit on stools in the heat, and his converted Chinese shophouse restaurant is now the talk of the town, with divine northern haeng lay Burmese curry and roasted larb phet duck salad heading a menu full of Thai culinary delights. Wrisley's sleek eatery in fashionable Thong Lor is popular amongst both locals and expats, as the ingredients are fresh, spices not toned down, and yet the owner's unique twists and experimentations are what give the dishes that extra pizzazz and set Soul Food Mahanakorn a world apart from other dining options. (085-904-2691)

7 Paste Bangkok
Classic Thai food is renowned world over, yet rarely does one find it presented in such an innovative way as at Paste. Paste Bangkok is the brainchild of Australian award winning chef Jason Bailey and his Thai partner Bongkoch "Bee" Satongun, who received acclaim for their Thai restaurants in Australia and now have several branches in Bangkok, bringing creative and healthy food with them. Traditional Thai food is done here with beautiful creative twists and a total attention to taste combinations enough to wow the most discerning diner. At Paste, the dishes almost sound as good as they taste, with creations such as stock-poached pork neck with chili, red grapefruit, local flowers and toasted sticky rice. At Paste, the ingredients are sourced from local growers and avoid preservatives and chemicals wherever possible. There is a newer and more upscale version of Paste now located in the Gaysorn Plaza downtown, but the Soi 49 eatery is more intimate. (02 392 4313)

6 JoJo
Not only is JoJo sleek, sophisticated, and one of Bangkok's most elegant dining spots, it also happens to serve some of the city's most refined and delicious Italian food. You can sit in the stylish dining room or out on the romantic candlelit patio and indulge in offerings like squid ink tagliolini in Boston lobster sauce or a fettucine alfredo served on a Castelmagno cheese wheel. Absolutely don't miss trying the D.O.P Burrata cheese and rocket salad, which is a half kilo of creamy cheese that will leave you salivating with pleasure. Don't forget to save room for the tiramisu martini for dessert! (02 207 7815)

5 Nahm
The only Thai restaurant to be included in prestigious Restaurant Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants in the World, Nahm lives up to its billing by serving some of the best food one can find in Bangkok. However, some folks just aren't ready to fork out for a fancy dinner, which is all the more reason to take advantage of the fact that Nahm is now open for lunch. You can try the set menu which features 3 mains and 3 canapes along with dessert for only 1100 baht. The kanom jeen rice noodles served with a choice of curries are fabulous, and the blue swimmer crab and pickled garlic on rice cakes is divine. Lunch is served from 12-2. (02 625 3388)

4 Isao
While this small eatery just off of Sukhumvit is always packed with discerning diners coming to try out creations that just aren't available elsewhere in Bangkok, so much that it is next to impossible to get a seat, lunch offers better prospects, and Isao is well worth a visit. The owner at Isao studied under the chef at Green Tea in Chicago, and obviously brought back some creative expertise. Try out some of the signature fusion specialties here such as the Volcano, a baked scallop in cream sauce served in its shell resembling orange molten lava, spicy and taste tingling. Or how about the Jackie, a caterpillar shaped sushi roll with egg, boiled shrimp, roe, and tempura, or the Chicago Spicy Crazy, which features salmon, tuna, white fish and vegetables. (02 258 0645)

3 The Local
Owner Kan Markawat and his sister Ploy come from a family of traditional foodies, and they have put their love of traditional and hard to find dishes from all over Thailand on display at the lovely new eatery, The Local, where one can dine in a 70 year old traditional teak home, outfitted with antiques, wooden bird cages, old paddles from the floating market, and bookcases full of Thai cookbooks from throughout the ages. The menu is large and varied and standouts include gaeng lun juan, which comes from the Rama V Royal Court and is made with beef or pork laced with aromatic Thai herbs and shrimp paste, highly aromatic and bursting with flavor. Another menu winner is the gaeng kua pla bai som pan kee maa, a spicy yellow curry fish with hard to find orange leaves from the south, and don't forget to save room for the homemade ice cream and perhaps one of the signature cocktails such as the Safflower, made with Mekong whiskey, safflower, and kumquat juice, and a perfect complement to the food. (02 664 0664)

2 Gaggan
Recently named Asia's Best Restaurant, Gaggan is described as progressive Indian, but it might be better to say molecular gastronomy goes Indian and comes to Bangkok! This snazzy restaurant started by Gaggan Anand, the Kolkata native who interned with Michelin-starred molecular whiz Ferran Adrià; at his famed El Bulli restaurant in Spain, turns out wonderful creations such as chicken tikka topped with aromatic cilantro chutney foam or mutton bhuna ghosh pot roasted in a copper vessel then vacuum packed and simmered in a water bath for 24 hours, creating outrageous flavors. For fans of innovative and progressive cooking, Gaggan dazzles the senses, and the classy colonial home the eatery is housed in compliments the wonderful food. (02-652-1700)

1 22 Kitchen & Bar
22 Kitchen & Bar is a unique and creative addition to the Bangkok dining high end gourmet dining scene. Located up on the 22nd floor of the Dusit Thani Hotel, the snazzy restaurant has large glass windows with superb views of Lumphini Park far below. Even more dazzling is the novel Pan Pacific cuisine, created by half Mexican half Hawaiian master chef Nikolas Ramirez which focuses on Pacific Rim epicurean delights, ranging from Peruvian ceviche to Japanese ramen burgers, kimchi quesadillas, and plenty of fresh seafood. Dishes like langoustine with chimichurri sauce, whole fish with Peruvian paella, and snapper with mountain yam and jalape�o pesto, let you know exactly what a foodie paradise this is, and there are signature drinks and fine wines to compliment all the wonderful fare as well. (02 200 9000)

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Tips and tricks

27 Tips for Your First Time Traveling to Thailand
by Cody McKibben

I’ve been living in Bangkok, Thailand, for seventeen months now. It’s a big, hot, polluted city—a developed metropolis in the middle of the developing world where ancient tradition meets cutting edge technology. Bald-headed, orange-robed Buddhist monks wander the streets toting the latest iPhones; gray-haired Alabama exports sport handlebar mustaches and transgendered girlfriends; angry rioters blockade major city streets, while next door at the bar locals and expats alike look on with cocktails in hand.

If there’s one word to describe this place, it is contradiction. If you’re planning on traveling to Thailand, you will see the Old juxtaposed with the New, the East juxtaposed with the West. Thailand a beautiful tropical destination that feels a bit like the Wild West meets The Fifth Element.

I came to Thailand in 2008 after a bad breakup (two actually), quitting my office job, and many months of stagnation and boredom with my suburban existence in the States. I wanted to live for a year abroad, somewhere as different as I could possibly find. I wanted to create a location-independent lifestyle, free up more time to read, learn, travel, and work on personal projects, test my self-reliance, expand my understanding of other cultures, and of course lounge on the beach.

Getting Marooned in Asia
The day I flew out of San Francisco, November 25th, 2008, was the day that PAD “Yellow Shirt” protesters closed down the Bangkok airport. My connecting flight from Beijing to Bangkok was “delayed indefinitely”. Since I had not planned on stepping foot outside the airport, I had no visa to stay in China, and the immigration agents there were not the most welcoming people. After 3 hours, I managed to negotiate a 24-hour stay and a hotel for the night, courtesy of the People’s Republic. That night foreshadowed the next week of travel though: no one spoke a word of English; I ate a pack of Ritz crackers for dinner and shared three Heinekens with another stranded traveler; the protesters’ sit-in at Bangkok’s international airport lasted for ten days.

My year abroad certainly didn’t start off according to plan, but after three nights in Hong Kong and a redirect through Malaysia, I was in beach paradise in Phuket, riding around on the back of motorbikes with new Thai friends, wandering around breathtaking Buddhist temples and watching beautiful sunsets. Then days later, I was at the Pama Resort on the beach in Rayong—with my good friend Dwight Turner, his buddy Dylan Wei, and a busload of Chinese tourists—eating a full seafood barbeque spread on the beach, dancing, and singing karaoke on stage. Only in Southeast Asia.

I’ve been sick on a twelve-hour overnight bus (the worst kind of sick!), with no running water, no toilet paper, and no sleep. I’ve been on the long road to Laos when our car suddenly broke down. I’ve been in upscale nightclubs when the police have stormed the place at 1am looking for some Thai mobster or other. I’ve been in the thick of it when protesters close down my neighborhood for days on end and clash with soldiers and riot police—Molotov cocktails, petrol bombs, tear gas and bullets flying. I always manage to find myself in the middle of the action somehow.

Why Thailand? Why Now?
This guide may not come at the most timely moment for average travelers, with recent violent riots in the streets of Bangkok and international travel advisories warning against visiting Thailand right now. But I know there’s nothing average about you guys. And besides, Thailand isn’t a place for anyone who’s looking for anything average.

Political unrest is a fairly normal thing in this part of the world. I don’t recommend anyone go following the demonstrators around town, and I don’t take any liability for anyone who can’t keep their wits about them when traveling, but you can bet that traveling to Thailand will be especially cheap for the next few months.

The Thai people definitely are some of the friendliest people I’ve come across in my travels to 20+ countries, and they will take very good care of you for the most part. It’s not a perfect place—nowhere is—but the cost-of-living and traveling is low, entertainment and incredible food are easy to find, and friends are very easy to make.

Bangkok attracts millions of tourists each year—foreigners looking for everything from the hedonistic to the sacred. This part of the world is the only place I’ve been where you will see monks and prostitutes on the same street corner. It might be a little bit too much for some, but others thrive on the energy here. Life in Thailand always keeps you on your toes!

Increased freedoms, choices and opportunities are what drive people to cities like this—from the low-income farmers in the countryside to the European and American expats. And as my friend John Berns has said, Bangkok almost feels like it’s experiencing a bit of a renaissance right now—there are a lot of creeps in this town, but there are also innumerable creative types out here trying to make the world a better place or start big things in one way or another. I’ve never met so many really smart, really motivated people in my life—something I’ll go more into in future posts…

Suffice it to say, if you’re a bit adventurous, a bit entrepreneurial, or just want to experience a walk on the wild side, Thailand is a perfect destination for anyone who wants anything from a great 2-week vacation to a 3-month mini-retirement. Or more. (I’ve got several friends who originally came out here for an “8-week trip” that turned into 8 years!)

When to Come to Thailand
Thailand’s tourism high season is from October to April, when the weather is generally at its coolest and driest. Accommodation is at its most expensive, and tourist destinations are most crowded of any time of year.

Starting in May or June through about September is the rainy “monsoon” season, but don’t let that name scare you off. Rain comes in heavy downpours, but most days, it will only last for maybe an hour or so in the afternoon, and the rains are rather warm. If you’re not put off by a bit of a drizzle, they’re actually quite refreshing. Monsoon season is also typically the low season when the fewest tourists come out here, prices are at their lowest, and it’s easiest to get around.

So, in other words, it’s the best season for traveling to Thailand if you want cheap prices! It’s the best time of year to spend weeks or months with friends down at the beaches on the Andaman Sea, for example. Check out this video to see some of the great adventures I had with friends down south and look for the stunning hotel room I got for just $18 US per night during low season:

Getting Here & Getting Around Southeast Asia on the Cheap
Almost anywhere you plan on traveling in Southeast Asia, the cheapest flights all come in through Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (code BKK), the biggest international hub in the region.

If you spend wisely, you can easily take a three- or four-week flashpacking trip through Thailand and airfare will be your biggest expense for the whole trip.

Skyscanner is, in my opinion, the best airfare aggregator that finds the cheapest flights all around the world. It doesn’t pull information from all the smaller carriers around the globe, but it will frequently find the best fare or at least give you an idea what the prices should look like. Forget Orbitz.

The cheap air carriers out here in Thailand are (by far the best), Tiger Airways, and Nok Air — you can frequently fly to most locations throughout Thailand for $50 or less depending on when you book, or even jetset to neighboring Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and so on for very cheap. Avoid Jetstar Airways.

What to Pack for Your Trip to Thailand
Pack light! You don’t need much. I have dozens of friends who have lived out of one backpack for 6 months, and keep in mind that I moved to Asia for a year and a half trip with only two bags. Keep in mind that Thailand is a tropical country where you rarely need any cold-weather clothing or jackets. Laundry is very cheap and you can purchase anything you need over here, so pack less than you think you will need.

If you want to visit Thai temples (wats) you should bring one pair of lightweight long pants (and women need to cover their shoulders and arms).

There are 7/11’s on every street corner where you can get snacks, basic toiletries and household items. Tesco Lotus is a good chain to find cheap food and household items, and there are plenty of inexpensive, fairly good-quality clothes to be found among the street vendors at Khao San Road, Chatuchak weekend market, and the innumerable street markets that crop up all over Bangkok.

Don’t forget to barter! It’s a way of life in Thailand. This won’t work for food most of the time, or in nicer hotels, department stores, etc. But if you’re buying goods on the street, ask their price and then start your counter offer at half what they quoted you.

Surviving Your First Day in Thailand
Flights coming from the US frequently arrive in Bangkok around midnight, and it’s handy to have a room booked for at least one night if you are arriving in Bangkok directly after a long haul flight. A taxi from the airport to downtown will only be about $10–15 or so, with highway tolls included. One important note that many foreigners miss: don’t get in a taxi that doesn’t have the meter on. If the taxi drivers quote you 300 or 400 baht to get where you’re going, ask for “meter?” Tuk tuks aren’t equipped with meters, but you can bet if they quote you 300 or 400 baht, they’re scamming you.

A few nicer hotels that I have stayed and can recommend include: the beautiful 5-star Conrad Hilton Bangkok, the Aloft Sukhumvit 11 Hotel, or the executive studios (apartment-style) at the Citadines Sukhumvit 11 just opposite Aloft, nice big rooms at the Somerset Park Suanplu just off Lumpini Park, and the Hotel Mermaid Bangkok.

Here’s a few places I’d recommend if you’re trying to stay on a cheaper budget:

Lub d Hostel
Sawasdee Hotels
Diamond House
Or search here to book accommodation all across Thailand & Asia
From the airport, there is also a cheap shuttle bus that will take you directly to the Khao San Road area with cheap backpacker hostels.

Another wise idea if you are traveling with friends or meeting anyone while you’re here is to get a Thai SIM card for your cell phone. SIM cards and refill credit are very cheap here, and you can find them in most 7/11’s all over the country.

Also if you are like me and use your smart phone to connect to the web a lot, check out Matt Goult’s 4-step guide to get unlimited EDGE/GPRS data on One-2-Call here in Thailand.

Be Prepared for Challenges
If you’ve never been to Asia before, you are going to be waay overwhelmed when you land in Bangkok. Lots of people, lots of cars racing around ignoring red lights and turning 3-lane highways into 5-lanes (but thankfully much fewer accidents than I’m used to seeing back home in California), lots of smog, lots of crazy things you’ll see. It’s a different world than the West, so just be prepared for that.

It is not like you’re used to back home. Even though Bangkok is a huge modern city, wi-fi can be harder to find than anticipated. Power will go out, water won’t work all the time, things will break. Nothing works 100% of the time. So just be prepared for that, leave enough time to get things done and get where you need to go.

As my buddy Jonny Gibaud says, pedestrian crossings really are just decorations, and about 110% of the cars will not stop for you under any circumstance, motorbikes frequently use the sidewalks, and all sorts of other crazy shit, so stay alert when you’re wandering the streets. “Police are abundant in Thailand and especially in cities such as Bangkok. They seem to be everywhere but are not seen to serve any real purpose apart from pulling over foreigners and fining them for being alive.”

Learning to use the bathroom will be difficult. Do a Google search for “Asian squat toilet”. Trust me. Everything is different and new here. You’ll feel like an infant all over again!

There will be huge language and cultural barriers, you will experience many misunderstandings. But everyone is awesome. People are friendly. Keep a smile on your face, roll with the punches, and be ready to expand your comfort zone and your ability to overcome challenges. I have never felt threatened in this country the whole year and a half I have lived here, and it’s easy to make friends with travelers and expats.

Almost Anything Can Be Had
All of that being said, a lot of people make travel in Thailand sound harder than it is though. For all of its challenges, Thailand truly is a fantastic place—the people are generally very friendly, not confrontational at all, they will laugh off misunderstandings (so you should too), and for the most part they will take very good care of you.

Thailand is a place where I would venture to say you can find almost anything you want to buy (baby cobra snakes anyone?), and have nearly any experience you can imagine. You can get anything here. There is certainly a dark side to BKK if that’s what you’re looking for, but this site doesn’t deal with that. There are plenty of other places you can look that stuff up if it’s what you’re interested in.

Bangkok has some of the best nightlife in the world, and it’s easy to find yourself smoking cigars with the club owners, hanging at model bars, rooftop parties, or comped Tiesto shows. The more you get to know people, the more opportunities will be available to you, so keep an open mind and make friends!

You can order McDonald’s delivery all night, you can hire the motorbike taxi drivers outside your hostel to help you with almost any task you can imagine, you can get someone to wash your laundry for $2, you can find maids, traditional Thai massages, fine suit tailors and personal drivers for a fraction of the cost you’d expect in any Western country.

Lastly, as my good Thai friend Tiam once reassured me, the law is flexible. All the rules get broken here (just watch how people obey the traffic laws), so if you make a mistake—like overstaying your visa by a week or two—don’t worry too much. It’s a completely foreign idea to us Westerners, but almost anything can be negotiated, and people want to help you if you’re willing to help them.

A Word on the Thai Language
Thankfully for English speaking travelers, Thailand and most of Southeast Asia are actually very easy to get around with little or none of the local language. Many people in Bangkok and other cities speak at least some English. With that said, the more you know coming in, the better, so be prepared.

There will be loads of confusion. There are a few important pleasantries I’d recommend learning before you come here that will make life a little easier. In Thai, you almost always end every sentence with a polite word. For men, you end everything with “kup”; for women, you end your sentences with “ka”. See below:

“Sawadee kup”(male)/”Sawadee ka” (female) – “Hello”
“Sabai dee mai kup/ka” – “How are you?”
“Korp khun kup/ka” – “Thank you”
“Tao rai kup/ka” – “How much is it?”
“Mai pen lai kup/ka” – “No worries” or “It doesn’t matter” — that’s the attitude out here. As I said above, don’t take anything too seriously.
Thai is a tonal language, with five different tones—all five can give a word different meanings. But don’t worry too much—just be willing to try speaking and laugh it off when you make mistakes. Subscribe to the awesome, free Learn Thai Podcast, listen to the first few episodes on your flight over here, and you’ll already be ahead of most tourists who come out here. Get the Lonely Planet Thai phrase book from the iTunes store if you carry an iPhone or iPod with you, which you can consult if you get stuck and need to communicate with someone (it has audio). If you’re staying in Thailand for a while, find a Thai friend to teach you or search online for inexpensive courses you can attend.

Thai Food

Eat the food from street stalls! It’s cheap and delicious, and there’s nothing wrong with eating at a sidewalk or alleyway vendor in this country. A lot of places, you can find incredible edibles on the street 24-hours a day. And don’t just stick to Pad Thai! Mark Wiens, the king of foods, has an excellent list of 100 Foods You Must Eat in Bangkok Thailand. Try the curries, the soups, the duck, look for Chinese and Korean food, Indian and Arab food.

Take the BTS (the mass transit skytrain in Bangkok) to Nana Station and visit Sukhumvit Soi 3/1, where you’ll find rows of Middle Eastern restaurants with incredible naan bread, hummus, shwarma wraps, lamb kebabs, and shisha pipes.

For the most comprehensive & thorough education on Thai food you’ll ever see, check out Mark’s exceptional Eating Thai Food Guide, which will give you the complete menu of Thai street food you’ll find around the country, including photos, recipes, ratings, phonetic instructions on how to order in Thai (and how to write them in the Thai language), and even recommended restaurants.

Other Destinations Around Thailand
1. Ayutthaya: The old capital of Thailand is a day trip from Bangkok, full of ancient ruins, Buddhist temples, and Buddha statues to explore. A breathtaking, otherworldly experience, it’s very much like a miniature version of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple.

2. Chiang Mai: Mountainous, beautiful, apparently Thailand’s second-largest city but much quieter and relaxed than Bangkok, lots of festivals, art, music, and culture. You can go elephant trekking and take a nice Thai cooking class. With plenty of nice apartments and condos for rent, lots of internet cafes, it has quickly become a major digital nomad hotspot since 2010. The connectivity and infrastructure are fantastic, the people are friendly, the food is awesome, and it’s cheaper than Bangkok.

Also see Chiang Rai and Pai while you’re up north.

floating lanterns Chiang Mai

3. Krabi province: If you’ve heard the good word about Phuket, I say give Krabi province a try instead. Absolutely stunning white sand beaches, this is literally my favorite place I’ve been so far in the world (out of about 28 countries so far). Stay in Ao Nang or Krabi Town for a cheaper stay, but then take a 15-minute longtail boat ride from either of those two spots out to Railay Beach. With reggae bars, rock climbing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fire dancing on the beach, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.

Or visit one of the nearby islands — Koh Phi Phi for parties and Leonardo DiCaprio sightings, Koh Lanta for a more relaxed, couple- and family-friendly vibe. If you wanna see my favorite place out of 30+ countries, check out my Railay Beach travel guide.

4. Phuket: Though Phuket is a bit more touristy than it has been in past years, the relaxed, somewhat more isolated beaches in the north, including Mai Khao and Nai Yang beach near the airport, as well as Rawai, Bangtao, Kata, and some of the other beautiful beaches in the south, are still great places to visit and find a beautiful resort, beachside condo, or villa if you decide to venture into Phuket. Grab a beach lounge chair for the day, try out jet skiing or parasailing, enjoy the beach bars… just be careful not to get scammed.

Amanpuri Phuket

5. Koh Lanta: This is right next door if you travel down to Krabi. There are tons of islands down south in the Andaman Sea (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Kho Phangan, etc.), but we’ve had great stays at a beachside bungalow resort in Khlong Nin beach on Koh Lanta for just about $12 a night, and if you want to go a little more fancy, one Valentine’s Day I even booked an an incredible seafront villa suite for my girl — like on the beach, with nothing between you and water — at Dream Team Beach Resort (gotta love that name huh!?).

Check out my friend Chris’ Koh Lanta Beach Guide at

6. Koh Samet: Not quite the same as the sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of the islands in the Andaman Sea, but Koh Samet is a weekend getaway and just a short 3-hour trip from Bangkok by bus and ferry. Check out Stuart’s Koh Samet travel guide at TravelFish.

7. Angkor Wat: If you want to travel outside Thailand while you’re here, I’d highly recommend Siem Reap, Cambodia where you can see Angkor Wat—the massive ancient capital with the ruins you’d recognize from movies like Tomb Raider. It’s beautiful, breathtaking, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the city Siem Reap is gorgeous, quiet and traveler-friendly.

IMPORTANT: Thailand Travel Visas
If you arrive to Thailand without arranging a visa in advance, most Western passport-holders will automatically receive a 30-day stamp upon arrival at the airport. This can be extended for at least an additional 7 days at an immigration office in Bangkok or other parts of Thailand for 1900 baht. Any time you arrive in Thailand by air you can get this 30-day stay, but technically speaking, you are only allowed to do this twice in any 6 months.

If you cross the Thai border overland from somewhere like Laos or Cambodia, you will be given ony a 15-day stamp by default.

If you want or need more time in the country, then it is recommended to apply for a proper Tourist Visa in your home country or Thai Consulate outside the Kingdom prior to your arrival.

The most useful visa for longer stays is the 60-day tourist visa, which you can apply for in your home country or any neighboring Asian country for 1900 baht. The easiest places for a visa run are to Laos or Cambodia, where you cross the border and stay for two to four days while a 60-day tourist visa is processed. You can also extend the 60-day tourist visa for an additional 30 days at the immigration office in Bangkok or other parts of Thailand for 1900 baht. So, you can effectively use tourist visas to stay in the country for 90 days at a time and then travel to a neighboring country, visit the Thai embassy or consulate, and return with a new tourist visa which you can again extend for another 90 days. Read more on visa runs from Migrationology.

You will pay a visa fee of about $25–$35 US at immigration to enter Laos or Cambodia.

If you need further information about visas, you can see the different options available from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and search through extensive help and examples at Thai Visa forums – where they have plenty of updated reports from others about local Thai embassies. This is THE place to find info about visas.

A Few Unique Social Norms in Thailand
Thai people are very welcoming, understanding, and forgiving, but you’ll definitely get better treatment if you observe a few basic social rules. The most important thing to bear in mind is the “mai pen rai”, no worries attitude.

Mai Pen Rai: Remember you're on vacation, keep a smile on your face, and take it easy!

Getting overly angry will usually not get the same response as it would in the West, whereas keeping your “jai yen”, or cool heart, will yield the best results for everyone involved.

Don’t touch anyone on the top of the head, especially elder people. For Thais, the top of the head is a sacred place.
Don’t point at anything with your feet or put your feet on top of a chair, desk, etc. The feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body, so definitely keep them away from monks, Buddha statues, and images of the King.
Women are not allowed to touch monks at all. So no reaching out to shake hands, and don’t sit next to them on the BTS skytrain. Learn what the Asian “wai” is.
It’s not the norm to tip in most places throughout the country, although if you receive spectacular service it will be gladly accepted. Many restaurants already include a 10% VAT fee.
10 Thai Customs To Know Before Visiting Thailand
While Thailand is a very open-minded and tolerant culture, keep in mind that in public, Thais are fairly conservative. Be respectful and wear long pants long sleeves when you visit palaces and temples. Don’t show too much skin, and don’t assume it’s alright to practice topless sunbathing on the beaches. It’s also best to keep the necking and public displays of affection to a minimum when you’re out and about.

Have patience. Remain flexible. Don’t lose your temper. Don’t let anyone take outright advantage of you, but also be understanding and don’t be accusatory. Smile, be friendly with people, be respectful and curious of Thai culture, be gracious for help, good food, and quality service – and almost anyone can be your friend.

Thailand is largely about having fun and being easygoing – but don’t treat the place as your playground or the people as your servants. At the end of the day Thailand belongs to the Thai people, and we are guests in their world.

Other Considerations
Banking and Cash in Thailand:

The exchange rate is currently about 32.24 baht to $1 US.

It’s easiest to just bring your bank/ATM card and just sucked up the fees (150 baht to use the local ATM plus typically $5–10 international fees depending on your bank). I try to withdraw about $300 (10k baht) at a time to minimize my fees. If you plan on doing extensive international travel, it may be worthwhile to look at a bank like Charles Schwab, which reimburses you for all fees on their checking accounts and has no international fees.

Shots or Vaccinations:

You do not require any specific shots or vaccinations to enter the Kingdom of Thailand. There are some border areas that the CDC considers questionable for malaria, but the medication here is cheaper. Be aware, malaria pills will give you some freaky David Bowie dreams.

Local Medical Coverage:

You can walk in to the hospital, clinic, and pharmacies all over Thailand. Over the counter medications, prescriptions, and almost every medical service imaginable is incredibly cheaper than in Europe or the US. You can get x-rays or see the doctor for less than $10, so if you have trouble finding traveler’s insurance (which you will with travel advisories right now) I wouldn’t worry about your health. People flock to Thailand for medical tourism reasons because they have some of the most affordable healthcare in the world. You can see the eye doctor or the dentist and get service for pennies on the dollar as well, typically all very high quality.

See more:

Top 10 Useful Bangkok Tips
Good Things To Know When Travelling In Bangkok

Bangkok Warnings and Dangers

Bangkok travel tips: Where to go and what to see in 48 hours

Bangkok Travel Basics