BangkokTravel Guide

Bangkok will engage all your senses, with its bustling streets, incredible food and creative mix of ancient customs and modern life. For a bird’s-eye view of it all, the glass viewing floor of the SkyWalk in Thailand’s tallest building, King Power Mahanakhon, is a good place to start. You’ll never get bored in Bangkok, with temples, palaces, markets and shopping malls galore to explore. Enjoy tasting the regional differences in Bangkok’s fabulous food, and living it up for less – you can have a great time in Bangkok and spend very little.If you’re planning a visit, explore our Bangkok travel guide and find out how to make the most of your time in the Thai capital. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts, and have all sorts of suggestions for things to do, the best time to travel, where to stay, getting around and more.

Bangkok quick facts

Language

National language

Thai

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

ZAR R10.87

Local time

Tuesday

12:48am

Currency

Thai baht

ZAR R1.00 = THB ฿1.93

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

ZAR R51.69

Electricity

Plug type: A

2 or 3 pins • 220V

Explore Bangkok

Where to stay in Bangkok?

Some people find it hard to decide where to stay in Bangkok. After all, there are 50 districts within the city, all offering unique experiences. You can live like royalty in the Old City, home of the Grand Palace. Alternatively, you’ll find 24-hour fun at Prantuan and resort-like hotels at Riverside.These districts are just some of the best areas to stay in Bangkok. Not only do they offer a good mix of high-end, mid-range, and affordable hotel options, but they're also close to several landmarks that you can check out during your stay.

If you want your Bangkok holiday to be packed with activities, you should stay at Sukhumvit. During the day, indulge your inner shopaholic by visiting nearby shopping centres, such as Terminal 21. As night falls, spend time drinking and socialising at Soi Cowboy. It's also easy to get to other Bangkok attractions from Sukhumvit by using the BTS Skytrain.


Considered the centre of Bangkok's business district, Silom has plenty of luxury hotels on offer. You can do some gentle exercises at Lumphini Park before embarking on a day of exploring. Enjoy the various museums and antique stores nearby. If you want to see a more vivid side of Bangkok, head to the red light district of Patpong.


If you're looking to immerse yourself in Thailand's rich history and culture, there's no better place to stay than the Old City centre. You'll see landmarks such as the Grand Palace, the Museum of Siam, and Wat Pho. You'll also be close to the bustle of Khao San Road, a great place to meet other travellers and swap stories.


With a good mix of budget-friendly and boutique hotels, accommodation in Chinatown is worth consideration. Staying here will inevitably lead you to some interesting local places and experiences. Visit the market lanes and good eateries around the district, as well as the world's largest statue of Buddha, made entirely from solid gold, at Wat Traimit.


Stay in one of Siam Square's hotels if shopping is the main aim of your holiday in Bangkok. Shopping centres and designer boutiques will be nearby, but you're also close to the Jim Thompson House, Erawan Shrine, and Bangkok Art and Culture Centre for when you desire a culture fix.


Can't sleep? Whether it's jetlag or the excitement of being away, there are many places in Prantunam that are open 24 hours. For instance, most people shop at the Prantunam Market from 11am to 8pm, but you'll see a different side if you drop by at night. There's also a shrine you can visit if you want extra luck in your love life.


Feel like you've escaped Bangkok's frenetic pace by staying at a Riverside hotel. This area is home to hotels with large swimming pools, expansive grounds, and excellent service. You'll also be treated to views of Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace. If you wish to venture into the city, just hop on the BTS Skytrain and you'll be there in no time.


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  • Bangkok temple with a orange and yellow sky in background
    • Night life, extremely crowded street with bright signs
    • Canoe's carrying variety of fresh foods with monks in orange sit in separate canoe's
  • Bangkok temple with a orange and yellow sky in background
    Bangkok temple with a orange and yellow sky in background
    Bangkok temple with a orange and yellow sky in background
  • Night life, extremely crowded street with bright signs
    Night life, extremely crowded street with bright signs
    Night life, extremely crowded street with bright signs
  • Canoe's carrying variety of fresh foods with monks in orange sit in separate canoe's
    Canoe's carrying variety of fresh foods with monks in orange sit in separate canoe's
    Canoe's carrying variety of fresh foods with monks in orange sit in separate canoe's

Things to do in Bangkok

There are so many things to do in Bangkok that filling your days with activities is easy. From visiting floating markets in the morning to exploring the temples and palaces in the afternoon, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn about the city's vivid past. Between sightseeing excursions, try a spot of shopping and dining with the smiling locals.

Famously described as ‘the centre of the backpacking universe', expect a frenzy of activity when visiting Khao San Road. Although popular with a young tourist crowd, the 1km stretch of shops and bars also attracts a lot of locals and is a popular meeting place. Close to other Bangkok landmarks, this is a great sightseeing springboard when walking around the city.


Located on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is a beautiful Bangkok landmark. Watch the sun set over the stone temple and you'll see it lit up gold by the setting sun. Named after a Hindu god who is the embodiment of the rays of the rising sun, Wat Arun means the ‘Temple of the Dawn'.


Inside Wat Pho, you'll find intricate engravings and beautiful figures, including the famed Reclining Buddha. Apart from the large golden statue, many visitors also flock to Wat Pho because it's the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Experience this invigorating massage for yourself while visiting the temple grounds. If you have time, you can even learn a few techniques for yourself.


Outside, the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is an impressive neo-Renaissance white marble edifice. Step inside and you'll discover paintings depicting the history of the current royal dynasty and gold ceremonial items. There are also exhibits and masterpieces from Thailand's national artists. As the Throne Hall is part of the Royal Family's property, conservative clothing is recommended.


If you want to learn more about the people living in the north of Thailand without leaving the capital, visit the Ban Kamthieng and Siam Society. Originally located in Chiang Mai, the museum was moved to Bangkok and contains items inhabitants would use every day when living in a wooden house. It's also the base for the Siam Society, a group that promotes knowledge of Thailand and its surrounds.


Don't be fooled by the old-fashioned Western-style building. The Museum of Siam tries to answer the question, ‘What does being Thai mean?' Modern, interactive installations — like pretending to be a TV reporter or a diner regular — will help get you thinking about this question as you discover the evolution of the Thai people and their culture.


Throughout Bangkok you'll see gigantic painted gold statues of Buddha. The difference with the Buddha housed in Wat Traimit is that it's made of solid gold. Nearly 5m tall, it weighs more than five tons and is the largest Buddha effigy in the world. Find out how it was discovered and moved to its current home at the Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Patimakorn Exhibition, located within the wat (temple).


One of the most beautiful places in Bangkok, the Grand Palace was the home of the Royal Family. Arrive early to soak up all the beautiful architecture, mosaics, and furnishings. Inside the complex you'll also find Wat Phra Kaew, the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. It houses the Emerald Buddha, which was carved from a single jade block.


The floating markets are one of the must-see Bangkok tourist attractions. Sellers ply their wares of fresh produce and handmade souvenirs while riding slim boats. Many markets have tours where you can hop on a motorised boat and be whisked around the floating stalls. Take the time to enjoy the local food specialties, such as grilled meats and noodle soups, which are cooked right in front of you.


Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur who revitalised the Thai silk industry. After leading a colourful life, he mysteriously disappeared in 1967. One of the legacies he left behind was his home, comprising of six traditional Thai teak structures, which were brought to this Bangkok location from all around the country. Visiting the Jim Thompson House allows you to learn more about the ‘Legendary American of Thailand'.


Translated, Suan Pakkad Palace means ‘cabbage patch', but don't let the amusing name fool you. The museum was previously home to members of the Royal Family. It's made up of several traditional Thai houses, containing items from the royal collection of Hindu and Buddhist art. After you're done exploring the interior, have a refreshing walk around the gardens.


Bangkokian, or the Bangkok Folk Museum, represents what life was like for people before World War II. The group of three buildings includes a family home that was completed in 1937, a boarding house built by the family to help make ends meet, and a surgery that was owned by a British doctor.


The Bangkok National Museum started out as antiquities passed down by King Rama IV to his son. The collection has since expanded and represents Thailand's history dating back to the Neolithic period. It's also the largest national museum in Southeast Asia. For more insight, join one of the guided tours run by English-speaking museum volunteers.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Bangkok travel tips

Whether it's your first or your fifth visit, keep these Bangkok travel tips in mind.First, only drink bottled water, rather than from the tap. Don’t worry about ice in drinks though, as this is generally made with purified water and is therefore safe. Second, if you're staying in Thailand for more than a few days, consider getting a SIM card from a convenience store for cheaper mobile communication. Third, check with your doctor to see if they recommend any immunisations for travelling to Bangkok.Finally, keep in mind the following basic pieces of Bangkok travel advice.

If you hold an Australian passport and want to go on a holiday in Thailand, you can do so visa-free for 30 days. If you're staying longer, you must apply for a visa. This is only a guide, so if you want the most accurate and current information, contact your local Thai embassy.


There's a plethora of food to choose from in Bangkok, and Thai cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients and well-balanced flavours. If you're not into spicy food, politely ask for less spice when ordering. If you're trying the street food, be on the lookout for clean stalls with plenty of customers, and only buy food that's been prepared in front of you.


Australia's electricity runs around 230v to 240v, while Thailand's is only around 220v AC. Most devices and appliances can work with this slight voltage difference. However, most sockets in Bangkok are for two-prong round or flat plugs, with the occasional extra prong. To be sure your electrical appliances work in Bangkok, bring an adapter or buy one at the airport, a convenience store or shopping centre before you depart.


There are two airports serving Bangkok. The newer Suvarnabhumi has international flights while Don Mueang, Asia's oldest operating airport, services domestic flights. There are plenty of transport options available to get you to and from either airport. However, you need to make sure that you're at the airport a few hours in advance as there can be long queues and delays.


The Thai Baht (THB) is Thailand's official currency. One baht is equal to 100 satang. While credit cards are usually accepted at major restaurants and hotels, most businesses in Bangkok only accept cash. You can withdraw money from ATMs with visa and/or cirrus signs, or you can go to a foreign exchange counter. If using credit or debit cards, check with your bank before departure regarding any overseas charges.


While tipping is not mandatory, it's welcomed by local workers who are often paid a low wage. Leave some loose change in small eateries and expect to tip at least 10% of the bill when dining in high-end restaurants. For tipping taxi drivers, round the fare up, and give your masseuse 100 baht for a good rubdown. These little gestures are greatly appreciated.


As Bangkok is a well-trodden tourist destination, some locals can speak English. Be patient if you're asked to repeat yourself, or if you have to ask them to repeat what they just said. Before leaving, take the time to learn some basic phrases and be aware that you should add ‘kráp' if you're a man and ‘kâ' if you're a woman to the end of sentences (this is polite).


Flights to Bangkok

Bangkok food and drink

Wondering where to eat in Bangkok, a mecca for food lovers? You can find eateries on practically every corner of the city. Grab a quick bite from a street food stall, or sit down for a meal in a shopping centre food court. For more special occasions, indulge in fine-dining by the river.It’s not just the wide variety of Bangkok food and drink vendors that will have you spoiled for choice – the comprehensive menus also make it hard to choose what to eat! Thai cuisine is famed for transforming fresh ingredients into beautifully presented food with well-balanced flavours. Whatever you’re craving will no doubt be catered for.

Bangkok's street food is as colourful and varied as the city itself. If you want something cheap, filling and tasty, slurp some boat noodles. Vendors can be found in the alley near Victory Monument. Feeling brave? You'll find freshly deep-fried insects at Klong Toey market. Meanwhile, if you want something more refreshing while searching for shopping bargains, sip some Thai iced tea at the Rod Fai Night Market.


Take advantage of Bangkok's famed bars and nightlife. For a show provided by nature, watch the sun set and the landmarks light up while you enjoy a delicious dinner on a river cruise. Once night has fallen, head to a rooftop bar and sip cocktails while the lights illuminate the city. Alternatively, drink local beers and spend time people-watching in the famous red light districts of Patpong and Soi Cowboy.


Spend an evening in luxury by eating at one of the fine-dining restaurants at the Silom, Sukhumvit, Sathorn, and Riverside districts. For delicious fare that doesn't blow the budget, go to Chinatown or Old City. Don't forget to eat at Thip Samai Pad Thai to taste what many consider the best Pad Thai in Bangkok.


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Bangkok through your eyes

Where to shop in Bangkok?

Even if you don't consider yourself a shopaholic, you shouldn't miss the Bangkok shopping experience. Thailand's capital has plenty of shopping centres, open-air markets, boutique shops, and street stalls where you'll find stylish clothes, accessories, original handmade items, and plenty more. Make sure you put Thai silk and products that are handmade by local artisans at the top of your souvenir list. Known for their beauty and high quality, these make the perfect gifts. Many items are affordable and haggling is accepted in some markets, so you can try to get an even lower price.

If you're looking for a shopping centre with a bit of history, look no further than Old Siam Plaza. It's located on Rattanakosin Island, the same district as the Grand Palace. Old Siam is known as a destination for Thai silk and quality clothing. You can also pick up great Thai snacks (such as sweet rice cakes), which will help keep your shopping energy levels up.


Not sure what to buy in Bangkok? How about makeup accessories, fancy costumes, and handmade clothing? You can find all these and more at Pratunam Market, a 24-hour wholesale shopping mecca. Visit between 11am and 8pm, when most of the retail stores are open. Prices here are low, so make sure you have plenty of small bills on hand.


While it may have a fancy name and posh exteriors, Platinum Mall has items at low prices. You can find affordably priced menswear, womenswear, and accessories. Most of the shops only accept cash and many offer discounts if you purchase three or more products at once. If you find yourself with a lot of new purchases, simply buy a new bag to put them in.


Clear your Saturday schedule for a visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the biggest markets in the world. Throughout its 27 sections you'll find everything from hats to home decor, from pet accessories to paintings. Prices here are already reasonable, but you may be able to use a friendly demeanour and your bargaining skills to get the best deal.


Mahbookkrong (MBK) is a well-known Bangkok shopping centre where you can haggle down the prices. You'll find plenty of electronics and clothes. If shopping for a new outfit, keep a lookout for export shops or ‘oversized' clothes, as most sizes are for the more petite local bodies rather than Western physiques.


If you want the latest in Bangkok fashion in an international setting, definitely check out Terminal 21. There are nine floors in this shopping centre, each styled to look like a different city. You'll be shopping in London one moment, then Tokyo or San Francisco the next. Terminal 21 has both international and local brands, plus an excellent food court at the top level for when you get peckish.


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Bangkok?

The weather in Bangkok is often warm and sunny with occasional rain showers that don't last for long. This is because Thailand lies close to the equator, giving it a tropical climate and three seasons instead of Australia's four. The hot season starts in March and gives way to the rainy season around June. Then, in December, winds from the north cool down the country, making this one of the best times to visit Bangkok.Here are a couple of weather-related considerations to keep in mind when planning your trip to Bangkok.

Australia's summer months are actually Thailand's cool season. The temperature averages around 25°C, with highs of 33°C and lows of 21°C. The days are mostly sunny with only an occasional rain shower. This is why many consider summer the best time to travel to Bangkok. Appropriate clothing: A shirt and loose pants or shorts. Don't forget: A sarong (use it as a shawl if it gets a bit too chilly for your liking).


The rainy season begins around June and brings the Bangkok temperature down to a more pleasant average of 29°C. This is low tourist season, giving you more time to enjoy the city's attractions without having to hustle so much for good photo opportunities. Appropriate clothing: Lightweight jeans and a jacket to keep the rain off. Don't forget: An umbrella that's strong enough to withstand a heavy downpour.


While Australia's temperatures cool down in autumn, it gets hotter in Bangkok. From March until the end of May, temperatures average around 31°C with highs of around 35°C. Thai people celebrate their New Year, held on April 13 to 15, with a great water fight that you can't miss. Appropriate clothing: Lightweight shirts and shorts. Don't forget: At least one outfit of conservative clothes (essential for visiting temples, even in the heat).


In September, monsoons roll in, bringing around 220mm of rainfall in Bangkok. There are about 22 wet days during this rainy season, but don't let it stop you from enjoying the wonders of the city. Both shopping centres and museums provide excellent indoor adventures. Appropriate clothing: A raincoat and sturdy, waterproof footwear. Don't forget: A change of dry clothes.


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How to get around Bangkok

From tiny tuk-tuks to the massive BTS trains, there are many Bangkok transport options to choose from. Which one best suits will depend on factors such as time of day, distance to travel, and your destination. For instance, if you have time to spare and are going to a district across the Chao Phraya, a river bus is the way to go. If you're in a real hurry, a motorbike taxi is a faster option to get to your destination. Here are some popular ways to get around Bangkok.""From tiny tuk-tuks to the massive BTS trains, there are many Bangkok transport options to choose from. Which one best suits will depend on factors such as time of day, distance to travel, and your destination. For instance, if you have time to spare and are going to a district across the Chao Phraya, a river bus is the way to go. If you're in a real hurry, a motorbike taxi is a faster option to get to your destination.Here are some popular ways to get around Bangkok.

If you need to get to a specific location fast, flag down a taxi. A glowing red sign indicates that it's vacant. Check that the driver is using the meter so you get the correct fare. Alternatively, if it's just a short trip during off-peak hours, try riding a tuk-tuk. Before agreeing to ride, negotiate the price of the trip with the driver first.


If you want to get around Bangkok on your own steam, you can hire a scooter or motorbike. Just be sure that you have your passport, Australian licence and International Driving Permit with you when you go to the rental company. Bring photocopies of these documents to leave with the company. Most rentals have helmets for you to use as well.


Bangkok has plenty of public transportation options, from boats that cross the Chao Phraya River to colour-coded buses that cover the city. Use the BTS Skytrain for a quick but picturesque way to get around Bangkok. One-day or multi-day passes are available, making it even easier to hop on and off the BTS whenever you need.


Walking around in Bangkok can be an interesting way to see the city. Whether it's a leisurely tour around Chinatown, a morning jog at a Lumphini Park or a quick stroll from one shopping centre to another, there are lots of places to walk. Just be sure to carry cold bottled water and an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun and rain.


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What are the best parks in Bangkok?

To take a break from the hustle and bustle of this modern city, head to one of Bangkok's parks or gardens. Join the locals and head to the shady Saranrom Royal Garden, hire a paddle boat at Benjakiti Park, or stroll the grassy grounds of Sanam Luang. Peaceful parks can be found near many of Bangkok's landmarks, so you’ll always be close to one when you need a respite from the city or a quiet space for a picnic. Just keep in mind that most of the parks here prohibit smoking, drinking, and the removal of footwear.

Created in the 1920s, Lumphini Park is the biggest and most popular park in Bangkok. You can take part in tai chi or aerobics classes with the locals. Alternatively, find a quiet spot all to yourself to enjoy some solitary relaxation. If you want to cool off, sip a Thai iced tea sold by one of the park vendors, or rent a paddleboat for a ride on the artificial lake.


Once used exclusively by the Royal Family and their guests, the Saranrom Royal Garden is now open to the public. It's Bangkok's first botanic garden, offering shady lawns, green ponds, and small gazebos – perfect for relaxing. Saranrom is also home to a strikingly famous monument dedicated to a queen and princess who tragically drowned during a boating accident in 1890.


The Benjakiti Park is a beautiful place to pause and reflect on your Bangkok holiday so far. Enjoy views of the lake, fountains and surrounding flowers. Separate pathways for joggers and cyclists mean you can set your own pace in peace. Alternatively, if you want to join the fun, there are places to rent bikes and paddle boats.


Surrounded by landmarks like the Grand Palace and the National Museum, Sanam Luang is a good place to rest after sightseeing. Its name means ‘royal turf' and many ceremonies involving the Royal Family are held here. Stroll through the oval field, play games, or just sit and enjoy a picnic. In March, colourful kites fill up the sky – this is the main location for traditional Thai kite flying.


Chuvit Garden was created in 2006 by a Thai politician who owns the area. This small plot of land, formerly known as Sukhumvit Square, is only a few blocks away from some of the city's biggest shopping centres. The private garden is only open to the public at specific times, but catch it just right and it's the perfect place to stop for a breather before or after some retail therapy.


Romaneenart Park is just a few minutes' walk from the Giant Swing on one side and Chinatown on another. Make a stop in this park a priority during your time walking around the city. This is the former site for the Bangkok Central Jail and the current home of the Corrections Museum, so there's plenty of history to discover as well as green space.


Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

Bangkok Frequently asked questions

With so many options, narrowing down an area to stay can be overwhelming! As a general guide, Sukhumvit is great for shopping and nightlife, the Riverside area is where you will find many of Bangkok’s best hotels while Khao San offers many mid-range and budget-friendly options.


If you're looking to experience the vibrant culture, delicious food, and bustling city life of Bangkok, you'll need at least a few days to really take it all in. You don’t want to go so hard you need a holiday to recover from your holiday (although we can help with that too).


Bangkok has a tropical monsoon climate and as such, has three seasons – hot, rainy and dry. As a guide, the driest months tend to be December and January however the shoulder seasons from November to February are usually pretty good weather-wise. The hottest month is April, and the rain tends to  start around mid-May and reaches its peak in September.


Sorry to answer your question with a question, but what isn’t there to do in Bangkok? Bangkok offers endless ways to fill your days and nights, from sightseeing to sipping and snacking your way around various street food vendors, from shopping to relaxing day spas – it’s all at your fingertips.


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Generally, driving a car in Bangkok and attempting to find parking is more challenging than it’s worth. The easier option is to hire a car and driver through the hotel, hire a taxi driver (or a motorcycle taxi, known as motorsai) or, for short trips, jump on a túk-túk. There’s also trains and boats depending on your destination.


Pack your sunscreen, comfortable shoes, modest clothing for the temples and a sense of adventure for a memorable holiday in Bangkok! Some other travel essentials including sanitiser and wet wipes, bug spray and international power adaptor would also serve you well. Forgot something? Don’t stress, you’ll be looking for excuses to hit the shops.


Bangkok is a captivating and bustling city with something for every kind of traveller – whether you’re here for the luxury resorts and the bliss-inducing spas or you’re here for the street food markets, colourful culture, awe-inspiring sites and thrilling nightlife. You can curate your perfect holiday with just a little bit of planning and research ahead of time. We recommend making a list of must-see sights and going from there.


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The current requirements for travelling to Bangkok

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