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From the intense flavors of street food to the lizards of Lumpini Park, discovery awaits in Thailand's bustling capital. Home to over 11 million residents, this city is like no other on earth.
Whether you're visiting for temples like Wat Pho, world-class malls like Siam Discovery, or fascinating cultural sites like the Erawan Museum, Bangkok will surprise you at every turn.
Underneath the hubbub there's a thriving expat community. Expect to find craft beer bars, spoken-word groups, and jazz clubs mixed in with local markets and temples. Overwhelming in its allure, Bangkok shines night and day. Ever-changing, constantly growing, there are a thousand reasons to visit, and as many to stay.
Bangkok is a cosmopolitan city offering the best of both Thai and international cuisine. Top local dishes include Laab Mu, a minced pork salad, and Ko Mu Yang, grilled pork neck.
Bangkok is known for its thriving markets, which operate both day and night. The biggest, Chatuchak, might be the largest open-air market in the world. Expect to find everything from clothing to jewelry to art on display.
Even those who do not like shopping should consider checking out the malls in the Siam Paragon complex - they truly are amazing, both in terms of design and luxury. Brands such as Dior, Prada, and Gucci abound.
Thai architecture is unique, a fusion of Chinese and Indian elements that is all its own. Bangkok's mighty temples, as well as the Grand Palace, are fascinating examples of Thai aesthetics.
Thailand is known as the "Land of Smiles" for good reason, and wherever you are, you're sure to be greeted with a smile and make some friends.
Bangkok is a year-round destination, but guests do well to avoid Southeast Asia's monsoon season, which drenches the city in rain each year from May to November. The rest of the year is considered dry season, and it will be a more comfortable experience.
Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) sits about seven miles from the city center, but thanks to Bangkok's traffic, the journey can easily take upwards of an hour by taxi. The standard price is about ฿540. The best way for travelers to get from the airport to the city is to take the express train, which connects to bus and Skytrain routes and costs about ฿130.
Thailand's extensive rail service makes it easy to get from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Trains come in to Hua Lamphong Station, which connects to the subway system. Round-trip tickets are about ฿700.
It is entirely possible to drive into Bangkok from the north, east, and west. The main roads coming into the city are the 7 from the east, the 35 from the southwest, and the 9 and 31 from the north. Taxis can be hired out for relatively low prices.
Thailand's subsidized bus system is highly organized, with massive terminals located on Bangkok's north (Mo Chit), east (Ekkamai), and south (Sai Tai Guo) sides. Buses are a great and affordable option. Expect to find buses connecting to every major (and most minor) city in the country.
Bangkok is known for its ฿300 hostels, such as the Rainbow Hostel and the Bed and Butler Hostel. A number of mid-range options, including the Once in Bangkok and the Taewez Guest House, abound in the city. However, many come to the city for its big-name luxury brands, which include the Shangri-La, the Mandarin Oriental, and the JW Marriot.
Pathum Wan - this is one of the city's best-known districts. It's a busy business center with beautiful architecture and the city's largest park, Lumpini, which features a lake and large lizards. It also has the best burritos in town at La Monita Mexican Cantina.
Bang Yi Khan - this area offers more of a local flavor. With some of the best street food in town, as well as a beautiful riverside park by Krung Thon Bridge, it offers a bit of respite from the downtown areas.
Chatuchak - this district is a must for travelers looking to shop, eat, and play. The expansive Chatuchak Park includes Bangkok's Butterfly Garden and Insectarium as well as the immaculately manicured Queen Sirikit Park.
Bangkok has an extensive, and cheap, bus system. However, buses do not run on a schedule, so it can be difficult to predict your arrival time. Boats are more dependable and cost under ฿17 a ride.
Taxis start at a flat rate of about ฿35 and run on a meter from there. You can get across the city for about ฿200. Tuk tuks, or rickshaws, are also available, but often charge exorbitant prices to tourists.
Those brave enough to try to drive in Bangkok will find traffic and parking to be chaotic. Rental cars are normally not expensive but this method of transport is not advised. Companies include Hertz and Budget, and standard prices are about ฿700 per day.
The malls of the Central Plaza area, which include Siam Paragon, are just as expensive, if not more so, than any luxury good markets in the world. However, outside of these establishments, shopping in Thailand is cheap. Street markets are everywhere in Thailand. Even outside of Chatuchak, the city's markets alone might cover the size of several American towns. At these markets, clothing, art, and a variety of other products can be found at extremely low prices.
If you want to cook, Tesco is the major supermarket, and a number of locally-owned stores dot the cityscape. Expect to pay around ฿35 for a loaf of bread, and a similar amount for a dozen eggs.
The beauty of Bangkok is that food can be found almost everywhere. No trip to the city is complete without street food, which varies from spicy Isaan flavors to fresh seafood. Street food can be found everywhere and dishes usually cost about ฿35 each. Sit-down restaurants usually cost little more than ฿120 for a Thai-style dinner including multiple shared dishes. However, if you want to splurge, you'll have no problem finding more expensive restaurants in town such as Gaggan or Zuma.