Short on time or just passing through, here are some helpful tips to maneuver Bangkok.
Arrival, Lodging and Ground Transportation
Arrival Airport: Bangkok’s main airport is Suvarnabhumi International Airport. There is a second airport, Don Mueang, which is great for intra and inter country travel and it is 45 minutes to hour away from Suvarnabhumi by car.
There is a free shuttle bus available that leaves Don Mueang Airport approximately every 40 minutes. Go to the Platform of Suvarnabhumi Airport Passenger Terminal 2nd Floor, Gate 3 for the free shuttle. The bus coming from Don Muaeng Airport will drop passengers at the passenger terminal 4th Floor, Gate 5. Passengers going from Don Muaeng Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airport can get on the bus at the platform.
Please keep in mind that Bangkok can have severe traffic jams so a train maybe better if you are pushed for time.
Lodging: As I was leaving I was informed there is a hotel in the airport the 4th Floor, International Departure Hall, Concourse G – Miracle Transit Hotel, Bang Phli. Its a 3-star hotel with a restaurant and bar. They have room bookings for 6 hours and up starting at $124 US dollars. This is a great option if you need to rest prior to heading your way to Phuket or other destinations. You can book the room through Hotels.com.
Ground Transportation: There are several option available depending on how fast and how much you want to spend. If you prefer the taxi route, from the Arrival Hall on the second floor, you will need to take an elevator down to the first floor to find the designated taxi stand queue at Entry Gate 4. You will want a “regular taxi” to take you into town. Once you get to the kiosk you get a ticket which has the taxi stall where your taxi will arrive. Stand across from the stall until your taxi arrives and then provide the driver with the destination. Make sure they run the meter and keep in mind you will need to pay the tolls which is about 50BAHT and a service fee of 50BAHT on top of the meter fee. The cost from the airport to my hotel in Silom was 441 BAHT ($15 USD).
Bangkok also has ride share services such as Uber and Grab. Grab is most popular in Asia. I would recommend you download and use Grab over Uber.
The metro services maybe the fastest means of transportation due to Bangkok’s traffic (the other being the motorcycle taxi if you dare). You can get the the underground or skytrains from Bangkok Airport Rail Link which runs 6AM-midnight. It connects downtown Bangkok with Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
The City Line makes six stops between downtown, Phayathai Station, and the airport, completing each run in 30 minutes, making this a quick and convenient transport option for getting in and out of Bangkok without all the traffic.
The Airport Rail Link connects you to the MRT underground at Makkasan City Interchange Station (MRT Petchaburi Station) and the BTS Skytrain at Phayathai Station. From Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi), the entrance to the Airport Rail Link service is on the First Floor.
Other transport options are unlimited ranging from tuk tuk, motorcycle taxi, bus, rental car to private car service.
Things to do
I would rather list the things I did so I can speak from personal knowledge.
Day 1 (half day): Temple Visits. I was staying in Silom near the Green BTS Silom station so I decided to do temple touring on my own. The Holiday Inn Express provided and detailed train map with points of interest. This hotel also provides a cellphone for use during your stay. Which comes with unlimited local calling and data plan for internet access. Score 🙌🏼
To get a shuttle boat from BTS lines you have to go to the Saphan Taksin Station which is above the river. From the BTS platform you can purchase a ticket for the shuttle boat to take you to up the river to the temples. I purchased a ticket for the tourist boat for 50BAHT. The shuttle boat departs every 38 minutes from 9AM – 5:30 PM.
Most of the temples start to close around 5 PM but Wat Arun stays open until 6:30 PM so plan accordingly. I was able to visit Wat Arun, Tha Maharaj/Grand Palace and Wat Pho/Lying Buddha since I arrive late morning and needed a quick nap before exploring 😀.
After the temples I headed over to Asiatique on the Riverfront. Asiatique is worth the visit. It is not far from the Silom BTS Station but a distance from the temples. I grabbed a tuk tuk. The ride was about 300 BAHT but you can also get there via BTS if you are not already on the river. If you are on the river just hop on a shuttle boat.
There are tons of shops and restaurants lined up on the waterfront. There is also a huge Ferris wheel to view all of downtown Bangkok. My reason for heading over to Asiatigue was for Muay Thai Boxing Show. There are other shows such as Calypso and a dinner cruise. The venue is opened until 10 PM.
Muay Thai Live Show
As listed, you can catch this show everyday except Tuesdays and Sundays. Entry is not expensive and the show is phenomenal. Its 1.5 hours where the first hour is devoted to an actual May Thai type theater show with fighting of course. The story line is in Thai and they have the English translation alongside of the stage. Its action packed. Kinda like watching Saturday afternoon Karate on TV back in the day.
After the show there are two real fights. The fights have 4 rounds so they finish pretty quick. The first fight was with male fighters and the second was female.
Day 2: AM – Floating Markets and Elephant Ride. My Tuk Tuk driver from the previous night offered to take me to the floating markets by taxi. The pickup would be at 9AM. He took my picture, name and hotel room number. He arrived onetime and we were off for an hour journey to the floating markets which are outside of Bangkok.
As we were driving he let me know I have the option for an elephant ride. I was geeked because I didn’t think I had time to fit that in prior to leaving Bangkok.
We arrived and the floating market boat ride was 500BAHT and elephant ride 100BAHT. I paid, use the toilet (there are no toilets along the way) and I was escorted to my boat and captain.
If you have time please go to the floating markets. Prices are cheaper and of course you can negotiate. You will also get a chance to sample local foods. Everything is for sale.
The elephant ride was along the route of the floating market tour. My captain dropped me off. I met the individuals in charge and purchased bananas to feed the elephants post ride. I was a little skeptical about going on this ride from all the horror stories I had heard about the treatment of the elephants.
I was mounted on my elephant and we were on our way. You are very high so it can be a bit toasty up there. My seat had a Umbrella to block the sun already affixed to it – thank goodness.
During the ride the elephant would stop and the tamer would use his feet which were behind the elephants ears to get him moving again. The tamers had polls with spikes on them but they were never used to dig into the elephant to cause harm.
The ride lasted about 20-30 minutes. We stopped to take pictures and then headed back to base. Once unmounted I fed my elephant and then jumped back onto my boat so I could be taken back to my taxi driver.
PM – Bangkok Night Bike Tour with Grasshopper. I signed up for this bike tour so that I could see the temples at night and get some exercise since I had been eating so much rice – LOL.
I was a little worried about riding the streets because they drive so crazy but our tour guide, Jimmie, had everything under control. It was about 10 of us on the tour. They provided the bikes, helmets, water bottles with water and lights for the bikes.
The bike route was a bit crazy but hella fun. We took a narrow slippery path to see a bridge, went down stairs, hopped curves and took the BTS. Jimmie stopped traffic for us when needed. Towards the tail end of the tour we stopped for a Thai street food snack. Jimmie purchased fruits typical for that region for us to sample as well.
Foods: grilled chicken. There we chicken hearts, intestines, liver, the regular thigh, leg and breast. There were sticky rice baggies and a container of veggies with a spicy dipping sauce.
Fruits: dragon fruit, mango and pineapple
After our snack we made one more stop and then headed back to camp. It was a fun night and the people on the tour were lively.
Day 3 (1/2 day): Thai Cooking Class at Blue Elephant for 3296BAHT ($103 USD). It was a late night with the bike ride and long day in general with the floating markets so I just wanted to sleep in on my last day – nope couldn’t do it. Not sure when I will be back in Bangkok.
I had inquired about a cooking school prior to my bike ride and my taxi driver told me Blue Elephant was near me. They were only 15 minutes away from my hotel walking so I told myself that if I got up on time I would go. I did, so I went. So glad I did. Met really nice people from Singapore and California and the instructors were excellent.
We were tasked with creating 4 dishes – yes I said four. The class started out with a BTS trip to the market 1 stop away. There, the instructor pointed out the ingredients we would be using. Then we went back to the school to begin. We were shown how to create the dish and given a chance to sample the creation before being sent off to create our own.
At the end of class we were seated in the dinning room. Blue Elephant is also a restaurant by the way. Our dishes were placed in front of us. We had individual lunches made by our very own hands. They provided water, white rice and dessert. It was awesome and fun.
At the end of class we were given a certificate of completion and a fancy apron. I believe this was worth the $103 USD.
(1) Spicy Beef Soup (Soup Nua Samoon Prai)
(2) Crispy Fish topped with Bird’s Eye Chili and Sweet Basil (Plaa Rad See Nhu Bai Horapha)
(3) Winged Bean Salad with Prawns (Yam Tea Plu Koong)
(4) Stir-fried Chicken with Tamarind Sauce (Kai Had Naam MA-Kham) ** My Favorite**
At the Cooking School
Finished Dishes and Lunch with Friends