Where to stay in Bangkok
If you want pure tourist backpacker hell stay on Khao Som Road. Be prepared to be ripped off and not have a more ‘local’ experience. We didn’t stay in Khao San, but heard it is noisy and dorms are full of drunk backpackers, from locals and visitors alike.
Stay a little further away from the Khao Som Road scene and experience another part of town where it feels more local and it is possible to eat in street kitchens and get a more genuine culture experience.
We stayed at New Road Guest House. To get there, take the BTS Sky Train to Saphan Taksin. Walk down Charoen Krung Road for about 15-20mins (alternatively get a meter taxi) to a small alleyway between soi 34 & 36. Your will see the sign for the hostel.
This hostel was clean and staff were friendly and helpful. We felt safe and happy that we had made this our base. It is possibly a little more expensive than some places, but the location will ensure that you eat good local food and on a budget. It also had western food chains nearby if you need a night off the Thai cuisine.
Getting Around in Bangkok:
Meter taxi is the cheapest and safest form of taxi. They are unable to rip you off, just make sure they start the meter when you get in and it has not already been running beforehand. It will start running at about 3-6 baht as a starting rate.
Rickshaw: Is always a fun way to travel, however this method is easy to get overcharged. If you want to use a rickshaw, be prepared to bargain and have a good idea of what the journey should cost you before stepping on board. Perhaps get advice from your hostel on average rates for the specific journeys you want to make.
Local buses: There is a huge bus network of public buses and it may be difficult to decipher them to plan a whole journey out. We caught the 79 from the old centre to the MBK shopping mall for 7baht. It was a fraction of what a taxi would have cost, so it is definitely worth sussing if you are on a tight budget and if the traffic is looking bad. Just find a local who speaks some English and ask them, or stand at a bus stop and ask someone waiting for a bus. We were surprised how many people spoke English and wanted to help. Just double check with the bus driver, to ensure the advice you are following is correct!
BTS Sky Train: Is a quick way to buzz up and down the city. Air-conditioned, clean, safe and regular. However, there are no trains connecting the old centre and new centre. It costs between 35-40baht for a single. If you are planning on using the BTS more than 3 times in one day you can buy a day card for 120baht. There is a special airport link from Phaya Thai station; the slow service costs 45 baht or the express costs 90baht.
Chao Phraya Express Boat service: This is an inexpensive method of transport to nip up and down the river in Bangkok. It allows easy access from the south of the city to the old centre.
Markets and shopping:
Jatiyak Market: (weekends) is the largest. People told us it was the cheapest, but we didn’t find this personally. Bartering was almost impossible. A lot of antiques, jewelry, crafts, clothes, house accessories, books. I didn’t find many designer fakes which was surprising.
Floating Market “Amphawa”: Is a less touristic one. It is small and local. 80 baht mini van from Victory Monument only on a Sunday. Go early.
Fake Designer gear? We were advised to go to the MBK shopping mall. I really have no idea why. I this shopping mall you will find REAL designer clothes that are not the cheap fakes you hear about associated with Bangkok. If you want fakes, go further north of MBK to the Baiyoke Sky Tower (Phaya Thai sky train station). You will soon be immersed in fake jean stalls and fake designer sports gear. Although this is obviously not encouraged by ourselves.
MBK, Siam Paragon, Siam Centre: Get off at Siam station and get immersed in the huge shopping malls. Follow the elevated pedestrian paths and you will fall in and out of them all day long. The food hall in MBK has a great selection of affordable eateries.
Tailor-made clothes and jewellery Charoen Krung Road is full of tailors and jewellers. One Step: Tried and tested. Good service, good price, great result. If you stay at New Road Guest House you get a 10% discount.
Other interests served in Bangkok:
Muy Thai Boxing: Ringside costs 200baht for tourists.
Patphong: Famous ping pong shows cost 200-1000baht for entry and 1 drink.
Calypso: Ladyboy show costs 750baht from agents. Buy 1.5hrs min beforehand. Shows are at 8:15pm and 9:45pm.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre: A brilliant museum with different exhibitions on each floor. The interior is reminiscent of the Guggenheim, NY. It is all free and a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Bangkok. Escape the shops, leave you husband in here, come and get a whacky ice cream from one of the many boutique shops in the complex. Don’t miss it!