|Zip Around the City in total Comfort
Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain is not only an efficient, comfortable people mover, but also an impressive icon of the
city’s super modern infrastructure
How Others see Bangkok
"Bangkok engulfs but never enervates, forever energizing those who forgive its excesses."
-Time,22 February 2010
"As Calcutta smells of death and Bombay of money. Bangkok smells of sex, but this sexual aroma is mingled with the sharper whiffs of sex and money."
"One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster."
-Murry Head from the 1984 album Chess
"Bangkok is Y-chromosome territory…"
- Jerry Hopkins, Bangkok Babylon
Songkran Water Festival
13 - 15 April
The Water Festival is to Thailand what La Tomatina is to Spain. While the tomato-throwing festival is limited to the town of Bunol, not far from Valencia, water-splashing takes place throughout Thailand. Both festivals are, of course, equally fun, boisterous and messy, but water is cleaner and does not stain like tomatoes! The Spanish may have what is termed as the "World's Biggest Food Fight" but, here in Thailand, we have the World's Wettest Friendly Fight!
Bangkok was not the Thai capital until King Rama I situated it along the Chao Phraya River in 1782. Today, the city is home to 10 million people, and around 400 temples. Bangkok does not suffer from severe weather although it can get unbearably hot, especially in the middle of the year. The best time to visit is between November and February when it is cool and dry.
Everything you’ve heard about Bangkok is
true. It’s both exciting and excruciating.
Exciting because it is here that you will
find a cultural richness unmatched
elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Excruciating
because the traffic will test your nerves
and the pollution will aggravate the sinus
(if not the missus!). Still, if you study
and know the routes of the BTS
(Bangkok Mass Transit System) Skytrain
well, half your battle is won.
From the Airport
The relief you will feel from leaving Suvarna-
bhumi Airport will be extended to the journey
into the city. It’s a relatively traffic-light 40-
minute drive on the expressway or, if the
Airport Rail Link evetually opens, a 15-minute
ride. Ignore the persistent touts that loiter
outside the arrival areas. Hop into a metered
taxi for a quick getaway that will cost you
around 250 baht (or 7 USD).
Around the City
Unless you consider traffic congestion the
ideal way to explore the city, you’re well
advised to avoid travelling on inner-city
roads. Your best bet is the BTS Skytrain
that whizzes above the city or the MRT
that zooms underground. Both systems
ply major tourist areas, especially those
that beckon with buys. If you need to head
inward a deep, winding soi, use a
What to Wear
While most Thais are convinced that the
year is divided into seasons and will
emphasise the arrival of “winter”, it’s usually
quite warm (okay, it’s mostly hot!) from
January to December. Light clothing is
highly recommended to ensure comfortable
sightseeing. Do take note that sleeveless
tops, shorts and slippers are almost always
not welcome at temples and palaces.
For Your Wallet
If you intend to do your shopping in markets
and wholesale centres, and your eating at
roadside food stalls, cash, as everyone will
say, is king. Elsewhere, major credit cards
are accepted. Thai department stores, like
those in France, offer 5% tourist discount
when you can prove you’re a visitor. When
you’ve spent above 5000 baht, get a form
for the 7% VAT refund at the airport.