Bangkok First Time Guide
Quick Links to Bangkok Information
Your tickets are booked, the excitement is mounting... You're coming to Bangkok!
It's a fascinating, intoxicating and chaotic place, brimming with sights, smells, thrills, gracious people, contradictions, cultures, cars, noise and bedlam. As with any teeming metropolis, however, it's also got its fair share of potential disappointments and frustrations. Get ready for the good news though...
To steer clear of the negative experiences during your first time here, dust off that sage old adage: Knowledge is power! We've accumulated a lot of facts and useful information about Bangkok - everything the first-time visitor needs to plan a wonderful and memorable trip.
Most Popular in Bangkok
Have a trawl through our Area Guides, where we tell you all about the city's main areas. This will help you decide where to stay, where to visit and where to avoid. At 1,600 square kilometres and counting, Bangkok is big, and the many different areas can be bewildering – even for those who've spent years here.
The most popular areas for visitors are:
- Old City (Rattanakosin)
all charismatic parts of town that combine sights, nightlife, shopping, great hotels and convenient locations with access to public transport. Budget travellers and backpackers, of course, still swear by Khao San Road.
Your essential guide to choosing a hotel in Bangkok is our 'Where to Stay' Editor's Guide, an in-depth look at each of Bangkok's most popular areas, together with a selection of hotels in that area that would suit just about every taste and budget.
There are a thousand and one hotels here, so no one needs go without a comfortable base. Most combine all the mod cons and luxuries of the finest Western hotels, combined with Thai design, finesse and hospitality. Sweeping views at five-star riverside resorts, comfortable chic in downtown Bangkok, or bohemian boutique hotels are just some of what's on offer. For budget travellers we have bargains galore, and for long-stay business travellers or families, all manner of serviced apartments to choose from. So really, there is something for everyone.
Asia Web Direct has more than ten years experience in the online travel business, and we are privy to some great deals at the city's best hotels! Head over to our hotels section to select a place perfectly suited for you, whether the purpose of your visit is to shop, party, discover or work. Our hotel reviews will also throw you some very useful pointers. If you plan to also travel elsewhere in Thailand - or anywhere else in Southeast Asia - you're at the right place. Even for last-minute hotel reservations, we're at your service. (Here are some good maps of Bangkok to help you with your orientation.) Read More...
From the moment you arrive until the moment you leave, you're going to need to get around town. And, of course, you'll want to do so quickly and with minimum hassle and cost. In our Getting Around section, learn about all the means of transport available, and about prices, tips, tickets and scam-avoidance tricks.
Don't fret needlessly about the city's infamous traffic - thanks to the speedy Skytrain (BTS) and underground (MRT) networks it (and Bangkok's pollution) is fast improving. Just remember to avoid travelling around during the rush-hours! Read More...
Here, the cliché 'a shopper's paradise' is an understatement. Whether seeking out pricey brands in monstrous malls like Siam Paragon or CentralWorld, or rummaging for street-side kitsch at massive markets like Chatuchak Weekend Market, this city offers unmatched shopping potential and unbridled consumer pleasure. Everywhere you look, a bargain is to be had - from traditional crafts and exotic antiques, to haute couture and quality counterfeits.
Work your way through our extensive Shopping Section to gain a superb overview of the variety and value available. It's the most comprehensive online, complete with many useful shopping tips, so check it out before you start bargaining. Read More...
Bangkok's notorious nightlife - go-go bars, clubbing, ladyboy shows and the like - used to mean it was a question of 'How low can you go?' While debauchery till dawn is still possible, Bangkok today has a chic cosmopolitan glow, a newly-found swagger and maturity proven by dizzying rooftop bars, slinky jazz lounges and bars at high-end hotels, as well as romantic river cruises. Of course, backpackers can still be found steeping themselves in Chang beer at pubs and bars on Khao San Road, but so too can families enjoy a dose of Thai culture at spectacular shows like Siam Niramit.
Some of Asia's biggest and most modern cinemas and bowling alleys can be found in Bangkok too, so there really is something here to satisfy any kind of nightlife crave. Read More...
One of the greatest of down-to-earth pleasures is quite possibly Bangkok's favourite too. The ability to chow street food on streets corners, delight in supreme international cuisine at plush restaurants, or gorge on comforting junk grub that reminds you of home, points to one conclusion: This city is fanatical about food! Our encyclopedic Restaurants & Dining Section will give you a stomach-roaring introduction to Bangkok's unique culinary universe: Thai food, International cuisine, food courts and its illustrious streetfood.
Try our Top 10 Bangkok Dining Experiences for starter (or mains!), and check out our very comprehensive introduction to delicious Thai food. If fine dining's your thing, consult our Thailand Tatler Reviews. If you'd like to begin accustomising your palate to fiery food, knock up a few Thai recipes before you depart. Read More...
Like Paris' Eiffel Tower or London's Big Ben, there are some Bangkok sights and attractions that have to be seen before you can buy the I've-been-there T-shirt. At the top of the glittering pile are temples like Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew, among others. Then there's The Grand Palace, the most majestic of the city's many palaces, if not the world's.
Almost as essential are the Chao Phraya River and its canals, museums, statues and some extraordinary architecture - have a look through and you'll find many enriching cultural jewels to suit your taste and timetable. A good place to start would be our Top 10 Things to Do in Bangkok. Read More...
An organised tour ingeniously eradicates all the hassles of sightseeing. No need to bury your head in your guide book as a guide gives you the live, unedited version. No need to fret about how to get there, as you're picked up and delivered back to your hotel. Feeling thirsty? Here, take a chilled refreshment! The long list of available pre-plotted jaunts includes Chinatown, temples and palaces, Jim Thompson's House, delightful river cruises and many more.
Bangkok is also a great embarkation point for tours outside Bangkok, with trips available to the famous floating market, Ayutthaya, the River Kwai, far-flung jungles in the North and palmy beaches in the South. The best news is that you can select and book all your tours right here. Read More...
Bangkok is a great place to get pampered, pressed and preened at plush spas, all of which offer rejuvenating and revitalising treatments. These are bliss-you-out spaces that are tranquil retreats far away from the city buzz. Thai traditional massage only hints at all the reenergizing treatments now available, among them aromatherapy, acupuncture, facial and foot massages and hydrotherapy.
Consult our Spa & Health Section and spa review page to seek out a treatment or therapy perfectly up your alley, and the best day or hotel spas to go get it from. Read More...
Spectator sport, especially Muay Thai (Thai boxing), is very popular in Bangkok, but it's keeping fit that's really on the rise among urbanites and visitors. If you crave physical exertion during your trip, no problem - Bangkok has plenty of parks, hi-tech gyms and public pools for working up a sweat in. Golf is also in full swing here, with plenty of courses scattered around Bangkok.
Dance classes, aerobics, cycling, tennis and bowling are just some of the other sports activities offered - so really, there's no excuse to rest on your laurels! Find out more in our Sport & Leisure Section. Read More...