Latest schedule and price update on April 25, 2017
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and, with a population of over eleven million inhabitants, by far its largest city. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat and naughty nightlife may not immediately give you the best impression — but don't let that mislead you. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife that has something for everyone.
For years, it was only a small trading post at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, until King Rama I, the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, turned it into the capital of Siam in 1782, after the burning of Ayutthaya by Burmese invaders but they did not take over Ayutthaya. Since then, Bangkok has turned into a national treasure house and functions as Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic centre.
Bangkok is a huge and modern city humming with nightlife and fervour. Administratively, it is split up into 50 districts (เขต khet), which are further split into 154 subdistricts (แขวง khwaeng), but these are more often used in official business and for addresses. Visitors will find the conceptual division below of the main areas more useful for getting around.
The area around Siam Square, including Ratchaprasong and Phloen Chit Road, is Bangkok's modern commercial core, full of glitzy malls and hotels. The Skytrain intersection at Siam Square is the closest thing Bangkok has to a centre.
The long Sukhumvit Road is an exclusive district popular among expatriates and upper class locals. It is filled with quality hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Part of its nightlife represents Bangkok's naughty image, particularly Soi Cowboy and Nana Entertainment Plaza.
The area around Silom Road and Sathorn Road is Thailand's sober financial centre by day, but Bangkok's primary party district by night when quarters like the infamous Patpong come alive.
Between the river and downtown lies the densely packed "Old Bangkok", home to Bangkok's best-known sights, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
Khao San Road
On the northern part of Rattanakosin, Bangkok's backpacker mecca, Khao San Road and the surrounding district of Banglamphu have everything a budget traveller could possibly be looking for.
Yaowarat and Phahurat
Along Yaowarat Road you will find Bangkok's Chinatown, while Phahurat Road is the home of the city's sizable Indian community. This multicultural district is filled with temples, shrines, seafood restaurants and street markets.
This leafy, European-style area is the political centre of Thailand, home to numerous political institutions and the monarchy. Its breezy palaces, lush gardens and broad avenues give this district its distinct character.
The quieter west bank of the Chao Phraya River, consisting of several districts. Most visitors explore this side of Bangkok with a canal tour, at least taking in Wat Arun, the Royal Barges National Museum and one of the floating markets.
Pratunam is a large garment market with hundreds of fashion stores selling both retail and wholesale. It also includes Baiyoke Tower II and Victory Monument.
The area around Phahonyothin Road and Viphavadi Rangsit Road is a large suburb in northern Bangkok. In weekends, it is the best place to go hunting for bargains. The Chatuchak Weekend Market has more than 8,000 stalls selling anything and everything under the sun.
Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek Road has developed into an entertainment mecca for the locals. The sois of "Ratchada" are popular clubbing spots, as is Royal City Avenue (RCA).
Along Ramkhamhaeng Road lies a vast residential area with big shopping malls and amusement parks (like Safari World). Each neighbourhood has its own distinct character, but Hua Mak and Bang Kapi stand out as lively areas with many students from the universities.
Lat Krabang is in proximity to Bangkok International Airport. In this area are many hotels, including some good budget ones, where they will do a pickup and return to Suvarnabhumi airport.It is not much of an entertainment area at all. Lat Krabang Airport Rail Link Station is at one end of Lat Krabang Road, and Lat Krabang Town at the other end. This is the first station out of the Airport.
Around Bangkok are the provinces of Nakhon Pathom to the west,Nonthaburi to the northwest, Pathum Thani to the north, Chachoengsao to the east, Samut Prakan to the southeast and Samut Sakhon to the southwest.
Just under 14 degrees north of the Equator, Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveller-friendly cities in Asia. A furious assault on the senses, visitors are immediately confronted by the heat, the pollution and the irrepressible smile that accompanies many Thais. Despite the sensationalised international news reports and first impressions, the city is surprisingly safe (except from some petty crimes) and more organised than it initially appears, and full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The high relative humidity and warm temperature favour the growth of tropical plants — you'll find orchids and delicious fruit everywhere. Bougainvillea and frangipani bloom practically all over the city. Thai cuisine is justifiably famous, varied, and affordable. Bangkok for many represents the quintessential Asian capital. Saffron-robed monks, garish neon signs, graceful Thai architecture, spicy dishes, colourful markets, traffic jams and the tropical climate come together in a happy coincidence. It is difficult to leave with lukewarm impressions of the city.
"Bangkok" originally was a small village on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. After the fall of Ayutthaya in the late 18th century, King Taksin the Great turned that village into Siam's new capital and renamed it Thonburi. In 1782, King Rama I moved the capital to the eastern bank of the river at Rattanakosin; originally the site of a Chinese community, who were moved outside of the new city walls to Yaowarat. King Rama I named the city Krung Thep, as it is now known to Thais and which in English is translates as the "City of Angels".
The full name "Krung thep mahanakhon amorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok popnoparat ratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit" (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์) is listed as the world's longest location name by the Guinness Book of Records; an English rendering goes like this: "The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayutthaya of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn". The original village of Bangkok has long since ceased to exist, but foreigners never caught on to the change.
Life was taking place on the water; ordinary people lived on bamboo-rafts along the river, while floating vendors roamed the water to sell fruit and vegetables. The only stone structures built on land were temples and palaces. In the 19th-century, Western powers incorporated much of Southeast Asia into their colonial empires. King Rama IV and V felt that the only way to keep Siam independent was to modernise the country along European lines. Traditional canals were filled up and turned into roads. King Rama V moved the residence of the King toDusit and laid out that district's grand boulevards along European lines.
Bangkok really started to develop after World War II. The economic centre shifted from the orderly planned city of Rattanakosin in an eastward direction, leaving Bangkok without an obvious centre. Bangkok established itself as the driving power behind Thailand's new role as a newly industrializing country from the 1980s onwards. Rapid economic growth has attracted migration from the countryside, with millions of Thais moving here from Isaan to make a living.
This rapid expansion turned Bangkok into one of the most cosmopolitan and happening cities in Asia; but also ensured numerous problems. A wide gap has emerged between those who profit from economic activity, and those who came to the city from the countryside in search of work. Bangkok's seemingly never-ending traffic jams continue as the new Skytrain and metro systems are too expensive for the working class. Getting a break from the fumes in a park would seem to be a good idea, if it wasn't that Bangkok having the lowest amount of green space among all capitals in the world.