Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bangkok Tourist Information

Bangkok Travel guide & Tourist Information

Sitting midway between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, Bangkok is a major Asian travel and business hub as well as the capital and centre of political, spiritual and cultural focus for Thailand.
Featuring both old-world charm and modern convenience, at times served up in an apparently chaotic manner Bangkok is a massive sensory assault, visitors are immediately confronted by the heat, the pollution and the irrepressible smile that accompanies many Thais.

Bangkok Is the only truly Asian Big City within South East Asia, the development of all the other major cities within the region was controlled by out side influences - colonialism. Thailand is the only country within South East Asia that was not under the yoke of the British, French, Spanish or Dutch, you can also include the two main Chinese cities in the region - Hong Kong (British) and Macau (Portuguese).  Because of this Bangkok has developed quite differently to to the other large cities, less homogeneous an more individual.

The Capital city of Thailand was moved to it's current location after the 1767 sacking of Ayutthaya, the then capital of Thailand. In 1782 King Rama I moved the capital across the Chao Phrya river to Bang Makawk (olive plum riverbank). Upon completion of the Royal Palace, temples and other buildings which made up the capital the city was given it's new name - ‘Krungthep mahanakhon amonratanakosin mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok popnopparat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakkathattiya witsanukamprasit’ a rough translation of this is ‘Great City of Angels, the Repository of Divine Gems, the Great Land Unconquerable, the Grand and Prominent Realm, the Royal and Delightful Capital City full of Nine Noble Gems, the Highest Royal Dwelling and Grand Palace, the Divine Shelter and Living Place of Reincarnated Spirits’
Visting merchants continued to call the city  by the locations original name of Bang Makok which in time was abbreviated to Bangkok, Thai people generally refer to the city as Krung Thep (City of Angels)

How to Get There and Around

The most common way of getting to Bangkok is by air. Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi (pronounced Suwanapoom) Airport is a major international transit hub which connects Asia and Australia with Europe and Arabia and has direct flight from all over Europe as well as Australia, China, Japan and Korea and the Indian sub-continent. Domestic flights from all over Thailand are split between Suvarnabhumi Airport and the former international airport Don Muang. Most of the country can be reached from Bangkok by air using budget airlines, the full service national carrier Thai also flys to most domestic destinations

If you are coming to Bangkok from within Thailand an alternative to air travel are the Bus and Train services. There are three Bus stations on the Outskirts of Bangkok, the northern Bus station (Mo Chit) serves the North -East (Isaan) and the North (Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai), the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai) serves Eastern Thailand (Pattaya, Koh Samet and the Cambodian border) and the New Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai) which links Bangkok with southern Thailand (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and the Malaysian border. Trains also provide a link between Bangkok and the rest of Thailand but the network is quite old and quite limited compared to the Bus network.

By far the easiest way to move around Bangkok is the public transit network consisting of the BTS Skytrain, the MRT Metro and the ART (Airport Rail Link) using these you can get around most of central Bangkok quickly and quite cheaply. Another useful an inexpensive way to get around is the Chao Phraya Express boat which travel up and down the river through Bangkok.

Taxis and tuk tuks which should be a convenient way to get to exactly where you want to go but due to the massive volume of traffic plying through Bangkok's streets it can often be slower than walking, if taking a taxi use a Taxi-Meter and insist he uses the meter, for short journeys a tuk tuk can be fun, but with the street level pollution, heat and noise the fun factor soon wears off. There is also a very comprehensive and confusing local bus service, unfortunately the bus stop have no more information than the numbers of the bus stopping there (no listed destination in thai or english). If you use this make sure you know exactly which colour and number bus you need (buses of the same number but a different colour can have different routes!)

When to Travel to Bangkok and the Climate

Bangkok is a year round destination but the best time to visit is November through to February when it is dry but thanks to the North-East monsoon has cool breezes which keep the temperatures more tolerable. March through to May is also dry but with little wind the temperature starts to rise. June to October is the monsoon season with the majority of rain coming in august and September which often leads to flooding in October, a good month to avoid unless you want to capture some different images of Thailand

Throughout the year the day time temperature is around or above 30 C with the night-time temperature never dropping lower than 21 C.

Where to stay

Bangkok is an ever expanding city and accordingly it has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets spread all over the city. Everything from five star hotels to backpacker hostels including guesthouses, B&Bs and apartments. Easy Day Thailands Bangkok Hotel Selection

This area is on the BTS skytrain line with easy access to the city. This exclusive district is popular with expats and Bangkok's upper classes and is filled with quality hotels, restaurants and night clubs. This area is also home to Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza two of Bangkok's more notorious night spots.
Sukhumvit is relatively close to Suvarnabhumi airport (40 minutes by taxi) aa well as a number of popular attractions such as the Erawan monument, Ancient city and the Crocodile farm.

China Town
At the heart of the historic city of Bangkok this area is a maze of old shop houses, narrow streets, markets and temples. Being the centre of the Chinese community this area also has a lot of gold shops.

During the Chinese New Year the area is filled with parades and dragon dances.
Being close to the river and many major temples this is a popular place to stay for people looking for something a bit different.

By day this is Bangkok's conservative financial and business district, but at night these two quiet streets transform into the massive and bustling Patpong night market surrounded by loads of theme bars offering a range of sex shows. This area has easy access to the BTS skytrain and the main railway station.

This is Bangkok's garment district with hundreds of fashion stores selling both wholesale and retail. As well as clothes this is a great place to buy electronics at the Panthip Plaza. The streets are lined with markets stalls and street food is everywhere.

This area is about 1 hour from the international airport but gives easy access to the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Po temples. Hotels on the west bank have shuttle boats to take you across the river. This area is also very convenient for tours to Katchanaburi and the River Kwai.

Siam Square
This more modern part of Bangkok is a shopping heaven with many glitzy shopping malls such as Central World, Gaysorn Plaza and the MBK shopping mall. With the skytain intersection here this is the nearest thing Bangkok has to a city centre.

Khao San Road
Just on the northern edge of of “Old Bangkok” Khao San road is Thailand original backpacker hub with a plethora of budget hotels hostels and guesthouses. Khao San road and the neighbouring Banglamphu markets provide everything a backpacker is looking for. Being close to the Chao Phrya river it's quite convenient for most of Bangkoks tourist attractions. There's no skytrain here but plenty of tuk tuks and taxis.

Things to Do and Sightseeing

Being an old, yet at the same time a modern city there is a huge number of things to do and see here.
With a huge number of massive shopping malls, markets and street stalls selling almost anything Bangkok is a shoppers paradise.

Wat Po in Bangkok is the home of Thai Massage, this is very popular with the locals as well as tourists so there are many inexpensive massage shops in every shopping centre and on many streets.
As for sightseeing there is so much to see here that one visit will never be enough, a great way to start would be a river cruise which is an expensive way of seeing many of the more famous attractions of Bangkok. Bangkok is full of Thailands cultural heritage, with the royal palace and a huge number of buddhist temples. But if you head a short way out of Bangkok there is even more. Within the distance of a day trip is the bridge over the river Kwai and the Tiger temple as well as the floating market in Samut Songkram. Alittle closer on the outskirts of Bangkok are the Ancient City (Muang Boran), the Erawan Museum and the Bangkok Crocdile farm – all well worth a visit.

Bangkok Pro and Cons

To have an Easy Holiday we believe it is important to say what we think is good and what we think is not so good about Bangkok. So this is what we think you should know.

Not So Good
-  The massive number of vehicles on the road in Bangkok, either passing through,  bringing goods and people into or out of the city or circulating around the city's road network means that there is often heavy congestion and long waits in traffic.
All these vehicles as well as industry in Bangkok has led, as in many big cities, to fairly high pollution levels and a permanent smog cloud over the city.
Because of it's location in the tropics Bangkok is always going to be a hot place but with it's mass of concrete buildings and it's smog blanket Bangkok can become stiflingly hot and humid.  Due to this most shopping and eating areas are air-conditioned leading to the vicious circle of energy use - energy production - pollution

Prices - Being both economically and physically the centre of Thailand everything comes through Bangkok, this means that the prices here are as low or lower than any of the other tourist destinations in the country.  Bangkok has everything, if you're on a tight budget you can find low cost accommodation and plenty of good cheap food, if you want to live the life of luxury Bangkok can provide this too - at a price.

Shopping - Bangkok has over 150 shopping malls, including two of the 50 largest in the world, add to this the hundreds of weekly and daily markets and street stalls then this city is truly a shoppers paradise. The shopping malls carry everything from clothes and sporting goods to electronics and jewellery with many thing in between that you didn't realise you wanted, until now!  Some of the malls and markets specialise in electronics or clothes but many have a truly eclectic mix of shops and stalls, and the food outlets are often strategically placed to entice the unwary shopper.

Good - With the addition of the BTS Skytrain and the Airport Rail Link to the already excellent metro Bangkok's public transport system has removed the need for road travel.  Add to the train systems the very useful river ferry network and if you really need to the mindbogglingly complex but very efficient bus service everywhere in the City is in easy reach at quite low prices.
Not only is Bangkok the political and commercial capital of Thailand it is also the major repository of the Nations history and culture.  there is so much to see here that even after two or three visits you would still would not have seen all that Bangkok has to offer.

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