Bangkok means something like the City of Angels. A few hundred years ago, it was also common to refer to Bangkok as East Venice. It may give the impression that Bangkok was a romantic metropolis. Today, most of the city experiences a completely different way. Perhaps journalist Hugo Gurdon has said it best with his statement that Bangkok would have been uninhabitable had it not been for the fact that more and more people live there. For it is the heat, the traffic, the noise, the pollution, the crowds and the chaos that are the first impressions of the visitors.
If you do not feel intimidated but get to know Bangkok, you will feel the welcome and friendliness of the Thai people. And you will discover the many beautiful areas and find secluded sights. A bonus that everyone gets in Bangkok is a huge shopping offering as well as all the great food.
Bangkok has unofficially more than 15 million inhabitants and is by far the largest city in Thailand. Bangkok is warm all year, even during the rainy season (May to September) and in what the Thais call the cold period November to February. It is also warm in the evening. A good hotel is important for a successful stay. You will enjoy a working air conditioning and a swimming pool.
Bangkok will surely give you significant sensory impressions. We hope and believe you will be charmed by the city and Bangkok residents.
Get to know Bangkok
The growth in Bangkok has given the city a chaotic feel. The first impression is that Bangkok is prohibitive to get to know. Bangkok’s narrow and poor alleys are replaced by areas of modern skyscrapers and shopping centers. The traffic is huge, and everywhere people and people are buzzing. An elephant can also appear in the cityscape from time to time.
In Bangkok there are several canals and rivers, but it is definitely the river Mae Nam Chao Phraya, which is the lifeblood of the city. It divides the city into two. Feel free to use a taxi to arrive in Bangkok. Sky Train is also a cheap, fast and safe means of access in Bangkok.
Bangkok is not organized as we know it from most European cities with a center in the middle. We have chosen to describe the city based on some selected and interesting areas. Remember that Bangkok is a very big city, and “walking down the street” may be longer than you think.
Mae Nam Chao Phraya
It is quite natural to start a get-acquainted-with-Bangkok description with all the king of rivers, namely Mae Nam Chao Phraya. Chao Phraya runs the entire 365 kilometers before it flows into the Gulf of Thailand. Along the river bank and in the river itself, life is swarming. From the river, many small canals have been dug in, all over Bangkok. These channels are called khlongs.
To the south of Bangkok lies the tourist area of Silom with its great hotels, nightlife trails and shopping places. If you follow Chao Phraya to the northwest, you reach the Ko Rattanakosin area with the magnificent Grand Palace. And if you travel by boat on Chao Phraya to the north of Bangkok, you’ll find yourself in the sophisticated Dusit area. This is where the royal family lives, among other things.
One tip is to find Thai Oriental, located in the south of the city, not far from the famous Oriental Hotel and Thanon Silom Street. Here you can get a cheap taxi boat and have a great sightseeing along Chao Phraya and its canals (khlongs).
Ko Rattanakosin and Grand Palace Area (west of Bangkok)
West of Bangkok you will find the area of Rattanakosin or the royal, historic part. The centerpiece of the area is the magnificent Grand Palace, which should definitely be visited. The Grand Palace is located on Na Phra Lan Road. Chao Phraya runs past the west side of the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace is like an oriental adventure city in the middle of Bangkok city. It’s not a matter of spending an entire day just in the Grand Palace area.
The vast majority of streets begin with the word Thanon. Thanon Maharat is called a street that passes just outside the Grand Palace. You exit on the side facing the river. If you follow this street on the left and continue past Thanon Thai Wang street where the taxi boats are located, and then enter the side street Soi Chetuphon, you come to the area’s other major attraction, Wat Po. To the east of this temple area are many places where Thai massage experts offer their services. There are also courses for tourists in Thai massage.
East of the Grand Palace you will quickly meet the first canal in Rattanakosin. Don’t cross the canal without bringing with you the “golden pig”, a memorial built in honor of those born in the pig’s year. The Gold Pig was built in 1913 and was a gift to the Queen. One of the most important places in this area is the Golden Mount, which as late as the 1960s was the highest vantage point in Bangkok (before the skyscrapers). It is a very good place to get an overview of the city, and a place where you can take good pictures.
On the northwest corner of the Golden Mounts, the channels meet Khlong Banglamphoo (also called Khlong Ong Ang) and Khlong Mahanak. You can walk here by following the Thanon Kanlaya Namit road, which turns into Thanon Bamrung Muang, until you reach the main street Thanon Maha Chai. Follow this north (turn left) and you go straight to the Wat Ratchanadda Temple, located by the Golden Mount.
Dusit (north of Bangkok)
Dusit is a slightly nicer area. This is where the King and Queen of Thailand live in the Chitralada Palace residence. Right next to this palace you will find the street Thanonen Sri Auytthaya. On the other side of the Thanonen Sri Ayutthaya you will find the Wat Benchamabophit (marble temple) temple. Also the street Thanon Ratchadamnoen, which runs parallel on the other side of Chitralada Palace, is a pleasant boulevard where you can stroll.
Between these two main years you will find a larger space with the statue of King Chulalongkorn on horseback. Right next to this square you will also find a welcome park and the Bangkok Zoo (Dusit Zoo).
Chinatown (downtown west of Bangkok)
East of Rattanakosin you will find Chinatown. In many ways Chinatown is the southern area of Dusit. Originally, Chinese traders settled here. The two main streets are Thanon Charoen Krung and Thanon Yaowarat. Charoen Krung was the first paved street in Bangkok. It’s six miles long. The street starts at the Grand Palace and runs throughout Chinatown. The area has many small shops that often sell imported products from China. You will also find both Indian and Muslim shops in the many side streets.
The area also has some great Buddhist temples, including the Wat Mangkon Temple, located in the main street Thanon Charoen Krung. Walk towards the river and you will reach the second main street in Chinatown, Thanon Yaowarat. Crossing this street you will find an area with several temples in addition to an old entertainment area with bars and nightclubs.
Right on the east side of Chinatown, where Thanon Yaowarat Street meets Thanon Charoen Krung, is the railway station (Hua Lamphong). Here you can buy cheap train tickets to destinations throughout Thailand.
Silom and Bangkrak (south of Bangkok)
Southeast of Chinatown are Bangkrak and Silom. Both Bangkrak and Silom are modern neighborhoods. The area is a typical farang area, ie an area for foreigners. Thanon Silom Street is one of the most important streets in Bangkok. Silom starts at the Chao Phrayo River and extends to the Lumpini Park. Tuk tuks (motorcycles with trolley), motorcycles, cars, buses and anything else that can roll, queue through Silom 24 hours a day.
In the evenings it is perhaps most life. The night market on the sidewalks are major tourist attractions. The streets around Lumpini Park, e.g. Patpong, is primarily known for its nightlife, its bars, transvestites and prostitutes.
At the end of Silom Road is the Lumpini Park. The park is a sensible haven for a breather when Bangkok’s heat, pollution and noise become too troublesome. East of the park is Lumpini Stadium, one of the world’s best Thai boxing stadiums. Follow the street Thanon Rama IV past the park.
Sukhumvit, Siam Square and central Bangkok
If you go west from the Lumpini Park and follow the Thanon Ratchademri Street north, you will reach Bangkok’s main shopping area. The intersection of Thanon Ratchadamri and Thanon Rama I is a short distance to exclusive hotels, shopping centers and markets. Follow Thanon Rama Street for half a mile west and you are at Siam Square.
Siam Square is a commercial center with hotels, shops and shopping centers. In this area you will find Jim Thompson House. The house has art treasures collected from all over Thailand. This is perhaps the only cultural attraction in this part of Bangkok. You will find Jim Thompson House on the Khlong Maha Nag Canal at the north end of Soi Kasemsan II, in a northwest direction from Siam Square.
You will also find one of Bangkok’s most pleasant temples in this area. It’s called Wat Pathum Wanaram and is right next to the World Trade Center, not far from Siam Square. Go east along Thanon Rama I.
The Sukhumvit area is located east of the Thanon Ratchadamri and Thanon Rama I junctions and is an area for accommodation, shopping and food. Follow the street Thanon Ploenchit until you reach the main street of the place named Thanon Sukhumvit. There are many restaurants and bars along this street. The area does not have much to offer in terms of cultural attractions, but takes it again in terms of food and shopping. Let’s specifically mention the seafood market on Soi 24. (Soi is the side streets of Sukhumvit, where the number indicates the order from the start of the main street).
Facts about Bangkok
Huge Bangkok is built along the Mae Nam Chao Phraya River. This huge river is the main artery of the city, although it may not seem that way when you experience traffic on the roads up close. And for those who don’t know – Bangkok is Thailand’s capital and most populous city in Thailand.
|Time Difference||+ 6 hours (+ 5 hours when it is summer time in Norway )|
|Currency||Currency is Bath. Visa, AmEx and Mastercard are accepted in most places. ATMs are available almost everywhere.|
|Embassy||The Embassy of Norway is located at the UBC II Building, 18th floor, 591 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 33, Bangkok 10110. Tel: +66 (0) 2 204 6500|
|Tourist||Bangkok Tourist Division, 17/1 phra Athit Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, 10200.|
|Emergency||1699 (Tourist Police), 199 (Fire)|
|Electricity||220/230 volts, the same two-pin contact system as in Norway|
|Holidays and Holidays||December 5 (King’s Birthday), August 12 (Queen’s Birthday), 13-15. April (New Year) and December 10 (Constitution Day)|
|Visa||Not required for Norwegians up to 30 days|
|Water||Do not drink from the tap.|
|Nearest major cities||Chiang Mai, Nakhon Rachasima, Ubon Rachathani|
|Safety||Slightly violent crime, but beware of pickpockets and scammers.|