A Complete Backpacker’s Guide to Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is not to be missed on your trip to Thailand. This bucket list city has so many things to see that it is pretty much impossible to do it all. From epic nightlife venues to incredible markets and more, here is a complete backpacker’s guide to Bangkok, Thailand.
About Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is Thailand’s bustling and thriving capital. While it may be renowned for its nightlife and captivating chaos, there are probably a few things you did not know about this amazing city. Here, some fun facts about the City of Angels.
Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
- Over eight million people reside in the capital.
- Bangkok has the longest name in the world, and it even has a Guinness world record because of its title. Though its regular name is Bangkok (or Krungthep, by the locals), the capital’s actual name is (deep breath), Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.
- Bangkok used to be known as the Venice of the East because of the sheer number of canals running through it.
- The capital is also known as the Temple City because of the many temples found around every corner.
How to Get Here
Park in Bangkok, Thailand © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
Bangkok has two major airports: Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport. If you are flying in from a neighboring Asian country, you will likely fly into Don Mueang. If you are flying from a different continent, you will probably fly into the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Once at Don Mueang, you can get to the city center by bus or taxi. From Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can take a taxi or the Airport Rail Link to get into town. Bangkok also has several bus stations and a train station (Hua Lamphong) that welcome visitors from nearby cities both in and outside of Thailand.
When to Visit
Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
Bangkok has three main seasons. The best time to visit is during the high (or cool) season, which is from November to February. March to May is the hot season, and if you must visit during these months, it is best to go to an island down south or somewhere with a pool nearby. The hottest month of them all is April. Lastly, the monsoon season (or rainy season) is from June to October. It is during this time that the country receives the most rainfall, so many visitors will want to avoid traveling to the Kingdom during this time. Be sure to check out this complete weather guide to Bangkok before visiting and how to best pack for each season. We have also included our favorite holidays that you may want to make a note of before traveling to Bangkok!
- Chinese New Year - February
- Songkran (the Water Festival) - April
- Loy Krathong - October
- Vegetarian Festival - October
Transportation in Bangkok
Traffic in Bangkok © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
There are plenty of ways in which to get around the capital, and doing so is fairly easy when you know how to navigate each form of transportation! The first and most convenient form of public transportation is the BTS Skytrain. The train consists of two lines: Silom and Sukhumvit. You will find some of the main attractions of the city off of either line, including Terminal 21, Chatuchak Weekend Market, and Siam Paragon. You can also get a metered taxi to get you from point A to point B. You should never get into a taxi without a meter running, and a metered taxi starts out at ฿35 (about $1). You can also get a motorbike taxi. You will have to barter to get the best price! The bus system in Bangkok can be fairly confusing, so we suggest avoiding taking a bus altogether. If you want even more information about getting around town, check out this complete transportation guide to Bangkok.
Stay at Mad Monkey Hostel Bangkok
Mad Monkey Hostel Bangkok © Courtesy of Mad Monkey
Mad Monkey Hostel Bangkok is the accommodation option for solo and partying travelers to the Big Mango. This epic hostel is but a five-minute walk to Khao San Road, one of the craziest stretches of street in the capital. In addition to having a great location, Mad Monkey Hostel Bangkok also has customer experience reps on-hand every night of the week to help get the party going with events including karaoke, music trivia, and more. Plus, every visitor has to go to Khao San and eat a scorpion (or two) while in the City of Angels … right?
Top Temples in Bangkok
Temple in Bangkok © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
Thailand is home to thousands of temples, but one city that has arguably the most impressive religious structures of them all is Bangkok. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is one structure that is normally at the top of every tourists’ itinerary while in Bangkok. It is home to a golden Buddha statue that is over 40 meters long and also has a massage school onsite. Wat Arun sits on the banks of the mighty Chao Phraya River and is one of the capital’s most beautiful structures. Wat Phra Kaew found on the grounds of the Grand Palace is the most expensive temple of them all but is definitely worth visiting. Other top temples in Bangkok include Wat Saket, Wat Suthat, and Wat Trimitr (wat means temples in Thai, by the way). Be sure to pack temple-appropriate clothing and read this entire list of the best temples in Bangkok before visiting.
Top Markets in Bangkok
Market in Bangkok, Thailand © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
Bangkok is teeming with markets. There’s a market open every night of the week and almost every hour of the day, so there is no excuse for backpackers to Bangkok to miss out on a trip to one of these incredible shopping arenas. Impress your Instagram following with a visit to the Neon Market (Talad Neon). This market is decked out in lights and is also equipped with delicious international and Thai cuisine. Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the biggest markets in the world and is equal parts intriguing and overwhelming. Pak Khlong Talad is Bangkok’s best market for those looking for fresh foliage, and its name literally translates to flower market. Be sure to read this entire guide on the best markets in Bangkok before visiting.
Dining in Bangkok
Pad kra pao at Mad Monkey Hostel Bangkok © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
The city of Bangkok is every self-proclaimed foodies’ dream come true. The capital has every type of cuisine at visitors’ fingertips, and most are available for a relatively affordable price if you know where to look. Those looking for a plethora of Thai dishes at street food prices and with air conditioning should beeline to the food court in Terminal 21. It is one of the most memorable (and delicious) malls in the city. If you want a unique dining experience, then a river cruise may be more up your alley. There are plenty of restaurants, as well, and there is a budget or luxurious dining venue ready to appease every budget. There are also many vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
Nightlife in Bangkok
Rooftop Bar in Bangkok © Courtesy of Mad Monkey
Night owls to the capital will thrive in the City of Angels. Bangkok has everything partiers need for a good (and blurry) night out. Khao San Road is great for budget backpackers looking for a cheap yet crazy evening out on the town. Those looking for a unique drinking experience will want to head to Iron Fairies, a speakeasy featuring live music late into the evening. Club-goers will fall in love with Sing Sing Theater, equipped with epic live DJs and unique decor to boot. For a complete list of the best bars, clubs, and more, check out Mad Monkey’s guide to Bangkok’s nightlife!
Useful Bangkok Tips
Drinking a coconut in Bangkok, Thailand © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
- Try to meet fellow travelers to split the cost of things like taxis.
- Do not touch anyone’s head or point your feet at anyone. It is considered to be extremely rude.
- Do not touch monks.
- Have close-toed shoes for going out to rooftop bars in the capital or else you may not get in.
- During rush hour, try to pick attractions that are right off the Skytrain or subway as to avoid traffic.
More Information About Why You Should Travel to Bangkok, Thailand
Did you love this article about how to spend a vacation in Bangkok, Thailand? Do you want even more information about why you should visit and see more of the top things to do while you are here? Then be sure to check out these articles we have rounded up to help you make your a trip a more enjoyable one!
- 50 Things to see and do in Bangkok, Thailand by Kelly Iverson for Decorated Passport
- 25 Best Things to do in Bangkok (Thailand) for The Crazy Tourist
- 11 Amazing Reasons to Visit Bangkok, Thailand by Leslie Finlay for Culture Trip
- World’s Greatest City: 50 reasons why Bangkok is No. 1 by Greg Jorgensen for CNN
Article by Kelly Iverson
Lead image: Bangkok © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
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