If you have visited Bangkok before, you will know just how chaotic and charming the capital can be all at once. Our Bangkok travel tips will ensure you’re ready to embrace everything the city has to offer, and at an affordable price.
A bustling metropolis where the traditional and contemporary collide, in a heartbeat you are transported from decadent temples to soaring skyscrapers.
While the grandeur of its past still prevails today, many of the attractions have an intriguing story to tell.
Bangkok is one of the most affordable cities in the world for luxury travellers. Here are nine Bangkok travel tips to ensure you arrive revived, and ensure you enjoy the culture, fun and glamour of Thailand’s capital.
Affordable luxury travel tips for Bangkok
1. Flight upgrades
Flights to Thailand from the likes of Europe are an average of 11 hours, so extra legroom is always going to be a good idea. EVA Air offers premium economy upgrades for approximately £300 return, which is an affordable way to get your break off to the luxury start you deserve.
We flew Elite Class last year and the 38-inch seat pitch and access to wi-fi in-flight made the journey all the more comfortable and enjoyable. Combined with the quality food options, it made upgrading all the more worthwhile – check with the airline for the latest offers before you book.
Or if you really want to load up on opulence, upgrade to Royal Laurel class, EVA’s business/first-class for your own pod in which to relax.
2. Take your pick from luxury hotels
Bangkok overflows with affordable four- and five-star hotels, from luxury boutique to international brands, so you need not look far to find quality.
Perhaps it’s down to the level of supply, but you can find hotels in Bangkok from as little as £20 a night for a four-star, and five-stars from £45.
If you want to be close to the hubbub of urban life, but would like your own tranquil space to relax, Ariyasom Villa is an elegant 1940s Thai villa situated off Sukhumvit Road – considered the real centre of the city.
One of the world’s finest luxury brands the Mandarin Oriental, has it’s hotel resting on the riverside. The Oriental is Bangkok’s oldest hotel offering five-star service and a haven of tranquility. April to October is low season in Bangkok, owing to the more humid weather. So travel from mid-October when the rainy season is largely over, and while the hotel’s room rates remain affordable.
3. Bag a designer bargain
Bangkok is an Asian fashion centre with designer finds and mainstream fashion bargains around Siam Square.
Mahboonkrong, or MBK, is one of the city’s leading shopping centres. With seven floors of stores you could easily dedicate a day to exercising your wallet. The mall also has a tourist lounge on the fifth floor with a rest area, Wi-Fi, music and complimentary newspapers and magazines to relax in before re-fuelling on the penultimate floor in the food area.
Siam Paragon is a short walk from MBK, and is home to luxury brands including Coach, Emporio Armani and Jimmy Choo. Check out the mall’s latest tourist promotions for discounts, cash voucher packs and VAT refunds.
If you plan on visiting markets and stores, don’t be afraid to haggle graciously and ask for the best price. Generally you should aim to shave up to 40% off the retail price.
The enormous Chatuchak Weekend Market is a great place in which to acquaint yourself with Thai shopping culture, and has more than 15,000 stalls selling everything from household goods to clothing, silks and handicrafts.
4. Hassle free transport
There is nothing worse than arriving after a long flight only to face the lengthy traffic jams for which Bangkok is renowned.
Instead, arrive at your hotel fluster-free by taking the train. Not only public transport the swiftest way to get into the city, it’s a smooth, scenic and affordable way to enjoy it too.
The airport rail link goes from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Phaya Thai station in the heart of the city in 30 minutes. From there you can get a taxi to your hotel, or connect with the Skytrain. This is less about saving money and more about time. Tickets though are still a very affordable 150 baht into the city, for the express service.
Depending on where you’re going in the city, the Skytrain and Metro services can also be excellent ways to get around.
Skytrain routes run from north to east and west to south, and they cover a large part of what Bangkok has to offer. Fares start at 15 baht per one stop, and a one-day pass costs 120 baht.
5. Stay in the know
In Thailand you are required to carry identification with you at all times, so carry a photocopy of your passport in case you’re challenged.
As with any place you visit, you should always have your wits about you, but there are some common scams you need to be aware of in Bangkok.
If you are travelling by taxi make sure the driver has switched the metre on to avoid over-inflated fares when you arrive at your destination. Simply state “chai meter duay krub” to make sure you’re understood.
If your taxi driver claims the place you want to visit is closed, ask them to take you there anyway as a small minority of unscrupulous drivers will try to take you on their own “tour” which will inevitably include a tailor or gem store.
Also ask your hotel concierge for information on the latest scams and Bangkok travel tips to ensure you’re not taken for a ride.
6. Sample the street food
Save your pennies for a more indulgent meal, and don’t be afraid to try the street food offerings which will give you a feel for the breadth of local cuisine. One of our best Bangkok travel tips? Look out for stands with longer queues of locals to identify the better food offerings – the locals usually know best.
7. Soak up the city from every perspective
Take in the city from the rooftops and the water, and make time for sundowners at one of the more exclusive rooftop bars in Bangkok or relax on a river cruise on the Chao Phraya River.
Sirocco at Lebua State Tower and Vertigo and Moon Bar on top of the Banyan Tree served up classic and tropical cocktails with dazzling open air rooftop views. While the 85-storey Baiyoke Tower II skyscraper hotel offers offers the highest views of the city from a revolving platform, stretching as far as the Gulf of Thailand.
As the metropolis is made up of numerous districts, a riverboat tour will allow you to get your bearings and familiarise yourself with the different areas. There are numerous options to choose from: the floating markets, golden temples or a backwaters tour – each offering a colourful glimpse of Thai life.
If you are visiting at New Year, book a luxury dinner cruise to take in those glittering evening views as you cruise down the river. On land, the Asiatique open air mall, and hotels on the riverside like the Oriental, Peninsula and Shangri-La are a few options to celebrate in true style and places where you can catch the fireworks at midnight.
8. Spa bargains
If you like a massage or two, skip the hotel spa and hit the city streets. There are hundreds of massage parlours scattered across the city and very reputable they are too.
With a Swedish massage setting you back a mere £5, and a one hour Thai massage only just a little more expensive, there’s no reason every day can’t involve some rest and relaxation.
9. Experience the best of both worlds
Island hopping in Thailand is really inexpensive, so plan your escape from the city and relax on the beach. There are many spectacular islands to choose from – including the well known – Phuket and Koh Samui and tiny ones like Koh Tao and Koh Lipe, either way you’ll find an island for you.
Our favourites are Koh Phi Phi, Koh Chang and Koh Lanta.
You can book very affordable flights from Bangkok with a host of low cost Asian airlines including Air Asia, Nok Air, and Orient Thai. There are also scheduled services with Bangkok Airways and Thai Airlines, getting you from the city to the beach in less than an hour.
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