Things to Know Before You Go to Bangkok, Thailand

From mastering the art of local shopping to decoding the rainbow of the city’s taxi colors, this guide lays out all the essential things to know before you go to Bangkok.

The Wat Arun in Bangkok set under gradient sunset skies
The Wat Arun in Bangkok set under gradient sunset skies

Bangkok is a city where the present intertwines with centuries of history. It is renowned for its vibrant street life, awe-inspiring temples, and affordable shopping experiences, among many other highlights. With roots stretching back to the 15th century as a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom, today’s Bangkok stands as a bustling metropolis, offering a dazzling array of affordable shopping options that attract visitors from across the globe. 

From the sprawling Chatuchak Weekend Market, where bargaining is a playful dance, to the high-end luxury malls dotting the cityscape, Bangkok offers a shopping experience as diverse as its history. 

As we explore the essential things to know before you go to Bangkok, our guide will navigate you through the city’s colorful taxi fleet, the secret to enjoying its world-famous street food, and how to pay homage to its historic sites. Expect your visit to The Big Mango to be nothing short of legendary.

The Best Time to Go to Bangkok

With Thailand’s extreme heat, knowing when’s the best time to visit is definitely one of the important things to know before you go to Bangkok. Generally speaking, timing your visit largely depends on your tolerance for heat and preference for crowd sizes. The city enjoys a tropical climate, meaning it’s warm year-round, but each season offers a distinct experience. 

To many, the cool season from November to February is widely considered the most comfortable time to visit. With temperatures ranging from 20°C to 31°C (68°F to 88°F) and lower humidity levels, this period sees the largest influx of tourists. Expect more company at popular attractions during this season.

On the other hand, March to May marks the hot season, with temperatures soaring above 30°C (86°F). If the heat doesn’t deter you, this time offers vibrant local festivals, including the Thai New Year or Songkran in April. Subsequently, the rainy season from June to October brings relief from the heat with frequent but usually short-lived downpours, rejuvenating the city and reducing tourist numbers.

Regardless of when you visit, remember that Bangkok’s heat can also be intense. With that, staying hydrated and dressing in light, breathable clothing is always crucial when planning a tour.

Getting Around The City

Bangkok’s dynamic streets are served by an array of transportation options, making navigating the city both an adventure and a breeze. The BTS Skytrain and MRT Metro offer fast, air-conditioned travel across major districts, ideal for beating the heat and traffic. 

For journeys not covered by the metro lines, the colorful fleet of taxis offers a convenient alternative. Bangkok taxis are notable for their vivid colors, but you’ll usually see the yellow-green ones more often. The pink ones are generally new, but regardless of the color, make sure that the meter is functioning before you hop in. 

Additionally, tuk-tuks provide an iconic Thai experience, perfect for short distances and negotiating narrow lanes, though agreeing on the fare in advance is advisable. For a scenic route, the Chao Phraya River Express Boat connects key tourist spots along the waterway. Walking is feasible in cooler months or after sundown, offering up-close encounters with Bangkok’s lively street scenes.

Whichever mode you choose, getting around Bangkok is an integral part of the city’s charm, blending efficiency with cultural immersion.

Several people walking along a local market in Bangkok
Several people walking along a local market in Bangkok

Things To Know Before You Go To Bangkok: What To See, Where To Shop and Eat, and More

Bangkok offers a kaleidoscope of experiences for every traveler. That said, here’s a curated list of things to know before you go to Bangkok to embrace all the city truly has to offer:

We recommend you begin at the iconic Grand Palace and the home to the revered Emerald Buddha, the sacred Wat Phra Kaew. Not far behind, the marvelous Wat Arun also awaits you for the best-admired sunsets from across the river. After that, step into Bangkok’s spiritual heritage at Wat Pho, to see the majestic Reclining Buddha and perhaps experience a traditional Thai massage.

Interesting fact: No one leaves Bangkok empty-handed. As one of Asia’s best shopping destinations, Bangkok truly has something for everyone. Chatuchak Weekend Market is a paradise for bargain hunters that offers everything from vintage clothing to handmade crafts. If you’re looking to shop more conveniently, head to Siam district, where malls like MBK Center and Siam Paragon cater to every desire. Then when evening falls, a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment awaits you at the Chao Phraya River.

Similarly, Bangkok isn’t the world’s street food capital for nothing. You’ll surely find local dishes like pad thai, som tam (green papaya salad), and mango sticky rice available at every turn. At night, Yaowarat Road in Chinatown offers an unforgettable culinary journey, with seafood restaurants and street stalls serving up delicious bites. Then for an upscale dining experience, rooftop restaurants in the Sukhumvit area offer stunning city views alongside exquisite menus.

Meanwhile, soak yourself in Bangkok’s contemporary culture with a visit to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre for an authentic experience. Or, catch a traditional Thai puppet show at the Artist’s House. If you want a dose of greenery amidst the urban sprawl, the lush landscapes of Lumphini Park provide a serene escape.

We know it might be too much to take in. However, wherever your passion for Bangkok leads you, it will surely open up plenty of wonders for you to cherish during your holiday.

A hotel room in Bangkok with a view of the buildings outside
A hotel room in Bangkok with a view of the buildings outside

Where To Stay in Bangkok: The Best Areas and Hotels

Of course, finding a place to stay is always one of the essential things to know before you go to Bangkok. Luckily, the city caters to every traveler’s needs, offering a diverse range of accommodations across its bustling districts. 

SUKHUMVIT

Sukhumvit is the heartbeat of modern Bangkok— a sprawling avenue known for its upscale malls, dining, and nightlife. The area boasts a variety of accommodations, from luxury hotels like the Rosewood Bangkok to budget-friendly guesthouses. With easy access to the BTS Skytrain, Sukhumvit is ideal for travelers looking to explore the city with ease.

RIVERSIDE

If you’re seeking a serene escape amidst the city’s chaos, Bangkok’s Riverside offers breathtaking views of the Chao Phraya River, complemented by luxurious stays such as the Mandarin Oriental and Hotel Nikko. It’s perfect for romantic getaways and those who appreciate a touch of tranquility.

KHAO SAN ROAD

Considered by many as the backpacker’s haven, Khao San Road, offers an eclectic mix of affordable hostels and mid-range hotels, buzzing with youthful energy. It’s a great area for solo travelers and those looking to meet fellow adventurers.

SIAM

The shopping epicenter of Bangkok, Siam is home to the largest malls and markets. Hotels in this area, like the Nysa Hotel Bangkok, provide direct access to a shopper’s paradise. Siam is also very family-friendly, with easy access to all-age attractions like the SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World.

SILOM

Offering a mix of business and pleasure, Silom hosts a variety of dining options, market stalls, and nightlife spots. Accommodations range from the luxurious Lebua at State Tower, famous for its rooftop bar, to more modest, value-for-money hotels, making it a versatile choice for all types of travelers.

Tuktuks, taxis, and buses on the road in Bangkok
Tuktuks, taxis, and buses on the road in Bangkok

Insider’s Guide: Things To Know Before You Go To Bangkok

Exploring Bangkok comes with its quirks and delights. Arm yourself with these insider tips before you pack your bags and go to Bangkok:

  • Bangkok’s traffic is notorious. Plan your day around peak traffic hours, usually early mornings and late afternoons. The BTS Skytrain and MRT Underground are lifesavers, whisking you over or under the congested streets.
  • Bangkok taxis are a kaleidoscope of colors, each representing different companies. While the color doesn’t impact the fare or service, make sure the meter is running without hitch to avoid overpaying.
  • When visiting Bangkok’s revered temples, like Wat Pho or Wat Arun, dress modestly by covering shoulders and knees. It’s also customary to remove shoes before entering temple buildings.
  • For the safest street food experience, eat where you see high turnover and locals dining. Look for freshly cooked items and avoid raw dishes until you’re accustomed to the local cuisine.
  • Do know that the Thai heat— especially from March to May, can be intense. Drink plenty of water, wear light clothing, and use sunscreen. Don’t underestimate the power of a good hat and sunglasses, either.
  • Be cautious if someone tells you a major attraction you’re planning to visit is closed and offers to take you on a tour instead. This is a common scam. Always check for yourself or with an official source.
  • The Thai people hold their king and royal family in high regard. Always show respect towards images of the king, including on currency, and avoid discussing royal affairs.
  • The Chao Phraya River and its boats offer a scenic and effective way to get around. Know your destination and the correct fare to avoid confusion and overcharging.
Two women standing on a temple path in Bangkok
Two women standing on a temple path in Bangkok

Experience The Bustling Beauty of Bangkok with This City Knows

Wrapping up our dive into the essential things to know before you go to Bangkok, it might feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface. That’s because Bangkok is a city that keeps on giving, from the golden glint of its temples to the endless energy of its streets. Each moment offers an opportunity to discover something new, and Bangkok invites you to explore its depths and experience the city with an open heart. 

Now that you’re armed with these insights, you’re more than ready to explore the heart of Thailand. So get out there, enjoy Bangkok, and make every moment count. Just remember, if you’ve got tips or tales from your travels, we’d love to hear them. Whether it’s a hidden gem you found, a food stall that blew your mind, or just a funny story from your trip, we’re all ears! 

Let’s keep the adventure going with This City Knows, one city at a time!

Katie
Author: Katie

Katie is all about hitting the road solo, always on the lookout for spots the internet hasn't fully discovered yet. She’s the one turning left when the map says right, hunting for those genuine, "you had to be there" moments. With a style that's as engaging as a late-night chat by the hostel fire, her stories aren't just about places, but the raw, unfiltered joy of exploring them on your own terms.

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