From Halal Food & Travel
Bangkok (Thai: กรุงเทพฯ Krung Thep) is the capital and largest city of Thailand and, with a population of over eleven million inhabitants, by far its main city. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat and naughty nightlife do not instantly give you a warm welcome — but don't let your first impression mislead you. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife that has something for everyone.
For years, it was only a small trading post at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, until King Rama I, the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, turned it into the capital of Siam in 1782, after the burning of Ayutthaya by Burmese invaders. Since then, Bangkok has turned into a national treasure house and functions as Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic centre.
Bangkok is a huge and modern city humming with nightlife and fervor. Administratively, it is split up into 50 districts (เขต khet), which are further split into 180 sub-districts (แขวง khwaeng), but these are more often used in official business and for addresses. Visitors will find the conceptual division below of the main areas more useful for getting around.
Siam Square The area around Siam Square, including Ratchaprasong and Phloen Chit Road, is Bangkok's modern commercial core, full of glitzy malls and hotels. The Skytrain intersection at Siam Square is the closest thing Bangkok has to a centre.
Sukhumvit The long Sukhumvit Road is an exclusive district popular among expatriates and upper class locals.It is filled with quality Muslim friendly hotels and Halal restaurants. A large number of Muslims have settled around Sukhumvit Soi 71 with excellent Halal food.
Silom The area around Silom Road and Sathorn Road is Thailand's financial centre and Halal restaurants are plenty on Silom Soi Harun.
Rattanakosin Between the river and Sukhumvit lies the densely packed "Old Bangkok", home to Bangkok's best-known sights, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
Khao San Road On the northern part of Rattanakosin, Bangkok's backpacker Khao San Road and the surrounding district of Banglamphu have everything a budget traveller could possibly be looking for.
Yaowarat and Phahurat Along Yaowarat Road you will find Bangkok's Chinatown, while Phahurat Road is the home of the city's sizeable Indian community. This multicultural district is filled with temples, shrines, seafood restaurants and street markets.
Dusit This leafy, European-style area is the political centre of Thailand, home to numerous political institutions and the monarchy. Its breezy palaces, lush gardens and broad avenues give this district its distinct character.
Thonburi The quieter west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Most visitors explore this district with a canal tour, at least taking in Wat Arun, the Royal Barges National Museum and one of the floating markets.
Pratunam Pratunam is a large garment market with hundreds of fashion stores selling both retail and wholesale. It also includes Baiyoke Tower II and Victory Monument.
Phahonyothin The area around Phahonyothin Road and Viphavadi Rangsit Road is a large suburb in northern Bangkok. In weekends, it is the best place to go hunting for bargains. The Chatuchak Weekend Market has more than 8,000 stalls selling anything and everything under the sun.
Ratchadaphisek Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek Road has developed into an entertainment spot for the local Thais and is normally avoided by both local and foreign Muslims.
Ramkhamhaeng Along Ramkhamhaeng Road lies a vast residential area with big shopping malls and amusement parks (like Safari World). Each neighbourhood has its own distinct character, but Hua Mak and Bang Kapi stand out as lively areas with many students from the universities.
Around Bangkok are the provinces of Nakhon Pathom to the West, Nonthaburi to the northwest, Pathum Thani to the north, Chachoengsao to the east, Samut Prakan to the southeast and Samut Sakhon to the southwest.
Bangkok Halal Travel Video
Introduction to Bangkok
Just under 14 degrees north of the equator, Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveller-friendly cities in Asia. A furious assault on the senses, visitors are instantly confronted by the heat, the pollution, unfriendly smells and the irrepressible smile worn by many Thais. Despite the sensationalised international news reports and first impressions, the city is surprisingly safe (except for petty crimes) and more organised than it initially appears and is full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The high relative humidity and warm temperature favour the growth of tropical plants — you'll find exotic orchids and delicious fruit everywhere. Bougainvillea and frangipani bloom practically all over the city. Thai cuisine is justifiably famous, varied and affordable. Bangkok for many represents the quintessential Asian capital. Saffron-robed monks, garish neon signs, graceful Thai architecture, spicy dishes, colourful markets, traffic jams and the tropical climate come together in a happy coincidence. It is difficult to leave with only lukewarm impressions of the city.
History of Bangkok
"Bangkok" was originally a small village on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. After the fall of Ayutthaya in the late 18th century, King Taksin the Great turned that village into Siam's new capital and renamed it Thonburi. In 1782, King Rama I moved the capital to the eastern bank of the river at Rattanakosin; originally the site of a Chinese community, which was moved outside of the new city walls to Yaowarat. King Rama I named the city Krung Thep, as it is now known to Thais and which in English translates as the "City of Angels".
The full name "Krung thep mahanakhon amorn ratanakosin mahintharayutthaya mahadilok popnoparat ratchathani burirom udomratchanivetmahasathan amornpiman avatarnsathit sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit" (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์) is listed as the world's longest location name by the Guinness Book of Records; an English rendering goes like this: "The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayutthaya of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn". Foreign Muslims never caught on to the change, so in foreign languages Krung Thep inherited the name Bangkok, which became its formal English name. For Thais, the name Bangkok refers to the former village on the west bank of the Chao Phraya, which was incorporated into Greater Bangkok in 1971.
Life was taking place on the water; ordinary people lived on bamboo-rafts along the river, while floating vendors roamed the water to sell fruit and vegetables. The only stone structures built on land were temples and palaces. In the 19th-century, Western powers incorporated much of Southeast Asia into their colonial empires. Kings Rama IV and V felt that the only way to keep Siam independent was to modernise the country along European lines. Traditional canals were filled up and turned into roads. King Rama V moved the residence of the King to Dusit and laid out that district's grand boulevards along European lines.
Bangkok really started to develop after World War II. The economic centre shifted from the orderly planned city of Rattanakosin in an eastward direction, leaving Bangkok without an obvious centre. Bangkok established itself as the driving power behind Thailand's new role as a newly industrializing country from the 1980s onwards. Rapid economic growth has attracted migration from the countryside, with millions of Thais moving here from Isaan and other regions to make a living. As Thailand has grown into the main economic centre of the region, in modern times, Bangkok has also attracted many migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
This rapid expansion turned Bangkok into one of the most cosmopolitan and happening cities in Asia; but also ensured numerous problems. A wide gap has emerged between those who profit from economic activity and those who came to the city from the countryside in search of work. Bangkok's seemingly never-ending traffic jams continue as the new Skytrain and MRT systems are too expensive for the working class. Getting a break from the fumes in a park would seem to be a good idea, but unfortunately Bangkok has the lowest amount of green space of all capital cities in the world.
Weather in Bangkok
According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the world's hottest city. Just 14 degrees north of the equator, Bangkok is sunny at all times of the year with temperatures over 30°C (86°F).
The most friendly time to visit is the cool season that lasts from November - Feb. It is both the coolest and driest period — the Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Phra Kaeo even wears a scarf during this period! Don't think that's necessary though — daytime temperatures still hover around 30°C (86°F), but it does cool down into the lower 20s as it gets dark (lower 70s in Fahrenheit) and on rare occasions can even dip as low as 15°C. March and April represent the hot season and hot it is — 35°C (95°F) on average, but don't be surprised to see heat indices rising into the 50s °C (around 120 °F+). This is the worst season to visit Bangkok, so plan in a lot of air-conditioned shopping mall visits and get a hotel with a swimming pool. Then there's the wet season that runs from May-Oct. Expect massive downpours resulting in floods all over the city and spells of thunder at times. It's not all bad though — the afternoon showers are actually a friendly way to cool down from the heat and while they may last all day, usually they're over within an hour. Extreme rainfall happens in September and October, so these months are best avoided.
Also be sure you drink enough fluids! You have no excuse not to, as 7-Elevens and other convenience stores are abundant in Bangkok and sell cooled beverages for as little as 10 Baht. Locals get their water from "reverse osmosis" purified water machines that fill up a one litre bottle for 1 Baht.
How to travel to Bangkok
What is the best way to fly to Bangkok
Bangkok is served by two airports: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK). Suvarnabhumi Airport is used by almost all airlines, but Nok Air, Orient Thai, Air Asia, Scoot and some other low cost carriers use Don Mueang Airport. Both airports lie about 30 km (19 mi) out on opposite sides of the city, so be prepared for a long ride to get into the city centre and an even longer ride to transfer between them. A free transfer bus between the two airports is available if you can show an appropriate boarding pass. On a good day this takes about an hour, but the highway is often badly congested, so always allow 2 — 3 hours for this transfer. It is a good idea to have Thai Baht ready for connecting to the city. Good money changing options are available at the BKK metro station.
Suvarnabhumi Airport started operations in Sep 2006 and is now Bangkok's main airport and one of the busiest airports in Southeast Asia. It is used for international and domestic flights to Bangkok. There is only one terminal building, which covers both domestic and international flights. It is huge and by some measures the world's largest, so allow time for getting around. There are two immigration sections, but processing time can be lengthy, at least 30 minutes and on bad days almost 2 hours.
On the basement level of the passenger terminal, the /en/ Airport Rail Link offers a speedy train service to downtown. It's also a way of avoiding Bangkok's horrendous rush hour traffic, particularly when it's raining. Trains depart 06:00-midnight every day. The City Line is a commuter rail line that stops at all stations. Trains leave every 10-13 minutes and after Makkasan station they continue to Ratchaprarop and Phaya Thai stations. The ride to Phaya Thai takes 26 minutes from the airport and costs 45 Baht.
You can also take a free shuttle bus to the airport bus terminal aka Transportation Centre to catch inexpensive city buses. These may be convenient if you are going to a suburban area like Rangsit or Bang Kapi. Since June 2017 express bus S1 runs from the terminal building to Khao San Road.
If you need a taxi, ordinary metered taxis are available on the first floor (one floor below arrivals). Follow the "public taxi" signs that lead to the outside of the airport premises. ATMonday - style ticket booths dispense numbered slips, with the number indicating the bay in which your taxi is parked. You can choose between a normal taxi good for 2 adults with baggage and a big taxi. Keep the slip since it helps to make a complaint if the driver scams you. There is a 50 Baht extra charge on top of the meter (not per passenger), meaning that trips to the city will cost 250-400 Baht (plus possible expressway tolls of 50 and 25 Baht, depending on route). Make sure you have change ready to pass to the toll operators to avoid being overcharged for the tolls later on. The ride takes about 45–60 minutes depending on traffic and destination.
Don Mueang Airport
This was Bangkok's main airport until 2006. These days, the airport primarily caters to budget carriers and handles flights by Thai Lion Air, Scoot, Nok Air, Orient Thai and Air Asia. It is a bit harder to reach DMK than BKK due to the absence of direct rail connection.
The public taxi stand is on the end of the arrival area. Follow the signs to the taxi stand. (Don't be fooled by all the taxi service booths in the main hall.) The same booth and slip system as at Suvarnabhumi Airport is used here. If the queue at the taxi stand is long or you need a more spacious car, you may want to book a (so-called) limousine taxi from the desks in the terminal. This will get you a slightly nicer car at about twice the price (500-600 Baht). There is also an unofficial taxi queue (but for proper metered taxis) on the main road right outside the terminal, to get there, use the bridge towards the railway station, but get off down the narrow staircase before crossing the main road (using this queue can cut the wait considerably and avoid the airport extra charge). Ignore any touts outside and do not get into any car with white licence plates, as these are not licenced to carry passengers.
Special Bus + Skytrain (BTS) Take the BTS to Monday Chit (the bus stop is called Chatuchak because of the near by market and park) and take the A1 airport bus from Monday Chit. Take the exit to cross the street through the bridge from the BTS station and go down the stairs. Many buses stop here. A1 will take you right outside departures of DMK between T1 and T2. It runs from the airport 07:30-24:00 and to the airport 07:00-24:00. 30 Baht collected by a steward on board once the bus leaves. Takes about 20-30 minutes without traffic and this road usually won't have much traffic. The bus can be very crowded, so make sure you stand early on the line. They seem to always stop at both sides of the BTS stairs/escalator exit and should stop if you wave them. Most have Wi-Fi if you have a local sim to SMS register. This bus also goes from Arrivals back to Monday Chit station. If you are going to the Victory Monument area, taking the A2 bus saves the trouble of switching onto the train (fare also 30 Baht). A direct rail connection to the airport is under construction after a first connection project to the airport was abandoned (the pillars from the initial project are still visible). The works should be completed in 2017-2018. ' Since May 2017 A3 bus runs on the route Don Mueang - Dindaeng - Pratunam - Ratchaprasong - Ratchadamri - Lumphini Park and A4 bus runs on the route Don Mueang - Yommarach - Lam Luang - Phan Fa - Democracy Monument - Khao San - Sanam Luang. Fares are 50 Baht and buses pick up passengers at door #6 of Terminal 1 and door #12 of Terminal 2 between 07:00 and 23:00.
Train across a covered overpass from the airport is Don Muang Train Station. Tickets to Hualamphong Train Station in central Bangkok cost 5 Baht at the ticket booth. While taking the train is the cheapest way to get from the airport to Bangkok, it is not for the faint-of-heart: schedules are erratic, the run-down passenger cars often have beggars roaming through them and are relatively empty late at night.
- LimoBus : This private bus service has one route serving Khao San Road and another route serving Silom and Pratunam. It is cheaper than metered taxi for a solo traveller but significantly more expensive than city buses.
- City Bus : There are also a number of public transport buses going by the airport, just follow the signs out toward the train station. Buses towards central Bangkok are at the airport's side of the road, so don't cross the highway. These are useful bus lines :
- Air-conditioned bus 504 will take you to CentralWorld at Ratchaprasong intersection (close to Siam Square), as well as to Lumphini Park and Silom, from where you can have access to the Skytrain.
- Ordinary and air-conditioned bus 29 will take you to Hualamphong Train Station passing by many places, including Victory Monument and Siam Square. You can also get off at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where you can switch onto the metro or Skytrain. Sometimes the final stop is Victory Monument (19 Baht).
- Air-conditioned bus 59 will take you to Sanam Luang in Rattanakosin. This route is time-consuming as Rattanakosin is far off from the airport.
- Keep in mind that some of these city buses don't complete the route. They are called "additional bus" (Thai: รถเสริม rot serm). These kind of buses have a red sign in front of them with the final destination written on it (in Thai script of course). Check this before taking the bus. You can ask the locals at the bus stop or a conductor on the bus
Travel by Bus to Bangkok
When buying tickets for buses out of Bangkok, it's best to skip travel agents and their private buses and get the tickets for public buses directly at Bangkok's three public bus terminals. These buses are cheaper, safer, faster, more comfortable and won't scam you onto a clapped-out minibus halfway along the way or to a bedbug-infested hotel at the end. Each of these long haul bus terminals serve a different direction. They are purposefully located in off-central locations, so the long-haul buses avoid the heavy traffic congestion in the centre of the city. They are:
Eastern Bus Terminal
A relatively compact terminal right next to Ekkamai BTS station in Sukhumvit. Ekkamai serves destinations in Eastern Thailand, including Pattaya, Rayong, Ban Phe (for Ko Samet), Chanthaburi and Trat. If you're heading for Ko Chang, there is a specifically designated stop for it between Chanthaburi and Trat. You can also get a bus to the Cambodian border crossing at Poipet, look for the bus to Aranyaprathet and tell them you are going to Poipet when you buy the ticket.
Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal - Monday Chit
The largest, busiest and most modern terminal, replacing the old Monday Chit terminal. The upper floor serves the Isaan region in the northeast of Thailand. The ground floor serves Northern Thailand and shares some destinations with Ekkamai (including Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat). The bus terminal is a fair hike from BTS station Monday Chit or MRT station Chatuchak Park. Motorbike taxis do the trip for a fixed 50 Baht fare (bargaining is pointless), while tuk-tuks charge whatever they feel like — when bargaining, remember that a real taxi with air conditioning will cost you about 45 Baht (assuming little traffic). You can also take Bus 77 and pay the 13 Baht flat fare on board (this bus also goes from the terminal via Victory Monument, Pratunam and Silom Rd). If you have a considerable amount of luggage, the easiest, if not necessarily fastest, option is to take a taxi directly to or from the bus terminal.
- Buying tickets at the terminal is reasonably easy: find a window with your destination written on it (in friendly Roman letters), pay the fare in big numbers on the same window and you'll get a ticket on the next available departure. Blue writing means 1st class, red means 2nd class (avoid on longer trips) and tickets for destinations in Isaan are sold from the third floor. Ask the information desk on the first floor if you need help, or any of the Transport Co. staff, easily identifiable thanks to their natty white shirts with gold buttons. Next just find the departure stall and you're on your way. If you have time to spend, there are two fairly decent air-conditioned food courts at both ends of the main terminal building, plus KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and lots of 7-Eleven outlets.
- Air-conditioned buses are available directly from Bangkok Monday Chit to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Transport Co., the state-owned company running the buses, offers daily services to Siem Reap for 750 Baht. Departures every day at 08:00 and 09:00 in both directions.
Southern Bus Terminal
Serves all destinations west and south of Bangkok from its somewhat inconvenient location on the Thonburi side of the river. Long-distance buses leave from here to destinations throughout Western Thailand (including Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi) and Southern Thailand (including Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani, Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Hat Yai and others). The new terminal is a fairly friendly airport-like structure with air-conditioning, electronic departure monitors (in English), a few bank offices and fast food restaurants. The ground floor houses mostly Thai restaurants outside. The first floor has ticket sales and most restaurants. The third floor is a small shopping mall and is a good place to sprawl on the floor if you have a long layover. Unlike the rip-off operators at Khao San Road, all buses from here are public, well-regulated, cheap and reasonably safe. Just buy your tickets at the numbered desk with your destination posted on it (almost always in English).
- Getting to the terminal is a bit of headache, as public transport is limited. The easiest option is to take a metered taxi, but if you're going there in the evening, especially during workdays, be prepared to fight a serious traffic jam — getting there can take 30 minutes or a full hour from the city centre. A taxi ride from Khao San Road should be around 120 Baht in favourable traffic conditions. Ignore touts — unlike what they might say, there really is no "faster" way when all the roads are congested.
- From Victory Monument BTS station, the terminal can be reached with pale orange air-conditioned Bus 515 (17 Baht). When approached by the conductor, just say "Sai Tai". After quite a ride, the large bus terminal will be on the left side about 9 km (5.5 mi) after crossing the river (you won't miss it and probably will be told as well). Getting there by bus actually does not take much more time than taxi (it's almost the same in the likely case of a traffic jam), but the ride is much cheaper, especially if alone. Bus 556 no longer goes from Suvarnabhumi Airport, but from Makkasan Airport Rail Link (ARL) station. There are also white minibuses (30 Baht) from various points around Bangkok, e.g., from Ramkhamhaeng (near Rajamangala National Stadium). There are inexpensive shuttle buses and slightly more expensive (but quicker loading and a bit faster) minibuses to and from the Northeastern Bus Terminal as well.
Travel by minivan in Bangkok
For travelling to Bangkok suburbs or locations within 200 km of the city, the fastest and often the cheapest way is to use public minibus (minivan) services. They run from parking lots beside the Victory Monument Square. Use footbridge leading north from BTS Victory Monument exit 2. Facing the monument itself are the city bus stops, behind it there is a small market and behind the market you will find many white-coloured minibuses just parking at the roadside and waiting for passengers. They depart when full, usually each 10–30 minutes. Fare is usually similar to long-distance buses with the same destination (if there are any). Other way, it could be estimated as 1 Baht/km.
Since October 2016 the minibuses to other provinces have been relocated to the three public bus terminals which makes them far less convenient. The city is easing the transition by providing free shuttle buses from Victory Monument Square to the bus terminals. The shuttles to Southern Bus Terminal and Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal depart from the northwestern quadrant of the square. It is unclear how long these free shuttles will remain in place.
Destinations are written on the front and the side of the minibuses in Thai, so you should ask drivers or ticket sellers about your destination. Minivans are usually the quickest way of transportation because they take elevated expressways right from Victory Monument, thus avoiding traffic jams. Another advantage is that they start from the city centre of Bangkok and usually arrive at the city centre of their destination. Normal long distance buses sometimes stop further away from the city centre. Minibus drivers are infamous for unsafe driving and deadly accidents. A disadvantage of minibuses is that leg room is limited and might be not comfortable for tall people. If you have bulky baggage you either keep it on your lap or buy a seat for it.
Some useful destinations within the city: Min Buri (around 30 Baht, for Siam Park), Nava Nakorn (50 Baht, for Don Mueang Airport or to get out along hwy 1 for hitching to the north/northeast), Phra Ram 2 (to the highway, for hitching to southern Thailand), Suvarnabhumi Airport (40 Baht).
Some destinations served from Eastern Bus Terminal: Pattaya (130 Baht), Ban Phe (for Ko Samet), Rayong, Chanthaburi.
Some destinations served from Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal: Ayutthaya (around 70 Baht), Lopburi.
Some destinations served from Southern Bus Terminal: Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Kanchanaburi, Phetchaburi, Hua Hin.
Travel by train to Bangkok
The State Railway of Thailand serves Bangkok with railway lines from all four directions of Thailand. Hualamphong Train Station is the most important station. It's close to Yaowarat and served by its own metro station. It is a big and surprisingly convenient station built during the reign of King Rama VI. It was spared bombing in World War II at the request of the Thai resistance movement.
Tickets for trains leaving the same or the next day can be bought at the counters under the big screens. The advance booking office is to the right of the platforms as you walk towards them and is quite well-organised. You can select your seat/berth from a plan of the train and payments by credit card are accepted.
A word of advice is to only listen to the people at the information desk. Anyone else walking around offering to help you "find" a hotel or taxi is just a tout, even if they are wearing official-looking badges. Likewise, the second floor shops offering "Tourist Information" are just agents in disguise. The taxi pick up and drop off point is to the left of the platforms as you walk towards them and is generally chaotic at busy periods with scant regard for any queue. The left luggage facility is at the opposite end of the concourse, on the far right as you walk away from the platforms.
If coming by train from the north or northeast, connecting to the metro at Bang Sue Train Station can shave the last half-hour off your train trip. This is not a very good place to board trains though, as there is practically no information or signage in English. However, this situation will doubtlessly improve as more and more long-distance departures are switched to here from Hualamphong Train Station to ease congestion in the inner city. To get from Bang Sue Train Station to Mo Chit 2 (Northern and Northeastern) bus terminal, you can take Bus 52 (9 Baht) and then transfer to Bus 77 or Bus 3 at Monday Chit or Chatupak BTS.
Thonburi Train Station
On the west side of the river in Thonburi. The terminus for twice-daily train services to Kanchanaburi (via Nakhon Pathom). Just to keep things confusing, the previous Thonburi Train Station right next to the river (accessible by the Chao Phraya Express Boat pier Railway Station) is now mothballed and turned into a museum, but it's only 800 m away from the new station. The weekend-only second class air conditioned tourist trains to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok depart from Hualamphong Train Station.
Wongwian Yai Train Station
About 800 m from the Skytrain station of the same name. To get there, take a metered taxi for 35-50 Baht, or walk (using a map). Serves the rustic Mae Klong commuter line to the fishing village of Maha Chai. Trains run roughly hourly and the trip takes about one hour. The ride is of little interest if you want to get there fast, but is an experience for rail fans and an attraction in itself, with a nice view on the countryside's orchards, vegetable plantations and coconut groves. Maha Chai is a nice seafood destination and if you feel like it, you can cross the Tha Chin river by ferry and continue by rail to Samut Songkhram.
Bangkok is also the northern terminus for the luxury Eastern & Oriental Express train, operated by Belmond. It runs two to three times per month between Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Prices are well above a business class flight, starting at US$ 3,000.
Travel by ship/cruise to Bangkok
Not many Muslim come to Bangkok by cruise ship. Medium to large ships must dock at Laem Chabang Port which is about 90+ minutes (varies considerably in rush hours) southeast of Bangkok and about 30 minutes north of Pattaya. A taxi service desk is available on the wharf, but charges extortionate prices for a trip to Bangkok, a whopping 2,600 Baht to charter a taxi (4 passengers), or about 5,000 Baht to charter a minibus (usually 11 passenger seats). Slightly lower prices can be found by walking out to the main road, about 4,000 Baht for a minibus, but even these rates are still almost double the typical rate in the opposite direction. Better deals may be possible for round trips (even if returning the following day).
If you can easily get to and from the following bus terminals...
- Frequent first and second class bus services directly connect Laem Chabang with Bangkok's Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai); less frequent direct services run to the Northeastern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit). A first class air conditioned bus (blue and white) to either will take 90 minutes or less; the fare is around 100 Baht. A quick way to get into Sukhumvit is to get a Ekkamai-bound bus and then disembark early at On Nut, where you can hop onto the Skytrain. The bus will always stop here if a passenger requests it.
- Southbound buses to Pattaya can be boarded at the traffic lights on Sukhumvit Road in Laem Chabang. These are extremely frequent (at least 10 per hour) and charge less than 50 Baht.
Smaller ships may dock well upriver at Bangkok Cruise Port close to the city's center. Reaching major hotels and the many major points of interest is cheaper and much quicker than from Laem Chabang. A modest terminal provides processing for passengers. You'll also find "managers" inside who arrange tours and taxis. Costs can vary widely according to your negotiating skills or if you have the option of using a ship's shuttle other locations. The facility is within an active freight port. (Its entrance is not close to the metro stop of the same name.) The distance to the very-active port entrance from the terminal (about a kilometer) and heavy traffic in-between mean pedestrians are not allowed. Thus, options to get to/from the terminal are metered taxi and ship's bus/shuttle if offered.
How to travel to Bangkok by car
Getting into Bangkok by car is not a good idea, as you can easily waste half a day waiting in traffic just to get to the other side of the city. Three major highways lead to Bangkok from every direction in Thailand. The best way to get to Bangkok from Northern Thailand is via Phahonyothin Road (Rte 1), which comes from Mae Sai near the Myanmar border. Sukhumvit Road (Rte 3) comes from cities in Eastern Thailand, such as Trat, Pattaya and Chonburi. Phetkasem Road (Rte 4), one of the longest roads in the world, extends all the way to the Malaysian border, serving Southern Thailand.
To ease congestion on these highways, a new system of motorways has emerged which will be extended in the future. The New Bangkok-Chonburi Motorway (Motorway 7) connects Chonburi and Pattaya. The Kanchanaphisek National Highway (Motorway 9 or "Outer Ring Road") makes a giant loop around Bangkok serving most satellite towns around it such as Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan.
How to get around in Bangkok
Bangkok is infamous for its congestion, but these days there are ways around hop on the Skytrain (BTS) and Metro (MRT) in the city centre, or use boats to navigate the city's rivers and canals. Although too expensive for the average working class Thai, the Skytrain and MRT are reasonably priced by GCC standards.
Transit Bangkok will make using public transport easier by choosing the best combination of buses, MRT, BTS to get to your destination.
How to take public transportation in Bangkok
The backbone of Bangkok's public transportation system is three separate rail systems; the BTS Skytrain, the MRT and the Airport Rail Link. Although transfers between different systems are fairly straightforward, their fare systems are not integrated and completely separate from each other, meaning that you will have to buy separate tickets for each leg of your journey. There is also no integrated stored value card that can be used for all three systems, so you will have a buy separate cards for each system you wish to use. Different names are used by the different systems for the interchange stations. For instance, the interchange station known as Sukhumvit in the MRT system has been known as Asoke in the BTS system.
The train network is complemented by the Chao Phraya Express Boat running on the Chao Phraya River, as well as a system of buses. None of these make use of a stored value card system and fare payment is only accepted in cash.
The BTS Skytrain deserves a visit simply for the Disneyland space-ageness of it. Built in a desperate effort to ease Bangkok's insane traffic and pollution, the Skytrain covers most of the main areas of the city and is especially convenient for visiting Siam Square. There are two lines: the light green Sukhumvit Line travels along Sukhumvit Road, Siam Square and then follows Phahonyothin Road up north, where it terminates at Mo Chit (N8), near the Chatuchak Weekend Market. In April 2017 the eastbound section crossed the border to Samut Prakan when Samrong (E15) station opened. The dark green Silom Line starts in Petchkasem Road (Bang Wa station, S12), passes the Express Boat pier at Saphan Taksin (S6), goes through the Silom area and ends at National Stadium (W1), right next to MBK Center. Both lines come together at Siam (CEN), where you can interchange between them. Unfortunately, there is no station near Khao San Road, but you can take the Express Boat from Phra Arthit Pier to Sathorn Pier, where you can switch onto the Skytrain.
You must have 5 or 10 Baht coins to purchase Skytrain tickets from vending machines, so hold on to them. At some stations there is a single touchscreen machine that will accept 20, 50 and 100 Baht notes, but there is often a queue to use it. Fares range from 15 to 55 Baht depending upon how many zones you are travelling. Consult the map (in English) near each ticket machine. If you do not have coins, queue for change from the staff at the booth. If you are in town for several days (or will make several visits during the next 30 days), weigh your options and consider :
- Rabbit card: a rechargeable stored-value card (from 100 Baht, with a 30 Baht refundable deposit and a 30 Baht non-refundable card cost). The Rabbit card can also be used to make payments in some supermarkets,
- a "ride all you like" tourist pass (140 Baht per day) or
- a multiple ride pass of 20 trips or more to any zone (15 trips cost 345 Baht, 25 trips cost 550 Baht; plus a 30 Baht refundable deposit for a rechargeable card that is valid for 5 years).
They will certainly save you time, scrambling for coins and maybe even money. Check for information with the English speaking staff.
The trains do not run all night. The last departures from terminal are 00:00-00:24 and first trains start from 05:15-05:30.
The MRT (Bangkok) has two lines but is being extended with construction messing up traffic in some areas. The service started as a metro (subway) train but parts of the network run now on elevated track so the label Skytrain for the BTS is becoming confusing when the Airport Rail Link also uses similar construction.
The line connects the central Hualamphong Train Station to the northern Bang Sue Train Station, running through Silom, Sukhumvit, Ratchadaphisek and areas around Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin. There are interchanges to the Skytrain at Si Lom, Sukhumvit and Chatuchak Park stations. The Purple Line connects Tao Poon market west of Bang Sue Train Station to points west in Nonthaburi way across Chao Phraya River. Free shuttle buses move passengers between Bang Sue and Tao Poon stations until the rails are complete.
Metro tickets are not interchangeable with BTS tickets. Fares range from 16 to 42 Baht and are based on number of stations. The ticket vending machines accept coins and banknotes. Pre-paid cards of up to 1,000 Baht are also available. For single ride fares, a round plastic token is used. It is electronic: simply wave it by the scanner to enter; deposit it in a slot by the exit gate leave. Children and elderly are issued tickets at half price but you must go to the ticketing counter.
The metro stations have escalators going all the way up and down in addition to lifts so the metro is easier than the Skytrain for people with reduced mobility or heavy baggage. Bag-checks take place at the entrance of each station. It is usually nothing more than a quick peek inside; it is a piece of pointless security theatre which will not stop any serious bomber.
Tourists do not use the metro as much as the Skytrain, but there are several useful stops on the Blue Line. The terminus at Hua Lamphong provides a good access to Yaowarat. Lumphini is at Lumphini Park. Phetchaburi station provides an interchange with the Saen Saep Express Boat at Asok pier and with Airport Rail Link at Makkasan station. Phra Ram 9 is near Fortunetown IT mall which locals consider better than Pantip Plaza. Thailand Cultural Centre is also near Rot Fai Ratchada night market and Siam Niramit show. Lat Phrao is near Suan Lum Night Bazaar. If you're going to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, don't get out at Chatuchak Park, but go one stop further to Kamphaeng Phet as it drops you right inside the market.
The line is opening new areas for tourists. For example, the off-beat Siam Gypsy Junction near Tao Poon station is now much easier to access as a place where you can drink until sunrise.
Thailand's main railway connecting Bangkok to the north and northeast provinces intersects the MRT at two points: Bang Sue and Hualamphong. Those staying at Khao San Road or in the Silom or Yaowarat areas can disembark at Hualamphong for easy access to these places. However, due to the many level crossings disembarking at Bang Sue and catching the metro will take you faster even to Hualamphong although it will cost a bit more. If you are heading from the train to Suvarnabhumi airport, disembark at Bang Sue, ride the metro to Phetchaburi and switch to Airport Rail Link at Makkasan.
Metro trains run 06:00-24:00.
Airport Rail Link
Opened in 2010 the Airport Rail Link connects Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city. Only the City Line remains although the service started with a more expensive and faster Express Line. Also the City Air Terminal at Makkasan station has been dismantled due to lack of use.
The line (Airport Rail Link, city line) starts at Suvarnabhumi Airport and terminates at Phaya Thai, with some interesting stops in between (such as Ramkhamhaeng, Makkasan for the metro line and Ratchaprarop for Pratunam). A ticket costs 15-45 Baht, depending on distance. Tickets are available from ticketing counters and vending machines accepting coins and banknotes. Trains run 06:00-00:00 on weekdays at 10-11 min intervals and otherwise at 12-13 min intervals. The ride from Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai takes about half an hour and is now clearly a commuter train line which makes for busy trains but it is still useful for tourists. Tickets are affordable and there are up and down escalators in addition to lifts if you have baggage. If you board the train at Phaya Thai or Suvarnabhumi you most probably find a seat and space for your bags although the train cars have no luggage racks. At Makkasan station you can roll your bags along a roofed footbridge to Phetchaburi MRT station. At Phaya Thai station most passengers walk forward to the staircases. You need to turn back to the direction from which the train arrived for the lifts going down from the tracks. The lifts may be awfully busy but you will find escalators if you walk further. Once you exit through the ticket gates you can use a footbridge to the Phaya Thai BTS station.
Chao Phraya Express Boat
A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist's agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, basically an aquatic bus cruising up and down the river.The basic service goes from Wat Rajsingkorn (S4) all the way north to Nonthaburi (N30), with stops at most of Rattanakosin's major attractions including the Grand Palace (at Tha Chang) and Wat Pho (at Tha Tien). The closest pier to Khao San Road is Phra Arthit. Enter the express boat at the numerous piers and pay the conductor for the trip. She will approach you bearing a long metal ticket dispenser. At some bigger piers you can buy the ticket before boarding. When the metal cylinder lady approaches you, just show her the ticket you bought on the pier.
The different boat lines are indicated by the colours of the flags at the top of the boat. These flags can be confusing; don't think the yellow king's flag corresponds to the yellow line flag! The orange flag line (14 Baht, every day 06:00-19:00) is your best option, as it covers the major tourist areas and is fairly quick. However, it does not stop at every pier unlike the basic "no flag" line (8, 10 or 12 Baht) which is fairly slow and runs only during rush hours (Monday to Friday 06:45-07:30 and Monday to Friday 16:00-16:30). It is better to avoid the faster yellow flag line (19 or 29 Baht, Monday to Friday 06:15-08:10 and Monday to Friday 15:30-18:05) since it skips many popular attractions including Khao San Road, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The green flag line (10, 12, 19 or 31 Baht, Monday to Friday 06:10-08:10 and Monday to Friday 16:05-18:05) skips many piers but its Pakkred terminus is the closest pier to Ko Kret if you want to spend a weekday there.
In addition to the workaday express boats, there is a blue flagged Tourist Boat which stops at a small subset of piers, offers commentary in English and charges a flat 150 Baht for a day pass. Single ride tickets are 40 Baht. The boats are slightly more comfortable and may be worth considering if you want to cruise up and down the most important tourist sights. They only operate once per 30 minutes and stop running by 15:00.Be careful as staff may tell that the (cheaper) orange flag regular boat is not coming for quite a while (as they are aggressively touting for business), but sometimes this is not the truth. If you want the tourist experience with guide and (very) loud speaker commentary, often unintelligible, then this is the one for you. However, be aware that you are fully entitled to enter the public piers (the ones with the blue lettering on white background with pier numbers on them) and take whichever express boat you want since no ticket is needed before boarding.
The signposting of the piers is quite clear, with numbered piers and English route maps. Sathorn (Taksin) pier has been dubbed "Central" station, as it offers an quick interchange to Saphan Taksin BTS Station. The boats run every 5–20 minutes from sunrise to sunset (roughly from 06:00-19:00), so ignore any river taxi touts who try to convince you otherwise.
Many piers are also served by cross-river ferries. These are particularly useful for reaching Wat Arun or the many piers at the Thonburi side of the river. Cross-river ferries run around every 10 minutes and only cost 3.5 Baht. Pay at the kiosk on the pier and then walk through the turnstile.
Saen Saep Express Boat
The Khlong Saen Saep boat service serves the long Saen Saep Canal, one of the remaining canals (khlong) that used to flow through Bangkok. Mostly used by locals to commute to work, the service is affordable and you get to see the "backside" of the neighbourhoods, so to speak. Also, It is immune to Bangkok's notorious traffic jams. The total distance is 18 km (11 mi) and the service operates from 05:30-20:30.
They are comparatively safe — just watch your step when boarding and disembarking as they don't stop at the pier for long and do not let the dirty water get into your eyes. To prevent splashes, the boats are equipped with little curtains that you can raise by pulling on a string, but they have to be lowered at every stop so people can clamber on board. Pay the fare (14-22 Baht) to the fearless helmet-wearing ticket collectors who clamber around on the outside of the boat, ducking at bridges, as it barrels down the canal. Press the green 'bell' button if you want to get off at the next pier, else the boat might just skip it. The piers now even have (tiny) signs in English, with the exception of The Mall Bangkapi pier and it's not obvious that you're at the mall from the canal boat!
The canal runs parallel to Phetchaburi Road and provides the easiest access from the Golden Mount in Rattanakosin (and nearby Khao San Road) to Siam Square and Pratunam. This line is aptly called the Golden Mount Line and runs from Panfa Leelard pier to Pratunam pier. If you want to continue your journey beyond Pratunam, passengers have to switch boats there. The NIDA Line starts at Pratunam and heads east to Sukhumvit and Ramkhamhaeng. Hold on to your ticket.
Finally, for trips outside set routes, you can hire a long-tail river taxi at any major pier. These are fairly expensive and will attempt to charge as much as 500 Baht/hr, but with some haggling they may be suitable for small groups. To circumvent the touts who attempt to get a large cut for every ride, agree for the price of the shortest possible ride (30 min), then negotiate directly with the captain when on board.
Best way to travel in Bangkok by a Taxi
Metered taxis are a quick and comfortable way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way, but be warned that Bangkok taxi drivers are notorious for finding ways to run up the fare; insist that the meter is used and if the driver claims that your destination is closed, if your destination is unknown, or if you're being taken elsewhere, just get out of the taxi. All taxis are now metered and air-conditioned: the hailing fee is 35 Baht and most trips within the city cost less than 100 Baht. There are no extra charges (except from the airport), even at night; don't believe drivers who try to tell you otherwise. A red sign on the front window, if lit, means that the taxi is available.
When the meter is switched on you will see a red '35' somewhere on the dashboard or between the driver and you. Be sure to check for this at the start of the ride, as many drivers will "forget" to start the meter in order to overcharge you at the end of your trip. Most will start the meter when asked politely to do so (meter na khrap if you're male and meter na kha if you're female); if the driver refuses to use the meter after a couple of attempts, simply exit the taxi.
In some cases, late at night and especially near major tourist districts like Khao San or Patpong, you will need to walk a block away to catch an honest driver. The effort can save you as much as 150 Baht. This is often also the case for taxis that park all day in front of your hotel. There are only two reasons that they are there: to take you places where they can get their commissions (jewellery stores, tailors, private massage parlours, etc.) and to overcharge you by not using the meter.
Your best option is to walk to the road and catch an unoccupied metered taxi in motion (easier than it sounds, as Bangkok traffic tends to crawl the majority of the time and one car out of four is a taxi), or go to a taxi stand where you see many locals queueing. Avoid taxis parked outside hotels or major tourism attractions and if a taxi driver refuses to turn the meter on, simply close the door and find one who will. Keep in mind that it is illegal for them to have unmetered fares. Alternatively, you can also call a taxi using a ride sharing app like Grab, though you will be charged a booking fee for the service. Be smart and give your money to honest drivers, not cheats and touts. The only reason why they get away with this so frequently is that foreign tourists let them.
Be sure to either know the correct pronunciation of your destination, or have it written in Thai, as taxi drivers in Bangkok are notoriously bad at reading maps and most drivers speak limited English. Most hotels and guest houses will happily write out addresses in Thai for you. While most drivers will recognise the names of tourist hot spots, even if grossly mispronounced, but it is often difficult to properly pronounce addresses in Thai. If your mobile phone works in Thailand, it is sometimes useful to call your hotel and ask the staff to speak to your driver in Thai. In addition, try to get your hotel's business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost.
If you are pinching pennies or fussy about your means of transportation, you may wish to avoid getting into one of the (very common) yellow-green taxis. They are owner-operated and of highly variable quality and occasionally have rigged meters. All other colours belong to large taxi companies, which usually enforce their standards better.
On some routes, the driver will ask if the tollway should be used — this will usually save a lot of time. You have to pay the cost at the toll booth (not in advance and not at the end of the journey). Watch how much the driver really pays, as many try to keep the change.
When getting out, try to have small bills (100 Baht or less) or expect problems with change. Tips are not necessary, but are certainly welcome if you're happy about the service; most local passengers will round up or leave any coin change as tip.
Finally, what would Bangkok be without the much-loathed, much-loved tuk-tuks? You'll know them when you hear them and you'll hate them when you smell them — these three-wheeled contraptions blaze around Bangkok leaving a black cloud of smog in their wake. For anything more than a 5-10 min jaunt or just the experience, they really are not worth the price — and, if you let them get away with it, the price will usually be 4 or 5 times what it should be anyway (which, for Thais, is around 30% less than the equivalent metered taxi fare).
On the other hand, you can sometimes ride for free if you agree to visit touristy clothing or jewellery shops (which give the tuk-tuk driver fuel coupons and commissions for bringing customers). The shops' salespeople are pushy and try to scam you with bad quality suits or "gems" that in fact are worthless pieces of cut glass. But usually you are free to leave after 5-10 min of browsing. Visitors should beware though, sometimes one stop can turn in to three and tuk-tuk drivers may not be interested in taking you where you need to go once they have their fuel coupons. Also, with Bangkok's densely congested traffic it is sure to waste hours of your time, if not the whole day.
If you still want to try the tuk-tuk, always hail a moving tuk-tuk from the main road. At tourist spots, these tuk-tuk drivers lie in waiting to disrupt your travels plans. Always agree on a price before entering the tuk-tuk. Also be crystal clear about your intended destination. If they claim that your intended destination is closed for the day and offer to take you to other nearby tourist spots, insist on your destination or get out. If you're an all-male party, tuk-tuk drivers sometimes will just ignore your destination completely and start driving you to some brothel ("beautiful girls"). Insist continually and forcefully on going only to your destination; or take a metered taxi instead.
A songthaew is a less-heralded, less-colourful and less-touristy version of the tuk-tuk that usually serves the back sois in residential neighbourhoods. They usually have four wheels instead of three, two benches instead of one, run on petrol instead of LPG and resemble a tiny truck. The maids and locals tend to use them to return home from the market with loads of groceries, or for quick trips if they're available. The price is not negotiable. Most songthaews cost 5 Baht, although a few that go a very long distance charge 7 Baht. Be careful though, as the destinations are written in Thai, not English. You pay the fare either before departure or after you get off. If the latter, simply walk up to the passenger side of the truck and pay the driver who will stick his/her hand out to receive your money. Change will be given, but try to have the 5 Baht coin ready.
When traffic slows to a crawl and there are no mass-transit alternatives for your destination, by far the fastest mode of transport is a motorbike taxi (มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง motosai lapjang). They typically wear colourful fluorescent yellow-orange vests and wait for passengers at busy places. Prices should be agreed in advance.
For the adrenaline junkie, a wild motosai ride can provide a fantastic rush. Imagine weaving through rows of stopped vehicles at 50 km/h (30 mi/h) with mere centimetres to spare on each side, dodging pedestrians, other motorbikes, tuk-tuks, stray dogs and the occasional elephant while the driver blithely ignores all traffic laws and even some laws of physics. Now do the same while facing backwards on the bike and balancing a large television on your lap and then you can qualify as a local — though you might die in the process. Imagine your loved ones arranging to ship your dead body home from Bangkok because you took a dangerous risk you were warned not to. Motorcycle accidents are brutally common and transportation of this sort is inherently hazardous. Be aware of the risk before using motorcycle taxis.
The overwhelming majority of motorcycle taxis do not travel long distances, but simply shuttle up and down long sois (side-streets) not serviced by other transport for a fixed 5-20 Baht fare. These are marginally less dangerous, especially if travel with the flow on a one-way street.
The law requires that both driver and passenger must wear a helmet. and is the driver's responsibility to provide you with one, so if you are stopped by police, any fine is also the driver's responsibility. However the provision of helmets is far from universal. A helmet should be provided when hiring a motorbike or moped and two if there are two of you. When riding, keep a firm grasp on the seat handle and watch out for your knees.
Travel by Bus to Bangkok
Local buses, operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, or just BMTA (ขสมก), are the cheapest but also the most challenging way of getting around. There is a bewildering plethora of routes, usually marked only in Thai. Even locals have a hard time with these, but at least they can call the 184 Bus Route Hotline, which is in Thai only. Bus stops list only the bus numbers that stop there and nothing more. They are also subject to Bangkok's notorious traffic, often terribly crowded and many are not air-conditioned. If you want to get somewhere quickly and are not prepared to get lost, the buses should be avoided: remember that taxis are cheaper than most local buses in the Gulf countries. However, they make for a good adventure if you're not in a rush and you don't mind being the centre of attention.
But for the intrepid and those staying in Khao San Road where buses are the only practical means of public transport, the only free resource for decrypting bus routes is the official BMTA website. It has up-to-date if slightly incomplete listings of bus routes in English, but no maps. You can also ask your guest house about which buses to take if you're going to a particular destination. As a printed reference, the 69 Baht spent on the Bangkok Bus Map by Roadway is a good investment if you're going to travel by bus more than once.
The hierarchy of Bangkok's buses from cheapest to best can be ranked as follows:
- Small green bus, 6.50 Baht flat fare. Cramped, no air-con, no fan, famously suicidal drivers, usually not advisable for more than short hops. Run by private operators, they can be significantly faster than the BMTA-run buses.
- Red bus, 6.50 Baht flat fare. More spacious and fan-cooled (in theory). Unlike other buses, some of these run through the night (1.50 Baht extra charge). These buses are BMTA-run. Some red buses are also free thanks to a 2011 government initiative using taxpayer's money to pay the drivers. To spot these free buses, look out for a large blue sign with white Thai lettering on the top of the front windshield. Other than that, they look exactly the same as the paid versions.
- White/blue bus, 8 Baht flat fare. Exactly the same as the red buses, but cost one Baht more. These buses are owned by private entities operated in conjunction with BMTA.
- Blue/yellow and cream/blue air-con, 11 Baht for the first 8 km (5 mi), up to 18 Baht max. These buses are quite comfy. The blue/yellow striped buses are privately owned while the blue/cream buses are BMTA-owned.
- Orange air-con (Euro II), 13 Baht for the first few km, up to 22 Baht max. These are all BMTA-run, newer and more comfortable.
- Pink/white micro-buses, 20 Baht flat fare, paid into a fare-collection machine next to the driver — exact fare only. Not quite common away from the city centre, these are air-conditioned, modern and only allow seated passengers (making them harder to use at rush hour as many won't stop for you).
Buses stop only when needed, so wave them down (arm out, palm down) when you see one barreling your way. Although drivers are only meant to stop at bus stops, some may pick up and drop off passengers elsewhere. Once on board, pay the roaming collector after you board and keep the ticket, as there can be occasional spot-checks. Press the signal buzzer, usually near the door, when you want to get off.
Two further pitfalls are that buses of the same number may run slightly different routes depending on the colour and there are also express services (mostly indicated by yellow signs) that skip some stops and may take the expressway (2 Baht extra).
Airport buses allow luggage but regular buses do not. Enforcement of this rule varies.
The main ride sharing company operating in Bangkok is Malaysian company Grab. Unlike Uber in GCC countries, Grab also allows you to book taxis and gives you the option of paying your driver in cash.
How to travel to Bangkok by car
Bangkok is notorious for its massive traffic jams and rightly so. In addition, traffic is chaotic and motorcyclists seemingly suicidal. Therefore, most Muslim visitors consider driving in Bangkok a nightmare and it is recommended that you stick to public transport. However, the proliferation of massive shopping malls means that there are now places to park if you must drive into town, albeit at a high cost. Smartphones with GPS and navigation apps with voice directions make it easier to find your way.
Halal Walking Tours in Bangkok
Many of Bangkok's main attractions are within 5 km (3.1 mi) from Siam Square. Walking long distances in hot weather along busy streets can be exhausting, but is a good way to get to see the city up close. Just drink plenty of water and watch out for uneven surfaces and motorcyclists. Food leftovers and the occasional surprises left by stray animals are other reasons to look where you're going. Bangkok residents almost instinctively avoid stepping on manhole covers because people have fallen into sewers through rotten ones. Women carry their handbags on the side away from the road to discourage bag snatchers on motorbikes.
Be careful when crossing the road, even if you have a green light. Turning left at a red light is legal by default and drivers turn without indicators and without yielding to pedestrians. Drivers will not stop or slow down at crosswalks without traffic lights. When waiting to cross at major intersections with rounded corners, stand well away from the road, as turning motorcyclists may lean over the curb in order to squeeze past other vehicles. Always use pedestrian overpasses when available; Bangkok stray dogs are smart enough to use them.
Expect to be accosted by taxi and tuk-tuk drivers and hustlers demanding to know where you're going, insisting that there is nothing to see ahead and attempting to usher you to various businesses. Most will quickly move on to their next mark if ignored or firmly dismissed.
If you are weighed down by a large backpack and would like to leave it in a locker, do check out the automated lockers provided near several major metro stations. The charges vary based on size of the locker. A medium sized locker can take two backpacks and will cost about 30 Baht an hour.
Sightseeing in Bangkok
Most of Bangkok's sights are concentrated on the island of Rattanakosin, often referred to as the "Old City". Out of Bangkok's hundreds of temples, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun usually make up the top 3. The Grand Palace has an immense size, so expect to spend at least a full morning or afternoon there. Within the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple of Thailand. Unlike other temples, it is not one building, nor are there living spaces for monks. Instead, it is a collection of highly decorated holy buildings and monuments. One of its buildings houses the Emerald Buddha and while you might not expect it from its size, it is the most sacred Buddha image in Thailand.
Nearby is Wat Pho, home to the world's largest reclining Buddha image and a famed massage school. Take the ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Thonburi for the outstanding Wat Arun. The main structure is about 60 to 88 m high and it is surrounded by four smaller prangs. It is one of Thailand's most picturesque temples and is engraved on the inner part of all ten Baht coins. It is so recognisable that it even became the logo of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). If you climb it and look closely, you will see that it is beautifully decorated with colourful broken Chinese porcelain pieces. Heading back to Rattanakosin, there are many other major temples you could visit, including the Golden Mount, Wat Suthat and Wat Ratchanaddaram.
Don't throw away the entry ticket of the Grand Palace, as it gives free entry to the Bang Pa-In Palace in Bang Pa-In (and not anymore to the Dusit Palace which is close to public since 2022). It is located in a leafy, European-style area built by King Rama V to escape the heat of the Grand Palace. Its main structure is the Vimanmek Mansion, touted as the largest golden teakwood house in the world, but you could spend your whole day in the museums if you wish. There are many museums in Bangkok showing traditional Thai-style residences. Many visitors take a tour through Jim Thompson's House, the CIA-operative's mansion assembled by combining six traditional Thai-style houses near Siam Square. Ban Kamthieng in Sukhumvit, M.R. Kukrit's Heritage Home in Silom and the Suan Pakkad Palace in Phahonyothin are not quite as impressive, but still make for a nice experience. Rattanakosin's museums are mostly dedicated to history and culture, including the National Museum (about Thai history and archaeological remains), the Museum of Siam, Rattanakosin Museum (which offers two guided tours with interactive displays regarding the history of old and modern Thai life) and the King Prajadhipok Museum. Bangkok has a small, but vocal art community and you might want to visit the National Gallery or The Queen's Gallery, or one of the numerous smaller galleries spread over the city. Siam Square features the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre which has temporary art exhibitions throughout the year.
Lumphini Park in Silom is the largest park in central Bangkok and a good way to escape the fumes. Backpackers around Khao San Road can head for Santichaiprakarn Park, a small but fun park along the Chao Phraya River with a breezy atmosphere, usually with locals juggling or practicing tricks. It is built around the 18th-century Phra Sumen Fort with a nice view on the modern Rama VIII cable-stayed bridge. Zoos and animal farms are some of the more popular tourism attractions in Bangkok, but before visiting, please be aware that animal welfare in Thailand is not strictly regulated. Poor living conditions of the animals and inadequate veterinary care are examples of the sad mistreatment of the animal population. You can't go wrong at the Queen Saovabha Institute Snake Farm in Silom, as the staff takes good care of their snakes and they have a job of informing the public about the risks associated with them. Another nice family attraction is Siam Ocean World in Siam Square. It has a steep price tag, but at least you get to see the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia.
Although Thailand was never colonised, due to the desire of Kings Rama IV (1804-1868) and Rama V (1868-1910) to modernise Thailand based on Western models, visitors might be surprised to find that Bangkok has no shortage of European-style buildings that would not be out of place in other Southeast Asian capitals. While other Southeast Asian capitals tend to be dominated by buildings of a specific architectural style depending on their colonial history (e.g., French in Hanoi, British in Yangon), Bangkok has a mix of buildings with architectural styles from different parts of Europe. For instance, Hua Lamphong Railway Station, Bangkok's main railway station, was designed by Italian architects and hence built in an Italian neo-Renaissance style. Other notable European-style buildings include the Italian Old Customs House, the Danish East Asiatic Company headquarters and the Art Deco-style General Post Office. One of the most interesting European-influenced buildings is the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall in the Grand Palace, which was built mostly in an Italian neoclassical style, but with a traditional Thai roof. The greatest concentration of European buildings can be found in Rattanakosin and Yaowarat.
Halal Tours and Excursions in Bangkok
- One day in Bangkok — if you have just one day to spare and want to catch a feel for the city
- Rattanakosin Tour — a quick tour along Bangkok's famed historic district
- Yaowarat and Phahurat Tour — a full-day walking tour through this multicultural district
Local Language in Bangkok
The main language in Bangkok is the central dialect of Thai, which differs somewhat from the northern dialect spoken around Chiang Mai. However, due to the presence of large numbers of tourists, many Muslim working in the service industry have a basic grasp of English, as do staff at many of the popular food stalls.
Bangkok is also home to a large ethnic Chinese community, many of whom are bilingual in Teochew and Thai.
Top Muslim Travel Tips in Bangkok
All of Thailand's major festivals are celebrated in Bangkok. New Year is celebrated three times. There's the new year following the Gregorian calendar at January 1, celebrated with a huge fireworks display at Ratchaprasong intersection. Then there's Chinese New Year in January or February, with grandiose and colourful Chinese lion and dragon processions in Yaowarat. Finally, the water festivities of Songkran celebrate the traditional Thai New Year in the middle of April. Khao San Road degenerates into a war zone as farangs and locals duke it out with super soakers. More respectable celebrations are held at Sanam Luang, where the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees and at the Wisut Kasat intersection, where a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merit-making and entertainment.
During the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May, farmers believe that an ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, is able to forecast whether the coming growing season will be bountiful or not. The event dates back to the Sukhothai Kingdom and was re-introduced in 1960 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is considered the official commencement of the rice-growing season (and the rainy season). Nowadays, the ceremony is conducted by King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Loi Krathong (ลอยกระทง), the Festival of Lights, usually takes place in November. Krathongs are floating rafts made from lotus flowers and banana leaves with a lighted candle and incense on top. On the night of the full moon, Thais send their krathong down a river, canal or pond and the owner's bad luck carries away along with it insuring a fresh start. Celebrations take place all over town with parades, concerts and beauty pageants. Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna festival Yi Peng (ยี่เป็ง). At this festival, a multitude of Lanna-style paper lanterns are launched into the air. Lumphini Park is the best place to launch a krathong down the pond or to launch a paper lantern into the sky.
The Trooping of the Colours in early December is an impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Rama V in Dusit. Dressed in colourful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the King and march past members of the Royal Family. December 5 is Father's Day, the former King's birthday and Ratchadamri Road and the Grand Palace are elaborately decorated and illuminated.
Until the late 19th century, Bangkok (just like Ayutthaya) was known as "Venice of the East". Most people lived near or on the water and an intricate network of canals (khlong) was the primary mode of transport for the city's inhabitants. Most canals have since been paved over, but plenty of them remain and some still function as transport routes as of this day. The traditional canal-side way of life has almost vanished, but as Thonburi was largely undeveloped until the 20th century, there is still some authenticity to be found. Floating markets had completely disappeared by the 20th century, but have been reinstated for tourism purposes and are a fun visit.
You can see the Chao Phraya River and the backwaters of the city by canal tour. Most of these boat trips start from the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya and then ply through the backwaters of Thonburi taking in Wat Arun, the Royal Barges National Museum, a floating market and some other minor attractions. More information about these canal tours can be found in the Thonburi eHalal Travel Guide. At 1,000 Baht or more, they are quite expensive. You can also negotiate a price with individual boat drivers. Damnoen Saduak is a floating market that often appears in tourist brochures of Bangkok, but in practice it is 109 km west of Bangkok and has to be visited by bus from the Southern Bus Terminal.
Probably just as fun is to take the public express boat along the Chao Phraya River. You can get off anywhere between the Thewet and Sathorn (Taksin) piers as there are many things to see in all of these neighbourhoods. You can even take the express boat all the way north to Nonthaburi in the morning, enjoy the afternoon in this laid-back traditional urban town and take the boat back around rush hour. Another option is to get on one of the free hotel shuttle boats at Sathorn (Taksin) pier and have a bite at one of the associated cafés. In the evenings, Asiatique has a free shuttle boat from Sathorn (Taksin) pier to the new shopping centre downriver. A good place to see beautiful sunsets over the river.
Spas were unheard of until the 1990s, but now Bangkok is one of the highest ranking spa destinations in the world with an amazing array of treatments. All self-respecting luxury hotels in Bangkok have a spa that at least offers a traditional Thai massage. Prices are exorbitant, but they offer some of the best treatments in the city. Well-regarded spas at exceptionally high rates are given at the splurge hotels in Silom; particularly the spa at the Grand Hyatt Erawan stands out. Independent spas offer much the same experience, but offer much more competitive rates. Figure around 1,500 Baht/hr for most treatments.
Muay Thai is both a combat sport and a means of self-defence. Contestants are allowed to use almost any part of the body for fighting: feet, elbows, legs, knees and shoulders. There are two venues in Bangkok to see this sport in action: Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Silom and Ratchadamnoen Stadium in Rattanakosin. Sessions can take the whole evening and it's not that bad if you come in slightly late as the more interesting fights tend to happen at the end. The playing of traditional music during the bouts is enjoyable as well. A downer is the steep 1,000-2,000 Baht entry fee for Foreign Muslims. Thais chip in for 100 Baht or less.
If you want to see Muay Thai for free, go to the MBK Fight Night outside MBK Center near Siam Square. Fights take place every Wednesday evening (starts at 18:00, lasts until around 21:00). Another option is to walk to the end of Soi Rambuttri into an alley known as Trok Kasap (near Khao San Road). Foreign Muslims are getting classes in Muay Thai out in the open there and many visitors generally sit on a bench in front of it to look at the action. Besides looking, this is an excellent place to do some Muay Thai yourself.
Bicycles can be rented for free in Rattanakosin, but cyclists are officially not allowed to leave the set route along the island. Even when following the route, it's still not for the faint of heart.
If renting your own bicycle, avoid the main roads and cycle through the vast system of small streets and alleys. You can cycle through the backstreets of Yaowarat, but you might want to think twice before making a turn. You can also experience life in Bangkok's countryside by cycling through green paddy fields, orchid farms and lotus fields. Bang Kachao, in brochures often referred to as the "Bangkok Jungle", is Bangkok's last green frontier. It's a semi-island across the river from Bangkok with few cars and buildings and a great destination for cycling.
Cyclists are treated as pedestrians, so you can use your bicycle to explore parks, temple complexes, markets and the more quiet residential areas in eastern Bangkok. In more crowded places you can cycle on the pavement. Exploring by bicycle has all the advantages of going by foot, combined with a much greater travel radius and a cooling breeze. Cycling is the best way to discover the city up close, but as there are safety issues involved, you need some insider knowledge on where to cycle. Because of this, many opt for a bicycle tour organised by an operator.
There are many theatre performances in Bangkok that depict traditional Thai culture and dance. Siam Niramit in Ratchadaphisek is a stunning performance as more than 150 performers depict the historical and spiritual heritage of each region of Thailand. The first act depicts Siam as a crossroads of civilisations throughout history, the second act is about the role of karma in Thai culture and the third act focuses on religion and the role of merit-making in Thai society.
The Aksra Theatre in the King Power Complex Building in Pratunam holds stunning shows that are a combination of Thai traditional puppet shows, orchestral performances and classical dances. The Joe Louis Theatre in the Asiatique is completely dedicated to the art of operating Hun Lakhon Lek puppets. One segment has the puppets interact with audience members, which is a fun activity with children. Both Aksra and Joe Louis feature stories taken from the Ramayana epic.
Of a completely different nature are Bangkok's famous transvestite shows. These cabarets generally take about two hours and besides singing, dancing, glamour and costumes, there's also has some comedy thrown in. The most famous of these is the Calypso Cabaret at Ratchathewi intersection with two sessions every evening at the Asia Hotel. An alternative is Mambo Cabaret, once in Sukhumvit but now at a new location far off the tourist path in Yan Nawa. Three shows are given each evening. Always book these shows a couple of days in advance as they are almost guaranteed to be sold out if you just show up.
Bangkok is a great place to go to the cinema. Compared to GCC countries, the cost of a ticket is a complete bargain at around 120 Baht. Most cinemas have world-class standards and show the latest Hollywood and Thai releases. They are up to par with the latest technological innovations in the film industry, so expect to wear 3D glasses for some of the latest Hollywood releases. You can also visit the IMAX Theatre in Siam Paragon. Thai films can be seen by foreigners as they are usually shown with English subtitles. For non-mainstream cinema, House RCA (in Royal City Avenue) and APEX (in Siam Square) offer art films with English subtitles.
For other means of entertainment, Ratchadaphisek is a newly created entertainment paradise. Its bowling centres are of a superb standard with some of them resembling the interior of a nightclub. Dance while you play in style. Private karaoke lounges are usually connected to these bowling centres and are available at major hotels. There's even an ice skating rink and a top-class go-kart track in this district. As Ratchadaphisek is mostly aimed at locals, you might want to go to similar venues in Siam Square or Sukhumvit. Horse races are held on Sundays at two alternate turf clubs: the Royal Turf Club of Thailand in Dusit and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club on Henri Dunant Road near Siam Square.
Study as a Muslim in Bangkok
Thai cuisine is a favorite of many and plenty of cooking schools provide half-day classes that provide a nice break from the day-to-day sightseeing monotony. Silom and Khao San Road particularly have some of the better-known Thai cooking schools.
Meditation, the essence of 'pure' Buddhism, can be practised at any temple in Thailand. In addition, there are centres in Bangkok that cater specifically to Foreign Muslims wishing to learn and practise. The International Buddhist Meditation Centre inside Wat Mahathat in Rattanakosin provides free meditation classes three times a day. If you can understand Thai well enough, you may wish to go on your own retreat at a quiet temple on the outskirts of Bangkok. To pay for your stay, it is appreciated that you assist the resident monks on their morning alms rounds.
The Wat Pho temple in Rattanakosin offers well-regarded Thai massage courses. They are used to conducting classes in English.
Shopping in Bangkok
Bangkok is particularly well-known for its plethora of tailoring shops; here you can get a custom-made suit for amazingly low prices compared to the West. Choosing a tailor is tricky though. Tailors in the middle of tourist areas, such as Khao San Road or Nana Plaza, generally provide poor quality and often quote silly prices. Avoid any tailor recommended by touts or tuk-tuk drivers as they cannot be trusted and you'll have to pay their commission; also avoid super-affordable packages or anything done in 24 hours, as the quality will suffer accordingly. The most important rule for getting a good tailor: do research. Don't just walk in the first tailor shop you see, but ask fellow travellers and look online for (user) reviews. In general, the best tailors are slightly off the tourist track in Silom and Sukhumvit.
It will help considerably if you know fabrics and what style you want (bring along a sample or at least a picture) and can spare the time for at least three sessions for a suit (measurement, fitting and final adjustment). Prices obviously depend on the tailor's skill and the materials used, but expect to pay at least 7,000 Baht for a two-piece suit. When picking the materials, you're best off with Italian or English cloth as local fabrics are often of poor quality (with the exception of silk). Insist on two fittings for suits. Give the tailor a lot of detail and give yourself time, so you'll get the exact suit you're looking for.
Dump a teenager in Siam Square with a few thousand Baht and she'll stay occupied for the rest of the week! Siam Square is the place to shop in Bangkok; the small sois of Siam Square have dozens of small designer boutiques. MBK Center and Siam Center are the most popular shopping malls, as they sell fashion well below Western rates. Siam Paragon, EmQuartier in Sukhumvit and the shopping plazas at Ratchaprasong feel even larger, but are much quieter, as most local Thais cannot afford the Guccis and Louis Vuittons on sale there. Ladies will also feel well at home in the Emporium next to EmQuartier.
Just take a few steps out of your hotel and Bangkok feels like a huge street market. Sukhumvit has the usual souvenirs, T-shirts and other tacky tourist junk. Browsing Khao San Road's roadside stalls is particularly good for clothing and accessories, many of them for a bargain. While many of these stalls still cater to the traditional hippie crowd, they have been slowly gentrifying to appeal a broader audience. The nearby Banglamphu Market sells affordable knock-offs of everything, just like the night markets in Silom and Rattanakosin.
In the weekends, the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin is a must as its 8,000 stalls together form the largest market in Southeast Asia. Shoppers can buy just about everything from clothing to potted plants and everything in between — it is a paradise for browsers and bargain-hunters alike. A weekday alternative is Pratunam, one of the city's famous garment markets. Clothes shopping here goes on wholesale and you're even cheaper off if you buy in bulk. At Pantip Plaza you can buy computer-related stuff from branded laptops to pirated DVDs.
Yaowarat and Phahurat give a more authentic experience, although many stores sell the affordable teen accessories found elsewhere as well. Just sitting at a plastic chair and watching daily commerce evolve is a fun activity in itself. Phahurat is the best destination for fabrics, available in all colours and sizes. Pak Khlong Talat is a surprisingly fun wholesale market for cut flowers and vegetables. If you're a morning person, visit it around 03:00, when new flowers from upcountry arrive and the marketplace is beautifully illuminated.
Thonburi, being one of the least developed areas of Bangkok, is the best place to experience what the city used to be like. A must is the weekends-only Taling Chan Floating Market, which feels at least somewhat authentic as it blends a rural market with the canal side way of life. Wang Lang Market is an undiscovered gem with strictly local prices. The other side of the river, Rattanakosin, has everything a good Buddhist would need, be it amulets, monk bowls or human-sized Buddha statues.
For antiques, Silom is the place to go, as most potential buyers stay there in expensive hotels. River City in Yaowarat is the largest antique mall of the city and priced to match. Gold and gems are popular buys, but be careful: know what you're looking for such as quality of workmanship and gold/stones and what something like it costs back home. If possible by prior research, not street vendor recommendation, go to respected jewellers and polish your bargaining skills. Many tourists buy worthless pieces of cut glass believing it to be valuable gems. Others get jewellery or gems at unjustified costs. Never let tuk-tuk drivers take you to a gem/jewelry store; more often than not, you'll be ripped off and they're getting a commission for taking you there. The same advice applies to tailoring shops; you can get a custom-made suit at low prices, but you have to know where to go, as many tailors provide bad quality — see the sidebar for advice on finding a good tailor.
Browsing second hand English-language books can best be done on Khao San Road. For new releases, there are plenty of chain stores in shopping plazas, including Asia Books, B2S, Bookazine and Kinokuniya. There's a particularly wide array of books on Asian culture and history; some have a good selection of foreign newspapers and magazines as well.
Getting cash in Bangkok is relatively easy. Credit cards are widely accepted at larger establishments and ATMs are spread all over the city, especially in central areas. All banks ATMs charge a 180 Baht commission for using foreign cards at ATMs. Super Rich money exchanges offer decent rates of exchange.
Halal Restaurants & Food in Bangkok
Bangkok is a diverse city that welcomes people from all over the world, including the Middle East. Therefore, it is not surprising to find a lot of Halal restaurants that serve authentic Muslim cuisine. In this section, we will be picking the the best Muslim restaurants in Bangkok.
Arabic Restaurants in Bangkok
Beirut Restaurant is located in Sukhumvit Road and it is known for its Lebanese dishes. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere that makes you feel at home. The menu includes hummus, falafel, fattoush and many other Middle Eastern dishes. The food is served fresh and the portions are generous. Beirut Restaurant is perfect for families and groups of friends.
Al-Saraya Restaurant is located in Sukhumvit 3 and it is known for its Syrian and Lebanese dishes. The restaurant has a beautiful interior design that reflects the Middle Eastern culture. The menu includes kebabs, shawarmas, tabbouleh and many other Arabic dishes. The food is served hot and the presentation is excellent. Al-Saraya Restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner.
Al-Meroz Restaurant is located in Ramkhamhaeng Road and it is known for its Arabic and Thai fusion dishes. The restaurant has a modern interior design that reflects the Middle Eastern culture. The menu includes biryani, tom yum soup, kebabs and many other Arabic dishes. The food is served hot and the flavors are balanced. Al-Meroz Restaurant is perfect for business meetings.
Zabb-E-Lee Restaurant is located in Sukhumvit 20 and it is known for its Arabic and Thai fusion dishes. The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor seating area that makes you feel relaxed. The menu includes pad thai, shawarmas, falafel and many other Middle Eastern dishes. The food is served fresh and the spices are authentic. Zabb-E-Lee Restaurant is perfect for casual dining.
Little Arabia Restaurant
Little Arabia Restaurant is located in Silom Road and it is known for its Arabic and Indian fusion dishes. The restaurant has a cozy atmosphere that makes you feel at home. The menu includes biryani, shawarmas, hummus and many other Middle Eastern dishes. The food is served hot and the flavors are delicious. Little Arabia Restaurant is perfect for families and groups of friends.
In conclusion, Bangkok has a variety of Arab restaurants that serve authentic Arabic cuisine. Beirut Restaurant, Al-Saraya Restaurant, Al-Meroz Restaurant, Zabb-E-Lee Restaurant and Little Arabia Restaurant are the best Arab restaurants in Bangkok. Each restaurant has its unique atmosphere and menu, which makes it perfect for different occasions.
Thai Muslim Restaurants in Bangkok
Here are some of the best Thai Muslim restaurants in Bangkok that you simply can't miss:
Located in the Bang Rak district, Abu Ibrahim has been a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike since 1979. This restaurant is known for its delicious Middle Eastern and Thai dishes, including crispy roti, succulent kebabs and flavorful curries. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with a charming outdoor patio area for dining al fresco.
One of the most popular Thai Muslim restaurants in Bangkok, Muslim Restaurant has been serving up delicious halal food for over 60 years. Here you'll find an extensive menu of Thai and Middle Eastern cuisine, including biryani, satay and tom yum soup. This bustling spot is located in the heart of the city's Chinatown neighborhood, so be prepared for a lively atmosphere.
If you're looking for authentic Yemeni cuisine, look no further than Hadramawt. This cozy restaurant is located near the popular Chatuchak Market and serves up a range of Middle Eastern dishes, including mandi rice, kabsa and hummus. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable, making Hadramawt a great spot for a casual lunch or dinner.
The Local is a must-visit for anyone interested in exploring the unique flavors of southern Thai cuisine. This halal-certified restaurant is located in the trendy Thonglor neighborhood and specializes in dishes from the Muslim communities in Thailand's southern provinces. Be sure to try the mataba, a savory pancake filled with chicken or beef and spices.
Indian Restaurants in Bangkok
From spicy curries to flavorful biryanis, Bangkok has some of the best Indian restaurants that will take your taste buds on a journey.
Here are some of the best Indian restaurants in Bangkok:
Rang Mahal: Rang Mahal is a fine-dining restaurant that serves up some of the best Indian dishes in the city. The restaurant is located on the 26th floor of the Rembrandt Hotel and offers a stunning view of Bangkok's skyline. The menu features a range of dishes from different regions of India and the food is prepared using traditional methods.
Indus: Indus is a popular Indian restaurant located in the heart of Bangkok. The restaurant is known for its delicious tandoori dishes and curries. The ambiance is cozy and intimate, making it the perfect place for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.
Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology: Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology is a contemporary Indian restaurant that offers a fusion of traditional and modern Indian cuisine. The restaurant's specialty is its tandoori dishes and kebabs, which are cooked in a traditional clay oven. The restaurant also has an extensive cocktail menu.
Gaggan: Gaggan is a Michelin-starred restaurant that is known for its progressive Indian cuisine. The restaurant's innovative dishes have put it on the world culinary map. The menu is a modern take on traditional Indian dishes and the flavors and textures are sure to amaze you.
Dosa King: Dosa King is a casual Indian restaurant that is known for its delicious dosas. The restaurant serves up a range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dosas, along with other South Indian dishes. The restaurant has a simple, no-frills ambiance, making it the perfect place for a quick bite.
Khana Khazana: Khana Khazana is a popular Indian restaurant that has been serving up authentic Indian dishes for over 20 years. The restaurant's menu features a range of dishes from different regions of India and the food is prepared using traditional methods. The restaurant has a cozy ambiance and the service is friendly and efficient.
In conclusion, Bangkok has some of the best Indian restaurants that offer a diverse range of dishes from different regions of India. Whether you're in the mood for a fine-dining experience or a casual meal, there is a restaurant in the city that will satisfy your cravings for authentic Indian food.
Malay Restaurants in Bangkok
For Malay food lovers, Bangkok has several top-rated restaurants that serve authentic Malay cuisine. Here are the best Malay restaurants in Bangkok.
Kelantan Delights: Kelantan Delights is located in Central World Shopping Mall and it's one of the most popular Malay restaurants in Bangkok. This restaurant specializes in authentic Kelantanese cuisine, such as Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Dagang and Nasi Tumpang. They use only the freshest ingredients and herbs to create delicious dishes that leave you wanting more.
Yumcha: Yumcha is a halal-certified restaurant located in Thonglor. This restaurant offers a wide range of Malay dishes, such as Nasi Lemak, Laksa and Mee Goreng. The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed and the staff is friendly and attentive.
Warong Malaysia: Warong Malaysia is a small and cozy restaurant located in Sukhumvit. The restaurant offers authentic Malaysian cuisine, such as Nasi Goreng, Satay and Roti Canai. The food is freshly prepared and bursting with flavor. It's also reasonably priced, making it an excellent option for those on a budget.
Aroi Dee Thai-Malay Restaurant: Aroi Dee Thai-Malay Restaurant is a unique restaurant that serves both Thai and Malay cuisine. The restaurant is located in Pratunam and is known for its delicious Nasi Ayam, Nasi Briyani and Beef Rendang. The restaurant is clean and spacious and the staff is friendly and attentive.
Malai Thai Halal Cuisine: Malai Thai Halal Cuisine is a halal-certified restaurant located in Silom. The restaurant serves a mix of Thai and Malay cuisine, such as Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai and Nasi Lemak. The food is tasty and the portions are generous. The restaurant also offers delivery and takeout services.
In conclusion, if you're a Malay food lover living in Bangkok or visiting the city, these Malay restaurants are worth checking out. From authentic Kelantanese cuisine to a mix of Thai and Malay dishes, these restaurants offer delicious food and great dining experiences.
Top 3 Winner Hotels of Muslim Friendly Hotels in Bangkok
- Capella Bangkok - SHA Plus Certified - 9.6 out of 10 - Here’s the hotel you always dreamed of: hotel «Capella Bangkok» is located in Bangkok. This hotel is located in 7 km from the city center. You can take a walk and explore the neighbourhood area of the hotel. Places nearby: Asiatique the River Front, Wat Arun and Wat Pho.At the hotel You can stop by the bar. It’s time to have a nice meal! Stop by the restaurant. If you can’t live without coffee, drop by the cafe. Free Wi-Fi is available on the territory. Ask for more information when checking in. If you travel by car, you can park in a parking zone. The beauty and wellness services: a massage room, a sauna, a spa center and a doctor. Guests who love doing sports will be able to enjoy a fitness center. You won’t be bored as at the hotel you will find a barbeque area. Tourists who can’t live without swimming will appreciate an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. For participants of business meetings, there is a conference hall and meeting and presentation facilities. There are playrooms for children at the hotel. They will be having so much fun that you might have to spend the evening with adults. The tour assistance desk of the hotel will help you book an excursion. You won’t have to leave your pet at home as they are allowed. For the free movement around the city, the hotel offers a transfer for you. Accessibility: there is an elevator/lift. Additional services that the hotel offers to its guests: a laundry, dry cleaning, private check-in and check-out, ironing, press, car rental, a safe-deposit box and a concierge. The staff of the hotel will be happy to talk to you in English and Spanish. Here’s what you’ll find in the room to have a rest after a long day: an alarm clock, a TV, a mini-bar, a bathrobe and slippers. Please note that the listed services may not be available in all the rooms.
- Serena Sathorn Suites - 9.6 out of 10 - A very nice option for those who like to be on the move! Hotel «Serena Sathorn Suites» is located in Bangkok. This hotel is located in 5 km from the city center. You can take a walk and explore the neighbourhood area of the hotel — Lumpini Park, Asiatique the River Front and MBK Center.At the hotel Want to be always on-line? Wi-Fi is available. Accessibility: there is an elevator/lift. At the guests’ disposal, there’s also a laundry, an ATM and a safe-deposit box. In the room, for you, there is a DVD player, a TV, a bathrobe and slippers. Please note that the listed services may not be available in all the rooms.
- 137 Pillars Suites Bangkok - 9.5 out of 10 - 137 Pillars Suites Bangkok is conveniently located in the popular Sukhumvit area. The hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay. 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi in all rooms, 24-hour security, daily housekeeping, postal service are on the list of things guests can enjoy. Each guestroom is elegantly furnished and equipped with handy amenities. Access to the hotel's mini golf course, hot tub, fitness center, private secluded sauna, outdoor pool will further enhance your satisfying stay. Friendly staff, great facilities and close proximity to all that Bangkok has to offer are three great reasons you should stay at 137 Pillars Suites Bangkok.
Stay safe in Bangkok
Given its size, Bangkok is surprisingly safe, with violent crimes like mugging and robbery unusual. One of the biggest dangers are motorbikes who ride on pavements at speed, go through red lights, undertake buses as they stop to let passengers off and generally drive far too fast especially through stationary traffic. If you are going to hire a bike, make sure you have insurance in case you are injured. You may be the world's best driver but you'll meet many of the world's worst drivers in Thailand.
Bangkok does have more than its fair share of scams and many individuals in the tourist business do not hesitate to overcharge unwary visitors. As a rule of thumb, it is wise to decline all offers made by someone who appears to be a friendly local giving a hapless tourist some local advice. Short-changing tourists is reasonably common as well, don't hesitate to complain if you are not given the correct change.
Never get in a tuk-tuk if someone else is trying to get you into one. Most Bangkok locals do not approach foreigners without an ulterior motive.
Do not get into fights with locals. Thais are peace loving people, but when a Thai fights a foreigner, it is never a fair fight. You'll wind up having to fight 10-20 others who were not initially involved, or the police will be called and not do anything to assist you, especially the Metropolitan Police, as they normally have very limited English skills; always contact the Tourist Police (☎ 1155) when in trouble. Thais are also notorious for fighting with weapons (guns, knives, broken bottles, metal rods) or employing Muay Thai techniques. These are usually produced from their concealed locations, with foreigners getting seriously injured or worse. Just avoid all confrontations. If you do get involved in a situation, it is better to apologise and leave: in Thailand, discretion is definitely the better part of valour.
Animal abuse in Bangkok
Elephants are a large part of Thailand's tourist business and the smuggling and mistreatment of elephants for tourism attractions is a widespread practice. Be aware that elephants are often separated from their mothers at a young age to be cruelly trained under captivity for the rest of their lives. It is advised to take an elephant ride only at animal friendly organisations.
A depressingly common sight on the congested streets of Bangkok is elephant begging. During night hours, mahouts (trainers) with lumbering elephants approach tourists to feed the creatures bananas or take a photo with them for a fee. The elephants are brought to the city to beg in this way because they are out of work and are mistreated and visibly distressed under the conditions of the city. Please avoid supporting this cruelty by rejecting the mahouts as they offer you bananas to feed the elephants. This is especially common in Silom and Sukhumvit.
Due to its location, lax laws and resources, many illegal animal products come through Bangkok. Rare and endangered species are often sold at markets for pets, especially at Chatuchak and many other animal products are sold as luxury items. Avoid buying rare pets, leather, ivory, talons, dried sea creatures (such as starfish), fur, feathers, teeth, wool and other products since they are most likely the result of illegal poaching and buying them contributes greatly to animal endangerment and abuse.
Food and water
As elsewhere in Thailand, be careful with what you eat. Outside of major tourist hotels and resorts, stay away from raw leafy vegetables, egg-based dressings like mayonnaise, unpackaged ice cream and minced meat as hot weather tends to make food go bad faster. In short, stick to boiled, baked, fried or peeled goods.
Tap water in Bangkok is said to be safe when it comes out the plant, but unfortunately the plumbing along the way often is not, so it's wise to avoid drinking the stuff, even in hotels. Any water served to you in good restaurants will at least be boiled, but it's better to order sealed bottles instead, which are available everywhere at low prices.
Take care with ice, which may be made with tap water of questionable potability as above. Some residents claim that ice with round holes is made by commercial ice makers who purify their water; others state that it is wise not to rely on that claim.
Cope in Bangkok
Many people go to Bangkok to undergo medical treatments that are a fraction of the cost charged in their home countries. While public hospitals can be understaffed and overcrowded with long wait times, private hospitals are among the best in the world. The best-regarded and most expensive (though still affordable by GCC standards), is Bumrungrad International Hospital, which attracts about 400,000 foreign patients per year or an average of 1,000+ a day before Covid-19. There are also other hospitals, such as Samitivej, Bangkok Hospital and BNH Hospital also specialize in serving foreigners. Private hospitals in Thailand are accredited by the government according to international standards and many of the doctors in Thailand hold international accreditation and relevant licences. Staff in private hospitals are generally able to speak English well and sometimes other foreign languages as well.
Popular treatments, ranging from cosmetic, organ transplants and orthopedic treatments to dental and cardiac surgeries, are available much cheaper than in the Gulf countries. For example, Bumrungrad Hospital charges 130,000 Baht for an all-inclusive breast implant package. Bangkok is also known as a centre for sexual reassignment surgery for people wishing to change their physical sex, although this falls out of the scope of a casual trip.
There are many dental clinics with English-speaking dentists and staff. The largest of them is the Bangkok International Dental Center along Ratchadaphisek Road. There are also plenty of well known teeth whitening, implant and orthodontic providers like BFC Dental and Denta Joy and mile and co dental clinic
The Immigration Bureau (Government Bldg B, Chaeng Wattana Soi 7, ☎ +66 2 141-9889, Monday to Friday 08:30-noon, 13:00-16:30) Visas, re-entry permits and many other immigration services are available. The Visa On Arrival can be extended on a simple procedure. The modern big Government Building in Lak Si host the Immigration Division. Official name? "Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty The King's Eighty Birthday Anniversary, 5 December, BE 2550 (2023)" But let's just call "Chaeng Watthana Government Complex" Bus 66 and 166 enter the compounds and stop at the main door (Gate 1) It's a two Km from Lak Si train station (northern and northeaster line) which is the next one after Don Mueang Airport. The Immigration Bureau is on the big B building, it's next to the gate 2 (the southern one)
The will request a passport picture (facilities there, 4 pics for 100 Baht) and copy of your passport (including the page where the stamp is) 4 Baht per both copies. After filling the form a number will be given. If you're not an early bird, the lunch break will catch you and you will need to wait for that hour, when everybody goes to eat on the big food courts (from 13:00 to 14:00) Supermarkets available. With the number given and 1900 Baht the new stamp will be added to your passport, with extra 30 days after the days your visa finish. The building also host many other offices, like the Consumer Protection Board, Election Commission, the Office of Justice Affairs, among many others. Worth the forced visit. Services for Burmese, Cambodian and Lao citizens remain at the central old location at Soi Suan Plu.
Explore more Halal Friendly Destinations from Bangkok
If you want to get out of the city for a while, there are plenty of day trip options from Bangkok.
- Amphawa — interesting floating market popular with the locals
- Ayutthaya — ancient capital showcasing its many ruins, 1.5 hours away by bus or train
- Bang Pa-In — its magnificent Summer Palace makes for a friendly day trip
- Damnoen Saduak — picture-perfect floating market on tourist steroids
- Hua Hin — beach resort city with nearby waterfalls and national parks
- Kanchanaburi — the famous Bridge over the River Kwai, the Erawan Falls and Hellfire Pass
- Ko Kret — rustic island to the north of Bangkok famous for pottery making, a friendly day trip out of the concrete jungle
- Nakhon Pathom — Thailand's oldest city and site of the world's largest stupa
- Phetchaburi — relaxed historic town with the Khao Wang mountain, colourful temples and delicious desserts
Bangkok is also an excellent hub for onward travel into other regions of Thailand.
- Chiang Mai — the gateway to the north and the heart of Lanna culture
- Khao Yai National Park — stunning mountainous scenery and some of Thailand's fledgling vineyards
- Ko Chang — large relatively unspoiled tropical island
- Ko Samet — the closest beach island to Bangkok with white sand beaches
- Krabi Province — the beautiful beaches and islands of Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta
- Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat) — main city in the lower Isaan region
- Phuket — the original Thai paradise island, now very developed but still with some beautiful beaches
- Sukhothai — the ruins of the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom
- Surat Thani — home of the former Srivijaya Empire, gateway to Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao
If you are considering leaving Thailand there are overland routes to the following destinations:
- Siem Reap - home of the Angkor temples.
- Phnom Penh - capital of Cambodia
- Vientiane - gateway to Laos