readyclickandgo tours in bangkok

For first-time visitors to Bangkok the best part of the city to explore for a few hours is the Old City, Rattanakosin, where you’ll find the Royal Palace and several of the greatest temples in the country. It’s easy to get to independently from Suvarnabhumi Airport if you have a few hours’ stopover, using Bangkok’s excellent public transport network that is made up of the Skytrain (BTS), the Metro or subway (MRT) and the boats of the Chao Phraya River.

From Suvarnabhumi Airport you can get to Bangkok city centre on the Skytrain (BTS), there are 3 Airport Links, first is the City Line which takes 30 minutes, departs every 15 minutes, makes 6 stops and costs 45 baht. It ends at Phaya Thai Station. The second is the Express Line from the airport to Makkasan Station (the City Air Terminal) which departs every 40 minutes, takes 15 minutes non-stop, 150 baht return, and at Makkasan you can change onto the subway system, the MRT (see below). The third is also the Express Line non-stop to Phaya Thai Station, departing every 30 minutes.

See this map of Bangkok’s transport network.

GETTING AROUND

Skytrain (BTS) runs on elevated tracks, bypassing the congested streets below. A one-day pass costs 120 Baht for unlimited Skytrain travel. It runs from 6am to midnight. There are 2 lines, the Sukhumvit line (23 stations, running north – east) and the Silom line (8 stations in the southwest). The interchange between the two lines is at Siam Interchange. On the Sukhumvit line the stations north of Siam Interchange are numbered N1-N9, and those south and east of Siam are numbered E1-E14. Silom line stations south of Siam are numbered S1-S8, and the one to the west of Siam is W1. All stations are named as well as numbered. For example the popular N2 station is called Phaya Thai station and is the interchange between the Skytrain Sukhumvit line and the Airport Link to Suvarnabhumi Airport. S6 Saphan Taksin Station is the interchange between the Skytrain Silom line and the boats along the Chao Phraya River and its klongs (canals).  E4 Asok Station is the interchange for the Metro and the Sukhumvit line.

Subway – the MRT or Metro – runs between 6am and midnight with trains every 10 minutes or more often. There is just one line running in a big loop between the main Railway Station and Bang Sue in the north of the city. It crosses with the Skytrain Sukhumvit line at Asok Station. Fares depend on the distance travelled and are from 15 to 40 Baht, or you can get a one day pass for 120 Baht.

Chao Phraya River, the River of Kings, has 35 piers (stations) on the east bank and a couple on the west at Thonburi. All piers are numbered as well as named, most of the important ones for visitors are north of Saphan Taksin station, 1-12. There are different ferry lines with different stop patterns shown by a coloured flag – blue, orange, green, yellow and no flag. The no-flag boats stop at every pier, the orange flags stop at most piers, and the no-flag, the orange and the green all stop at pier No. 8 which is right by Rattonikosin, the most important one for visitors to the historic centre.

WHAT TO SEE

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Temple of Emerald Buddha (actually jade and originally from Vientiane in Laos). 350 Baht. Ornate, dazzlingly gilded and coloured decorations, entrancing statues of mythical beings. Take the Skytrain Silom line and get off at Saphan Taksin Station (S6) and go out through Exit 2. Then, take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Ta Chang pier (No.9). A 5-10 minute walk will bring you to the entrance gate of the Grand Palace.

Wat Pho, Temple of Reclining Buddha, is opposite the palace. 20 Baht. 46m long and 15m high with mother-of-pearl feet, the statue illustrates the passage of Buddha into nirvana, also interesting tilework and gardens and thai massage school – have a foot massage if you’ve the time. Skytrain Silom line to Saphan Taksin Station (S6). Take Exit 2 and go to Chao Phraya River Express Boat pier. Take boat heading to Tien Pier (No.8) and walk straight to Wat Pho.

Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn, 20 Baht. Climb to top. SkyTrain Silom Line to Saphan Taksin Station (S6). Leave via Exit 2 and take a Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tien Pier (No.8) take a cross river ferry to Wat Arun.

Wat Traimit, Temple of Golden Buddha, 200 Baht. 5.5 tons of solid gold dating from the 13th century and with an astonishing story behind it., 10ft high. Chinatown. Skytrain Silom line to Saphan Taksin Station (S6), Take Exit 2 and go to Chao Phraya River Express Boat pier. Take boat heading to Ratchawongse pier (No.5), take taxi or tuk tuk to Wat Traimit.

Jim Thompson House, 100 Baht. Jim Thompson was an American architect and intelligence officer in the war who became famous as a silk merchant, his house showcases traditional Thai architecture, antiques, porcelain and art from Asia. SkyTrain Silom line to National Stadium Station (W1). Take Exit 1 and go straight ahead to the end of Soi Kasemsan 2, Jim Thompson’s house is on the left side.

Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a breathtakingly magnificent hall built by Italian architects to illustrate the history of the Thai royal family. It’s an oriental Sistine Chapel, a huge, white, grand and ornate western building with a dome used on ceremonial state occasions. Entrance is included in the same ticket for the Grand Palace, although it is not situated in the same district of Rattonikosin but in Dusit. Women must wear ankle-length skirts, not trousers, not knee-length or calf-length skirts, but down to the ground. Take the Skytrain Sukhumvit line and get off at Victory Monument Station (N3) and go out through Exit 3. Walk towards Rajavithee Road and take a taxi, or hop on bus no. 515, 539, 28, or 108.

Wat Benchamaborpit, the Marble Temple, 20 Baht. An intriguing blend of Thai and Italian Renaissance architecture built in shimmering Carrera marble. Skytrain Sukhumvit line to Phaya Thai Station (N2). Take Exit 3 and get public transport west along Sri Ayutthaya Rd. to intersection of Rama V and Wat Benchamabophit.

National Museum of Royal Barges, 200 Baht.  These magnificent vessels were largely destroyed during the war but have been beautifully restored and now form a unique collection of priceless ceremonial boats that are still used on state occasions on the river. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Skytrain Silom line to S6 Saphan Taksin Station. Leave via Exit 2 and take a Chao Phraya Express Boat from Central pier to Phra Pin Klao pier (No.12) and go straight ahead to the Royal Barge Museum.

FLOATING MARKETS

floating market bangkok readyclickandgo

Beware – they are amongst Bangkok’s most famous attractions but they are crowded, often tricky to get to, overpriced, tacky and you may find them totally over-rated. But how will you know if you love ‘em or hate ‘em unless you go to one? These are just a couple of examples, there are others.

Taling Chan Floating Market on weekends from 7am-4pm, Take the Skytrain Silom line and get off at Saphan Taksin Station (S6), and go out through Exit 2. Then, take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Phra Pinklao Bridge pier (No. 12) and take bus 79 or 83. It’s more of a market on boats moored up than actually on the river like the famous Damnoen Sadduak.

Damnoen Sadduak Floating Market 100 km southwest of Bangkok, waterways filled with vendors in small boats piled high with produce from nearby farms and orchards, very picturesque, quaint, colourful, vibrant – and full of tourists after 9am. Buses are from the Southern Bus Terminal.

Amphawa Floating Market, Friday to Sunday, 12pm-8pm. You don’t need to get up early for this one! It’s relatively quiet, authentic and off the tourist trail. But you’ll probably have to get a taxi.

CLOTHING

To visit the palaces and temples of Bangkok both men and women do need to be dressed appropriately, i.e. modestly and conservatively with no bare shoulders, arms, cleavage, legs or feet. This means no shorts, no flip flops, no sleeveless tee-shirts, no spagetti-strap or vest tops or short skirts.

VISAS

If you are a UK or US citizen you do not need a visa for Thailand if you are flying in and staying for less than 30 days – so you can leave the airport and explore Bangkok for a few hours without one. Citizens of other countries should check with their embassy.

TOURS

Everything is a lot simpler when you have a local with you! Book yourself a Bangkok tour guide  for even just half a day, and they can show you how to get around under your own steam and where the highlights and the hidden gems are – a great investment if you only have a couple of days to make the most of your time in Bangkok. Prices from £50 / US$ 75 for a Bangkok tour guide for half a day. Or you can book a private day tour of Bangkok with a tour guide to accompany you on the Skytrain, boat and a tuk tuk, just email Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com for ideas on how to plan your Bangkok sightseeing.

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About the author: Tara

 

The travel professional with years of experience in the travel industry – in guiding, reservations, operations, contracting, customer service and product development – and have travelled extensively in Asia and Eastern Europe not just on holiday but also for work, inspecting hotels, visiting attractions and seeing exactly what each destination has to offer. The only way I could do this properly was with my own guide, car and driver and this inspired me to create my own range of customised private day tours for other people to be able to explore in-depth and learn to love their destination as much as I do.

Website: www.readyclickandgo.com