Bangkok Travel Guide and Blog
Asia,  DIY Travel

Bangkok Travel Guide & Itinerary For First Timers

Hi there! So this is the final leg of our Indochina journey. If you have been following our posts, we started our trip in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), went to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Cambodia), and lastly, Bangkok (Thailand). In this article, we’ll focus only on Bangkok, providing you a quick background of the city, recommended accommodations, tourist destinations to visit, and other travel tips that will guide you in making your Bangkok experience unforgettable especially for a first timer.

Let’s get started!

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. It is also known as “Krung Thep” in Thai and is the most populous city in the country with almost 9.7 million residents in 2019. Currently, Bangkok has developed into a powerhouse in business and finance. The city is also known for its colorful nightlife, sumptuous food, and its cultural landmarks.

As someone who hasn’t been here, the first thing that came to my mind when I first saw Bangkok was that it looks like Metro Manila! The buildings reminded me of Mandaluyong and Ortigas. There’s traffic too especially in peak hours but it’s still slightly better compared to what we have in EDSA.

Bangkok Traffic

Here are the other important things you need to know about Bangkok:

1. Climate – Bangkok has three seasons; hot (March – June), rainy (July – October), and cool (November – February). The best time to visit Bangkok is during the cool season to avoid the rain and when it’s not too humid.

2. Language – The official language of Thailand is Thai or Central Thai. It was also formerly known as Siamese. English is spoken in most tourist spots but most of them are not fluent.

3. Local Time – Bangkok follows the Indochina time (ICT) of UTC/GMT +7 hours. It is one hour behind the Philippine local time.

4. Currency – The official currency of Thailand is Baht or THB. Here’s the current exchange rate as compared to US Dollars. The best money changer in Bangkok is in SuperRich Thailand. They have a branch located inside the Suvarnabhumi Airport (Floor B) and one inside Siam Paragon. You can check Google Maps to see if there is a SuperRich near you.

How To Get To Bangkok

There are several ways in how to get to Bangkok. Let’s discuss each option.

1. By Air

Flying from the Philippines? There are several airlines that have daily flights to Bangkok. You can choose from Philippine Airlines, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and Thai Airways. The flight duration from Manila to Bangkok is around 3 hours and 20 minutes or up to 45 minutes.

I find tickets to Bangkok a bit pricey compared to other international destinations so we highly recommend that you wait for an airline promo before booking your flights.

My sister got her round trip tickets to Bangkok for P3,500 during an airline promo.

2. By Land

You can enter Bangkok from Cambodia. In Siem Reap (Cambodia), you can travel by bus, stop by the Thailand-Cambodia border to have your passport stamped for leaving Cambodia and entering Thailand. Travel time is around 8 hours but this takes longer depending on the wait time at the immigration. Based on our experience, our bus ride took almost 10 hours. We waited almost 1.5 hours to get our passport stamped, then we were welcomed by Bangkok traffic, extending our trip for an hour.

More about our Cambodia – Thailand border crossing experience

If you want a hassle-free ride, with a bus attendant that will assist you all throughout the immigration process, we highly recommend that you ride with Cambodia’s top bus operator, Giant Ibis. They picked us up from our hostel in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and they explained everything we needed to know about the process. They also gave us free bottled water, bread, and lunch. When we booked our bus tickets, they confirmed our seats in less than a day. What I also like about them is that you can book them through Klook.

The friendly and funny bus attendant at Giant Ibis handing out immigration cards (sorry, I forgot his name!)

If you’re planning to do the Indochina Trip which covers Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, you can also read our Indochina Travel Guide to learn more.

Where To Stay In Bangkok

I find some accommodations in Bangkok somehow pricey compared to Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap. Imagine, I was able to book a dorm bed in Ho Chi Minh City for only around P1,000. This is for 4 days. But there are cheap hostels in Bangkok but when I checked the reviews, many complained about the smell, noise, and lack of proper ventilation. So I decided to book a top-rated accommodation that still fits the budget and wow, I was not disappointed.

1. Bed Station Hostel Khaosan (Editor's Choice)

Address: 80 Soi Tanee, Tanee Road, Kwang Talard Yord, Khet Phra Nakorn, 10200 Bangkok

There are lots of things that I love about our stay in Bed Station Hostel. I had a difficult time finding it along the road and you have to look up and see their sign. To enter the property, you have to go through an alleyway but no worries, it’s safe. Upon getting near the hostel, you’ll see the pool, bar, and the reception area is to the right. Here’s what we love about Bed Station Khaosan:

  • Excellent location (walking distance to Khaosan Road, 1km from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace)
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Fast and reliable WiFi connection
  • The dorm room we stayed in is clean and quiet
  • Lockers are big and can fit huge hiking bags (you can use your own padlock)
  • Rooms have central airconditioning
  • The pillow, bed, and comforter smell good (really had a comfortable slep here!)
  • There's free shampoo, body wash, and cotton buds in shared bathrooms
  • In-house restaurant and bar
  • Swimming pool, shared lounge, game room, and gym available
  • There's a DIY laundry service
  • You can pet their cats at the lobby. Yes, there are cats!

The only thing I see as an area for improvement in this hostel is that they don’t offer private rooms as of the moment. All they have right now are dormitory rooms. This shouldn’t be an issue if you’re a solo traveler and you prefer to stay in hostels. But if you’re traveling to Bangkok with your family, you have to look for other options.

Now that we have reviewed my top hostel in Bangkok, let’s also look at other accommodations here:

2. Best Hostels in Bangkok

Considering the location, features, amenities, and guest reviews, here’s a quick list of the best hostels you can consider before traveling to Bangkok. Rates are just approximate and might change anytime so click on the link to check the current price and availability.

  • Rich8 Hostel in Khao San (P530 per night) – book HERE
  • Ekanek Hostel in Bang Rak (P544 per night) – book HERE
  • Kinnon Deluxe Hostel Coworking Cafe in Bang Rak (P657 per night) – book HERE
  • Once Again Hostel in Bangkok Old Town (P665 per night) – book HERE
  • Siam Stadium Hostel in Siam (P725 per night) – book HERE 

3. Cheapest Hostels in Bangkok

If you’re in a tight budget and would want to stay for longer, you can consider this list of the cheapest hostels in Bangkok. Carefully review their amenities and guest reviews before booking so you’ll know what to expect in your stay. As a reminder, rates might change without further notice so we recommend that you check the links below to get the updated rates and availability.

  • Mint Hostel in Khao San Road (P180 per night) – book HERE
  • PLOY Hostel in Khao San Road (P197 per night) – book HERE
  • Stay With The Mixx Hostel in Khao San Road (P207 per night) – book HERE
  • Oh Compound Hostel in Bangkok Old Town (P232 per night) – book HERE
  • Fun Wan Hostel Bangkok in Wattana (P256 per night) – book HERE

Sim Card, Data & WiFi

Coming from Siem Reap, Cambodia, we found it slightly difficult to get a data sim card from a reliable seller. We thought it’s easier to buy a sim card if you’re arriving at the airport versus being dropped off somewhere in Bangkok via bus. But we found some options in Klook to get a sim card and based on the user reviews, all of them have fast and reliable speed. You can check out the best option for you whether you are coming from Manila or from Cambodia:

1. DTAC 4G Sim Card For Thailand

Can be picked up from:
– Klook Counter at Siam Center (we chose this option), available 10am to 10pm
– Klook Counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), available from 8am to 11pm
– DTAC Counter at Don Muang Airport (DMK), available 24 hours

This sim card is valid for 8 days and has unlimited data. You can avail it here via Klook:

Klook Counter at Siam Center
Klook Counter at Siam Center (Floor M, beside Etude House)

2. 4G Pocket WiFi For Thailand

Can be picked up from:
– Smile WiFi Airport Service Counter at Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)
– Smile WiFi Airport Service Counter at Don Muang International Airport (DMK)

Some important things to know before availing the pocket WiFi for Thailand:

– The upload and download speeds are 50mbps/150mbps
– 6 hours battery life
– Can connect up to 10 devices
– Power bank will be provided
– Need to pay a refundable deposit of 1,000 THB by cash or credit card
– Both counters are open 24 hours.
– For same day booking, it must be booked at least 2 hours before picking it up

Image from Klook

Things To Do In Bangkok

There are so many things to do in Bangkok and I would say that our 3-day stay was not enough to explore the city. But for first timers in Bangkok, here are the top things you can do to get a glimpse of Thailand’s marvelous beauty.

1. DIY Temple Tour in Bangkok

  • Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha – The tourist destination that you should NOT miss. The most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand and the home of the Emerald Buddha Statue.
  • The Grand Palace – This is not a temple but I have included here on the list because you can visit the Grand Palace if you’re already inside Wat Phra Kaew. The Grand Palace is where the Kings of Thailand lived. A place you should not also miss!
  • Wat Pho – Also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha which is 15 meters tall and 46 meters long. It’s that gigantic!
  • Wat Arun – A Buddhist temple that is also called as the “Temple of Dawn”. It is smaller compared to the other temples mentioned but here, you can go upstairs and take some pictures.
  • Wat Traimit – The house of the Golden Buddha. Located in Chinatown.
  • Wat Suthat – A royal temple that was constructed during the reign of King Rama I in 1807.
  • Wat Ratchapradit – A small Buddhist and Royal First Class temple.

As we move along, I will provide you the operating hours and entrance fees of these temples. For now, here are some photos we took while we were doing our own temple tour in Bangkok.

Temple of The Emerald Buddha
Temple of The Emerald Buddha
Grand Palace Bangkok
The Grand Palace
Wat Arun

2. Learn the History of Bangkok in Museums

In any city, museums are always worth checking out. Here are the museums you can visit in Bangkok so you can learn more about their history and culture.

  • Bangkok National Museum – It is one of the largest museums in Southeast Asia and it features Thai art and history.
  • Museum Siam or Museum of Siam – Shows the history of the Thai people as well as their relationship with the neighboring countries.
  • Jim Thompson House Museum – The home of American architect and businessman Jim Thompson. It also features his rich art collection. Jim started the Thai silk industry (after World War II) and on 1967, he disappeared in Malaysia.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) – Features modern sculptures and paintings in Thailand.
  • Bangkokian Museum – Offers an overview on how well-off locals lived during World War II.
Jim Thompson House Museum
Jim Thompson House Museum

3. Taste the Best Food in Bangkok

I don’t think it will be fair if we’ll give a list of our top 5 or top 10 restaurants in Bangkok (because everything is just sooo good!) so let me just give you the list of those we tried in Bangkok.

Siam Center Food Court (Food REPUBLIC Siam Center)
Address:
1 Rama I Rd, Pathum Wan, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok
Operating Hours: Open everyday from 10am – 10pm (mall hours)

There are lots of food stalls and you can find almost anything here from pad thai to tom yum, etc.

Beef Noodles in Siam Center
Beef Noodles in Siam Center

Home Cafe Tha Tien
Address: 10 Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
Operating Hours: 10:30am – 6:30pm, closed on Sundays

Try out their pad thai and mango sticky rice. You will thank me later!

Pad Thai in Home Cafe Tha Tien
Pad Thai in Home Cafe Tha Tien

Nai Ek Roll Noodles
Address: 442, 9 ซอย Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Operating Hours: Open everyday from 8am – 1am

Their deep fried crispy pork is just AMAZING. I got the medium order with a bottle of Coke and it’s the best meal for me in our Bangkok adventure. It’s so good that I forgot to take a decent photo so here’s a video instead.

4. Shop & Buy Souvenirs in Bangkok

For starters, here’s the list of the places where you can buy cheap goods and pasalubong in Bangkok.

  • MBK Center (444 Phayathai Rd) – MBK Center has almost 2,000 shops where you can buy almost any kind of pasalubong. You can haggle for the prices here. Open everyday from 10am – 1opm.
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market (Chatuchak, BKK) – With over 15,000 stalls, Chatuchak is the best place to find cheap clothes and souvenirs. Open on weekends from 9am – 6pm.
  • Big C Supercenter (Ratchadamri Rd) – Big C is a chain of supermarkets in Bangkok and is the best place to go to if you want to buy Thai snacks. They have other branches too and opening hours might differ.
  • Pratunam Market (Phetchaburi Rd) – Considered as Thailand’s largest clothing market. Open everyday from 5am – 9pm.
  • Platinum Fashion Mall (222 Phetchaburi R) – Features clothes and accessories available for retail or wholesale shopping. Open everyday from 8am – 8pm.
Bangkok pasalubong
Here's a sample of what we bought in Big C Supercenter. Bento is a must buy!

5. Other Activities in Bangkok

You can check out the following activities that’s worth checking out in Bangkok.

Klook.com

> If you’re into partying and meeting other people, you need to go to Khao San Road or Rambuttri Road. Khao San Road is known as the center of nightlife in Bangkok but if you want to want to chill into a quieter place, you can head to Rambuttri Road. 

Budget & Sample Itinerary

Going back to the entrance fees of the tourist destinations to visit, here’s the list of it that has been updated as of this writing. The prices might change without further notice so we’ll do our best to keep you updated here.

Bangkok tourist spots entrance fee

Total entrance fees: 1,460 THB or P2,500

Now, let’s add the other expenses like airfare, transportation, food, and accommodation. This is just a sample computation so the price is just a rough estimate. We’ll also assume that you’ll be staying here for 4 days.

Airfare: P3,500 with airline promo
Accommodation: P1,500 per person
Food allowance: P2,500 per person
Transportation: P2,000 per person (if you prefer Grab)
Pasalubong: P2,000

Total Expenses: P14,000

The total expenses can still be lowered if you choose a cheaper accommodation and ride the MRT or bus in Bangkok. For the food, you can still find cheaper but delicious options as you travel around the city. You just have to look around. 🙂

Here’s a sample itinerary for you to follow in your stay in Bangkok. The first column indicates the day and since we came all the way from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, we arrived in Bangkok on our 8th day.

Bangkok Itinerary
Bangkok itinerary

Other Travel Tips in Bangkok

  • Avoid traveling during rush hour. Public transportation might get very busy during that time.
  • Bring water with you always. It's humid in Bangkok and you'll sweat a lot especially if you're walking around the city. It's cheaper too than buying bottled water every now and then.
  • When someone offers you a tour, don't mind them. It might be a scam so be careful.
  • Always take care of your valuables. Leave your passport inside your hotel room or locker to keep it safe. You just need your passport when exchanging money.
  • The best money exchanger in Bangkok is SuperRich Thailand.
  • If you prefer to take the MRT or bus, research the routes beforehand to avoid being lost.
  • It's sometimes hard to book Grab cars in Bangkok due to high demand. Based on experience, some of them cancelled our bookings but there's a 35 THB reward for every cancellation. Not sure if it was a limited promo only.

If you have been to Bangkok and would love to share some travel tips, please share your experience by leaving a comment below. Thank you! See you in our next adventure!

Check out our website for more hiking and DIY travel itineraries. Follow us on social media for updates!

*Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.*

I'm an online freelancer who has a passion for hiking, traveling, and photography. Cham believes that having an adventurous life makes our soul happy and fulfilled. She travels with her super-old Nikon D3100 and her new baby boy, GoPro Hero 7 Black.

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