One of the first things I do when I research a trip destination is become familiar with the local tourist scams. When my research repeatedly presented stories such as the “Top 10 Scams of Bangkok” and “Bangkok: the Land of the Scams”, I knew we had to be alert. In addition, I was also starting to discover countless reports detailing how bad the traffic was in Bangkok.
With those findings, I was inspired to stay off of Bangkok’s busy roads and visit all of the local attractions using the Bangkok train systems, without being scammed, and while maintaining low-cost cash outlays.
I found that most of the popular attractions in Bangkok can be reached by train with little effort or intimidation; however trains in general only work if you travel light like we do, otherwise you’re going to drive yourself crazy schlepping bags around [and sticking out like a sore thumb as an unseasoned tourist].
First Things First:
First and foremost, I highly recommend that you download this easy-to-use BKK map on your iPad or mobile device. I downloaded the app to my iPad, and it works without a wifi connection.
Getting to Bangkok From The Airport:
From airport, two express trains reach downtown Bangkok:
- The Express Line: Airport to Makkasan (MRT station). The journey takes 15 minutes.
- There’s also an express line airport to Phaya Thai station that takes 17 minutes.
Both of these options depart every hour between 10 am and 10 pm, and it’s 90 baht one way or 150 baht round trip.
Another [non-express] cheaper option is the City Line. Trains run from BKK airport to Phaya Thai Station ( 7 stops). The ride is about 30 minutes, and the trains run every 12 minutes, from 5:56 am to midnight. Fares range from 15 Baht to 45 Baht, depending on distance.
Getting to Hotels From BKK:
Following the directions above, you would change at Makkasan, stop 5, if your hotel is located near a MRT stop. If your hotel is located near a BTS stop, take train to last stop Phaya Thai ( stop 7), and switch to BTS station. The switch to BTS train requires the purchase another cheap fare.
In our case, our first night was at Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, which is located within walking distance from the Thong Lo BTS stop. We took the airport train to Phaya Thai, switched to BTS line to Thong Lo, and then walked 2 minutes to the hotel.
Our next hotel, the Park Plaza Soi 18, was located by the Asok BTS station, only 2 stops from our Marriot. Keep in mind that there are two Park Inns at the Asok stop – The Park Plaza Sukhumvit, which is 150 meters from station (you can actually see hotel sign from station). The Park Plaza Soi 18 is a bit harder to find; it’s about a 5 minute walk from station the (also in a better location, in my opinion).
Our last hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam, was located by National Stadium BTS stop, 5 stops from the Park Inn. Once we exited the station, it was a one minute walk to hotel. I’ll also note that this hotel is very convenient to return to the airport. To get to the airport, simply take the BTS train to Siam Station, and continue on to Phaya Thai to airport. The total journey is about 25 minutes.
How to Visit Major Attractions by Train:
Gran Palace, Wat Pho, What Arun, Khao San Road, etc.:
Take BTS to Saphan Taksin stop.
Dad tip: buy a one day unlimited BTS ticket for 130 Baht; it’s more convenient, and no need to have change or to wait in long lines to buy ticket.
Most of the attractions are located by the river. This is where you buy the tickets for the Chao Phraya River Express. The boat operates from 9:30 am to 4 pm.
Dad tip: buy the unlimited touristic boat day ticket for 150 Baht.
The Weekend Market:
If you are visiting Bangkok on a weekend, make sure to visit the weekend market. The weekend market covers over 27 acres, with more than 15,000 booths selling goods from every part of Thailand. The market is open Friday 6pm to midnight, and then Sat and Sun 9 am to 6 pm.
To get to the weekend market, take the BTS to Mo Chit station, take exit 1, and follow the crowds. Another option is to take the MRT to Chatuchak Par station, and follow the crowds.
Other Useful BTS Tourist Stops:
- National Stadium: Jim Thompson House and MBK Centre
- Siam: Siam Square
- Phloen Chit: Central Department Store
- Asok: Times Square Department Store, night clubs.
I hope this guide helps you feel less intimated about navigating BKK via trains in a hassle-free manner. As always, travel light and go heavy on the memories.