Bangkok First Time Guide

Bangkok is an amazing city where you’ll find everything you want and more.

But saying it can be overwhelming is an understatement.

There’s so much going on that it can be hard to figure out how things work, especially if you’re only spending a few days there.

So for tourists, business travelers, and expats, here are our best tips for your first time in Bangkok.

photo of blured lights in Bangkok by worldpitou

Bangkok 101

Let’s jump right into it.

Here’s what you need to do as soon as you arrive in Bangkok.

1. Buy a sim card

Buy a sim card at the airport before you head to the city.

All you need is your passport, a few $$ and they will set it up for you in a few minutes.

AIS and True tend to work great all over the country. AIS might be even slightly better if you plan to get out of the main cities. But both a solid options.

Mobile internet is so cheap in Thailand with these tourist plans that it would make no sense to stay off the grid during your stay.

2. Don’t exchange money at the airport

There are a few things to know when it comes to exchanging money in Bangkok.

If you need some cash, change the minimum at the airport. Just enough to pay for the taxi and hotel.

Then, once you get in the city, look for the nearest Super Rich branch to exchange your cash. They usually get the best exchange rate in Bangkok.

3. Airport transfer

Both airports in Bangkok have an area where you can grab a taxi. They have to put the meter, but you will have to pay for the highway (30฿ to 100฿ depending on where you go) and the airport fee (50฿).

So don’t be surprised if you end up paying up to 400 or 500฿ for the trip. It is the normal price.

And if you want a VIP airport transfer or need Fast Track Immigration, you can contact First Class Bangkok to arrange everything for you.

It is by far the most legit and reliable service of its kind in Bangkok.

Grab has also launched its airport transfer service. 

You’ve got different options from taxis to SUV and minivans, and the prices are really competitive.

Where to stay in Bangkok?

3 words for you: Location, Location and Location

Traffic is the worst thing in Bangkok. So stay as close as possible to the places you want to visit.

Want to see the temples and other touristic attractions?

Stay close to Khaosan road if you’re on a budget.

Otherwise, pick Silom, Chinatown, or the Old City if you want more comfort and amenities.

Want to party?

Stay in Silom/Sathorn or Sukhumvit area (between Asoke and Ekamai).

How to find the right place to stay?

For a few days >> hotels/serviced apartment

For 1 week to 3 months >> serviced apartment / Airbnb

For 3++ months >> Get an Agent

If you plan on staying in Bangkok for a while, request to join these groups anyway, it’s an excellent place to ask questions to fellow when Google failed to give you an answer.

For more ideas on where to stay, have a look at our list of hotels and suites we recommend.

How to get around Bangkok?

What you need to know:

  • Always get a taxi if you got 2+ people unless you’re going close to BTS or MRT stations. It’s usually cheaper.
  • Avoid taxis during rush hour (usually 4 pm til 8 pm), then use BTS/MRT + Moto Taxi.
  • Negotiate
    • Taxis should always put the meter.
    • For tuk tuks and motorbike taxis, always ask for the price before you get in/on.

Tip: you can’t trust Google maps prediction most of the time with the traffic. It always takes longer than their estimated time.

1. Taxis

Taxis are by far the best way to get around Bangkok and often the cheapest, especially if you got a group of 3 or 4 people.

But always remember to make sure they put the meter as the course start, or get off and get another one.

If you don’t want to explain where you’re going or avoid negotiating, use Grab app (the Asian version of Uber)

2. BTS / MRT

The BTS is the sky train that you see over the main roads of Bangkok. The MRT is Bangkok’s underground train. The two connect at different stations across the city.

If you’re traveling somewhere along these lines, it’s definitely a great option and the best during rush hour.

But again, if you’ve got a group of 3 or 4 and there’s no much traffic, it will probably be cheaper to take a taxi.

Tip: For the BTS and MRT, buy a card that you can recharge at the counter. It’s two different cards, one for the BTS, one for the MRT. Each cost ฿100.

With a card, you don’t have to queue at the coin machine to get a ticket. That will save you a ton of time during peak hours.

3. Motorbike taxis

Motorbike taxis are super convenient. They’re often at every corner in the city center. They’re by far the best way to travel short distances, especially when there’s a lot of traffic.

Usually, prices are listed at their “station” but if you’re going to different areas that are not listed, always negotiate before.

And if you don’t want to negotiate or explain where you’re going, use an app like Grab. They also have motorbike taxis.

4. Tuk tuks

It’s a tourist attraction more than a simple means of transportation, but it is still fun to take one once in a while.

But always negotiate the price before you get in.

People often use it when they’re going somewhere with a large group as they can easily fit 5 or 6 people, instead of 4 in a regular taxi.

How to book restaurants and order food

Bangkok is one of the food capital of the world. You’ll find all sorts of Thai Food and almost every style of cuisine you can crave around the clock.

Restaurant booking

There’s a ton of fantastic restaurants in Bangkok and it’s impossible to list them all, but if you need inspiration, BK Magazine is a great place to start.

They’ve reviewed almost every restaurant in the city.

There are also 2 must-have apps to book at restaurants in Bangkok:

  • Eatigo gives you between 10 and 50% discount on a selection of restaurants in the city. It’s perfect for trying new places and saving money on your date nights.
  • Chope lets you make a booking in almost every restaurant in town. No all will give you special treatment or discount if you book through the app, but Chope will always give you rewards. It’s super convenient too.

Food delivery

For those lazy mornings, hangovers, Netflix and chill nights and every time you don’t want to get out, Bangkok has many options to get food delivered to your door.

The main app is Foodpanda

It has a lot of options, great deals, and even its own dark kitchens now.

Grab app does food delivery too

They offer way more Thai restaurants and street food than Grab, but the only downside is that some menus are only in Thais, with no pictures.

If you can’t read Thai, keep it for when you feel adventurous.

Gallery Pizza

Because you never know when you’re going to crave pizzas. Gallery Pizza delivers anywhere in Bangkok UNTIL 4 AM! (and the pizzas are delicious)

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