in the middle
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Bangkok is a thronging metropolis, packed with friendly people and expanding as fast as its economy will allow. Add to this a hectic nightlife, a colourful culture and an enthralling pace of living and this makes Bangkok flights just the first step on an unforgettable journey.
If you're off for a Thai holiday, Bangkok is usually the arrival point before you make for the beautiful beaches of Phuket, Koh Samui and many others. First up though, you should make sure you take the time to soak up all that Bangkok has to offer.
Dine on the delicious local treats from the bustling street markets and take a trip to the historic temples and bright lights of Chinatown, and your Bangkok holiday will be jam-packed with exciting sights just waiting to be explored.
All intercontinental flights to Bangkok arrive at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is also known as New Bangkok International Airport. It's located about 16 miles east of the city centre. Direct flights from London to Bangkok depart from Heathrow, and you can expect the journey to take about 12 hours. You can also catch indirect flights from plenty of UK airports, with stopovers usually in Amsterdam, Paris or Dubai.
Flight prices to Bangkok don't tend to fluctuate that much throughout the year, primarily because temperatures in Bangkok are fairly hot all the time, so there isn't a high season as such. It certainly can rain though, and the rainy season is from May to October, with September the wettest month. The best time to visit is between November and January, when the weather is mostly dry and the temperatures are at the cooler end of the tropical scale.
Once you've landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport, a transfer from the airport to one of the many Bangkok hotels can take 45 minutes or more. This is heavily dependent on the location of your accommodation as well as the traffic levels, and a city bus is likely to take longer. To avoid travelling by road, take the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link to either Phaya Thai Station or Makkasan Station in the city centre at a cost of around 90 baht for a single journey.
The other airport for Bangkok is Don Mueang International Airport, which sits about 15 miles north of Bangkok city centre. The majority of flights that arrive at Don Mueang are from south-east Asia, so its unlikely you'll be arriving here from the UK, but these Bangkok flights are a fast way of arriving from other Thai destinations or nearby countries. In 2012 this airport became the main hub for domestic and low-cost flights, so look here for cheap flights from Bangkok to destinations like Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Hanoi.
Bangkok acts as one of Asia's most important air transport hubs. It is served by two international airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport. The national carrier is Thai Airways International but British Airways, Quantas and EVA also fly direct to Bangkok from the UK - all with a flight time between 10 and 11 hours. If you're looking for cheap flights to Bangkok indirect flights may work out cheaper.
Both airports are approximately 30 kilometres from the city centre. The best way to get to your hotel in Bangkok from the airport is by taxi; much faster and more comfortable that any other mode of transport. Be prepared to pay an extra 50 BHT airport charge and the expressway tolls. A few air conditioned buses, numbers 29, 510 and 513, run from the more popular Suvarnabhumi Airport into Banglamphu (city centre) not to mention the cheap Airport Express Bus, a popular choice with backpackers.
Bangkok is notorious for traffic jams as the number of vehicles on the roads has skyrocketed in past years. You can pick up car hire at Bangkok Airport, but this is better if you're planning to drive long distances across Thailand, as driving around Bangkok city centre is tricky for tourists. The most popular way to get around the city is by tuk-tuk (autorickshaw) or taxi. The fare for travelling by tuk-tuk is negotiable and it is highly recommended that you barter with the driver. Taxis should have meters installed and it is advisable that you ensure the meter is used to avoid paying over the odds. The sky train (BTS) and subway (MRT) are other reliable forms of transport around Bangkok. The two services connect at Mo Chit, Asok and Sala Daeng.
A regular bus service operates from Bangkok to cities, provinces and destinations within the metropolitan area. There are a number of bus terminals so make sure you plan your journey thoroughly to ensure you don't get your buses mixed up. The Bangkok Bus Map is available to buy and is the most up to date resource for those wishing to travel by bus. As Bangkok was built around the Chao Praya River and its waterways, the Chao Praya Express Boat is another option for getting around Bangkok. It has as many as 30 stops running to the north of the city and is a pleasant alternative to the chaos on the roads.
Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways are the two main low cost airlines operating from Thailand to neighbouring destinations such as Laos and Cambodia. Alternatively, long distance trains are available. Start from Hua Lamphong at the southern end of the MRT subway and connect on to destinations in Malaysia, Chiang Mai, Nong Khai and beyond to Laos.
Hot and wet are the two adjectives used to describe the climate in Bangkok. The temperature never falls below 20°C and can reach up to 35°C. The monsoon season runs from May to November with varying degrees of rain during those months. The wettest month is October and if you are visiting during this time remember a raincoat and umbrella!
The rains are followed by a dry period between November and May. Temperatures are lowest until mid February followed by the highest temperatures March to May.
The period between November and March is the most popular for holidays to Bangkok, although you'll find that tourists visit all year round. Avoid peak season if you're on a budget and looking for cheap flights to Bangkok.
The currency in Bangkok is the Thai Baht (BHT) and there are 100 satang in one baht. Due to an advantageous exchange rate, Thailand is inexpensive for European tourists and you can quite comfortably get by on less than 1500THB a day. There is not a strong 'tipping culture'. Bangkok has become the economic centre of Thailand and houses the headquarters of all the major banks. ATMs are everywhere so you should not struggle to withdraw cash or change traveller's cheques. The baht has no value outside of Thailand so make sure you use up all your cash before you leave.
Thai (or Siamese) is the official language however there are numerous other spoken and written dialects.
To call Thailand is +66 and for Bangkok is 2
British citizens do not need a visa to holiday in Bangkok, but you should ensure your UK passport is valid for at least six months after your arrival date.
Bangkok city experiences high levels of pollution due to the high volume of cars and rapid industrial growth. As a consequence both the air and water quality are quite poor and there is a lot of litter. Eating from Bangkok's many street food stalls is something to experience but choose wisely. If the stall looks dirty or is empty, move on. And be careful with what you choose to eat in the heat.
On the whole Bangkok is well known for being safe and violent crime is minimal. Tourists are more at risk of being targeted by a scam so it is important to stay alert with regards to your wits and valuables. Tuk Tuk and taxi drivers are renowned for taking passengers to alternative destinations that involve a longer route (and therefore a higher fare) or telling you the attraction you want to visit is closed before taking you on a diversion to a store belonging to a family member! The best way to avoid all potential scams is to disregard any offer of free shopping or sightseeing. If you find yourself in a jewellery shop against your will it is most likely to be a 'gem scam' and should be avoided at all costs.
There was an episode of recent unrest in Thailand which was centred in Bangkok, however the situation has settled down now. It is advisable to check the current Foreign Office advice for Thailand before you travel.
Top of the list of things to see are the temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pra Kaew and Wat Pho, with their fascinating collections of murals and sculptures. You'll have to cross the Chao Phraya River to admire the mosaics adorning Wat Arun, but the trip is well worth it and the river itself provides one of the most scenic views in Bangkok, with water taxis and rice barges chugging along against a backdrop of sparkling temples.
Shopaholics will love Chatuchak, the biggest weekend market in the world, and the floating markets including Damnoen Saduak, Taling Chan and Tha Ka, with hundreds of boats piled high with colourful tropical fruit and traditional dishes cooked on board. When the sun has set, fun-loving travellers and locals fill the bars and restaurants of Chinatown and Khao San Road.
Some attractions such as the Damnoen Saduak floating market are outside the city centre, and to visit them it often makes sense to book an organised bus trip. These excursions will include a guided tour and sometimes a boat or cycling trip too, so all in all it's much more relaxing and fun than making your own way there.