Backpacking Thailand

"Your Insider Guide to Bangkok - the Capital of Thailand"

View of Bangkok

"Backpacking Thailand Bangkok" was last updated on Jan 11, 2013
All information below is subject to change

Are you going to Thailand?

- Then I guess your first big stop in Thailand is Bangkok! ;-)

Bangkok is the gateway city for many travelers going backpacking in Southeast Asia, and it's the city that never sleeps!

Many backpackers spend their time in the Banglamphu area, so that's the reason you're going to read a lot about Khao San Road (KSR) and Soi Rambutri (SR) in this article (I'll be using these abbreviations).

Well, for starters I love Bangkok.

There's something about it that I can't explain.

The city is lively and chaotic at the same time. I'm used to big cities, so I actually find it safe and relaxing walking down the streets of Banglamphu and Siam Square.

But you might not feel the same way. So in my opinion, it's a city you'll either love or hate!

On a side note, things to watch out for in the big cities like Bangkok:

  • The traffic
  • Theft
  • Pushy touts on KSR, SR and Siam Square
  • Overpriced shopping (I suggest you shop around for prices as variations in prices occur a lot)
  • Tuk-Tuk and taxi scams

What's a Tuk-Tuk? Imagine a small carriage attached to a motorcycle. It's the public transport you'll find in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

How to get
to Bangkok

By air: All international flights land and depart at Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Suvarnabhumi is in the province of Samut Prakan, and is located 29 km from Bangkok downtown.

Cheap flights to Bangkok:

Your cheapest option: Public Bus (BMTA) from the airport


24-35 B

These are the routes I know about:

No. 550: Suvarnabhumi Airport - Happy Land

No. 553: Suvarnabhumi Airport - Samuthprakarn

No. 554: Suvarnabhumi Airport - Rangsit, from 04 am to 10 pm

No. 555: Suvarnabhumi Airport - Rangsit, from 11 pm to 2 am

No. 558: Suvarnabhumi Airport - Samae Dam Garage

What about the Airport Express bus to Bangkok downtown?

Updated on Jan 11, 2013: The Airport express bus service was discontinued in June 2011.

Prior to June 2011 there were airport express buses to downtown Bangkok, included Khao san road (150 B one-way).

Take the train from Suvarnabhumi airport

Train in Thailand

If you're a solo traveler and can't afford a taxi, try the Airport Rail Link.

For Khao san road, take the SA City Line (max 45 B) or Makkasan Express Line (one-way 90B, 15 minutes) to Makkasan station.

When arriving at Makkasan station, jump on bus no. 556 (35B) and get off at the stop after Democracy Monument.

Take a taxi from the airport

Taxis are affordable and can be cheap if you're traveling with others and can split the cost.

The last time I took a taxi from Suvarnabhumi (Oct 2007), the touts wanted 700 B. We got so scammed...! So ignore the persistent touts at the arrival gate - keep walking!

If you take the metered taxis, you don't need to pay more than 400-500 B (per ride). But expect to pay 50 B surcharge because the taxis have to pass the tollway.

Bangkok Thailand Map - Banglamphu (backpacker area):

A: Khao San road
B: Soi Rambuttri

It's also possible to take a minivan from Khao san road/Soi Rambuttri to the airport (150B). Just go to one of the travel agencies in the backpacker areas, and ask for transport to the airport. It's common routine to pick you up from your guesthouse which is included in the ticket price.

Return to top

From Bangkok to Other Towns
and Cities in Thailand

From Bangkok to Northern/Northeastern Thailand:

  • By large VIP-buses: To get to the Northern cities, most backpackers buy a ticket at travel agencies located on Khao San Road or Soi Rambuttri.

When we took this type of bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, it took 10 hours and the ride itself was effortless. I had leg room, and arrived in one piece.

I couldn't ask for more!

Otherwise you can choose to take a long-distance bus from the Mo Chit Bus Terminal, near Chatuchak Market. Either take the skytrain to Mo Chit, or take a bus #512 from Democracy Monument. At Mo Chit Bus Terminal, you can take buses to Chiang Khong (if crossing the border to Huay Xai in Laos), Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Sukhotai, Mae Sot, Mae Hong Son etc.

  • By train: Take the overnight train to Chiang Mai. They serve food and drinks on the train, but to save money, bring your own supplies.

Important message about Thai Railway:

Thai Railway discontinued online booking from Jan 14, 2013. You might try the agent Thailand Train Ticket.

Return to top

From Bangkok to Southern Thailand:

  • By ordinary bus: Buses for Southern Thailand leave the "new" Southern Bus Terminal. Whether you're going to Surat Thani (to get to Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Samui), Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Phang Nga, Ranong, Petchaburi etc., you have to go to this bus terminal. One of the ways to get to the Southern Bus Terminal, is to take the #515 bus from Victory Monument (almost an hour, 17 baht).
  • By VIP-bus: You can buy a VIP-ticket for Surat Thani at the travel agencies located on Khao San Road or Soi Rambuttri.
  • By train: You can also take the train to Chumphon or Surat Thani. There's no direct train line to Krabi. So an option is to take a train to Surat Thani, then grab a bus to Krabi.
  • By bus to Krabi: An evening bus to Krabi leaves the Southern Bus Terminal (12 hours). The Southern Bus Terminal is best known for "Sai Tai Taling Chan." If you tell that to a taxi driver/tuk-tuk driver, they'll know what you mean.

From Bangkok to Eastern Thailand (if you're heading for Cambodia):

  • By bus: To get to the Eastern towns of Thailand, take a bus from the Eastern Bus Terminal. Buses to Trat (if you want to go to Koh Chang), leave this terminal (takes about 6 hours).
  • By train: Take the train to Aranyaprathet from Hualamphong train station. Aranyaprathet is the Thai town by the Cambodian border. I took the train FROM Aranyaprathet to Bangkok and it cost around 50 B (Dec 2007). Aranyaprathet station is about 6 km from the Thai/Cambodian border, so you need to take a tuk-tuk or a motorbike to get there.


You should calculate more than enough with time to get to the bus terminals in Bangkok. Remember that there's traffic chaos almost every hour of the day in Bangkok.

Example: if your bus departs at 19.00 in the evening, grab a taxi/bus 2-3 hours before. If you need to kill time, grab some food near the terminal.

Important places to know about Bangkok:

  • Tourist Police Phone nr: 1155
  • Bangkok Christian Hospital or Bumrumgrad Hospital (English-speaking staff).
  • Lots of pharmacies along Khao san road and on Soi Rambuttri. 
  • Immigration office on Soi Suan Plu, South Sathorn Road. Office hours: Monday to Friday: 9 - 12, then 13 - 16.30. Saturdays: 9 - 12.
  • ATMs are located everywhere in Bangkok. Remember that there's a transaction fee for every withdrawal (150 B per foreign transaction).
  • Main Post office on Th Charoen Krung. Otherwise, there's a 'post office' at the end of Thanon Rambuttri. I sent two packages to Norway, and they arrived in one piece! A 5 kg package via airplane cost me around 2450 B, and arrived after 2-3 weeks. While a 12 kg package via boat cost me 2900 B. It arrived 1.5 - 2 months later (these prices are from January 2008. About mailing parcels from Bangkok. 
  • You can get internet access everywhere on Soi Rambuttri and Khao san road (internet cafés and guesthouses). At internet cafes, the rate starts at 20 B per hour. Free Wi-fi is also increasingly available at guesthouses and hotels. 
Logo cartoon   PSSSST...

Having trouble on where to travel in Thailand? How to set up an itinerary?

Solve your Thailand itinerary with Map Your Adventure: Thailand, one of our most popular tutorials.

Like this page?

Search this site

Return to top of Bangkok: Backpacking Thailand

Getting to Bangkok

Comment this page:

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.