I have made a small reputation of myself giving tips and recommendations to first-time (and repeat) visitors to one of my favorite destinations, Bangkok. People frequenting sites like tripadvisor.com and asia-web direct forums have benefitted a lot from my well-earned experiences regarding the Thai capital for well over the past decade. So I think it’s high time that I share the same in my own blog, with a few tweaks here & there to make things more fresh and personal. Here goes!
Basic Rule of Thumb:
Always pick a hotel located close to the skytrain!
In a city like Bangkok where the traffic always gets as bad as Manila, you don’t want to spend your time cursing the endless bumper-to-bumper gridlocks. You wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of taxi drivers, either. Local transports are plenty, but if you don’t speak the language, there will always be the inconvenience of taking the right bus. Tuk-tuks, on the other hand, should not be considered a default mode of transportation. It is very touristy to ride one but no more than twice in a single trip.
The Skytrain will help in navigating your way around – quickly and painlessly, that is.
Siam Central is the Skytrain’s main station where all its routes converge. And since this is located right smack in the middle of Siam Square, this is the area you might want to consider as your base during a brief 3-5 day stay.
This area can stretch from the MBK Shopping Centre all the way to the Central Chitlom (see map below.) There is an elevated walkway connecting pedestrians in between so accomodations around the vicinity are always safe bets. There are so many malls here that the true-blue shopaholic will find heaven in checking out Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, Central World, Gaysorn Plaza, Amarin, MBK and the small shopping streets inside Siam Square itself.
For travellers who fancy high-end accomodations, there will always be Intercontinental Bangkok, Centara Grand World and Grand Hyatt Erawan to consider. Staying in these properties will set you back at least US$250++ a night for a twin sharing room. If you don’t want to splurge that much but still want to experience some luxury, you can do no wrong with Novotel Siam Square, Siam@Siam Design Hotel, Holiday Inn Bangkok and Pathumwan Princesss (right beside MBK) where a room can be had starting at US$150++ (with breakfast included if you book with online hotel providers like Asiarooms or Sawadee.com.) The list doesn’t end there, though. Should your budget for a hotel room be anywhere in the range of US$80-120++, take a pick between Arnoma and Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok. The walk to the skytrain from either of the two may be a tad longer but your convenience won’t be signficantly compromised.
Let’s not forget the really budget-conscious tourists. There are two inns that emphasize on clean rooms in a safe environment here – Krit Thai Mansion and Golden House VIP (not to be confused with the similarly-named establishment in Sukhumvit 50 so look at the image below to know that you’re booking the right one.) The former is just a kitty corner away from the National Stadium station attached to MBK, while the latter is a stone’s throw from the stairs of Chitlom Station. These are popular choices for those looking for US$50-below accomodations. No frills here, and the rooms are a lot fewer so better book early to secure one in time for your vacation. Google them (or click the link on their names above) and deal directly (by email) for guaranteed reservations.
There are still other options in this area like staying in serviced apartments like Grande Centrepoint Ratchadamri or Bliston Suwan Park View. Families will love the spaciousness and house-like ambience complete with a kitchen and living room. Prices here can go as low as US$70++ for a studio to a US$100++ 1-BR or a US$150++ 2-BR unit. Do keep in mind, though, that not all of the services and facilities available in a typical hotel – like varied restaurant options or a readily-available tour desk – can be found here. Peace and quiet is at a premium, nonetheless.
Pratunam (at least 20-25 minutes by foot from Siam Square) is also a popular area where hotels can be reserved at lower prices but since the skytrain is a relatively long trek from here, I purposedly did not include my recommendations. But if you insist, I would shortlist the likes of Baiyoke Sky, Indra Regent and Grand Diamond Suites for your consideration.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog. Next stop….Silom!